It is his tragedy that he found himself articulate in such a dangerous language.
– Hugh Mcllvanney
A boxer knows that even art must end,
and that the final word is always none.
He laced his thick red gloves
and failed again for love
or something like it, the steady tick of days:
if all the world’s a stage,
like some slight Cordelia he followed suit
and gave his lines where lines were moot
and everything was in the gaze—
he looked and looked; we couldn’t look away.
You must carry on boxing in memory of Johnny.
– telegram from the Owens family to Lupe Pintor
Repeat, with variations, your heavy gloves
to the soft skull,
fist to chin, cheekbones, nose and eyes:
theme and variation:
how many ways are there to kill a man?
One is by accident, in the vagaries
of self-examination: boxing is the discipline
of giving more than you can stand.
He Dug His Heels in at Q.
– after Woolf
If Q is I been there, there is nice…
and not to be afraid
of telling, a little,
when a little can be telling,
or a forge whose heat is plastic
perpetual and inductive,
then it is also the reliquary
of the moments
we call understanding,
which have turned
the coils of the brain
and have been touched
hammered into hinges
swinging on bronze pins
into the white light
that falls through white frames
and which will be known
after the fact
as ordinary, in ordinary speech,
then R is a life full
the snow of fleeting accretions,
where, instead of discretion,
one asks again
the anxious question,
mistaking its intention:
(Where is the hinge, the handle,
the entrance latch?)
R is what is leant
to the fire
leaning back out—
or to bear
the lack of someone
almost given something
The face is taken by the wind.
Only the calico “forgive me”
to the heaven.
Luba, where is the body
moving to the world of love?
On the palm the pronoun
with the pronoun of warmth, or
forgiveness, in place:
won’t fit the age
Strong enough to fly higher
the unheard “forgive me,”
the creak of celestial
Acoma Sky City
Of this enchanted pueblo, the less sublime word
unfits. A gruesome green nonexistence, whose promontory
we climb, under the guided hand of the spirits
which shepherded time in place, heralded the arrival
of history in its machinelike minutest moments.
No, I will not find my lost twin-souls here, on this red-yellow earth,
nor standing hatless and mute beside the jutting brute buttes,
like the prophets lesser-known to time.
I bargain with the red earth’s terrorist presence.
If I could only breathe in something of the erosion of spirit,
which is present here in the continuation of habitation
in the middle of the valley imprisoning death,
I might perhaps learn to lie and cheat yet.
I see the pueblo atop the mesa, the toylike homes in the distance,
under a clean but mad sun, and I think I hear the echoes
of all the invaders through time sighing, Death, death,
Death to the winningest warriors, Death to the patrons,
and it sounds like my own ear whispering rebellion’s courtesies.
Yes, this is where the souls come after being extracted.
This is neither time nor its antithesis, but something a little more grave.
Jessica Murray is a writer and ESL teacher living in Boston. Other recent poems of hers can be found at AGNI online and Memorious.
Aleksey Porvin was born in 1982 in Leningrad. His poems can be found in the magazines TextOnly, Neva, Rets, Vozdukh, Saint-Petersburg Review, SUSS, Fogged Clarity, Ryga Journal, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. Porvin is author of the book of poetry The Darkness is White (Argo-Risk Press, 2009).
Peter Golub is a Moscow-born poet and translator. His translations and original work can be found in Absinthe: New European Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, Aufgabe, Caketrain, Cimarron Review, Circumference, Diagram, Interim, Jacket Magazine, Rhino, St. Peterburg Review, Taiga, Text Only, Vozdukh, Words Without Borders, Zoland, and Zone for None. He is the editor of Jacket Magazine’s New Russian Poetry Anthology (issue 36). A bilingual edition of poems, My Imagined Funeral (2007), was published in Russia by Argo-Risk Press.
Anis Shivani was published by Black Lawrence Press in October 2009.