Thursday, June 26, 2014

Four New Poems by Andy Stallings

To Nico Alvarado

It isn't like
you find your
way in rooms
your friends have
left still cresting
with their laughter
years ago it
isn't like in a
backyard filled
with mint &
children you
think you see
(someone has
died) what you
might still call
god or a ghost
or illusion but
it isn't
like you can
ever understand
what fills your
willing arms
outside of money
with no regret
& outside there's
rain so it isn't
like you see
through trees
dark & close the
girl's face
in the train
window passing
lit & looking
out it isn't like
that not now
but anyhow
again you flood
with longing
with love you
always will lifting
from the garden
a radish from its
coil the hose
from its mirror
the radiant
night & all
the melancholy
songs you sing
to your
children hush
Cecilia your son's
alright it isn't like
there's nothing
pure as death to
give repair & we
fall to sleep the
sound of rain &
radio decay grown
clear around
the edges of our
lives it's not
repair though
you know I
think it's there
we acquire

To Zoë Clements

Last night
together with
you I
rode an open trolley
between the wharves &
worn-out strip malls of
some foreign distant

you described
the golden rooms
& mint groves of
Tennessee I heard
music in it &
anymore there isn't
a thing to mourn for
not an absent
hand not a name
everyone sees
the sky sliced up
before us

the more I am
distracted mid-
sentence by this dream
the more I drift
past storybook Eiffel
Towers into the day
the more I
meet you on this hopeless
tarmac in steady rain
& call where we stand death
& speak openly of
the dead &

today's the white
tunnel through a furled
flower's stem & outside
the moon &
inside the moon

here's the brilliant
hairdo brilliantly
clean &
here's your
asking of the city
whatever it will not give
in this case

there's a passenger
across the aisle as quickly
gone you
want them back
more than you want
your index finger
say –

Zoë the children
are sleeping still
& it's Christmas
morning generous
dust-lovely Budapest must
feel so fresh
today the decent
cafes occupied
by good-looking
middle-aged women
learning chess &

I have named
this tarmac death &
somehow really do
believe in ghosts
& leave the doors

& sing to
keep them near a
song though
Zoë it can't
hold us all

home around me
sings an elegant
boundary & here

with the children I
take ordinary
walks full of
outside the wide
of night

To Hunter Deely

What consoles me
what causes me
even now
to be hopeful
is the image
of Earth's final
enduring silence:
the reddening
mostly metallic
floes in magma
quiet & flush
with speed as it is
absorbed by
the chromosphere
first ablation
of the crust
then the mantle
vaporized then
a last push
to the heart
of the world
& all music
& all weather
& all love I
harbor &
distribute at last
will have been
without meaning
at most
a brief expansion
of light from
a dying star
& yet
among all of
to have been
without meaning

To Jay Thompson

I've just set down
The Astonished Man
& come inside
where I feel
less alive
& can write

my shadow
out there soared
over the lawn &
the driveway
out to the sea

the sea already
darkening in
late sun &
it will rain

my shadow soared

I had to give up

things like that
always turn me

gestures &
things once

to be seen &
to know
the story

as soon as I've
seen a tugboat
roll its engines &
speed ahead
of an oil tanker
on the river
while a sailor
walks like it's
nothing across
the deck it's
for me
I don't need
to watch him
haul up the ropes
or shut the hatches
to know
the shape of his work

it's as though the
dream of open
ocean is
more perfect than
open ocean

it's not

a story can
make it feel
that way

but even when
you come to
The Astonished
Man I'd rather
sit silently with
Manolo Secco at
some desolate
Brazilian filling
station than read
about it in prose

I'd rather read
a diary than
a book of poems

I'd rather take
a walk with you
than either

we won't have to
go far to feel
the good air all
around us crashing
blossoms fooled by
false spring who
cares how
brief I'd give
anything to get
fooled for awhile
like that

to poke an anthill
with a branch the
last storm dropped
watch a kite
in the rain
& not to stand
for even a minute
in place

it is the character
of thought to share
when you find you are
stopped & looking out
at the sea it's time
to move on
to say hello I'm
walking here
to the distant
ships sliding ahead

to never look
aside or
behind because
what was
with you is
with you always
& requires no
amplification it
simply moves

the danger is
thinking too
clearly or
too long

Jennifer showed me
how to pronounce
profond aujourd'hui
Abi explained
what it meant
Melissa & I
stood in the kitchen
& I wanted only
to stand in
the kitchen an
hour longer not
quite understanding
or able to say

knowing the
language just
keeps it from you

living is living
& no one
ever needs to
plot it out?

there's a story
about a man who
arrives by boat it's
not a small town
it's a city but
one impressed by
news of itself
so that anything
heard on one street
echoes everywhere
secretively but
fast the man
must be some
kind of marvel
a minor king of
business entirely
modern or maybe
he works in movies
it's said he'll
stay a week &
there are others
traveling behind
his trunks his
cameras his people
he walks into the city
carrying nothing
he's looking for
some secret some
essential truth
of the city the way
it regards itself
when men like him
aren't around with
the promise of
movies reflecting
back a face as blank
as the one it gives
to strangers
but the city is not
so closed he discovers
though its smile as well
may be a kind of guard
when he gets that far
the man sits down
for lunch
& for days the city
thinks only of
his lunches
at first he orders
only the local foods
anemones shellfish snails
hot broths & oyster
sauces alcohols
but soon he asks
for spitted wrens
roasted turtle different
African brush fowl
the proprietor
orders each & each
is delivered by lunch
next day at exorbitant
expense but the man
pays for everything
in advance there's
nothing he will not
order nothing he
will not eat
it gets so
the schoolboys
walk past
the bistro as soon
as they're let out
each day
they lean across
the low iron fence
to ask what he's
ordered & remain
nearby to learn
how he eats the thing
the lawyers stroll past
twice a day leaving
for & returning
from siesta even
the judges & council
members pass that
way & turn as they
pass to watch the
man in movies
take his lunch
only the port workers
maintain their distance
either they know
there have been delays
or that there could
never have been
delays & that either
way the man will
stay on alone
what could they say
at this time
that would alter
the story
is there more
that I need
to tell of course
he meets an
important woman she's
married to the mayor
or runs a gambling
den she'll do
anything he asks &
he knows how to
handle that
no one knows
where they sleep
or if they sleep they
couldn't possibly sleep
just as the city
begins to lose itself
to enter once &
for all the script
writing itself
a woman arrives by
sea in the dead
of night few people
see her but it's
said she's an
African queen or the
heiress to
an oil or tobacco
fortune in the
States she
finds him in
the bistro or on
the outskirts it
doesn't matter which
he leaves with her
maybe before
he leaves he
says to someone
“you do
what the moment
requires but
the moment &
what it requires
is never the same”
& that's that
there's no more
the schoolboys go
back to their lessons
the mayor's wife
returns to her home
the proprietor of
the bistro sits down
with his cronies again
to play dominoes
maybe one day
a boat arrives &
unloads some trunks
& a camera nobody
comes to claim
the dock workers
tuck them away
in a warehouse
& the city that is
nothing but motion
continues to move

Andy Stallings lives in New Orleans, but will soon move to Deerfield, MA. His first book of poems, To the Heart of the World, will come out with Rescue Press in the fall. These poems are from that book.