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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 1, March 2015

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Charles Tarlton
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA


Have You Heard (and other Weavings)

Have you heard

                              the muffled roaring
                              of deafmutes trapped in a building that is
                              slowly filling with smoke?

                                                            —Denise Levertov

The sound bone surrounding your brain makes—thick hiss in your ears, a mumbling when anyone talks to you; and they're wise to you.

palms against your ears
slow shaking of your head—no

How much of what we feign in sensory impudence comes untranslated in that rumble and roar? Doesn't everyone hear it?

it's as if to say

We are imperviously alone in the sounds, thunderous blunt noises, still the knowing nods go on, nods we nod in response to.

there's so little that gets through
the wall of soundless mouthing

*

Charm School

                              Of fragrant-curtain'd love begins to weave
                              The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight . . .

                                                            —John Keats

Anyone who knew her well would say she moved in circles far aloof and spoke in a contrivéd speech, but still she drew us in.

grace all vanishes

There was a tiny cruelty behind her kindest acts, a coldness underlay her warm greeting or goodbye whenever she came up to us or went away.

in slow-motion close-ups
her smoothest gesture

Yet I cannot deny that I was caught as if in a dripping net pulled up along with algae and driftwood, crabs and carcasses from the ocean floor.

revealed tiny wild adjustments
an articulated snake

*

In Autumn

                              Trust your eye: if you see light, paint it.

                                                            — Mike Carroll

A gray fog palpable as sand rolls in, its suffocating mists heavy with sorrow. Some kind of metaphor.

finding high drama
in the scattering of seeds

Through small breaks in the clouds you catch a glimpse of spring prairie watered by fingery cascades from the hills. It opens out, then disappears.

in circles of white
stones hewed from the white mountains

Then a vision of raw sunlight in patches over tiles, lit up in the dust, our scattered umber leaves. Jolting between dreams and certainty.

as evidence of prayer

*

Coming in from the Dark

                              And the hope of man as well
                              Flowers among the morning dews.

                                                            — A.E. Housman

Driving out of the desert on Route 41 just as the sun comes up turning skies the color and texture of an opened pomegranate.

weather and your thoughts

The road kept secrets and made promises all night, but now the tactless light uncloaks old shacks of corrugated iron in clumsy rows, forgotten gas pumps on all sides.

face toward the dark as if the rain
pulled the covers up

Dawn turns on its heels, escapes in the yellowing sunrise, leaving only a trail of thin black shadows from telephone poles and stunted trees.

made a fantasy fortress
where your frightened brain can hide

*

Out of this World

                              There lies the world, my darling, full of wonder
                              and wistfulness and strange . . .

                                                            — D. H. Lawrence

A traveler wakes in an unfamiliar room out on the highway near a small uncertain town. He is at first confused and shakes his head. Does the telephone ring?

stuck on my own path

Sometimes at the movies I feel sure that I could summon up the next few scenes and make them be whatever I wished. It's the same in reality, the same silly feeling, but it never works.

if I could I'd leap aside
get out of the way

Like the Peregrine when it circles just before attack, calm moments can hold frantic provocations, waking emotions up, sending them foraging for prey.

adhere to hard injunctions
threads to the empyreal

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