Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wisconsin Farm

By: K. Jan Harvey

Between the black earth and the sky,
Where the eye is fixed by the barbs of pines
Like a cricket chirping, still, upon a pin;
The northern spring is born and dies again,
And whispers to her fields in tones
Of gentle, dreadful, honest moans,
‘I gave you birth in these vicious moans,
Yet ere you cried I clothed my breasts,
For you were born too old,
Too old to see my nakedness.’
The whispers disappear in stalks of corn,
Brown before the kernel shells were born
Upon the wind.
The northern spring, it dies again
In a single sway among the sticky boughs
And the wind brings frost on the window-pane.
The world is opaque.
The world is opaque. like a vein.

In the barn another litter purrs,
In hay, where six or seven bodies lay,
And fertile Taffy, dressed in furs of calico and summer heat,
Reclines to flaunt her naked teats.
But we, with wiser industry,
Knowing the limit of our care,
Killed them all; I was there.
Here is the black earth beneath the nothing sky
Where we shot them; the stiff shots slowly die
On that northern wind.
But where is the blood those kittens spilt?
A thimble full, a glass of milk upset?
We do not know.
It mingles with the calico.
What color is the dingy barn?
‘I come from a Wisconsin farm.
I think our flag is blue, I think, or are there two?
One blue, yes, but also white that winter night,
When it hung below the moon, above our dead.
Blue and white, but nothing here is red.’

We learned a long, long time ago,
What is the meaning of calico.
Our soil rich, our snow a skull,
And autumn orange to rip apart the leaves
And stitch them into something whole, and in between—
Nothing here is really green.
Not even the evergreens.
And the cat, that queen in furs,
The northern dynasty of purrs,
She’s pregnant again, and bleeds upon the hay
In the heat in the barn, where she used to lay
With the large male cat, obscure and gray.
She’ll show you sure, she has no shame,
The blood, the meat, it’s all the same
To a cat, but we are wiser.
We are good.
The world is opaque. like a period.

Here she eats her cereal
With too much milk, the fertile box
Half empties over the chipp’d bowl,
As if she should have been a son.
Her calico distracts the sun from working in the field,
And autumn comes with purrs from where
It started in her hair.
She’s pregnant now, so like the bowl,
So hungry to be something whole.

In the barn another burden lows,
A child of the northern snows,
We had such hopes for this one, though,
It would never be a bull.
What color is the dingy barn?
A red the wind has turned to wool,
Brown, between the blood and flowers
Which are yellow in the summer hours.
What color is the barn? ‘I don’t recall,
I don’t remember spring at all.
We castrated it.’ The world is tall,
Like the legs of the calf that walks like a doll
Into the pasture, out of the stall.

We knew it all, and what it means,
The labor pains, the lusty screams of calico
Cats in heat behind the barn,
I come from a Wisconsin farm.
But what lies in the stall, still warm?
It isn’t red, as we would guess,
But purple,
The color of the dynasty, and white
The color of her skin, which means our flesh
Is something in between—
‘I did not I did not do
What I may easily say was you.
If you were a man, I would be too.
I’m good. I’m good.
And so are you.’
And that is why the northern spring,
Remains obscure but to the eye
That yells, so pinned by evergreens,
Of what it saw, and what it means,
And what it means to say,
Preserved like a casket in the snow
Where feral cats will go to be alone—and doubt.
They lay there in the hay as it walked out
Into the pasture, gray,
Between the black earth and the sky.
And then we followed, you and I,
And took our first breath—
The world is opaque.The world is opaque. like death.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

To the Entomologist

By: K. Jan Harvey

You gave me your peculiarities,
Your ether and jar,
And I see they have gotten you pretty far.
I dreamed of held back tears
And wasted years
And fears confronted to the noise of cheers.
The ethered cotton balls are in my ears.
A spike passed through my back;
But to you it was only a pin put beneath the fingernail
Which claws the limp earth forward through the solar system.
Wisdom says you'll soon forget me,
But it echoes, I'll remember thee
And your peculiarities.

The Precipice

By: K. Jan Harvey

I stood at the edge of the precipice,
Or what it has become;
Filled with nothing, redeemable, harvested, had.
The stutter of a rushed voice
Corrupted that moment of quiet at the last of a breath.
I held my breath to hear,
It suddenly was clear,
There was laughter, much rejoicing
At a joke.
'We outdid them!' It cascaded,
And it toppled down the hillside with the laugher.
Then together we turned to the cliff
And set about rigging a clever elevator on its face,
But I began digging.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Lines

By: K. Jan Harvey

She read to me the poetry
Of she-roses who can't refuse their lovers.
But I said, 'I'm not a bee.'
'I'm the animal that supersedes his brothers;
Stung and angry.' She looked away
And at the map of Spain I'd hang upon my wall.
"If this were all, I'd take it all and nothing more."