Battered chimes ring but there is no song
Held high upon the end of a collapsing roof
Dangling above a small mound of ash
Of no earthly natural end
Above the poet that computes no verse
Ash that once burnt words
In the cold fire of every profound sentence
Died as a comet burns out
In a system that lost its worlds
Unseen, unfelt, eyes iced
All spirits having fled
The fountain and the fool of the soul
Erupting elsewhere.

Mountains lean over the broken roof and crippled
And like flustered frozen giants
Chart the path of a snowflake
They watch the pass of a lone, pale figure
As pure as the first quiet snow upon the first cold
Untouched by the howling gales
Of want and reason and god-
She is imprisoned dust that paces within its cell
Has blood and breath and dreams
Dust will not honor nor forsake
Old ivory hands brush back courageous curls
(Long ago exhausted black locks had begged gray
To assume the dressing of the head)
Her face worn but not battered
Chiseled unevenly instead, the careless cuts of time
She that is mostly silent speaks softly
Sitting next to ash below quiet sun blistered chimes
Wrinkled legs crossed, her fallen cheeks
Red from the quickened pulse
Of long slumbering words:
“Poet, you are extinguished
As fire fights fire, life burns life
Words are no longer your unhealed wounds
Dead as I cannot die
For how can love die?
Poet I will now tell barren mountains
And dark burnt blue sky
All that I knew of you.”

Upon this a breeze came and the chimes above
Stained tin cylinders that only rattled
Suddenly made music
Untroubled, chaotic, but pure notes retrieved
From the void of many dreams
As if sleeping children
Woke and suddenly banged on a Steinway.

She tells the ways and wants of the poet
And shakes a tiny, timid fist
At mountains that will not listen
And then rails at the poet
How he had forsaken the future of virtue
To embrace the fornication of a moment
How even now amidst the proclamations
Of her harsh, cruel sermon
The same breeze stirs a cinder that stings her left eye
“And this,” she cries rubbing her eye
(but her noise is soft and slight
No louder than a frustrated bee
Scratching furiously at the center of a plastic flower)
“And this,” she violently sings, “is the pain of the poet
the irritant of clear vision.”

Robotic is the sun as it sets
Made by the factories of assembly line gods
Who, at break time, drink coffee, smoke, and
Thunder back to the line
To make more suns to warm more worlds.
She sits and stares at that machine
And knows that
Once her poet was
Disinfectant of the sun
Dreamer of a world choked with despair
The mountaineer forever kept from every cliff
The comic collapsing upon the stage
Quietly weeping.
Once her poet was
Merely red ink loose in the washer
Staining white sheets,
The last wild iris to bloom
In the center of a burning forest
Seen only by crackling, exploding cicadas
Once her poet was
The night upon worlds that will not turn
The painfully bright morning
In the sleepy, drooping eyes of an owl.


In me races the blood
Of a tremendous one
Rising, making the bed
Washing breakfast dishes
Checking the mail
After early dinners
Counting cars
Remembering none
Looking at television
While unmaking the bed
In me is the blood
Of this one.


Wrought from wombs past
There is eternity that does not last.

Into the neighborhood store
Radiating, I go and then stopping
Like a comet under glass.

That, pointing at delicious confections
That is what I want.

Outside playing
I find there is no substance
Sweeter than the salt
In the soundless slip of a bead of sweat
On a blade of grass.

Richard Wilson Moss


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