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.


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