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R O N S I L L I M A N
for Pat Silliman
Lightning rolling, popping, snapping all across the sky (the whole forest
in silhouette, down to the most infinite twig), then rain, although not as
much as I would have expected, after which the hot spell is broken, no
electricity anywhere for miles, people emerging slowly form their houses
once the sun rises, the beauty of a gray dawn.
Behind this bale of hay, the tiniest full grown horse in the world, so
small that a cup of water and a handful of hay is a mighty big meal for
Tiny Tim. Merry-go-round balanced precariously over the fairground mud.
Tattoo on the back of her neck forms a pyramid of letters, all san serif
and upper case, but she won't hold still so I can read them. Font catalog.
First the lightning, then the rain. Last demo filing cabinet missing
handles, one drawer locked with no key in sight. I walk out of the
building and my glasses steam instantly at the difference in heat and
The cup is a funnel inverted over a base of blue clay, the handle added
later, rather large, like an ear out of proportion to its head. Ice melts
quickly, leaving only a smear of bubbles on the surface of its watery
residue. I'm calling in my role as the difficult client. In the bank, a
bowl of lollipops by each teller's window (there is only one teller).
First silhouette of the trees, predawn sky to the east. Lettuce falls from
the corned beef sandwich.
The voice that was late within us. In such weather, one can watch bananas
ripen in real time. Day lilies unfurl, the sky brightens before the sun
arrives, almost pink through the tall poplars. Black dog wanders in the
large yard in the far end of which a crow has just settled.
In the forest, a small wood-frame house, burnt to the ground, no sign of
people anywhere. He opens the palm of his hand to reveal a lightning bug,
which rises slowly in the night air before it shines. Fire truck rides for
a buck, Ferris wheel lights the sky, giant mechanical swing in the form of
an Egyptian boat.
In the forest, voices, laughing. Just how leathery the flesh of my own
neck has become. As that man strides purposefully towards him, I saw this
fellow reach for something under his jacket tucked right into his pants at
the small of his back and think gun. My pager set to vibrate. Soft
first light of sun.
The aggression of toddlers or of squirrels. Theory of naming evident when
we call a black-capped chickadee a bird that more accurately appears to
wear a white mask. I carry a sleeping boy up the stairs and to his bed.
The word on the net is that you are in France. A large one-story pomo
building on an even larger lot turns out to be a hair salon (land use away
from the city). How each McDonalds is most apt to differ from one another
lies in whatever special accommodation is made for the play of toddlers.
Aware of the dewpoint nearing eighty degrees.
Irked at Adam's meddling, Hayley set a wedding date with Abe, then later
went to the beach with Mateo. After defending Kirk to Scott, Sam stunned
Kirk by insisting that they start their honeymoon right away. Meanwhile,
Nikkie tried to get Amy to show interest in Nick, and then tried to get
Nick to show interest in Susan. Luke explained AIDS to Lucky.
On the couch, starting to watch a video (Gerard Depardieu as Cyrano leaps
and rants about the stage), I virtually swoon into a deep sleep, to dream
of a great wall of candy, sugar-coated drops of licorice, white, pink,
black. Simple male transfer protocol. Three kinds of woodpeckers about
these trees. Atmosphere is a broth.
Old town graveyard after dark, the grass too high, lit only by lights from
the nearby church parking lot. A bowl of blueberry frozen yogurt. Large
sore on the roof of my mouth. The sweltering sky.
Hourglass frozen against the screen. First inverted whistle of a cardinal
in the poplar. T3 trunk line upgrade rollout -- scan that! Differentiate
in a boy's mind gravity from magnetism from simple suction. Small girl
skating down the steepest of hills.
An icon for poetry (winged hearse). Woodpecker walks up the trunk of tree.
Light mottled on the large leaf. Squirrel growls.
Morning paper bounces end over end across the front yard. Birds loud at
dawn, then quiet as day settles in.
Gradually a pattern starts to emerge -- today it's a series of concentric
circles -- but it's always only the middle game, the transition between
known beginning and understood end, and soon the squares dwindle down and
the lawn is cut.
The crickets as loud and constant as an ocean, but generally invisible to
the casual eye so that I'm startled when one lands here upon the page --
small alien intelligence -- then just as quickly leaps away.
Evening light under the trees, heads tilted back, necks stretched,
attempting to see what, high over the canopy of pine and poplar, sounds
like a biplane.
Live bird in the collage. Pace of the automatic redial. Self-described
total-immersion Loy fanatic. Crow caws in the dark. Impact of serial
number on warranty labor reimbursement entitlement.
Morning bowel: long loop, very nearly a massive rope, lies coiled at the
bottom of the bowl.
What do your sales reps use? In the dream, every job I've ever held is
commingled, an inner city highrise in a brick town that never was, an
apartment of seven or eight layers, rather like an urban treehouse, but I
need to get to the airport, so I'm frantic, trying to recall where I've
scattered my bags and clothes. The first sound of thunder before the