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     The Literary Review
                                                                      Issue 8

Page 14

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We talk of paintings, spaces,
   yearnings toward simplicity
In the quiet backyard city air;

Someone looks up, there is one:
A painting so strict in form,
Caught in time
That conversations are forgotten.

And not because it’s nature,
It’s nature, and it’s not.

The sky is nature, most assuredly,
A blue-black blot of ink
Sprinkled with webbing clouds,
But the rectilinear brown-bricked
Buildings leading the vision up to
   the sky
Are man, purely man:
   hard, technological, brilliant,
And beautiful.

Caught between the rootedness
   and rusting
Of the buildings
And the raked serenity
   of sky
There was a tree, or – say,
   the canopy
Of a tree seen from the underside,
The bottom of the top of a tree –
One many-fingered mustard-green
   shimmer of Ailanthus leaves.
Quaking as Aspens are said to quake.
(You know how when you hold
   yourself so rigid
That you tremble?)

So there it was, part nature
   and part man,
All beautiful; a picture,
A moment caught and, caught,

And eerie, too.
For when I looked again,
Between the building and the tree
   there was a fixed star,
With that stressful sky
   suspended around its
Blinking energy.
As in a painting where, even
   when we capture process
We kill it,
The clouds had stopped.

  Jim Story__


If I could artfully contrive
To salvage that which dogs my mind
From all the refuse there

I could make myself, and my therapist,

Happy. And maybe show the rest
Of the world a thing or two.

But there is a wall, a slab,
A stone rolled over the cave of my Id.
And not without reason.
The mad dog howling on the other side
Cannot get out. But I can’t
Get shed of him either.

And he, likely, is only a sentinel.
What legions of demons lie
In formation behind him?

Do I really imagine I can
Civilize the bastards
Before they stomp me?

Yes, indeed, says my shrink.
Yes, indeed,
They are only phantoms.
You must lure them out
Of hiding in order to recognize:
They are only phantoms.

But is that really the voice of
Freedom calling? It could be a trap.

  Jim Story__

© Bob Heman:The Watcher
© Bob Heman:The Watcher

The Unicorn Speaks

Though I have tried,
No bride comes out to play
In my tapestry.
The horn, grown brittle,
Might crumble to powder
At the first hit.
Still I should like
To try that exercise.
Tones the muscles, they say.
Makes the coat glisten.
A certain fire floods the eye.
I have a dim memory
Of such matters.
Golden hair and breasts and all,
But nothing specific.
That was before they spun my flesh
To fabric, wove this fence.
She looked a bit, I think,
Like that young nun yonder
Frozen these several hours before me,
Lips parched, telling beads.
(Blonde hair beneath her habit,
I perceive; quivering flanks,
Breasts like the fruit
That tempted Adam
From his greenness.)
Shadows encroach; she recedes
As the light does.
When she goes
Her space grows
Empty as death,
Nerveless as thread.

  Jim Story__



Last night it trembled
Near the flash point,
Fed by wine.
It came from inside out
This flat, gray morning
It does not flash,
But crawls.
Up through my papery flesh
Like water.
Not large, but loose.
Still deadly.
It knows exactly
Where to lodge.
But I am experienced too:
I draw it swiftly out
With one deft motion,
Crush it in my palm.
My fist opens to air.
Somewhere out there
It waits,

  Jim Story__