Part VIII  



Russian proverbAsterisk
--Old Russian proverb. I remember.Brrr.

Hermetic thermos. Silver put away.

The wind is turning, and the spokes of trees

Give brittle shivers, raining crystal beads

In codeless patter: fallen limbs and leaves,

Old signposts stripped for firewood;

A trail of splinters, pencil-shavings, ice.



  470   SPACERSun burned horizon black, and then went down;

So how do we get back from Retrograd?

I climbed through crushed weeds. Last year's ichnites,

Old frozen hoofprints, softened out of shape,

Though older thaws hung on a distant shed

--Melt-drop and shadow-drop race down to earth--

Icicling in frakturs from the eaves.Asterisk

Synaptic bristling made noble play

In blue lucidities, on rotting leaves,

Through thriving briar barriers, a wood

Trapped between tenses of a restless thaw.


Part I   Notes I
Part II
Notes II
Part III
Notes III
Part IV
   Notes IV
Part V
   Notes V
Part VI
   Notes VI
Part VII
   Notes VII
   Notes VIII
Part IX
   Notes IX
Part X
   Notes X
Part XI
   Notes XI
Part XII
   Notes XII

©, Acknowledgments
The Author


SPACER(A gust loosens everything; icecrystals blow;Asterisk

SPACERTwelve trees are standing there, all in a row.)

Where now? Ah. Three-beamed birch. Rough underbrush;

Tenacity of shadows; voluble

Syllabic gulpings, unpronounceable

Coughs; some hard but thawing consonants,

And, clinging to my leg, an ardent burr.

The wind is turning. Now the brittle twigs

Englassed by old rains tremble, click and shift--

Woody and green, tough and supple, caught


And insulated in an instant glass

Already old: dark instar enteringAsterisk

Its end. The wind moves, turning from the trees

And stops; I stop. Our glassy path is still.

SPACERHeartbeat. I'm lost here. Listen: silence. Then

Resounding distance: plate-iron surfaces

Breaking up: old winter's office sacked,

Swirling with leaves and papers; back, ahead,

Far echoes go. Contracting thaw will spread

In cold floods over tensing maps


With plosive meltshock: what comes after that?

SPACERRight? Left? the paths cross, run to air,

Are lost in weeds. Better patched with ice

Than spongy with fresh carnage. (Branches click

And stiffly flex.) The dullest granite chip

Wears a bezel flickering with time

Made small: the bright ice of a winter's day,

The negative beneath its brilliancy

(Like wide lake at night, with wilder sky

Turning eternities--subjunctive verb


Needled with crystallings before, beyond

All life). I moved into a rude square. Check:Asterisk

A prisoned twig, a poignant paperweight

Clicked softly. On worn marble, rusting iron,

Shadow and light replayed their famous match

(I came in late): Devastating is White's

Breakthrough of Red's pawn structure....

Squares blurred. Left? Right? I made my way,

Skirting an ugly stretch of thaw, across

A bare chart raked clean of boundaries


But not bird droppings, black leaves, spinal twigs,

And peeling barkstrips scrolled away from trunks.

Hard buds guarded a path; I bent them back,

But warmth dropped away in sudden wind;

Quoins ratcheted. The chase of the lake locked up.Asterisk

SPACERI've gone too far: a tanktread in the mud.

The old glacier must have come this way,

Left scattered broken shackles of hard rock

And stubborn winter: Roman roads of ice

That will not melt, in far-flung colonies


Enduring empire still (each puddle makes

A worn slab, a marble step). All lead

Through thaw, through grassroots cracks, decline and spring,

To medieval comforts (as a crystal crown

Tilts on an ermine cape of shrinking snow).

Crack: the irrigation follows. Caught

Between tenses, trees grew thorny shades

That race and tangle; suddenly unknot:

Chained and suspended bronze swings gently down.



To clear a space for life, not be life." Crack.

"Its props removed, all cruelty is nude

Fear." A helicopter maple seed

(Quick rustling overhead--) spirals down

Knocked loose by--gray blur--free fir leap--!--

--A trembling shadow of a trembling limb.

Red resigns. The fairy tale is done.

Exile is over: everyone come home.

The hood hangs on a peg, the wolf curls up,

The woodcutter strokes its patchy fur,


And the book stamped Terror in flaking letters is closed.

The giant lumbers off dragging an oak

In which an ax is stuck. The cupboard's bare

(The cheese was quartz, the bread was painted pine);

The pieces rattle in their wooden box.

All History ends this way: more history;

Slim tremors in the glib and gorgeous weeds.

All futures blank and darken, faltering

And flaring up from liquid wrinklings

Ahead. Blind-spots burn white. So I climbed


Over a scarlet sweater--matted, rimed--

And someone's bedsprings, overcome with vines.

An ikon makes a handy pot-lid, andAsterisk

The same malleable materials

Make blindfold or pillowcase; shackle or spoon;

An instrument of torture or a bed

(Intention counts, ash-tongued insomnia's

Inmate of a mattressed solitarium).Asterisk

SPACERThe wind comes down the path; in tousled firs

And pines, green tassels dance. I'm not sure where--


Cayuga or Ladoga?--where I am.Asterisk

Am. This liquid purchase on

Verb, releasing, grips again: seized blood

Pushes being forward; space relents,

Relaxes, gathers in again, again

Clenched in the dark, its grasping cavity

Releases; speaks our wet binary: beats.

If earth's enormous turning writes our blood,

Its language isn't arbitrary: mindAsterisk

Is wrinkled landscape; draining syntax flows


Down complex incurvations, being shaped

And shaping systems of that wrinkling as

We take uncertain, untranslatable

Steps from a shore we have forgotten, toward

A feared shore, on wet, uncertain plates;

SPACERPass ramshackle borders; chunks of fallen wall.

The path led through polluted clearings. Flung

Manila folders flattened on the ice

With scattered staples, curling index cards,

A looted filing cabinet--heavy, old;


Lock busted, overturned--loops of tape,

And piles of papers (dumped out of a truck

That merely slowed)--shut with rusting clips

And old red rubber bands. Wind rifled through

(fir-needles wove a færie floor

On which both Wolf and Woodcutter once walked,

Circling on a disappearing trail).

In landscape's wrinkled mind, raw language

(Blurred in running ink, in boldface lies)

Left Russian, emerged in English, leaving harsh


Lacunæ magic marker blotting out

Incriminating orders (black and red)

That implicate:

SPACERA raucous murmuring

Rose in the distance like a change of mood.

Magenta gargoyles seemed to populate

A crowded, littered clearing; through bare elms,

Sweeping the ground with shadows haloed in

Cycling spectra, sliding straws aglow,

Bearing fantastic emblems through the woods,

A Ferris wheel, lit neon, slowly turned


--And, with a rush, a roller-coaster rose

Sinecurving on its iron scaffolding,

And dove toward gravity--only to swerve

(Downturn, shift, correction, soar, dive)

Like a free market economy.

Old popcorn seeded ground (where history

Amuses) creak (or fails like a) creak

(Business, boarded up). Halations fade;Asterisk

A shadowy ellipse leans through the woods.

Circling--black--on star-salted ice--


SPACERThe empty wheel is turning in the wind.


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