CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
Stray frays of virga. In the wood grain: line graph of annual rainfall.
Thunder, we know, lags back at the speed of sound: the past catches up.
Along the road: barbed wire, telephone poles, vectors and alignments,
A wide array of radio telescopes motionless on rails.
The road—paved, gravel, then dirt—snakes back on itself to move ahead.
Sedimentation buries; erosion exhumes. Mark the changes.
What have we come to see: a practical field? A modest shrine?
How can one behold and not add to or subtract from the beheld?
Outside Quemado: the ephemeral phenomena of light.
To make art one must make a mark, preserve or disturb the silence.
To define a space, the space beyond it must be surveyed as well.
Imagine a field ringed by, surrounded by, enclosed by mountains.
The subject is not the edge, but the maze inherent within a grid.
No contrails. Today, I’ve counted nine antelope, eighteen lizards,
Six hares, four jackrabbits, and a falcon perched on a lightning rod.
We talk at the table as the sun goes down, talk on in darkness—
No doubt there are some kinds of knowledge that appear immutable.
This leads some people to think that the stability of contents
Is due to the stability of the container, that the forms
Of rationality are permanent … We talked at the table
As last light flashed, flared, and was extinguished. What was not light seeped in.
Ten thousand stars stand out from the milky smear of the galaxy.
I woke late, found bone fragments you’d collected and left on the porch.
I puzzle the pieces: a coyote’s ball and socket joint,
Or perhaps a gray fox’s or a dog’s? The cracked femur spills sand.
Speculation on the Afterlife (I)
An herbal broom,
Dragged across the floor,
Cleans and perfumes
The ladder out,
Forged from lead,
Slumps beneath its own weight.
Mute in cold and darkness,
The chamber of the afterlife—
A vessel like a boat,
Hollow and buoyant—
All it displaces.
The hollow body,
Emptied of organs,
Stuffed with crumpled newspapers,
Along for the ride.
Speculation on the Afterlife (II)
As moths and rust.
Even the sense
Is now scumbled,
From the chalk dust
Of a thousand blackboards
Swept into a dune
The wind whittles down.
What will the soul
Do all day,
Unstitched from its body,
From the boredom
The weft of days?
Eric Pankey is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Trace (Milkweed Editions).