Keeping Time

Stretch words out tight like
drum skins, over a sounding hollow,
over air acoustically sealed
then rapped with a stick or finger:

    bongo or conga drum,
    kettle drum, bass.

Each sound rising out
of each regular pulse beat,
echoes forward through rivers
of blood, to the tongue
on the teeth:

    systole, diastole,
    contraction, release.

What meaning really matters
runs off quickly in a sudden riff,
returns to its watery wholeness
before rising again to a swell
of disordered release:

    one, two, three, four,
    who can keep it anymore?

Around this wavering baseline, air
weaves its patterns of color
in sunlight on broken sandstone,
on fragments of shell, licked clean
by indifferent years:

    Arcturus, Poseidon,
    Andromeda, Zeus.


Hear it:




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