Poetry at Sangam




One [Lost is Love]


To have excised ambition is not the same as never having had any at all.
I excised it. I never had any at all.
I can’t tell.
My ambition now is to hide effectively which is to say, I would like
to do nothing superlatively well. To be known for it, to be renowned
for doing nothing.

Oh. Am I confusing fame with ambition? That is not my intention.

Once, I threw myself into the new and abandoned it when it became old.
I was – I am – a child in these matters. I would like to say I am different now.

I am different now. Now, fear drives me
though I act upon it by not doing.


Not doing is not the same as doing nothing.


Find purpose, the man said, and the means will follow.
If I run, if I hide, if that is my purpose
do the means follow like a docile calf its mother
or does it give chase – futile from the start
because what would it look like for means
to follow purpose in this matter?


I am paraphrasing two poets when I say
I am doing nothing and that is poetry.



Two [A Question of Intention]

Because I wrote the words.

For spell read landmine.
For any war read The War.

I was unselfconscious.
Read artificial for unselfconscious.

I began to tailor behavior to match perception.
I saw that I could control how others see.

For artifice read reserve, read modesty.
Read garden. Foreign field.

I think I am in control.
Nothing is in my hands.

Because there are words
In your hands read.


Three [False Start]

Because this is what I do best I do it. Reluctantly
and with rust coating all. I would like to be immoveable.
I could confuse that with eternal and no one would know
Not even I. Ih. Ihm. Implacable. Am im. Am implacable.

I used to force my way out of my mind, pierce through
all but now I think there’s no use and who would want
to know and how is this necessary and what is it to be
profligate if all that teeming is hidden and unfructifiable.

Excess in nature, necessary. In the knowledge that nothing
will come of most anything. The wonder that is the thing
that survives. Only to die sometimes but then all the dormant
ones and the variants who can have their shot at life.


Four [Trees That Miss The Mammoths]

And who are we anyway.

Trees that have lost their way
over fifty three generations
that stayed and waited
that were lost to time

the trees call you,
Gomphotheres, Glyptodonts, Ground-sloths
                                Honeylocust Coffeetree and the Osage orange,

call you.

Who are

Asleep, they dream names of fauna
dream leaves dendrites dead-ended
unconjurable even when called
unreconstituted even from memory.


Far above
seeds breathe into a concluded river.