« Genna Kohlhardt | Contents | Gillian Devereux »

Geoffrey Nutter

The Mundane Egg

 

 

Downriver from the manganese
smelting facility, where the shore grass
is smudged as with blackener
and the kingfisher’s eerie discolorations
are entries on the nettled page of an antiphonary
that testifies to the intrapenetrability
of all things, the columbine and jelofer,
the gradually unrolling leaves in midday sun,
the conical stockpile volumes for ashes,
wet and dry, for cinders, coke, and coal,
for concrete, rubble, earth, and gravel,
for rain on the green undergrowing tangle
and the miscellaneous quadrangle
green with saxifrage and mint—and oddly
there are people there, living off the land,
the egg-like land, which is oval, and wobbling
and speckled blue and brown.

 

 

 

Day In, Day Out

 

Day in, day out
the fountains spraying
high prisms skyward, day in
day out, the primrose, the coordinated
and patterned municipal
fountains, the sheet of water over
green veined marble, serpentine,
day in black letter, the deuterocanonical
streets, day out of sequence, burning
daylight, hanging fire,
the vegetable prebendary, fantastico
and ushered in with little fanfare
like the beginning of a spelling book,
always letter A for Announce and A priori—
the beginning before the beginning,
predawn, day in, day out
the office towers lighting up for commerce
in the shadow arrondissement.

 

 

 

Ithaca

 

 

In the pointed shadow
of the gable, the full
grown watercress, a stream
running along the path
where the May poles
have been erected
as if to commemorate
the indifference of the
planet, its militant
indifference, its gorges,
overgrown with tinfoil
leafage rusted power
trains chokeberry your
whole life overgrown
with the pink froth
produced in the manufacture
of soap flowing down
from the mechanized steeples
of the slumberingly
giant industrial park
its full grown gables
and acronyms harnessing
the power of sleep
and stigmatizing it
for its uselessness.
I went down into its
gorges to watch the
sturdy watercress
the antelope and badger
nuzzling the May poles
and studying numerology
and the other creatures
in their new felt robes
testing the borders
of the wilderness
unsure where it ended
and the city with its
bent gables and May poles
and windows hypnotized
by light began.

 

 

The Parable of the Bell

 

The Parable of the Bell—
was it really a parable?
The ebullient fellowship
of children in their natural
habitat, the endless wood
made golden by the eclogue,
sudden as a bright sash
of incandescence—unnatural

as creeds—the colorless elk
behind the green bay laurel
just as childish and unbelievable
as chimes, just as native
to the sky and what the children
put there. Was it a real bell?
Are there steeples in the oceanic
cliffsides, ringing out as glassily
as seaspray and cracking through
the pods of sleep? So let them
sleep, for now, dreaming
in the parable, of the parable,
waiting for the requiem.

 

 

 

Sculptures Along the Hudson River

 

 

A river, and a strange
city behind it. On this side
the big granite blocks
lapped at by the water
like blockheads overtaken
by new thoughts. In the middle
the brilliant water and the gabled
boats. Behind them the sharp spires,
the pinking shears jutting upward,
giant keys and skeleton keys
that standeth tall as fire-branded
flags; the factories and the hospital
with its hidden hospital
catacombs, a nightingale, silent,
the tips of quoits erect,
wingtips, a row of summoners,
man-made waterfalls of triumph.
Here beside the river
some sculptress hath taken up
a driftwood log and set it
in the granite, and strung it
with string and sticks and Styrofoam
projections. What do you know—
I’m sitting under a cherry tree,
reflecting.

 

 

Nearly Still Life

 

 

Beside an enormous ledger,
five pale-green eggs on a bed of cotton,
a string of glass beads; a chunk
of green obsidian; a Chinese coin;
an unidentifiable skull, small and precious
as an eggshell; a pair of wire spectacles;
a sheet of canvas hanging from a curtain rod;
a breeze smelling of sea salt. A wheel, a sword,
a rusted bell; a tea cup, porcelain,
and in the tea cup a blue and pink
sea anemone, its tentacles asway.

 

 

« Genna Kohlhardt | Contents | Gillian Devereux »