Michael Ruby


There’s a man with a goatee
A few gray hairs among the stringy black hairs

A bicycle racer, bearing down on me, seems to have wings
All of them bearing down on me seem to have wings
Manmade wings, not angel wings or bird wings

Water bubbles on the right side of a pond

Sketchy beings
Sketchy mountains
Sketchy seaways
It’s darker than usual
Electricity lights the sky and the sea at night
A man has dressed up as a huge flower
His face just a small point in the middle of a gigantic rose
How can his neck support so much weight?

There’s a gray horse’s head against a blue night sky
The head evaporates
A cloud is lit by the moon it obscures

A flame shoots out the top of a volcano, out of someone’s head, out of a cigarette lighter
The flame turns into a broad ray of light shining down
The eyes of a clown with an electric green face
Two black phone lines cross below the overhanging vines
An old car pulls into the place
A horseman rides into the place
A big black spider appears at night
“He knew there was a big black spider in the darkness”
When is it so dark we can’t see a thing?

A multicolored elk
A multicolored sheep
A glowing white mushroom enlarges and then shrinks
A bush in the middle of the forest has a milky glow
They are beings trying to get back
Coming to an event
At the top of the sky
I can’t make out what or who they are
They’re puffs, tufts, like transitory clouds
A house comes into view for a moment and disappears
Clouds sail rapidly overhead in the darkness
It’s all clouds now
But somewhere off to the left, far to the left, the world will begin again
It’s so dark it could be a false dawn
But I know it isn’t

A horse, all caparisoned, heads toward me in a blond light
The carriage heads toward me, at a processional speed

This huge egg of light weighs the hemlock branches down to the ground
This huge egg of light, not the egg of a dinosaur, but the egg of a hill, weighs down this corner of
                the house
The fish’s open mouth is fluorescent
The pig’s head, the horse’s head, glow
The racers have green wings and a transparent bubble for a head
I could duck under their wings and avoid being run over
The small carved crèche glows
The hippopotamus’s lower jaw glows
The cow, cat and owl glow

Silver liquid runs down the rocks
The hidden side of a narrow yellow house
Hills in the distance beyond the steep roof
I have no idea where I am
And I don’t know where I’m going

                                                             August 4, 2008


The most beautiful blue, yellow and red
a large blue fish
and a smaller yellow fish
which turns into a red fish

The blue fish disappears
and there’s only the red fish

                                                             July 8, 2010


A large plowed field
stretches off
a distant valley

A face
looks at us
through the night
the face
of a race car driver
looking up
at the people around
his low car

The sun
off the steel wheels
of the stopped

Blue flowers grow
in the black night
They change shape
from circles to squares
to circles to squares

It’s night now
The sky is very black
The sky
is a black
The sky
is a black cliff
Is the sun
going to rise
from below
our world?

We are lost
among red stars
enveloped by them
We are caught
in a thick web
of red stars
We get wet in it

There’s a small
glass window
in a metal door
down a long corridor

Have you ever seen a
made of
blue sky?

The nose cone
of a
pokes towards us
It looks like
the brown center
of a black-eyed Susan

Something is there
in the gray space
just beneath
the porch roof

A pink sail
in the night

It’s a place where
you’re never sure
what you’re seeing
Is that a tree
the road
or something else?
What’s it like there
at the base
of the trees
in the woods?
There’s surprisingly little

The pupils
of his eyes
looked like
As if he were
a doll
or a robot

                                                             August 16, 2011


The world is brown
in danger of catching fire from below

There is a blue wisp
perhaps a TV screen
in the brown depths

There is a creature
with a
blue head
and big
orange hair
all orange

A flower
with a
darker orange
in the middle

What do we want to see
in this remarkable blue sky?
What do we want to feel?


There’s a thin pink
diagonal being
in the darkness
all muscle
a fully extended rabbit

A brown profile
sits in the wan sunlight
just the right amount of sunlight

There is something
blue in the night
a blue star
a blue
three-dimensional star
made out of netting
so the air goes through it
so it’s not wholly substantial

An orange skeleton
lives under an orange sky
under an orange and black sky
under a black
and orange sky
under a
black sky

                                                             August 20, 2011


There’s a powdery
that turns black
and then
a giant
with the biggest
made of blonde wood

there is
a purple square
a light gray square
and then
black all around
a round white mist
in the center
that could
become a head
but doesn’t

You ever call us that
a man’s voice threatens

Look into the dark green depths

A man
holds his little daughter’s hand
She doesn’t reach his waist yet

                                                             July 20, 2012


There’s an overstuffed brown couch
against a darker brown wall
a small yellow window
high up on the right

See, that is a painting
a brown couch against a brown wall
a small yellow window
That is a painting
the beginning of a whole oeuvre of paintings

These agreements tire us
Our agreements tire us

So they got him before they called him up

I’m not sure what I’m seeing right now
in this pea-soup atmosphere
but it makes me feel very sympathetic
very sympathetic to someone there

The ocean through skinny palm trunks
an image from Hawaii

A blonde woman getting off a bus
with a long thick braid running down her back
and large brown sunglasses

They better not say them

A bougainvillea bush conceals a doorway
It’s my niece Abby’s house in Los Angeles

                                                             July 29, 2012


A yellow construction vehicle
forced me to slow down
on a country road
I swung around it on the left
and back into the lane
It was right after that
a blue sports car shot out
from a little road on the right

                                                             July 10, 2013

Michael Ruby is the author of six full-length poetry collections, including At an Intersection (Alef Books, 2002), Window on the City (BlazeVOX [books], 2006), The Edge of the Underworld (BlazeVOX, 2010), Compulsive Words (BlazeVOX, 2010), American Songbook (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013) and The Mouth of the Bay (BlazeVOX, 2019). His trilogy in prose and poetry, Memories, Dreams and Inner Voices (Station Hill Press, 2012), includes ebooks Fleeting Memories (Ugly Duckling, 2008) and Inner Voices Heard Before Sleep (Argotist Online, 2011). He is also the author of the ebooks Close Your Eyes (Argotist, 2018) and Titles & First Lines (Mudlark, 2018), and four chapbooks with the Dusie Kollektiv, including The Star-Spangled Banner. He co-edited Bernadette Mayer’s collected early books, Eating the Colors of a Lineup of Words (Station Hill, 2015), and Mayer’s and Lewis Warsh’s prose collaboration Piece of Cake (Station Hill, 2020). He lives in Brooklyn and works as an editor of U.S. news and political articles at The Wall Street Journal.
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