Monday, October 12, 2015

from "Book of Hours" by Kevin Young

The light here leaves you
lonely, fading

as does the dusk
that takes too long

to arrive. By morning
the mountain moving

a bit closer to the sun.

This valley belongs
to no one—

except birds who name
themselves by their songs

in the dawn.
What good

are wishes, if they aren't
used up

The lamp of your arms.

The brightest
blue beneath the clouds—

We guess
at what's next

unlike the mountain

who knows it
in the bones, a music

too high
to scale.

* * *

The burnt,
blurred world

where does it end—

The wind
kicks up the scent

from the stables
where horseshoes hold

not just luck, but
beyond. But

weight. But a body

that itself burns,
begs to run.

The gondola quits just
past the clouds.

The telephone poles
tall crosses in the road.

Let us go
each, into the valley—

turn ourselves
& our hairshirts

inside out, let the world
itch—for once—

* * *

Black like an eye

bruised night brightens
by morning, yellow

then grey—
a memory.

What the light was like.

All day the heat a heavy,
colored coat.

I want to lie
down like the lamb—

down & down
till gone—

shorn of its wool.
The cool

of setting & rising
in this valley,

the canyon between us
shoulders our echoes.

Moan, & make way.

* * *

The sun's small fury
feeds me.

Wind dying down.

We delay, & dither
then are lifted

into it, brightness
all about—

O setting.
O the music

as we soar
is small, yet sating.

What you want—

Nobody, or nothing
fills our short journeying.

Above even the birds,
winging heavenward,

the world is hard
to leave behind

or land against—
must end.

I mean to make it.

Turning slow beneath
our feet,

finding sun, seen
from above,

this world looks
like us—mostly

salt, dark water.

* * *

It's death there
is no cure for

life the long

If we're lucky.

Otherwise, short
trip beyond.

And below.

growing shadow.

I chase the quiet
round the house.

Soon the sound—

wind wills
its way against

the panes. Welcome
the rain.

the moon's squinting

into space.
The trees

bow like priests.

The storm lifts
up the leaves.

Why not sing.

Source: Poetry (November 2007)

"Sleeping Trees" by Fady Joudah

Between what should and what should not be
Everything is liable to explode. Many times
I was told who has no land has no sea. My father
Learned to fly in a dream. This is the story
Of a sycamore tree he used to climb
When he was young to watch the rain.

Sometimes it rained so hard it hurt. Like being
Beaten with sticks. Then the mud would run red.

My brother believed bad dreams could kill
A man in his sleep, he insisted
We wake my father from his muffled screams
On the night of the day he took us to see his village.
No longer his village he found his tree amputated.
Between one falling and the next

There’s a weightless state. There was a woman
Who loved me. Asked me how to say tree
In Arabic. I didn’t tell her. She was sad. I didn’t understand.
When she left. I saw a man in my sleep three times. A man I knew
Could turn anyone into one-half reptile.
I was immune. I thought I was. I was terrified of being

The only one left. When we woke my father
He was running away from soldiers. Now
He doesn’t remember that night. He laughs
About another sleep, he raised his arms to strike a king
And tried not to stop. He flew
But mother woke him and held him for an hour,

Or half an hour, or as long as it takes a migration inward.
Maybe if I had just said it.
Shejerah, she would’ve remembered me longer. Maybe
I don’t know much about dreams
But my mother taught me the law of omen. The dead
Know about the dying and sometimes
Catch them in sleep like the sycamore tree
My father used to climb

When he was young to watch the rain stream,
And he would gently swing.

Fady Joudah, “Sleeping Trees” from The Earth in the Attic. Copyright © 2008 by Fady Joudah. Reprinted by permission of Yale University Press.

Source: The Earth in the Attic (Yale University Press, 2008)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Any fool can destroy trees; they cannot run away"

Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries since Christ's time--and long before that--God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools--only Uncle Sam can do that.
--from "Our National Parks" by John Muir