Michael Ruby

         from   VISIONS

I have entered a land of gold auras
Nights of gold static

A horse in the distance
In the sunny field beyond the fence

A troop rides toward me on horses
With their bells and whistles
A multitude
Riding into a city 
Like in a Renaissance print

There’s a light half of the room
And a dark half of the room
The light half on the right
A mixture of lime green and gray

Was that lightning?

Animals fight in the dark
They make me twitch

Frogs with glowing faces in the water at night
Wolves with glowing faces
Their teeth bared
In the water at night

Something at the end of the darkness
A small gold statue shining
A statue of a star

A gigantic black mushroom grows in the night
Inexplicable light
Lights up one area or another of the ocean

Where does the light come from 
that faintly lights the ceiling 
and no other part of the room?

A loud river at the bottom of the ravine

A white stripe
Straight down the middle of the night
A crude white stripe
That dissolves back into the night

A car drives away
Down a road
In a wooded suburb
A bit of exhaust in the air

A strip of photos

Slot machines spinning

A red door with a blue doorknob
And then slowly, the room turns bright yellow

A tan high rise is reflected in a lake
A glowing tan high rise
An old car drives along the edge of the lake
A ’50s Buick

Walls of green mud

For once, I can see everything
The tiny reticulations

Whatever it is
Tufts of grass
A cliff

A great confusion
At the bottom of a cloud castle

Light reaches into this nether world
Through a ground-floor window
A silver light

A fake highway
With fake signs
Brighter than normal colors
Everything made of plastic
More signs than needed

I’m floating in a dreamland here
With dark terrapin clouds
A school of turtles

Outside in a garden at night
Big-leaved tropical plants overhead

A snowy field rising at night
Green in the moonlight

A small purple square
In the middle of the dark green
It slowly disappears

There are things I don’t know
Can never understand

What is over the waterfall
In the foggy canyon?

Up the driveway
In the porch on the right side of house

The sleeper is restless
Bombarded in a way
We are not bombarded
In waking life
Little surprise
The sleeper writhes

Before steep cliffs
In a Utah national park

A horizontal white board in the middle of the black
It expands
It contracts
It rotates
It begins to turn into a flower

A bright purple box
The most beautiful color in the world
In the middle of a pale-lime circle
And then black beyond
Purple box, lime circle, black beyond

Now a three-dimensional baroque effect
Vines hung over stone fences

Moonlight on a swampy lake

A silver animal
With antlers
So festooned
With flowers and vines
I can’t tell
Which animal it is

Something very complex
Carved from ivory
A gargoyle
Emerging from the crotch
Of a larger figure
Leaning back in a chair
Boccioni’s “La Risata”

Lying on my back
At the bottom of a pool
I can see everything happening above me

The sun splinters into a world of gold fountains
Giant gold snowflakes break off the upper branches of the fountains
Fall and catch on the lower branches

There’s something about the way the light illuminates
The partly open theater curtain
The Victorian house with a turret visible onstage
It seems to light up more than three dimensions
It’s like you can see four dimensions of the scene
Would that be time-lapse photography?
A movie?

The trail comes out into the open
High orchards
Stone fence posts

People stream
Into the tall arched doorway 
Of a castle

An animal
Poses on top of a ladder
In a fancy room
Like in a Velasquez painting
Is it a dog?
It has big ears that point straight up
It’s a rabbit
With the face of
Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman

A weathered face
Lincoln’s face
Ringed by hair

Now a gorilla’s face

Something hideous
A dead cow’s face
A monster’s face
A huge bird or dragon towering over me

I’m floating in a dreamland here
I saw some things—what were they?
Rural places, fields and hills
As far as the eye can see
What do we see or hear?
It’s early dawn or late dusk
Astral dawn or astral dusk

A brilliant patch of light on the path

A lit-up wall
Rough concrete
Maybe the side of a museum

A bright area in the middle of the night sky

As the ivy grows up our fences
We become almost incapable of moving

Something is going to happen
In the center of this dust

What you want are the branches of small trees
With small fruits
The color of nectarines
But smaller

The brightness of certain places
Certain corridors
Shocks me
I don’t know how to live in these spaces
That section of the street is just too bright
Why is it so bright?
Is there a phone booth there?
A bus stop?

The clouds come from different places
They have different agendas
I don’t fully understand
How they fit together
Except that they do fit together
And the wind is…. 

Was that a shooting star?
Is this the astral light at the end of sunset?

Is it possible everything is made of feathers?
Everything has feathers sticking out
The chairs, the walls, the rugs
Is that possible?
Tawny feathers
The color of lions

Whose face struggles to come into view?
Paul von Hindenburg’s

Is there a great depth to this lake?
Is it one of the Great Lakes?

Can anything but slugs flourish in this moist land?

Mold or signs of wetness
On the walls in the dark

Just a cloud above a chariot
Both…who knows when
…across the ceiling
All the…
All the grand dining rooms

Are we each riding elephants?
A soldier’s face
A woman’s face
With very pointed features
In the…

Is there a white face in the midst of the darkness?
Long white beard
Long white locks
One eye
In the middle of the head
Surrounded by a triangle

                                            September 28, 2009

Michael Ruby is a poet, literary editor and journalist. He is the author of seven poetry books, most recently Compulsive Words (BlazeVOX, 2010), American Songbook (Ugly Duckling, 2013), The Mouth of the Bay (BlazeVOX, 2019) and The Star-Spangled Banner (Station Hill, 2020). His trilogy in prose and poetry, Memories, Dreams and Inner Voices (Station Hill, 2012), includes ebooks Fleeting Memories (Ugly Duckling, 2008) and Inner Voices Heard Before Sleep (Argotist Online, 2011). His other ebooks are Close Your Eyes (Argotist, 2018) and Titles & First Lines (Mudlark, 2018). He co-edited Bernadette Mayer’s early books, Eating the Colors of a Lineup of Words (Station Hill, 2015), and Mayer’s and Lewis Warsh’s collaboration Piece of Cake (Station Hill, 2020), and he is co-curator of the Station Hill Intermedia Lab. He worked for many years as an editor of U.S. news and political articles at The Wall Street Journal.
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