Excerpts >Summer 2006

Marvin Bell

The Poems I Want to Hear

Poems in the spirit of those who know they will die.
In the swell of the horizon over land or over water.
In the exaltation of gulls but also crows.
In the bursting of the sun exhaling before the mirror of its body.
Also in the pull of the moon that moves tides above and below ground.
On a path opposite the explainers.
After the fashion of scat singing, the blues, after the manner of symphonies.
And to each the form of its becoming as it becomes.
Ad-lib but knowingly, seat-of-the-pants with long cockpit experience.
Without the looking back of the classroom.
Without stopping short or running over.
Without prescriptions or diagnoses, with no compass, no north.
In the spirit of a circle.
That which is yet as straightforward and tautological as a lion or a rodent.
Nor in the jacket and handkerchief of good thoughts.
Nor bound to the waters of breathless sensation, nor the rock of relativist indifference.
Poems in the spirit of those who know they are dying.
Who have seen the soil blow away and return.

That a wind shall surface within us.
Those who live in the middle of the country know this can happen.
That the sun should enter a rock and remain there.
As occurs at noon in the Southwest when shadows are widest.
That the night should run to the north and there be re-candled.
Those in the Northwest of the country have walked in such light at midnight.
That plants should sweat and grasp at shape like any human being.
Southerners have heard the waters bubble with the breath of new life.
That men and livestock should shrink at a distance.
Westerners have felt the ground wrinkle and stiffen as it dries.
And the Coasts, there one looks abroad and is exposed by minus-tides.
That the life force should rise and fall.
We had driven to within fifty miles of the Arctic Circle when our tire shredded.
Fishtailing near the survival hut where one waits three days for the trooper.
A day of skating the tundra carries doubts of Earth’s crust.
As one clear day at Haleakala shatters one’s clock.
There is glacier time, tundra time, volcano time, what is time?
To believe in time is to clasp regret to one’s bosom, is it not?

These are the Dead Man poems, taken from life.

About PS   What's New   Curr Iss   Subscriptions  Submissions   Archives  E-mail   PS Home   UNL Home