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The Strong Force

                                         By Martin Abramson   (marty684 at bellsouth dot net)


a terrible discipline
guards the doors

you are the furnace
white hot

fire every link
refine, refine

forge it in Vulcan’s cave
till the whole chain

is hammered
into a natural thing

hammered and hammered
into a natural thing


of spotlight parrot fish
hot orange
trembling in pale blue

empress angels
ruffling translucent gowns

of guitars on cool patios
geckos, flamingos—NO!

let me not dream of islands

but in the silence of this
ordinary winter night

drift the enfolding currents
of your voice

In Montserrat…

black sand
streaked by volcanic dust
combed into force-fields
burns like lava under naked feet

the roads
wind up green mountains
ravel hairpin curves
convoluted like the busman’s brain
a deep topography
tracing the devastation

Escaped Pet

six feet long
fat as a fire-hose
sunning on the dock

moves forward

along its length
a painted caravan

sequins, scrawled colors
carnival lights

swirling with
drums and calliopes

The Chill Of

swimming in polar floes

hard-edged, scaled
eyes clear as glass

snaking through sea grass
shadowing whales

sensing magnetic north
nor love nor hate

guided by
lines of force


Can you catch fire
in the hollow of your hand

dance like a flickering creature
in tangles of negative space

be liquid
seismic, centrifugal

flowering, flowering
in a cage of fingers?

The planet turns…

another arc

twilight’s quiet footfall
cool scent of oak

as under waltzing galaxies
we dream alone

till dawn reverses
dusk’s repentant glow

and sun
as on a potter’s wheel
by liquid layers

from a flaming sea

   Speed of Time

the storm tracks
from Africa
across the Caribbean
ripping the islands

through the Gulf
whose basin surges
drowning cows and cars

and up the Eastern seaboard
pouring first rain
then paralyzing snow
Brooklyn, Boston, Bangor

and northward still
and northward

to the ice

Aerial View

over white walls
clustered streets...

a seaside village
sprawls in the clarity
of full daylight

under the red-tiled roofs
music of wind chimes

outside a bright flag
snapping on a pole


night dims the jagged peaks
a crust of radiance
awakes below

the twang of dobos and castanets
quicken the dancers
young men and women
throng in the square

as night wears on, the dancers
drift to wax
intoxication leads descent
to the memorial sea


dark whelms the island
watch fires remain
flags stir on the poles unseen
wind chimes shimmer

all vision closed
except the sea birds
relentlessly weaving
invisible baskets
in the upper air

At Summer’s End

transparent dazzle
beneath the leaves

in barbarous gold

illusory fruit

cool and steady
a sterner age

erotics of harvest

at the rim of frost


quicksilver slipper
western moon

sunset fluoresces
under massed dark

the bay’s
fine herringbone
of textured light

embers still glowing
in the east

dark reaches down

through leafy shadows
lighting lamps


Winter dark
celebrates pumpkins

early rites over
a burnt avian

corpses of fir trees
decked in lights

cast beyond death
the family
from far and far

to fill houses

with sound.


waking each night
with wildly pounding heart

I know why people
pass away in sleep

frightened to death
by dreams

Carolers Sing, “Melancholy Baby”

garbage trucks clanking
steam rising from sewers

the mind
out of memory

corrupted data
sectors and clusters
in slow, soft meltdown

dreamers and homeless wayfarers
still missing the comfort
and joy

Asphalt Preserves

Are the red trolleys still running
to Tompkins Square
where I waited at midnight
near Deena’s house?

Are the subways
that carried me to Ellen’s
lower east side apartment
still crawling across the Williamsburg Bridge?

Does the Jerome Avenue local
still clatter deep into the Bronx
returning from Margot’s,
all the way to Brooklyn
with drunks and night-shifters
dozing into dawn?

And tonight
in those shaking carriages
does a young man ride
burning and lurching
toward a woman’s heart?


tilts the world against me

I cross, recross
my track

landmarks have shifted

lighthouses stalked
to other islands

reefs where none were

fragments of earlier expeditions

there is some treachery in this
and I am lost

It Looks Like Snow

silent as nuns

figures in parkas
walk the winter night

clothes in their places
clean and dry

shelves of books
racked videos, CD’s

impressionist repros
fade into walls

the TV rock like
its eye blank

the far end of my life
an empty room

What We Have

we have words
on bracelets

crushed flowers

and the wind
that swirls them away

Will I remember…

tacking into waves
wind tensing sail

skiing a slope
diving tropic seas

Sunday morning coffee
reading the Times

wearing jeans and joggers
playing Bach

that I had friends

that I had a name?

Sir Thomas More…

his rebellious flesh

stuffed hair shirt
under chancellor’s robes

racked heretics
with purifying fire

but is almost forgivable
(not for opposing divorce)

but for whipping his daughters
with peacock feathers

There is No Author

high eminence of deconstruction
Paul de Man
declared the text subversive--
meaning debunked--
the author dead

writing in Belgium, 1941,
for Nazi Le Soir,
called Germany the future
of Europe
said Jews might be shipped off
without undue loss

at Yale, negated history:
the aporias of Auschwitz
transformed by hermeneutics
into jouissance

all accusations fade
to écriture

millions of corpses
lost in the text

Plato’s Internet

                   “as if a magic lantern threw the nerves
                            in patterns on a screen”

a monitor
articulated blueprint
of bone, muscle
neural interlace
circulatory system (red and blue)

your body
puts you in the movie
God says,
I’m gonna make you a star

you lift these limbs
trudge through landscapes
clothed in the language of the clan
trading dead rabbits for grain
herring for coin

searching those points
where feelings jerk back against the strings
where that which is not puppet
hides its heart


a monk said the Buddha
is a good stick
to shovel shit
but I was nauseated

my anger at the shit
kept me from God

    “That is not it at all.”
                                             Prufrock. 1917.

it isn’t as though they ever really
managed to say it

even if there were
something to say, but

isn’t it worth something if
for a stunning second

we imagine
they might have

said it?


How long can I keep them in my head
those little voices
suppressed by Ego’s law

chattering monkeys
brain full of maggots

when will they stream out

as children burst from school
at three o’clock

as nebulae erupt
in flowers of light?

                 for my daughter,1997

because you’re
so tormented
and I’m so
fucking helpless

and like the ’92 Accord
I bought you
in the body shops
of San Jose


by the past


your body beneath a dress
your body bare

trying to discover the art
of touching you
of cradling your nakedness in mine

of matching smithereens
of the first marriage

Two Meanings of Cleave

last night
I could feel
how I felt to you

we were one
in the sense of “cleave to”

our fingers
embedded in flesh

time cleaves
our entangled atoms

I don’t remember
how I felt to myself

as distance numbs
cooling skin

and I see you
as someone



the watermark of love

her thigh
across my groin
a sentry
of her sleeping mind

stakes out my presence
in the breathing dark

The Strong Force

charged intimacy of paired particles
binding of quarks
the strong force

you who are so no good for me
but in a flood of pleasure
give yourself to me
beyond all measure

whose skin spreads heat
under my palms
whose stirrups are my feet

from that which drags us down
that pure perception
awaking, we can never keep
up love’s deception

Love Affair

shatters the calm surface of his hours
goading the pulse to blind acceleration
betrayal, guilt
incite disintegration

envelops, everts

Another World

Our love
a theory held so deeply

damned by experiment

tries darker formulae
rarer elements;

dreams of
a flat-earth world
where Troy still stands
Lamarck’s confirmed
aether, mermaids
cold fusion

to the thousandth place
as theory bends with flesh.

Till then
tested to destruction
locked in the starry tangles of our minds
our love defines its own dimensions
and believes
its own soliloquies.

Moving On

last year
she put the old retriever to sleep
placed her father in a home
gave away the furniture
closets of clothes

and left the house
where she’d brought up her children
the boy who’s living
the girl who died

last night,
in dreams, she let the dog
whining because it hadn’t peed in months
out of the house

I hope she lets her daughter out
and then herself
closing the door behind

In My Apartment

for years I tried
to realign the stars
tear you from a dark populace
of ragged shadows

sad hovering spectre
you smile distantly
when our paths cross
absent—still here

I don my ghost shirt
heliotrope with navy stripes
a cloak of film and newsprint
floating behind


from which quadrant
is the wind?
how high the surge?

how many knots and isobars?

lately we sleep
in separate beds

boats thrash in their slips
snapping lines

a gull spins
in a gale of fragments

she leaves
a letter listing
unforgivable things

I dream of our
wild acts of love
as walls roar
and we move

into the eye

I returned…

half expecting
to find her unpacked
but the hangers all were bare
the photos, gone.

We’d rehearsed this
a dozen times—

with all the sorrow and the explanations
concern of friends
probing of motivations

until we got it right
no melodrama, no mistaken cues.

I remembered the penultimate
that we’d made love
I was too ardent, hurt her
there was blood

the next time I was gentle
she moaned into my shoulder

some slight redemption
in a world

where every single time could be the last.

Prairie Lightning


flashes in distant cloud
recurrent in the mind

under Fall debris
postcards, snapshots

letters returned


what’s torn, reborn
in any random shape
hears motors
roaring capillaries, sirens
clock’s weary catalog of seconds

memory’s food:
her stray finger in my mouth
sole on instep
palm on chest

I pace sunsets
shadow the moon
sleep at the edge of dawn

reach into the emptiness
beside me


I wanted to write about your body
as you stood before me
naked in candlelight and summerdark
my hands at your waist
the warmth of your skin
curving from hip to breast
your shoulders brushed by gold

the sorrow in your eyes
that always returns
and sunrise doesn’t wait
on ecstasy

I tore your picture from its frame
your nakedness
in the pages of a book 

fragrant as morning
luminous as night

          Drowning in Air…

is slower

there’s time
to read the mail
watch TV
steam vegetables

to grasp at love
till air
closes above—

I rise more than three times
to gulp the purer element
you breathe
to me, mere inspiration

I think,
“There must be
  I can do.”

as my life
flashes before my eyes

             for Evelyn’s daughter

wild girl
above Mount Sopris’ double peak
a rhapsody of wind and sky
recalls you
racing on island cloud
in deepest blue

in snowscapes
where you run, leap
as you please

no thorn to catch your flying hem
no roots to trip you, rocks to bruise your knees
the moon your clasp
the sun your diadem