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  CARDINAL POINTS: THE CURRENT ISSUE
Craig Czury
APERTURE and SHUTTER SPEED

Craig Czury Print versionSTOSVET PUBLISHING HOUSE
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APERTURE


                        It isn't always the same night the familiar words written without paper
                        they aren't always the same words

                        dialing your number in a phone booth without coins line to line
                        posted in the vase at the end of the bar

                        somebody asks what dedicates itself to you what guides or sets your direction
                        I look back from a line of poetry drawn across the window

                        line of poetry across the horizon drawn across my eyes
                        and speak directly into an empty room

                        and I hear you talking in the next room on the other side
                        as usual I answer faraway garbled

It was the coldest night in Europe
                                                                        you who I continually talk to in a dead language
the oldest hotel
                                                it isn't always the same reaching with a certain scent on my fingers
thinnest blanket

                        Instead of grazing
                        wandering and gathering until a string of words surfaces to tell me how I'm feeling
                        how what I've collected makes me feel
                        how what jolts my senses causes this response Tell about the quality of light
                        Choose a color    Write about leaving


                                                I haven't seen you for a long time and I know we know each other
                                                but I can't place your name nor where it was or what we did
                                                but seeing you I do remember how it felt when we were last together
                                                whoever you are wherever that was

                                                                        The pieces know where they belong
                                                                        am I to add myself as a shape foreign or amorphous


                                                                        Each of us has his own sadness
                                                                                                      her own sadness
                                                                        I know I have my own but it's secret
                                                                        possibly from a place long before I was born
                                                                        only it intensifies when I'm leaving
                                                                        not thinking about leaving
                                                                        not packing to leave
                                                                        but in motion
                                                                        which also could be a sadness for arriving
                                                                        this secret excitement I have for becoming no one


                                                                                                the way war redefines women and men with guns


Good morning, eh? pheasant cackle from the grassy field overlooking Bay of Fundy. Buon giorno, pheasant cackle from the wheat hills of Umbria. Inhaling cornstalk fields of pheasants from my open train window through Serbia, Tung!     - that single Albanian word alone enough to get me shot.


                                                                                                                                                war redefines music     poetry


                                                                                                                        up past irem temple country club
                                                                                                                        to where used to be the dump



I'm not sure you need to travel to be creative, attempting to answer a question asked by someone dear who's trying to locate mebut I have grown larger with the spirits of those I've met in my travels who have risen to greet mine-where I live and where I come alive increasingly further and further apart. And now home, carrying all of you inside me, where to place you and how to keep you alive in my everyday life? Who I am/Who I think I am/Who I used to be/Who I'm supposed to be Namasté.


                                                                                                                        where my father first taught me to shoot


                                                                                                string clothesline across a clearing
                                                                                                                        pin blank music score sheets across



My weathered picnic table on the cliff overlooking Bay of Fundy is your wherever you've found your stillness to write, or to just be.


                                                                                                                        mark off 39 paces    turn    load                aim


                                                                                                         i need to fill the air with a language the world will soon be speaking


As a boy I hunted ringnecks in the tall weed and corn stubble fields, slicing their soft bellies, meticulously fingering out the insides, careful not to rumple the feathers.


                                                                                                         disturb the quiet the way i'm being disturbed by so much talk of war


                                                                                                                        his arms around me from behind steadying my aim
                                                                                                               teaching me to aim straight



The same multiple vision rolling foghills across Umbria with its fresh mown wheat, medieval stone while seals swim inside the herring weir below the lighthouse cliffs.


                                                                                                         never could i have imagined my father handing me this 12-gauge
                                                                                                  explaining a delicate instrument to compose music





SHUTTER SPEED



                                         On my way to a performance I passed a woman on a bike she had my face
                                         and I was stunned by her smile



I'm sitting at the kitchen table she's sitting at her kitchen table
the neighbor's red maple going bare I don't know where the birds will go
somewhere sorry for who knows doesn't help the leaves are almost
and facing me is the memorial park with a tent set up for a funeral
I'm just now wrapping the details whatever theological notion of being image and breath
but we never got it this lush with death in its midst teasing us toward a cure of sorts
so untidy and inexact levels I can't put even into words strange but always
as if there's a kind of knowing a kind of living in your consciousness at insane hours
in a secret place I have mixed feelings coming from Lorca says
                                                                           laughter amid a rosary of deaths
in my case it keeps morphing a relentless struggle to hear
whenever you think the conflict with clarity a long time deep and urgent
in some exact opposite vision you need a space in your head to read this
in a world that imposes how loud
at whose center gives us to overcome I know this place
it stays open all night and I phoned very polite but something happened
your mother had a huge wreath made of the hair of dead two generations
she's boiling plants mashing the fibers to their essence dipping her hands into the pulp
with the ashes of her parents to form a bowl I remember when you phoned
women twining hair to make a wreath as if knowing about each other


I am frozen in the doorway in the middle of something distracting and absorbing you say things I don't believe are me or because they aren't really yet sketches she says that translate runic into how else could I have acted one's eyes not metaphor I should have said something or it was you always had something worth listening to in some interior deep I stopped figuring out with no visible center and began moving away in any case you could tell I got only a short glimpse


I have no idea why you were coming from nowhere we found curious the most delicious blood oranges sad with awe I am holding onto until I can have what happened to you not angry folding and reopening simultaneously to answer your last question


Occasionally I have insights into the mess of ideas further with no apology on one end and everything on the surface the way handwriting deteriorates down the page even more now that we live among all the other noises repeating what I don't know which is worse having an inner sense of what to look like in the end or the kind of conversation gleaned from a different sound an intrinsic part of unraveling already shifting outer space where I am between conversations disappointed my silence comes down to this abandoning all for a series of strange decisions


I am quieter than I've ever been reading the tones of voices gestures and eyes
that's me second to the left with the missing tooth squinching my face with my eyes


closed You know how it is when someone says something and in order to let them know how you know what they're saying you sift through all your experiences and return with that one story from your life that conveys a similar consequence revealing an emotional or visual glimpse that says yes it was like that this way with me for them respond from their emotional or visual glimpses and we've begun a conversation


Among the poets of my generation from the former soviet former dirty war current troubles current jihad ethnic cleansing poets journalists professors survivors sliding in and out of prisons shelters mental wards community centers schools


                                                                                                               I have no language to speak this beyond
                                                                                                               or in some personal knowing
                                                                                                               to say yes it's like that with me too

                                                                                                               in time
                                                                                                               how we've been together
                                                                                                               will grow to resemble a way
                                                                                                                        to linger to pass by
                                                                                                               especially to laugh
                                                                                                               that heartiest absurd brief moment
                                                                                                               that the world didn't get us
                                                                                                                                                glance or gaze
                                                                                                               look of knowing they didn't kill us yet
                                                                                                               or even if they did it didn't matter
                                                                                                               in those first ephemeral signs of a smile
                                                                                                               just to laugh


Assalamu alaikum


The photographer's hunched over his camera screaming, That's it! The same moment Big Nana shifts to her champion bowling pose Mikls Radnti is being exhumed from a mass grave, blood mixed with mud was drying in my ear, his last poem I'm reading in the bulb flash, blood-crusted from his overcoat pocket. Underdeveloped glimpse of Anna Akhmatova staring out of the torpor common to all of us in those days, faint smile of the woman who gave birth to me, her lips blue from the cold. That was a time when the dead could smile. My old man exhales a plume of cigar smoke, the afternoon is all fallen plaster, black stones, dry thorns. The afternoon has a difficult color made up of old footsteps halted in mid-stride. Yannis Ritsos coughs up a glob of tubercular phlegm. That's me, second to the left, spiking my flat-top with the palm of my hand, squeezed between Kafka and Calvino, who prop me up between sense and direction. Of course I'm late for school. Everything I need and reach for as I'm racing for the door breaks off in my hands. When I grab the door it doesn't open. It doesn't open, and I wake up running through the neighbors' yards where women are hanging sheets on clotheslines I brush, tangle, and, pumping my arms, lift myself off the ground, up, clear of the clotheslines, clear of the power lines. I'm treading the air above a crowd of tiny people who are chasing me when I wake up standing in the wings of an auditorium being introduced as a very important person I don't recognize and I've grown a beard. Walking out across the stage I'm not wearing any clothes. The house is packed with everyone in a tux or a gown with hairdos, I walk behind the podium feeling protected as I begin to read from a sheet of paper all the words are mixed up and what comes out of my mouth is gibberish when I wake up peeing the bed I'm covered with seeds it's my birthday and I'm 50 years old all my friends are teenagers



Copyright Craig Czury
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