Silver is the ruby’s faded glare
Awkward silence taking it out to sea
And you away. The morning
Is its own highway, interleaded
With ears at the important points,
Each the size of a key of typewriter type.
To hornets we are all electroencephalographically
Neutral. Everyone is speaking jargon, especially
The ducks which look orange in this light;—
Sunny as a fruit tree, or as a lime drawn
From the tops of the fruit trees to the telephone wire
Dividing the ocean, whose neck is the horizon.
Some words (“like ‘fuck’”) require objects some of the time; others
Are content to be themselves, suspended like a chair,
Covered in green ink. Everyone’s comet
Strikes the earth, in a way.
The birds stay where they are, stretching to get the birdseed
Until they resemble the clothesline, white
With a dark shimmer. Half-cocked, except for a hay
Riding the air, the sky pushed branches against a screen
Where some T-shirts have caught, drying in powder
That will make them stiff and fragrant. As sound is released
By the head in front, the back of the neck
In back, and out and beyond the honking.
Everyone sleeps at least part of the time, the pilot
In the plane, the oceanographer in the bathysphere,
The judge on the bench, everyone else between eating and
Going to the bathroom, the window pouring
It through like the boat.
Some of the harvest words are
Also used for hunting, making them doubly unresonant,
Like an agglutinative language
Condensed to a single word, unspoken; or
The moon with no breath on it, touching your forehead in a complete
Absence of what meteorologists call weather
In a country on the verge of capitulating
To its smallest city. One would steer
Carefully to the south towards the lighthouse.
Slowly the lawn quiets down.
Each berry is a species of robin, all inflect night
Like the ocean’s rush over a bumpy road. As the radio
Spars with air, random to the space it occupies
To the inclusion of skin. Not the argument
From design since there are no stars to push, but thin
Points of maroon beside some gold
Letters which thud, far
Out of their cosmological depth.
Then the berries leave the trees;
The birds chase them, delivered to a prior spot where ech,
Like the ocean, is inflated and simplified,
Marooned no more than late afternoon mist dispensed
From an apple tree claiming to be the air outside the room,
Supporting everything in it. In the turtle’s mouth.
The turtle looks up. Trees and grass, chairs and clouds,
Sit in the middle of the lawn, the snowy lawn of the air.
With a breeze the ocean stutters, in the middle of
Mumbling. But the ship is already a blur,
Each point created for the benefit of others
Which react to it as if it were poison ivy, catching the same spray.
A chorus steps out of the spray. Two, in fact;
Astonished at not having made themselves known before,
With brandied snows, burning eyelashes.
You are the hotel, but you are also
The vandal, as well as the house detective.
Every spray accelerates, stops, so you can watch it;
Banging like grain like the door against ice air.
(Charles North. Reprinted in The New York Poets II, pp. 148–149. Originally from Six Buildings, Swollen Magpie Press, 1977.)