you are in the diode archives winter 2011



Salt Water

The shattered volumes of it: walls of blue
fluming as fast as winds. The sheer corrosive
cleanse of it: how insistently it sleeks

down through the mind.
                                       Not even on the beach
but driving with dune grass at the roadside

these days when home’s gone relative (a room and
cellphone . . . passcodes)
                                         all that neural simmer
of wired voices
                        crying “money money money”
shreds to this bare shimmer of white fire:

“desire without an object of desire.”

And the world comes all at once. Me sitting here
pinching your picture
                                  while fireflies and
cars and maple branches spill to the water’s

cycle of smash and pull. And still stand still.


Blood Brook

Glug then sluice for vowels.
Rock ladders for consonants.
Out of the mountain it curls
and glints
                past the mechanic shop
scrap heap then tennis courts

and widens to a band
of silver that suspends

brook trout no longer than a hand.

My center of the world.
Source and burial ground
and only what it is.

I would be a liar
to call them
                   shepherd voices
               But they do:

crossing the concrete
under a trestle bridge
sprayed with graffiti and

ailanthus leaves
                           they call me

video boy        seed packet.

You who are not us and will be.

We who pour ourselves

out of ourselves forever.


Lines after Watching the Returns, 2010

So sleep. So dull occlusion under dirt.

So darkness broken only by a glint
of mica. And the spirit burrower in us

shrinks in. Until that afternoon he sees

trembling tent flaps of the hospital
open to autumn in the capital.

The sharpened air, and shouts, and chains of clouds

streaming above a cornice, could be gifts
of convalescence: such fine clarities.

Though he will soon bestride a horse again.

Soon join the needed, surgical, slow slice of
steel through the burning Wilderness toward Richmond.

And still the whitebeard male nurse writes to him:

I see the merge of me with you. I see
our clutch on clutch, our sinew under skin

as tensile and resilient as the roots

of fountain grass. I hope you will at last
write back to me. And hope our bond upon

your quick return will carry each of us

together and apart, as our same nation
stands whole and new. But I am not fool.  


Peter Campion is the author of two collections of poems: Other People (2005) and The Lions (2009), both from University of Chicago Press. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the Larry Levis Reading Prize, and the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His poetry and prose appear widely. He is currently Assistant Professor at Auburn University, and editor of Literary Imagination.