169.1: Jackson Wills:: The Wetlands at Duck Creek & The King End of the Apple: King & Apple, Lost 169

To call something—anything—an explanation is to explain. Let me explain: I’m sitting on the roof of a new city tonight, looking over the water at this glittering and impressive skyline. I make out the different shapes, but I’m not familiar enough with the city to know what any one of them contains. I cannot explain them, but I could sketch a drawing if you asked. This week’s poems by Jackson Wills are architectural. Their math is visible, their forms accumulated and layered upon each other like some great cityscape. The words which take the shape of their containers remain, nonetheless, uncontained; “the field of apples / is filled with things not exactly apples.” A word may never mean the same thing twice, its sound (reading aloud is a must) endlessly reinvented with practice, wear, repetition. If I call this explanation, let it be explanation. Thus is the logic of Wills’ poems this week. Form—the sonnet, the tortuous patterning, rhyme, and repetition—imposes itself as an explanation for chaos inside. This poet has built structures upon which we may gaze and be moved. But where to, and for what, the poet leaves to us. S. Whitney Holmes

The Wetlands at Duck Creek


                    1
  The wave attenuates to foam it leaves behind
when small and dying, the limit froth and white after—
to live a life of trace like that, I’ve had that kind.
The hinge that turns the wax to smoke, an exhaust and drifter,
  I just can’t quit it with all my heading West.
Through dead yellow hills and Arkansas’,
black necrotic Iowa creeks’ frozen months of rusty trashed saws,
Nevada’s branchless sky, punctuated by a wrist,
  always the bubble liquid exploring, exhausting by its empty,
alive only by it, burst by it, broken back to flat water,
no longer pregnant and split with the tiring air.
I did not endure. I need this to be done. It’s tempting:
to make a cove and liquid holding of myself far
  from distance, and be my own boat and habitation there.

                    2
  Wetlands aren’t that wet around here—here are
the suites of gnarled stumps sweating solid salt;
the soil around stuck in churn, salt crusted and clotted
on furrows to museum-still them; rough brown mountains clear
  from the duckful-ground and February-yellow reeds
in valley’s pit. Len, you smudge your feet in seldom clay,
and catch it between the nuggets of your paw,
rough digits that wad insinuating pods of weeds.
  Leonard, your dog-life and dog-eyes have never known
a green unlike Nevada, and the wetlands here are
wet to you, ducks fully ducks, sky clear
not like invasion, but open and unfrightening like home.
Clearly from Duck Creek I see Mt. Charleston storm,
  a cataract that takes the air as Alps to churn.

                    3
  Clay cogs the essence—you can’t fight that.
The vague personal fog of us uses cogs as splints,
a mechanism with mist, the fire and consanguine flint
that finds life at the joint where flint and fire split.
  Promethean arson lives in the pit of puffy flesh behind the knee,
the spirit descends even to bundled elbow skin,
and similar inglorious puckers of women and men—
cog and fog pit in swollen flesh of the little toe’s belly.
  All the Mormons here mumble of desert blooms
in the sweaty lockers of casino changing rooms.
The wetlands, though, are a similarly arid loom,
hopeless nasty sand that hosts a humid spume.
The salt rosettes that coat the dirt crumble
  in occasional storms only. Here, weather keeps me humble.

                    4
  Enough with gritting through histories lurid and complete,
where crimes won’t leave, but shift to other pressures,
my brain’s pulpy sculptures: done poems, Arab thoughts in closer deserts,
law-torture in old Carolina, personal Appalachian deceit.
  I took with those a lake for my clay, monuments
as short and frigid-pungent as mercury current,
the water disobedient on fingers, an oxygen in splint;
recompense the shivering of pebbled flesh and blue dents.
  For what? To parrot without progress the old mistakes.
To abide in silence of sensation seamlessly articulate,
put together beyond speech and mere rehearsal of past action,
past crimes; to be not the shaping, but the lake,
the light in the ripple’s plate before the lapping splits,
  and alright—I need to write as inarticulate as red mud on a shin.

                    5
  There’s no salvation in the plural, salvation comes
in small numbers. I think that was my mistake.
If I could live an Alps, Manfred-green and streamed,
where water poses in ice and mosses, curls rest in frozen lakes
  and other frigid flesh, and even granite sweats
and rimes with a Mosaic fluency, and in the night a mist
insists itself into the alpine plants, buds unwhorl green clasps-
They are all in the club of the fluid and wet-
  then I could not be between, or could be an unbetween,
instead of skimming it as ignorable joint
to something else. I just want water. I want anointment.
A plane churns beneath the cotton of too much air
between. Len, you chew your paw for lodged spoors.
  At the rims of dusty water, ducks nestle in greens.

                    6
  But is this a permanent a livable arrangement?
To live from the shifts of these joint moments.
Can the one same branch bloom plural? Can Nevada
be two things? How can I live here? I already did.
  How did I? These joints and cogs and churns?
The storm above Mt. Charleston has the look of milk that burns.
And I will enter it tomorrow in the morning,
and Nevada will bloom plural in the snow, special storming
  hard as sculpture. Len, you’ll mash ragged fingers in frigid powder
that with attendant air and rivers solders
shut the mountain. We have once already,
you slid on rotten trunks frozen back to a completion,
scratched ice from your eyes when it lit in pine-sun.
  Paws saturated all the rocks with progress, there and steady.




The King End of the Apple: King & Apple, Lost


                    1
A bag of trees, stringent roots, you bag of living
bark, explain this morbid bark, this aviary tin
in herbal currents. The grass-applause is loose

in wind: that air applies its eagerness
to green wags in fields. The rocks are apple-loose.
I am affected by apple-loss and grass.

Apples: sweet-logs; apples: circle-wood—I lost
the increase grass impairs in grass—the increase
of my eagerness is lost. I get fat as apples gotten

large. Indulgent apples open for sharpened human

                    2
things; and in its opening, the snow enhances dirt
increasing in the air. The snow is juice concrete:
cold tastes, thrown tastes of citrus apples aren’t.

The sea: turquoise anthology; sea: a turquoise question;
the apples: anthology of little logs, of converted dirt;
the apples: like snow in a tortoise’s mouth.

The apple is eaten by a turquoise tortoise.
Turquoise-increase explains the bark,
the indulgent apple—I open the increase,

and the apple opens weight—I’m green impairment.

                    3
Enhancing the applause of apple-pulses
in wind, the grass warm-wags as indulgent
deliquescence, the lake opens as turquoise

deliquescence. An eagerness of apples fat as bark
opens me as meadows narrow. Tortuous turquoise
increase in air of bark and apples impairs

wind, scents dirt, in the turquoise indulgence of a lake,
the applause of rocks, where an apple is juiced bark;
I deliquesce with eagerness in the green dark;

the apple is a flavored start we start in dirt.

                    4
I open the warmth the rock is, I am
arctic knowledge of an infant in dirt apples
become to make the apples palpable in wind,

indulge in the morbidity of bark as knowledge—
decadent, enthusiastic, accurate.
The dirt explains it all, is clean;

and is what explanation can entail—the bark is mean.
The apples empty into mouths below the wind.
The storm, the atmosphere’s arthritis, dislocates;

the turpentine serpent of the dirty stream

                    5
flavors below. This arthritis is dirty—as dirt in snow’s
arthritic. Where have we done? The snow: turquoise
hermaphroditic; explanation of the ice: that it is over

dirt; explanation of the tree: that it is dirt rethought;
explanation of the bark: that it is portions of the dirt;
explanation of the roots: that that they are divisions

in the dirt. The King is a semblance of soil,
a euphemism for the dirt—the King is vegetably hurt.
We thank him barely much. The King Adam isn’t.

Where will this be done? The apple is juiced dark.

                    6
The immanence of apples overwhelms us
with orange; the King contemplates the apple
with turquoise relish; royalty deliquesces:

this is barely where; the imminence of oranges whelms,
but the permanence of apples is our vegetable helm:
transgression guides us in turquoise trees,

even the citrus tortoise freezes
in the snow-turquoised forest of our unrest.
The snow is a belly-explanation of a turquoise

voice: the winter limits land: turquoise whelm.

                    7
It functions swellingly; I am green pairs;
we ask the King about the turquoise chance;
he has an idea of March; is a secular, accurate human.

We are free in the chlorophyll impairment
of the fields. The turtle is not an apple, turquoise.
The wind’s encouragement of apples

imagines them. Only the morbid angel
imagines the apple, and summer is an orange whelm
always—why can’t I get this tight?

I have cost again, am lost—My angel is bark only,

                    8
moistened by May, in the presence of the King.
With redolent condolences, dirtiness explains
the dirt; we free the after with redolent

resentment, with royalty of expression, devoid
of democratic grass; the moistened enticement of the forest
opens impairment in me, a reticent impairment.

The lance is moisture in fact, a reticent lance;
the sequestered moisture of the lance creates
moss; I open the moss with redolence; where

we fear, the odor of May is in the lance.

                    9
Inside is the moisture of the king: in this reticent
month of aqueous flirtation, in March: apples,
I can make you; I can make no apples: I am cost,

with apples, devoid of the moisture of scavenges,
of flirtatious apples. Moss apples of the fallible moss
are vegetably silent, provide the sky with greenly hairy

apples; in the excellent applause of wet fields
in wind, the noise of these vegetable hands depends on
the mind; the King has so depended on selective

grass; the court is an anthology of tenderness.

                    10
I read in the garden with a mind for disease.
I do not care about the King or apples, the court
or arrogance, or even Achilles whose arrogance

defeats the plants. Why does Achilles never
west me alone? I am where I am
cost. Love will separate us. The field of apples

is filled with things not exactly apples,
with the gathering moss of my throat, a defunct
radiator, the cellulose skeleton of an old tree,

a bicycle serrated by erosion, rust, rain,

by the stuttering oxidation of a lonely field,
the plastic shit the dirt cannot explain
with the decomposing of it; an inwardly

crusted radio is my Achilles;
I read in the garden with a mind for disease.