&

JY

On baseball

My mechanics are almost entirely self-taught.
Hawking and strutting, I hit my spots.
Nobody talks to me, they are all afraid.
The nature of perfection is half fluke, half
Fiction, like the mighty appaloosa
That haunts the hometown lake. I'm from one of those states
That never got finished, that just sort of unravelled, like the sound
Speed makes as it blows right past you.
*
I was a nibbler, a picker, a quitter, a rube, whatever
Happened to me happened. I had no control.
*
The nature of perfection is repetition. Repetition is 
A kind of half-dream, half-living, a kind of curse
Like that guy who got chomped every day by a vulture
And just couldn't die. I can throw a hook
That'll swoop to the dirt and kiss you goodnight. I can pull 
The trigger with a splitter, snap off a hard change,
Then put you away with a back-door slider.
Dog at my side, I hawk and strut 
With pride. I know she loves me.
*
The ball sings a little when perfection is near. Back in the day
My life was one big cross-up. I don't know how I got here.
I kick my toe in the dirt, finger the ball like a prayer. 
The lights get hotter. Nothing moves from its spot.
The nature of perfection is a paradox, because the minute 
You start thinking about it it's gone.

HH

Thinking about perfection

as gone before given, given as something other than itself,
by someone other than the giver, gives me over
to the stranger who slept with her head on my shoulder 
half the flight, Detroit to Dublin, overnight, 
nineteen-ninety-too-late-to-stop-the-rot-but-too-early-to-know.
To the circle of sunlight reflected off the watchface
of a woman in a meeting, thus magnifying on the wall
and ceiling each least gesture of a wrist I could not see.
As what offers truth but will not suffer reality.
To the rasp of my steps over fresh snow loud against
the silence only mountain-town cold, the loneliness
only three a.m., can make so otherwise utter.
To the laurel blossoms, months past now and ever
months ahead, that will overwhelm even this longest winter.
As what, because it never began, need not end:
the stranger's mouthing thank you across the baggage carousel,
my waving at her back as she walked to passport control.

JY

Passport control

We move through the queues like well-herded sheep.
The bags under our eyes look like suspect packages
After a night in coach; by the airport's early light
We stagger down ramps to be classified and sorted.
The vast room dwarfs us as if to make a point.
We inch forward through a maze of barriers, 
Waiting to be inspected. The line for foreigners 
Is always the slowest. We try our best
To look innocent when the border guard asks,
What is the length and purpose of your visit?
I both do and do not belong here. 
Everything I own can be carried or posted.
Being displaced is like being a criminal,
Except you haven't done anything to deserve it.

HH

What Is the Length and Purpose of Your Visit?

Let home still be home for others.
As design, this begins with a gesture. As hope, well...
Spring rose from the roots; autumn began in the branches.
There were two of us last time.
Last time my favorite word was "effortless." This time, "spared."
I'm here to learn to dream in your language.
On walls, the same tags everywhere, but on boxcars a lexicon.
Nietzsche seeks self-overcoming, Kierkegaard infinite resignation.
No crocuses yet, just last year's leaves matted by snowmelt, most way to mud.
Is that security camera named for what it gives or what it takes away?
Aeschylus could tell a tyrant from a turnip. Virgil, what the hell.
Missions. Flew a hundred successful. He. Meaning by "successful" what?
Wait here.
"Effortlessly."
Our last leader showed my failings as a follower.
I would have waited there had I known then that I would see what I know now I would have seen if I had stayed.
If I knew my visit's purpose I would know its length.

 

JY

Sherlock Holmes on the trail of the abominable snowman

1. A wrong turnip (taken for a miscoloured swede)
2. The effortless spill of night, disrupted
3. Design for a semaphore temple in semi-Greek marble
4. Textbook occurrence of London rain: barely
5. Whipping up a dastard-and-goat soufflé
6. Time for acrobatic whitewashing of someone's back story
7. Settled how to prune the epistemological topiary
8. O tempura, O monkeys
9. Himalayan word for mishegoss, or a type of pasta
10. Behind the scenes at the prickly ambassador's ball
11. Shoeprint, fishwich, snowmelt, mismatch
12. Riding the rails to the lowlands for some jiggery-pokery
13. Who supplied the lurcher with the faulty parka?
14. Heavily under-represented in cliff-climbing circles
15. Make way for donkeys
16. The imperceptible wishbone of the evening dislocated by yowling
17. Off to hell by torchlight and celluloid sledge runners
18. A frozen crocus laid over a well-veiled crevasse
19. Camera oblongata
20. After the ice palace rope bridge two-yak standoff
21. Home: slice of flambéed haunch in philosophy sauce 
22. Towards a general theory of plonk
23. Whispers (supermoon, theremin, Sasquatch, postman)
24. Cryptid or goose-chase as seen through branches
25. Uncertain outcomes predicted in the secret cattery

HH

Ice Bridge

24. And with what on their feet?
23. Always the old world we leave.
22. They made me wait. Apparently "life-threatening" admits of degree.
21. Out here, back then, you didn't chop enough wood for this winter, you didn't get the chance to chop for next.
20. If you think polar means sealskin and albatross.
19. Disassociation, dese systolic rhydms, dat shepherd's pie.
18. Topiary yo mama. Topiary my ass.
17. My new line of cologne. I call it "weariness."
16. Winter here, colds coldern snow.
15. It sounded less like a bullet whizzing by than like a boy making bullet-whizzing-by sounds.
14. Had circumstances been otherwise. Had she been. Had I.
13. God knows why she believed me for as long as she did.
12. Undone. U-N-D-O-N-E.
11. They didn't call it an ice bridge. Or have a concept of "continent." But nothing of theirs didn't fit on the sledge, Old Father could walk, and there might be seals.
10. In the note, though, he called the attack "viscous."
9. Heavy machinery, not today, not any more. A caution's a caution.
8. I know they migrate now, but what started them?
7. That shepherd's cake eaten and haven.
6. Rheumatic undergarments, tubercular toys. Anything smells more like pigeons imploding onto wet cement than fatigue does, I'd like to know.
5. And a syntax that contested grammar.
4. Ever pheasant.
3. You got another thing comin.
2. Defy, define, definance. Deferential calculus.
1. NEVER would have stumbled those first steps upright, not if she'd foreseen THIS winter. Been just fine on all fours, hidden in the savannah grass.