George Moore

In the Shadow of
“God, if I could fathom
the guts of shadows!
William Carlos Williams, “Sub Terra”

For every Syrian there is a darkness
we here, among the birds, do not understand.

For all Iraqis, as if one, there is a moment
in time that consumes all the times we have.

For each Turk, there is a desert across which
tanks can roam. For each Kurd, the same,

but of a different direction. I stand on the shore
and think of the slow accumulation of dread

that fills the outer world, and want to become
sand, cupped hands of sea water, an abandoned shell.

For every Israeli, there is the darkness bred
in the land, but the neighbors are their shadows.

For every Nigerian, there is a Boko Haram,
older than decades, covered by the myth of night.

For every Libyan, there is the moment after,
slices of darkness as from shuttered light.

Out of these, decades of one life
become conscious of others, under the eclipse.

I stand on a patch of ground never fused
with the heat of bombs, or terror. The fish

are all that die, and the luckless fisherman,
tumbling like forgotten gymnasts into the sea.

St. Joseph and The Virgin
The Virgin and Saint Joseph
have lost their castanets…
Federico Garcia Lorca, “Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard”

Say an ancient curse for figuration
produced idiotic icons, figures perceived

through the haze of faith. What Byzantine
did not make-believe that truth was red and gold?

The man half the size of the child,
the mother like a doll, eyes focused on the air.

The artist perhaps questions the resurrection,
and paints the alien’s face in green.

Joseph’s hands bruised the color of wine,
but poor wine, and that odd child, impossible

to tell its age. If possible, the poet paints
a similar moment in miniature.

Byzantine ironist half-conscious of the life
that should be remembered, transformed,

the full-grown man carried
in the crook of his father’s arm.

Figures in the Painting Representing Magic

Make sure you are in the right place.

You should be just about here, thirty meters before the painting,
at the correct stop for your camera,

or, waiting for the bus, or busted for the right crime,
whatever your case,

it is important to get off this page.

Note the impossibilities captured in the gesture of a hand,
in a book, in wet hay and cobbles, next to the girl with red hair.

Take your choice. The angels are among us the painter said,
like moths wet from the rain, diving into flames for heat.

The language is the vehicle caught in the mud of the text.

The sacred paintings of the period cast doubt
on the sacred paintings of the period before,

and in that, there is magic.

We all might be so lucky as to fall, like Icarus,
into the sea of the imagination. Or does imagination begin with the sea?

In the painting, the women are going to the tomb
but the stone has been rolled away. Such is the risk you take in the world.

You must leave this page immediately.

Ars Poetica

Alexander the Great was lowered in a glass bell into the sea
off India, in order to see how the other world lived.

In the East, he hoped that art would somehow settle his nerves
and then he would go home. It took longer than any imagined.

The good doctor-poet and Paterson New Jersey promoter
believed it would be a new meter, and dreamed the three footed beast.

Wile E. Coyote later took a dive from a seemingly impossible height
and survived due to the nature of art.

I keep search here for Alexander’s grand bell and finding
only the telephone, first static in the ear of human nature.

The Locke Body-Block to Hobbs

Morality, a fine animal at one time, an natural thing
that moved through the house to warm itself at his fire.

Came one day to roost amid its enemies, time and free will;
pulled down from the heavens, it could not escape.

The right to live as I choose has always been a mistake
in grammar. I’ve had two beasts and both have died tragically,

one by accuracy and the other by insistence. Reading late
into the century, I still find it impossible to free speech.

But perhaps I’m being deceived. Think of the arm-hook sleeper,
the anaconda vise, the fibulator’s belly-shot. That language

of Saturday night specials and forbidden dates.
These are the truths we hold to be self-evident.

George Moore lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia. His recent collections include Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle 2016) and Children's Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015). Nominated for six Pushcart Prizes, and a finalist for both the National Poetry Series and the Brittingham Poetry Award, his work has appeared in Arc, Fiddlehead, Antigonish Review, Orbis, Stand, Valparaiso and the Atlantic.
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