C Dylan Bassett



kept in the fragments

          of the open field

the keeper left unkept

          the beehive and hum

the attendant bees

          I was (was I) enclosed by

which (or whom)

          I sought (seeking me)




a mountain half the size

           and quietly

as daybreak

          of the hawk going

above it (to which it

          it is only a point)

is clouds in the sky




what good does a memory

          of the garden here

(half dead) (half place)

          (half thinking

the place) do to remain

           aware of me

the obscurest moon

          illuminating obscurity




summer had been

          like a perfection

of thought the small birds

          what survived knowing

amid a colorless sky

          where to find the water




the day is footsteps

          steps outside the day

rising in the subjunctive

          the shape (of god)

where none should

          be (was)




the distances go and go

          while the moon (I

feel it in my teeth) holds


in semblance

          just vague

enough to gather gold

          in the earth by




because light is not

          something you see

exactly the day rears up

          its question mark:

what (or whom) I've known

          I no longer do

like water in the desert

          turning into thirst




it struck me in my outlook

           light seizing form

(like the rain

          reflecting it)

there is no place

          that cannot see me

in the error of

          my (not) seeing you




or else it is not you

          (seeking) (being sought)

or else I have survived

          the idea that made me

(having tasted the root

          of my own tongue)




it's different to hear

          (a voice)

there is no one else

          from behind me

as if in a photograph

          that rhymes

(itself a sound

          not human)

with music




the threat of emptiness

          ensures (its own)

containment (endless sky

          not unlike a wall)

a mass without a form

          is itself (one)




after you left was

          windy every day

if every day was

          where I dwelled

in not why but whether

          I was alone



(it) like the moon goes

          only one way

resembling nothing else

          (or nothing itself

or that which is most

          unlike it) nearly

invisible enough

          to watch me




and/or so tired

          I was of the world

formerly described

          to me (or that

to which you (a pronoun

          permitting) cannot

be mended




lead (or having been) by no

          (remaining itself

not exactly a self) (a

          hummingbird of air)

one toward a home

          not yet remembered

(already the desert

          becoming reality)




the desert (and thus it sticks

          to the eye)

is a good landscape

          to remember creation

is of all the oldest error

          (whichever way I go

was once an ocean)





When I wrote this poem, I was living out of my car in the Mojave desert. I was alone, or almost alone. I'd been reading Paul Celan and Robert Alter's translation of The Book of Psalms.