Calculating a New Vocabulary of Joy

We multiply families of ravens,
stun words in cool gusts,
then lift, winged heat. I ramble
mathematically, waiting for a language,
croaking, ready to give up everything tertiary.

What primal number,
what rough cut square footage
expresses itself in our shared gaze?

What equals one mountain plus one man plus one woman
plus three habaneros sliced thinly, coughing steam,
sex and gasoline, gratitude dividing
into soft apologies to one tree for sinking nails
to hold prayer flags and all sentient beings?

How do two people become
one home in a flash? Quite simply.
The sky calculates it all like this:

One crisp ponderosa accepts you. I notice.
We sniff its neck. The moon squints
through its 2 am limbs upon our tangled sleep.
One cabin, our larger body, stirs
under twenty fingers. Its engine spills and fumes.

One decomposing granite hallway
takes our four-legged gait like seed,
grunts us new. Like this, teeth smiling.

We might be two parallel streams and the earth
is giving way between.
We can’t account rationally for the speed
of our lives’ glorious destruction
or the volume of water tearing through.

The solution is in the weep, the wound,
the rocky crack. Guess how
the clever juniper grew where it grew.

2013

4 Responses to “Calculating a New Vocabulary of Joy”

  1. Fey says:

    Last line. Stunner!

  2. D says:

    Wonderful journey within the words!

  3. eduardo says:

    I think this is another keeper for the forthcoming(soon, please?) collection.
    How do I love this poem? Let me count (three of) the ways.

    1) Your use of, tertiary, which I think doesn’t see enough usage. (But if it _did_ get used more, would it subsequently become threadbare, less able to stand out?)
    2) The weft and warp of earthly and ethereal: Habaneros, sex and gasoline (Rodney Crowell! Brilliant writers steal brilliantly.); the tree holding both, “prayer flags and all sentient beings.”
    3) The layers and avenues proliferating throughout.

    I’m suspecting there was a delight in watching the glories unfurl while crafting this one. Suspicions confirmed?

    • wordweed says:

      Hi e,
      So happy you think this one is a keeper. I would like to put together a new collection this summer, and I’ll definitely keep this one in mind.

      Glad you like the use of tertiary…as a painter, it’s one I use occasionally in color theory, and there are other associations having to do with feathers and other things, but the oddest one is linked to Ted Kaczynski’s theory of this “tertiary age” we live in. I know he was insane, and I don’t approve of his brand of revolution, but this theory has fascinated me, and I must admit when I’m up at my cabin living in a primary way, the tertiary becomes quite apparent.

      Also glad you caught the intertwined imagery of earthy ethereality…though, damn it, I didn’t know someone else already came up with the phrase “sex and gasoline.” Lol. So much for feeling clever!

      O delights indeed. The true delight began before the words did.

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