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Ryan Kuhn / Poem

from Cairns and Basins

'to set out with'

Word arrow
                        released with aim
            on the bow of
                                      breath, I
exhale, release--
             obsidian edge
             maple straight
             feather flight--
the finger should
                          do nothing more
than get out of
                          the way
            Breathing starts
with stone
                        from up-valley
            Jack Pine along
                        the Great Road
            Rainbow Mountains
glass rock pressed
            flakes in buckskin
                        ink in pulp
the craftsman
                        the hunt
            in silence
Everything begins
                                      in song
chest drum beats
                        under a blanket of flesh
I track and am fast
                        hunted, searching and searched for
            words allowed
into the circle,
                        one eye on my tongue
            Breathing starts
with the tree
                        on river's bank
            granite stone
                                    sits on edge
  of the bed--
             water wheel
carve round
what grows
            inside out
                        a notch
at each end
            binds the air
What is the object
                        of the goal--
to set out with
                                                out aim
            roll the foot
                        on its side
            through alder leaves
mist from the mouth
for a trail
            of tracks
            Breathing starts
with the wind
                         that makes
the wing--
                         a thin star
guides the moon
            onto the horizon
an arrow's path
                        of bird's flight
The first song
                                                a dream
of my grandmother
                        Clearwater Falls
            into the Umpqua
                        nika moosum nanitch
                        Sahalie Tyee

            a small bundle of tobacco
                        An arrow shot
straight into the sky
and falls back
            hitting the mark--
that is all
            the explanation
                        that can be offered
It is not the hand
it is not the stone
it is not the tree
it is not the bird--
            the kill is none of these
the kill is all of these,
Of these
                        the song
and name
            cannot be
the name
            we cannot call
the kill
                        the name

                                            Faint tracks in a clay turned to stone;
                                            it will take awhile



162, S/SE

Ambling orchards removed I admire upwards granite and scree where snow heights settle in slides-- there alder, fir and willow seem more of me-- my words merely come as echoes-- I walk here easily-- sudden bells of bird song remind me of Jason's letter: "orientation of sentience that has extinguished desire and strives for clarity in perception seems at times too clear . . . but what is felt in the one who has to say the words--" stride comes merely as a proportion of terrain as out here feet could clamor on and I am trying not to be precise-- yet apple trees still seem as real

Intuition as itself,
                                        not even
                            a word
            some       thing
the first strawberry of summer, mmm!




Late spring snow
            chestnut chickadees
gather and flee
            among cedars--
                        cars leave
to town
            the hollow
                        space where daily
            tracks of ritual
                        ice scraping
Recollection rehash
                    yesterday how
one measures out
            eyes of the Sun--
            Moon     face
            mirror of:
    -'how do you do it?'
    -'that is my art'
East winds hold
                        still the lakes, move
            weather to sea
and the affects of trees--
            how thoughts
send seeds into
                        this flow
            as if they were
even something
            less actual
the hunter's silhouette
                    arms outstretched
like an eagle
                    through himself--
                wolf below
raven above
negative space, a
                all the more
or less:
In town down
                        by Bentick Arm
            to the Pacific
                                        delta widens
blows open
            boats rocking in their slips
                                        across from
hollow cannery
                                        once was
            little China Town
                                        over there
opium pipes
                    among the cinders
            under white
It is a quality
            of the past
            to paint snow
alone it is to be
                        and poor
            as ancestors
came and went quickly
            like a season
what stays in me
    empty as a brush stroke
                        and gives
            a fullness to be
here, as always
This estuary
                        pilings stand
                        the pattern
in which
            a fingernail
            after death
'It is your center,
            your chi '
            he says--
precision is not
                        a compromise
            of inspiration:
                        whatever comes
or to which you arrive
            like R.G.'s
`All we saw was
Where there was to go
Not where we'd never get'

Lu Tzu said
`The country which is nowhere is the real home'

            no                      where
            now                   here
            on the edge of this
                                    sea and stone
language lapping
                    to its thinnest


54, NE

Liquored up loose lipped the rattling pundits over every dart pool room Legion hazy late afternoon teachers and officials of government gratuity rabble rouse the windowless existence of the work week release-- country time juke box the lonely lox of her laugh roll in the swaying heads of over-alled over-hauled loggers and noose-tied numbed capitalist gentry ventilating over yarns of a weekly throe--

            Tin roof
            on and on
            the rain



'that that does'

`What's wrong with a title?'
            --I saw a man
                  march down
some avenue his

                  sign read
            `No Protesting'

'Everything is water
if you look
                long enough--'
R. Creeley
'Why the East?'
                --I always dug
                        for China playing
in my sandbox
            as a child
that that does
not last closest
'What do they leave?'
                 --only the useless
Rainbows follow
as much as
`What holds it together?'
                        -moon plays ocean
Harps              Bells                      Drums
'we happen to be little walking seas'
            six chords
a finger on a crystal lip--
            every drink
higher notes of space,
                         bit more tipsy--
Spill                  Over              Edge
One question good enough
                        deserves a book of answers:
the ones
            that cannot be answered--
                        we'll just let them
                                    run amuck
A pumice mind
stone floats
`So you're one of them--'
          no, I'm one of me