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Monday, October 22, 2007

What I'm writing

I've been working on a prose poemy series called "Gated Communities," and collaborating with the wondrous poet Sheila Murphy on a piece called "Room."

Here are bits of "Gated Communities." I've submitted Part I to a journal of prose poetics.

(a series in progress)

Part I: Outside Looking In side


Where leaves of the sequoias fall and winds lift them beyond the edges of roads.

No, not edges not roads. A circle of time.


Where there are no sequoias, no winds to move the minutes.

Where horses lose their gait and disintegrate.

Where no one remembers the ways, means, or mothers.

He says: a rhombus. She says: a trapazoid.


I bought a vintage velvet dream and hemmed it to rub against my ankles like cats. Dead mother's emerald earrings clung to my ears like leaves.

On a road with no moon I shivered under shadows of trees I could not see. He said he'd be waiting by the gate. There would be no other opening.

There was no gate.


If you proceed from A to B on your horse, you may not notice a slight deviation, a size of time as imperceptible as the beginning of an embryo.

You must have circular vision like the sequoia know where beginnings never end and endings begin.

You must recognize the invisible point of conception -- open your self to conceive it. Then let it go – (that's the point. (beside the point.


One must have a mask to enter, said the keeper of the gate. His head was swathed in black sackcloth with holes for his eyes, too dark to see under a half-hearted winter moon.

Are you a hangman or a gatekeeper? I asked, I in my red cloak, with my head in the winds and rain, my feet in red rubber slippers.

He said nothing as the road became a river and he a ferryman steering a boat of cloaked shadows cascading over the gate into a promised land of violins, ice wine, and chandeliers.

Part II: Inside Looking Out side or


There I was, finally or so assumed by me, presumed I. Evidence: A: There was no keeper. B. The gate looked different, cast in a light I didn’t recognize. There was graffiti on the gate: an outline of a heart intersected by an arrow at the precise midpoint of nine circles, apparently. The graffiti was a scrawl in Latin, translated: DANTE LOVES BEATRICE.

Someone poked me, but not yet the man with the umbrella. Someone questioned my assumptions. Was this my dead mother? Is that what she’d said, in the manner of the crow, opening and shutting its beak, did she ever squawk at me, utter: caw caw? Are you sure that’s what you saw . . . dear . . . you with your extravagant imagination, your solitary perspective? Have you located yourself in correct time and season? Are you walking tall and straight forward? Beware of walls!

One must be vigilant. I had learned that much, perhaps not that much. The gate keeper gone, I could only keep watch for and on my self. Was there truly graffiti on the gate? Was there love or at least a story of love? I could not respond, to anyone’s satisfaction, as I imagined, without any fore or hindsight. Where had I left my sight? How could I find it? Where were the chandeliers?

I raised the volume of my voice to an atonal # A, a vulgar arrow to pierce the bland white noise of the context, nothing but fog and a sense of walls. Then, abruptly, the man with the umbrella but without it, all in white: jacket, shirt, pants, and hat. He looked fatigued, red eyed and back bowed, as though in wait for the arrival of an arrow, consulted a watch with a large face he wasn’t wearing on his wrist. It’s time, the man said repeatedly, nostrils quivering.

The man cleared his throat to achieve a tone of certainty: there is not . . . is not any, any longer . . . no longer is time but not vacant. There it is, VOICI and VOILA: the vacancy! For you, if you wish. Then he scurried past, disappearing at the end of the roads, it seemed, though I could see no roads.

The planet on this side of the gate felt flat and far like an outdoor concert hall without speakers. The man must have fallen off its ledge, either the planet or fog, I couldn’t tell. I only knew that he was not to be beloved; the distances were much too obvious. There was nothing to do but seek the plot allotted to me, my space to design. I started to walk short and crooked in a random direction.


If you walk swiftly to meet deadlines, you may miss the turn.

If you walk slowly to arrive at specific places, you may miss the turn.

Walk without point past the playgrounds and cemeteries, the wedding rotundas and taverns. Walk only toward possibility without thought and reflection without light.

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