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Five Poems, by G. C. Waldrep

Night 553

Small hawk of days
beneath the red sail,
rusty red of blood
once shed, now dried—
is only a small hawk.
We are guided into
the world, that preferred
companionship.
There is always
another prey, another
appetite. All the maps
splutter & go out.
Each vigilance
imparts an aura
around which breath
circulates. Poor
breath, how this hawk
chases you, your
air through this air.
Is it deadly.
Is it consequence.
It is only a small hawk,
not large at all.
Through you it slices
like a secret cord
linking the not-you
to the greater, grander
not-you. And you
now in two pieces
(though this repeats
indefinitely).
Hawk on the wing,
the carmine shout of it
you now perceive
from both your
severed certainties
luffing & withdrawing
at one step removed
from the local
expulsion,
the blunt end of it
unburling before us.

 

Night 554

The healthier bells,
I thought I read.
& therefore
the less healthy bells,
the sickly bells:
these must exist.
We keep to the prow
of mourning.
Your thees & thous,
master Quaker:
they enlist.
Imperishment
may have cost us
our embarkations.
But the bright strand
of maimed bells,
ruined bells, palsied
bells delights:
we could be
happy here, perhaps.
I am appalled by
love & other dusts.
We draw
bells from the surf,
which tenders them
as currency.
They gasp
& shudder, once,
twice, they are still,
their milled edges
blurring a little
as we pass
bits of our warmth
from our bodies
into theirs,
a casual horror
like winter, secrecies.
We are balanced
in & on the world
unbeggaredly;
we hold a myth.
Then we let it fall.

 

Night 832

I devised an absolute,
planed it
smooth, oiled it
with my own dusk.

In the Visitation.
In the soil
left on the far bank.

Abandonment
vs. desertion, a study.

What would you
squander. This thing
that strikes you,
& strikes at you, &
is you.

Perfect hymn of it
where oaks toil,
innocent
of their shadows.

Stain this mirror now.

We are
laid in it like a sweat.

 

Night 854

The dimensional nearness
of light,
how remarkable.
The seizure, a subsidence.

Far against the elements
I sought you.

You sing & honey twists
as if in thirst.

Unbelievable
will of the bone, inscribe
your blank emblem
where you will,
I bind my strength to you.

I wake
in the grave you complete.

Offerings left
on the surface of a mirror
broken
by other prophets.

I mean all the prophets.

Those who knelt
to lap at the water, &
those who drank
from their cupped hands.

 

Night 472

Suddenly the image
is here, with us.

We are startled
by the rudimentary
wings.

We had expected
something
larger,
or more powerful.

We confess it
to one another
through our glances,
the unspeakable:
This image
is unable to fly.

Eventually we grow
accustomed
to the image
among us, grounded.

We are comforted
in obscure ways.
We smile
at the births
of all our children.

 

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G. C. Waldrep is the author of Goldbeater’s Skin, Disclamor, Archicembalo, feast gently, and Testament; and Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (with John Gallaher). His chapbooks include The Batteries, One Way No Exit, Szent László Hotel, and Susquehanna. Waldrep’s editing projects include Homage to Paul Celan (with Ilya Kaminsky) and The Arcadia Project (with Joshua Corey). Waldrep lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Bucknell University.

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