Face & Lisp
(For Magrini)

Life shelves the forgotten.
Night’s a looted library.

 Plunge into failure.
A dream’s evasive.
Feelings whip successive images.
The mirror’s right to slouch.

 Visit her hut.
Doors like whispers.
Enter or leave.
Death stalks, softly, harshly.

Insufferable passenger, that’s you.
Hold my hand till the habitable hemisphere’s gone.
Hollow, I multiply.
Waves copy waves.
Everything’s the same.
Now I’m gone too.


Each dawn raked to flow,

white gravel keeps the Abbot’s home

an island. Start with two

cycloning mounds, a distant tree.

Continue along the pretense

of a river that knows no better

than to turn a corner. Grand

rocks snidely insist on twist

and eddy. A hole for the Buddha’s

foot holds onto water. On minor

boulders, a blessing of bonsai

could be the heart of the world. But

flow’s relentless. A stone pondering

drowning is a tiger. Midstream, another

battles time like a turtle. At the edge,

another stays put like a cow. Only one

with any sense aims to be a treasure

boat at ease with whatever the current

wants. Now end to begin again

or step inside. Nothingness, emptiness.

You might at last shut up

and learn the difference.

Quest Motif In Uplistsikhe

As if ink nabs light,

somebody draws a map.

Follow the unfolding

to stray yourself a way.

Among disassembling villages,

the road’s yours.

Grapes promise wine once

you’re back. Rust bridges

fast green water, gossiping

girls splashing below.

Trust toil up white

rock for a trail

smudged as a hasty fingerprint.

Top’s a crown of caves

humans made hideaways.

The gods, naturally, are gone,

as is the point.

Views remain, and a little shade.

Ryan Francesconi

J. Tarwood has been a dishwasher, a community organizer, a medical archivist, a documentary film producer, an oral historian, and a teacher. Much of his life has been spent in East Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. He has published three books, And For The Mouth A Flower, Grand Detour, and The Cats In Zanzibar, and his poems have appeared in magazines ranging from American Poetry Review to Visions. He has always been an unlikely man in unlikely places.

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