- Anthology, Archives, Poetry, Reading, Writing

Three Poems, by G. C. Waldrep


The Fern Cliff (V) (Seizure of the Waters)

to locate here: the tongue’s fluent seizure:
middling breath
of the oriole, serial warblers
glamming up the understory: pound for pound
portraiture’s a tawdry art:
seamless garment of the river’s steady flow
conjoined with the breeze, matter’s
argument with matter,
frottage or bricolage: my friend asked me
what, if anything, I miss when I read
a poem by Ammons, say, or Mary Oliver:
once again
it’s the crevice sleep carves out
of axial relations: galax
& running cedar on the far bank, not arguments
about God, not hardly:
to see a hand in them
is to mistake, as Ephrem noted, harp for harp:
what I miss is either harp, that music
construed or contused:
what the hand feels
when it presses the tool into the metal
is how Weil figured it, not a question
of physics: but of how physics
passes through us: a distant rooster’s bawl
is not an allegory, though perhaps
as with dogs near & far barking
it’s trespass
the world brings news of: if news: if world:
then the lapsed bond we admit
as citizenship: the fugitive motions captured
by night on some huntsman’s cam:
it’s slower, this broken
amplitude, within sight of the falls:
gravity’s gaudy shop
display: I stub my toe into the winch of it:
or, by right of solecism, messuage:
to dwell:
to linger, tarry, to view oneself in relation,
as relation: a rite compressed:
vagile deposit, sedimentary: I keep wanting
to plunge some aspect
of my body
into music’s sparse if corrective refrain:


The Fern Cliff (VI)

observe the waste of appetite: debris
spun as though from the thighbone
of a swan:
nothing has been abandoned
per se, that is, we have indeed abandoned
nothing, we have
departed from it: as from a spouse:
to be married to nothing, & then
to have formerly
been married (to nothing): I make a fist
in silence, & alone: just
to make it, to exercise my suffrage:
leaves a scrap of experience
at the temple’s gilt
collection box: duly incorporated
into such service as the priest on duty
may direct: we may be melted
to serve some king
in Babylon, or left to talk
among ourselves, as you will:
this quiet host:
insects: flies, lice, mites, the nymphs
of the deer ticks just gaining
their brief bearings
in the pageant: their thirsty majority,
prompts hissed from the wings:
vena cava or cloaca mundi:
I admit I once had friends, I liked
the idea of having friends:
& the friends themselves waving back
as the little boat
took them further out upon the water:


The Fern Cliff (VII)

the constitution the capillaries had signed,
their bold but tiny
paraphs: I conclude
all grass is as flesh, a friable burden:
it’s possible to work backward
from definitions
of God, perhaps we’d be
better off: register on the spectrum of joy:
which just as possibly we only,
being certified orphans, can perceive:
I touch nothing,
no, not even the reconstituted
foliage, the little workshops at my feet:
& yet I both taste
& am tasted:
this is an ode to possession, & possession’s
achieved presence: that drifts
against the splash boards of the body’s
earthen dam: hauled up in turn
with long steel rakes, matter announces
not the gray vole licking itself
inside its sandy burrow:
nor the broad ascension: surveillance
of the pulse’s measured fascicles:
I abandoned
the palace of windows
in order to attend this gaudy seance:
which is to say, Archie,
the Pentecostals
had more than a few things
right, you might have benefitted
from their uttermost: their sonatinas
of tongues:
how much more “natural”
can I, still in possession of all but four
of my original teeth,
be: a contour: perhaps an isocline:
map of the body thrown up
hard against the world’s
bronze parietal, my pockets turned
inside out: & then, yes, nothing
but the sound
of another dog barking: without reference
to the season, or to the solar flares:


3 thoughts on “Three Poems, by G. C. Waldrep

Leave a Reply