Michael Heller - "Accidental Center"

in the difficulties of the rough seas
of the passage--for that
is what it was--a thing to be endured,
but for the beauty of the powerful lunges
of the dolphins seen
from the deck a wildness
in the seas, as wild as seas &
natural, as we knew
ourselves not
in the blindered shuttered salon
as the heart jumped
when the rose
& its fluted vase
fell to the table
after an untoward roll
                    --untoward as the steel meaning
unbending of the ship's prow
or the rock's entrapment
against which, a wild sea
& wild dolphins...
& miscalculation


Didn't you say you loved me?

under what conditions

under what
under what
under what

under the air
@ 15 lbs per square inch on the roof
on the safety-factored I-beams
            slipping down thru curtainwalls
to the ground
to gravitational bedrock
            accidental center: home

which we sailed from

under black
& glitter

& smugness
facing out on the frozen rocks
of the universe

the hard energy

spectral pinpricks

excitations given & received

the pulsar's wavepeak
falling from enormous source
on the steel mesh of the antenna
drowning the signal of the probe
impaled on the far off planet

whim & fantasy & power


the radio at sea
the monstrous groans of the empty airwaves
for two days
midpoint Atlantic

to face ourselves
amid the gush of plumbing
the whirr of ventilators packing air into the cabin


My God
     what we felt
one night on the deck
of the NOVI
         the beat of engines
thru her plates
the tenuous milk clouds

their silent movements

myriad possibilities

concrete & eternal

spaced as waves

feel THIS
          she said, wanting desperately my participation

awash in the bombarding cosmic rays
in the mysterious cosmos
itself on the heights
                    of cause & being



Blaiberg's heart

a way to keep modern?

The thought fierce.  Little trip
hammer of a beat
to plow a body
thru that much more
time and space

at first there was a wobble
a neutral, a scientific

simply a matter of fit


and later
they make it fit--

O imagine
the recessional

as if time 
leapt back

the way sun is seen

at 6:00PM
--a great red ball

and a minute later
on the world's rim
distended by the thick waves of air

the way we must seem
from the point of view
of the sun

and at 7:00
all is dark


the aura I have made round you
you are its heart, its center

is more than fleshing out

is beauty
the way frost coats
a tree

to the finest tendrils
of its branchings

O the delicacy
of the image

Tho neither you
nor I 
are fragile

the frost is--
it snaps
or is defrosted at the end of a cycle


And in dream
Barnard, white coat and stethescope
an Aztec priest

but a thief
stealing what belongs to the Sun
secreting it
in the open swimming cavity

after the stitches
after the wipe-up
after the groggy headache of anaesthesia

someone would realize
in what way
it had been offered up


Via Cain or via Abel

in what way
if it happened
it could kill you

just hearing
at night

the panic of love
and not love
round you


shaky heart


its salt pulse: song
that keeps one alive

I love you.  That
I Ching of possibility
which has been grasped
then pulled beyond me

till it is no longer me

nor you   


a flutter
a seizure; thick
fibres that contract

a bird
crushed in a cage
of tissue and fluids--the heart sac

how many Medieval men
saw the heart?

how many
see the unneutral
heart of Arts and Letters


at what end of what thing
do the names of the Gods change
from ennui of loneliness

There isn't anything we can't do
not one thing

a wall is a wall
and what of a wall

Have you ever seen them
harvest wheat?  The scythe
death of wheat?


meeting you
     or meeting anyone
I am sick
with my own

the clumsiness Nietzsche
cried against
tending that corpse all night
     --his fallen brother--
who he set in the hollow of a tree
that wolves not savage it

& at dawn
Nietzsche woke
& left the dead
shedding artifice & artifice
as he walked from the woods
to be wolfish then among men
roaming their darkness...

yet each night dreaming
of him in the log
--by now sheer putrience
seeping to the roots

& was glad so natural a thing
became man
     tho likewise, it
filled him
with terror...

so the dream went

& tho free of the forest
each morning Nietzsche woke & despaired
how stubbed in that dream his arms had become
how thick the neck & bent low
by him who he carried
boned in his chest, thinking
this must be the world on my back
but it is only my dead brother
& which hung in him
awkward & pained
dumb & stupid
with anyone

this despite the glad
thing he had seen its death to be

he who had put himself
away from wolves
where now fear held him

wanting to speak to & embrace
whom he met
from the body that was his
not the one
yet to bury



sometimes I am beside a woman
who holds my life

I stand in the dark
over the soft curve of her back

and want to touch it


three years straining weights
latissimus dorsi
called them `lats', `bat's wings'

in pain and fury
screaming out
punching the barbell murderously at the ceiling

outer tissue ruptured
a soreness
as muscle rebuilt itself
harder, thicker

impacting anger

wanting to make myself attractive to women
and stronger


that madness
locked there now. don't ever
touch. between my shoulder blades

bands of bunched humiliation. in Spain
when I saw the sword
enter the bull's hump
I relaxed

watched his harrassed death

on the rhythmic jets
of blood from his nostrils

why do I think
of my cock
emptying in you

I want to die fucking you
and almost do


once a bull chased me
up a road

in Peekskill. I was
seven years old. the next day
fenced in the pasture
he stood patiently
by the boards
as I jeered:

`die, die, die'


cap-pistol wars

later a crowd
& field shrunk
to the ribbing of a thigh pad

to the bone grunt of hip
thrown at his middle

& past the eyes
banks of light
jet and skimmer

& both go down

a point reached
at which
you are just inside your skin

what are you doing?


chinashop life

I set my head between shoulders: bull dog
an All-American stance
goring the Green Bay Packer
thru a film of red
the Asian's unpadded belly
look and smell of his entrails
driving me wild

America: you Brahma & rodeo
roped together

I remember mounting her from behind
blind rage
kicking down the slats of my body


he put his horn into the barrio & flipped a plank
across the sand, his unsureness
became his madness
sweet to let those juices flow
'we are at the beginning of a radical depopulation
                              of the earth'

we've buggered the world
with our impossible anger

hunched over you
I just don't know
if I love or hate



in the silvered depths
the figure

in continuous time
the fact of image
flung in photons
into the moment

and fixed

a danger
apparent danger

there in the emulsion
is the figure

at its back
a wall
and on the wall
its shadow
bending deeper
into the film

some other
at some other labor

bearing the burden
of its darkness
and its death

that the forward
looking face
might rise from


writing of the great light of cities

and would hope these things might be changed
by the power of an idiom

as in the film
the spy switches
the bulb
to photograph the secret plans

as the words
all go toward the sight
of secrets

though these are entropic times
and those bright clusters
in our lives

in their rot
are black bodies

and absorb it all, absorb it all
like a woman
on one's bed

who cannot bear the light


The language of New York has changed a bar &
scene to two women talking of lovers black & white,
liberal lovers. She says she saw a man on the street
roughly of his features and mistook the man for him but
that the man was not his color. She says to her friend, 
she is color blind, she says she knows all about him.


He: a hunched back & boiling red face; beside she: small
& shriveled.  Both in the booth, their ugliness uglier
for their awareness. This couple getting thru the world.
A fact imaging a deeper fact. As with only the weight
of notes the song is dragged down thereby amid detritus
& effluvia. Against the sweetness of creation attitudes
are posed because it drives back to the core thru all
the secret lives dreamt of, rancorous & jealous of
what is incomplete or unfulfilled overwhelming the music
unless love saves it.


History is a joke. Personal history: unfunny.
Knowing everyone to be serious when sick & banging
on the bed for some stranger, but that he should be
like ourselves. & come get drunk or delirious, falling
into someone resembles us. On this, the heart realizes
itself meaningless--its words have moved off beyond
their meanings, as in the music, the whorls of sound
are an eternal trope--an eternal equivalency. Not to be
admitted to my world--I come to his.



suppose I should look
down there
for a woman

yet find nothing
more intimate than murder

or bored children playing
a game of hopscotch in the streets

or in the heat,
the close-packed buildings, blurred
and shimmering

waiting with my fellow citizens
for the rain which summer brings
running down the skin

its coolness
comes in time
time to stave off disaster

and its taste
commingled with my own salt
older than any word on my tongue


she brought me
a piece of coral

I placed it on the desk
I examined
the wondrous bleached ribbings

the delicate housings
of millespores

I imagined the sea,
its enveloping wetness...


throughout time
these aggregates

clusters of protozoa
in the primal slime

cells having multiplied
beyond calculation
secrete the porous calc

the hardened branchings and flowerings
that surround them

and there too, new dwellers
have come and gone

swish swash
the sea sounds over them

holding and nourishing . . .



threads visible
and invisible
that form a web

the many tied to one
--that singular complex
which is the secret of the sea

so it is the oldest time
I speak of

and all which touches us
up from that phylum, eons as of
the leaves of trees
for centuries
falling to the earth

the billions of shapes the waves
have taken

all of which has touched us
--to try and touch it back--

yet, to be precise
we've lost that way
and what is left us
is the taste for salt on one's food
or a tepid bath some four flights up


and the hierarchies
of hungers
have been reordered

and that is how things are
not just a pessimism of the self
but a terror of each other

and the warm saline
--as of the birth sac
still a dream

some thought of
fluid which still lingers

but from all which has been feared
and suffered, all that we have done
to each other, one comes
to want no more

no more
than more of oneself

and seeks there
for reasons of
what has transpired

so that
the true means of Okeanos
may again lead outward from the skin


she gave me a piece of coral
it was snow-white
antique white

the white of cities
it is said the antique Venus ruled

the coral, the harmony
of its construction
an after-image of primitive life

and beyond that time
living perhaps beyond the love of it
certainly beyond the love of many

we are together on these shores
breaking and drowning in the surf
of these cities

with an ache for water



in a tissue
of dusty air

over dry
impoverished fields

no plow
can break

rock pitted

on which
crops of men
have had their backs broken

we pick
ourselves across

under the sun


the cities
the desolations of war

fought for women or fine goods
are human if unreasonable

but this stone
set in stone


a mile
into its center
an aureole
of rank vegetation

an immense



he who has come to drink
& goes as we come
is my brother

in our human need


I was not thirsty

but craned
my head

past the wet
stones, the world

of elaborate detail
& imagery--

what thunder

into darkness I looked

into darkness I looked
and was happily blind

for Verna & Brad Graves

Bradley's Bar 
after Gorky's eye.  Walking 
from the subway in the slush 
then this 
warm brown paneled wood 
this few 
people, instants, to fall into 
this clinging . . . 

with its mirror above the bar 
below which people sit & drink 
looking up into the glass 
staring down each other 
. . .

Gorky's eye: the orbit dark 
which looks out 
into the world--this eye
of all, chosen to see from
. . .

Before the long sheets of plate glass 
give back reflections 
a coating of silver .001 inch thick is applied 
The coating adds no appreciable strength 
to the glass 
. . .

The world
thinner than a fingernail in the mirror,

but have you ever
tried to grab thru glass?
. . .

In a glance, judged & judging 
with only the strength
of a glance: the power 
of a beacon 
on a rocky coast 
or a killer's flashlight 
in a dark room 
. . .

What reality he had hold of 
was not enough 
To move from one way of seeing the world 
to another 
incurs risk 
What suffices for me, 
not necessarily enough for him 

In the changing work, 
a distinct sound of 
breaking glass 
. . .

Some feed thru the face 
Some feed on the face 
Some feed on the broken, the split-- 
open face 

Some are not fed at all 
. . .

Art reflects lifep

it is watching a mirror-- 
one's own reflection-- 
smash to the floor 
. . .

He wrote, "all the things I haven't got 
are God to me" 
. . .

It is our look 
It is our concern 
The iron of the Other in the silvered glass 
To be unable to move 
To have to remain 
To hope to be transfixed 
There are ten panels in the mirror 
Different people in different panels 
They edge nervously one to the next 
There are segments in the armor 
of man.  At each one 
love may have stopped 
The energy flows from head to pelvis & 
"love shines in her . . ." 
. . .

Gorky's eye, the one shaded dark 
facing out of the drawing 
trembling, vulnerable. . . 
. . .

Outside it is snowing 
I drink down my scotch 
savoring its smoky taste 
not wanting to go by myself 
I scan the mirror 
Neither love nor hate are seen 
Only the most savage need 
Only my face 

The street dark 
at my back 
The thinking 
how lonely an eye 
gets wanting 
a loved thing to see 
& seeing nothing 
himself or itself 

                   for Karen

solitary park
solitary benchers

still air, still branches

the green footage stopped
--matter, call it matter
perceived as light, corpuscles of light
in the "little hole
of the eye. . ."

Delaunay, the painter, prepared
his materials in a darkened room

drilled a pinhole in the shutter

a ray of sunlight
studied for months

`reaching sources of emotion
beyond the limits of all subject matter'

people in the park:
a beautiful woman who tells me of Coleridge's line:
"alone, alone, all, all alone"
a woman's face known to me by photons

photons burnt onto a photographic plate
in the image of the suspected Viet-Cong
his head blown outward by a bullet

look in a mirror, try to frame that face
over your face. . .

& what are death, or photons,
                       or turns

the mind makes
             shuffling its deck of images
try to feel the photons
the photons that move thru the mind
          "beyond the limits of all subject matter"

a name for an abstraction or substance, travelling
singly & in packets
             that impinge on thought
or are thought

the granular shapes, dots, etc. . .

to know
something solid
             impedes the flow
of something not solid

& what flows between two hunks of living flesh
is not imaginary
          just not known

one sends a bullet into another
                          & the images collapse
for death takes in no picture

but in love
        the eyes meet upon one double string

                  the wherefore barely known

the hint is that we come apart and come together

& are focused
in the other's heart
                 & the print
                          on the mind
more real
than a summer's day
we see
what we can

    but thru it
until the film

as at 4:21 PM , I stopped one film, the film of the dream
to begin another
               separate & distinct

as the people
caught or fixed on park benches

not necessarily looking at,
                    or seeing each other

each frame isolate as their lives are

but a lonely gesture to the next


say I wanted you
in that room

on that cold clear night
& couldn't have you

say I looked at the stars

say there was love in the sky
but it wasn't enough

            --a young woman, a Dane,
            tells me of 5 years
            drifting in the US, of a shack-up
            under cloudless prairie skies
            looking past her lover`s shoulders
            at the height of it
            her eye caught the fine stellar dust
            sparking in the upper air
            in long luminous tendrils
            & she suffered then a terrible
            kind of peace & estrangement
what she meant was:
on the star map

there were forms
in dotted lines

round the clusters:


     or that one might see
for himself
in the far-flung galactic arms
images of women, the nebulae's vaginal whorls
or in the "black holes"
the sex of the universe itself

an old, an untrue relevance

but that one knew

were always out
or nowhere

vivid & trembling, but out
of hurt or wound there was no escape

no need to look
nor hope to find
a sweet elysium
of astral tides

lifting lovers to their wants
the world's sore wants

that nakedly confront

--but in star-light

out which being looks
hidden behind Heraclitian signs
they were small
& gathered

on the silvered glass

break it, break it

into discourse & pleasure
focus & delight

or there was nothing
. . .

but that the eye, until one got used to it
was nearly closed, & no one

believed in the star on the reticle
or its existence momentarily
                    on the rods & cones

or what is somehow touched
by the mind
               tho between points
they drew straight lines
                    later to correct for curvature

because space is,
               and curves around
to let us pass

from one property less void to another

                         so they say

& it is inhuman
that I feel such loss

& know the feeling of the vacuum. . .

huddled on the planet
huddled in need

with eyes
turned out
so that they seem gathered on the lens piece
gathered from the mirror poured from
molten glass
& cooled slowly for years

a narrative in the glass, the narrative of ourselves
                                   never enough

& the worlds & stars drift
the computers give them meaning, meaning enough

but the vacuum
is unexplained

say I loved you

I did not wonder who we were

neither the visible nor the invisible
of what was meant. . .

on Palomar
& on Wilson

in the cold air, the shining domes

or the great dish-shaped nets hung across
the Southern valleys

I can imagine them in daylight or at midnight

open as our arms are. . .



The duck drapes its head gracefully over
its back.  Then, after an instant in which
its neck forms a supremely natural arch,
slips its head silently under water,
after which a percentage of the body
follows.  Ponge, who wrote of L'Huitre
and un coquillage, is pleasantly evoked
by the re-emergence of that part of
the duck formerly submerged followed by
the duck's bill in which there is a water-snail
After some time the duck which has waddled
onto the grass, or at least that part of
the duck once wet, is again dry.


One does not come into being in the 
manner of a rock.  That that manner is still
a mystery does not disfigure
the discrepancy.  The rock, if it at
some other time, was not this rock,
had, at that other time, an equally
enviable condition.  That is, for itself
it has no history.  I imagine the repair
or heal of all that is, i.e., Creation,
to be the attainment of just such a similar
state.  Thus, to be occupied solely with one's
own sense of presence which means to live
without consequence.


Finding sense to change.  Making
form as from the last form.  Being
beast after amoeba.  A panalopy of
shapes hints at the processional.
If things come, then go--as the
Sage relates--a sense of passage stays
the purely inevitable.  Certainly the
mind in its final shape will efface
history by finding an ability to
neatly end itself.


Looked at from a scientific view-
point: do not imagine, do not
represent for yourself, but acquire
the qualities of a giant red star.
Cooling in intergalactic space, the
great web coalesces--its mode asym-
ptotically parallels the end of
Duration and the beginning of a
glorious Entropy in which conflict
is not eliminated but is no longer
contextual (a steady state). Space,
that other product of the Angels, will thus
continue to exist.  That is, with the
universe, all you are (or all they
are) will go out. Grace, then, or the
notion of such sans terminus.


In every great rumination, one discovers
the same death.  The poets grow in a
brittle age, most talkative when at
heart most silent.  They know how each
word is a shift of matter, yet how
beyond them, of itself, matter
moves, & how that energy is Joyous
or Tragic but always Comic.  This, then,
prepares the future corridors of the
years, a time softened for our coming:
the air, chromium at the windows, our
bodies experiencing the imprint of


The suggestion: what is need,
is the terror of the poor
less simple
than the man's embarrassment
as he halts in speaking
looking for a word
feeling he is nothing
until he finds it

So too, the liquid eyes
in the photograph
of the hungry face
are the center
of similar nothingness
but mark it
beyond speech or promise


From the Riviera Bar
The world spreads out

On car-roofs grey-sky images are carried off
Turn corners and park for the night under

The trees bear the cold
I'm not that cold I can drop leaves
And hibernate

For the Chinese poets this was the way
The brushstroke of ink and character

"a style of leaves growing"

Or leaves falling.  The growing to old age
Hair falling in a style of leaves falling

It is a different age.  No poet
Will die as beautifully as he lived

The leaves lie curled on the ground
As though their stem-ends tried
In a spasm once more for the tree limbs.

Here is 7th Avenue running North to South
The cars take the clouds downtown on their backs
The way Satyrs did beautiful women

The buildings cast their shapes
ON the steel-sheathed magnificence
Of Lower New York Bay

The water is dark and gives nothing back
It flows determinedly to join the Atlantic

The salt in one's blood leaps
To join the salt of the ocean



EGRESS DOOR -- the stencil on the module-

opens to let two men out
who have traveled from one rock
to another

the scene scanned by a camera
to be replayed & replayed

with only minor distortions in images

that are fixed
& fixed


& make small mirrors
in the viewer

to which his nerves leap

the crowds at terminals
& beaches

before the massive screens

are given back

& draw comfort

the rocket's "plumed tail, that many-headed hydra"
the "lumps, chunks"
the newscasts
the words dovetailed
to the matter. . .


but emptiness flows in past the hatch

contaminates. . .

& when
the landing site is turned
from earth's face

the motors hum
the small lamps flicker mirroring
the forgotten lyrics of stars that winked on earth

but now in the heavens
stand steady

-in the unreal starlight
arms & limbs
curled beside the hardware
look strange

& thought itself
catchers on the nothingness

-the broken open
-ness of space

that finds us
most ourselves


& they say: "launch"
  they say: "nearly missed it"
          : "double heartrate"
          : "looking great"

recognized & radioed
there & returned

the necessary
the unnecessary information

yet how does one
send the silence back

or the night
that breaks from a man

in whose mind
there is no metaphor

no counterpart

but the heart
grasping singularity

going out


Not ever to let it be
     I think of silverfish
skittering across a pond
sky and trees
     but not disturbing them

as when it struck you
     it struck me
the mind mirrored world
     a way out of unhappines
not happy
     as one might say: I'm
so happy, but a depth
     to hold
     the various possibilities
your face, mine
tendered, tended.


for Michael Martone

they are in the room
she naked on the bed
& as he comes for her
certain images are loosed

yesterday, in the same room
his friend--
the camera between them-
sighting thru the optical chain
of shutter & glass

or fixing him
stopping for an instant
that process

but from his insides out--some terror of openness
following his friend's hand
the friend suggesting where to look
yet, to say to himself, it is me
I wish
truly, I do wish myself

& the other man's lens
sear him to the film
in the moment when the densities,
the pressures, heats: the light
of the present

is caught as past-tense in the emulsion
this a fantasy
playing on the web of nerve ends

casting the heart to the image
one no longer is

which is a death of dream
as in ancient tales:
            can a man
meet his ghost?
            of can the ghost, so he must see himself
            meet the man?

& fearing his ghost's death
meet obliteration?

but now he wants her
& faces her needs, saying
see the photos of what I am not
now before you

fixed in those images an acid to flame his own desire
those old stories, the ghost
hidden in the tree, took in their minds
their shape
& who left-it fell with his leaving

or they burnt the tree
& watched the Gods flare loose

(what traveled out of him
& up the lens

not him, but how he knew himself
prepared by his images

& came to her, her thighs open
the sweet dissolution
that could come true

heightened & reaching
& breaking faithlessly from himself
               into the beautiful


Sunlight at a window
Doing justice to a wall

A harsh light
Toward which low shrubs grow

Leaf over leaf
Without thought

In that light
The white cracked imperfections
Of the wall
Are its perfections

And one looks for
The minute hand or second hand
Or shutter
On which this
Might catch and fix

And the light
Makes fabric with the leaves

The objects are conveyed
As opaques and transparancies

And shiver out
Their moment in the sense

Until in time
The dark
Falls across the face

And the lover's face
Is given also to the dark

Ah, fragrance,
Thick as the throat gets
Thinking this

Sitting under trees
An orange fallen from the branch
Both bitter and sweet

Of nature
Neither happy nor sad
With how things are or are not

The past I think of
Promised both everything
And nothing

I see us as we were

Looking down at our reflections
On the garden's pool

To be given that back



tales, dreams and signs
in things; their stories
arrive when we do

a voice
marking hearing
embeds itself in the static
of transmission

so many stories 
so many peculiarities. . .

imagine a bell-shaped mouth
emitting a bell-shaped scream
some level above the noise

this real noise
telling us more
than it should
of ourselves


you can mine a person
as the earth is mined
from the depths up

and some assayer
call it fool's gold
or the gold that makes
fools of us

so I hear her words
everyway, anyway

and as Laing might say
its not the `complex'
but the context


meet any man or woman

from the hands or eyes
the physiognomy, the topology
of gesture

by which some constant
beyond talk talk talk
is betrayed

yet how to speak of this if not to say

that in this love
the riber of me beyond words
confronts the river that is you

and we are now swirled, now held
now stilled
in those eddies


you screamed
a terror
you hardly know of

brushing back
behind your face
sitting inside you

like another
wanting to be flesh
of your flesh

I tried to reach you
it drew you back

you slumped alone
in the chair
little one

by even those
who think
they love you

you screamed
fuck me

I was to come
into another
your eyes locked

on that childhood
of saddened animals
of monstrous headed dolls

I felt your heart
strangely calm
beating with the weight
of two

beating for neither of us


what then
to be taken
at face value

the message
the sender
or receiver

and if the words
are precipitates
--in themselves

rare and expensive dust
desperately grasped
in the amalgam

I search your face
to find the flaw
--the glint
of that divorcement
of utterance and feeling

for beyond the malleable gold
of what one hears

is the rarer hardness
of the diamond

by the misplaced tap


that delicacy, that frailty
of the pain of feeling

and I too would have abandoned
my self my life. . .

yet seeing her
beyond her voice
which wove
like a deathly sonnet
entwined itself
within the webbing of myself

heaving and sobbing
the babble of terrible stories
rushing past

which lift and buffet us
--isolate particles
suspended in our fates and faiths



so it might end
so it might end and all things
lose distinctness

above streets
above the brown oval of the bullring
above treetops, the wide blue
space to sea
shredded by sound

thousands birds
screaming down the sun

among them the peacock
its almost human shriek
which, by that, still touches. . .


it is an old world
we have come to

to think
the shock of the know
the imagined as known
enough to hold us
--as the sea and metal
hold its light

we come here on the ferry,
watch the dolphin's
graceful plunge

we stand on deck
in harsh relief

blinding sun
grinding down details
of skin and pores

and the dolphin's body
thrusts down the waves
is lustrous for an instant
in the sun

the pang as it dives
the sea wipes away its passage

in that terrible light
to barely see ourselves

the thick glinting cliffs
of strange continents
encircle and confront us


it was our place
it was not our place

and like those storks
which abandon their nests
--some shift in brainmatter
meaning they roost elsewhere
this year, maybe next--
we come here to explore

to perch ourselves
on these rocks

above the coast
and the sea
and its beings hidden in the mist

for the eye seeks
with unclouded remembrance

seeks the world
beyond all dimensions

the roof, the sun
under which the mind
staggers to the next thought

and the heart and lungs
scratch on the thin air
like gills
of some landed fish

an unquenchable synapse
which knows no answer


it was ourselves
and the end of ourselves

the house at night
its lives twisted in the bedsheets

and I walked
the parched silt hills
knowing neither you nor anyone

grateful when I knew
the path I was on

its stones and shade trees

yet the night's sexual spell
was cast across the days

we went out
we returned
we may have suffered

and surely we came back
as different people
but to a precise feeling
which sustains us


the almond and the oleander
on the roads at dusk

the paths which spiral
towards fortress walls

yet we come here
and find
the transplanted Sequoia

the transplanted swirls
of arabic art

we come here to partake
of the transplant
of beauty. . .

and the birds cry
their tremendous noise
--polyphony, do-decaphony

--thought tries to place the sound
yet nothing in the mind
can contain it

foreigners in a foreign land

--can one call another foreign
who in that dusk
is tremblingly clasped

for the otherness is beautiful
and terror and delight
in the same moment flood the heart

Copyright © 1972 by Michael Heller.

Originally published by Sumac Press. Long out of print, this book is reproduced here complete. Original cover by the author.

Light and Dust @ Grist Mobile Anthology of Poetry.