the poetry that matters

Tim Keane

Tim Keane is from The Bronx, NY, and currently lives in Manhattan. Poems from Tim's first book Alphabets of Elsewhere (Cinnamon Press, 2007), as well as poems for his next collection, tentatively titled Rockaway Flowers, have appeared in print and online magazines in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore, including such venues as the art magazine Modern Painters, the American journals Denver Quarterly, Evergreen Review, International Poetry Review, South Carolina Review and Shenandoah. His translations from French poetry are in Drunken Boat, Parthenon West Review, Silk Road, Cipher, Pusteblume, Interim and Cerise Press. www.timkeane.com


The Seahorse Brooch

I tried to hew a seahorse brooch from hemp
but sea-chiefs kicked me out with the tide
and insisted (in recriminations voiced
in crashing waves) that my talent lay on land

so I was resigned to the shore
and I resorted to cleaving vowels
against the granite consonants
but linguists and sawyers colluded
and called me to the carpet
I was unlicensed, a danger,
and had to give up my lexicon
and its clumsy bruting machine

later I channeled a Spanish master
for help with this seahorse brooch
but his flamenco distracted me from the task
and filled me with aural vertigo, genital fever
at odds with my plan for steady workmanship

sometimes apologies remediate all those words
we fail to render into a tangible object & action:

perhaps I’ve just defined apology once and for all
and found for you in this improvised jig of definition
a pledge and a consolation for the seahorse brooch,
the one I keep willing, the one that awaits invention.

Saline Poem

in a round, marble-lined tank
the scion to The Rain Poets,
loyal to make-believe navies,
drinking buddy to mermen,
consecrated by a necklace
of glittery halibut and cod,
buttressed by a frothy balloon,
snoozes on the theft-vessel

it is a blue raft, buoyant enough to bear
the weighty cargo of the imaginary
across rapids of the actual
to silver shores where her words thrive
by adhering (always) to the ethic
that living relies on learning to die  
just as every thought is mollified,
once it’s written,
and is returned to water
and is slowly saturated,
and drowns in a current of dream works

The Dancers

if I were to snag my line on an ivory netting rent by blue
or a tulle bias, that tricked me into thinking it might be white
like a deluded dance imagining it somehow served
a happy wedding, I'd be a cur in a Cambridge compound,
eating prunes, a professor, nestled away in the dry apartment
of a proper dictionary, scribbling sonnets about suicides and saints,
to snare myself a gilded sinecure

but I'm un-caught, a rainbow trout taking on October torrents
I’m soaking Chopin-saline through my gills, voicing les sylphides
and conjuring Sapphira, sulphur, liquide
in a single panorama of her twenty white fouettés

Ulster Dance

among champagne-drinkers
in shadows & buttery light & brine
on the cold tureen of trout,
tree-green & flutesong,
amber ale & sugar-on-the-blues:
uilleann pipe, fevered-strings & manic drum:
a freckled dryad, eye-shine, her white
legs, aglow,
in black silk
the foaming dress
the winging skirts,
the winging & the swirl,
soft-shoe, breath-catcher,
she kicks
round her red curls swing,
round, her left leg lifts a black
kick & feet sweeping
round again
round circl-
ing, round a
ing up
a leap,
on the blue
she scissors
she pivots
& pirou-
ettes, air
that spins
about her
is her
body is her
dance even at
its end
is infinite



Fishing for Amber

along wandering
midcourse come answers
the apple basket answers
the orange dress answers
her sidelong smirk
& young diamond answer
the question is ‘what am I to do?’

thrown back on joy
& streams coursing
beneath the skin
dissolving that occlusion
hell, a medieval fiction--
evict the neutered cynics
disavow the porn of piety
& pious college scribes
versifying hair shirts
about cancer & crows
feeding the past
& courting thantos

unleash dis-order
           the odd is a clarion

let in the terrifying answers
let the orange dress answer
let her truant giggles answer
let the Dutch painter
wash you in blues

by the magic of the she-devil
who renews her taste for life
thanks to the wooing of the sweeper

the country’s twisted trees
yielding unreal cherry,
yielding angel-nuts
& feeding a stream-bed,
stream & springs of mottled light
source of freckles
you follow the flow like gospel
& are freed, loose & lost
in a fisherman’s vale
closing in on the amber ridge
passing the burgundy slip
covetous, rapt
tracing, by white feathers,
the infinite along lips
half-sleeping, dreaming the teacher
into Daphne, under the song
you expect, and open as rose opens,
rising, wide as sunflower
loosening pedestrian restraints
disrobing in sun
stripped lighter than need
levitating on a subtle rush
a disoriented homecoming
you are arriving to a vision of your self
you’d seeded so precisely
in  manacled years,
under a sad regime
here you are the poem
rewarded by colour
on the amber ridge
echo of a bacchanal
& promise of a real god--

the young lovers are in hiding
they are somewhere else
much farther than the night.


Bookmark and Share