Poems from





If seeing only 6000 stars with the naked eye
	awestrucks us to topple
		in drunken ecstasy
Or piss looking up in devout praise of being,
What would happen if we could truly perceive,
	comprehend and experience
		the zillions
	of stars galaxies universes

And if, as scientists agree, we only use
	10% of our brain's potential,
Then the astonishment we sense
	is only 10% of the astonishment
		we could sense,
And so it would seem that what seems
	like dots of light twinkling
		in pretty patterns
	moving across the black
		is really enough to shatter us
	like goblets when the soprano
		hits the highest note.

And if the 10% of the brainpower we do use
	is ignorant of 99.9% of the totality
		of the Universe,
	perhaps a li'l vino in our goblet
		ain't a bad idea --
Perhaps a flask of wine
	in deep wilderness night
		is more powerful
	than the largest telescope.


Seeing my reflection on a river
	and seeing a bubble float into my reflection
		the bubble also reflecting me,
So I see the reflection of my face in the bubble
	in the reflection of my face
		on the river,
While below on the bottom
	the shadow of the bubble passes over
		golden fallen sunken leaves
So it looks like inside my face is a riverbottom
	of golden fallen sunken leaves
		with the shadow of a bubble passing over
	while on the surface
My reflected face with a bubble moving in it
	also reflecting me
		and me thinking
It will burst any second
	just before it
		bursts . . . .


When you become such good friends with black-tailed deer
	that live in the black oak forest
		Sierra Foothills
That 20 feet away they graze contemplating you
	as you sit on a stump in silence
		admiring them
And they think nothing of shitting in front of you
	looking over their shoulders
		across their backs and rear-ends
	their black tails lifted
As the perfectly shaped same-size brown pellets fountain out
	in a delicate continuous fountain
And when they gaze at you
	with their big black eyes
		while they shit
And suddenly their long pink tongues curl out
	and they're licking their lips,
Licking their lips while shitting
	and looking over at you
		with their deep shy eyes,
Isn't it proper etiquette to lick your lips back
	to think nothing of pissing in front of them,
		showing off your cock
	and the long arc of urine
		saved up for them
	knowing they like
		its salty savor
	like salad dressing
		on their grass and mushrooms,
Isn't it proper etiquette you should look at them
	curious playful friendly
		and lick your lips in return?

Note: On November 18, 1988, four poets from the People's 
Republic of China, Gong Liu, Jiang He, Gu Cheng, and Li 
Gang, gave a reading at Woodland Pattern Book Center, along 
with four U.S. poets, Folami Abiade, Antler, Martha Bergland, 
and J.D. Whitney. The American poets read some of the poems 
by the Chinese poets in English translation; and the Chinese 
poets read some of the work of their U.S. counterparts in 
Chinese. The above poem was translated by Yuan Yuan for this 
Click hete to go to the Chinese translation. 


Thought of dropping bust of Socrates
	Morgan Gibson gave me
		that belonged to his dead
	Congregationalist minister father
Over the side of the Spartan carferry
	into the middle of Lake Michigan
		as it crosses
	from Ludington to Milwaukee,
No shore visible in any direction, no one on deck,
	so cold -- even in July -- but I thought
		in advance to bring wool cap,
	wool shirt, gloves, scarf
		and downfilled jacket -- 
Lightblue clear sky, windy,
	darkblue waters spreading white-capt
		and screaming, wheeling gulls,
	the ship rolling in wavetroughs stolidly -- 
Possibility the bust might plummet downward head up,
	land perfectly balanced on
		underwater cliff edge
	so it overlooks vast underwater valley
		and deepwater fish
	come to inspect it
		while all my life goes on
	and the history of humankind goes on.
How many busts of Socrates exist
	contemplating the bottom of Lake Michigan?


Factories volunteer to be thrown into the volcano
	so the acid-rain typhoon won't come.
Factories leap on the live grenade of industrialism
	to save their buddies, us.
Factories wander away in a blizzard
	because they've become a burden
		on the tribe.
Factories give themselves to be crucified
	so all who believe in them
		can relax forever.
Factories immolate themselves
	on the work-ethic's funeral pyre.
Factories have to be cut off below the knee
	to save the leg.
Factories serenely cease to be
	after drinking cups of hemlock
		surrounded by philosophers.
Factories help workers get into lifeboats
	and then nobly go down with the ship.
Factories find work so meaningless
	they dream of being torn down
		even before they're built.
Factories pull out their life-support system
	on their own
		and are discovered dead
	by the nurse.
Garlanded with flowers, factories ascend
	the pyramid at dawn
		to have their machines torn out
	held up dripping grease
		to the Sun.


Are there conches that don't believe
	after they die they echo the sea?
That go to great lengths to prove to other conches
	the foolishness of believing after they die
		they will echo the sea?
Spend their whole lives writing books
	about how there is no air or beach,
		only the sea,
	and when you die that's it,
		there's no echo?

Copyright © 1994 by Antler.

Published by Woodland Pattern Book Center
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