Spring Urge

March 9, 2010

Circling a Star
Between here and the greenhouse
in a snow canyon shoveled after the last storm
matted grass and thaw-soaked soil are a
brown-carpet invitation from the unknown one 
to step out, gratefully, into a new sun

It’s an invitation longed-for  
after hunkered-months indoors
as the woodpile disappeared
like memory under drifts
when even squirrels vanished
and birdsong became distant
as my dead mother’s riffs

I see this canyon calling
through a window over a sink
filled with soiled plates and suds,
a young avocado stem sprouting
from a split seed on a sill
in a half-filled cup of water,
it’s leaves precisely arcing
 
saying, 

“This is what it means to be alive,
to stand in the sun and guzzle light
and inspire some ignorant dishwasher
staring out a window to urge by thought
his planet’s procession just a little further along
(so as not to over-burn time)
to a more hospitable point
in its persistent inexplicable
circling of a star.”

by Jim Culleny, 3/9/2010

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Years

February 26, 2010

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe …
We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something
separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness.”
……………………………………………………………………— Albert Einstein

First it was all just
Is

Is was
………………………
then came
I can
followed soon by
I am
…………………….
I am
is a most persistent condition
—an arbitrary concoction of boundaries
as if a single point of view was all
…………………….
I am
should be a passing through
—just a glimpse upon a river
between Is and the wine dark sea
………………………..
To be caught there
alone and starkly immobile
like a dead log snagged on stone
while the river goes on to
we are
…………………
and finally disappears into
we are not
……………….
is to miss the possibility of
…………………….
then
maybe
…………………….
light
…………………..
…………………..
by Jim Culleny
Feb 26     2010
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Victor Borge and the Player Piano
We lived on Oak Street when one day
my father came home with a white piano
big and heavy as a horse that had
two large pedals under its keyboard which,
if you placed a paper roll titled Lady of Spain
between two spindles behind a sliding door
above the keys –like a wood block in a lathe–
and pumped with both feet, the avatar
of Victor Borge would come and sit and play,
the blacks and ivories (some like bad teeth)
succumbing to the ghosts of his hands
as you watched ascending and descending
perforations in the roll’s paper
pass over the horizontal row of holes
in the smooth brass bar at eye level
like flocks of geese coming and going,
the pattern of voids sliding from
top roll to bottom orchestrating the piano’s
robot rendition of Lady of Spain
while Borge slap-sticked and cracked-wise
seated right where you sat
your fingers floating over the keys
performing furious air arpeggios until you
dropped off the end of your seat to the floor
pretending to be that funny man
with fingers just as facile
in the adult manner of a
brilliant Danish clown

by Jim Culleny
Feb 22 2010
 
 
 
 
 

 

Better To Say Now

February 8, 2010

…………………………….
—almost didn’t get up this morning
sleep was so I-want-to-stay-here-the-world-is-fucked
but

there’s still something blissful about breathing
and

notwithstanding what’s too typical in the realm of man
I

opened my eyes again and found you there
as

usual and knew, what with you and the kids
and

friends and the means to ambulate, see, hear, and help
I

would miss a lot just sleeping, somnambulating, dreaming,
so

I threw the covers back and jumped into another
day

which is to say “opportunity” which may be even fewer
in

the afterlife or the next life if there are such things.  Better to say

Now
……………………by Jim Culleny
Feb 8, 2010

………………….

Luck

January 21, 2010

………………..
Every now and then you’ll say,
I love our life, and I think
what’s not to love, the sky is here,
sweet water, food and breath,
family and health pretty much,
and what goes back and forth
between us and whatever comes,
good or ill, being friends we split:

ascent/decline
what’s mine is yours
what’s yours is mine—

what in this (with this luck
above all) is not sublime?

by Jim Culleny;
Jan 21, 2010

Snowdown

January 21, 2010

…………………..
This slow white curtain falling
the arbor vitae hedge is touched

Remnant fruit frozen on a foreground tree
—brown apples crowned with down

with no memory of blossoming
unaware of the bare limbs they hang upon

or the short liquid span of days
given them when, filling out

sweet and green they lured deer
to dine and, dangling in dappled sun

cloistered among leaves, sucked
light from sky and life from
mother earth


by Jim Culleny
January 19, 2010

Eclipse

January 13, 2010

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”
                                                            –Bob Dylan
 

at a wall on a corner of the world
I’m still waiting for Godot as mullahs
and priests go by in the robes
of their pride incensing and
murmuring.  I’m thinking
burn-poles and bombs and wonder
how many gods must there be
in the world before too many
people have died

down the ages they come and go
hot and promising as new stars
then collapse and freeze
unyielding and grasping
as black holes

the latest on the block, 
intent upon eclipsing Christ
who subsumed Yahweh
who buried a pantheon of Ba’als
who defeated the sea god Yam
who rose fresh and dripping
from fathoms of the unfathomed
is on the tragic course
of those before who
by fatwa or inquisition  
by crusade, by imposition
with unwarranted holy assurance 
and a fire-in-the-belly mission
marked their highways to heaven
in blood

isn’t it good for the world
that this one’s not triune
since one god over-reaching
is all it takes to leave
a million mothers weeping 

it takes just one
with a new moon of magic
to eclipse the light of earth
with a teaching

by Jim Culleny;
Jan 13, 2009

Loophole

January 2, 2010

“Abraham said to his father and his people: ‘What are these images to whose worship you cleave?’  They said: ‘We found our fathers worshipping them.’ He said: ‘Certainly you have been, you and your fathers, in manifest error.'”  
                 –Koran, Chapter 21, verses 52-54  

The Tughra

  

  

  

  

  

  
 

 
…………………
………………
……………….
…………………..
 Loophole
…………
Warnings in the Hadith
to make no image of God
or animal or man
are no match for the loophole
function of the human mind
which will overcome
obstacles like certainty
and threats of hellfire 
to make real any
object of longing
mystic or material
as can easily be seen
in the lovely, lyrical
portrait, the Tughra
(signature of Sulaiman
the Magnificent)
disguised as calligraphy,
a loophole allowed in
Muhammed’s line by men
who knew the futility
of banning beauty

by Jim Culleny, January 2, 2009

To Question a Corpse

January 1, 2010

………………
I cannot call a poem. It calls me.
It comes. I never go to it.
.
Some days, minding my own business,
one will interrupt and say, let’s work this out
—it levers essentials and tugs
to lift the lid on the casket of the past
to question a corpse
.
Think happenstance—
a thing coincidentally lit by sidelight
glancing off bone, or the sound of a song
falling from a window to the street
as I walk by
.
An encounter with a miracle might do  
and a poem will come, as when alyssum
looks so perfect in July
.
There’s no such thing as inspiration
other than that I inhale whatever comes
and exhale words the poem discards
as it vanishes in a clear sky
.
b
y Jim Culleny, January 1, 2009

Furnace

December 18, 2009

…………………….
Coffee’s made, tea-water’s on, frost glazes a pane
in iridescent strokes  as if rendered by an elfin etcher’s point
Struck through with silver its gravure of fern fronds
glistens on a clear silicon plate
……………….…………
An oddly regular postage stamp of brilliant blue
piercing an otherwise stratocumulus dome
marks a piece of sky beyond the frost-etcher’s art
…………………
a window in a window a frame within a frame
like a thought within a name
……………………..
The furnace sparks, the burner hums before
the blower starts, and hot air gushes from a grate
as if a house might warm its own cupped hands
to mitigate the lethal stillness of a still, cold, place
as we would mitigate a coming lethal stillness
by puffs from our own deep furnace
in the winter while we wait
………………….
by Jim Culleny, 12/18/09