Poetry - The Wormwood Collective, Absinthe Literary Review

by kris t kahn

To the Tide

Say that the lull is just that
and nothing more, that we need
not be fearful, that the sand
will still keep our footprints.

Say that all laws insist
on regeneration, an ebbing
following engulfment,
a symbiotic sort of destruction.

Say that nature is a fiend
in its harsh mimicry
of man, in its contentment,
its green, overripe satiety.

Say that the sky knows no end.

Say that it is boundless as
a child imagines its tiny life to be.

Say that Galileo was right.

Say that the trees only appear
to be blocking the way.

A Room

And to each his own, or at least a room
overlooking some greenery
whose windowpanes are each
cubist cages for moths
questioning the futility of existence.

Is this what you want? A view by which
to pound out the rhythms you hear in your head
each morning the birds rouse you too early,
each evening the tea keeps you awake,
each typewriter key a means to emancipation,
a way out of the abominable city?

“Woolf would grant me such a wish,
such an escape” you say,
and rather than ponder life’s futility
you ponder instead the ways in which such a room
would set you free:
the view of a cathedral
just across the way inspiring in you an authorial
sort of genuflection; fingers flexed hypocritically
for a slow, stomping pagan waltz.


The unfettered appeal of this place sustains you
so that even the still-sleeping city wanes in comparison.
You draw sketches of its geometric design on sheets of paper,
fascinated by the notion of caging the corporeal self,
of fastening it like a caught insect to a blotter,
of forgetting the lull of the river, the crash of surrender…

I do not remind you that the room is a metaphor.
Why should I break your reverie, spit so selfishly upon your dream?
This is not, in fact, what Woolf would have wished to engender in you:
the idea of freedom, certainly. But not so adamantly
that you lose sight of flight having learned
instead only the architectural benefits (not as many
drafts) of that room which has been
hermetically sealed against all intrusions,
even the necessary


-each typewriter key a means to emancipation-


intrusion of the four-walled self.

The Cliff

Across the inlet
the rocks are smooth
as talcum, rubbed
by years of strain.
They hold their sediment
out proudly like wrists.
They are braggarts who have
succeeded in eluding
time by meeting it
head on, air for water,
all vices and storms
chafing the surface,
grazing each exposed edge
with a touch not unlike

The air is stubborn
in its insistence:
it wishes only to mark
the cliff and its rocks
with signs of aging
as a prisoner metes
his remaining time
with lines and crosses;
it longs only to sing
as it passes by of
the river ending loudly.

The air is stubborn
because it believes
too much in its own motion,
its own omniscience,
thinking the rock cliff
stationary and extraneous
merely because of
its immobility, its silence.

The rocks speak in harsh
language, they babble
when the winds have passed.
The river rages on below them.
The sun begins its slow
descent, filling the air with
gold and shards of vermilion.

Something stirs
like Venus in a
mannerist painting.

Across the inlet
where the rocks are
so smooth they
might be breasts
of mulatto trickling
life, such water
into its source below.
The rocks are so stoic,
so defiant that not even
the winds can stir them,
not even the sun
can crack their
exposed bodies.

Upon the cliff,
there where
the naiads perhaps
dance frivolously
at nightfall,
lies a sliver of sun
still shining
as it sinks.


© 2003 kris t kahn

Click here to leave a comment on this poem.
Please mention author/title when leaving comments!