Three Poems by William Stobb


Anti-Matter Daydream

Steeples, trees, magnets, praying mantises:
does everything depend on reversal?

(Though it happens in the insect kingdom
isn’t it still quite hard to look at?
The near-transparent green.
The horrifying swift overturning and devouring.)

I admire Descartes, right down there
scraping away at the eyeballs of oxen.

And I admire those painters
ages past who revealed the gray beams
our eyes made for light.
Wouldn’t Aristotle, the debunker
have to ask then why
does darkness blind us?

Light equals X, i.e., two
lines crossing into the eye (I)
equals sight.

Inside
I substitute all kinds of things for myself
but most especially
dignified particles
passing freely among the spheres.

Byline, Siberia: 1908: forests leveled,
mammals deceasing.  A seeming explosion
but nary a crater can be spied.
Here, Earth crosses its negativity
-a grandly, absurdly free and swaggering
neutrino: cosmic underdog
powered through the mantle
by superior absence. See?
The dark side’s as crafty and ambitious.
Thinking therefore am-ing,
I invent my own comic hero: I draw him tight
-square jaw, big quads, spandex, etcetera.
Sadly, Captain Absent’s limitation
spells doom in numerous senses:
framing his every deed
a rose-colored caption of obscurity.

 


Life of the Bat Child

As the news reports, he is nomadic, migrating
from cave to cave across the continent.

The bat child loves his mobility, able as he is to abide
at the outskirts of any farm town surrounded by hills,

or off in the distant deserts, where he lives as people
imagine.  He hunts at night.  Rabbits shiver when they dream

of his shadow against the moon, the thundering wind
of his dark wings descending, his bony fingers on their throats.

Though carnivorous, he does not eat the children
he takes from Calgary, San Jose, Duluth and Oaxaca. 

He raises them—feeds them, provides them with shelter, teaches them things like how to hear

the heat of a gnat cloud, how to charm mice with soft, high tones, and to sleep upside down without falling. 

But they never learn to love him as he promises.
They cringe when he turns upon them

his useless pale eyes.  One night the bat child wakes
and finds his companion gone.  Grieving then, knowing

he will never age, he cries out in the other language. 
Angry and entirely alone, he crosses the night

for thousands of miles.  He wants to wring out his own life. 

He wants a sister. 

Shrieking curses he can’t even understand,
flying at heights where the living can scarcely breathe,

the bat child pleads to the moon. 
All but the deepest sleepers, the deepest lovers, and some of the drunk

listen for the moon’s reply.


The Conclusive Gesture Becomes Visible

Oh no not that old song
I’ve said about so many endings I can’t remember
sci-fi classics I stayed up watching
howling discarded
lives of unlucky survivors backed into caves
wind and sand pounding out the predictable
brutal song about human greed and
apocalyptic consequence or maybe the true
consequence is the tune
which is sweet and familiar on the tongue
of a woman I worked with years later
who could have died in a car crash but believed
Padre Pio rescued her to go on
short-shrifting her work partners
through dismal middle years
of uncertainty think
of the millions dead in initial
explosions or whatever who
might’ve traded for the indignities
the cave scrabbling
in the sci-fi classics
one bloodline goes beyond the forbidden
city to preserve something holy
one holy thing saves a city
a whole history of selfish deceit
but anyway
holy is innocent so the bloodline is innocent
which the story always honors the blind
manufacture of innocence
all evidence to the contrary whereas 
my experience tells me the steaming
wreck on the mountain highway sometimes
ice crashing down from the ruined trees
over the embankment onto the ticking hot
shattered hulk of your wagon
instead of various dramas like Padre Pio save me!
so I can complain in the office
how my illicit lover
never really listens to me sometimes
my experience says take the noble
silencing by ending dramatically before
disappointing sequels conspire
to save and spoil holy essences
converge on a Volvo
grant immunity from the steaming
wreck on the mountain
highway which in my experience sometimes
seems the best way
to end these stories
or the second best
because you have to admit Charleton Heston
on the beach on his knees
in front of the ruined statue of liberty
is pretty tough to beat.