The Nacreous Oughts

15 April 2006

   "The Total Eclipse of Florida

Turnaround, Every now and then I get
out among the mangrove islands,
a little bit helpless and I'm lying like a child in your arms.
They stand on the sand-bars drying their damp gold wings.
Turnaround, Every now and then I get to an un-lit evening,
a little bit angry and I know I've got to get out and cry.
Enormous turtles, helpless and mild,
turnaround. Every now and then I
die and leave their barnacled shells on the beaches,
a little bit terrified but then I see the look in your eyes
and their large white skulls with round eye-sockets.
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
I'm twice the size of a man then I fall apart.

And the palm trees clatter in the stiff breeze
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and then I
like the bills of the pelicans and the tropical rain comes down.
then I fall apart,
to freshen the tide-looped strings of fading shells.
And I need you now tonight:
Job's Tear, the Chinese Alphabet, the scarce Junonia,
and I need you more than ever,
parti-colored pectins and Ladies' Ears,
and if you'll only hold me tight
arranged as on a gray rag of rotted calico,
we'll be holding on forever.

the buried Indian Princess's skirt
will only be making it right
with these the monotonous, endless, sagging coast-line
cause we'll never be wrong together.
Delicately ornamented,
we can take it to the end of the line,
Thirty or more buzzards are drifting down, down, down.
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time,
over something they have spotted in the swamp.
I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
in circles like stirred-up flakes of sediment.
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks,
sinking through water.
I really need you tonight,
smoke from woods-fires filters fine blue solvents.
Forever's gonna start tonight,
on stumps and dead trees the charring is like black velvet.

Forever's gonna start tonight--
the mosquitoes,
once upon a time I was falling in love,
hunting to the tune of their ferocious obbligatos,
But now I'm only falling apart.

After dark, the fireflies map the heavens in the marsh.
There's nothing I can do
until the moon rises.
A total eclipse of the heart.
Cold white, not bright, the moonlight is coarse-meshed,
Once upon a time there was light in my life
and the careless, corrupt state is all black specks.
Now there's only love in the dark,
too far apart, and ugly whites; the poorest.
Nothing I can say post-card of itself.
A total eclipse of the heart
After dark, the pools seem to have slipped away."

--Jim Steinman/ Elizabeth Bishop

K. S. (heh heh)

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