CRITIQUE BY TIGER
after May Swenson
May my defiance perish in your jaws, succumb
as in a dream on the grassy nights
you stalk. May I be overcome
by shredding, tender fury,
if I should dare. If I should sleep, please, breathe your bites
along my cassocked shoulders: leave a mark. Your hide
spread its slat-stenciled tapestry
across my face, the bones inside
withheld from any query
by muscles undulating under muscle. See,
my manuscripts are marmalade aflame, my ink
awash, with its gamy mollusk scent.
The claim form that read "Wild beast (extinct),"
denied, despite my penury,
your diamond eye: the way, without consent,
you patterned me. For you, the closets are gorged with kills,
the furniture has gone askew,
and my twenty favored words lie still
along the curve of your worry
teeth. You could splinter them. I want you to.
WE THINK THIS, BUT NEVER IS IT SEEN
I live in a rocky niche, sheltered
from the wind, but never
quite dry, where the sun shines in only
three times a year.
Suspicious of comfort,
of course you live atop rocks. Desperate
to survive, of course
you remain perched there. Like
a sunstruck bird, you perch and sing.
From below, I hear the shouts of an unseen
man: Elijah, in waiting, elsewhere
along the analemma: not even the sun
sees us both at once. There is a word
for this plight in his
language, I am sure of it, one
of the things he shouts:
like Nothing ever is erased. And We think this
but never is it seen.
Even cold water runs a course
as much as it swirls.
Instead what we see are friends
who turn away, never seen
to age. We judge the shortening
tendons by how
hands claw into fists. We see
landscapes not nearly
so tall as we remember them, colors
not nearly so rich,
as they bleach into noon. What have they
to do with us, our
tremored grasp? Elijah is howling
again, surely from want
of knowing. And from the sun.
I do not know what
language he speaks, but in his clamor
I have come to hear:
Deluge. Delectation. Lift.
These two poems are from the chapbook Quodlibet, out in February 2009 from New Michigan Press. [link]
ON "Critique by Tiger":
This one tried to go about in public without a third stanza as if nothing was wrong for five years, but we both knew that it was living a lie.
ON "We Think This, but Never Is It Seen"
This one began as half of a prose poem whose other half seems to be about fog and planes and is now called "Touch of Yaw." It remains to be seen whether this was twinning or fetus in fetu.