Michael Joseph Walsh


from A Season




How hard it was then

As an already speechless person

To see the lilies open   

With friendliness out of the shaking earth.


As the hummingbird translated from open to open

Is falsely loved, feared and sought, is the rare thing itself

To find the fading line of its knowing


Who enters it and how

That semi-light coupling in space grows bigger


So all the while that slow fury inside you asks

In the burn of blown snow where the heart lives

What tongue describes it what chicken's

Survival does it fear and seek.


In open-book

Apocalypse lost in the light and dangerous

A low roar       In which your whole body turns


Seeing nowhere else, in which the walker

Does not too curiously observe particulars,

Swinging from leaf to leaf

Into ugliness redeeming freedom.


And in that instant abstraction is killed

In the same dark as its creature or in

The most disagreeable kind of snare I never

Before allowed the grotesqueness of,


Writing promise into space and space

Into ribbons, into curtain calls stabbing the air.




We all have our states of fullness

Being splashed with mud and getting wet with water

And all-too-engrossing to permit of any other


Occasional faint wash of music no music

Ankle-deep in the hiss of private ghosts—


As when the half-dream comes

As if to hear us sing again

From zero to space to absolute



No distinctness no pointedness

In ruthless impossible life as we were meant

To climb inside

Life being born swelling nausea swelling life—


Just so there is in what we love

Also a time for wanting

So badly right then

What it was in the eye of the scream


With every inane

Word a little nearer

To discriminant sweetness

Going slowly playing dumb


Out into the dark and

Pensive embroidery

But aware of the sun and spring         

Of one glance back made scarce


As a kind of wind,

Of a hand that moves

To see itself blown out across

As in the old days, in waking, and now,


Across some various difference

Into the light that the I pours in.




Is that what this is? The personality

Of everything perceiving, perceived.

The affective

Correlate of the welcome smell of grass


With which all the houses are filled.

Being at once “dead” and alive in empty space.

The whole truth

Of milk and raw honey, the pressed face


Of the sun when the air is filled with mist.

As when like horses

Or a low flying plane the minutes roar past

In answering reflections


And at a distance above the level of the snow you see

Like the sheen of a moving snake the glint-

Ing contours of the mountains, a still music,

An opening


Out of existence welled into future's    flowered past—

Just so with the other shades preserving

The most interesting and beautiful facts

With educated eyes you go


On a path where no conscious nature comes into its own,

As a wrinkled, corpsey thinness, a diamond

Reflecting everything, a tongueless

Self-performance waking


Married in a sharp high wind.




But it is hard to remember

It is not so simple as that

In electric wetness your your my my


Pushing against the wall it was too soon

For the former body

Needing to breathe again much needing flesh


As sonorous as the peeling air

Which loves but will not listen

Which translates the mark of the scar

Without ever understanding what was good


In health or in sickness on the basis now

Of swarming space better muscled better dreamed—


Or else having itself begun to unzip

Into the same dark fragment as

While moving some kiss of warped light


Yielding to weird

Silence about to vomit the sun begins

To see the one thing not yet eaten, a pearl

Plucked from far in the past

Where there was clover growing

A deep shadow

A smile entrained on the border between


This day, yesterday, the dawn

Between structure and sewn story based on I

And this nothing, a sea

Inside me like in no suspended


Thirst the story is

From end to end a natural home


A life-dream crossed with blood

And extra light


To which I’d give myself

In this indirect way

Stretched out in the dark and aware of it

This necessary


Split of flower and fruit

Of summer and strange spring.


Michael Joseph Walsh is a Korean American poet. He is co-editor
for APARTMENT Poetry, and his poems have appeared or are
forthcoming in DIAGRAMDREGINALDFence,  jubilatThe Volta,
and elsewhere. He lives in Denver. 

The phrase "the walker / Does not too curiously observe particulars"
comes from the journals of Henry David Thoreau.