Susan Schultz

Declensions of Is

Transgression as obedience?
What cows do with abiding
faith in grasses, clover,
rough flowers, other alacrities,
wandering ditches in search
of lost regurgitations. Dis-
miss the body?--its ache
significant as heads
on dim days, depressed 
by minor miracles that
don't transcend but merely bend
in wavering signs: footsteps
of God or mere rubbish?
Poets no less accessible 
than relative theorists 
in abstruser disciplines. 
Man the pines! Cones drop 
as partial emblems of 
forgotten seasons. Loves.
Cooks cannot recall
reciting ingredients like
Homeric epithets, not marriage
songs but attempts at salvage
amid self's divorce from world.
Rainbows recover simulacra
from air; it stays put 
nowhere but in Tennessee jars. 
Pickles match taste with puckers, 
pursed lips disclose little 
I couldn't see in videos
where hard rock princes dangle
from chains, concatenated virtue
possible only when citizens
agree morals mirror texts, holy
or otherwise. The last genuflection
a past inflection (as accent 
agitates to define mother tongue
a sequence none hears but those
who've forgotten how in order
to mean one thing, say another).
Crowds hushed, bespeaking grace,
colors ransomed against child's
play of renaming by rereading;
one player dialed at seeming
random to hear her beloved's
voice on a tape, incessant,
same syllables over and anon,
speaker anonymous, "you have
reached our home, leave
your number after tones."
Make-up conflates color
and fantasm; no narrative,
just impulse. Given time,
moments uncage specificities 
of loss. Only forget, she says, 
too easily; history, like the dog,
broods over notions unfit
to print. Distraction is sub-
traction, inadequate to show
method as any but inordinate
chaos. Is also revelation.
He is in the yard? I knew
transference was strong, but
my parents reborn local
Chinese, and I their only
child, abiding chaos as a noun
I'd gladly relinquish to
grammarians? A few dollars
down, and we should have
the place ready--just take
the key and open to a room
beside the swiftly embodied
sea (other shapes than meet
the airborne eye emerge, con-
fuse visionaries with mere
lookers-on); is one better
than the other, asks the
pragmatist (so sensible!)
choosing them both as
necessary as ice in summer
tea; and do rappers speak
succinctly as kids in class,
lest teachers scold, claim
the ruination of our tongue,
like the statue of a man
on a horse with no legs, no head!
Is it time did this, or we?
Laughter is only hygienic,
cleanses sight with
interruption, conniptions
my mother says, in fits.
Teach me that well!
An island stays put, though
they thought it floated
like a bobbin on its thread,
act of lamentation and delight,
permanence of always
in making what is for now.