from Lines of Flight
Alembic Beside the Candle
The pillar that Samson blew open with
two hairless fists—but first an adage from his
father’s marketing firm, incorporated
in 1903, under the stiff wind of the Euphrates.
Before the balancing, the many killers employed
by his favorite studios, designing
chairs with a mild electric shock. The goblets
reached into the initial mayhem by sweating
mildly, engendering rings in harmony
with vibrations going through the palace
floor, on the surface of the potions the royal
family was drinking. But on the inside
of the outsideless vessel, the orchestra had
begun, sending satellite communications
in the form of asterisks and dotted lines
to all the beginning tributaries, the unlocked
hand and then its brother, slowly reaching.
The Felt of Right of Wrong
These button holes are dug too deep,
ex-genera as the city living in circles.
Around the pole they sweep toward
a bountiful crypt-like education
squeaking behind the headboard.
The many shirts we’re taught to wear—
the quick pink ones, grey ones, orange
light dyed into fabric from evening.
The beach, in search of a miraculous
landscape divided by stars,
of doors in an arc along the entry.
Letter of your name, and what it
might mean to attempt to save you.
Save you from what? I’m the one
needs saving says the sister,
long lost beneath this head
stone where the army put it thinking
it’s a long way to other general
settings, as in the piece of tape
marking the position on the dial.
I wish there was something more
intimate for us to wear. Actually
there is and I am imagining you
bringing it here in the right size.
Back in the World with You Too
If this motion sickness is the cure for therapy
and the moon won’t do its tricks, how do we move mountains
when it was this twig that came out of the box,
writing its name in reverse or at least moving forward
with that thought in mind, with that reaching toward
the next moment with another set of grips.
One finds in one’s suppleness a greater nervous agitation
much more successful and pleasurable,
neutralizing the ground with alkalis and arguments
that have over the centuries made us such an un-fun mob
to be around, to be spinning among our spinning and roundness
like that of the hidden circle in everything we do.
Goddess, the circle, circle majesty, as I swing my arm in an arc,
trying to kill you or touch you or invite you
into my intentions to stay. Remember who I am
and who you might be and at what point on the curve
as we speed around our bodies. Numbness and heat.
Remember the first singing I had ever done to you
and the way it revolved a heart, one we made in the middle.
We hadn’t found the time and place to use tools
made of tumbling and twisting, of friction between skins,
a torrent of drumbeats pouring out of every fact.
This is how we occurred to us, and our work was complete.
Not that kind of work, but of many hammerings
breaking away the ground over which we hung, trembling
over the ground that was neither a circle nor a heart,
but a mottled flatness, an unevenness, a place to climb
or slide down into the belly or crater where it was still warm.
Flowers as Something Standing on the Counter
Waves of blue shot through my hands
and because of that I knew I had approached
a state unlike that which I was seeking,
but perhaps more useful. After all
it was a blue wave, a blue-hand waving
state I was unfamiliar with. On another day
I may have made nothing of it at all—
in fact there were days I made nothing
of it at all, and days I made still less
than that about anything that may have
happened to me—say a sudden growth spurt
or an equally fleeting decrease in size.
Because in the end it was the averaging
of these things that got me there, that place
to which I belonged, though after that it
disowned me and the flavors on my tongue
and the way I saw and thought of things.
I was in a disowned state, a flowering
and pungent yearning for that which I’d
never know, could never, not even imagine.
Standing on a lever between the window
and the open room, I ruminated long and hard,
trying to recur. Trying to be back around.
Short Bursts of Cherry
There are roses and blood stains on these calipers.
For days I’ve wandered through this desert blind
and your hair was a fragrance I hadn’t known yet,
blood on my hands from cutting their meat
and a soft discipline of walking with a limp.
When the sun dropping toward the horizon fell
we were beet red from heavy breathing.
The passage up the rocks was treacherous.
Thank goodness for our little friend, the doctor
who killed three guards and sucked another
of those crimson flowers, granting her vision.
Buildings of tremendous scale, some of cobble,
others of unknown origin. Grass among the ruins
and some small fruit trees and those without fruit
on the periphery—berries, small oranges and cacti crown
a flame at night but nothing more, no ghostly guide.
Flame and a sack of dried victuals still bloody from flight.
To sit and listen before faith opens her mouth,
her red O, and its first utterance, her scarlet
wordless prayer and its first reference.
The way it stabbed everyone in her bed,
everyone in her, everyone who could be counted.
John Schertzer lives in Brooklyn NY with his wife and poet Kathleen E Krause, their two evil genius sons Liam and Declan, and dog Rex (supervillain name Difficult Dog) where they all are plotting the end of the world as we have known it so far, in favor of one that is unknowable.