the poetry that matters

Micheal Leong

Michael Leong was educated at Dartmouth College, Sarah Lawrence College, and Rutgers University.  His poems have appeared in journals such as Bird Dog, jubilat, NFG Magazine, Opium Magazine, Pindeldyboz, and Tin House.  He is the author of a collection of poetry, e.s.p. (Silenced Press, forthcoming), and a translation of the Chilean poet Estela Lamat, I, the Worst of All (blazeVOX [books], 2009).  He currently lives in New York City and can be found on-line at http://michaelleong.wordpress.com/.

               The Signals

The signals…       you know, 
   the ones that you sent me—

             with what contagion      did they fluoresce
in the fjords of my brain?        

                with what sutural inscription
                with  what     curdled election
                with      what caulk 
                        and suction     
                with          what fulminating forms   
                        of    felined  flexion    ?

The signals, the ones you sent me—
        in which crucible 
   did they achieve 
             their circumambient coagulation

 their   irrigated    reticulation    
             their spasmodic swaths   
 of   forked     threnody   ?
             in which   clotted chalice
      in which 
      in which    vent
      in which       faucet
      in which          streaming        socket       of        possibility        ?



                The Signals (2)

I looked for you through the lattice,
you know, the one
criss-crossed with latency, 
        the ciliated one, 
        the not-even-dreamt-of one,
the one that kept coruscating…
…and when my monocle unmoored,
           when my lorgnette went limp (and lassoed my wrists),
           when my binoculars 
                        into a billion tributaries,
                     I still looked for you.

I looked for you
when my monocle returned 
           but with a crack
           in which fell all 
           my earthly possessions.
I looked for you     /     you looked for me     /
      when we got lost
in thought’s 
                             intractable arpeggiations,
                           when our rudders  
                           were busy 

when the  incipient  air
between     us
               was       calving



…and so I imagined going...

up the fish-ladder, 
               around and a-
round  the widow’s walk,
            through the valves 
              and shutters,    
                      the vowelled shudders,  
             through the effluvial flume
that shoots   
          phrases like “much-mooted mouth filling” and    
  “open-coil paper surplus”  and
                 “pan-shaped not-soul” 
                         that shoots 
                             rumorous mutations and mutilations
                                 that shoots
                                         and re-
                                       skeins of revulsion
                         that shoots
                                   flow charts 
       that only approximate
                           the pained process,
                               the painted process             
             of the inscrutable   pas de deux
               through the churning   collideoscope
                    the treacherous passage:                
                       ea     retch   ous 
                        ea    retch  ous
                            tre  ache     rous  
                            ra   etch    erous 
                      ach    to err     eus
                            ach     to err    eus
                                   to research   u          
                                 re     a hurt    ceos  
                                    r    to sear    cheu
                                     e   to char   erus 
                                        trh   a source   e
                                  tre   scour  a      he                      
                                          trace    herous 
                           r   to   reach    eus
                                r    a seer     to  chu
                                       create         horus                                 
                                   tre   a ruse    cho
                                             to   reach    us er  
                                    rch   tear     eous   
                                    rea   the   crous  
                                        ea     retch   ous 
                                        ea    retch  ous
                                           tre  ache     rous  
                                            ra   etch    erous 
                                   ach    to err     eus
                            ach     to err    eus
                            re        to   ache  r us
                                   re      chart     eous  
                                        a route   rches 
                                      ra    steer   chou
                             tre        a    course     h             
                            r       to  see  a    chru  
                                      star    r echo eu 
                                   tre      hear        cous  
                                        a chorus   tree
                          reach             to              us    er
                                    trea    rouse   ch 
                                tre      a rose   chu
                                   arouse    retch   
                                  tr     eros    ache u 
                             r    to crease    hu
                               re     a shout   cer
                                  race      to         herus
                                 trae  echo us      r      
and so i imagined
and so i imagined 
                                    going           across the surface 
                       of the impossible meniscus,
                                                          over and beyond
                    to the awaited   arrival 
         already riven



until my mouth becomes my tongue’s sarcophagus
i will insist   
that we once lived beyond the sound barrier     
     that we often go                 from a solid      to a gas 
                 and back again
     that marooned as we are      on     this  interminable isthmus  ,  this insane axis
                     even   the silt 
           of our whispers   can
             mar      the sea
       that  our story   is thus inscribed     
       in the incunabula of the night     :

                                                ONCE UPON A TIME   TIME WAS UPON US
                                                  TIME ENCLOSED US        TIME OPENED UP…
                           that     “we  are like the spider   we weave our life   
 and  then move along in it      we are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream” 
       that   when I said                    Inland Empire,      
       you misheard me correctly  :
       that    yes yes                        “in the net we inspire”

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