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Broadside #40 (Summer 2015 / 15.15)

Matthew Stark

The whistle dim the front light dim

I.

The call returned the linnet calls for an encore
here the rail the cut spike the crushed stone

polish the wooden tie the countryside breeze
and fragrant with seed here the rolling stock

the fields and there across grasses a pine
the scent drops from a tree empty into a crow

fringe of trees fringe of brush the blowing petals
old wasp nest of paper in wind wheat mingles

like chimes the trees shifting and ringing
meadow of light heavy still in the ink pot

to illustrate those bells in a glass on the table
pastel dusk and wood grain muddling the right

angle here perhaps the water the colors of sky
flittering strips of gauze and when I woke

I woke with an image in my mouth

II.

To become resonant the pond hushed reflection
airbrushed clouds lapsing but always forward

water uneasily over the page uneasily drops
from a branch into the pond disturbed this sheet

the brown pond ripples in bright bands
its currents like bronze the wind its coarse tack

the clear ringing out from the center beginning
the dull forest lines carrying color tree lines

echo the moss facing north rolling forward
here the linnet rushes the shore receding

the shallow mud a clear stream with rounded
stones and there arresting time a grove

III.

On this table the water lily blooms in black ink
the taste of memory its currents the form the foam

the linnet occurs weld the name into a rusted
cage into the pond so to disrupt some trees

some white charlock breath must rise vertically
here blown apart in the air I came I saw

this the palette the smoke the light pours through
coarse branches backlit over grayscale grass

the projector flits on falters that barrel rolls
clicking on its side through mist the grid

of waves unwoven before the barrel revolves
to the image I wish to see projected depth

of water light down the movement the vagueness
of the waves the pressure deep charcoal coral

a lone net drifting in the trench the greenish
blue slack of waves and then the pond silent

IV.

The ink pot runs low to draw so bright a cage
that sky the thunderhead orients to new depth

inside the clear glass bowl on the table sways
over a field wheat still green blusters a shift

the scent spreading carries mayweed a shift
of light a rail tie in the mud heavier still for age

to imagine passenger service the sound tracking
like a filament bulb its golden circuit fixed

by the window a white daisy falls behind the metal
frame slack the world the brakes waking the cars

the blossom the bough shaking merrily down
so much buoyant signal in the bowl on the table

shape that before the notes the wind or the light
atmosphere bearing in loose nets and on and on

V.

On the pond a rowboat bars across a wave
strum the oarlock the harp the mist the ripples

through the air the waves echo and shaking
open the pond close the eye the horizon

the palette a dirty green look carefully rotate
the glass a bit the scene unfolds like music

so pressure builds upon the eye grains
and grasses and that shrill light be silent

to know the wave means to know the ear
and whether the pond is the one I wished to see

the ripples roll across the page there the traction
each slow word ringing through air the throat

pulling at grain the stalks bow over the stems
and a petal dropping like metal can you feel

the air its dry pressure the ear yearns for water
but some shuddering heat sustained

VI.

Past the stray pine so now pulls along two rails
silent the ink pot the schedule its propulsion

extends through a meadow the sleeping car
murmuring a hand taps the tray apt to rattle

to say I have arrived is different than stepping
coltish from a steaming train the whistle repetitive

here the pull the draw lining up by a spare tree
dew on the ground and the lamp signaling

word after word thinking and typing chickweed
the form of track the line always crooked the linnet

flutters against the station board eerily its color
red cuts through thistle that thorny garden

its purchase on parchment the ink drives on
rich dark soot like chocolate or glowing a basin

of coffee beans the scent shifts so now the car full
of smoke the lungs reject whole black grains of it

~

Matthew Stark Photo

Author’s commentary: I wrote “The whistle dim the front light dim” while thinking about riding on a train and thinking about how my poem would necessarily change that experience and create something new. Lately, I’ve given a lot of thought to Ars Poetica and to Zukofsky, and to the frequent interruptions of the physical world into the imagination and vice versa. I wanted to include the experience of riding the train and looking out from the train, the struggle to produce a form for inspiration, and the uncertainty in how to receive the experience. And I wanted to capture the sound and the motion of the train.

Matthew Stark wrote his first poem while shoveling snow in Monument, Colorado. He recently graduated with an MFA from the University of South Carolina as a James Dickey Fellow. His work appears or is forthcoming in Jasper, Roanoke Review, Mantis, and JERRY Magazine.


Comment on Broadside #40, Summer 2015.

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