nineby Kimberly Lyons
Fame is not to be yours
I suddenly thought like a street tarot reader
pronouncing a destiny to a crowd.
The card is blackened a flattened
leaf on the sidewalk in the shape of a bat. And
a wet Jack of Spades with extravagant blue handwriting.
Just to break it down to you, says a man behind me.
800 letters he says and just as many stars
flicker invisibly in three inches of the sky
which this late afternoon is thin as skin.
I hover over my own fate
and for two seconds, not more,
though not empty of will.
A flash of the sun.
across one’s eye, a golden dust
on a note book page. A swimming
nothing where there is no one.
No one could make a sentence
from a swarm
of glittering buttons in glass.
You see buttons and think bones.
I found a dollar in the grass.
It’s presidential head
afloat in rain.
In the space of rhetoric
color is artifice
repellant as Astroturf.
I hear orange chatter.
A head in a room
like a monstrous abalone
with tiny teeth
that clasp their meat.
Stare at a room filled with things.
Each object blurs in the blue blanket of air.
Go to the bathroom and adjust
Wash wool socks in a sink.
drips, footsteps and squeaks.
Think: lingonberries, gravitas, meld,
butter knife, echolalia.
Fence, persimmon, caulk
shadow, relent, relay.
Notice a vibration.
A sensation that is named ringing
but is more of a whine. Less a calling to.
The tension of a blue wire.
For Toni Simon
Every day is like a puzzle.
A jumble of microdots
into a multidirectional stairway.
The palm is crossed with an x.
An island they call that. Inside a chain across skin.
A drawbridge reality
is enfolded in a structure that is read
as knotted owl pellets on the road.
Bones and wool, hair and rocks.
The future in a wave.
A folded sea that surfaces inside
squares of fire.
Now I see curtains of contoured plasma
in a shadow’s dissembled books
that wait for the hand to write.
A small square blue book
reduces thought to a palm size
and enlarges a speck of it
so that it becomes a window.
A blue window in a wall
as if the eye were a giant
machine and a globular insect
dragging its spiky wings
to any opening
it may surmise.
Crumbled colored smoke with a violet tint
dead flowers mixed with ash and earth
that you might find if you look under a rock
in the woods in Connecticut, for example.
An initiatory action analogous to
writing a poem with debris and lint.
It forms a darkened cloud
lifts to a surface
and swirls among elements.
You take a sip of the brew
and look everywhere so as to replicate the experience
and to have it contained
in a black book labeled in French.
I know its effects cannot really be configured that way
or any “way”
but it takes so many years to find that out
and then is realized instantaneously.
First made by two incestuous
brothers from across the sea
baptized Marco Polo
poetry is finite.
I meant the exact opposite.
In the Underpass
Today in the underpass
two women asked for a little change
and I said no.
Not today, tightening my jacket
as though to announce: I have my precincts.
Well, God Bless you they said in unison.
And I went on to buy baby kale
and eco toilet paper
and to drink some hot chocolate with cayenne
from Jacques Torres.
Later, I read about the two women grinding at the mill
and better not to return to the fields to get your clothes
that you left there when running away.
Somewhere down there
On Street number Two or Four or Three
Within its anarchy of stairs and ailanthus leaves
And a folded Persian rug and a wooden book on teas
Popes line up in a path of dusty sheaves
Leading into what or where I cannot quite see
Through the arc of tangled debris.
I remember there was a heretic doyenne among her soliloquies
That shimmered under the antique eaves.
Marcella and Brenda, do you recall we started to freeze
In January’s sparkle of East Village air. Where are my keys
I said, like usual something was hidden
In the flux of ambiguity.
Things telescope so that they or it or us or just me
Are distanced at an obtuse angle to the critical view,
Absolutely gone we feel but oh wait not necessarily
I realize much later at different point from the sun diurnally
See the forgotten returned although this
A slight swift Halloween epiphany
Brought evening’s autumn star back around fleetingly.
I know these white gray columns.
Dirty and scarred.
A city of mute bishops.
The dirt along the train tracks
are where fairies are
that keep company with twittering sparrows
glister beads and cellophane.
A sequence of arches.
An inversion of utterances
so that the word is farther back
instead of a banner on the teeth.
When the train ricochets by
I brought an empty tin of rose
gloss to the mound as requested.
Through the pillars see a maze of tangled red letters.
A black ladder at the back of the echo.
Kimberly Lyons new book of poetry, Capella, is due from Oread Press in spring of 2018. An essay on Basil King's works on paper comes out in Talisman later this year. She lives in Chicago from where she publishes Lunar Chandelier Press.