letnen journal: survey


    In order to survey, Kit said, you always have to have two points. In a photo, he leans over his tripod looking through the scope, high above Otowi Bridge in northern New Mexico, sighting a distant point on the other side of the river . . . I thought of him as making sense of geography. (Nora Gallagher, Practicing Resurrection 27)


    I learned Kit’s lesson from my friend,
    Doug, who was a surveyor until
    he looked through the scope
    and saw he was a painter.

    On more than one occasion,
    we held the pole for one another,
    usually over Indian food,
    mapping our hearts’ desires,

    scoping to make some sense of
    the geography of middle age,
    a landscape littered with enough
    forks in the road to supply silverware

    for anyone hungry to know where
    they were, or what lay across the
    ridge of reason, beyond the forest of
    failure, and under the sheltering sky.



    1. Thank you for the reference to my brother and Practicing Resurrection but especially for the poem and the line about forks in the road being enough to supply silverware. Wonderful
      Nora Gallagher

    2. Milton: Can you believe that Nora Gallagher read yer post? How cool is that?

      AND she read yer poem. . . and commented on yer imagery!

      My jealousy is palpable. . . you could use my envy as a demi-glace. . .

      So: I’m going to post a poem up here, just for kicks. Sort of an homage, as it were, in the hopes that yer readin’ & writin’ will, coupled with yer friendship, spur me on to some readin’ & writin’ of my own. Gonna start by dusting off an old one, with some revisions.
      “on a man ray kind of afternoon”

      on a man ray kind of afternoon
      stomach turning knots
      the phone slices through
      the pregnant silence —
      your voice
      through the wires:
      the crew of my soul
      mans the deck of my body.

      you led me through
      holds i had only heard of;
      we sailed here to this land
      in a fish-boat of tree-paper.
      why did i never suspect
      that these galleys & sails
      held secret dangerous things,
      instruments of torture &
      terrifying devices of iron?

      in a van gogh kind of day,
      heart on my sleeve
      gouged by toothpicks
      picked by vile birds
      ‘he wore his soul
      on his face’
      the dockworkers
      whisper behind me.

      maybe the whisperers know
      maybe edvard munch knew
      leonard cohen might know

      i’m sure
      that i don’t know
      don’t understand how
      in the toss of a coin
      & the loss of a moment
      i chained myself
      to something i invented.

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