the priests know Jesus was just a man
the philosophers know Plato was in love
where do the rules of marbles come from?
Moscow burned because made of wood

every body counts a number
somewhere in their brain
as it climbs they disencumber
falling, they fear pain

every body counts a number
adding to their shame
subtraction, as it makes you number
'liminates your name

you count, you count, you count a number
we've made it now to three
I'll count you out, so do not slumber
I'll not sleep for thee

every body loses count
the dark horizon looms
the asymptotes are tantamount
crisscrossing in the gloam

The body's a vestigial trait,
a "little tail" beating time;

the self a silly hollow bore,
a spirit-voiced inverted mime.

The heart is mostly metaphor,
contracting slowly into things -

the will is coming (running late!)
to claim the song another sings...

but I, oh, I exist, I do -
they promise me I'm true.

How soon is now sounds now:

The cymbal sighs a filtered hiss,
soft breath on scratching chords,
unsteady static rumble-battered -
sister's cast-off Smiths cassettes,

objects obsolete. The sound
dissolved in lived aesthetic -
present matter absent matter,
meant must do for accident.

poetry is not for practice
it's much too dire for life
its suture is its structure
knowledge is its knife

no god may prod the poet's print
the truth shall reason wreak
the mouth of fury brays the brink
where meaning bearing breaks

and when the demon drops the pen
for pittance of its wrack
the pit of fury seethes again -
stare! stare into the empty crack

stare into the empty crack of hell
it's laughing in your face
your face is laughing in the well
you're standing in my place

and words can heal as well you know
like the pealing of a bell you know

I will hurt you very much,
but only as your due.
You've not yet felt the depth of touch,
nor yet met you know who.

Who has been to beat the deeps
below the subtle stage?
The able best but save for sleep,
our meaning-muddied age.

Did I say "hurt"? I meant to heal
by placing words about.
About your pout about our bout:
now pout about "about".

About this "I"? There's no such one!
The terror-depths are vast -
the never-severed tail of woe
gives nothing you can grasp.

You may hurt me very much -
it's said it is my due.
I felt the way you fight for touch,
I've fought the way you're true.

Truth is, you'd never hurt me,
even if you knew,
for "you" is just a metaphor
to someone ("you know who").

Your metaphor's my handicap
against the meddling rage:
someone's swept up down below,
someone stays at the stage stop.

Stop. Will "I" "hurt" "you" very much?
About as much, it's said, stop,
as you would heal me with your touch -
but, O tentacled reach, once I dwell among the dead - stop -
may your fading furied fingers cease their scraping at my scalp -
stop -
Away now Villain!

denim sleeves against the grasping corn
terrier weftwise chasing scentless dirt
marching oars pave the heaving green
a stricken ash has crushed the ocean shore

a happiness may be a fabric
a thick grey wool felt
decorated with colorful animals
mewling gleeful bats and donkeys
beehives sprout and bear fruitfalls

the categories mingle in the yarns
sky blue for fading flames
green from left to donkey tail
sunshine buried in the garden
all watered from within

i'm not angry, you're sad
said the madness with a mirror
i'm righteous, not bad
said the fighter to our furor

i'm not frightened, i'm fierce
said the terrier to your terror
i've risen from the beasts
said the easter to her error

our city walls have all burnt down
buildings laughing to the ground
the cloisters closed, the cackling clowns,
the saints supposed to find the found

i'm not stupid, we're smart
said the writer to the word
arisen into art
said the builder to the board

poems, brian brock, 2023