Monday, June 30, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Canopus

You, weightiest southern star,
You old man, you contrary,
Cowardly, solitary,
Steadfast, you bringer of change,
Ominous navigator,
Invisible from the north,
Steer me between hemispheres.

We are setting in the crown
Of the forest whose whispers
Contain and constitute
Alike you and me, glow worm
Glimmering in summer leaves.
Bound in a grove, I'm arrowed
Through and through, pleased to burst free.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The Weeping Willow by the Road Has Grown Green and Huge

When I imagine myself
As someone I never was,
The man who never knew here
Where I do live existed,
A parallel hypocrite,
Ruthless, weak, and privileged
A thousand-some years ago,

I wonder what made him laugh,
Jolting along on his shield.
Was it cruelty only?
Did he, on his conquests, look
Around at the green islands,
The Celt and Latin stoneworks,
Clouds, roadside weeds, and know joy?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The Travel Writer Takes a Turn for the Words

We are all tourists in this
World, especially the gods,
Who visit rarely and do
Strange, inexplicable things,
Betraying their ignorance
Of local mores and needs.
Why shouldn't I look around

While carried on the shoulders
Of more humane souls than me
And pretend I order things
To be done to the natives
That are done because of me,
Though the weather and the tides
Here ignore me completely?

Friday, June 27, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Welcome, You're Here, Again

Let's say for this moment, you
Were only visiting this
Moment. Would it be enough?
Lack of equanimity
Attacks us, attracts us all,
No matter how much we praise
A calm level-headedness.

Can you look at surroundings
Without thinking of the things
You have to do to make them
Acceptable to you? Why
Would anyone not want to?
The cloud blocking your sun goes
Before you, pillar of light.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: A Hateful Task for a Poet

Would be either: one, writing
Fiction in order to eat
Or, two, reading poetry
And writing criticism
Of it, in order to eat.
Easier to imagine
Being a boneless Viking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Life Will Bring Him Down to Earth, No Doubt, in Her Usual Brusque Manner, and Will Teach Him Something More Intimate to Write About

Such a simple thing, really,
Such a simple, short-lived thing.
When knowing was young,
We knew what we knew. We weren't
So sure, soon. Then we forgot.
These days we are sure again,
Sure we were wrong, on all points.

Why write a novel? Why read
A poem? So many better
Writers of novels to read,
So much temptation to write
Another lazy garden
Of weedy, less-than-diverse,
Untended quotes for a poem.

Write a novel if you can,
If you need to, if you need
The money. ("Novel" stands, here,
For whatever story form
Earns the most in your era.)
Don't write a poem. Read a poem.
Do a poet a favor.

Then, go back to your life, calm,
Filled with equanimity
The poet never attained.
Words in pretty patterns aren't
Things to subsist on, like fruit
Or vegetables or bread.
They're not even much like flowers,

Unless you're talking about
Those revolutionaries,
The undesirable weeds
That look half-pretty growing
From their loved, "well-rotted corpse."
Such a simple thing, really,
Such a simple, short-lived thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Thinner Than Groundwater

John Crowley might be in line
For one of Edward Abbey's
Sabots. I am reminded,
Reading the former's blog posts
Chastising the New York Times
For dangling modifiers
And expressing bafflement

At a reference to a shoe
In the works (then inviting
Readers of his blog to chime
In on the metaphor, thus
Yielding a long comment chain
Mocking etymologies
And quoting Star Trek at length)

That we no longer know much
And most of what we do know
Is bluff. Perhaps ever thus.
Long before Crowley adored
John Dee, Giordano Bruno,
Or Harold Bloom, Old Possum
And Ez faked esoteric

Knowledge of Chinese and Greek.
We grub around in culture
Like crabs who can decorate
Their shelled selves with enough
Weird camouflage to get by,
Although we try to attract,
Not distract, damned attention.

Monday, June 23, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Rain

The long and the short of it
Dwindle to a speck of it
In its own good, drawling time.
The clouds lift enough to show
The helpless soul on his shield
The snow come to the mountains,
Reminding him of his home.

We are all so far away,
All so helpless, determined
To prove we have a real choice,
Ready to make one true faith
Out of our capacity
To choose what we cannot choose,
That home will never be home.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Fog

Whatever we claim time is,
We only experience
Time in one way forever.
Einstein with his equations
Still trundled through life and died
As he often slept, pure gone.
No one will ever go back

Or leapfrog forward, except
In accidents of being
Aware of a discomfort,
A puzzling rearrangement,
A dream, then forward again,
The incoming coming in,
Another and another.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Diversion Is Desire Plus Aversion

This is enough. It would be
A complete philosophy
Once attained, since believing
Would then be identical
With the truth. Enough sages
And holy fools in hair shirts
Fervently praying, waiting

For the berserkers' return,
Would like me to believe them,
Their saints, their grisly martyrs,
But they never offer this:
This is enough. Even you,
Boneless wonder, sinful soul,
Are enough. No diversions.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dewy Interlude

Paul Muldoon recently chastised
Susan Cheever's biography
Of e.e. cummings for using
The term "dewy" with reference
To Radcliffe students attending
The six nonlectures. "Exactly
What does 'dewy' mean, anyway?"
I thought of his complaint today

While reading the pilgrim's novel
In which bodies are stacked like cords
Of firewood outside cabins.
The pilgrim refers to "dewy
Beauty" in a context something
Like Cheever's, which reminded me
Of Muldoon's review and, in turn,
Of an equally sour review

A few year's back, castigating
The pilgrim for being showy.
Showy and dewy. Reminds me
Of the pun about the law firm,
"Dewey, Cheatham, & Howe."
Is it possible for writers
To parse other writers
Without logrolling or envy?

Probably not. Logs roll under
Bodies clearing logjams, drowning
Whatever isn't wholly crushed.
It's why I still like the pilgrim,
However dewy and showy
The cruelty of the meadows
In which Death gets loosed in those texts,
Mowing characters just like us.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Standing in a Row on the Ocean Floor

Death has been nosing closer
For a couple of years now.
Not own death, not relatives':
That dark sniffing's a given.
No, literally closer
In these sun-struck, quiet lands...
The woman who froze to death

On the steps of her front porch,
The couple watching TV
One night in the nearest town,
Crushed by a massive rock slide,
The woman one town over
Murdered by her gardener,
Who fled in her car, torched it

Not far from our house, and ran
Into the canyons that hid
Outlaw bank robbers, Mormon
Polygamists, and so forth
A century-plus ago,
But that bought him just a day.
The lovely world disappears

From your side any moment
Now, whether you deserved it
Or never in a million
Years. Sun piles a hot gold hoard
Of secrets on the slowly
Cracking rocks over your head,
Your sleepy village. All gone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The Secret Curse

How much of a paradox
Is human hypocrisy?
Because we tell monstrous tales
About each other seems not
To affect our affections.
That we who suffer inflict
Suffering indifferently,

Even gleefully, seems not
To affect our suffering
Or our self-pity, seems not
To stop at hypocrisy
But to push through to a truth
About the world difficult
To resolve, to unify

In any myth or theory,
However accurately
The theory pulls together
Disparate facts, however
Well the myth depicts the pain.
It seems we just re-describe
Mysterious injustice

Again and again, with math
Metaphors or monster tales,
And even those lucky few
Of us at the lip of true
Description stay hypocrites
Or, if you like, paradox
Personified, damn their eyes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: "Time Is the Warp and Matter the Weft"

Death is the hurtling shuttle.
Shoot your arrows endlessly
Until pinioned heads explode.
Why are the victims so cruel?
Among us there is beauty,
But no commiseration.
Everything is everything

Always and the approaching
Speck of an exploding world
A trillionth of a trillionth
Of a trillionth of a bit,
The first bit of time that warped
Everything that would matter,
Bursts from the bent back longbow

Of an archer on a shield
No one ever lives to see.
The pilgrim loved the texture
Of a life, intricacy,
And did not turn away from
What no one should like to see,
The hints that gods are hungry

And consume their holy meals
Swiftly, surreptitiously,
So that more offerings come.
I am offering these lines
Of cobbled-together verse
As a cobbler offers prayer,
In faint hope I am not me.

Monday, June 16, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Spirit Time

"I have the power to read! And sing books! And make the wind come every day!" ~ Sequoia, verbatim, age 3

No sorrow, said sad Helen,
Long since returned back home,
Trying to ease suffering
In the wanderer's offspring
And friend as she slipped nepenthe
Into the wine comforting
Them against their memories.

If you, child, should ever feel
Pain after a long absence,
I hope that you will realize
The magical potion lies
In you speaking through these lines.
You have always been the balm,
The spirit that calms the man

Who feels like a captured beast
Locked in a traveling cage
Of a frame that will not yield
Around him, though it bears him
Constantly onward through what
Woods the cage itself was made
From, blow by blow, long ago,

Like a stranger on a bier,
Like a helpless king on shields,
Like an old tree trucked as logs,
Like a sentimental fool
Who writes verses for his child,
Crying in his cups. Helen
And Penelope were one

And the same, upon a time
When charm and perseverance
Grew from the same poetry
And the drug of forgetting
Could be drunk without hurting
The thought of an enduring
Suffering too terribly.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Battering

How carefully I detail
My quiet philosophy,
My long-distance perspective
On the madness of the world,
But let one gatekeeper block,
With a human smirk, my way,
And how quick I am to rage.

I could be a tree alone
On a sun swept, grassy slope
Overlooking a forest
Rapidly being timbered
And perfuming the breezes
That reach me with lop-limbed pleas
For help when they can't be helped

While I allow my own leaves
A calmly rustling response,
Until men with axes come.
I could be a secure oak
Surrounded by dragging vines
That poison the ground around
Their long, rapacious roots,

Convinced, long-lived thing I am,
That I can remain aloof,
Until the poison rises
Into my own veins. Anger,
The madness that is madness,
Will fell me as easily
As any weedy sapling.

I rise on the backs of felled
Giants cut down to shavings
To make a great shield for me
To ride on like a warrior,
Imagining my orders
Are holy, matter, carry
In a wide world not me,

But I am weak, not because
I carry no weight myself,
Or not only, but because
I carry poison in me
That felled my fellows, and wage
War against swords and axes
With siege engines hacked from peace.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The World Is Small Because I Am

How far can anyone go
Who needs to be carried there?
It's an important question
To me and to Franklin D.
Roosevelt, who pretended
He was halting not helpless
As, halting and helpless, he

Gathered together his power
And advanced hegemony
Jauntily. There's no free world
Apart from his four freedoms
Now, is there? Your head explodes
With these possibilities.
Time's no respecter of men,

Nor men respecters of time.
Gendered denouncements aside,
Everyone here's a specter.
And then, the wind in the trees,
Which happen to be blooming
Dogwoods, judas, cottonwoods,
Tamarisk, Russian olive,

Sagebrush, greasewood, cherry trees,
And assorted invaders,
Impostors, and mysteries
Around colonial parts
Such as these, whispers in words
Borrowed from longship Vikings,
"What's culture without a shield?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Trinidad Timeslip Interlude

1. Observational Magic

Come to Big Lagoon with me,
Collect smooth stones from the sea,
And we'll see what we shall see.
The magic doesn't inhere
In here or in you or in me.
Inland, there's a tree stump
Of a redwood cut down a century gone,
Big as a small cabin with its own small woods
And flowers now growing out of it,
Obscuring it as it obscures
The actual small cabin behind it
Where we can stay, in a green shade
Between a creek, a chicken coop
And two highways, all murmuring
To the distant punctuation of an axe.
What is it, actually, we don't like
That is samsara? Is the suffering
Of samsara just things we don't like?
Would an absence of preferences
Mean the absence of contentments
And rhapsodies as well as suffering?
All conversations contain an earthquake
Anecdote this afternoon in Arcata,
The sun and the bumming around
Back after heavy rains and last
Night's chittering and rolling wave
That you sensed as a ghost
About to drag you under the couch,
About to swallow you up in the floor,
Then as a poltergeist rattling the cabin,
Then, "of course! It's an earthquake!"
And you jumped into bed at 10:18
And roused the slumbering ego,
And the ego said, "yes,
It's an earthquake" and patted your hand
While you lay awake in the cabin
By the giant stump of time, waiting
For the earth to change again
And you with it this time. Forgive
Me. I was so tired, I had to sleep.
Come to Big Lagoon with me,
The magic is out there, turning
Particles into waves, and tomorrow
We will sleep in and sun on
My enlightenment bench between
The cabin and the overgrown stump
Beside that cabin, listening to birdsong
And rooster crows, the unseen
Creek and passing cars, the axe chopping,
And a hound dog briefly baying
For no known reason in the west
Woods. We'll read poems about woods
And prose about creeks and time.
We will take our notes and talk
About time existing or not, and that
Will finally change us.

2. Baba Yaga's Postal Worker

The flower of boring places,
Suburban lawn dandelion
Blossoms in the dank woods.
On the old wagon road,

Baba Yaga's surly postal carrier
Refuses to admit knowing
Where the road goes. Every stump
Grows four or five great trees,

Each holding a private conversation
Of falling things. The day stays
Bright and ordinary around
The dream of a trackless waste

We make tracks trying to find.
Have another cup of coffee
On the lawn chair. Turn your bright
Face to sun neither here nor there.

3. I Was the Moon Tonight

This morning I was the driftwood
By the long breakers, the sneaker waves
That can claim lives briefer than trees.
Highway at my back, crushing surf
Blowing mist in my face. I was
Really something for nothing
This morning as a bee blew in
Against me, fighting the breeze
To get a little nectar from the wild
And tiny beach flowers anchored
By the oldest and heaviest dead woods
Sunk like spars of shipwrecks
Across the Lost Coast. Something
Wants meaning from a broken beach perspective,
Crossing the bar, no bar to any watch we keep,
The long withdrawing roar proving longer
And longer and louder than any one
Turn of the tides. Everyone's a beach comber
On a monstrous, magnificent beach,
Poets, painters, philosophers, photographers,
Even the penitent sitting in silence,
Stunned by relentless thundering.
That an unseen moon drew on
The tide was such mystic nonsense
A skeptical Galileo couldn't countenance.
The veil smoking up in fine tulle
From the shy faces of deadly breakers,
Anthropomorphized for faint understanding,
Looks delicate, intricate, faint and
Promising something holy, something rare
For the patient, who scrutinize the pulverized sands,
Near-sighted, anxious and finicky as sandpipers,
Something for nothing but feeling that presence
Greater than the sum of our gnawing hungers
And more constructive, more corrosive.
We take away nothing but the feeling
There was something to grasp we could grasp there.

This afternoon I was the astonishing stump
Of a redwood so gigantic that broken
In two it glowered, huge and pale, a spire,
A breathing ghost bigger than Tane Mahuta,
Wrecked lord of younger, greener woods around it,
Recreating itself as new trunks from its corm
Underground, becoming massive future shades.
"A tree stands there, mute," wrote the pilgrim,
"But secretly it seethes." The secret is safe
With me. No one is listening, anymore,
And hardly anyone reads. I was content
With that observation so long ago
I couldn't complain when lightning split me.
Look through the signaling, fringed fling of green.
The fallen, crescent moon stands on end,
Carved by coincidence and glowing,
One bone-white curve of smooth wood in dark leaves.
I may not be upright, but the pilgrim liked my adjectives.

Tonight I was the moon, dragging the tide
Like a blanket up the beach and over
The silver heads of the driftwood logs,
Lighting the way for moths to dream catchers
Strung by tidy spiders in the stumps of trees,
Peering into the melancholy cabin
Between the breakers and the hills.
I'm so tired. I'm so tired. I'm so tired.
But only from time to time.

4. Inside It

Sequoia the little girl, not this tree,
Sheds clothes quickly and when she wants
To put something back on that's inside out
On the floor where she left it, she picks it up
And asks me to "please inside it."
She's got Grandma to do that for her this week,
And you're alone with me and books and these trees
And we're well and truly inside it.

Where will this moment lead when this moment
Is never singular, never anywhere? We talk
Of time and space between the cabin and the trees,
The marsh land and the scrap yard,
The highway, the town square, and the shuddering beach,
But all our terms are inside out and always have been.
There is no now or then, no next
That we can count on, only shades
Of change. Cherish the well-worn, savor
The incoming, and let what's next
Take care of itself. We must somehow,
Ourselves and without help,
Inside them.

5. Blue Lake

Last stop at the last resort.
Time plays possum all the time,
And then the mystery is history,
Time to pack up and go home.
Did we do all we wanted to do?
No, and we did some things we didn't.
One hates good byes. One savors them.
In the end is the beginning of love
That began somewhere near here
And has returned, again and again,
Always slant rhyming, the truth
Being an approximation of the past
That can never remember exactly.
How to rightly portray a goodbye?
The workshop tools of craft writers
Want a lot of showing. No telling
What they would make of this
Rhetorical tree the earthquake bent
To a simple curve in front of me.
Ferns and giant clover cloud the ground
Around the cabin we are now leaving
Where we woke up dreaming
A chant that was never our own
And then long since a part of us,
Bent lines sung from old quartets,
The sheet music rustling in branches
That all night hovered over us.
The end and beginning are always
In love, the beginning and end are one.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The Moral of Immortal Botany

"I suspect that the real moral thinkers end up, wherever they may start, in botany."

"With a spendthrift genius
And an extravagance of care,"
The id turns to botany.
The woods are mounting a dark
Counter strategy out there.
They will retake the human
World and sink their roots through us.

The grasses will be tougher.
Woods can only surround them
And wait for the continents
To regather in a way
Configured to favor trees.
This will be after we're gone
Likely leaving no offspring,

Not one descendant species,
Thus mercifully ending
This brief planet of the apes.
What will remain are mountains
Cut, scored, and excavated,
Along with a layer crammed
With the sort of rich rubbish,

Plastics and metals and oil,
Some species will specialize
In converting to fresh loam
For the rooted bark giants
To draw up through woody straws.
The id is contemplative
In a way that the ego

Can only watch and admire.
Beasts know their role in changing
One era for another.
Egos search for transcendence
Of egoic existence.
Trees search out means to return.
Change, nothing, conquest: success.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: My Notes Are Going Back in the Trees

Reproduction created
The passion of death in life.
The passion of death in life
Created human culture.
Out of competing cultures
Rose immortality,
Our unrequitable love,

Our golem who will save us,
Our noli me tangere,
Our unicorn in the trees.
We want to dream forever,
Even though forever is
All we ever have. The last
Moment of dreaming still dreams.

Doesn't explain anything.
Just the way was is what is.
The passion of life is death,
But nothing alive is dead.
That's why we suffer so much,
Not because we will die, but
Because we're wed to dying

And divorced from dying's dream
Upon its consummation.
We are always in the midst
Of life and lost in the woods,
And our dreams of other worlds
Comprise those woods, in which we
Dream branched word worlds we're lost in.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Joseph Fink

I don't know about Isaac.
He seems lucky to me, but
Abe, "who grew up in the Bronx,
Had a spectacularly
Horrible childhood . . . he was
Usually on crutches,
Because of a bone disease."

Visitor Parking. Reserved
For Employees. No Parking.
Reserved H Parking Only.
Do this. Don't do that. Can't you
Read the signs? Hippies couldn't,
But they're long forgotten now.
Time doesn't wrinkle. It dies

On arrival, like the shell
Of a seed dispersed by breeze
When the breezes are the seeds.
Kitty Genovese. Who?
An urban legend needing
Further resuscitating.
We live lives seeking villains.

Here is the rapist, straight out
Of an angry LeRoi Jones
Play. Here is the neighbor, gay
And white, like the victim but
Male, drunk, and crawling away.
Here is the rising newsman,
Middle aged and middle class

And Jewish, interviewing
The Irish Chief of Police.
You're allowed to tell me this
Was so long ago, so long
Ago in America,
Cold War powerful and rich.
You're allowed to point fingers

At the snake curled in the leaves
At the top of Yggsdrasil,
A white-boy myth if ever
I were myself one of these.
Your vehicle, in which you
Breathe, has selected a place,
Visitor, Employee, H.

Monday, June 9, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Even So

The burdens of our failures
Make us think ourselves greater,
Make us more, not less likely
To emphasize our triumphs
Or our imagined triumphs
Or the triumphs of our side,
Even though we are diamonds

Compressed into existence
And fractured by time, our times
Turning each side carefully,
Loupe screwed to life's gimlet eye,
Finding out and chipping
Our glints from proud flaws' facets.
Look at me, rock in the tree,

Squeezed by these roots around me.
The crystalline, cracked essence
Of me now's whatever's drawn
Haplessly into the crown
Where green viper voices sway
In the hissing of the leaves,
Respiring as oxygen

Out of their carbon rings
Whatever, deep in the ground
Of me, used to be me, used
To be adamantine, calm,
And under the delusion
Of having escaped living.
They, we, are, I am, bared fire.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: I Became Resigned to Being Myself

Lovely little trilobite
Spines sticking out everywhere,
You have quite a few good points
Worthy of fond metaphors
For a quill tip invented
Some long time after the last
Of you, self-consecrated,

Curled in your fine enrollments,
And sank, pins folded, in depths
Of sedimentary seas.
The terrible land lizards
Who invented those first quills
Have since followed after you.
The quill-wielding monkeys will

Follow after them soon. Too
Poignantly pointed, your shells
As arranged around the shelves
Of the collaborators'
Bookshop. The only rebel
Ever was fell from the tip
Of a scribbling hypocrite.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The Dignity With Which We Have Lived Our Lives

How easily victims can
Become the perpetrators
Noted Arundhati Roy.
Perhaps it is because we
Are all the victims of death
That we perpetrate so much
Death, and it is because we

Are all the victims of life
That we insist on living.
By "we" the author means all
Us living things and dying
Assemblages, tottering
Across Earth's landscapes littered
With green beings constructed

From fossils made from fossils
Whose taphonomies suggest
Why Efremov seized the word
Itself, "the burial law,"
To describe the transitions
Of all our bestiaries
Through night's ark of gardening.

Friday, June 6, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The Qilin

Unicorn, giraffe, monster,
Archaic sign of the times,
The original qilin
Browses its hybridity,
Meaning nothing, in the trees;
Another spring and autumn
In the garden of Huangdi.

Who thought up this dream of ours?
The forest of the brain teems
With bizarre chimeras
All perfectly at home there.
Auspicious and ominous
Notions that sages and chiefs
Could rule us shiver the leaves.

We think we're about to change.
We recombine our fossils.
We adopt our aliens,
Pollinate our predators,
Turn everything outside in.
Here is the church, and here are
Our creatures. Open the doors.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The Color of Things

"Here we are and there we are."

Beginnings are remote and
Small at the start of them all,
At the start of any one
Of them. That we don't question.
We have an organic need
For everything to start small
And then grow bigger, whether

We believe things only end
Once and for all, or get small
Only to begin again,
Death or rebirth. Why is this?
Don't ask for godlike wisdom
From any human. You're one
Of them, you should know. Who you

Like is like you among them.
What can we ask of ourselves?
One fond answer is kindness,
Another is tolerance,
Another, joy in what is.
Joy in the color of things
Would be good, and kind, I think.

That's color in all senses,
The palette and the palate,
The textures that delight life.
And as for life's origins,
Perhaps we'd better leave them
Where they will always remind
Us we are and as we are.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Coral Pink Sand Dunes

State park. She drank half a flask
Of my best available
Scotch. Needless to say this was
Not Scotland. This was desert.
Our sense of the future is
Our sense of the past. That's it.
Mule deer and bighorn sheep jump

In front of me. Aside from
This ribbon of pavement
These lines don't look differently
Than they did a thousand years
Ago. Uncertainty quakes
Bashfully in front of me.
Here we are and go again.

Has it occurred to no one
That eternal changelessness
Is, in fine, synonymous
With that word, revolution?
You want to get out of here?
Lose the are and prove patient.
There's never a civil war.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Willfall

Why should I care who invades
My country or that country,
When it's highly unlikely
Any invasion means my demise
Ahead of age or disease,
Addiction or accident,
Homicide or negligence?

I have no way of knowing
If it's true, as I have heard,
That sinister lullabies
Like, say, "Rock-a-bye Baby"
Really derive from English
Civil War underground rhymes,
But I do know they're absurd

And one good reason to fear
The cultural endurance
Of horrifying nonsense
In the soft, blossoming ears
Of new-born baby world minds
In a hundred or more years.
And yet, I prefer treetops.

Monday, June 2, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: Pando Redivivus

I spread everywhere, although
I am not one kind of I
Nor kindly, glaring about
From the tower of my eye
Perched and hidden in the crown
Of the largest tree around.
As I spread, lives should fear me.

Wind flutters the leaves. I'm not
Fanatic for ekphrasis.
Let each scene, each picture be
It's own truest description,
Transcended by synaesthetes
Rarer than breezes like these
That whisper so frantically.

I insist this is gossip.
Please leave me be. I'm not free
To discuss my liberty.
I am, after all, what hides
In the sun-besotted crown
Of the most triumphant tree.
I thrive in hegemony.

I lie, a viper in wait
For exquisite birds that feed
On the fine tips of these leaves,
The fruits that they wave, with ants
Intact, fungal spores pouring
From their uplifted, captive
Heads, brainless, nothing to me.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

From the Verse Essays of Ivar Benløs: The Willow of Hurricane Utah

Human bodies are fearful
Mysteries haunting themselves.
They whisper within chambers
Created by their whispers,
Wondering why they wonder,
Unaware of why they are
Inhabiting awareness.

This spring, the weeping willow
Corresponded to a mood
Of weighty, great amazement,
Greening daily by the road
With little to commend it
Except that massive willow
Out of place in red desert.

To whom did that mood belong?
Bundles of microbes trundled
Within the skin of an ape
Tormented by thinking things
Inherited from thinkers
Of fearsome things in their skins
Containing communities?

Why not them? Minuscule things
Genetically distantly
Related to that thin skin,
Inhabiting it as thoughts
Tangled up in skeins of words
Inhabit its transmissions,
Nodding to the nodding tree
Sic passim. Everything is
Passing, is strange and estranged
From itself as it passes.
The community of me
Believes itself singular,
Believes nothing haunts that tree.
That tree, however, is me.