Feeling Feverish; It Briefly; Rainbow in Spanish; Nothing Personal; Limits to Resolution


I put in a sixty.  Too dim.

And when the moon and four planets lined up last night

Saturn was plunged into Pensacola Beach.

We could not see it, so plunged was it,

way below the Gulf.

This was no light affliction.

First distance swayed and then the close ups.

When the call came it was temperature

like a nose against glass, insistent but muffled.

It lodged in the answering machine of the cerebellum,

a sound like a single collective swallow

as if all the city of New York’s complimentary Zinfandels

were accomplished at once, echoing into Connecticut.

There’s more. I saw the modern mentality

could be traced to the cabbage

the heart of which is both exfoliate and blind,

very old, approving of solace, vaguely explained.

It was clear everyone wanted visions hot as opera,

then, to quench them.

I thought of purged first. I thought of heat smothering

resistant bacteria, vegetations forming emboli like planets,

magnets moving toward a reconciliation with the sun,

ears ringing, serenity dismissed.

New intrusions were rickettsial and glum.

Water was collecting.  There was talk.


I hear someone pestering dogs off in the distance,

unpredictable in sequence as spooked deer or electrons

entering a cloud chamber at high speeds.

They yelp and spin, corkscrew wildly

creating new entities in decay.

That is one order, another is the river which can be everything else.

I do not live on a river, but I know they are nerves, trees,

and threads of forgetting, reefs and their tropical populations.

I know the river assembles tree-shapes from rivulets forming

the trunk of the Ohio or Mackenzie, and then spreading

again as they delta to the sea,  a favor flaring at both ends.

In the middle, dogs and deer, and clouds forming a ship-city.

I entered the dream where the first few images leaked

from neurons and pooled near the pillow.

The porch and clothesline were at first a telegraph, then NBC,

channels deepening and swift as the Corps of Engineers

have made the Mississippi, making it impossible.

Down-dream from me the carpet man dreams of tile.

Rejecting feathers, he sleeps on his buckwheat pillow.

Still he flies. In doing so, he also hears it briefly.


After the door made its plaintive moan when I used it,

like a single unanswered canary in a room

reciprocating misery to a dim space with a single window,

the ten-speed looking like leftover bones

of something long gone, and the minuscule electric worm

in the light bulb died in its flash,

the sudden fatality that regulates the system with antecedents

but without clear causality or the dread of penalties for self-murder,

the face of the sky grinned egregiously in color.

And when, despite the pitfalls of conclusions from direct experience,

that the hinges “calmed” when I oiled them,

that the earth was “thirsty” when I turned the hose on it,

and when just turning around suggested circular reasoning,

an arco iris appeared over the snapdragons, the gold beneath it as foretold.

So ideas were not inert, and distinctions between appearance and fact

were finally denied.  Buzzards are the birds of death,

the rainbow is the arc of an eye afloat in the garden,

watching for opportunity, rocks in the driveway remnants of fires.


A saw fly brought me its message, persistent

as a missionary, and stayed before me till I waved

my hand, a curt dismissal

of the urgent pleading in its wings.

If it left thinking

I understood, I will have missed another opportunity.

If it took my wave as annoyance,

we are distinct and hopeless as ever.

I had mixed on my face emollients and sunscreen,

my own recipe.

For all I know I had said something terrible

on the communicative rags of wind.

It was nothing personal, but ignorance,

I say to the gossiping air, aromatic, annoyed

spending a day off thoughtlessly.


The joke on the pilings set the gulls horselaughing

but I was busy with melancholy

even when the dog pussyfooted and I began to see zodiacally

zoologically  how phrases passed like planets and animals.

One look is all it takes between the couple in the movies

to serve as shorthand for desire moves the stars.

The plot will start to contrive itself till they resolve together

lights walking themselves to vanishing like the point at the end

of the moon’s shadow and the camera turns to stare at the wall

while tons of sand grind westward past Pensacola.

I want to write beyond the page long lines like highways

in the water that leave my paper far behind

like the white block coastline houses of New England

then a bird’s shit spot  then minuscule  then gone.

The humor is a handmade lens that cannot resolve heavens

not even a few dogs nosing the bridge abutments or the gull

standing on one pink leg to mock me as I try.

Photography Credit: Jason Rice

A visual artist and poet, Allan Peterson’s most recent book is This Luminous, New and Selected Poems. Other titles include All the Lavish in Common (Juniper Prize), and Fragile Acts (McSweeney’s).