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Three Poems
—After Notes for Echo Lake 5 by Michael Palmer

Today Is an Apparent Day
Today is an apparent day of shadows piercing timeworn walls, of melt & freeze & brutal disregard, of brutality in its frightened guise, of mastery in fear & fear in mastery, of fear in its brutal guise, of tender chives threading the thawing soil, of stubborn foolish blossoms, of petals fallen & petals trampled, of neighbors fallen & neighbors trampled, of disaster swelling like a wave, of cave-dwellers gnawing their own throats, of cave-dwellers damning all not shadow, of each code saved for volatile posterity, of no code left behind, of tenderness hijacked by degree, of tenderness flooding the fallen barricades, of conviction fallen & trampled, of conviction fiercely girded, of victims lowering & predators cowering, of new beaks inventing another ancient song, of stubborn expectation & swelling streams of dread.


The Russet Branches

The russet branches mask what history cannot: a hibernation den, a restless hive, a venomous rally, a moment of trust, a gilt ego, a woven trap, the warming soil with its appetite for coffins. The observer of our fate coughs on the day’s syntax & leads us to the nowhere of our origin. A restless president shrieks for attention while the interlocutors of threat revive another worry. Rivers of fear clog the aisles of consumption. Ancient gems disguised as coal claim kilos of waning flesh. Sonatas wither in blasts of anxiety dolled up as anomie. A child unfurls her empty palm, reaching for a sweet a sphere a word a fact.


The Master of Memory

Forked tongue seeking the birdsong of lost seasons. Private skin recalling the kiss of seas farther than our youth, deeper than a secret breeze, the scent of clay sadly cracking in the heat, the dog’s dusty coat with its whiff of nurture & prey. I have seen the master of memory, lost & forgotten. I have seen her burrow toward the cave of shadows as one possessed. (Here I will insert the architecture of regret to indicate our future). That insects come unbidden. Arthropods with golden carapaces & elegant sensitivities, connoisseurs of conjunction, akin to vowels or the guttural moan of mammals in love. Bright water turning flesh into memory. Memory turning water into flesh. Flesh turning memory into water, brittle & impenetrable as god or any recourse swallowing itself, wings beating weakly against the desperate gust. Old skin meeting a forgotten tongue with lips like molten glass. (Here I will insert the slow burn of existence to indicate a pond). Unless the master of memory escapes with another devil’s share. (Here I will insert the word politics to indicate regret). Hailing the insects feasting on our consonants, mocking our futility, herding us towards the next improbability. 

Susan Lewis is the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (The Word Works), winner of the Washington Prize, and Heisenberg’s Salon (BlazeVOX). She is the founding editor of Posit.