Set Down

Mild as the indescribable beckons, and optional,
reaching with replaced limbs, proffering a new cup
brimming squalls and joy, the in-dweller swops
parts ceaselessly so a florid gaze submits and turns
composed towards its steady exhibition to itself.

Gently set aside the knife at the belt, a dusty cheek
propped on a stand in plaster recognition, pleases
the in-dweller plucking it to join an assortment
gazed on by a self-approving gaze, to be applied
to a half-mask anxious its match should not falter,

not again. Clear-cut the hidden shines, for shame
casts brilliant copies, scrutinising them for faults
permitting truth to leak through. Each disabused
by the gaze it is its work to hold steady, evidently
mounts a replacement cheek while seemingly fixed.


The Contours

There is a pointing to make sure.
Grammar won’t come close, sore point,
                   fungal organism
throws out shifters, a clutch
Pale reps prepare to cover ground
                   What will push ridges high?
What buckle lakeland?
There is a pointing an appointment,

self pointing outward flicker and relapse.
barely cause a ripple. A quick arrest,
snatch from the cobbles,
stamped on a mnemonic record,
                   trace expunged –
hand wipes the board, the calloused
back of a hand stops the strings. Done.

The pointing suffers more and more its
own index,
is that damage? Underfoot,
                   way underfoot,
earth falls back off pitifully flexed
dangled feet,
                   bounced thought limitless
pervasive wrong
                   pervasive resistance,
points down where optative crust creases.


Mount Disk

Scamp hope lips the cart. Remember
those were client days, posting high profits
before storms came straggling. Took
a dive then we were affluent

despite mounting terror. Time accumulates
where it was wont to slip off. Every
line cross-hatches, don’t
exaggerate, grappling with crimson

in its uptick, you can’t ignore that now,
it won’t do, it superimposes, it ghosts
ever more thickly, the waves
pile onto each other, the silage suffocates,

the nimbus furs. Suffering
wads strings round a shoreline lunch party.
Rest well-covered. Underneath our
lavishment the fern chorus straps.


The Summons

The harbingers are come.
They web earth with their antennae
in gold, they pester
fluttering and fluent children,

mortals sought them out, a cathode
charge on the once dead.
Are we agreed? Does
attraction churn the earth with tongue-

twisting cast, whether
paddle or propellor or two soles:
are we agreed this is a mast
and not a spar bleaching –

how if the spar calls back the buzzing
voluble transmissions,
and positively
grounds our would-be forerunners.




[John Wilkinson is an English poet on faculty at the University of Chicago. His books of poetry include Down to Earth (2008) and a corrected reissue of his 1994 book Flung Clear (2010), both from Salt. A chapbook, Ode at the Gate of the Gathering appeared from Crater Press in 2011, and Seagull publishes his new book Reckitt's Blue.]

Copyright © 2012 by John Wilkinson, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.