Quiet, please, and huddle down beneath this desk,
crouch here in the place where feet should go.
See how small your spine can curl, how tight
the breath can move: small in, small out,
in hiding-silence. Something has come for us
[the plane was not a simple plane] and your children
sit behind you in rows of theater seats,
their legs swing while they point, pleased, at the men
who sail slowly down through the sky
with quiet guns across their arms.
Quiet, please, to save yourself, says the hanging tree,
says the pepper spray, the bullet, the whip. Says the officer man,
says the doctor, says the teacher because teacher always says
just like mother always says hush now, let’s ask someone
who knows about such things. Instead, ask for lights
and bells. Learn to cross your hands atop your lap.
Let me see the perfect rose of your lips hide all those teeth.
Quiet, please, and let the machines do their work.
The equation is simple. Type, SUM = ( + _ )
then select your terms. Sum, as in the total amount
of things collected (i.e. green oceans, slim-waisted girls,
cloaks & wings & flowers) or as in the total number
of events experienced (i.e. slow walks, still births,
picnics, aphasias) or as in the Latin sum, as in I am,
as in: I am = (green ocean + aphasia). Or, I am =
(ants + wind in from the balcony over the square).
Or I am the fish inside my heart, the heavy boots
inside my veins. I am the insomnia of the rider.
I am the insomnia of the horse.
Quiet, please, while they leave me, my essential
things. The horse rolls in the water, rights herself,
and I am beneath her swimming legs, swimming
in a down vest and heavy denim jeans. I argue them
from me in the blue under-water, kick off my full boots,
the jeans-heavy sinking. The horse is free of me
and she shakes her head while I work to shed myself
anchor by anchor. I want to float up to her, to air,
but she will only carry me forward into the fire.
There are guns above the water. There are friendly men
in uniform who were sent to save or sent to kill us all
and we don’t know which is which by the smiles.
Quiet, please says the noise of the noise machine,
the pink noise, white noise, brown. Says the mother
to children, phone to her ear. I say to myself as I church-laugh
into my hands in the library, I say to myself
as I untangle knots of hair, of thread, of words.
Be pleased as a zipper drawn up tight, like a lemon of wax,
almost white. Be quiet like bee-hum, or bird call,
like pencil to paper. Like morning before the sky-break
like snow-pressed grass stretching up toward the sun.
N O T E :
The following phrases come from Federico García Lorca:
“ask for lights and bells. Learn to cross your hands.”
“insomnia of the rider/ and the insomnia of the horse”
“my essential things”
“like a lemon of wax, almost white”
“black cloaks wings and flowers”
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH