Illusion of Depth
Over thin steaks the photographer
Explained his aim of making three
Dimensions out of two: that from the fifteen
Miles of film he has yet to print he’ll pull
What seems like life or, better yet, art.
The steaks laid flat on the flat plates
Upon the table flat. The hollow wine glasses
Were only floating outlines, little ghosts
That added that other layer to the talk,
That made it seem like something else
Was occurring. He asked about me.
I did not sound like my art-school friends,
Making revolutionary statements
Concerning Art or Life or Politics, for that is
Not in me. I confessed the failure
Of myself against myself. I expressed
The difficulty of being understood and
The courage of the attempt. I said the illusion
Of depth would make a good title; he laughed.
I meant it cynically, but understood my own rebuke.
Weeks later, pressing ink into a sheet
Ever so deliberately, there seemed a tiny creasing
Beneath the letters. I don’t know
If that depth will allow the spirit to roam,
To languish in an invitation or revel in a sweet song.
Jaime explained it to me: No one
Understands; ease up. But I couldn’t
Explain my aim: Here’s a dinner
Laid, turn it in your eye, cut it
With your knife. I’ll say the grace for taste.
Man of the Javelin
One scholar considered Methuselah’s name meaning not, Man of the Javelin, but rather, He Died, He Sendeth Out
Methuselah, sometimes Pokey
Amongst friends, your name, it’s
Been said, could also warn
The people: on the day you die
The flood waters descend,
And the near millennium you occupied
Rushes with the love of God.
No one to bury you, the fishes
Nip at your bones or sludge
Sticks you to the bottom of the planet,
Noah wondering whatever did happen
To someone so venerable, finally
Asleep, wiped out by a life observing
The birth and death of trees,
Heaving a fine javelin at lions,
Considering really what it might be
Your name means. You may have
Won it for your hunting or warring,
But if not, then, upon death just like
Your shorter-lived brethren, you suffocated
On the mystery between action and fate.
There’s been some sobbing on the couch,
sometime in the night. It’s those stains,
where a carnation was pressed into the cushion
to resemble a rim of rock below where boiling
Springs emerge, that signify a sprinkling
so the sprigs of batting pique like cacti,
so the broad, rough plain wears into design,
into beauty, into something we see.
It’s work for even the monsoon to sweep
clear the plaid roads we’ve repeated and rutted,
reworking what was once familiar. Still,
Suffering sometime rolls back to the sea,
and it’s then, when the arm is strained, the stars
distill on the indigo fabric.
Dreaming of spring, she’s reading me
her seed catalogue. She notes the cosmos
not only don’t need fertilizer or shade
or even much water unless they wilt—
Much like the galaxy, its luminous head
drifting with the tides of stars, needing
only a small dose to keep its neck from
crashing against dark matter—
But they love abuse. She tells me, the edges
of their petals torn, their delicate tops
dizzy on every gust, we should bring them
All home, she says, bring them all home
and give them some neglect—then watch
all that beauty go orbiting the yard.
Jared Pearce teaches literature and writing at William Penn University. His poems are forthcoming or have recently appeared in, amongst other venues, Marco Polo, Tiger Tail, Literary Juice, de la Mancha.