from Leafmold

Anterior to vision, we find grace; anterior to grace we find light; anterior to light there is nothing but quietude. And nothing itself. The two commingling ad infinitum. Every twelfth of August, a ghost-school of steelhead melt through the pine out back. Oh, “invisible”—the cracking in my neck is invisible, the noises of the air conditioner are invisible, the footprints of trees are invisible. When rain hits the ground, is it rain or water? Diary of local winters: the wolfhound under the quilt, the skim at the top of the jar, the blue jay’s solemn tail, the rote wailing of geese in the clouds, the drumming of dynamite near in the west, the nudge at the edge of a death unnoticed. A secret turning in the mouth of evening: the green moth with white spots—seen once every twenty years. Today a gas station computer “assessed” my “loyalty” and I felt naked. How many disembodied hands clutching lanterns have you counted this summer? You are the night watchman of this place, are you not?


As a boy I hugged my pillow, hoping it would turn to flesh. A country lake’s glass shirt: cloud-chime, bramble-breath, significance and insignificance. In an older room, my wine boiled in its soft glass, a salad bowl escaped the table, and the table opened a kitchen window—a thought like a stone like a thought echoing long and bullfrogish down a green well. The trees, in my forsaken poem, are psalming and I don’t know what to do with them, can’t find a use for their particular uselessness. Your chest rises like fog and you have only the yellow light of stairwells to see you on your way. That slip in my voice like a pool cue through a hand, the overgrown lanes my eyes peer down when I lie: the broken headlight of a train and its memory of the drowned prairie. We are nothing but skin shed and then leaves surging forth. As if it is every seventh second and barges pulling out at morning. As if it is the lower left hand corner where the river is widest, where black reflections of birds start out before flitting up the falls.

F. Daniel Rzicznek’s collections and chapbooks of poetry include Nag Champa in the Rain, Vine River Hermitage, Divination Machine, Neck of the World, and Cloud Tablets. He is also coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice. He teaches writing at Bowling Green State University.