Stone Flowers
by Robert DeCandido

Dramatis Personae

Two vultures

The Windmills of Merida, Yucatan

When falling apart at the seams and in between

Blue Haiku

Crow

J.S. Bach: Aria mit 30 Veranderungen:
"Goldberg-Variationen" BWV 988

Stone Flowers

Four and a half

Winter days...

and--Etymology: OE, two forms (1) and, "fronting, against" (2) end, "end, boundary, vicinity"

Geode

Crow dawn

From the El

On making a bowl from a cherry wood log

Love Poem

Hsia Kueh

Dramatis Personae

    A day
      filled with the broken syntax of perception

    A tree

      of wind tossed sunlight and shade

    A poet

      in a squirrel's nest hiding, tail cocked in readiness

    A poem

      knitting light and leaf on spider-web strand unseen



    Two vultures

    in a pine tree,
    preening,
    in the dawn,
    waiting
    for the day's
    warming
    to start the air
    boiling
    for them to go
    flying
    like vagrant kites.



    The Windmills of Merida, Yucatan

    Once, there was no corner of Merida where
    A windmill wasn't churning steadily
    In the wind pumped from the sea by the sun--
    The hot, dry wind from the Gulf
    Or the gentler one from the Carribean.
    Small and many-bladed they were thrust up,
    A little ways, into a sky which seemed,
    To me, larger than other skies,
    Where layered clouds glided and vultures turned
    High up to the brink of unseeable.
    Though they've doubtless been replaced
    By motors, the windmills turn still within me
    and draw from below sweet water
    which dry wind and dry earth cannot steal.



    When falling apart at the seams and in between

    When smooth facings fail
     and words wear away
      to chinks and cracks
     and all you tell is vain,
    perhaps a poem
      (sufficiently chewed
       and stuffed in to the holes)
    may help.
     For words too
    tend to fall apart
        and poems rejoin them.
      Unmortared like an Inca wall
    every part fits the others
       held by nothing
         but their own appropriateness.

    so substance and form meet
    not in sameness
    but at a joint
     with no spaces
      and no adhesives

    poems are walls--walls poems
    and people both
      with seams to pry apart
      and ways to put them together



    Blue Haiku

    What sigil cleaner
    than aloof blue beyond
    clouds separated?



    Crow

    darker than the pine needles' green,
    darker than the tree's shadow
    darker than itself
    when there is no snow
    to be dark against.



    J.S. Bach: Aria mit 30 Veranderungen:
    "Goldberg-Variationen" BWV 988

    It is one--

      more than it is thirty,
        it is one.
    The song is beginning and end
      and between, it rounds through
        a universe of its twisted forms.
        (twisted in beauty)

    Not obligated to space, time or consequence

      it moves in patterns
        related to our own--
    Remotely
      but
        inevitably.
        (twisted in beauty)

    From joy to sadness, then ecstasy (twisting!)

      and finally back to simplicity and calm
        to begin again--
    Showing the equality
      of all things
        on the scale of the infinite.
        (all, twisted in beauty)

    We are its reflection,

      we are
        its context.
    In it we see our own forms
      our own selves
        twisting in beauty.




    Stone Flowers

    My grandfather
    made a table,
    or its top,
    to be exact,
    of mosaic.
    Each piece
    of marble
    ground carefully
    to fit tightly.
    I don't know why
    he made it. Not
    for money
    nor to use
    as a table.
    Maybe for the
    closely gathered
    roses he shaped from
    marble chips
    red
    pink
    and white.



    Four and a half

    Today, my son
    told me the clouds
    looked like a river.
    They did, too,
    and I spent some time
    embroidering complex
    fancies around
    his simple one--
    expanding his metaphor
    ethically,
    economically,
    ecologically.
    He, meanwhile,
    watched for planes.
    Some went in back
    of the clouds, and some,
    he observed,
    went in front--
    and that the river
    looked like the sea.
    And it did, too.



    Winter

    Days pass
    like water dripped from
    frozen eaves.

    Days of ennui, crammed with
    sunlight and laguor.
    Empty days of empty wants
    and empty dreams.

    Days of snow kings
    and icicles that melt
    drop one...drop two...



    and--Etymology: OE, two forms (1) and, "fronting, against" (2) end, "end, boundary, vicinity"

    Branches number more on the
    tree than in the painting
    and leaves
    and clouds
    and...
    that empty space is the sea
    that line a mountain.
    So we build by excision,
    edit reality to art,
    starting after the beginning
    stopping where there is no end,
    hinting that our endings resemble
    the End
    as the line does the mountain
    as the void does the sea.

      Oedipus died but then
      so did Eteocles
      and Antigone
      and Haemon
      and...
        and so will we
      to be followed by another
      and...

    In the painting
    the sea wraps beyond
    the horizon to a shore
    where it laps
    unheard, endlessly.



    Geode

    Near the edge each line of color
    maps the exact contour
    of the stone,
    copying with bump and hollow
    as it circles
    every imperfection.
    The shape of each inner line
    grows less exact, less dark,
    until, at the center,
    the white oval is pure and smooth.
    Each layer has softened
    the vagaries
    of pressure and circumstance
    until only
    what is essential
    is left.

    Not a perfect circle
    or an exact elipse
    but a rhythmically curving shape
    cleansed of chance.



    Crow dawn

    More graceful than their cry,
    crows delineate the morning breeze
    with circumscriptive wings.



    From the El

    Garbage on sidewalks delineate a pattern,
    broken windows describe a geometry,
    burned out cars become sculptures,
    mattresses, papers, and refuse
    build collages in alleys and
    art galleries accumulate in empty lots.

    Beauty, once learned, is inescapable--

      desperate, desperate beauty



    On making a bowl from a cherry wood log

    in choosing a form to shape to--
    a simple but elegant line
    of no significance--
    to follow
    and become
    with patience and slow thought
    and slower hand
    the trace of form
    that in its own despite
    will contain---
    the trifling hand must not annoy
    the congruence
    between tree, tool and thought
    sun, circle and moon



    Love Poem

    Illustrate illustrious illusions
    from the mind pen
    to the...whatever.

    Red clouds are not
    the sun setting
    nor are words the
    things they name.

    We live, I tell you,
    amid reflections.
    We see and
    say the world by carom.

    So unleash a word and
    let it bounce where it will
    and I will try to trace it
    back to you.



    Hsia Kueh

    With a brushstroke
    the horizon is washed in darkness
    and night in soft cadences enters the sky.
    The invisible sea dangles a small boat
    and on the shore a brief building.
    Mountains of shadow recede to the sunset
    in rhythms reflected in the riming clouds.