Michael Carlson

What eclectic cleff will signal

the starting point of our apprenticeship

to buoyancy, of shed hours, shot,

shorn in their very own corpses,

of the problem of death reduced

to the talc on a swath of old shale,

the genuine diversion that bullies us

back to the black ice at bottom.


Man must create pursuits in which

his system applies or be killed

throwing apples at swans, knocking

mailboxes over, eating cereal.

The owl has no system. Cold air

collects in the bottom of her nest

and waits there, blank as a witness

destroyed before his testimony.


Does night need, does happiness require

the wilderness of a slogan?

A ghetto with three types of trees?

Not believing in a conscious god,

or men, we heirloom wisdom

in a game that teaches nothing

but time and anger at drowsiness.

Tears are not the shapes we sob in.