Mark Weiss: “Glass Palace,” 17 Poems

ADVICE

What you need, he said,

is another trip to the edge

and beyond.

 

And I thought he was joking.

 

EASE OF MOTION

This fantasy that has deluded many,

that you could open the door and walk

into another place,

just like that.

 

AMONG THE BULRUSHES

It must have happened all the time, a woman

giving a child to the river. But the misery, to think

that chance could better care for it—the conditions of famine,

slavery and such—and the fantasy, that the child, rescued,

would come to recognize itself

at the last moment, and free the tribe

from its wretchedness. It must have been that commonplace

to become their story.

 

A MESSAGE TO THE GODS IN THE BLOOD OF SACRIFICE

“See, we have horses.

Life is good.”

 

A SIMILE

That red red rose is like my love:

thorns below and thorns above.

 

ADAM AND EVE

It's the snake, they think,

that renders tolerable

this insipid garden.

 

SIREN

Moving her legs slowly against the water,

folding it.

In gelid light

small tufts

on either side.

 

SURVIVAL

Shock of the ocotillo's red spear

against the creosote's green and the yellow flowers

of brittlebush. Birds

melodically proclaim

there's a stranger here, while insects,

wild with delight,

bid me welcome as a source of liquid.

 

And the bees

suck at the mud where the stream

had overflowed its banks.

 

THE KING

Oedipus the Riddle Solver becomes the answer

to the plague's question:

“What sleeps with his mother

and murders his father?

 

EXILE

The pace of change being what it is

the homeland you dreamed of

is no longer there.

Like Troy to the Trojans, no stone

left as a marker.

 

FOCUS

Whose greatest worry was to paint the petal

just so.

 

A decent restraint,

when the moon seems the largest thing.

 

HIS WILL

Stunned into numbness,

numbed

into silence.

Who could have imagined

any of it?

 

A SIMILE

Tastes like rabbit, the fox thinks,

slinking from the hen-house.

 

HORSE SENSE

There's many a slip

twixt the clop and the clip.

 

We call it luck

to die by increments.

 

A STORY

 

Dressed for the bridal bed

her shawl became the sky, her gown

the sea.

 

GLASS PALACE

I imagined a broken glass thing

inside me.

 

My grandmother had a clock

built of mirrors in the form

of a palace. In my first

memory it was broken

and dangerous.

Lovely, the way it glinted.

 

This was the broken thing

I had imagined.

 

AND SO

You may go on to other things

now that you understand the mysteries.

 

The daily miracle and the daily curse.

 

Something about the dance

or stagger

of anxiety.

 

A NOTE IN THE PLACE OF A POETICS. Put two things next to each other and a third thing happens. Sometimes a series of short poems create their own world, but fragmented, like reflections on shards of glass. (M.W.)