You See It
You cannot sink once you start to swim.
Can you see that this is fitting?
Low it floated, then high, and fell flat.
You cannot swim? You can sink to start.
That is fitting, can you see this?
It fell flat—high and low, then floated.
You sink once, you cannot swim to start.
You can see that this is fitting.
Then high it floated, flat, low, and fell.
You start to sink, you cannot once swim.
You see fitting, can this that is?
Floated high, fell low, and then flat.
You cannot swim? To start, you once sink.
Can that see you? Is this fitting?
High. Floated it and then fell flat, low.
You once start to swim, you cannot sink.
This can see you; that is fitting.
Fell and then low, flat, it floated high.
Whether passing by
in fearful silence might seem
filled with dread purpose or not
to a poised black jaguar, you will go
on from there with the sticky residue
of its yellow look upon you
as an analog to the elm sap
of which you are more and more smelling,
or it may be that you die, its hot teeth in you.
What we shall need:
protractor, laser beam, plumb line,
auger, grass-seed, an eye
trained in sea- and forest-greens,
path-gravel ground of
millionaires’ tabletops; supposing
you know a little of
the actors who’ll be walking among
such aligned palm trees.
Victoria Van Vlear:
“Go play in the garden,” she says.
Garden? I’m an explorer—I go.
The green is frightening. It goes on forever. Tiny swords, pointing up. Treacherous. The fence, ages away. Do I dare? Start wading through. Cold—feet are wet.
Something hard. A rock! Big—fills my whole hand. Hard—edgy. A treasure. I hold on tight.
Big color up ahead. I trek. Lots of shapes, all red. There’s a gagillian—all the same. They smell good! I want one—another treasure. I pull. It falls.
Dirt. Brown, like my teddy bear upstairs. The one with the beaded eyes. Heavy—light. Sticking to my hands. Under my nails.
Movement in the dirt. Wriggling body, like a dance. Long and skinny—how does he move? I touch him. Slimy!
More movement. Bulging bodies, little legs—hurrying, scurrying. A line of them. Follow the leader. What happens when they squish? I try. Sticky, gooey finger. Smells funny. The line won’t stop—more of them. They go up.
Mommy calls this a tree. I don’t believe her—name is too small. No end; I can’t see the top. Like a giant. Booming legs, arms that wave.
Stands still, this giant. Legs are rough—papery. Little cracks. I wedge my fingers in. Can’t pull off his skin—too strong.
Sticky hands now. Is the giant sweating? Wiping my shirt doesn’t help.
I start the trek back. Garden, Mommy calls it. It’s the whole world.
Log Time: 3-1-14 from 2:45pm-3:15pm and 5:45pm-6:15pm
My mother’s drawer was full
Of colored threads and sewing needlesThat stuck through
The telescopes on the Gold Hill observatory post card.
The card’s shimmering face showed old men with white
Beards peering through magnified glass
At the junk drawer of God;
Glinting like fools gold in arranged constellations.
While rummaging it was a pleasure to feel my fingers wade through
The twenty five cent bouncy balls from the post office;
Rattle the saved baby teeth in the snuff boxes,
And examine every blade from the pen knife initialed
With shallow etched letters and spots of rust.
It was the undisclosed locations of 144 N. Main that
Were always the finest to rediscover, as
I picked up an old leather book, scratched by thumb tacks and
Blew the dust off the hide face to be
Reminded that God made desert islands forCrusoe’s to wreck on.
I picked up the metal travel tubes for
Tooth brushes, no longer needed by their skeleton teeth.
Un oiled locks forgotten by their skeleton keys,
And locks of hair un brushed by skeleton memories.
I see a picture of my bald grandpa on that camping
Trip where he taught
Three pairs of eight year old hands how to
Decorate the fishing lines with the same silver hooks
And glinting lures that were scattered in the wood grain corners.
Underneath the picture was a stack of old calendar pages from 1987, 90, and 95
That mark time for the figurine bears dancing
Like ballerinas in stop motion progression
Every few months the drawer opens.
And I look, as if through the wrong end of the telescope,With a beard not so white, and I see shapes like the glassless rims of the old spectacles
In the cock roach crawl space—I take on eyes for
Seeing and only find my deficits magnified—my images and memories
Unkept and tattered in the restricted extravagance of the mind.
I search through the mildew pages of a dime novel where inscribed I find
“For Mikey, on his birthday. I love you son”- signed Dad 1996,
With no official copyright, except a signature of
Magnified love with no exceptions for plagiarism or revision.
In its pages are the pressed leafs of a pasture oak
And a cross stitched bookmark displaying the backs of two lovers at sunset.
I gaze at the dry thread marks and leaf veins. These old artifacts: Once
Stitched to life by old branches and hands whose care was once organic and deliberate,
Are now laid to rest in the 24x12 inch sepulcher of deep stained mahogany.
Midnight at Gatsby’s, featuring guests from various boxes
There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his motor-boats slid the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains.
A silver Sebring emerged out of the dark road and came to a stop on the vast lawn. Two men exited the vehicle.
“Thanks for inviting me along,” the first man said. He had a moon shaped face and wore thick glasses.
“Oh, sure. Really didn’t give it any thought.” The second man was slightly smaller in stature. He held a Tupperware container of what appeared to be potato salad. They started up the lawn towards the house, walking slowly. Their heads tilted back as they took in the enormity of the house. Then downwards, comparing themselves with the people, some of which were diamond studded and carrying long flutes of champagne which created a sweat on their fingers. Others buzzed around the room in tuxedos with long tails floating behind them as they carried trays and plates of food to and fro. The two men slowly came to a halt.
“Michael, you’re dressed exactly like the servants--,”
“—Shut up. Okay, change shirts with me.” They walked hurriedly to the shelter of a nearby tree.
“Wait. I don’ think yours’ will fit me,” said Dwight.
“I don’t care.” They struggled to pull their shirts off of their back, unknowingly putting on a show for those who stood a mere forty feet away.
“That would have been really embarrassing,” commented Dwight as he finished his last buttons. “Crisis averted.”
Tiny smiles began to creep across their faces, like two boys with a secret as they walked back into the party. Michael hardly noticed those who were rolling their eyes or staring, slightly amused as they downed their champagne. At the bottom of the front steps, he clutched his potato salad between two hands as he searched for a spot to put it. Magically, a servant approached with an empty tray perched on his shoulders and Michael quickly set the Tupperware on the tray as the server whizzed past him. Michael began to ascend the marble steps, clearly satisfied with his wit, as the servant halted to see what had been placed on his clean, sterling silver platter. He lifted the warm salad off of the tray, raising his nose to the sky while his lips protruded downward in disgust. The servant waltzed past a row of small table where guests enjoyed the scene to a trash bin where he dumped the unwanted food.
Sitting near the trash bin were a man and woman, who seemed to be surrounded by the awkward air of a blind date.
“That's the Marilyn Monroe section, that's Mamie Van Doren... I don't see Jayne Mansfield, she must have the night off or something…” explained the man.
The woman nodded, either unimpressed or intimidated by the celebrities in her midst. Another awkward silence filled the moment, as she checked her make up with her compact mirror. Finally, an interesting thought popped into her head as she snapped her mirror shut.
“Don't you hate that?,” Mia asked.
“What?” asked Vincent.
“Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?”
“I don't know,” said Vincent. “That's a good question.”
Mia brought the straw of her milkshake to her lips and took a small swallow, “That's
when you know you've found somebody special. When you can just shut the f*** up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.”
Vincent nodded and gave a little smile. Behind him a crowd broke out in uproarious laughter, he looked back to see what was going on.
“Vincent, do you still want to hear my Fox Force Five joke?” Mia asked.
“Sure, but I think I'm still a little too petrified to laugh.”
“No, you wont laugh, 'cus it's not funny. But if you still wanna hear it, I'll tell it.”
“I can't wait."
“Three tomatoes are walking down the street- a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him... and says, Catch up.”
Vincent looked up at Mia as his faced relaxed into a warm smile. She smiled back, before grabbing her clutch from the table and standing up.
“I have to go powder my nose,” she said and walked away.
Mia walked swiftly up the lawn, passing through the various cliques. To her left a white haired man in a suit, stood clumsily on top of a table. Broken glass and food were falling to the grass as the older gentlemen walked drunkenly across the table, his eyes fixated on the moon.
His stretched his hand toward the sky, calling out to it saying, “And further still! At an unearthly height! A luminary clock! Stood against the sky!”
The other people at the table seemed both amused and disturbed. Mia hurried past them until she reached the house. In search of a bathroom, she walked down a long hall in which people were lined up against the wall. Assuming this was a line to a bathroom, she fell into place behind the other ten or twenty people.
Before another minute could pass, to her left, a man stormed down the hall, away from another man being pulled into room by a woman.
As he walked away huffing, he exclaimed, “They’re a rotten crowd. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together!”
The whole event was confusion and all of the people involved were as well. But, it brought to mind that in my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since: “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”