Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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From a Catalogue for a Colorist

I take an oak leaf by the window of a dreamer
             I take disturbed cirrus
I take an empty crossroads and a false stair
I take what draws forward
I take a box lit from within
             I take a wheel out of round out of out out of round
I take what is concentric but not mendable

I take a lost ant, bearer of fictions

I take the frost because it is free
             I take the paisley verge of meadows
I take roll out and plug in
I take a crash of hexagonal magnitude
I take a clothespin on my fingertip
             I take oxhide
I take pitch

I take dried blood

I take sparrow breast
             I take a squash blossom and save it for a torch
I take a boy spinning bar stools
I take wisteria in velvet and a quiver of Chinese iris
I take an obscured coastline
             I take a coffin of ice
I take adamantine

I take one countersunk nail

I take a flock of faces downtown
             I take a pine knot right out of the paneling
I take an echo of our original cavern
I take what started what
I take lunch pail and back of the book
             I take snakeskin
I take car alarm

I take suggestions for my place of rest

I take inside a cup
             I take afterwards
I take a glass ball swirling atmospherics
I take its frozen lapidary feathers
I take memory of thirst
             I take tongues and belief
I take a spear tip for impaling worlds

I take paper peeled from paper

I take a floating canopy
             I take what it isn’t
I take the day we had to knock down the wasps
I take it burnt to half-articulate
I take disappearing frames
             I take slants and stampings
I take an invading veil of shadow

I take what happened there next

I take those mad propellermen beetles
             I take the speckled bark of a beech tree in my friend’s backyard
I take the words “edge of blacktop” and spray paint them on the edge of the blacktop
I take a developmental reversal with stupid hope
I take egg yolk
             I take berries
I take the center of the flame and its unerasable afterimage

I take the canvas above our heads

I take a stone bench where sit children inspecting a map
             I take thunder near and distant
I take a toy windup ambulance
I take the top left corner of the room and replace it with something similar
I take high tide
             I take reef knots and a random paramecium
I take the shoes of the innocent

I take the innocent


Let water be pour down
Let bone be whole
Let string be slipknot
Let fire be carry

Let breath be sing out
Let mist be cleft
Let seed be every
Let blood be thunder


With women sitting cross-legged in rowboats
             With knapweed and a grief-struck squirrel
With columns of rain to southeast
I take a clove hitch fastened to a fence rail

With late-season fireworks and my folding chair
             With a heavy downpour at first light
With wrong-sized wire nuts and a lot of ocelots
I take the mariposa lily tattooed on your wrist

I take names at the honor killing
             I take a photo of all of us there
With what could have been and might have occurred
I take that firmly in mind

With a potato for safety’s sake
             I take my uniform off at home
With feedback only at gunpoint
I take that lily pad you were standing on

With starfish from a snorkler
             I take a formula for blessedness
With white herons and a snowy egret
I take a vow of silence and break it now

I take a reflux of doublethink and leave the drumming to others
             I take compound umbels from wild carrot with permission
With nine kinds of wet grass
I take this briny ooze

With dusk on Thursday
             With a file from the drawer
With calipers from the indigent caliperless
I take crossed fishlines, and then I take the bait

With a panful of cutlets standing in marinade
             With the last slot in the parking garage
With the one who comes who is unknown
I take in stride your triple quadrupole mass spectrometer

With training in musical whistling
             I take a ticket to the May-hunt
With an auspicious December moth
I take a crescent moon caught in brambles and belabor it

With voicemail from radiolarians
             I take asparagus worldwide today
With a yogi from the empyrean
I take your bit part in the harlequinade

I take a diplodocus by alpenglow and a table of cubic measure
             I take cost-push and demand-pull to rash extremes
With a fat cat and a grass widow and an ingénue
I take a base on balls

With the law of independent assortment and the universe of discourse
             With a heterodox hatband and an x-intercept to Tasmania
With martyrologists and rally-masters
I take your meaning and wipe the phosphenes from my eyelids

With your wherewithal in addition to your whereabouts
             With the remainder as nontrivial
With earthshine and grapevines
I take maladroit from the quahog and call it okay

I take an uncool crosscut with brio
             I take a turn for the worse after the comet departs
With a quick nip, I mean nap
I take a jumping bean down my knickers

With a degree day and a thirty-second avalanche
             I take ostentation to the poop deck
With equestrians and aerialists and lacunae and schemata
I take a number and a letter to the sandlot

With contumely and pneumatics and autographs from herbalists
             I take a raincoat off a contralto with contrition
With an immersible verbal at octillion deeps
I take a lynx at his word


Let water
Let bone
Let string
Let fire

Be pour down
Be whole
Be slipknot
Be carry


I record the invention of the howitzer and the capri pant, though not in this century
             O I wait there for wilderness to call
I prefer what’s left once you punch cookies out
I swear to house rules
I make a play for the starry crown and a song they put it in
             I discharge a thousand faxes from yesterday
I relinquish my turtle specimens at last
I calculate as equivalent to five clumps of violets
I graduate to pointing, not speaking
             I set protocol for used jars
I select hypnotic immersion and give a wrench to my pillow
I think about darning bald spots in the lawn
I change hands
             I save myself for biofuel
I struggle with servant mind and assertion of the nonself

I seep toward evening with an inky look

I join the great transposon mutiny
             I refer a photograph of a pie to the pie itself
I pull Anthony dollars from my ears
I cause an inadvertent ruckus
I massage the magus and deliver his correlations
             I multiply by a quotient of his first incisor
I cultivate pencil points
I print clearly my name on a cellophane pane of the wing of a dragonfly
I assign ten to left and ten to right
             I lay my hands on you later
I circle the wrong bottle cap
I await a wilder lettuce
I jerk all four seasons, to postliterate applause
             I chafe at Do Not Enter
I lose track of cecropia moths for nearly a minute

I set this map at full scale

I mean everything and understand nothing
             I eat my spare silk
I testify to the revolt of my sleeves
I sprinkle extra space
I go steady with a prehistorian
             I unearth a humerous bone from humus
I determine mine to be the only body in that well
I stack newspapers six ways from Sunday
I pack the undercroft and preach to the overhead
             I persuade it to join my board of directors
I return from the dead, this time with a sandwich
I crack dumb jokes about dust
I bear a minnow’s standard among the colonnades
             I observe ember day in my own special way
I propose duplicate bridge as a model for political economy

I surrender a moist towelette

I boil salt soup for the prophets
             I medal in a dark sport
I quarterfold distance and outrun lava
I wend landward with my variocoupler
I accuse the clerk of choplogic
             I sort my collection of inflorescence
I bend a shape to hold down the hillside
I count that one against you
I fiddle up the vermiform
             I introduce the xenolith to the regolith
I annotate zinnia
I peddle koans to a dolmen
I bind your tongue to the last breath of a stranger
             I rip out the recipe for serendipity trout
I raise discalced to a new level

I yawn in the face of a pastedown


Let water be thunder
Let bone be cleft
Let string be carry
Let fire be every

Let breath be slipknot
Let mist be whole
Let seed be sing out
Let blood be pour down


If you ever If you never If you advisedly If you humanly
If you arrestingly If you afterwards If you doubly If you not at all

If you creepily If you crawlingly If you mightily If you spitefully
If you pointedly If you winterly If you flagrantly If you underneath

If you patiently If you obliquely If you ploddingly If you plinkingly
If you beeperly If you beingly If you invectively If you actually

If you possibly If you finally If you dearly If you darkly
If you barely If you blindly If you belatedly If you beratingly

If you ribbonly If you robinly If you rashly If you radishly
If you evenly If you oceanly If you leafingly If you laughingly

If you singly If you multiply If you in situ If you wherever
If you on one hand If you on the other If you now If you later

If you soberly If you stupidly If you coldly If you very
If you bristly If you beggarly If you meadowly If you maybe

If you rhetorically If you cholerically If you vastly If you placidly
If you above If you below If you hardly If you not yet


Let breath
Let mist
Let seed
Let blood

Be sing out
Be cleft
Be every
Be thunder


Rock turns into stone, then back into rock
Man bites another man, but only on pinky
             Sand develops alternatives
Thistle stands in for it

Doubt calls up a swan, then a swan boat
             Certainty tolls the hour

Insomniac earwigs swarm gladiolas
Druids invade
             Water oak scared of own shadow
Screech owl recites credo: halleluyah

Priestess reveals final prime number
             Universe would rather not

Accident reconstructionist claims to analyze culture clash
Meadow remains unchurched
             Night arrives before ferry
Neighbor gets clarinet

Girls trail swallowtails across avenue
             Traffic vanishes through magic porthole

Artist likes paintings best sideways
Tunisian hall and stair disprove laws of perspective
             Boy holding can punks boy holding candle
Ice water sometimes good for veins

More fits into envelope than previously thought
             Blowfish wishes to be left alone

Water table voids covenant with dowser
Palmers appear in great numbers along arborway
             Man kidnaps ex-girlfriend’s crocodile
Plastic container snaps shut

Grocer accepts geometry proofs in exchange
             Incendiary bombs not just for weekend use

Diaphanous tires of the rigamarole
Fruit bat quits mammals
             Tinfoil brain crinkles
Clerk swears eyeballs in pocket are his

Bitter stream washes gravestones of fathers
             Children expected to feel excision

Majorettes referee refugees
Promise stands a lower molar’s chance
             Grassblades first to notice
Cross in question is Maltese

Dry nurse dry-mops dry ice
             No close relative found for butter or commonsense

Bank opens lichen repository
Jellyfish not a sign of end times
             Mail carrier admits to extra trips around rotary
Basilisk tears cure that, insists homeopathist

President guarantees mattress discounts
             Orb weaver named to cabinet

Actual things not the same as ideas about things
Woman signals from rear pew
             Stratosphere sues ionosphere
Tide waits for once

Imaginary apples key to famine relief
             Cruet found in back of cupboard

Whelk applies for witness protection
Purple rebrands as violet
             Reindeer strike for more moss, fewer mosquitoes
Lack of scrap bewilders quilters in three counties

Open sentence snags on sweaters
That snapshot not the best one of you lately
             Hod carrier admits to novice status
Hirelings frost icehouse for fun

Local man called
             Angel pens tell-all


Let water be carry
Let bone be sing out
Let string be thunder
Let fire be pour down

Let breath be every
Let mist be whole
Let seed be slipknot
Let blood be cleft


She studies cave crickets
             They say, all praise the myth of the fig marigold
She studies woodshavings
             They say, compare me to a summer’s day
She studies broken lampstands and trail cairns above treeline
             They say, remember fidelity
She studies paperclips
             They say, I do

She studies the powers coming in and going out
             They say, there’s a spider on your collar
She studies a fallen aspen and a disemboweled field mouse
             They say, give a dollar to that homeless man on the median strip
She studies beatniks and gangsters
             They say, drape us in moss pink
She studies instant replays
             They say, the Buddha was right

She studies mute swans
             They say, we would kill you if we could
She studies quetzals
             They say, new motifs for motorbikes
She studies economic theory and the aquatic schooling instinct
             They say, call the kingfisher down from his perch
She studies her errors
             They say distinctly, quince

She studies leopards and leopard frogs
             They say, not in this life
She studies irregular polygons
             They say, narcoleptic spectacles draped in moonlight
She studies gates and dolmens
             They say, pin your geopolitics to the Mercator projection
She studies bituminous coal and diatomaceous earth
             They say, tell him yourself

She studies how the dragline attaches
             They say, sahib, here comes the haboob
She studies woodchucks eating windfall apples
             They say, we seek not the face of God
She studies yttrium and ytterbium
             They say, we can hear the dust land
She studies water striders
             They say, seraphs in sequins

She studies her dew-soaked shoes
             They say, rosepath at a distance
She studies the mind and the brain
             They say, incinerate whatever you can
She studies the gills of a panther cap mushroom
             They say, lamellae
She studies the multitudinum and the vitreous humor
             They say, thank you, bivalves, for all that siphoning

She studies fifth wheels and third parties
             They say, v-notch in the tail of a swallow
She studies the 39 parts of a cow
             They say, frosted, fluted, dimpled, drizzled, speckled, sparkled, crumpled, crackled
She studies everyone’s intentions
             They say, unyielding ache at periphery
She studies dipthongs
             They say, cumulonimbus

She studies incidental tales of neverending rearending
             They say, pace off your sample space
She studies incarnations
             They say, just as you suspected
She studies totemic animals stamped on coins
             They say, address your sombrero
She studies bats over traintracks
             They say, implements left by the dead


Let water
Let bone
Let string
Let fire

Be thunder
Be cleft
Be carry
Be every


He carries bergamot in his packsaddle
             He carries a book over his heart
He seeks a path through ocotillo
He knows: the field is the world

He watches matter congeal around a singularity
             He watches traffic stack up in a sideview mirror
He seeks himself during intermission
He knows: alabaster for impediments

He destroys his last conversation by fire in a pine hollow
             He destroys fence posts when he sleepwalks
He seeks the submerged village of his soul
He knows: it could be a jest

He invents a dormitory for his weekend thoughts
             He invents an algebraist around the corner
He seeks a camshaft to soothe his tempers
He knows: a lark evermore

He carries larks in his packsaddle
             He carries a camshaft in his heart
He seeks a solution for x that will stick
He knows: these lodging are temporary

He watches his soul congeal around a simplicity
             He watches for dragging hooks
He seeks boundaries for infinitude
He knows: dry pine for kindling

He destroys his last intermission by fire
             He destroys impediments when he sleepwalks
He seeks history mapped to a grid
He knows: messages tend to an outskirts

He invents worlds over the weekend
             He invents ocotillo to feel better
He seeks words for that banging in his temple
He knows: bergamot may be among them

He carries larks and bergamot in his packsaddle
             He carries a camshaft banging in his heart
He seeks ocotillo as a solution
He knows: material awaits a maker

He watches from the outskirts of simplicity
             He watches history dredge the lake
He seeks a gate to walk through, as foretold
He knows: fire stops nothing

He destroys his last pine barren during intermission
             He destroys fox tracks with fresh snowfall
He seeks evidence on the fishhook
He knows: his soul is on exhale

He invents a flat place and stands there
             He invents numeracy while debating with sand
He seeks engagement with tidal sources
He knows: a backpack is ringing

He carries larks singing in his chest
             He carries a tide turning pages
He seeks a variable for sand in the algebraist’s syntax
He knows: from there he could see the next landscape

He watches the shape his soul condenses in cold air
             He watches fish rise to their mirror
He seeks fox tracks in mud at stone walls
He knows: he won’t cross over

He destroys stoplights erected on the mountain
             He destroys his alabaster idols
He seeks a lake that will tell him something
He knows: to expect manifold centers

He invents the first seed, after reading the footnotes
             He invents an equation for smoke
He seeks a language for circular motion
He knows: he carries bergamot in his packsaddle.


Let water be sing out
Let bone be slipknot
Let string be every
Let fire be cleft

Let breath be thunder
Let mist be pour down
Let seed be whole
Let blood be carry


Is your hand on my arm just now
Is opening a soul window at the moment of death
Is older and wiser than a sand dollar
Is the chief end of love
Is what you know when you know it
Is hoping the furnace will kick in
Is wrapping a sandwich for the road
             Is the canoe of fate on a postcard

Is prying boards off the barn
Is heavier than if you carried it yourself
Is not getting better anytime soon
Is merely a suggestion
Is why you remind me of porcupines
Is everything you wanted to say but was not allowed to
Is an obstacle course for the foolhardy
             Is a forest of peonies

Is looking away from that wreckage
Is only found in Samoa
Is singing with children after a potluck
Is help you never dreamed you would need
Is a swingset in snow
Is gibbous if you say so
Is always in your eyes, though you deny it
             Is leaning on a locked gate

Is a mildly fortuitous fender bender
Is going to find the ferryman
Is scratched on your heart as you enter this world
Is a question you could ask
Is a stripe you have painted between us
Is wavier than anyone remembers
Is unobtrusive in this photo
             Is planning to rise up through the asphalt

Is dancing a fandango in a dark courtyard
Is slipping a cipher into your pocket
Is a blue heron stalking shallows
Is a message you missed with the tide
Is abiding, as ever
Is the aroma of burnt cornsilk
Is a man tapping a microphone
Is a sentinel propped on an outcropping

Is proof you said you were seeking
Is battered by sunshine before you arrive
Is somersaulting among the alfalfa
Is often served with raspberry
Is punctuated for survival
Is shackled to wonder and sentenced to wander
Is mingling expertly in the canteen
             Is proposing to silence on a banished keyboard

Is raining acorns all morning
Is measuring you the old-fashioned way
Is worse than salad at midnight
Is a ring toss in the deep end
Is wood coals fizzing in a metal bucket
Is sorcery under a pen name
Is feeling a raven fly through
             Is as mercy among the nannoplankton

Is disguised as a beast epic to avoid detection
Is only wax resist for beginners
Is welding while distracted
Is cotangent at present
Is setting a bed for you on the roof tonight
Is flashing your name from shipboard
Is written in squid ink
             Is light leaking from somewhere


Let breath
Let mist
Let seed
Let blood

Be slipknot
Be whole
Be sing out
Be pour down


So I put down my pistol and pick up my pickaxe
             I sluice three gutters of west wind
I arabesque at laundromats
I drop a popcorn trail across your digression
I trap a paper wasp in a paper cup
             I throw a party in my carport
I pledge my innards and translate fire to the high steppes
I meet in mufti with monarchs
I astral project into schooling bluefish without an agenda
             I chop roses from concertina wire
I reach for my Allen wrench
I heft coral and grope for its knucklebone
I seduce a drawstring and wring elegies from floor mops
             I monitor hearts of palm
I sign to my oven for more sweet potatoes

I register early for a boat-shaped grave

I haunt dry corners
             I sleep under lacebark pine
I patrol rooflines for oriole assassins
I stack precambrian discs where rockhounds will find them
I defuse a steak bomb
             I take it apart and reassemble it later in an unlikely location
I switch on my mirror neurons
I rip up your payday loan on the eighth day
I unpack my avian epaulets
             I secret Clovis points into my shirt
I wise up on orthotics
I make the mahout move over
I mourn with all herbivores their lost forests
             I hold harmless only the honeybees
I apply a positive valance to a negative pole

I suffer a parallax

I inherit the Great Red Spot and copyright further reference
             I choose between boas and pythons
I salute a golden larch
I slide a tile toward you
I gaze past to the landscape beyond
             I believe I hear bluebells
I disciple a plumbline
I intend overcapacity
I tailgate fireflies
             I shout when the shouting is over
I proceed as if the unit block is indivisible
I suspect the snow monkeys of intercession
I chuckle over the intercom
             I turn to gyrfalcons for a response
I figure skate past conflagrations

I come unglued in the bath

I caucus with lentils and bow out of the foofaraw
             I privilege magenta
I umlaut sparingly
I desire to smack the deanery
I hesitate before the iron-hearted
             I converse with this regarding that
I confuse moonlight with marmalade
I thresh and grow mighty
I sew saffron robes for a sadsack sailor
              I decline the incline
I greet a polynomial with joy
I set food and drink before it
I question the authority granted to scrimshaw
             I construct a new wing when things feel crowded
I recognize these ingredients from somewhere

I cancel the damned redaction    

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