Definitions

 
Word: an interval,
a needle biopsy
of a waterfall,

making digital
the rinse of experience
by jot and tittle.

Poetry, I think,
is the distant-thunder sound
in the drying ink.

 

 

 

Terminator

 
The Terminator
is the line separating—
not the hemispheres,

that’s the Equator—
but the one separating
certain metaphors.

One terminator:
that knapped core, the inner curve
of the crescent moon.

Another, later
in our romance, that scythe-swerve
down the face of soon.

One is the future
severing, leaving the past
to its own story.

One a new suture
down the calvarium of
memento mori.

 

 

 

Good as a Mile

 
The sky replies to questions posed
by human senses, only those.
The sky is coy that way. It gulls.
It flimmers to the human pulse.

As nights are that which is not days,
the mirror dimples to our gaze.
Cast and casting; call, response,
candle daylit in the sky’s sconce—

Askance I saw it, then. How else?
(the steering-wheel was carousels)—
Our complement is all outdoors;
a fair likeness, too, of course.

Here’s a story, by the bye
of how a mote caught in my eye—
 

                      §

 
Today, driving, I glimpsed the moon.
A halfmoon, to be more precise,
small smear on an afternoon—

And all of a sudden as it struck my eyes
it wasn’t the moon,
man-tracked, myth-worn, penny-sized,

nor retinal nick, nor rhyme on rune,
but a rock on the windshield, white as the Christ,
an immense, nonce, fully round

planetary thing,
locked in a gravitational partner-swing
with everything.
 

                      §

 
Not “the moon,” I’m telling you! Not a pale communion-wafer, but an astral entity, curving, stippled, dented, an entire rock sky yawing steeply away on the shadowed side, adrift. It was bigger than gibbous. It looked sensational as one of those artist’s impressions of “Callisto rising, as seen from the surface of Ganymede.” It felt like science fiction. I almost swerved the car.
 

                      §

Can I hope to make you see this as I did?
Haven’t you, too, yawned late, to witness—what,
some astral smirch or other—forecast aurora—
aphelion eclipse—the guaranteed closest approach
of Mars, or Jupiter, or any dirty comet
pinking its horizon, per advertisement,
commending mind to empyrean,
murmuring wan words like there?—then
there? forefingering nightwell, haven’t you?—
and, just as in this failed linguistic instance,
missed it?

 

 

 

Tidal

 
Patient, the sea-seiche,
sorting according to size
cobbles down the beach…

Here’s Ocean’s wheeze—seas
clicking into sentient speech
in Demosthenes—

Think, then, tide on stone,
self-organizing no end.
Large; small; smaller; none.

 

 

 

Richard KenneyRichard Kenney teaches at the University of Washington, and lives with his family on the Olympic Peninsula. His new book, titled Terminator, will be released by Knopf this coming October.
 
Read Richard Kenney’s Letter to America poems originally appearing in Terrain.org.
 

Header photo by IgorZh, courtesy Shutterstock.

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