poem index

From Honey to Ashes

Geoffrey G. O'Brien
What follows is terms and classifications, the West 
Of speech congratulating itself within
A system so complex there's no way not to be 
Effective. Just as they had planned the streets
On either side are lined with all that's needed,
Storefronts whose glass returns a look 
Filled with the contents it displays
(Mannequins, organics, mobile phones)
Making even moving sitting still, an embrace
Above anything that's so. Cuts and clouds
Drift south across the far part of the sky
From adventure to instruction, so where
There is only the mildest threat of showers
You see a shape and then a story, parody 
Of the private life of the world.
And what was promised to the mind of the hearer 
In transformation remains away, ideal 
Portrait there is a certain pleasure in reading
As buffer against what today sends tomorrow.
It's like forgetting that part of childhood
In which one learned to do everything 
From the pages of a book not unlike 
A painting, but a painting with motion 
In its idle depths, down where dusk meets 
Foreclosure and the clouds charge out
Into the gift of seeing them forthrightly 
Pass by a thing that might have happened, public
Pleasures that progress, the horizon, etc.
Always more or less just starting out
Its day, though it would be better to call it
A grouping sent down through suffering
To sunset, signed in the same place by night
To win over the jury in advance; it's a painting 
Of the burning of a book whose content is
Colors, lights, flowers, fragments of bone 
Taken from the wound, from greater and lesser 
Distances, to tell the bad from the good,
Buy the evening's groceries in every sense. 
What follows is seven dominated days 
Of the week ready to bind with really anything
At all, your thoughts as you come forward
Out of the haze like sun through a curtain
Or go to sleep so as to be of further use—
You would like to choose between them
But aren't these one and the same task?

Copyright © 2012 by Geoffrey G. O'Brien. Used with permission of the author.

Geoffrey G. O'Brien

Geoffrey G. O'Brien

by this poet


To remember people in the act
Of speaking is to love them
And not the turquoise substrate
Redon supposed was all there was
To vases, any container, the vessel
Objects are. To remember
People in the act of speaking
Is to love them, but not for anything
They say. An open mouth

An away of practice the other is
Like a river out of acts the other is
Hapless, unheard, with marks upon him
Having dallied in tarrying unwisely
Backlit at an undecidable remove
In a house of marks the other is
Useless deciding whether to go
Or wait in best practices like a child
A hapless river filled with sand
The experience of leaving
one category for another, 
of smooth being colder
than rough and of
that December I suffer
as the experience of leaving
one category for another,
using life that way
that opens and stops
moving, done,
furtively waving
as with one month
that opens and stops
among the others,
waiting and