Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Critique of the Bat

The limbs of king crabs bathed in salts
Cannot pretend at the command
Of leather-winged somersaults.
Of twisting from a silouette.
Of squirming in a dirty coat.
They are all so peasant poor in furs
And faults and sins beyond all doubt of conscience.
Wicked and romantic; these are dreams.
They order eyes to follow,
And command the innocent view,
And the tongue to moisten on the hollow of the listening lip.
Supreme of every earthern ghost,
Of every emerald hue,
And putting them to sleep.
Weep for the loss the morning shows
When the husband finds what has been taken--
Or rather finds it not--, when he awakens.

Drown your loves and feed them to the crabs.
They will not touch the salt in water, but in blood.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I am seen once in the light of fire
As the choir of thoughts persists on a note breaking glass,
Shaping conclusions towards the obvious.
Again I am seen to burn away
In bursts of lessening light until I am not understood.

The match strikes on love,
The abrasion of sacrifice; I am more when I burn.

Turn, turn, turn the fist on the bellows,
Pounding down man locked in earth in space.
Give me the grace to live and burn.
I love a girl, a pearl,
But we could not dare to be above ourselves:
Flee once and the earth may fold away,
Breathe once out, and the chest collapses in,
Begin to doubt that we love at all--
Or that we live.

But the match strikes on love, we live!
See the glow as the wind blows.
It knows the will of ancient shells shaped as fine jewelry.
The choir of hidden exhalations burst in squares;
They tear away the smooth of heirloom bark.
It's dark--too dark--but breathe the scent
Of cedars bent and broken in the writhing, rent,
And brightest pattern of intention on a weaker will;
Love shatters to reveal not pearls,
But shells to grow them in.

I will be known to cast gray pearls that shone
Once when I alone existed as a child
Into the brighter noble tender chaos;
That fire without fuel or heat,
But sweet aromas on these stones
That crack and split and moan and sigh
And exhale as they purify.

And that match struck on love.
And the gritty feathers of a shapeless dove.
And what comes from above is higher than we are.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Memoir: Of Things That Never Occurred

By: K. Jan Harvey

"I recall--Central Park in fall--you tore your dress, what a mess--" somewhat eased or squeezed out from undersized but confident vocal chords under a shampoo mohawk in the shower. It's a vivid memory--Central Park is. That dress, a shade brighter than the morbid leaves, looking like vague examples of German Expressionism on their invisible branches. And the leg made visible at the knee, the fabric torn away on the arm of a wrought-iron bench, still suspended there as if the bench were bleeding. What a mess. We went home to Kentucky and I never saw you again.

I went out tonight to find that song. Ella Fitzgerald sings it. That was evening. Two hours and this is night. I have only a "best of" collection of The Drifters and a compliment on my rare taste.

"Yeah man, you don't see many people our age who are into vintage soul."

Vintage soul. The ability to create from the depth of one's own being; to create something that was not there before, that never was. Or perhaps it's only reconstruction. Are our vintage souls "best of" compilations?

My last stop; one last bookstore open late. Another modern bookstore, in which "classic literature" commands a single shelf, all published by one company. Melville, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, Poe, all vintage literature, remotely nostalgic and not without charm, giving rise to expressions that everyone recalls and no one has ever used, except in sophmore year college research papers. No "Donke Schoen" in the Ella section of the Jazz cd's. Only a pear-shape slouching through the open door of a Roadmaster wagon in the parking lot. His white hair looks classic in the humid blue sunset, along with his long white socks and three to four inches of white shin under indiscernable shorts. There are hundreds of these men in the city; they are as numerous as youths. I approach softly, trying my best to appear unthreatening, friendly, and even weak. Still a sort of death-face with bifocals leered from the passenger seat under a wig of powder blue cottonballs. I wonder if he knows it's in the car, waiting for him, to take him under.

He speaks first. He does know it's there. "I know it's there. Waiting, with my name on a parchment or something like that, or maybe just a photograph, or even a number. It's been there for a very long time, so don't worry about me. I'll no doubt make it home tonight. I'll go that way, anyway. We all must. At some point ahead, the light must turn red."

"Yes sir, " I say, leaning my hand on the open car door like in the movies as he exhales heavily down into the driver's seat, "but are you certain, sir? Do you want me to follow you or something? I can, you know, I have time."

"Oh, you will, " he says, "you will, " and closes the door lightly, and not all the way so that a red bead appears on the dashboard when he starts the car.

I remember a friend in college who had a Roadmaster. He called it "the womb," which I laughed at, because it looked like a funeral car. It was over-wide and round on top and it swayed uncertainly but never, never would tip. Like a womb after all. It's quite a joke if you have a sense of humor. But few of us do, that's pride--or fear. Either way, it doesn't know what's coming, and panics. That's nostalgia. That's a vintage soul.

When I start the car, "The Boxer" comes on too loud on the radio. I pay my respects: I turn down the radio and let the Roadmaster pass behind me before I back out. Of course I never approached the man. I barely even saw him. But memory is not collected from experience. That's why it's romantic, attrative like selfishness, and dear.

Driving home, I rolled down the windows for "I Think We're Alone Now." I want people to know I dig Tommy James. We are alone if we're not careful. Creating memories, who needs to make them? But the smell like brats through the open windows briefly. Someone jumps in a white tank-top. I make myself think I'm alone, but even my fish is getting better. The fin rot is clearing up, and every traffic light I see ahead is red, but as I approach, before I can slow down, it blinks green again. Blue-green, like that humid sunset in the city lights, and nothing is morbid.