Three Poems


Dark Energy

Black inhuman plumes of entropy ascend from bombed Iraq wells and exploded tanker cars in Quebec

Great black snake sways its many-eyed head as it tries to find a way south from boreal tar desolation past Lakota drum-shields

Black coal soot coating the earth’s lungs paling to ghost-gray and pink coughing froth as all Beijing becomes a forbidden city

Capital intelligent black cancer swirling in the eyes of executives commands them to create Venus climate in the skies of Gaia

Blackness invisible in well-lit rooms and cubicles rises through the floors to form face-eating mirrors like liquid obsidian

Despair transmutes to viridian light in alembic hearts as voice-crowds face down the black uniforms of planetwide extinction

Energy of convection flows between black outer robe and white inner robe of a Bedu woman soaked in sun



In wind is this flicker-country, is fret screen woken to afternoon

where you, apple tree, wave in shadow narrows between houses…

In wind, in westlight your mottle on wall upshifts to opposite forest,


it unblurs in a sparrow motion, mimicking flutter-down or settle

to quick pecks and adjust, sidestep, shakeout of feathers in focus—

In wind you pendulum stem-spiders, dark hooks, rearback scuttle


down on wing shivers in the tangle, or dry-mandible each other—

In wind your shade-jungle diagonals, of stalky eaters, of tooth-leaf

leaning peer over trail, draw small peddler hero flailing in his climb


to the dance gardens, veil-tremble overhung with nods and kisses

In wind you dangle a puppet battle, filigree soldiers in spine-gear,

in dragonfly capes, lean side for parry and stab, twist or fall still,


In wind your quickness palace, awake statues and eye-move hidden

by alcove, by curtains restless up conjuror stairs, by sudden stars—

In wind is your semaphore, your flat-array-only fruit of motion


takes up shit-mutter, stiff day-nod between these us non-neighbors,

you turn all to air theater, hung gamelan of whisper-discs all angles,

In wind your shake-web of thought, story leaves loose to meeting.


[syllogism 3, 2000]


The Season

No longer the Sea

with its necklace of fishbones and collapsed marinas

guano spatter              reeds               algae stink

it’s the desert they want


Huge mobile homes and RVs  

painted in flaring stripes and swirls


one after another

south on  the 86

race bikes racked in back       jeeps in tow

pull in at Arco oasis

tacos water beer cigarettes ice         fuel

right turn        out along the Salton Seaway

corrugated into asphalt waves          

they     ride     like      ships

headed away

from the water


Gather on bare flats         backdrop a looming arc

of stark gray-pink scree slope mountains runneled

by gone rain

scrub-dotted in slate twilight             Assemble

temporary suburbs      wheeled oblong bungalows

spaced             well          apart          

just like home

faraway burr of diesel generators

blue propane stars under grills

lawn chairs      chilled six-packs


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

where they park


sedimentary layers     buff      taupe   faded rose

ancient Pacific floor

tectonic uptilted          then weather-planed off

under traveling cloud shadow

winding canyons and arroyos            

ghost rivers where water once found ways

no flow in years

but wind


Now ORVs and dirt bikes buzz and snarl along them

swarmingmetal insects

eat the dry

Martian silence

piloted by boys in helmets visors masks

tight coveralls

patterned with death’s-heads or flames

so many

fine dust plumes rise  merge into     beige haze

under pale blue winter vault


their other plumes invisible


clear          refined            aromatic


not just the engines    theirs and parents’

24/7 A/C   fridges             lights


while the young riders faceless in their spaceman gear

veer bouncing along washes

track ruts between     sandstone hill hummocks

low mesas                  

like those desert kingdom princelings

carefully taught

never to pick up what they drop


After they pass

scatter crows return as silhouettes on ridges

quick rabbits   re-emerge to nibble

coyotes    nosingresume the hunt

the vague dust       slowly


the carbon

keeps going

the desert forgives  it is made   of abraded time




Adam Cornford