April 20, 2008

Tercets from the Book of Revelation by Eileen Tabios

Posted in poetry tagged , at 3:56 pm by placeinthestars

Tercets from the Book of Revelation

after Rupert Thomson’s The Book of Revelation


How does the air
come to pulse
like a muscle

As if your scent
before your arrival

How does the night
come to press
and smother

As if a fresh wound
must accompany
a revelation

Church bells ring
over a dark street
to fracture glass

Or was it a childhood
memory evoking
how light becomes distant

A fine, silvery mist
on a wall, a city

You reach me
by penetrating past
a train’s smoke and whistle

Damp hair clings
to the nape
of your neck

How can the cause
for an absence
lose relevance

How many stories
do we deny
to obviate recitation

How do we pretend
no boats mutter
along the salted, wet dock

How did I give up
your child
for an imagined affair

A pine forest
breathes for me
behind an empty house

He looked happy
before meeting
a burglary’s intimacy

You can reach me
by noticing how trees
shiver by the edge of a road

How a sun
flattens the water
of a gray canal

How does release
from what you love
become “unequivocal freedom”

Sunglasses hang
against her breastbone
from a silver chain

No limits surround
the purple sheen
to Montenegro lilies

why do you never
hold me

How do I find
the necessary vein
I must mine


How does one see
in brackets studding a wall

Or be claimed
through a stranger’s

“I want to see you
again to know
I was not dreaming”

A church, a girl, a cloud,
a fragmented tune–of what
are they coordinates

Children cluster
within a tree’s branches
like birds, fruit, pollen

A shirt cuff
so white
it forms an independent image

It has never been
my desire for men
to take second place

I always wake
before the alarm clock
begins to irradiate

A man weeps tonight
with the father
of a schizophrenic son

How does one offend
by innocently asking
“Are you happy?

In Zanzibar
fruit bats
fragment a room’s dimness

Upon meeting, you
knew to suggest
“Alchemy needs your silence”

Wildflowers override
the trenches
of a battlefield

There are days when
the world’s kindness
forgives pastis imbibed at zinc bars

A man blows a saxophone
until the moon
turns to butter

To approximate immortality
through the art
of doing nothing

Burying stories
I cannot reveal
within those I can

Her hair offers
the scent of firecrackers
reaching for the Milky Way

“Put it in
me now,”
she whispers

When he wants
to protect me
he holds my wrist

The air pulses
like a muscle
attentive and fraught

~Eileen Tabios



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