The Poem

And so we see it, here, now,
In the unassuming day, straggling
Along in the shade.  To say,
I have watched the sun set,

Is to say, my conscience is a chain
To which I have the key.
The colonies of weeds dappling
The million bright leaves

Leaves me puzzled, long-drawn,
With enough earth in my hands
To scatter across the sky.
The stars laze about in the gravely

Heavens.  Its blackness is alive.
Soon we watch the sun rise again,
But until then, we lie in an overturned
Boat, the ark of modernity, the poem. 

The Process

Give me something I can use:
A pick axe, a shovel, some salt.
Here in the graineries, everyone
Is tired, so we cut some thick
Bread into thirds.  There is no
Historical explanation for what
We did.  Casey got an erection.
Marfa tried to save someone
From war.  We figured if we planted
A lump of clay in the ground,
It would grow human, but it
Didn't.  Our neighbors laughed,
Our neighbors cried, we fed
Them oats in the blazing summer
Sun.  Suddenly, we remembered
That we were scared, too scared
To do anything about much.
So we dropped off to sleep,
Dreaming of crazy things, yelping
In our sleep.  When we awoke,
There was a piece of paper on
The ground with the words,
Pick axe, shovel, salt, and we
Prayed over it like the hooligans
That we were.  No amount of
Fasting would save us, no amount
Of evil delight.  So we walked off
Separately, each to our fates,
While the heavens tried to rectify
What had been ours all along.
Give us something we can use:
Hypnotherapy, acupuncture, a
Rite of passage that would take
Us somewhere far away and cool.

The Blue

How often we say things we don't mean
Fully, with our full selves.  But this is
All right, since we cannot make sense of
The growing weeds, the things that go
Where only blue travels.  A hymn rings
Out.  The wavery wind blows.  I don't
Want to sound coy or even ridiculous,
But after all, the azure of a face drawn
In sand at the edge of a sea is my own
Two deaths.  The first one happened 7
Years ago.  I've grown all new cells since
Then.  The next will happen at some point,
But I'm not worried, not hardly.  Is this a
Message?  A message to whom?  Is it
To you, who polishes me like a pearl?
Humanity is more than that, I think, and
Now the light has spoken.  It's time
To carry the weight of the day, and wait
For sleep to come again, as it does,
Flat and ridiculous over the whole blue land.  

Formalism on a Sunday Afternoon

                                for Anthony McCann

The wolf howled at the flock, linguistics
Didn't matter.  I spout tubes today from
My head, the trees, leaves, all over the place.
Another blue valley in a starboard eye-socket,

A paper touch of something else.  Cities and
Shrubs are another man's loneliness.  Detritus
Mixed with a day's signal flare, the happenstance
Of rising, rumor of promise, suppleness of words.

You will seize us with your power, I say, to
A turnstile that flames all night.  Past the wick
That curls into sleep, past the body's liturgy,
I stay in a state of melting and ablation,

Autumn stripped of its content like a pigment,
Summer that ends with a star rising somewhere


These legs of mine, this bonehouse.
A bed sheet is halted and folded,
Summer ash on my hands.  The crimped
Light slowly unravels.  The flame

Is entrenched in the lavish seed.
Forgetting and forgetting, meaning
Is sailing with length.  The thrill of
The river blinks once.  Pinned down

By the salubrious air, pinned down
By the salubrious air, a hollow corpse
Loses its rhythm.  Can you tell me
Where I'm going from here?  The light

Is now clasped to keep things true.
The lucid leaves circle about a hole.


NOELLE KOCOT is the author of six books of poetry, most recently, Soul in Space (Wave Books, October, 2013).  She also translated some of the poems of Tristan Corbiere from the French in a book called, Poet by Default (Wave, 2011).  She has received numerous awards for her work, including those from The Lannan Literary Foundation, The American Poetry Review, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Academy of American Poets and The Fund for Poetry.  Her work has also been widely anthologized, including in The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry and Best American Poetry 2001, 2012 and 2013.  She lives in New Jersey, and teaches writing in New York City.