Three poems by Martin Rock


LOVE POEM WITH ACCORDION

invoke again the apparition
of our rending

the screen is dark enough
to eat our stippled skin

a touching glow i feel
your fingers inside the knapsack

of my casket you rearrange
my organs and replace them

with brass knobs and bellows
the knot in my throat

a keyboard in my stomach
metal reeds create sound

when air is pushed around them
the accordion was inspired

by the Chinese cheng 5,000
years old and shaped

like a phoenix we have killed
that bird our spirit-animal

is now a cockroach
you named to trap the god

inside i adopted for us
an elephant on valentines day

this might be our saving grace
in 1822 the handeoline

was birthed and grew
into an accordion inside my chest

you may play it
with your words i will be

stalwart as the mast
on the merchant ship which carried

the first cheng to America
and roaches and perhaps even

an elephant there is a ship
being excavated from the world

trade center site i wonder
how many lovers have been

wooed by weepy accordion music
while the whole floor rocked

beneath the stars entire families
learned to read the storms

and bellows creaked in speechless
strain under the weight

of what we have to give
each other in the coming

of winter again invoke
the apparition of our rending

so that we might find a roach
force open its mouth

feed it until the pest
becomes lethargic if the storm

subsides there is still a chance
our roach might vomit up

a diamond from the soot
there must invariably emerge

a very old man in this poem
who sits in his basement

holding a mass of organs
even in the poem-world

objects can’t just disappear
my organs being objects

are in the preserving grasp
of an ancient accordion-maker

while i am filled with this
music for you that is

not love but merciful proximity
the film is still not

finished let us see what

__ __

THE RIVER IS A PANTOUM OF MIRRORS AND NARCISSUS IS DROWNING

We slept in uniforms of bark and wood,
while outside the night wandered
up the hill and across our foreheads.
There was a machine made of cypress
while outside the night wandered.
It was a tree and oxygen and birds
that was a machine made of cypress.
We couldn’t build it if we tried.
It was a tree and oxygen and birds,
dripping wet paint from the branches.
We couldn’t build it if we tried
so we tried. It was a great voyage,
dripping wet paint from the branches.
Scarlet ibises dispersed from the poppies.

So we tried. It was a great voyage,
finding the sun. Getting there is easy.
The ibises with their purse of poppies
we help out of the blazing clouds
to find the sun. Getting there is easy
when the wind spills petals at your back.
We guide them through the blazing clouds
then we ourselves retreat into the elm,
petals sweat-stuck to our naked backs.
Something roils like a school of fish in the sky
and then retreats: we ourselves are at the helm.
Up the hill and across our foreheads
a school of fish roils like the sky.
We slept in uniforms of bark and wood.

__ __

IF A SOUND COULD SOUND

Thirteen miles to the nearest gas station
and there isn’t a place I’d rather be.
Look how the roseate spoonbill is invited inside
to eat soup with the villagers.
Look how everything is covered with white sheets,
how there is light beneath the sheets.
The first animals to arrive sunk
live trees into the primordial soup.
Root systems formed into a kind of electricity
and the tree houses glowed from within.
They communicated by shaking
their trunks and the leaves would radiate
with kinetic energy. When the leaves turned
blue, it meant “we are making love
and would rather not be disturbed.”
When the leaves turned red it meant
“we are making love and you are welcome to join us.”
If a sound could sound angry
it would have no place in the village,
until one day a visitor from New York arrived.
No one wanted to be the one
to put their hand into the lion’s mouth that night,
but in the end everyone did.
In the end there was a great fire,
and people developed language to distinguish
their bodies from the sounds they made.

__ __

Martin Rock is a poet, editor, and translator with work appearing or forthcoming in La Petite Zine, DIAGRAM, The Tampa Review, Salamander, NANO Fiction, and other journals.  His collaborative chapbook with Phillip D. Ischy, Fish, You Bird was published by Pilot Books.  He edits Loaded Bicycle, a new online journal of poetry, art, and translation, and Epiphany, a Literary Journal. He would like to be able to say he lives in the mountains with his dog but he lives in Brooklyn and has no dog. martinrockpoetry.com