And Splash

March 23, 2011

Like the hands of crowds
where limousines cruise
and their windows absorb
the brunt of common touch
golden stalks of grass brush
against my calves. That is,
I’m riding my bike on dirt
down this path and each
burr attaching to denim
thighs and waist becomes
another badge.
Wind tells me
to stop receiving
rewards and I follow
its lead, crashing
gears and handle-bars
into bushes—the only
vast wilderness amid
the sprawl, traffic sedated—

Constant trickles click off
the seconds with brown
algae in full sight through
chrome spokes, mica
mirroring overcast
skies. I pick other stones
from the arch of my shoe,
pretending a sojourn
from fertile crescent
to fertile crescent,
exiled but
entering a trance
where a cicada-killer
might show his crude
face offer an
obscene silence
extend his arms into
a make-shift Jordan
and splash. And splash.

Scott Kinder-Pyle

Three Poems At Night

March 21, 2011

The Night’s Middle Hours

The night’s middle hours moan for medicine
they always do
and when I hear them, sleeping lightly,
I can’t tell if I should go to them
if I should go and place two fingers upon a cheek
if I should gently kiss the forehead of the moon
if a moist cool cloth might soothe until morning
as temperatures rise, fogging the windows
and if I should whisper to the hours of night that I’m here
I’m here—what relief has come?
what rhythm distracts us from the shades of our unimagined masks?

Nicodemus Insomnia

I rouse to hear, but already
the old trees of Jerusalem are swaying to your anguish
already, in some avant-garde bar and grille,
a divorced girl taps her heels to your labored breath
already, the patient’s entangled in your catheter tubes
and it’s barely twelve-forty—you,
I think, must be apprentice as well as me
studying the question in watches later and later
and how can one be born after having grown old?
and after having been told in chapter and verse?

Birth From Above

Indulge me. I hate to be
obtuse, but the sheer placenta
must spawn more colors, more colors
if I, O if I, am to wait for pain intervals like a mid-wife.
Does water break in Japan? Do heads crown in Libya?
Yet my whole worked-for life’s a crawling from wind,
pitiful behind the fixtures of temple. My full stature’s
a scam, the shield-plates of my skull will no longer drift
beneath my scalp, excuses, excuses.
Am I, am I
as if, O Jesus, as if
only that would nurse the night to health.

Scott Kinder-Pyle

Edict

March 17, 2011

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.
–Czeslow Milosz, Ars Poetica

I used to smell the wet maples, the leathery
green primers, saturated with cursive drops
of cloudburst, a lesson in penmanship after every
cleansing rain and as that sated sensation

hovered one mid afternoon between conscious
thought and oblivion an angel approached
barefoot on the window sill and stood toes
dripping with sap like medicine. He

said the only way to meet them all
is to patch the hole through which the
mosquitoes enter and the only way to
block that entrance is to re-write the edict

that’s been degraded by recent radioactive
leaks in Japan. He went on, get your energy
elsewhere, photosynthesis maybe. I
said, I’m a mystery to anyone on that coastline, but

would like to know them if there’s time. Then we
broke off communication—I from my end by preaching
a sermon and he from his end by converting
to Dadaism. Now nothing is ever really moist and

every tree’s ambivalent about growth in a downpour
although many might interpret leaves as they fall.
King Cyrus issued the last legal declaration yet
there’s no use hearing it unless debris cooperates.

Scott Kinder-Pyle

Transfigure This

March 7, 2011

It happened after we returned from our trip—after taking this looping tour—from Capernaum to the north, into the district of Caesaria Philippi and then up this enormous mountain, Mount Hermon I think you call it. Anyway, I don’t know if it was the high altitude, the thin air or the left over bread and fish that we had for breakfast, but no sooner had we scaled this cliff—I started to get really light-headed. James and John were lagging behind, of course. And one time, on this sheer vertical slope, I heard James go ballistic over how his sandals weren’t really suited for this kind of terrain. John got frustrated too with the way that his tunic kept getting snagged on tree limbs.

I told them to stop whining, but it didn’t really matter. With those two it never does. Kind of like being tuned into two different radio stations—constant static, with chatter tripping over chit-chat and then breaking into a braying contest between two jackasses.

Oh, pardon me. Every once in a while, my Galilean upbringing gets the best of me. You see, once you’re bred to be a fisherman, the only thing that makes any sense is catching fish. And, of course, now that I’ve been recruited by Jesus, we’re catching people. And by God, that’s all I want from this expedition. Don’t you? I mean, didn’t you hear what I said to him in chapter 16? I said, “You’re the Messiah! You’re the Son of God!” So let’s quit pussy-footing around and re-take this country for Yahweh. These Romans are a bunch of pig-eating pagans and the only way to get rid of them is to unite under the banner of Jesus. No, not the Pharisees. No, not the Sadducees. Not the Sanhendrin in Jerusalem. All of those so-called experts are corrupt. Don’t you agree? Don’t you agree that Jesus is the only way to victory? Don’t you agree that Jesus is the ticket to a better life? Don’t you agree that he’s the chosen one who can heal all our hurts and deliver us into a world where we, the nation of Israel, are number one?
I’ll tell you what… it used to be that I had no doubt. No doubt whatsoever.

But now, busting my butt up this mountain, I’m not so sure. It’s like, I step up and tell Jesus how great I think he is and then he calls me Satan. He says that the Son of Man is meant to suffer. I say, suffer what? And he says, suffer at the hands of the elders and the scribes and the chief priests. So I say, okay, maybe there’s a little suffering along the way, but we’re going to win, right? The crowds are going to rally, aren’t they? And he says, No. Jesus says, he’s going to get caught and crucified and then something else, raised, I think he said. Hah! Think of that, raised like a loaf of bread—and us being Jews and all, he knows damn right well, we can only eat unleavened bread…

Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. Maybe Jesus is right. Maybe Satan gotta a hold of me, or maybe it’s just this God forsaken mountain air. What are we doing up here? Is this supposed be a discipleship bonding experience? Hey, where is everybody anyway? Have you seen them? I haven’t heard those bickering fools for over an hour now. And Jesus, this fog bank is so thick! I don’t know where he is. O, thank God, it’s clearing. It’s clearing.

Jesus, is that you? [inaudible sounds] eeeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiooooooooooooooooooooooooooeeee
Lord, it is good for us to be here and if you want I will make three dwellings, three worship locations, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah…
God—that was a stupid thing to say! This isn’t the festival of booths, this isn’t Sukkoth, where we try to shelter our religious landmarks from the weather.
Why do I want to box things in? Why do I always have to nail down the details? Why do I want to always measure how well I’m doing? Why can’t I

listen my own
knees crawl sideways
across sky-gravel
little fossils of fish give off a charcoal fragrance
brilliant translucent embers
beneath every movement
shards pierce my shins
electric splinters
angling up through thighs pelvis torso loosening shoulders
listen look up lift up neck tendons tilt up
to

Face Face Face
face of Moses who lost his memory of murder
and pharaoh blinked
face of elijah who jerked jezebel around
then who suckled on silent crags of stone
Face of him talking leaning into the abyss drawing journeys with
mist-wrapping fingers
desperate guttural verbs tense
upper cheeks reddening with pleasure
beard dripping wine
linens gestating in glory

and now every strand of my hair is
sifted like wheat in the lungs of the mountain—the wind
listen squint with shrill skin make out
the shaping of his
Face alone
feel the lashes of all eye-lids
reaching his Face without shame
each one held by the brown
verdant return
of his gaze
each one rained upon
each one
with dirt packed down to receive his luminescent stride
does any one spy
the destination
is it here or here what’s
the hesitation as he goes forward
and back

coming down late from the height the vapors still singe my nostrils and I can’t remember

the bright cloud and he tells us shhhhuush shhhhuush