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KERRY SHAWN KEYS

 

 

Hole In A Drum

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad v. x

Moon, you keep bothering
my bones about. Breaking through
the rafters, riding the ridgepole,
perching at the tip of the spine 
– puffball of my brain – 
after a good rain in a stand of oak and pine,
the sun, not you, kicks us into motion.
 
Moon, you’re much more than this.
The backbone of a dogfish
that I wear in my ear, last night’s
muse’s underwear, the deathmask
of my imagination.
An academic once pointed you out
as the ghost of a rejected breast
in the calligraphy of the veins of my vagrant soul.
Love, your fingers spider
across my chest like honeysuckle.
Your tears gather
on the river of my heart
like snowfall on a raft.
Your cruelty is mine, your laughter, your love;
I am your karma. You, my unholy dove.
 
So, bless you in Winter, combing the valleys
of my pelvis, spreading your leaves
through the bone-deep freeze of all
the bodies inside mine. They thank you.
 
Bless you in Summer,
macheted coconut
in the too mortal, malignant tropics.
Soft pillow in my hammock
mocking my indolence.
 
Your speech when wordless
is a wind throwing out shadows and light,
a bull-roarer throwing out silence
pebbled with wind. A man at night if he listens
will throw himself through emptiness
and the emptiness through him.

 

Hole In A Drum   2.

Your conversation, Moon, when it finds a form
or better said a victim, is also the wind
turning into semen, turning into milk,
turning into the language of a snow-capped mountain.
 
Moon, you are a hole in a drum,
            you are a ball of silk,
            you are Hanuman on his run south,
            you are Krishna’s open mouth.
 
Before you, Moon, I am speechless
or I mumble on because your beauty
is a clear, round poem
that makes every hair stand on end,
makes the sea shudder, makes each movement
the self-conscious charade
of a man parading naked beside the bed
of a lover he’s waited a lifetime for.
 
With each gesture, he asks her in wonder:
who am I, what am I doing,
what song is this, what movie, what mirror.
 
And since she doesn’t see him in the silence
she doesn’t know to answer. 

 

Nagarjuna

Arjuna, born under a tree.
My maple all fire in the Fall?
Slithered with snakes for three months.
Rattlesnakes in these dialectics
or the hood of a cobra hiding
a world of stars?
 
Body, a pure diamond. Mind, a pure body
of discontinuous continuity.
Did he just walk down the road,
the seven wheels of his spine a walking stick?
At death, locked himself in a room,
and when the door was rolled aside,
out jumped a cicada.
 
Sunlight shines through the cicada’s wings,
and I wonder if the body left behind
is the true body, the dust of our brief dialog
with the Earth, no coming, no going.

Kerry Shawn Keys  kerrykeys@yahoo.com                       

 Kerry Shawn Keys’ roots are in the Appalachian Mountains. From 1998 to 2000, he taught translation theory and creative composition as a Fulbright lecturer at Vilnius University. He has dozens of books to his credit, including translations from Portuguese and Lithuanian, and his own poems informed by rural America and Europe, and Brazil and India (Peace Corps) where he lived for considerable time. His work ranges from theatre-dance pieces to flamenco songs to meditations on the Tao Te Ching, and is often lyrical with intense ontological concerns. Of late, he has been writing prose wonderscripts, and monologues for the stage. A children’s book, The Land of People, received a Lithuanian laureate in 2008 for artwork he co-authored. He performs with the free jazz percussionist and sound-constellation artist, Vladimir Tarasov – Prior Records released their CD in 2006. His most recent book is Transporting, a cloak of rhapsodies (2010). Keys received the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America in 1992, and in 2005 a National Endowment For The Arts Literature Fellowship. He received a Translation Laureate Award from the Lithuanian Writers Union in 2003. He was a Senior Fulbright Research grantee for African-Brazilian studies, and is a member of the Lithuanian Writers Union and PEN. Selected poems have appeared in Czech, English, and Lithuanian.

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