The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 19-JAN 20

All Issues
DEC 19-JAN 20 Issue

from A Season

As if the you at work were real, and waiting.

As if on cue for the feeling of what

Happens to me to pull open

Then gently shut.

And be it more than enough

In dark-charged focus in the movie

Theater writhing what I was

In revelation.

What the floodgates

After all, of every itself

That with astonishment propels itself along

Into the footfalls of what would occur—

Better than thought

That life that happens

In what for me rising up

By the thousands is


Vivid with plots of escape.

And night by night the eyes, sudden with breathing.

And day by day what else

Could plausibly be there,

The simple shapes

Of pleasure

Repeating what sounds to me like

"I ate the flower, I ate the flower"

Between rain-wet stones.

Between the practiced

Trajectory of

At intervals this regular me.

Unsated in cold

Water    And not

The by and by—to resolve

Into autonomy,

Into an enormous ray

Of sunlight

Which is the buzz of coming back online.


Or like the sputter one seeks in an original dark

For all that was memory when the horizon appears

And the background changes

And the flowers pronounce themselves

Into copies of slivered sun.

There is no quavering more reliable

In the morning, inflated, artful, into shreds,

In soft green waves on either side the grass

In the meantime but a ghost

Having been dreamed about, perhaps, then forgotten

As a breaker of promises

And badly dividing your wants from unwants

From snow and wind in evocative

Stone addressed equally to

Inevitable futures

Slackening will

To take the place of change

Wherever the eye's surroundings

For this or that unnatural cloud

And gone but gone

Knowing nothing but the love of being talked to, talking back

Setting fire to the woods

From yesteryear to yesteryear

And rolling till it meets the sand

An inflection

As reality, as painless

Collapsible sunlight and

The blossom of the meadow

To which the flavor of my thought corresponds:

Some blanketing, some rim,

Some mid-molt war

In the history of every one of us

In which a green-winged sky, blue-winged sea

In which in tranquil embedded sun the calm throat

Swells, blind and abated

For sad and vacant reasons  for time

And time when the verdant trash

One seeks in an original dark

Makes a turn, not knowing, over and

Over again, some particle

Jarring viscera from stillness

And thinking the hot heart home.


And then as if through accident or age

Dimly seen in the skull

The skull not having eaten in this moment of sheeny dark

Away behind and behind what it means

This feeling out

After explanation

When the shaking abates

And the image wears away

Having survived the first

Wave inside yourself asking

Which was langurous, which unfurling, which

In the far past in the time of its building

In swells of uncertain dust grew large

And soundly reasoned

When the earth dissolved

Under your feet

And you gradually emerged from it to discover

This way of keeping time with yourself

By flower and shadow and dancing click

By a wanted

Day's explosion any sunrise any need—

Just so desire imagines

Its blank become thrill,

Licked smooth into languor aching for proof

That I could ever not want, wanting

Just to be fluid a tranquil mask

Or else human and sudden with being

Being sodden and not one's own

A rooted action, echoed soil, a peering

Foam filled up with looking

From end to cradled end.


One is never too young for history

When the question arrives again.

Every edge written in encouraging nature

And still conscious of sounds in air.

Where there are no trees, living

With resonances, reasonings

Whose linings are gathered in

Into long-walk, meadow-sweet, skin-

Savored somnolence,

Into a warning sun that burns forever

And buzzes like a specter on the lawn

Across the pond's green skin the quiet flash

Of aftermath, no lineament, to make the truer earth

The regular image of a face

Spotted bright with red

Or crimson coarse with wooly white—

Then transforms it into offering

Against the grain, either of the will or the imagination,

Into folded space, theory of horizon,

Impenetrable body returning its almost-loved

Majesty lifted quietly above the level of the real—

And all the more as we dimly sense it in ourselves

That the thrill of it lies in descent, the open hand

Like the leap of a cat in solemn love not understanding

The low hum or susurrus

Of a myriad world's arrangement risk and sun.

And peering at us up from there

In mirrors, in windows, in crowds,

All back in the skull and so akin

And alive at night with the bodies that grow from what

Will be said without your having said it:

Surviving, surviving, what's called keeping up

With one's organism the sound of footfalls

In silence not without pain the slow fur

Of choked-up rage the shaking hand's

Bright comfort in an icy moonscape

Eating and swallowing the lips

As good as war the mantra nearly noise—

So as not to break it, not to see

What this world is, that it might as well cease

Inhabited by eggs clay cherubim a life of dreams

As if you had been looking at it for years and known it always

Having touched the bottom beyond which

Pathos struck ceilings arch wakefulness

For which the world afterward deforms

Into everything snatched clear from voice

In the fullness of illumination teetering into the dark

Early morning, in the same breath, renewed

With such fine bold humor and

The mouth half-seen in light of last

Is what you know

In kindred voices

Drawn as I from myself and me

And returning to story, always, as it is,

Into the backwards new world on the line of the horizon

Into the heart like a cool green sea.


Michael Joseph Walsh

Michael Joseph Walsh is a Korean American poet. He is co-editor for APARTMENT Poetry, and his poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, DREGINALD, Fence, FOLDER, jubilat, and elsewhere. He lives in Denver.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 19-JAN 20

All Issues