Steven Joyce





Motel Six

I’ll steal the sun
and its particulates, the moon
and its pocks
and believe for you the way
around the small nadir a god
or two in her crossings
a serviceable smile . . .

I’ll quit my studies
and rent a hotel room thin walls
and all and listen
for my heart’s thumpings
cheap pneumatic love
assigned a number on a steel door

I will draw the curtains for you
open and closed
stare for you onto the morning apricotized
this glaze sweet as light
good
with coffee

I will believe for you
and rise like Lazarus sans
souci and steal
a look at the morning sun
here
at motel six.

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Love at Devereux Point

At Devereux Point love comes to mind
the Channel Islands wrapped in mist
the sea and waves and wild kelp
the seagulls and pelicans
and ocean pines and surfers . . .
None of this actually brings love to mind
as much as the krill in the ocean canyons . . .

“Love is like krill,” the assignment goes,
Now finish the thoughtó
Love looks like clouds of krill
at least when you are in it
dizzying aerobatics
and remarkable group-think
that maneuvers them as one
in flashes of silver and symmetry

that baleen finds artistic

these anemic shrimp with their fine and delicate features,
but not meant for fierce depths architecturally
these zooplanktonic aristocrats wan and drawn and sallow
with big and buggy eyes and questionable breeding habits

I suspect
by their sheer numbers they breed
a lot
and there is some love in that
I suspect
but at the darkest and deepest of depths
as if ashamed
as if unnatural
as if forbidden.

Love has its own numerology
Only astrologers can divine
and its own ridiculous numbers
that only astronomers can appreciate

I come to love at Devereux point
As a school exercise
And come away thinking that

These nebulae of the ocean canyons
Like Amish find consolation in looking alike,
alien good looks lost in the dark
to tantric translucence—a gossamer flounce
on the hem of Eros . . .

in a pelagic mob composed of asylum-seekers
en masse attempting to recover that sacred self
afflicted by a disease
that coughs up delicate sputum
and seats them in wheelchairs looking out
at the watery mountains
in the watery evenings
thinking

They sneak peeks
of each other’s Roentgens,
that are translucent in that Dark
Aggregate Love

krill choose
to breed in seclusion at depth
in cumulous clouds of love
formed by convection and conduction,
thousands upon thousands thinking
each is in love

From this distance we are amazed
what goes on in that inky darkness
Love oblivious to the crush and upwelling
this is krill love and who is to say
it is not true?

Certainly not the blues and their baleen factories humming
talk in sonic sophistication
of love fests and appetizers
these bad-breathed blues
gluttons that eat 8000 lbs at a time
as if at a Vegas gaming table
They grow krillishly fat
that tides them over
the loveless winters long

8000 lbs of krill, the guide said,
is the protein equivalent of 75,000 Big Macs
sheesh I say that can’t be good for you . . .
nor is duplicate love
that looks like a weather front with troughs and depressions
fogs and high pressures . . .

At Devereux Point
I learn that love has its depths
and its darkness,
its arrangements

I see the islands rise
and fear
the krill will say
we’ll be right back
and forget in the deep canyons
that love has its demands

They mark their calendars:
“Blues returning—hungry for Love.”
but the guide tells me no scientist has ever seen
them do it

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The Búistéir’s Applause

Spit into the dawn, orange green and quickening blue
the dew smothering them all
as if confessing
sins never committed

waiting like the barrow pig
on Michaelmas they measure the pig
the old women
squeal with delight while
the barrow pig
squeals with death.

The búistéir receives imperious applause
grimy pundits stand around on feet
washed every night
in bodies washed once a year
not gruesome really
the girth of desire just right

St. Brigid, Shrove Tuesday, Michaelmas
like shrunken wool thrown over berry trees to dry
in passing
the old women
take the tufts of wool
snagged by briar and hedgerow

The men grow their hair long
and straggle to god
toward Judgment Day
the doctrine of Signatures giving Him
the idea that they
resemble the ailing part
and by using them medicinally might cure
the god
the smoke in the damp kitchen heavy.

To bathe once in May-dew
hair long on Judgment Day
they lie like butter buried in tubs
until found one day by peat diggers
as elsewhere the barrow pig dies farcically the applause deafening

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