• Earl Fowler

Waves: 81-90

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

81) waves: The susurrus of silkworms expending yellow labours

Waves: They prefer to travel all night, sleeping in snatches.

Tawny minnows shimmy to lush obelisks of mondo grass,

enigmatic needles of fluorescent-bulb fish tank gods.

the runes they carve on wood and stone

Secret gardens. Changeless kingdoms.

The wailing warning from the approaching headland.

Watching the sea-lines, most and ever-mingling.

white ivory cocktail marilyn monroes lilting like laminaria on subway grates

And in my aquarium was a crackling heater and a bubbling filter.

Nestled in the filter floss, tiny fry would hide from ravenous parents.

Ink stains on the back roads by the rivers of my memory.


even the gulls quiet on the far rocks

Waves: A radiance of dancing scimitars and chandeliers,

jingling hansoms, black broughams of obliterated birds

and azure lassitudes woven into the spidery script of the ocean.

ooh, do you feel the breeze from the subway?

82) this motionless forgetful

Waves: Creeping wormwood periwinkle, spires of broken barley,

archipelagos of stars, adagios of islands, black-spear cemetery pickets,

romantic facts of musketeers, hopped-up Hutterians in polka dot scarves.


miss quentin and her beau in the swing yonder

I am Abie the fish peddler from Czechoslovakia.

I live in a bottle of coloured water in the chemist’s window.

I sell the shadow to support the substance.

a sleeping head on a faithless arm, the fabulous shadow only the sea keeps

Waves: A substance consisting of infinite attributes,

each of which expresses eternal and infinite essences.

Sounds of advancing voices, sounds of advancing steps.

blue krishna dancing with all the milkmaids at once and forever

Waves: Someone making slits to free me from the belly of the whale.

Windswept guitars on lonely decks forever.

Peonies with pony manes — forget-me-nots at windowpanes.

waves: the swaying red dresses of women who throw back their hair



83) we are poured out like water

Waves: Pure will, without the confusions of intellect

— how happy, how free —

singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.

stubbornly a body pushes out of me

Waves: Bare lines and smudged colours, like the oldest human art.

Mise-en-abyss effects. Veins of marbled rocks.

Fumage, frottage, decalcomania, torn paper collage.

irruptions of seducers, conjurors, hypocrites, thieves, liars, presidents

The ragged cortege wigwags from the filter grate.

A drape for the Holy Ark, sheafs of wheat bending to Joseph.

The lapping of lanterns rippling on either side.

the glistening reliquary of our adoring gaze

Waves: Breathe, the mud engulfs me all alone it opens under me and closes again.

Shamanic hunters retrieving lost souls, blowing them back into bodies

through soft spots in human skulls, the numinous what have you.


lady louise, lady louise, between the wash of the tumbling seas

84) linen on a shelf that topples forward, gaining momentum

I saw her glide on, floating upon the surface.

I saw her dimly, among the silver-leaved branches

of the drooping willow beyond the unlamped wall.

what are you, lost within this tideless spell?

Moon pours and pours into the window.

She sits at a table, beneath the lamp.

Your soul. Expiation of

your eyes already in the slant of drifting foam

Waves woven in the weakness of the changing body.

I am a float home dancing on chicken legs,

candy wrappings and half-smoked cigarettes.

black pudding, bones and all, a large refracted image of my father

Even the moon bulges in its orange irons

to push children, like a god, from its eye

while you loosen the earth, Anne, with your heels.

regurgitated into the wild bosom of the father of the waters

Motion without meaning, disquietude, bras dessus, bras dessous.

I’m lulled into half-sleep by the lapping of the water, cries of the sandpiper.

The absence of language becoming language.

here is a man lighting the lamps; he will be gone shortly

Jewel and the sparks raining on him too

in engendering gusts, so that he appears to be

enclosed in a thin nimbus of fire, a brown boat, a green sail

a riffle of clouds wherever they drop the moon



85) The force that drives the water through the rocks

Waves: A fish gasping on the strand.

A cold black puddle where a child crouches full of sadness.

The wrinkling of Odette’s velvet gown in Swann’s carriage.

the loam heaves me in that dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented

description without place.

The continuous interchange of space and your own being.

Bilge and backwash roil the salt and sand of the previous moment.


take your potato chips and go

The seven geese wear little shirts their sister made for them.

The girl who trod on the loaf to avoid soiling her shoes

flies straight into the sun: bougainvillea seen through the slats of an overhead trellis.

phalaropes whirl in tight circles

Waves: A young girl waiting in a wedding dress made from stolen scraps

and low-flying seabirds in algorithmic processions of white and grey and black.

Skirls of bulbous bull kelp bestrew the broken-shelled littoral.

distorted reflections of ring-billed gulls in wet sand

A system left to itself will tend toward a state of maximum entropy.

Phaethon inevitably loses control of the sun.

Icarus lost in fatal tides, seabedabbled, fallen, weltering, white legs disappearing into

a twisting on racks when sinews give way



86) we swim beneath the languorous wake of prison ships

The sudden sucking roar as the culvert loosens its debris

across the proscenium of the entire inhabited world until the lips and tongue are numb: welter of tin cans, pails, old bird nests, a child’s shoe.

i wake to life naked, with my arms chopped off

Like Galatea. Like the wife of the jinn, in a glass coffin, I am buoyed from the vortex.

Ishmael washing through the rigamarole and into the fountain that killed Narcissus.

it coaxes me to the vapour and the dusk

I am the cargo of a catafalque attended by swallows.

I am the water bearing the coffin that will not be silent.

I have burst into fulfilment’s desolate attic.

attritive progress from mote to mote of obscurity’s myriad components

Waves: Flying scrolls of Zechariah dallying with Cossack girls.

Ascending and descending angels vying for purchase on Jacob’s ladder.

Pulsation of an artery, the wobbling pivot in whose sad light a carvèd dolphin swims.

mother lying with the sickness with a cloth on her head


87) waves: penelope weaving and unweaving

Waves: The tranced dancing of men

scuffling through dust in a nameless square.

A river full of steamboats loaded with drunken fools.

the moon-plucked waves below

Oh the buzzin’ of the bees in the cigarette trees.

Fluff in the idiot wind, whirled by the cold wind.

Vague shadows at Mann’s Chinese Theatre.

boxcars, boxcars, boxcars racketing through dark airless rooms

The stanchions and bulkheads groaning and complaining.

The promise of the horizon ever receding.

The arras that conceals the alcove

beneath the lip of the gasping sea

Waves: The stirrups of glaucous bales

of mammoth turtles climbing sulphur dreams,

breathing together as fish do, singing without sound.

and the operator says 40 cents more for the next. three. minutes. please

Flecks of dead old dried paint blown inward.

Random gusts of minnows.

The halo is full of faces.

addie ross left town this morning and bunny lake is missing

88) waves: old men with wrinkled dugs

I, too, but signify, at the utmost, a little washed-up drift.

Incognito, lost, lacunal. A few sands and dead leaves to gather.

Dark strains like veins that are seen when a wing is lifted up.

gather, and merge myself as part of the sands and drift

I, whose water-drunken carcass, lost in tangled hair,

the monitors and Hanseatic vessels could not dredge.

Far strum of fog horns … signals dispersed in veils.

grand swelling diapason of the sea

The doubtful light, more of a mist than light

floating at hedge-height through the sodden fields

among distant chiming buoys — adrift

till you’re full of rag water and bitters and blue rain

High sprays of foam tossed into the air

and the wind was heavy

with the damp, suggestive smell of fish.

mall carp filch popcorn by night from freshly mopped floors

Your hidden self is blood in those,

those veins that are lute strings

that make ocean music.

vermillioned girls singing back at each other

89) here lies one whose name was writ in water

Mother moons in the fish tank glass

as if she had stayed on a train

one stop past her destination.

down to the shores of the water

Wondrous depths, hypnagogic hallucinations

where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world

glide to and fro (some old crone rocking the cradle).

pennies for porpoises that bank the keel!


Wave: A glass room borne on horizontal poles by bearers

delicately as a palanquin of sandalwood or rosewood.

The absence that holds the shape.


the moving ellipses

The path by the swamp in the dimness

speeding along the ocean, these gold fish,

these singing fish and the foam of flowers

have rocked my drifting, cradled my vagrancies

Every wave lies down on the ashes of its ancestors.

They nudge me awake the way a boat adrift nudges

the mother that is not there and the nothing that is

only nothing and the shore of nothing

90) came we then to the place aforesaid by Circe

Arabesque, sinuous, shape-shifting efflorescence launched by an unseen oar.

Riotous disorder in the harem to the drum, drum, drumming of the burdock leaves.

Monody shall not wake the mariner.

if they tell you he is in the wilderness, do not go out

My ship has no rudder and is driven by a wind

that rises from the icy regions of death.

The bird of heaven is pinned to the mast.

flesh flensed from its bones

Staggered like a lengthening shadow

licked by the indolent waves

the wind whirrs without recollection.

the ocean a child that sings itself to sleep

Palpable traces of your supernatural passage,

Anne Sexton, in a rock, a tree, or a pond.

Closing the eyes. As simply an act. You float

there on that scaffolding recline

and lo, our ships’ timbers are rotted,

and the tackling loosed; and our wives,

I imagine, and little children sit in our halls awaiting us

in a white room with black curtains near the station

I clasp the sack to my belly.

I see me now on my side.

I clutch it the sack we’re talking of the sack.

oh, my captain! my captain! noble soul! grand old heart, after all

The long sleeves of the ocean flutter drunkenly

with that music playing as Beatrice turns from Dante,

Dido from Aeneas, Eurydice from Orpheus.

i came to explore the wreck

And the girls still singing drunkenly.

And the wind lifting the song, and interrupting it.

With the sea stretching out from the carmine nipples of rubber rain boots.


muck kisses and your eyes like the fish pools in Heshbon


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