August 2001

Brad Clompus


Poetry and essays by Brad Clompus have appeared in such periodicals as Tampa Review, The Journal, Passages North, West Branch, Poet Lore, and Northeast Corridor. He teaches at the Arlington Center for the Arts in Massachusetts and is editor of the online journal, Mystic River Review.
Small Disgruntled Meditation    Click to hear in real audio

On the third turn of the wheel,
drifting, lost again, no sense
of the provisional moment,
I return to the drawings:
black ink scrawled
on squares of white—
the lines trembling, darting,
as if drawn in fever or haste,
as if there weren't time
to get it right. Ginsberg's face
is propped on a pillow; he is
weak in his mortal bed.
Something in him smiles, but
frame by frame, the skin sinks more
to fundamentals—volumes deflate,
contours disappear. The lines
that tried to contain him
converge. Finally, mere white.

Three days post-mortem,
the monks chanted above him,
whispered in his ears
until the plan came clear.
Still I am just sitting,
aching, base of spine
to shoulders and neck, still
beating, heart to fingertips,
hypothetically endless, yet
short-wicked, burning
intently, like it or not.

It ends. We open our eyes,
squeeze life back to our limbs.
Each person rises from a cushion,
kneels beside it, kneads it back
to its original shape, to what
it was born. We sweep
the pads beneath the pillows,
as if flecks of skin
had fallen while we sat,
like invisible snow.
Whatever has fallen,
we brush with our hands,
until it is gone, or we trust
the gesture is perfect.



Long Pond, Fall    Click to hear in real audio

Cooler than it was,
and a slip of wind riffles

the surface, so that it wrinkles
and lisps when it touches shore.

Only the geese overhead, crooning
their staggered horns, might

reveal themselves—if we
had will to cross with them,

if we could, almost touching,
wing to beating wing.

But here, lily pads, scum, mats of sticks
drape the surface, close the door.

Frogs, turtles, gone, or breathing
under mud. The heron lingers,

a hollow stalk, its piercing bill
an arrow aimed at muck,

frozen, installed in space, sculpted
from an idea of the kill.

Nothing that can move, moves,
or has such will, but pond ripples,

confusion of cross-hatch,
skittering through all quadrants,

silent as melting glass,
or intentions dissolving,

the wide slow ones rowing ponderously,
as if they had all day, and the next one too,

the frantic thin ones in concentric rills,
eager to make their little run,

silk disturbances in exhaling arcs.
And where they touch the other shore,

I can only imagine. And the source—
whether mallard dunking its head,

or water bug zigging angles,
or something else, unmanifest,

impersonal, an effect waiting
its cause, I can only imagine.



Brad Clompus: Poetry
Copyright © 2001 The Cortland Review Issue 17The Cortland Review