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Winter 2009, Volume 25.2

Poetry

Michael BazzettPhoto of Michael Bazzett.


Michael Bazzett is a writer, teacher, and printmaker. His poems have appeared in various literary journals, including
Green Mountains Review, Free Lunch, The Chattahoochee Review, Rattle, Poetry Motel and Blueline. He lives with his wife and two children in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

 

Now Here, Nowhere

The cow unfolds its legs and
rises against the white sky,
flickering among the tree trunks

as we pass. The window
glass is cold against my forehead
and I can feel the pavement

humming below.
A pine has overturned, roots
ripped into the air. A dog

trots along the road, another
lies dead on the shoulder, fur
frozen to the pavement like carpet.

We drive on, not telling
how a dusting of snow
whitens shadows, it is still cold but

water will run, insects will rise,
these dogs will flower
in sweet decay. We pass

another broken tree,
the heartwood split
open in a storm.

The car swings
through rolling curves
beneath the white sky,

the sky that holds clouds and light
and clouds and light and nowhere
does it explain.

 

Dismantling

Trees rise from the ferns,
bronchial architecture
laid bare,

leaving the wind without
its hissing river of leaves.
There is no quiet

like winter quiet
broken by the staccato
ta-tack that draws my eyes

into the mesh
looking for the red nick of a head. It
thunks twice

and I find the woodpecker
clamped to the trunk
black tail pressed against the pillar

head dropping in a motion
so cleansed by repetition
it has become

a burnished hinge,
and I wonder
at the resonance inside that hollow skull

as it drives the point of its face
into the dying tree, white
flecks spraying like seeds

until it stops
to spear the addled beetle
that stumbles from the heart.

 

Clouds and Mountains

the alpine meadows were arid
the high air dry in spite of snowmelt
the lakes vivid jade and cerulean blue
the smell of sage and scrub spruce dusting
the hard rim of everything after a day
of climbing higher than the mountain

goats who shed their winter coats in
woolly shreds on every twisted branch
near camp they drummed across the rocks
the sodden meadow tufts to lick our
piss clean from blackened boulders with even
blacker tongues murmuring salt! here is salt!

we sat after all that climbing in the shallow
hollow of our camp the ravine not a ravine
but a ditch and braided with goat paths
and we watched the clouds come low
and hairy sprawling over the ridge rising
from froze-to-death plateau to settle on

the saddle slung between high ridge and
granite peak and blue those clouds are
blue we said aloud as we sat and looked
up at the dark mountain rising into the mist
the clouds curled heavy and fluid
as a satisfied cat around the broken

granite that sometimes clattered down
into talus and scree and the boulder fields
rimming avalanche lake where we sat
wrapped in every layer wed brought as it
darkened and became harder to tell what
was cloud and what was mountain

we pointed toward where the constellations
would have been and lapsed into a silence
until the sound of rock sliding and cracking
open on other rock cut through the dark
and we looked toward the clatter to see
sparks slicing through the fallen night

raining from rockslide bright as white
knives and for one slipping down moment
the only clear thing in the entire world was
light shot out from that unstoppable falling.

 

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