We regard the first and second issues of
II as “proto-Chimaera” issues.
Please also look in on
The Chimaera’s insalubrious parent, . The Shit Creek Review
Poem of the Day rotation
Fourteen shorter poems selected from the current issue take turns to appear on this front page until the next issue is published.
POEM OF THE DAY
The Greeks could calculate the world’s circumference from shadows,
and what expansion from Eratosthenes till Einstein could say,
“and then I had the most beautiful thought of my life:”
that in free fall there is no force of gravity —
and on from there to metric tensors, bent light,
black holes, G μν=8πT μν
and an exploding universe.
But enough of reach
when with those commonplaces of leaves and sky
to walk the street you must inoculate for awe,
and across the room are things not to be understood,
like why my wife has given me peonies, very pink,
frilly like lace undies, so not me, and when asked why
her answer, as answers do, only increases the wonder.
A penny saved is useless.
A stitch in time looks shabby.
If life deals you lemons, they’re juiceless.
The early bird is crabby.
Two heads are one too many.
Let sleeping bosses nap.
You can’t buy thoughts for a penny.
A bird in the hand will crap.
Home is where the hurt is.
He who laughs last is thick.
What can’t be cured is herpes.
You can’t get straw from a brick.
A friend in need won’t buy.
You’re never too old to die.
The dray horses sleep
with fumes of bog myrtle on their hooves.
Fieldfares drift down
to eat ice-cold rowanberries.
And time slept
with my childhood on its arm.
I remember trying to wake up time
hurry it along
so childhood would end
and adulthood finally arrive.
Well, here I am now
to have caught up with time
and my own body
and entered a rapport of sorts,
definitive, with both of them.
She mimes the unimaginable cry:
a splintered thing which shipwrecks in the throat;
a stranded vocal, starting high and dry,
then unsustainable; a sunken note.
The man with news, who held her hands, has gone.
She knows a hurricane is heading for the coast;
tomorrow there’ll be time enough to drown,
but, once the holding’s done, all hands are lost.
Going to the City, Karachi 2010
As the tractor-exhaust
vistas of desert sky
resume the south ahead
the farmer and his family
are moving to the city
in debt and crusted cloth
at the river’s speed
close but not together
going and reappearing
under the raft of noon
moving to the city
Metaphysical Sonnet 6: Origami
The oracle an origami ibis
hatches is scratch paper, crisscross-creased,
inside, a crayon’s idle scribble, ibis,
that nature flown which nested in the folding.
The unseen spins its cobweb in the corner
of an eye, and through this ticklish ghost of matter
light lobs its pebble photons, which go on
to give the all clear to the retina.
If spirit is not light but a sieve for light,
and vision a sense cleft-grafted onto sight
like a branch in bud that triggers the stalled stalk,
I say stitch up the eye’s eternal hemorrhage
and let the hand’s imagined aviary
on folded wings take flight.
There’s no word here
Requiring a gloss;
Each line runs straight,
No meaning lost.
So may thought run
Let no breath mar
What’s upon it.
Five to Midnight
I surprised my father, combing his white hair
Slowly, before the mirror in the bathroom.
The door was open, the light was on,
It was five to midnight, the radio said.
Glad to find him taking such trouble, at 89 —
(His 90th year, as he’d quickly point out)
Before retiring with his wife (going on 87),
I recalled the handsome man in ’30s snaps:
Beige flannels, tweed jacket, a rifle on his arm.
Then I saw the look in his eyes:
Caught in the act, they seemed to say,
Apologies, for taking up space He smiled and put the comb away.
On such a useless effort.
I was only checking the light wasn’t forgotten
An old habit of his, the late night security check.
Now I rise in the night silence of orange street lights
And study my own face in the bathroom mirror.
He sorts the things those creatures left behind,
Their locks of black, brunette, or yellow hair,
Their silken articles of underwear,
Those heiresses whose names now slip his mind.
If sad to see him take their wealth and leave,
They never could forget his savoir-vive.
Yet all his handkerchiefs and pillowslips,
He swears, contain the scent of her perfume
Who lingered but an hour within this room,
Surprised to think that scent, that pair of lips,
That woman’s face he hasn’t seen in years
Should now eclipse this trunk of souvenirs.
Sex is a Nazi. The students all knew
this at your school. To it, everyone’s subhuman
for parts of their lives. Some are all their lives.
You’ll be one of those if these things worry you.
The beautiful Nazis, why are they so cruel?
Why, to castrate the aberrant, the original, the wounded
who might change our species and make obsolete
the true race. Which is those who never leave school.
For the truth, we are silent. For the flattering dream,
in massed farting reassurance, we spasm and scream,
but what is a Nazi but sex pitched for crowds?
It’s the Calvin SS: you are what you’ve got
and you’ll wrinkle and fawn and work after you’re shot
though tears pour in secret from the hot indoor clouds.
for Helen Hecht
I’ve known other widows to do just this,
to leave a voice, the tone, the background hiss
on a machine the husband cannot answer.
Telephone tag. Voicemail from a dancer
whose final decade was a sarabande,
the stately wave of a magician’s wand.
Missing that voice, I dial his number still.
I hope we will talk again. I pray we will.
(This poem is in the current issue of
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