Three poems – Kate Conover

Kate Conover


But after my cocooning
I am wild in sticky plums
You go
You wallow dangerous
For slanted evening comes

Comes dancing down the angles
Of the sloping roofs and eaves
To flourish
In the streetlights
Before it bows and leaves

Before it fades to heaven
And dangerous wallows die
I dance
The wild night dances
With you and with the sky

Old Men’s Literary Tongues
for Harold Bloom

They build a labyrinth of words
An infinite white bone wave

That gnashes against the kiss of thought
Turning city blocks into canals

We see differently
From up here

The rooftops plentiful
With preserved oases

Babylons in bell jars
From far below

Beneath the drowning crescent
Our gaze distorts like tears

Like illusions refracted
Surface phenomena submerged

Their voices worn in the deluge of years
To the thin palsied tremor of being

Thin as walls thin as paper
Thin as resonances through glass canyons

These words from below and above
Come twisting

Come in cacophony
To catch us up in their cul de sacs

Like mouths wide open
To swallow us down

We speak ourselves boats
And sail these ramparts like rivers

Skirting the occasional undercurrent
The maelstrom of a missing fundament

We dash ourselves against the words
These walls of truths

Built like skyscrapers
To understand the breach between human and divine

Can I touch your fingertip from up here
I do not ask for much

I am the teeth
The bone

The crest of the wave in salutation
A halved and bloated strawberry

Furtively dipping into the turbulence
Of the trembling drinking glass

The Price

We are creatures of contradiction –
Night-butterflies, glitter on moth-wings,
Paints over the life-shroud.
Each shining carapace
Cavorts with the spotlight
Like a candle-flame.
We sing.

Song, like the oceans, drowns;
Like the oceans, applauds; but you,
You are a whispery strangeness tossed
In the roar of waves: invaders
Crashed upon my foreign shore,
Malignant flotsam. I
Will not weep the sea
For your return.

Barbarous, your jeering tongue
Comports itself strangely; twists
Like raggedy laundry on the shoreline,
As full of whispering holes
As the cliffs below.

I sing a drowning song –
The price of your soft confusion.

In your turmoil you would hunt me, net me,
Pin me to your specimen board,
Shadowbox my night features.

Moon-pillaged glamor protects me
Like a camouflage; like a wary predator
You cannot see how much is real,
How much you imagine
A beast.

You say I do this thing to fool you
into thinking I am –

I am.

You see and do not believe.
I am large; incandescent;
Foam upon the swells. Amid the bright coals.

Three People


must plead this longing spark:

the escape of western light mimics a dreamscape
of seamless extremes that i don’t
remember: the wind kisses the window:
sheltering me from this: time-lapse
spring unfurls with a flutter
of eyelids: behind the dark: diminished
life emerges: encapsulating this pulse
as i wake intimate with sound: a plash
of cries collides against the pane: tumbles
over untried feet: my sense uncurls
like a fern grasping for its mother-sun:
plucked sweetly from the sky: in grave expanse
the widened beam encroaches: i seem

like a gift: breath caresses
the shapes of things: nestles depth
between their soft crevices: as if by contrast
another light is seen:


descend into morning:

the moon eradicates its old shadow
in an empty sky: the spilt laughter of stars

has been wiped away: you revel in the shapes
of things under a quiet darkness: as rain

targets the pavement: concentric percussions: giddy
explosions stumbling through their slide: and navigation

becomes a conquest charted by streetlamps:
unsteady as your shifting vision: as the water

cradled in the upturned brim of your hat: you
unbottle a hope mercurial as your door key:

and so let yourself in for it: the open grate:
the patterns: you are becoming

conscious of your steady blood: the weight
of its reliable momentum: knowing

in the second dawn a greater miracle
than the first: collapse of your hat

to the smooth new moon: that hidden satellite
smile: so contain a sunrise in

this heavy shape of air: having been breathed out
a placard: “a flower, my heart blooms for you.”


he encounters poetry like stepping stones:

smoothed gray rounds in series
connected by the nerve-skeletons of leaves:
cautious: but steadily he descends: the arc
of his horizon lights where blue becomes
eternity: cracked by the flight patterns
of avian nomads: he finds words between
the shapes of geese: as between
the shapes of sky: he questions

the color of the infinite: gray
flat concrete blocks stacked
above the birds: edging out
the steady pressure
of their wings:
holding him

down among the stones:

he holds the poetry of names
and dates: of sentiments: of flowers:
he skips this language: flinging it
far: outward: counting loud the ripples:

he remembers:

once he said: “Look
at who I’ve become
while I was pretending
to be something else.”

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