City Afternoon 2
The air defines what it will protect
By doing that, and this dim picture
Deserves such treatment, being of old people young once
Sucked screaming through the geriatric mill.
Sometimes I feel this road has little feet beneath it
That go on despite my reprimanding them
Like an America that’s seeped in
To the overall volume just
To show you that it could.
The depiction involves garlands
And that the future could change
Waiting in the dim light
To progress like a single hair through metal
Diagonally in the reflecting pool.
No Way of Knowing 2
And? The certainty of colors
And their rescue in language?
And the rudimentary devices of the street
Hurried to music? The corners of time
Shifted like cotton tiles out of the dark?
And other strange names for what we called you?
Yes, most likely. But then they were waking up
Meanwhile to decimate the pact-holders.
Everything gets carried off in the end
But not anywhere else, and the dank
Setting matters on the surface of a flood.
When it wasn’t a holiday, we waited
In line for the centennial where every brow
Gets decorated but not every landscape,
Though we’d designed the garment ourselves
To adjust to these new domains. Sweden
Can’t not be about itself, even occasionally.
One page turns and shows an itinerant map.
I can’t speak for the business I’m minding
Until the precise moment shows itself unencumbered,
And there we get nervous, in my life.
The Spanish lessons go undisturbed on the continent,
But something gets in—yes, the body
In a novel, meaning one thing the way a fragment gathers
With its others to do just that. The fact that
We draw flowers is to say that anxiety exists
As a metaphor before it does this morning.
I’ve worked on the influences, precariously,
Shifting from one foot, zeroing in on the edge
Where we add up the binary systems and expect
to find this or that. I need a job while I’m alive
Inducing starved children into a food coma
In the field we turn into a cafeteria
And act parallel to this friendly mirage.
I can do what I want even if that’s just sitting,
Lifting lazily from the nurse’s madness—at best—
And hide myself under the lunch table
That the light gets to somehow. Add it all
Once and that will be where we start
To witness the neighbors stretching their yellow tape
To meet the inaugurated morning and push it back.
Time-wise, I’m more interested in being close to the finale
Such that they tell you, “Here it comes.”
I pulled an apocalyptic prophecy from my pocket
In the passage that is this expanse leading
To a perfume drenched in itself if indecorously so.
At the reception, we met our dance partner
And went from there. Breaking up shouldn’t happen
With a handshake on the bench at sunset,
Preserving our ferality like a silk cross
Pressed between the pages of a magazine. The opacity
Of plant life ruins itself in just a little heat.
For memory’s sake, we’ve gotten close enough
To say that, anyway, in the evenings.
Give us our snapdragons with the children’s
And ward off all else like a doctor who is loved
Bending backwards to retrieve the dial
That’s come off. You can monitor
Almost anything, and so we come to our heroine
Expecting to, until she too turns invisible,
If accidentally so, like the time she did
It in that also did. I miss that time. Our totality
Breaks out into a feeling and shudders in
The lobby of its empty casino.
I need a doctor who can renew
My prescription to drive in the country.
(Waterford spontaneously combusted.)
The meadows became implicated in the mood
Of trial and other smaller bits of emotion
That point to the fact that you have stayed on
Supplying a theory of friendship that favors
Rest in each other’s arms during the giant
Form of twilight that’s begun to peel off. You should
Spend the afternoon reiterating the branch pattern
They told you stopped the light on the floor
From being there to keep everything solid,
Because if it moves it isn’t. One solution
Would be to ban camaraderie and woven things
And listen to the old LP with your other favorites
Becoming fantastic as the savages
Whose money is dead. There is a stimmüng.
A chair lengthens in its days to be just that.
Sand Pail 2
leads down the red road jutting
out from its environmentally viable
wind-units as we approach. A
directs traffic from the center
of these crocuses in the piazza at night
by a sort of curving. The situation exits. Why
don’t we do the same?
A development can involve digging, “they” say;
uninterrupted filters do;
moments of capital
depict you on the beach.
Robin Hood's Barn 2
This is how the day would be: forgotten
Except that it rained slightly, like some cologne
You’d meant to buy, suggestive
Of the moment you were meant
To wear it in. The birds are terrible
But not mean, especially
Not to this happiness you put them to.
But probably heaven is sick with fruit and jewels
If not vegetables like hell which is resilient
And does not stray from the outline
Of a collapsed contour drawing, brushed
With oil and burning slightly
Just on the edge of solitude
Having turned to that
After the night conversions came
To dismiss you from the high table
Rotating in the stairwell as if to decide
Which way was worth its pursuit.
Come on and join the feasting
Grounds scattered like husks
In what could’ve been as still
As the final lemonade you sipped damply
And clean as a wick the way you intend
To be, speeding toward me,
The fine principle of abduction
Being a means to transport this boat from its clay
Mire that you reported to with your lantern
At the ready. Who were those people?
The twenty-nine of them dimming
The manor for some party
In a manner parallel to the rate
At which you think of steepness
Mounting the side of this roundabout palace
At an angle they determined to be purely aesthetic.
Serenity is the dumb luck
You rushed to meet the “How are you”s with
And turn the conversation to a few years
That rise into probability
Before anyone can stop them and snuff this burning
Bush which will ruin—if not us then
Our rapport with the deaf bears
Circling their distant apocalypse like a moon
Pulled to what waters shall know it
Though you better not dare to.
I am not the honored guest
They called you to greet. Quite possibly,
You are, and that would make me
And light something else that mothers
And protects this errant climate.
PAUL LEGAULT is the co-founder of the translation press Telephone Books; the author of three books of poetry: The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn, 2010), The Other Poems (Fence, 2011), The Emily Dickinson Reader (McSweeney’s, 2012); and co-editor of The Sonnets: Translating & Rewriting Shakespeare (Nightboat/Telephone, 2012). He’s here: www.theotherpaul.com.
Photo Credit: Jesse Hlebo