Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 1, March 2010

Charles Hansmann
Sea Cliff, New York, USA


Translations of the Wayless Poet

I am wayless and these footsteps erupt into clouds. She has put into my mouth the last word they lit on, naming her, and saying her name is like imagining clouds without resemblance, cloudlessness reflected on the lake.

walks among boulders and rain
silence and hawks violent downwind

A wave at wary distance. She scared me into my childhood once, an abandoned coal bin, our fingers in the dust. Instead of a kiss we draw in the flesh a black X mustache above each other’s lip. In dream or memory or now, under the fence ahead of the horns, morning taking its chances.

a glittering golden fry
lugged from a fat potato

Coming down to the lights I question: Why are these postcards in Latin? Ruin through my heart and your tongue on the roof of my mouth is ancient rubble. We stumble long distance our usual cradle-grave way, our waylessness paved with pinpoints of map. Not you at my side? Don’t call and tell me who.

knees that ignore the hardwood gloss
a mapping of boots on the southern coast

Windstorm. We went to the cellar. Our awnings leaked and the gutters (like those supposedly in cities supposedly under the falls) flooded the shallow cistern. The water rose to the ceiling. We felt it in our ears. It was time to go upstairs.

spilled perfume and the burnt
edge of a note on your door

Clarity is a copied idea. She thought this reflection hers. It stood directly in front of her, dim in the glass door of a leaning display case, the pane off kilter, the image crooked. She didn’t know I was standing there.

day off, paid
the pinched-nose call-in

The moonbeam rounds itself off. We stand at the end and call it even, nothing to carry, nothing left over, light going its many ways among divided shadows.

across town and down
the city’s transportation like a puzzle clue

Where you are yet or interpenetrate the rarity of lying inside these countless sunshines—something glitters there, like netted recurrences. Never mind the river twice; upstream it never passes here.

one night from full
new decade’s first

A kiss out on its own upgraded wisdom makes out tumultuous whereabouts. Weather without anywhere to go upturns the stagnant handiwork, stretches of enormity rolling through the hollow.

elbows and low windowsill
our bellies fill the mattress

Asleep or only dreamily we drink from our reflections, though they are only the colors of flowers the streams oblige them, butterflies waiting to rust from flecks in ferrous stone, embedded affinities outlasting our astonishment.

shouting like a weekday
silent as a month

Something happens again the moment the wait puts on hold wondering what it will be. You are impatient though I feel rushed, predisposed to infinite fussiness. The offers are endless and each as good. Your choice is quick; I would make do with the next.

Tuesday, August—they can’t help
what their parents named them

When we put out in what would prove our bottle, the grape-juice sea had not fermented, gifts were solid—no laminated trick trumped siege with stealth—and sly transportation made us into something else. We wake up sacked, and last I looked you followed, last I saw you.

the warped mirror where your disappearance
begins its search

River round, its run this floating pool of mood. Windfall, apple hung along the peeled road. Fruit famous in song lets go our hold. A number divided by one counts itself told.

the whoosh out of wind into vacuum
past the refastening semi parked on the shoulder

One drink of this hot air leaves steep shadows on the flatland. No canteen can carry the way they lean. We’re tricked to climb, closing the distance with open arms.

your limbs or agile chopsticks
the plum wine breathless

Our gutters are galvanized troughs draining our horsehide awnings. There’s a wind-driven pump that is pouring over the rim to the dust. Our gates all lead to the water we are always willing to drink, wind rearing up in the leather, the galloping hooves of rain.

warmed through glass
in the empty mansard

Black water, suggestive ink, testing us by shape alone, floats upon itself the way the great poems cock their ears to see if they are listening. We watch the lines of a careful horse emerge from the fog into which it vanishes, you who say the rider never saw us, I who saw that it wasn’t mounted.

stainless, doffed
canister lid O’d fingers flash

Only looking away relieves this consistency, interchangeable parts of which some say there are none, bartered parts reclaiming past exchanges, the things we’re running out of.

fresh juice, wok’d veggies, at-desk isometrics
the twist-offs, the fuck-ups, the fears-of

We stumble into memory, that chronic stubbed toe, side-stepping the bruises where the potholes reminisce—an intercepted once-over, your eyes too bold to watch your step.

whaling, mousing
whatever your druthers

No choice but straight. This alley branches only into trashcans—the stick you brandish ticking our pace at intervals—minutes after pickup, lids askew, hungry cats watching.

the sunken couch
a neck like knees

Something celery, her stalk, but a kind of concentrate, juiced, a cluster dissolving into froth between tooth and tooth. Something stringy caught poised on the edge, our waiting nudged toward onrush.

a dozen halved oranges
a pint of juice apiece

Leaving creature-ness is what they call absence. Arrival stands at future’s brink. And being here merely that we are leaving no remainder, all words beginning with A to be absorbed in.

held breath and sea-salt eyes
the kite fish, the underwater tree

Breath was windless, darkness hiding darkness. From this protection opposites broke free, unity took count of throb and pulse. The myth declares itself uncertain whether this was produced or happened.

the coiled and charming
hypnosis of her turban

Poems that restore belief, that reviewers find compassionate, unflinchingly honest—the world will not unfold there, shining, indelible, enduring. There is dust on the shelf-life of reading. Posterity prefers our graffiti.

a spectacular jump
the landing still not in sight

Years will probably go by, she said, always so proud of her prophecies. She knocked and I held my finger to my lips so the girl in my bed wouldn’t give us away with a giggle. Silence both sides of the door. There were so many ways I could tell her. I said the same thing over and over.

the salted silent clamp
that takes in sand and rounding

As if she lived by theory, sudsing up in the learning cauldron instead of submerged in the bath. Start one as if start two. Where are you going, wallpaper of birds? This is where the room will smell its flowers, writing them like mad, a penny for your pencil point.

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