To buy insight, you have to pay first
Sometimes you look up
at a cornice, or sky
or a roof,
when nothing is there because
you think there is.
And once I was walking on a city street
and nobody looked up
at a cornice, a roof,
or the sky,
even though something was there because
they thought there wasn't.
To get beneath your own topsoil
do not dig with words;
will puff, and float to the sky
if they're dragged down near any soil.
To get beneath your own topsoil,
you must dig with
a hole that's about
two feet wide and six feet long
- just like the holes floating
where you have just been.
Press that hole, down,
deep into the earth.
Then get up, and brush off
the dirt from your pants
puffing, into the sky.
LEAVE NO TRACE POETRY
How do you sculpt a pot
without touching clay?
How do you compose a painting
without holding a brush?
How do you release your reflection
from the cup of your hands,
without it looking
How do you beam lights
into the darkness behind
that don't reflect back at you?
It is common for poets (and I am not one),
to grace their nouns with souls
and baskets full of verbs. Gifts for
nouns to speak, for convincing
us we feel.
So a stone
or cock a quizzical eye,
while a tree might nod,
and raise its face to the sky,
where a cloud might watch, or
whisper in Stone's ear.
Oh if these nouns might speak
so that I too could hear!
If language could explain,
if nouns could tell me how.
If we could sit around a table,
Language in one chair,
Conversation in another,
and I might serve fine wine,
might their nouns reveal their souls,
and thereby show me mine?
I didn't "exterminate" my self.
Nothing so intense, so
taut with ambition.
I just abandoned it, maybe a thousand miles
Heaved it off the top of the wagon.
To be fully honest, it hadn't been doing anyone any good.
Way too heavy
to bounce on the baked earth,
it just thudded, once.
One corner of it impaled
into the greenish-brown crust,
may it rest in peace.
I expect life has worn my self down since then.
Become a target, for the sky's wet riflery.
Or maybe a shelter
for some snarky, honking crows,
or for a nibbling family of nest-building
Sleep is a slow swaying
in the bowels of
your pond. Dark, limp
The surface waters always look different
in the morning.
TRYING TO CATCH UP WITH MY FUTURE
There is a person -
I think it is always the same person.
I keep thinking I see her.
At a busy cross-street ahead of me, disappearing
around the corner. Or across a crowded concert hall, walking
out the exit.
Or leaving the secure area of a building, as I'm entering
its foyer, through a bored metal detector.
So often, when I'm focused on something completely different (always it's that way),
I'll brush the side of an image, just as it's vanishing.
I think it's her, entering a museum
on the other side of the street.
To be honest, I'm not sure it's always the same person.
It may be someone different each time.
People who just look similar,
when seen from far too far away.
Zeno's paradox. I keeping getting to where she was just a moment ago.
It may all be in my head, I don't know.
Let me make a prediction.
Sometime in the future, someone will make an artpiece that looks like
The piece has a definite order, starting at the left, progressing to
At the beginning of the piece, it's one of those 19th century
stop-action photo-sequences, of a nude, ambling to the right. Many
frames, easily flowing together. Small changes between successive
frames, accumulating with time.
All the images are in severe black and white, as 19th century
photographs were. Very saturated film; almost no grey in the image.
Nearing the middle of the piece, the comfortable gait of the sequence
abruptly ends. The figure turns to the camera - toward the viewer of
the artpiece. As though she suddenly notices that she's being
All the frames up to this point were the same size. But the next frame
is far larger. In that next frame, the figure is running, hard, clearly
very upset. Right at the viewer (me).
The next, final frame is huge. It stretches almost from the floor to
well above my head. By itself, it's nearly as big in area as all the
frames up to this point taken together. And this last frame is filled,
to where it seems like it's going to burst. With the figure's taut
face. Nothing but that face, its border pressing against the picture
frame. Screaming, at me (?). I can't even see the figure's neck, or
the top of her writhing hair. Her eyebrows are twisted cords. A
giant, surreal tongue fills the central third of the image. Framed by
glaring, angry teeth.
In this future, I will read the title of the piece, placed beside it
on the wall:
"THE PAST, TRYING TO CATCH UP WITH THE PRESENT"
I stand back, appraising the piece as a whole.
Finished, I walk through the door on the right, into the next gallery.
Nobody is left in the room behind me.
Just a two-dimensional, frozen face.
My shadow blocks
I must twist it,
so I can squeeze past,
complete my hike,
with that dark pool
LEARNING TO SEE
The sun rolls
on its broad shoulder,
raising its back
in front of us.
Then the sun pulls
its shadow blanket
down over its head,
gutting our sight.
Then when our eyes drop out,
the sun reaches up,
to open the blinds,
lets the stars in
for the night.
When the woods reflect you, well,
has been found.
Copyright David Hilton Wolpert, 2013