From Honey to Ashes, by Geoffrey G. O’Brien

What follows is terms and classifications, the West
Of speech congratulating itself within
A system so complex there’s no way not to be
Effective. Just as they had planned the streets
On either side are lined with all that’s needed,
Storefronts whose glass returns a look
Filled with the contents it displays
(Mannequins, organics, mobile phones)
Making even moving sitting still, an embrace
Above anything that’s so. Cuts and clouds
Drift south across the far part of the sky
From adventure to instruction, so where
There is only the mildest threat of showers
You see a shape and then a story, parody
Of the private life of the world.
And what was promised to the mind of the hearer
In transformation remains away, ideal
Portrait there is a certain pleasure in reading
As buffer against what today sends tomorrow.
It’s like forgetting that part of childhood
In which one learned to do everything
From the pages of a book not unlike
A painting, but a painting with motion
In its idle depths, down where dusk meets
Foreclosure and the clouds charge out
Into the gift of seeing them forthrightly
Pass by a thing that might have happened, public
Pleasures that progress, the horizon, etc.
Always more or less just starting out
Its day, though it would be better to call it
A grouping sent down through suffering
To sunset, signed in the same place by night
To win over the jury in advance; it’s a painting
Of the burning of a book whose content is
Colors, lights, flowers, fragments of bone
Taken from the wound, from greater and lesser
Distances, to tell the bad from the good,
Buy the evening’s groceries in every sense.
What follows is seven dominated days
Of the week ready to bind with really anything
At all, your thoughts as you come forward
Out of the haze like sun through a curtain
Or go to sleep so as to be of further use—
You would like to choose between them
But aren’t these one and the same task?

Vague Cadence, by Geoffrey G. O’Brien

An away of practice the other is
Like a river out of acts the other is
Hapless, unheard, with marks upon him
Having dallied in tarrying unwisely
Backlit at an undecidable remove
In a house of marks the other is
Useless deciding whether to go
Or wait in best practices like a child
A hapless river filled with sand
For years it flows like unmarked rope
Years of saying as it moves away
Are the undecided water others bring
Like the child of acts the other is
Saying to himself the other is
A hapless river practicing its flow
A house that moves to where one was
With all years off the water goes
The lights are on so the dark is out
Like the useless children others are
A certain building dream within
A part of speech without a name

Three Seasons, by Geoffrey G. O’Brien

The winter, it was the winter all
the usual things happened,
I have forgotten what
would travel from the north
as a series seen from above
or from below, and the followers,
the flowers, I tore them up
the next summer, or rather
before or immediately after
and thought no more about it.
But then the summer, plans
to sign a contract, the summer
came back for what it was:
a small sprinkling of rue
and a yellow fantasy
and we were invited. It appeared
tall and swaying and deaf
to appeals, and the winter following,
this was the arrangement—
first one and then into
another not yet there,
many years of this refrain
and all the productions within it
coming to mean more
of an intimacy between
musical instruments and still lifes
you lose yourself in again
and probably have now,
what objects have known
in their one dark winter afternoon.
They are still visited
by everything else and together
complete the effect, a distance
which the next day took form.
That winter stopped and probably
on account of summer a spring,
spring with a sturdy fringe
and a local reputation,
it’s outside, in various rooms
and looks at everything,
a few lilacs in awkward
positions, but they were alright,
it was summer, very strong,
passing organizations,
which never finished anything
and ended in making
all this, cold coals
of wildflowers, little wars
at the centers, they go on for years
burning near the front
and from below.