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Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |    

Overland magazine feature

Gillian Conoley: three poems

Profane Halo

This was the vernal            the unworldly human

                  the most elegant car in the train.

A faithful and anonymous band of huntsmen,

a runner of red carpet

spotted with pheasants

on which an origin, a cold sun shone.

These were the black shoes,

the skirt one smoothed to speak.

The unknown tongue for which I am not the master,

chiefly the messengers

circling back through the vectors as the ashes adjust,    

a loner with a hat,

a loner on a cold dark street,

a man gone away for cigarettes

on an otherwise calm evening.

And the signs that said yield, and then Ssssshh, and then

let me sweep the porch for you.

A woman’s black beads scattering into order.

Girl running along outside of herself toward.

Pale hopalong.

And time scarred up to do a beauty.

Dear Sunset that was sun of now,

Near Greatness, dear tongue my Queen, dear rock solid,

how could we know that we are forerunners?

The first characters in a crowd

and yet we were outwardly quiet.

We assemble here toward the river    

or wherever the horse leads us,

dear oarsman       the valleys are green,

some bodies piled

some bodies marked and burned away.

New ones just wiped of their meconium.

In the whites of the lovers     in the evenings under.

Dear human mood       dear mated world.

There, there, now.

Dear ease of vicarious place, oil in sea.

Dear ravishment of fountain

figure in the fold.

These are the beers we drink like oxygen

in hats as large as I.        

The loner going door-to-door, the paint excelling

the door in cubes of prescience, durations of grey.

Here we attach the theatre of a girl

the miniature size comprehensible

the door a seed

the tree a dwarf

the hay a stack

the uncreated still.

Cool of the evening,

thine ears consider well

the uncreated still.

Huntsman in the quietened alley

in the dark-arched door.

Train long and harpiethroated.

Haydust thine ears enscripture.

Before gardens and after gardens

for vespers,

earth’s occasional moonlessness

lays hands

on the data in the street,

under which     loose animal

the unbending pale of whose complaint      becomes the dust’s surround

The River Replaces

The river replaces, the willow drags

a horseless rider caparisoned in red

glides over the gravestones.

Velvet is the integument I’d hope for for night.

Our doors are unlonelied

in the most diaristic indulgence, Death comes unexpectedly

and so you sure better

knock, and in a magnitude of scales.

The most full-flooded four-color process awaits there when I have time “for myself”

and cannot render it.

I had to guess “this was happening” said one self to the other

who self same said as the original broke

through the dream hole of the second,

and hurled its relapse into a momentary

aquaintance who ground significance with a tired pestle

until my sleepy lover woke.  I had to shade the place

just so.  Heaven it’s heaven said it’s heaven

pure heaven the self hands heaven’s print-out

across a warm booth to another:

Heaven:  Example

The heaven is without description.
Put them in one and the old will rage in a canoe.

Heaven was splashes of color

casually tossed from ecstacy to mania

so seeing had to become habitual,

seeing was certain films we could not look at,

films of commingstance.   Might as well

bury me ’neath the blurry white oleander

crowding the pear tree near the family house

in its unassailable wedlock:     personlock:     what alchemy of emotions

to accompany speech

and bit o’ pain.

A grave is goodbye last ditch so long see you again, adieu.

Always within earshot, actuality becomes you.

We needed the rain.

Indoors I worked like the crow, the phone rang.

I worked at it,

and the whole time I could hear you,

you didn’t have to scream.

Here is a dark suit and tie.

Appearance illumines.

Please write to me on a bed of ease.

Appearance forgets it like an egotist.

Fathom thee.

Heaven on Earth

I says oh Jesus, can’t I count on you people?

A zone goes       where sky’s gone
what fresh hell for

burning and dodging, earth

more placid
where the state need not borrow.  Have you seen the flowers on the river?

There is more to press them to, more

to compare.  One has to swim through one’s gel to find

this one      who had little to speak of.

This one who lay down though a motorcade went by.

Language of the west, please do run out into the ocean.

The art set crushed the tastemakers shamed Authority’s myth layed out under a giant        work light––

grid beware

the pile driving,

the pile driving its two notes unevenly.

Some breeze      light rock in the kitchen      the dead crying not to be alive.

Human and elegant great structures Time glued,

one is seeing through slats as one

is ferried to Lethe.

One doesn’t come home one wakens

Persephone to ask, have you seen

the daughters of Memory?  Paper

is ash, eternity takes tumbling bodies into its apartness  

One is walking away

One is a child made old under the quietened, horribly altered sky

Gillian Conoley’s new collection of poetry, Lovers in the Used World, was published in January 2001 by Carnegie Mellon University Press. Her other books include Beckon, Tall Stranger and Some Gangster Pain. Her work has been anthologized widely, most recently in Best American Poetry and The Body Electric. Associate professor and Poet-in-Residence at Sonoma State University, she is the founder and editor of Volt. She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Denver, Vermont College and Tulane University. Born in Taylor, Texas, she now makes her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jacket 16 — March 2002  Contents page
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