Tom Clark



Echoes rebound in the ancient ball court
Against the wind singing in the trees
There is a silent helmetted adversary
Flames glimmer from his deep eye slots

Moths swirl upon glass as if to speak
One sits solitary by the lamp hour by hour
The gleam that keeps the night awake falters
Time as it passes fills up with something else

Invisible gaps open to the past
The clock does not strike as expected
The cavalcade has dispersed without lament
Words have been forsaken by their letters

But day and night still struggle on
And though day noisily contend
At the end shadow stands alone
Masked in the dark clearing waiting


The Two Lords

On a golden dais laid over broken stones in the declining shadow
Between the rising of the Evening Star and the setting of the Morning Star
In the time of the invader the time of the Smoking Mirror the time of Burning Water
When each must embrace the fate that has been coded
Two battle-clad chiefs meet to wrangle over cosmic strategy
Lord One offers the hand of war a lifted fist with index finger upraised
Lord Two offers the hand of submission an open palm extended
The two lords their attitudes fixed unchanging in the foretime
Unchanging in the afterlife as in this life through which we must yet live


As If Anything Could Happen

At a dark portal between cosmic realms
A wizard found himself stood up by the Morning Star
Evening his element as the Rain God's is water.

She who has the power of giving flowers
Promises everything is alive to the world
As long as the night sky stays fresh and new.

But if the Moon Goddess drown in a waterlily
And burning clouds fall in a heavy curtain
On dry leaves drifting and blowing over blue sands

Her low pressing voice will disturb the wind
With troubled words to which the Morning Star
Must attend leaving that patient wizard

In the dark, his element as the Death God's
Is earth he who has awaited her
Since the Time God first bent under

His long miscalculation of numbers and years
Now arrayed again in night tracer fire over Fallujah
Like a cold conflagration of Northern Lights.


In the Time of the Smoking Mirror

A heaven invented as supposed
for the benefit and solace
of the dispossessed, but

always occupied in fact
by the rich the chiefs, and those
with the best tricks

"Only a moment here on earth.
It is untrue that we have come
to live here on earth."

The hand and foot prints on the rock suggest
the presence of unseen
beings who have been here

before us. The air, god-charged.
The words, cut from the same stone
that will lie over us,

have been given only a moment
to prepare that place to
which we have been sent.


The Course of Empire Unwinds

Two hundred millennia and to set foot out of Africa the first mistake
Since then night border patrolling and the whacking of unfamiliars

The work of all those years spent attaching oneself to a tree
The effacing of the white sails that crossed the first prairie

A thousand days glittering with blood in the glass cities
Gem engorged carved amber arcades

Ignored by wave after wave of blind invaders
Evening prepares their ceremonial tombs in sacred waters

Decanted from the lake of black stars and sunken plunder
Its messages rising before them in the false atoms of dreams



A clear night sky steeped in blue and green starlight
Hollow and deep as a huge sea shell flushed from within
And reddening as the rising god once again commands
The drowsy sunflowers to lift their heads and open their black eyes

Teaches us how the world begins all over the earth
How to greet one another in language beyond words
To depart unconcerned with any idea of return and perhaps
To at last begin to speak without not thinking