Leaving the Long Weekend; Pale Grasp of Mist; Time-Space Share; Equatorial Illusions

Love, red sails, a great hoard
locked up in ship, burns west
over depths.
When the white moth dissolved
against the shattered mirrors
of the lazy sea,
white shells sheltered the past.
A shadow drowsed between the bones
ridging my foot, and the day burned west.
As the shadow of the lighthouse inches east,
uniformed terns and pipers break
ranks, reassemble their regiments
farther down the beach.
The sky catches fire.
What in me is there of flight?
The moon drags her longing like a sea.
I turn, on crumpled sheets,
my injured wings. 
Whatever noise the night makes
crumples against gun-
gray rocks.
You murmur. I dream of sails
which flagged like moths above the old café
and bled there all the stupid afternoon.
Maybe dawn will bare
a broken cross, my body stabbed by the sun
seduced by the moon.

Silence is gliding through
vastness, a faint summer bay
with no aim, until oblivion opens up to us.
Loss is what we can make of not one
thing entirely missing. These words are
as good as the way we make use
of them—to get, to know, avow—make
effort and fatality
more tolerable.
All that is technically not true, not that
it matters. To wake and crack the dark
green shutters:
A giant white yacht
stares back at me, the sea
a million incandescent caterpillars…
Forgetting myself for yet another second,
I thought of how I met you once.
Accepting nothing less
than that improbable glimpse
was the raw material of metamorphosis.
I took the fact as light.
Other apprehensions had perhaps
been arrived at earlier,
though I might not have agreed.
You said we’d keep diving
until dawn, and we worked
through other issues unawares
being blamed by ourselves
for what we were. The fire in all
the shutter cracks was already the day.

The afterlife’s a sheet drawn down.
Spiritual incarceration.
Nonexistent geography,
a star, a breath of horrible oxygen,
even if we sometimes feel between us
what it once was. Under salt-sculpted ribs,
your heart was nothing
like those of others. Precious breasts
glittered icily. Lions would lick
wet sands, skirt
around an outer thigh. You’d say, long
as love likes loitering, lovely.
I’d say, take the case of Kidney, surely
other organs: meat.
You’d say, take the pain on edges
of fiddlehead ferns: the varied ranks
of varied greens. Take garden gowns,
like forgotten virgins in misplaced lockets.
You’ve gone on to remember March mice
in mint patch, your first pet peeves, in fact.
Now, little more than wickedness,
this too-much-fuss-for-us is we.
Between your heavy touch of toes
and my tangled weed hair, go on,
don’t kiss up to anyone.
Wish I could turn myself
into these fata morganas, hand-
fuls of sensations that sway me
under down-
pours only dimly under-
stood. Look, I stand
to reason (as a million a-stigmatic
bird ingots parachute from cloud
to jetty): this lover is over
being bolstered. Unfixable shivers
of silver slip though the fringe
of my idée fixe
little sun ladies,
sea ladies—in shifts.
Think what it would take
to stick us
up, instamatic, dead
in the sun. Shriveled feel with no
shores. Think how much I wanted
to burn myself
into your territory.
Unskeptical of your navel, you’re still
ventriloquizing: you, me, sea, beach,
upon your half
shell, your head in the cloud
of unknowing,
capillary action wetting
the crotch of your divine
bikini in a “V,”
for Venus, Victoria, something.
Vertex flicking forked fire, trailing
a slack brown abdomen: the lizard
in my peripheral vision is frilled
around the neck, with-
drawing from yet
another undrafted inroad
over tropical fields
of study. The lizard which re-
turns to its stipulated branch
of the topic turns
into the foot-
note of a lizard. Shade
by shade, you dim me
this same way
on a slender black bough
above oblivious water. As I scan
a missing line, the last free
verse of bird, suddenly I see myself re-
versed on the horizon, italicized, lost,
mirrored waywardly, flickering.

Photography Credit: Jason Rice

Stephen Massimilla is a poet, scholar, professor, and painter. His multi-genre volume, Cooking with the Muse (Tupelo, 2016), won the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the National Indie Excellence Award, the Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award, and others. Previous books and awards include The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat (a Stephen F. Austin University Press Prize selection); Forty Floors from Yesterday (winner of the Bordighera/CUNY Poetry Prize); Later on Aiaia (winner of the Grolier Poetry Prize); Almost a Second Thought (runner-up for the Salmon Run National Poetry Book Award, selected by X.J. Kennedy); a study of myth in modern poetry; a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; several Pushcart Prize nominations; and other honors. Massimilla has recent work in AGNI, American Literary Review, Barrow Street, Chelsea, The Collagist, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Diode, Epoch, Fields Magazine, Fogged Clarity, The Literary Review, Marlboro Review, Paterson Literary Review, Poet Lore, Poetry Daily, Posit, Provincetown Arts, RHINO Poetry, The Round, The Southern Poetry Review, Tampa Review, Verse Daily, and many other journals and anthologies. He holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches literary modernism, among other subjects, at Columbia University and The New School. For more info: www.stephenmassimilla.com and www.cookingwiththemuse.com