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Standing and moving


My God, through the night's susceptible hours I search
   with my tongue for some formula for remembering You,
       one that doesn't insist on Your Oneness, which I doubt.
            There is no God but God tastes funny to me, bad funny,
        because though, okay, as Rukeyser said about islands,
   O for God's sake, / they are connected / underneath,
above the surface You are many gods, a hard rain of gods in fact.
   You are the Dry River, the Black Brook, Lost Lake, Small Hidden Falls
         and the sweet water of Maryland's Prettyboy Reservoir.
              You are the subfusc Hour of the Rat, and Myōken the pole star.
         You are a current forcing Yourself North, wind resisting
    Your progress, tides rushing up and down the channel,
confused and dangerous. You are table mountains, arches, and domes,
    standing stones in an oval, Long Meg and Her Daughters.
         And how can You not be the terrible ancient cedars at Okunoin,
              the mossy graves and hollow underplaces of Dis, Tartarus, and Yomi,
         realms of white moths and trippy organ pipes,
    as well as foxes, words, ghosts, honey, oils, and noises?
In the past You've hid in the mystery of swords, mirrors,
    and comma-shaped jewels. More recently
         the god Hermes showed himself
              to my friend Diane as Freddie Mercury at about age 39,
         and I know a guy who leaves a five-yen coin  
    on the windowsill as an offering to whatever the view is that day.
To me You’ve appeared as certain verbs such as beheld
    in English or blanchir in French, in the music, the drumming,
         if not the argument of la ilaha illalllah, and in some gestures,
              such as the half-moon night in 1987 when a pale
         god named Bruno leaned over to kiss oh thirsty me, young and
    transfigured on the dance floor at the Parliament House in Orlando,
the memory of which is bodies of water, both standing and moving.


Patrick Donnelly

American Poetry Review

September/October 2017


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