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Lightning with Stag in Its Glare.

 There was a hollow dry gourd hot with energies, and inside was the
thunder of Chinese healing herbs, and the powers of inexplicable oils
& unguents, & pouches full of insect wings. Later there was a
killing storm, a real storm, the kind that knows an oak is strong. There
was lightning with a stag in its glare then. And microorganisms. At the
lake, on a canvas beach chair, someone lovely & stubborn had left a
red & yellow plum. There was a woodpecker too, perhaps a half mile
away in a boisterous elm. And ahead of us, on a sandy hillside, the let
Propulsion Lab; the elegant equations there that worked inside of women
& men & machines. And beyond all of this was compassion. Or the
complicities of the wicked. Covenants to transfer power. Demands for
obedience. Great charity. Dread. Some mornings began with a well-ironed
handkerchief, a whiskey blanc
 or cantaloupe. Others started with a maple-- the flirtatious,
green-eyed maple that overnight had sprouted full-blown from the cellar
of a power plant burned-down years ago. The mornings were so flavorful,
so unintentional. Mostly there was cruelty, courtesy, murder & randy
love stares. With or without runway lighting or makeup the starvelings
of fashion walked swiftly among us looking new in the sunlight's
sweep. They were unrecognizable. Indentured. Redeemed. We were all
unrecognized, All of us were unsure if our names were our true names or
slave names. And soon enough there was rain over all the Elizabeths. And
a skiff embarked across the bay. But no student at exam time in any
school anywhere would claim this has a storyline or plot. Only now &
again did it make sense. It was when one of us took a turn as the bird
that woodpecker in the elm--out of the tree the bird would fly & for
ten or fifteen minutes then the rest of us could hear it tapping its
beak against an old church bell-- as if this was what we were born
for--a lifetime that passed in just ten or fifteen minutes while you
tried hard to drill through an alloy of brain-forged copper & iron
and it rang. 

DAVID RIVARD is the author of four books, the most recent of which is Sugartown (Graywolf, 2006). In 2006, he was awarded the O.B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize by the Folger Shakespeare Library, for his teaching as well as his writing. He is on the faculty of the MFA program at the University of New Hampshire.
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Title Annotation:fourteen poems: A Special APR Supplement
Author:Rivard, David
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Nov 1, 2008
Previous Article:All the Way from Murasakino.
Next Article:The Poet on the Poem: "Lightning with Stag in its Glare," approximately.

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