Four Poems

by Bray McDonald

Studying a Photograph of Ezra Pound

Words that no longer calm despair
lay fallow in a foreign garden.
Old letters dimmed by physical fog
relate a tale so remarkable that it may have never been.

You sit unmoving in a framed chair.
You have become a picture of someone you do not know.
Silent as the moon above a mountain
you stare a hard glare into the heart of the void.

Like a cooling anger
you hang between thieves
upon the crucifix of time
witnessing the indifferent and the dark.

Teasing Curfew

Most motion attends to like a short-order cook.
Translations lose certitude. (Misplaced meanings.)
Neutral is a starving state. (A wind with no sail.)
No outlets for mounded matter. (Static.)

Vocational indifference and distinct vices.
Teasing curfew to reprieve a ransom.
Zoning out on stupid stuff. (Technical irony.)
A clock that collects hours in two small hands.

Autumn-stained leaves reminding.
Bodies struggling with the opposition.
Pavement sounds the shade of dirty gray
and disheveled pedestrians hungry for home.

The panoply of solitaire like a protective shadow.
The mercurial realms of estimation effortlessly intriguing.
I suppose there could be some comfort in the grave.
A deeper sleep with no recurrent dreams.

The moon tugs on the bones marrow
as pelicans readjust the horizon.
Trying to read the future on a sweaty palm.
The moon’s one-eyed dreaming a chromed pulse.

An unanswerable journey of questions.
Flotsam in a breaker.
Clouds slide over the ocean’s brim. (No splash.)
Shadows appear on everything.

What Poetry Probably Meant to Professor X

The next turn of the tongue rushing up to the surface like a mental coil.
A lyrical murmur vicariously conceptualized.

Cummings’s blitzes turn opaque. Beckett’s enormous wait idles.
Time techniques debilitate a depressing terrain.

Mayakovsky’s gray rain descends into silence.
Crane’s approach a bridge into shadowed clarity.
*
The energy of inspiration with transparent drifts
channeling into history. The dark season’s continual flow.

Strict particulars presented in stanzas.
A silent alienation with all the senses reeling.
*
Denise Levertov of 1923: Masked dancer. Deep cooled magma.
Robert Creeley of 1926: Small gestures. A pooling whisper.
Gary Snyder of 1930: Marrow eater. Square-eyed pilgrim.

A tender-footed intensity perennially desperate.
Calm cultivations and Collins chuckling.
A sentence of the merely unwinding a symbolic process.

Year of the Leech

The agenda was a chess-board and everyone became a pawn
when the lawyers lawyered-up and asked for mercy in the court.

The Democrats dug a hole deep enough to die in
and the Republicans formed a caucus to measure its depth and defund it.

The sibilant whispers of Congress slithered through the halls
of the Capitol like a sinister serpent sucking on an egg.

The verve of each decision was renitent to the horizontal
and leaned toward conservatism each November.

Bafflers were chosen from the pundits to address the crowd
and bruisers hired to keep any protesters silent.

Consonance was the Soup-of-the-Day (with white bread)
and deception was served as a warm dessert.
*
The sprawl of cities had too much consistency
and the last of the fortunate forests fell out of favor.

Factories had become fixated on stability in place of humanity
and were mopping up sweat and blood on over-time.

Genius wondered the halls of knowledge like a novice
while the apathetic populace made ignorant choices.

Ideas morphed into video games of self-promotion
and a battlefield for feuding fanatics.
*
Emotions amassed zonal and yellowed like corn
as their ears became swollen with kernel adduction.

Presumptions were gnarled and their arteries congested.
An infusion of inanition slowed the blood of luminaries.

Philosophy ran a cycloid race with Common Sense
attempting to decipher the diameter of the possible.
*
The poor retreated one foot at a time
back to that place from which they had retreated.

Their arms were tired from carrying their sorrow
and their sorrow weighed more every day.

They were too slow even when they hurried
as they doubled their effort to get nowhere.

A coven of Eves wove a bower above the World’s heart
and began to birth the bannermen of the future.
*
The troposphere clogged like a broken clay drain-pipe
as the Earth choked on human detritus and waste.

Nature continually attempted to unify and resurrect itself
but the fight was unfair and frightfully futile.
*
There was nothing left to do but chop down the stalks of field-corn
and rankle the scales of the Cotton-Mouth

because feelings will waver and reason will surely revolt
and you’ll find that the only way to turn will be around.


Bray McDonald is a poet and environmentalist who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mr. McDonald has been published in numerous journals in the U. S. and Europe including ‘Blue Collar Review’, ‘California Quarterly’,  ‘The Cape Rock’, ‘Dash’, ‘I-70 Review’, ‘Rockhurst Review’, ‘Third Wednesday’, ‘Storyteller Magazine’, ‘Chiron Review’, ‘Adelaide Literary Magazine’, ‘Nod’ (Can.); and “Between These Shores Anthology”, “Gold Dust” in the UK and The Transnational (Ger.). He also has poetry forthcoming in ‘Harbinger Asylum’, ‘Nebo’, ‘Plainsongs’ and “Colere”.

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