Westron wynde sweeps hooks toward
what is held. Nothing’s held
Nothing’s meat buckles and
the moon rises. Nothing’s fried
The black lake, cormorant’s shine,
the diving board, white foam,
then nothing’s splash. Nothing
at the window in Japanese beetles…
Nothing nothing nothing
and a soft, red bow. Nothing
on the table with the light.
Nothing and joyful splendor,
black foam. Nothing’s eye
and this tall head of straw
in a dead season
It Would Be Better If You Tasted Rain
It would be better if you tasted rain
than this spiced asphalt,
leavened brown horizon and flapjack
Pollution gets in the skin, spices it
red brown red yellow red brown,
Take a swim beyond the dusty chambers of summer,
out where coasts decant coolness and fins rising
from heat slicks reveal cooler depths
If time’s a chance to stand outside romance
with the immediacies of never-ending foliage
and mark mark mark yes! our pastures for our own
and forthcoming disasters—
Here is a bust that rolls down a hill and breaks the water,
fat with coolness
I wanted to know a name; I played sports; I
wore shorts; I had a mother and a father (they did too); I
challenged every bone, went south for the winter; I
ate duck, roasted; I said “quail” (it buoyed in me); I
wanted and I wanted, and I
Remained. O Icy water, spilled
like a blade across the neck, I ask
that you do your work, I
am tired and it is hot
and today I
have the energy for almost nothing
If I Offend You With My Leniency
If I offend you with my leniency,
I am like a bird with smoked tendons
roughening the hues, fanning my eyes;
my love is a red die rolling in the void
And who whistles the empty
pot that burns in your kitchen?
pointless and damage
damage d-a-m-a-g-e, I
see a kite stuck in a tree
I see a hand thinning and
portents dissolving like fat
I cultivate a certain dying I find it
rare, that is my way; I comb it
with exceeding carefulness from
my nerves, delicately as a kite
I am the brown bittered
fig skinned with tomb
leeks in brown sauce
and a winking eye
like a suede curtain
and am soles of the feet
gold that clicks
its tongue against the roof
of the mouth rafraf rafraf
you have to break him
before he’ll ride,
Sometimes you have to
before he’ll rye
Sometimes a smile sits
in the center of the table
like a rare roast beef
And sometimes tragedy is lop-
limbed sometimes plates of spa-
ghetti spaghetti spa-
in black bowls;
The Dauphin sez “blood in shaved ice!”
or “blood shaved down to
a black carriage!”
The vultures hath; they are wroth;
the ghouls are broad shouldered and recline
comfortably across our stomachs
Never never never second-
guess yourself, sez he, whose teeth
shine and brown like butter
A Vein Of Earth
What force in flies? Are you
insistent? Are you dead?
Are you guilty? Has your
name been lifted, a vein
of earth from earth?
Your eyes’ marvelous bandaging
in crisp clean bandaging in
bone-dry depth so that the eyes,
uncovered, may see—
Unwrap! Plague plague plague
is smeared through the city,
and the heavy-breasted bird retracts
claws over rock
Crowns claw over rock,
Oh how fitting for
blacks and greys
a dark red snakes
raising a fine dust
And sometimes punishment is
absolute and sometimes
we are abandoned
The Ground Beneath
Can I get at your knots?
Will your slits have me?
Who says your armpits are full of folds?
And your wrists, colored paper?
And under your tongue, colored paper?
Will you bring me back to myself?
Was I hard to find, rolling in saltwater?
Did you feel my burden, two buckets
full of clay? Didn’t you want to shrug it off
for a moment?
Wasn’t this summer, season of rest?
Were the dead restless in the tall trees?
Were the young bright in summer’s doorways?
Did the water burn brightly in its jugs?
Where was anyone to help us?
Where were our fathers and our sisters?
O my friends, o my love, we were ours,
where was the breath and ground beneath us?
Robert Fernandez is the author of We Are Pharaoh, Pink Reef, and Scarecrow
(Wesleyan, 2016). He is also cotranslator of Azure, poems by Stéphane Mallarmé.
Published February 2016.