Courtyard four hundred miles inland
by Joe Ahearn

Courtyard four hundred miles inland

Hunger. Thunder. High chalk cliffs.
Not-blonde neighing in the rain, head down, arms crossed over her
breasts... These grays do not stride

as we stride, but linger as mist
in the clefts of green hills.
& plums reign

at the bottom! Only noon & already I long for chicken.
The center, as we might have guessed, is fire: Old Heraclitus
outguessed them all: Fire, thrownness,

the cursings of children in hallways....
& eventually, of course, the loved one stirs
& walks away. There are clickings.

Coughs. Still, the floor should be finished tomorrow.
Still, love is the ache of what cannot fall.
Still, the sky drips down on us and becomes news.


One skirts the coast, coasts the sun-drenched waves, & so builds
from pleasures the map. From various pains. Paper, small
flashings as data settles in among the hills,

& then a name in various fonts, a name
that anyone can say. Jack insists on speech
but I say even the nostrils deserve better.

The old ways, scratched with chalk & ochre on limestone in France
wing toward us even now. One imagines the innards
tacky with foil. The strange tall beings in lyotards. The disc

flames & hurtles, dead wrestlers rise in foggy crypts,
there is flickering, oscillation, streaming. Glyphs
in the database. The yawning

of young girls, late, after first coffees & marvelous laughing.
What touches us must rise first, from lapse, mis-
reading, memory. The lamed Arabian scatters no oats...

Green, gray, green. & various burnings. That the ribs encircle
darkness. Flashings of blue & red. For example,
the origin of the word jitters:

Bear-like, leaning on a cane, saliva-flecked, public.
Wisely looked past lest there be trouble.... Small
plants spring from the softness we leave behind

& even the haughtiest buildings empty, then wait to be filled again.
One remembers rats in among the towels. One remembers certain
specific laughter. Certain ideas & then the body, the world.

My heart is telling me, Lady sang, that you’re going away.
Still, most data can be plotted on the normal
curve. Although curves exist only as approximations.

But even data shines somewhere. Perhaps in Italy,
near Ravenna, by the sea, where the light is impeccable
& the tall Italian women impeccably gather. But then of course.


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