you are in the diode archives winter 2011



Zen Video

It was matter of spirit in the end. The tapes turned
On the low shelf

So their titles bled into the run of musicals
And heartthrob romances

My mother adored:  The Sound of Music/
Caligula/Funny Girl/

That one woman
My father remembers,

In that one tape,
Who gave fabulous head.  At their age desire

A fine rush they carried the way a river
Carries the

Moon.  The wind lifting (I avert
My gaze),

Their bodies rendered:
Broken china,

I remember once when I called him in May

I heard all this screwing
Through the wires.

He was partially deaf, he had the television up,
A sitar and tabla were playing low in

The background.
I thought:  so he could watch

And not feel dirtied.
This was education after all.

The artistry and angles of pleasure
(Though the girl

Was miked/
You could hear the moistness/

The spirit’s vow
To the spine

Broken down to root and oil).
I remember the magnolia outside my window

Was quivering
With the weight of blossom,

A tower right there
For all to see,

And me, later, crawling hands and knees
To my first wife.

Soundtrack:  doves, cicadas burning
their radio-

Active half-lives into the trees
While somebody turned over, yes

And more yes, somebody
Bared the teeth to . . .

The scene (mind and body soon to follow)
Fading to afterglow,

Eerie wash.
My father is dead, my

Mother dying,
The bruise of passion needle-driven

So they have to spread her
Toes to find a vein.

The new missionary position:  adoration
Of the feet.

The purr in her throat
The purr of valium.

There is a list here I keep forgetting to add,
A river and a moon.

My own form
Of human blindness,

Desire (of woman born).
I throw the moon away.  It comes back:

Cradle of
Whiteness.  Cool rib.

I call the river some
Crushed vein.  There, my body trespass.

I know the sparrow exploding from my chest is
Crowning this all

With meaninglessness.
Somebody has to protect our living,

If there is a deer rotting in the wilderness

(Sense of this animal, my love, lying down
Inside us,

Sense of collapsing foreleg,
Heart and lung),

I will suffer
This change.  I will drench its corpse with flowers.


Shroud Study

                                   (Dickinson, Strand, Rilke)

                        Rare life—gross eyes—

I know that he exists.  Somewhere
he has hidden—

in sky or water—this fresh silence.
The way he stood

shaving or leaned to sip his Ralston,
the smell of his

aftershave overwhelming
the kitchen.  Now

the impression of his body
given—flesh and bone—

to the collapsing air.  Was
the pain long?

A sparrow’s
flight could not describe it.

When I touched him, he bled
a sea or garden.

Now I think some of the linen
must have marked him back

so he was cross-hatched where
pressure took him.  Flat

of the under-forearms,
their white bellies.  Humps

of the calves.  Crown of
the buttocks.  Scaled, etched,

embossed.  And now me
standing above the river-smell,

the washed linen, wildly
gathering memory

(his tongue still black
with it, pocked with words)

to store in the great golden hive
of the visible:  the boy

I was, the boy I thought I was,
the man he was,

the man I thought
he was:  a shadow-casting,

one sweeping length of
monofilament—no river—no

body—no shore.


Eruption Shield #3, 1998

                                            jarrah burl, acrylic paint, gold leaf—
                                                        Stephen Hughes and Margaret Salt

                        It is volcanic.  As if the burnished surface

of the eye had cradled briefly
one errant drop of lava,
and had seared then like paper, like flesh and paper,

to reveal the inner naked seeing thing.
A soul-wetness, birth-wetness.
Shell, husk, scale—

static.  Though when I move, it moves—swift running—
like Achilles over the hot sand.
The sculptural tendency

of sunlight and grief,
butchery and
grief.  The soul, the war in the soul,

a delicate egg-shape, trapped in a wound as potent
as gold and rock.
If I could drag myself through Crane, that rip-tooth of

the sky's acetylene,
if I could drag Stevens through the pristine
cages of Dickinson

—the auroras, the zero at the bone—
would I be any less
found than I am right now,

enthralled, the sleeve
of the spirit still only half itself,
like water through an open hand;

half again, it’s wood,
though it is the grain of my own looking
that cuts through,

shows where water has run.
Where blood has run.
Evidence of rills and gullies.  Now a wall of

heartwood, eucalyptus marginata,
hanging on a cliff of air.
At Angel’s Landing once I saw no angels

but let metamorphic rock re-hew me.
I was an allusion to death and
nature, death in nature—

I wore gravity like a beautiful skirt.
Now I have knives, an emptiness to carve.
I cut it wet.  I hold it under

and cut it wet.
I say its fiber is a living sponge in my hand.
A gear turning.

I paint it blue.
                        I add an edge
of heaven.  I expose and protect its rawness.  


Dennis Hinrichsen’s most recent work is Kurosawa’s Dog, winner of the 2008 FIELD Poetry Prize, and Rip-tooth, winner of the 2010 Tampa Poetry Prize.  He has new work online at Linebreak, Memorious, Scythe, and Solstice, and in print at Grist, Third Coast, and West Branch.