Various Atmospheres
by Alex Caldiero

3.


When I first saw fingers …
[p.42]

When I first saw fingers, I said, ”I’ll take ten of those.”

Hairs were another matter. Because I couldnt count ’em, I
just took as many as I could carry.

In this way I gradually put my body together.

When I finished, I knew I was finished by how long I could
touch my eyeballs without having to blink.


FUNERARY INSTRUCTIONS
[p.43

1. I came in naked, let me go naked.

2. Wash me like a baby.

3. It should be a simple rectangular box.

4. Leave the eyes alone.

5. Breathe on the face so I can hold fast to the wind.

6. Play when-I-was-a-boy-I-dug-a-hole-got-in-and-lay-very-still.

7. Imagine the beating of earth upon wood is yet another heart.

Every fifth word [p.45]

Every fifth word
was stone.
Every other word
was desire.

I asked the poet:
What do you hope
to say with so much
repetition?


It walks into your
[p.46]

It walks into your
room, thru the door or
thru the window or
thru the wall.

It wears a top hat
& a long overcoat, its
feet are bare and it is
clean shaven.

Won’t you sit down,
it says as it sits
on your favorite chair.

Would you like something
to drink, it says and
knows exactly where the
glasses are stored.

Please, tell me what’s on your
mind, it says and then
starts talking non-stop for
the rest of the time.

Well, gotta go now, it says.
See ya later, it says.
Take care, it says.
And then opens the door
and prods me out of my own house.

Outside, I can’t figure out
how I got there. I
look in thru the window
and see it turning on the
stereo and dancing.

[p.47] And if I laugh, I ask
myself what’s so funny.
And if I weep, I tell
myself it’s all right.

And if I walk away,
it’s not like I’m
leaving—I
walk towards
the door, open it,

go in, and after the greeting,
the invitation:
Won’t you sit down.


If I get close
[p.48]

If I get close, the mark on your forehead begins to resemble
the face of a man screaming.

If I get real close, the open mouth begins to resemble a
mark on the forehead of a woman turning into the head of
the man I’m getting closer and closer to.

The colors are so livid-they spill.


the sudden knowledge …
[p.49]

the sudden knowledge of what his life would have been had
she never touched his heart laid bare at night’s edge

 

from you to me [p.51]

from you to me
from me to you
two gestures
gone together
to each other

these motions
hold the world
in their balance
their touching is
love’s outreaching

all the doors
give their approval
and the keys
like alien animals
find their lair


We could try
[p.52]

We could try
to teach each other
our private wordings,
but with what words?

Or we could seek
a common denominator
in the number of our bones
or in the stances we take.

And then again
we could keep
that ancient solemn vow
of silence.


our
[p.53]

our

breath

breaks

into

little

breaths


The past creates the feeling …
[p.54]

The past creates the feeling of a
second person within. Forgetting
this second person and speaking
in the first person present,
but not necessarily singular,
we are.


Before they mean
[p.55]

Before they mean,
still
gently nestled
in the womb,
words
spell themselves
as if children
were speaking in them.

Balanced
between ink and dream,
if they do not fall
to the page,
words sink
into the stream
never to be
heard again.

In their silence
there is a door
for every key.


We always speak in possessives
[p.56]

We always speak in possessives
When we speak of skins

The cores of things emanate
Them to suit their needs

The rhino’s and the water’s
Are essentially the same

The snake’s is a memory
Empty among the rocks

Rocks would keep theirs forever
If it were not for wind and river

Mine’s on the table in little pieces
And I’m nowhere to be seen

Yet skins are themselves
Creatures who cannot walk otherwise

Garments that want to go their own way
Complete except for innards

Learning daily to grow muscles and bones
The skins want out

But you and I won’t let them
We know that if they did

We never could again
Look each other on the face


The only man
[p.57]

The only man
I ever met
who was content
lived as his ancestors
lived before him
a line going back
to before the Greeks
so much a part
of the earth
that his burial
was a homecoming

Beautiful old man
with his wife
not quite as old as he
beside him
reminding him
when he stumbled
on a word

And the word was
bread
and how it is taken
from the ground
how stones are
made to speak
its name
how a loaf
is held like
a newborn
in hands
that can hardly feel
for the calluses


No one will know
[p.58]

No one will know
that a rock
was the animal
who left this track
except me
who pick’d it up.

Everyone will think
it was
a one-footed bird
who landed
and took off
without taking a step.


Your hair
[p.59]

Your hair
is a labyrinth
I can never hope
to get out of …

This is the beginning of a
love poem.

I’ll just leave it at that.