The DMQ Review

Sharon Hudson 2003

San Diego



Driving north on Interstate 5
you look to the west,
to where the ocean sears its magnesium,

and you envision yourself there,
in the clean evening fire,
as if, alone in the world,

you had taken to burning
Rembrandts and Caravaggios,
or peeling back the skins of Rothkos

to touch the smoldering matter,
to reveal variations
on a four-hundred-year-old skull,

opened on one side,
which holds a nest within:
old grasses curling like grey matter,

thoughts coming
and going
like restless sparrows.


Tonight the city spills
its golds and purples
over the placid mass of Mission Bay;

a single palm tree
bends its silhouette
under the burden of silence.

And you can’t help standing there
as if you had something to do with the picture,
as if tonight the smell

of empty pottery
would finally turn itself into rainfall,
and the strong white bones

and the warm tired flesh
and the ache in the blood
would come together

in supplication,
ask for deliverance,
and fall with the light that remains.


You just let the moon hang there,
like Keats by the fifth stanza
of the Nightingale:

It’s not the viewless wings,
but the unseen flowers.
And what more is needed?

Is there room for abstraction
when endless permutations
of velvet and color are sliding over ankles,

opening themselves into darkness?
Possibly. But for you the lyric
comes from friction, breath, need.

The sound, say, of your son’s voice
praying for good dreams after a nightmare.
After which you step

out for air
and a passerby says,
“Half moon. Should be clear tonight.”


3am, and the sound
of blood crying up
has shaken you from sleep.

Eucalyptus, the protector,
has fallen and destroyed the fat man’s trailer
He is alive, ranting.

You gather with neighbors and help
by pacing stupidly in underwear,
sharing stories about insurance.

Ants and spiders you can’t see
break easily under bare feet;
Somebody’s dream, tamer than your own,

has been realized.
At dawn you understand:
How she sleeps there,

quiet and sensual,
the remains of what she protected
in pieces beneath her.

Samuel Willoughby
Copyright 2003

Samuel Willoughby's poems have appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Southwestern American Literature, The Raintown Review, The Juniper, Three Candles and elsewhere. He lives in New York City.

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