Conjunctions:57 Kin

begins with sound of bell

ends with briefcase dark

glorying day’s pantomime

I feed on color

I take the symbols turn them over

I don’t understand a thing

when I look, I sturdy the thread

on the lake, form

when I look, a face

a living unity recomposed

my beloveds cannot unwire

in time for dinner

against these couches these islands they roam

the hallway’s blur

nothing holds at this exposure

I didn’t want my eyes to be

my reality negator

thick black plastic laid down over weeds

bewitched female mass

Spinoza tells us the animals walk solitary

in the rain and do not question

being whole   I cannot

see and it is irritating me

memory rains all over my family

memory rains all over my work

slow cool of the ice in my cheek

I am ashamed that I would like to see inside

the skull of my daughter

and fix everything

I am ordinary and alone

a bosomy female figure appears

behind the screen door

the smell of parrots

a ribbon falls

from my daughter’s hair

onto her plastic town

in the big green and athletic fields

one could imagine a particularly

rigorous amount of fucking

at my gate, the saturated

mildly hysterical birds of paradise

stare one into the other

I am committed to the visual

though I like talking, too

and wearing several pairs

of glasses, that is like

the description of a film

one pupil never sees the other though

both may shift and roam

likewise the dirt was fine, moist and coal black

good to grow up, around, and in

the history came along unyielding and in ill repair

a system I walked but could not climb

I met uncertain people with untaught

though fully absorbed vernaculars

a waft of baking on the sidewalks

on the porches the cloudless simplicities

to stay the field I strode my modern town hard into the falling rain

I was running really hard away as if to stumble forward

I was one big block shape

I was many folded into a sweater

I had a great desire to see myself now as a mother to that image

and build further a humility of splendidness

a riot of spirit I could die into and leap toward and for in joy

if the middle range would have me now

would permit me

a particularly Blakean protein

lodged too deep in my psyche and that’s

what is wrong with me

if when I look out I am turning on that subjectivity

geodesic and unlikely

hungry the narcissistic ego would find a way

to get out of the pathological books

I love dancing because it makes me feel

strong and beautiful

and made of muscle and air

it is a weedy, unmanicured trail

Kandinsky said an object was a narrative

and so he disapproved of it

deKooning said you are with a group or movement

because you cannot help it

I just wanted a church we could go to

or stand in front of and beg

to allow something to remain potential

so the eyes wouldn’t hate their little dictators

for one eye, a small Mesopotamian figure

for one eye, a big abstract

I look, and your face is like a part of speech not spoken

a tragedy so near its comic ash

one eye is my future, one eye, my mausoleum

the divine in what is seen

in which we view only the shade of

possibility: a semi-reluctant scribe I read her book trembling

scattered in every territory

as one of the visibles this dispatch

sun I wish you

each euphoriant ephemery

everything ought

to keep on going

I imagine my life  

Gillian Conoley’s A Little More Red Sun on the Human: New and Selected Poems (Nightboat Books, 2019) won the Northern California Book Award. She received the 2017 Shelley Memorial Award for lifetime achievement from the Poetry Society of America. Conoley is poet-in-residence at Sonoma State University, where she edits Volt. Her translation of three books by Henri Michaux, Thousand Times Broken (City Lights), excerpts from which were first published in Conjunctions:61, A Menagerie, was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s top-ten fall 2014 poetry releases.