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And four more new poems



Looking for a plant,
a flower, yellow as
sun, pulling itself
together to take off,
each cloudy pappus
belying flat air or
belling the breeze to go
wherever it wants before
letting itself known
in sparsest coign as
dandelion’s brilliance,
taproot deep with the grip
of two hands, leaves tight
to earth, until ready again
to rise on light heads,
possess itself anew, light out
for wherever it lands, and
then again the flower,
the flower and more flowers,
blatant as sun,
humble as earth.


Here, yellow stars rise above other denizens
Of disturbed spaces open to the sun till noon when,
Like Lear’s Fool, they go to bed but, unlike him, rise
Next day, and next, and the beat goes on till seedtime
When off they float into another year, light bursting
Through them, in and out, while all around recreates itself
In the cloak of seasons, and out I go again, further this time,
I don’t know where, it almost feels sinful having no purpose,
Naturalized nowhere and everywhere as I ease through
Other wordless brilliances that look like fruit, knock
Against globes of fleshly flashes, brush against blooms
That poke through lushness, so eloquent you want to eat them,
So quiet they’ve made the weather quiet too, here where
I pull in rough miles from mountains and never know who’ll
Join in as I listen for who knows what, an old story, perhaps,
From another land of a boy, curtains drawn to keep in one
40-watt bulb, a world secret at the tip of his crystal set’s
Cat’s whiskers whose music will take him to where he is now,
Light coming at all angles to catch on stone walls steadied
With skims and chinks, flowing over, holding together a place
That can become anything he wants, where he can pull back
Into himself like a turtle or just sit to watch Jack-Go-To-Bed
Let free seeds now native now in his semi-wild garden where
Time spills everything and everywhere at once.


dust from a moth’s wings, this small brown moth
just landed on my arm, clatter of pebbles in a mountain stream,
whisper of maidenhair fern in a fissure, they enter,
morning light, silk thread on a loom, flash of pigeon nape,
grackle-glint, come from the void’s endless articulation
whose breath’s this bird-call from the high back pasture
where time to time I slip the brokered self for the free world
of worms, swimmers in noon and night’s largesse,
going about their ancient office of turning clods and clumps
to luminous breath, even now as I stand on this bluff
with its wind-turned hawthorn tuned to the sea’s plainsong
as it moves only so much, no more than the moth I hold on my hand.


Above, the road ends in a ridge that takes off
in a stately woosh whoosh, whoosh, whoosh
from towers higher than Lady Liberty, driving down
the odd slow crow, heron and real estate values
unless you’re one of a dozen families related
many times over, who sit on all the boards, sell
everything they can and mock the city refugees
who pay all the taxes. Yes, their forebears would be
proud as they snore in the lovely graveyard on
Vega Mountain above the white clapboard
Old School Baptist church with spectacular views
they never had time to look at, working the hard land
where now turbine screws that dwarf the Titanic’s
swump on round and round, pulling up rocks
and stones and trees. There they go with the line
of slow-mo dervishes centered on themselves and
waving to the world fracking one valley over.


Three men in black stand
round the hole where the fountain
had played. They look a
long time till one climbs
down and another walks off,
returns with a pole
he hands down to the
man who sticks it in a pipe
and moves it about.
The man to the side
puts his hand in a pocket,
pulls out some paper,
Looks at it, puts it
back. The man in the hole pulls
out the pole, holds it
up. They all look at
it. He shoves it back in, moves
it about, pulls it
out, looks at it, shoves
it back in, moves it about,
pulls it out, holds it
up for the others,
climbs back up, then goes back
down. He forgot the pole.
He climbs back up, pole
held high. Slowly they walk, they
walk round the hole, they
go slow, they go slow,
stately as haiku, formal as priests.

BRIAN SWANN’s most recent collection is Imago, Johns Hopkins University Press (2023). Later in 2023, MadHat Press will publish Ya Honk! Goes the Wild Gander: Covid Divagations (fictions). The poems here are from a ms. in progress.

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