Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing

Excerpt from The Two Standards

The Garden

After the fall we struggled with mutability 
	used our muscles poorly
Never remembered Adam’s name for the first giraffe.

It was all a bestial blur. We got caught up, tied down 
	in real estate.

Mine was the Eden Bay:
	a place in the row
	with new appliances   high ceilings 
	carpets wall to wall.

Had it been a garden certainly there must have been hydrangeas 
	turning colors in the shade
Runners of clematis feeling a way along

Instead of the gravelled dust 
	its groveling
Still falling to the zero landscape   down

Taking inventory every minute of the day 
	another naming of another animal
Its dull matriculation into fact.

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Commentary

I.

Dark and the days disgrace themselves
line up like barefoot sharecroppers for moldy seed 
take what they can get.

What gives them the right to grin without teeth 
shift legs in the useless southern heat?

Who gave them their rusty guns, said: 
“Shoot anything that moves,
wound anything that breathes”?

“Gotta eat,” they say, “gotta have some fun.” 

Dark and the days amass
heavy without rain   dry heaving day on day.

II.

This account which logs the disgrace of the dark days in a tone which falters 
between two hard silences, that which precedes and that next which is inevitable, 
will help no one. As a record, though, it does succeed with journalistic knack
in capturing the workaday of pain. Also the patient detailing of death and death-in-life,
is worthy of remark and is achieved with clean integrity. Events are not haphazardly strewn;
horrors are linked. Hell is consistently conveyed. It is not, per se, a pinching exposé, 
though there are moments of titillation which in a work of this kind can’t be avoided.

Read it. Read it again. It will take your mind off things twice.

III.

Dark and the one eyewitness
strains across the sand  her listless fingers trace.

What pattern in the endless grain 
corresponds to that stunted skeleton?

What true word sits in the empty mouth unsaid?
Was it something once that moved, was it anything that breathes? 
What soul survives such a bad embodiment?

What work on its first clean page, declares her name? 

We authors of the dark days provide no dedications.

***************************************************

 

Simeon and Anna

With two young pigeons and a turtledove
you are lifted up   (it won’t be the last time).
They can see right through you.

 

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