"Say I absconded with my little life!"

More Perihelion:

Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series

Book Reviews

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Issue 11: The Necessary Eye

Issue 10: Out on a Limb

Issue 9: The Missing Body

Issue 8: The Lily

Issue 7: Passages

Issue 6: No More Tears

A quick list to poets featured in this issue:

Melissa Ahart

Sommer Browning

Sarah Busse

devin wayne davis

Karen D'Amato

Yaakov Fichman

Donna Johnson

Vera Kroms

Li Bo

Li Qingzhao

Ander Monson

Christopher Mulrooney


Todd Samuelson

Maria Terrone

Mihai Ursachi

Sophie Wadsworth

G.C. Waldrep

Martha Zweig

Martha Zweig


Every so often mother
gets riverish, diversionary,
drops her day's intricates the moment

a tributary comes by, & if it looks
in the least baptismal-- sparkling
up after her spotty soul's dirt raunch--
she'll lean over to tease it & dabble
gratuities in its humiliation & grief.

She thinks it ought to rise after her.
She thinks it has arrived this far
& ought to seep up the shabby grass to pursue her,
hurl itself to spatter her blouse's ruffled

bosom through to her skin & through her
skin to soak her more essentially,
gush over her true part. Time she'd swing me too
by my arms' length to kick it & splash heels bright,

but what water then
or ever wanted a thing to do with me? & it merely
wrinkled me this old. Advises she, plucking her way along
wooden clothespins, it likes to observe the delicacies.



Chilly creek water scoots the last of the stripped
trees' rags through rocks. Underneath dark ice
minutely snowspeckled overnight,
the odd bubble of trapped air wriggles
this way & that, all but organism--

Say I absconded with my little life!
All October this woods blew to tatters &
fussed over its clutter in skittish leaves;
now it prides itself taller & sleek
in its most elegant dishabille,

& so as I mull over for my insurgent
humor what it will wear today, I'll pick
frayed browns, siennas to umber, & slick
black like these not-quite-heart-
shaped toothy damp popple flags.



In the park each spring each nondescript
tree starts up in its flowers the fruit
the Bible says you'll know it by.

Raindrops splat the petals back
like the sour gloves milady took
to her wet spots; wept, wept

in public on the first bench that wrought
itself iron vines and scrolls. She sat
on the damp slats against black tendrils.

On blinding summer days, the common
popularities of shade include
a moment's blotto in the woman's brain,

cool eyelid kisses as the leaves
stoop between her face and the infernal
radiance: the sun bangs a tambourine,

hops blue banners in a quirky air
that roisters up enough dust to manifest
the dead, soon to subside on her red shoes.

Each leaf tells her a plain green lie.
She thinks that the lies people owe her,
long overdue, will gather like this,

into one elegant green head that admits
feathered friends on quick innocent
errands (or less) that nobody minds,

but the two or three scurrilous
children up there will have to come down
right now, dinner gets so cold.

Autumn nuts, acorns, the horsechestnuts
aglow within split husks --by then she will again
expect abundance at minimum.



Wet cat, long-haired tail aloft & parted in fronds,
squeezes in doorwise out of the rain, & just so I was born,
slick, quick & slipped (once) through the twice-
in-a-lifetime only

chink-in-things some nicety struck between not-
being & being, to this: ah! --
the ungodly side, where the food is.
Warm bodies here rub the warm body I've got. I'm amazed.

Formerly a null hypothesis (at best, glorified
wild guess), now I occupy premises, keep cats.
Are we not amused? Slightly, almost, unless who's too
brainy today to keep whom company? As if--

might we? --take whim for cue & reciprocate,
gingerly negotiate this instant world unlikelier
than any other, busily commingling our accidents?
Preposterous coincidence! Gimmick? Intrigue, plot?

Or, yawn, never mind? A lie! Here's mind persistent, mine,
& (once chowed down) all sentience I know transfixed
ahead & scared to death: what next
opens-&-shuts is nix: no-way, the far cry, the forget-it.


Green Velvet

Shallows: kayak bobs me to drowse like Moses,
river-foundling. Curtsey & skim me, cordial
reeds. Divert a princess to bare her feet to
splash in & grab me!

Cushy sinecure, the composer lily-
paddles note-to-note on her staff. Her turban
snags & launches damselflies: tip my finger,
flick off to founder.

Gown milady's seamstress devised of twenty-
seven thousand senseless male mallard heads has
left the lake unthinkable, vapid; drags her
hips in its torpor.

Interregnum. Mildew corrupts the palace.
Blabbermouths collaborate; latterday-&-
dark they flap & yackety-yack behind an
overrun garden.

Centuries-to-let: our descendants swap &
furnish makeshift terraces, north wing, south wing.
Plush-upholstered boulders indulge the fog that
sifts in the cedars.



To be sure, those civilizations
that dicker novelties, notions, along
my original impulse would swoop
around to appear to my eyes
infinitesimally small
if they could, but they are too small. Even the vast
galactic regions they mount successions
of empires to overrun, with the light-years
seeping between them, are too small.

Intelligence instructs their colonies they wink
& dwindle alone. limb of the universe
almost never stirs, numb, infected with god.
They rake little skies
with mathematics & hurl
their crockery into what light
reaches them & play
crackpot hunches deep in provisional governments
where the counterintuitive laws pass.

Not since the human fontanel I kissed
once have I wished
anyone well or anyone's enemies
ill, ill. I haven't cared if the stroke
of doom. I justify myself: a signal
switch set, a rigged trinket, their ship apart,
their vanishing act, a vandal, puff of the hordes,
the no idea ever to cross their
minds unbidden, seamless arctic.


Midsummer Marital With Creosote Bush & Tattoo

Can't expect too much of a person. little or no
telling why. Well enough, left alone,
tends to wander off into that scapegoat's
aura who staggers around the desert's
volatile prospects in & out of the shapes-- two-thirds
of them feminine-- of sin, & snatches at dry
shrubs & prickers, bleats among bleating husks.
Things' shadows rise up inflammatory.

Don't be a churl, darling. It's too hot today to live
any more or less. Over-bothered already
to put in an appearance. Freak of humidity,
vapor off of that ruminant out there,
consorts with mordant spirits to visit our
bodies' pits. Synopsis: eight prognostic instances & each
one's opposite swelter in the mirage. Rub me out? --but I'd just
as soon cooperate, strip, blot into your oily rag

as not. Adore me or not as the dead giveaway steals
about the facial features. Or stop me once you've never
heard the end of our point-by-point
reconciliation: all-but-certain atrophy. The sweat's
in the subcutaneous text. Ultraviolet limns the script's
initials as ornamental beasts until I look illegible
even in my own words, & then whatever they say you concur.
What passes for time around here, I'm telling you.



Tonight one love
courts in Andromeda.
Stars afloat like the milk
after war stir more than desire,
ri spread more than treasure or hoard
li or than bread:

From little, from light & less,
trim silver planks for the sides & peaks of home,
drive the clean spikes deep in bone,
upon them estate & tinder until
we will dwell there pure
or bum entire.



Skis underfoot, I was playing at remuda--
just in my ears, at first, because, stride
for stride, the leathery snow
creaked up at me like saddle-on-horseback:
I thought next I'd neigh. Call this Vermont
landscape, for instance, Montana; sunstruck plateau wideopen

& around it the wintry scrub
roan-colored hills neighborly shoved
their ridges into each other, stiff
gray deciduous trees abristle, cropped manes.
Here & there deep dog
flounces broke up the trailbank;
must be ole
Bluff, run on
ahead from the start, flushed hares.

Never thought dinnertime; let loose
ends of mind flap around. Then when the turnoff
dropped into deep balsam, & shocked-pink-&-
chartreuse suddenly flickered the shades, what's
this? some florid spring orchard?-- no,
snowblind; swept on through, shied off the wet
wads the loaded branches sloughed only to whip
back up & knock down more, & there's

that collie snuffling the pocks, hysterical-- spooked
me into the open.
                             Lapsed snow
dangled as usual off the pine ledge halfway home & the crest
whistled idly still, dead-to-the-world bears in its pockets.



Evening: the ruler settles upon the roost.
All day long we made this much peace. The rest
of the raw material left in the world
keeps for tomorrow.

Wise ruler at peace rests. One eye
of his closes, soon so does the other.
In his dream, as in his amusement, harm
hardly ever befalls but dispels in the air first.

Night in the roost: warm dust
improves its situation upon the breast.
Fresh straw arrived for you. Bricks, bread; so the material
world in absentmindedness governs itself.

Tomorrow the ruler keeps himself
to himself. He has a minor pride to settle
in his better nature: first he inspects his own
bright eye. All day long we make this much peace.

Faint heart! What little malice around the roost
implicates itself in peace. Improvements of mind
keep clique & critic lightly amused. Noon:
I have a matter to govern upon your breast.

Tomorrow settles upon the ruler complete peace.
Doesn't the roost wonder? Mind the absence
of the material world? This much shining day
by day we made. The ancient fresh dust befalling.