width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses


Scott Malby
featured poet, 2008

Devil's Breath
(part two)
1. If I could tell you. If I.. . I would tell you that knowledge is fluid what comes out of a mountain is only a spoon full of what lies underneath I would tell you no secretiveness is accidental that is littered with human debris. 2. American letters The imaginary is real when the real is questionable and so in this, an odd page out of our past life, these times demand we be armed and dangerous with songs, with poems, with stories. 3. Hawk Tower Where nothing is made to order and everything falls apart, myriad discoveries spiral westward, dancing with the eyes of a hawk, murmering feathery evasions, sending waves up thrusting to fall against this coast. Here, I shall build with the compressed history of boulders of rock and raptor round a pillar of whirling words. 4. Woody Guthrie whose soul is a blue ox, or Santa Barbara Song Sparrow or Labrador Duck or Passenger Pigeon races for a threshold to cross. A crimson estuary. From the rivers inside of him the sky pours out. 5. That girl from Reedsport Just as the morning mouths its most perfect prayer the girl from Reedsport rummages through its universe of colors. She tastes each one as the street before her flattens and curves into a prospect of artistic whimsy. She paints herself a pair of sandals but walks barefoot. Her father ran away with a pair of beautiful twins. Her mother remarried before her father really left. Even so, it must be painful to be unable to long for what you cannot have. She is looking for a puppy trapped between the beach and highway but there isn't one. Like the puppy she can't tell anyone about herself. There are dozens of waves whispering in her ears. Shrugging her shoulders, she puts their tongues in her pocket. The girl from Reedsport kisses the sea she makes promises to. The sea is under constructed. She dreams of a whale but men throw harpoons at it. She picks up an old shoe and calls it her philosopher. She sings a song to it that ends with the word stars. 6. Word Riot In my small spiral notebook I've written this poem about three burning candles roasting a dead mule peddling furiously on his green tricycle to escape becoming the honored inductee into an old fashioned Yankee pot roast and I'd feel sorry but... I've got dibs on his red hat. 7. Just another bad poem Picture the subject. A mug shot of a poem that went terribly wrong. Who is really to blame for its coughed up fabrications and bits of hoaxes? At 10 it was discovered fondling imaginary landscapes. At 15 it was accused of putting to the torch a party of harmless adjectives. At 23 it was jailed for littering Crater Lake with rhymes. It survived for years by defrauding gullible English departments. At 28 it was sent to sing up the big river for stealing petty change from the pockets of elderly performance poets. Who is to blame now that it's back on the streets. More dangerous than ever. 8. Why write Doing the work of the period "." or toward which it portends. What is tangible? When our sentence is carried out nothing is forgiven and everything has already been said. Every completion is full of minor, little passings. If the detectives of words were to press against their own transparencies and shapes language would show itself to be both blind and dumb pitching to sunrise a belly full of shouts, art froths in its saddle, rides nightmares through to an ambiguous countryside pickled in brine, in pig's feet where nothing is but seems and poets jump like trout from the roof of their fatal mistakes only to land on a tattered page with the tongue of an asp biting back at mirrors and smoke shouting fowl play. Cluck. Cluck. Cluck. In the Capistrano of poemdom tiny swollen swallow throats stretch their chords. When Jackie Robinson took the field Everest straddled Tibet and Nepal. It is hard for swallows to reach for their throats or lambs bleat from a tiger's throat. Going down for the count. Tell me, arenít you ashamed? Where do you come from? What is your name? Do you cuneiform? Though my pockets are filled with barking dogs, it's the silence that draws me naked through an inch high broken door where time sings in its bowl and the ocean I sail fills with hearts I now name: talisman of symbols, icon of memory, love, passion, poem. 9. Fog off the Umpqua, Oregon Highway #38 a. Its wings can dip through mountainous valleys of trees, of gray clouds, then rising, disappear. Trees create clouds. Clouds sustain the trees. One calls to the other. b. Where the paved road stands mysteriously far off, in a charmed tangle of reeds, a heron nips at fog. Its voice caustic fire. c. There is Reedsport, a greedy speed trap, after that, the sign for Loon Lake, then Scottsburg, Elkton and Drain rising where the river curves into the wing of a hawk near the rain dark road wrapped in tendrils of mist. d. A tunnel ahead. e. There are tales to tell. Omens. Auguries. By the side of the road a crush of crows. Fragmentary shadows and scents. A white elk in front of a herd of deer. In forest clearings a congress of watchers as Morning quakes her waking brow opening wide eyed to shake her hair spilling across the land in a conflict of upheavals for beauty is an argument of exclusion, an oblique lie, a spectator of lost causes that may, or may not have happened. f. Can language formulate what silence hides? There are so many failures. g. Uprooted trees, Alder lie like a jumble of bones in the shape of a broken crucifix wrapped in the scent of pine. To be and go for- this never ending flow, then and now, a rising thought dark in deepness, in memories, dreams and reflections. Are you here to please? Are you trying not to offend? h. For thousands of years the salmon up the Umpqua swarmed. Each year there were less of them. The salmon rotted. Time wounds all heels. What does it mean? Care now. What one thinks. Tiananmen Square. Kent State. Our home town in the children we were, idealizing at the altar of what we couldnít understand. Now, butter melts in winter Alps and our own bodily fevers must destroy to burn. We think in Manhattanese of decapitated heads up from the mouths of bombs. i. Self, do not stress or lean too far. Yearning for belief, it is the air we carve our names into. The times are veined as lichens smothering the pumice burped Buddha rock of enlightenment. j. A stranger among us. What does it mean? For those who know the power of the word, who seek the key that opens the gate to what must be faced, a house of light within and may all shadowy impediments dissolve, for only they who know what is truly lawful and not lawful can summon spirits of the air, the earth and under the earth who present themselves in myriad shapes, for always, that stranger at your door may be an angel or a missing child. *Portions of this series appeared previously in Contemporary American Voices and Ken*Again

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