Once for a lustrum
I was landless, was anyone.
When the wind moaned,
I thought of barnacles, blue waves,
dank fumes from gangplanks.
Had no job, no house on a hill.
I fed you fruit,
forced you to be still.
The sound of wharves aswarm
with rats woke me from stupor
to nuance of anemone
and blackfin, the sea is Weird,
is Grand Seignior of Weird.
The world came dripping
from distant isles—
ten leagues off mainland,
lavish with lime trees.
Some eyes see sky, some eyes
see heaven. Some find
portholes on strange horizons
where daybreak bleeds from calyx
throats and seagulls’ eyes.
Now I plunder what the sun
has touched, I’m in love with green
July, south of the cape
where I hide. You say love is x,
love is y, as waves cough up
their ornaments of death.
I can only guess how far
I’ll drift, how rootless
the nocturnal currents of the sea.
I see them Saturdays on Sawgrass Road,
grown old in the radiance of refused passion.
They have been taking gifts from my emptiness,
digging small holes in its geometry.
Let us have your mouth a minute.
They have been here before, looking
for red-letter messages from never-
never land: a curl of raffia, shard
of kaolin clay, feathers of Guinea fowl.
Who brought you here?
With an air of fused cogs, they drift
toward the golf course on the still
waters of carefully drafted wills,
leaving behind burnt patches in the grass.
Who stuck these shells in you?
Cursing the steel wheels of the zodiac,
they wander into the mouth of the moraine
where the pines are deserted, as usual,
shifting their fronds fussily, as if embarrassed.
THIS WANTON GEOMETRY
Midnights, beyond the fjords,
widowed from timbers, I hear,
in drowned valleys or barges
off the coast of Maine,
a retinue of echoes—as above
a graveyard of cars, stars fall
into the fat green hills
where I watched you leave
your wildness behind—while
you slept and the women
came toward you with their beauty
and their mouthfuls of earth,
goblets of milk on silver
trays—you’ve seen such monotints
in moons and dreams of moons,
marl of palsied trees, but never
thought to take such cold
inside and make it yours,
wind like a mongrel dog
snarling across the fields
outside the ranch your parents
bought in ’89, in fits of sunlight
flecked like fronds like
night laborers bowed
in the scrivening aggregate
of febrile breezes, sleep
a kind of bag you fall into
at night where all the women
wear dark hats covered
in money, dust-colored wings
of moths, and other
small insects of night,
where we talk of how
to migrate beyond the farthest
shore of Florida, with nothing
but dropped consonants
and a lessened luster of matted hair—
of how, in the nounstillness
of the sea, its iron-colored helixes,
a silent monkfish steals
under stars—and still,
in the Prussian blue bluffs
of summer—this wanton
geometry of love remains.
Julianne Buchsbaum’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various journals, including Conduit, Verse, The Journal, Southwest Review, Delmar and Harvard Review, and are soon to be anthologized in Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. Ms. Buchsbaum is the author of Slowly, Slowly, Horses (2001, Ausable Press), and her most recent book, A Little Night Comes, won the 2005 Del Sol Press Poetry Award and will be published by Del Sol Press in December, 2005.