Listening / William Stafford

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My father could hear a little animal step,
or a moth in the dark against the screen,
and every far sound called the listening out
into places where the rest of us had never been.More spoke to him from the soft wild night
than came to our porch for us on the wind;
we would watch him look up and his face go keen
till the walls of the world flared, widened.My father heard so much that we still stand
inviting the quiet by turning the face,
waiting for a time when something in the night
will touch us too from that other place.

 

art by Mark Rothko

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ordering breakfast

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what to make of it,
for instance,
before a smile –

all this waiting
in a single moment
falling away into

her eyes, and her
hands touching the
counter, lightly

as if playing
for the first time

before she says

can she help me?

 

 

by Chris Woodhull

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besieged

 

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i am in
a crowd
of selves

talking and
telling,
standing

to close
i step back
my arms open:

a kind of
untethering,
resignation

letting go as they say,
drifting from the
shore, (what shore?)
unmoored into –
languor? buoyancy?

alone:

it all grows still
unknown, irresponsible,
not responsible

at sea

after days it occurs
to me

the only
thing left to do

is slip from the boat
and into my body.
(second attempt)

i used to court
sadness like
a lover

sinewy and
sensuous
beguiling

everything i wanted

we went
everywhere
together

i believed
everything

i gave her
a place

but she is gone

and that made
me sad
in another way

a beauty
uprooted

a possession, a toy

my keeping kept

something from growing
(final attempt)

she is back
in my life

unrecognizable

though not
as sadness

as someone else,

not sure who.

 

chris woodhull

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befuddled

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Out of bed
with the feeling
i had left
already
making it
twice in one day
i awake with
out a clue
where to find
my next self
sleeping again.

 

chris woodhull

 

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out of nowhere

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some days, the words

find me or i

find them and

 

they may or

may not open

the hatch,

 

the secret opening,

the place where

God is said

to be.

 

who made the hatch?

 

in one side, out the other

and back again.

 

forgetting the hatch

i am free.

 

chris woodhull

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as if it mattered

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the night tears away
like a match, billowing
and booming in
movie stills —

the mind, a hand turning
images, sepia
and azure blue.

something slips on nights
as these, the track of being?

i sat in the car all night
nearly frozen, alone
surrounded by the machinery
of worry –

she had left

this storm is dark, I am
a character looking for a line –

what is the meaning
of this storm and rain
and why is my mind
fixed on it?

as if it mattered.

 

 

poem by chris woodhull / art by mark rothko

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solvitur ambulando

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never lose track

of your shoe-

 

laces in the

hand securing

 

the knot guided

by the eye

 

from above.

 

 

 

 

chris woodhull

 

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on the surface of things

 

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I

In my room, the world is beyond my understanding;
But when I walk I see that it consists of three or four
        hills and a cloud.

II

From my balcony, I survey the yellow air,
Reading where I have written,
“The spring is like a belle undressing.”

III

The gold tree is blue,
The singer has pulled his cloak over his head.
The moon is in the folds of the cloak.




poem by Wallace Stevens / art by Danielle van Ark
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Apollo

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We pull off
to a road shack
in Massachusetts
to watch men walk

on the moon. We did
the same thing
for three two one
blast off, and now

we watch the same men
bounce in and out
of craters. I want
a Coke and a hamburger.

Because the men
are walking on the moon
which is now irrefutably
not green, not cheese,

not a shiny dime floating
in a cold blue,
the way I’d thought,
the road shack people don’t

notice we are a black
family not from there,
the way it mostly goes.
This talking through

static, bounces in space-
boots, tethered
to cords is much
stranger, stranger

even than we are.

 

 

by Elizabeth Alexander

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je suis

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you

the invisible
who-ness
is present, bidden or
not bidden, so

i admit to feeling

(you prefer
lower case i’m guessing?

i do)

your nearness,

much more

than God – is that your father:
enormous, cliff-
like, unknowable shore line
everywhere and nowhere
or did i make him up? – and

you remain unseen yet noticeable
and quiet, as a young
girl, painfully shy

supine?

and here:

are you the swing? are you the hush?
are you the dusk

light, and why is your name such
a problem? i admit to feeling un-
comfortable with it
in public,

aloud

i don’t mind thinking it

je suis is as close as i get

why do you keep
showing up discernibly concealed?

what did you learn as a human? and
what do you continue to learn as a
God-formerly-human-yet-still-human-but-waiting-
for-something-i-don’t-understand-to-happen?

you are
the missing
person who
i look for
everywhere
in a stadium
crowd, far off,
other side of field
eye contact
we locate each
other, impossible
to talk, we wave,
sort of, our
gaze in a
pause
held in that
small holiness

just seeing you is
seeing me

you are the being in
a person without a
body, right? though in a
body, is that it?
that certain near-thing
we know is distinct
and unique
in me
here

like being in your own car, your own pew,
your own bed

how am i
doing so
far

stop me if
i’m going
to
fast

 

poem by chris woodhull / photograph by kumiko ishigaki

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