(for James Tenney)

Jake Berry

They closed.
They closed around me.
The grace of blue feathers
                    and insect wire.

    My blood clotted in the needles
and beneath my skin
      it spread out in a subcutaneous lake
    down across the forearm
          and northward across the bicep.

O -,
O negative
    few have it
  but anyone can receive it.

These unavailable lakes,
  blue and yellow bruises,
The circumference
    of clinical ape
  The shallow pools waking

   Some link to orbit
and modulations of a single tone.
          the warm intervals collect.
  It is the wanderer’s mole
      in a chemical rain.

I'm unsteady on my feet.
      This is a mode I understand.
   The grace of blue feathers.



"Critical Band" was written while listening to a composition by James Tenney on internet radio. His composition set the mode, the semi-trance state, that made the poem available to me. Most of the imagery from the poem arose out of that experience. There was also a large yellowish bruise on my arm at the time that resulted from a failed attempt to donate blood during a blood drive. These elements juxtapose and merge in the poem. Imagination and reality are not distinct, separate areas. They flow into and substantiate one another.