Thursday, June 30, 2016

Without by Donald Hall


Without

we live in a small island stone nation
without color under gray clouds and wind
distant the unlimited ocean acute
lymphoblastic leukemia without seagulls
or palm trees without vegetation
or animal life only barnacles and lead
colored moss that darkens when months do

hours days weeks months weeks days hours
the year endures without punctuation
february without ice winter sleet
snow melts and recovers but nothing
without thaw although cold streams hurtle
no snowdrop or crocus rises no yellow
no bright leaves of maple without autumn

no spring no summer no autumn no winter
no rain no peony thunder no woodthrush
the book is a thousand pages without commas
without mice maple leaves windstorms
no castles no plazas no flags no parrots
without carnival or the procession of relics
intolerable without brackets or colons

silence without color sound without smell
without apples without pork to rupture gnash
unpunctuated without churches uninterrupted
no orioles ginger noses no opera no
without fingers daffodils cheekbones
the body is a nation a tribe dug into stone
assaulted white blood broken to fragments

provinces invade bomb shoot shell
strafe execute rape retreat and attack
artillery sniper fire helicopter gunship
grenade burning murder landmine starvation
the ceasefire lasts forty-eight hours
then a shell explodes in a market
pain vomit neuropathy morphine nightmare

confusion terror the rack the screw
vincristine ara-c cytoxan vp-16
loss of memory loss of language losses
foamless unmitigated sea without sea
delirium whipmarks of petechiae pcp
multiple blisters of herpes zoster
and how are you doing today I am doing

one afternoon say the sun comes out
moss takes on greenishness leaves fall
the market opens a loaf of bread a sparrow
a bony dog wanders back sniffing a lath
it might be possible to pick up a pencil
unwritten stanzas taken up and touched
beautiful terrible sentences unuttered

the sea unrelenting wave gray the sea
flotsam without islands broken crates
block after block the same house the mall
no cathedral no hobo jungle the same women
and men they long to drink hayfields
without dog or semicolon or village square
without monkey or lily without garlic

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