Selections from Transfixion by Bill Lavender



sir or madam president
vice-president & treasurer
horror is but one of your
charming fripperies

hand-picked from a red matte
this house of the great witch
this moment of life & flood
& flattery out of the bathroom now

I'm dressed as a rose
to entice & burn
to disturb your universe
as trumpets join chorus

no matter who it is
in ocean light or dark
that old age wastes
sitting in the sun alone

where you cross
to the temple of artemis
a creek-washed stone
coalesces with history

death to be sure but somehow
like redbirds
miracle bird or golden hawk
teeming river & tree


spangles two hundred sixty years old
yours for the taking
bring your self home to your
self enter the garden

as if it were all
mine shall we sail
round & round
shoulders & beard scapula &

engine an engine
with thin fingers
fit instrument
for a world reclaimed
from beasts

& the fiction of
a voice beyond boundaries

days feel like marches
form after formless form
back & forth
so various so beautiful so new

setting down these lines
to punish you

all that man is
a breath a chance at
ripples calling
on a vacant lot at sundown after work


event horizon

face up he rolls
a wide-open fall
where nothing exists but
the time of year

letting go of branches
tugging at the way
like a river that hurls
toward unremembered pleasures

he recognized the valley
at peace in nature & language
his sangfroid self a frond
returned to a high strand

man—what a feeble tenant
what part of yourself can’t be
hauled in a shroud
or voices can't worm through

poplars stand still as death
like a turn or gesture
a headdress of fresh flowers
or a story without plot

a river sings
even at dark
even on the ocean floor of taboo
even out of mirrors that stare

& make you aware of whose bellies
leave the half-trees torn & twisted
I do not think things through
when I take to the river

ours is the wedding-garment
ours the shroud
ours the movie of a shadow play
as quick as if the vision touched you



kite & wilderness what
joy to measure
in a cave
her silken flanks w/
garlands drest then
bang & we emerge
with barfly remorse

a whisper dies
the meaning of her black eyes
the richness of her manner
the slightly dishonorable past

in the day she feeds birds
but hasn't got
the holes half full
what difference does it make
if her firmament spills into the room

on the french coast
I will stand a long time
recovering pleasure
the heavy surface
of what was said
by the oral to
the written
indecipherable cause
neither arnold’s intersection
nor whitman’s simple folk

we'll walk through the valley
through the herbs & sweet-cress
though I will feel lost
waters from mountain springs
trail between love & state
a confirming skin
a temple to colonize

my probe into your anus
ovalness where my love
is the age-old rock star
becomes an autobiography

a male is not less nor more
a flow of clear liquid
official greeter
a loss that will not seem so

dancing on your breast amorous & slippery
I was ten when you buried me
& the gates of the body
with two cracked handles

secret writing
trails from the heaven you create


meme war

let’s begin at the beginning
        diaper pins in my fist
where else do we do
soundings but here

        lily song
        willing & yielding
quivering when it comes time for you to
lower your eyes

I had to kill you
in that rhythm
        & now sex is what
        does it for me
& for you
suspended in sleep
skin so fine
or finally dreamed

              the train clicked & sighed

I want to be buried in it
like the severed head
of an outlaw
        like the doctor
        of past existence
sculptor of private needs
fact paralyzed by fact

from self-awareness
embedded in situ
to end up dreams touching
where we lie sleeping
under a bridge

        there were so many birds
the bushbank
grew still as we urged
our paper-weight hearts
our cheek maps of outworn days
through shining trees
        mistaking cultural history for a
        sensual tale our
bloodshot drunkard's eye
seemed to give
a summary to the plants

        dailies on the corner
        on every side of
        the making of heroes
manchildness &
tricycle treads scribble
the nuclear son
born of woman
        man born of woman

before I begin again
put me where
I can’t hear the plans
like sparrows in a cloudless
starless lake of blue



come taste this
fruit little gunner
he said
sailing like
a blind fool
his fake neutral air
drowned in a book
a crook in town
to repent but
it was too late
in the cold living room
to take off
his tie
to touch
the strange lumps
beneath the pine

                blackbirds boozy
                the emperor's drunken
                soldiery abed
                seen over &
                over same old
                sea same old
                shrill & summery
                that even in
                slumber caused
                his cheek to
                glow every man every

woman carries
this filament
life predestined
surly & interested like
the coming-on of rain

                I infect with
                meaning something exact
                as reality's dark
                dream when the
                lanterns go out
                the matching skullcap
                & map of brain
                his peat-brown head

music from a far off room
like these
mountains this
infinite movement
mingling with all
sound all
thought the dull
sobbing draft
that moans the
image of your
public self

                hoarse from
                days drinking
                anticipating a message
                to the armies of
                those engulfed
                in black water

why does his mind
envy reed & hawthorne
is it to have
a point again
arranging & changing
& placing the eye
again dehumanized

                he has a dozen hands
                & pollackesque friends
                to make germinate
                language as
                a choir of worms
                saying names
                like money spent
                on misconceptions
                whose silver cargo
                vision banished

when they pulled
me from the sack
I reeked of you
I defiled you
the ways you live
your secrets of life
joined in spite
in the attics of
old houses
proud full of verse
what little town
by river or sea
gates the flaming
word that is yourself

                what pursuit what
                struggle to escape
                cuffed & clawed
                but not crying
                what wilderness future
                light of our knowledge
                yields this penelope
                who would reduce
                our banter to
                rules of probability

planted on a star-lit
golden bough
the necessary
the tap
the tap that
nothing satisfies
but self remembering
self its former height
its discordant strains
its brain that ink
may mark with vine-boughs

                he lay
                back eyes closed
                the eyes of
                youth to roll
                it is a journey he said
                of the curious
                not to be wed forever
                but like one who watches
                down the row of
                statues to see
                the divine nimbus
                a music
                a rose colored

we took our seats
& ghosts & armies
came down

                green butterflies
                from the age of love

shadows of
earthly vehicles

                the sea of air
                the perfumed
                agony of a trance

you who gave me
my first you

                you where I is
                a roomful of clothes

flame that no
fuel feeds nor
steel has lit

                flame from
                before the surprise
                before affection &

your body

                your loves

your farewell



collective agency even at home
for elegy elephants
riding seaward
bobbin bound in mummy-cloth

slight is subject slight is praise
a fatted wanderer through wood
a broken manifold
a certain time selected & assured

I loosen myself pass freely
as a little child
while about the shore
those that cling ripen

suauiolum dulci dulcius ambrosia
cut to the knot-core of his heart


revisited soul
refusing to believe
a former self’s
airport rituals
a purple ribbon
on the bed
till we are
all recolonized
it is a war
for this world

to keep it
to keep
the it
not to think
not to remember
not to discover
the opal light
along the bank

plots of cottage-ground
iris of
guardian of my
earliest & happiest

small silences
the true
brain in its folds
inside the skull-frame
lorry of passion
& lapsed intention

who’s imagined
& seeing
gossip from the ghost

solidity of bark
leaf or wall
made me
dream of happiness
cradled in these
arms & eyes

& the temple
in the mountain
wants accuracy
wrong in the mind
& in the bowels
the groans
of trampled men
dumb in the
bright morning