Poems from Man-handled (Recent Work Press, 2020)
The space inside his fist
(after a glasswork by Neil Roberts / Luna Ryan 1995/2017, lead crystal, cast from terracotta original, edition of 20, 9.8x3.4x3.4 (irreg))
A play-doh hand-grab,
saved and made solid;
a Nude, a more-than-Nude:
a palpable x-ray of flesh-wrapped space
Skinnier at one end,
where the thumb wraps;
ribbed; softly faceted
at the inner knuckle-folds
The callouses showing
like little craters:
it is a small sausage
pitted with work
It lies, on its bare plinth,
a heavy handful of nothing,
puny, vulnerable, a petrified
snail, shelled helpless
Not one noun, but many—as many as there are fists
to close This is what the rope knows of the sailor,
what the oar knows of the sculler what the caught fly
knows, one time in a hundred, what the middy knows
of the drinker what the door-handle knows of the one
who enters what the long hair of the victim knows
what her arms and shoulders know also what the stock
of the shotgun knows, and the edge of the dragged
blanket what the shovel knows of the digger of holes,
what the steering-wheel knows,
ten and two.
Afternoon at La Pietra
Someone has silk-stockinged the sun.
Every yellow villa wall is a spread net
of marigold. For afternoons like this,
marble is hewn and placed as an offering;
a creamy glowline flares along a pale brow,
a marvel of cheekbone; a spread palm
cups its blessing of radiance. For afternoons like this,
words like burnish and mellow are required,
are called into being. Words like worship.
Do not say them yet.
Stand a moment in the late gold day.
Look upon the rock, the brick, the carved, the uncarved,
taking their bright, slant benediction. See and stay silent, see
stone itself anointed and caused to speak,
blindingly eloquent with light.