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Jacket 15 — December 2001   |   # 15  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |


Deepstep Come Shining (excerpt)

Meanwhile the cars continued in a persistent flow down Closeburn Road.

The refrain to the rain would be a movement up and down the clefs of light.

Chlorophyll world. July. Great goblets of magnolia light.

Her head cooling against the car glass. The mind apprehends the white piano, her mother. Who played only what she chose, who chose only to play “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”

A stadium emptied. The ruby progression of tail lights. The eyes’ ability to perceive a series of still images as continuous motion. Time lapse.

This wasn’t movie traffic. There weren’t twenty people to see Smoke.

At the drive-in. When they were young. The parents were young. The children falling asleep on the hood with the motor warm. Coating the ornamental swan with their prints. The projectionist’s private life: shadows animating a wall.

“Never avert your eyes.” (Kurosawa)

A photograph is a writing of the light. Photo Graphein.

More than magnolia, crepe myrtle is missed. The white bushes especially.

Against undifferentiated dark. It is unlike night.

She will still be up when we come in. Our floating host. She will be at the door in her pleated nightgown. Admit us into her air- conditioned nightgown. Her glory cloud.

In the seclusionary cool of the car the mind furnishes a high-ceilinged room with a white piano. Seldom struck. Color sensations. In which the piano floats on a black marble lake, mute swan in a dark room. Beyond the windshield the land claims saturate levels of green. Illuminating figures and objects. Astonishing our earthliness. I was there. I know.

Everyone in their car needs love. Car love. Meat love. Money love. Pass with care.

Deepstep, Baby. Deepstep.

The boneman said he would take the blinded to the river. With a mirror. And then what.

The boneman said he would take the blinded into a darkened room. And put a hot-herb poultice on their sightless face.

Mullein for this mullein for that. We called it flannel.

Then leave them there.

The baby sister of the color photographer had a baby girl in the hills. Born with scooped-out sockets in the head. Born near the tracks they sprayed with Agent Orange. The railroad’s denials, ditto the army’s.

They would have been blue. The eyes. She did not have. Blue as the chicory in yonder ditch.


We see a little farther now and a little farther still

She said her lights would be on and they were

Groping around the sleeping house in our gowns

Peeping into the unseen

Beautiful things fill every vacancy

Ripcord Lounge is up on the right. 32° beer. A little past the package store. Suddenly I have the feeling of a great victory. A delirious brilliance.

All around in here it used to be so pretty.

The boneman’s bobcat. Its untamable eyes in the night. Did you know a ghost has hair. A ghost has hair. That’s right.

Peaches and fireworks and red ants.

Now do you know where you are.

I boarded with a suitcase of Blackboard fireworks. I had forgotten about the Unabomber. They shook me down. Confiscated my sparklers, my Roman candles, my ladyfingers.

Make a left just beyond Pulltight Road.

The land obtained in exchange for two blind horses. This land became known as Wrens.


Merely listening

After the rain the trees smell so pleased

The hale sleep naked atop the sheets

We leave the deck for the lawn

The grasses licking our feet

A semicircle of chairs opens a parenthesis

In the direction of the light source

We see a little farther now and a little farther still

Peeping into the unseen

Why is she so kind. Our floating host. Why am I so stingy and vain.

A baseball diamond in every hamlet.

The waitresses in hairnets. Nurse-caps. Employees must pluck out an eye before returning to work.

Cold eyes are bad to eat.

You lied. She doesn’t have air-conditioning. She is long in bed. Note on the fridge: Vanilla yogurt inside. See you in the morning, girls. How did you like Smoke. No one should know the hour or the day.

We will become godlike.

Open the window. That the glory cloud may come and go.

Inside the iris of time, the iridescent dreaming kicks in. Turn off that stupid damn machine.

Kepler’s invention of the camera lucidafell into oblivion some two hundred years. There is no avoiding oblivion.

Where does this damn stupid thing go. For god’s sake. Are you sure you want to wear that.

Especially in this one-stoplight town. Watch out for “the swerve of small town eyes.” (Agee) Feel them trained on you in unison. Boiled peanuts. Now that is an acquired taste.

Once the eye is enucleated. Would you replace it with wood, ivory, bone, shell, or a precious stone. Who invented the glass eye. Guess. The Venetians. Of course.

Go to Venice; bring me back a mason jar of glass eyes. They shall multiply like shadflies.

The antinomian marsupial in the road fixing us in her eyeshine, tapeta lucida. The objective is hopeless — abandon the baseball diamond for the strip mall. Nothing arboreal to correct the view. The Dumpster behind Long John Silver’s berths the opossum in its postnuptial fast-food armor. Slower now, go slow. SPEED    HECKED BY RADAR. O lucky stars. Motel 6 left its light on for us. Remember you are nothing without credit.

In Rome (likewise-built-on-seven-hills), Georgia, the citizens hail their fellows as Romans. We never found the Forum. The arrows continued pointing right. And a sculpture of Remus and Romulus. Given by Il Duce to the Romans of Georgia. Stored in a root cellar during the war.

It follows that in Athens, Georgia, the citizens hail their fellows as Athenians.

West of Rome is Poetry. Poetry, Georgia. Wonder who lives there.

In the antique store, voices emanating from the pots.

How I miss the white piano. Only in the fovea. Where the photoreceptors are so concentrated. Maximal sight.

Keep me in your arc of acuity. Siempre, por favor.

Maybe you should turn the air conditioner off. We’re not moving. The rain gives but brief relief.

I’d take the boneman over the snakeman, but when the snakeman talked about walking his six-point stag home through the pecan orchard, I felt a twinge of envy for the gentle living that can go on in the country. And when I peer inside the cage the boneman keeps the bobcat in, I feel a twinge of ill will toward his ignorance.

Deepstep. People just know what they know. (Come shining.)

The chicken’s name is Becky. They found her a good home with a peahen for fellowship. Chicken love.

Don’t park in the shade on my account.

If we let the windows down we can hear Cape Fear. Exhaust stink. Or is that Hog Waste Lagoon. Man alive, that’s foul.

Get your bearings. Hear the trees.

The silver threads of Spanish moss dripping from the telephone wires. It flies here. In pianolight. Like ghost hair.

Cover of Deepstep Come Shining

Deepstep Come Shining is published by Copper Canyon Press
PO Box 271
Port Townsend
Washington 98368 USA
112 pp.
ISBN 1-55659-092-x

Cover photograph by Deborah Luster, Rosesucker Retablo, III

You can read Kent Johnson's
interview with C.D.Wright in this issue of Jacket, together with a detailed bio note and a photo.

Jacket 15 — December 2001  Contents page
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