Robert James Berry: Six poems

1. GROWING

My eyes have opened
My heart is thumping music

I hear
other musics
They do not concern me

I am unfurling my fingers
Stretching them through
crustacean-red water

My sky
has a roof of muscle
I can touch the sky
With my creased fingertips

I shall
suspend my pigmented thumb
in my new mouth

I shall
frown
and kick myself to sleep

I am miraculous
I have these dreams
This is my time

I should like things to stay this way

2. NEWBORN

Still bloody
Purple and crying
With pudgy fingers
Thinning hair

Our son is
A creased old man
A bawling sage
in woollen blankets

It is my savage superstition to pray
and give thanks

Now that they have
mopped shined you
made of you a serene swaddled infant

You are absolutely still
A mystic with no name

With sleep
You shall grow young
                      in this house
Strong-lunged
Round as the moon

3. THE CRAFT

A thought is forming
It bleeds a pagan syllable
one word of ancient blood
                    onto the page

At evening a blue haze pencils the horizon
Time closes over creation
broad burnished hands

The thought has grown
It is
a candle like morning
The wick is burning

When it is dark
When fog settles
And the thought is
A graven image to kneel at
Profuse soundless

Then it shall have children
They shall haul fishlike onto land

I am thinking of them

4. LOSS

The heart has stopped beating
They have shown me

It is a silent black
Sticky degenerate mass

I have carried this
Now I must wait
Till what was my life looses hold
and tissue and blood bleeds out

Then again there will be
                    nothing

In the next room
Another's is being born
They are smiling
There is shouting
Grief is too small a word
                    for this

I am mourning my own life
This is the end of time

5. THIS PAGAN SEA

This is a primitive sea
The water is like milt
Creation quivers in it

Soon life wriggles a reptilian tail
It grows strong
                  crimson
kicks
            because it will kick

The water is full of this

As if with meaning
Life multiplies

There are cell clusters that
click like a puzzle solved

others swell an
abnormal head without reason
and die

This sea is pagan
Graven with one statement

That Time shall destroy

and the survivors
for now
shall watch

This is the word
World without end
Nothing else is written.

6. IKONS

The flame just burns
The incense coils only
fragrant smoke

God is enthroned on a lotus
his foot crushing demons

I search for pity
in the blank human face

imagine the image
looks back with understanding

That his thumb and finger guides
That his trident is raised to
slay my demons

At first I was angry
Now I am a sad child
Suddenly done with empty pictures

Ash falls on the altar cloth
The incense is cold now

I shall brush it away
like forgotten history

guide myself to the room within
and lock up

I am suddenly done with empty struggles.