By | 23 September 2001


I think even though it's a hard
task we should stanch it now,
the way the hard
pillars of slight settle hard
& fast in your “ha ha” posture.
We know you're hard-
ly a stickler to the “hard
and fast” rules of the match,
(match =
a duel, as it were), that hard
warfare of inducing a smile.
– Smile!

we've snagged your smile.
Your gaze is hard
as you resolve to smile,
as if you'd killed a smile.
Even though you find it polite now
to smile
when asked to smile,
the ragged posture
of a forced smile
is more a fuse than a match,
more a grapnel than kitchen match;

it is, in fact, a perfect match
with wilt and rot. A smile
unrequited is a damp match
at the worst possible time. Is a match2
maker visiting my wife. It hard-
ly goes away, the fear of match-
ing argyle socks in the wash – not mine. Match
stick, please. Gas cannister, too. Now
hand me her photo – Now
I need to snap out of it
. Match
& mix, sort through the causes of poor posture
that plague me. One must posture

like a debutante when learning posture –
this book-on-the-head method is now
overlooked by fancy magazines. 'Posture
is a matter of vitamins,' they say; 'Posture
is a matter of X, not Y. So is a gleamy smile.'
I was never taught. Thus the posture
of a pasture very much resembles my posture –
creepy, hewn from mud and lichen, hard
and uneven in winter light. Hard-
er travel lies ahead, Ethan, posture
and feet to be tried now
by a duty greater than the planets know.


– after Man'yoshu

Lying unloosened, bare,
crouched beside thin clothes,
nothing but rift between bare
vale and black rushes bare-
ly fingering the diamond moon,
diamond-shimmer dusting the bare
slope of – is that a dune, the bare
heap? Black garden;
then the black garden.
Pearls are bare,
grey gravities, the un-light.
In my garden of tiny lights

she gave her soft sigh, light-
ing the grove like a scream. Bare
trees, black streams, all light
remnants of the once fire. Light –
laughter fluttered like clothes.
A pall that suggested light
is just saddened lightning; light
is air aflame, every gate is a moon;
Night's a hole cut by a thief, light
stealthed away to his hideout, some garden
gone fallow. A garden

of bone. Garden-
ing at dusk, light
burnishes dusk. Garden-
ing through laughter, garden-
ing through Sunday: it happens. Bare-
ly, but God allows it. Allows detsu gardens,
where we may doff ashen clothes.
What are clothes?
Drapery to hide us from night. Garden,
o garden of black night. Moon,
o moon, you serve moon-

light like ice. Moon-
light like sad clothes
burning, smoke draping the moon.
The soul, when stung by moon-
dissolves; drifts moon-
ward – or so I dream. Beneath the moon –
one of many that hang like bats, bar-
ing themselves to this little audience – bare
lovers can't stand to part. The moon
has no such trouble, exchanging light
for light, each night, like clothes.

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