SIX POEMS by LE FRANCIS
the facade read "moderation,"
white-seam brick & mortar,
a structure a person could trust.
theory is, moderates are better
made. neutrals don't feel their
insides inventing ways outside.
moderation is a house with
a smart roof & clean gutters
& anyone can build it, anyone
can be sheltered by it, can put
a wall between their unwashed
body & the great dirty wild.
but facades have a way of misjudging
the ground & I was always a
thoughtless house. I was thin-skin
painted brick & all I wanted was to be
somehow less permeable, less web-like,
less tragic-sounding. I wanted to hide there,
I wanted to feel comfortable &
unnecessary & beautiful in
an unconventional way, like a
cyprus tree leaning but still
jewel green. but I’m easy to fluster.
I lose count, I come unmeasured.
I'm not a neat house with a heart
that warms evenly around its central
hearth. I'm crumbling walls, spiders
in the wood pile. I'm a pit in the
basement covered with a board &
forgotten. because the ground shifts &
facades move and underneath there’s
always something to answer for,
houses are never as they seem.
We laid our truth inside our verse
& committed our art into the earth;
a long sarcophagus of language,
shovel after shovel-load dropped,
until scars rose, mountains &
valleys shifting oceans aside;
all in the name of staying safe,
the earth a clever pseudonym
for everyone-all really trying hard--
sapped by pine box bodies, agony
in finding the right damn word
over and over, passwords to our
society & a god with our own
face. Until they came,
Gear-over-gear, cosmic fingers
descending, their cutting reach
through the coldest of clouds,
running over our landscapes
with nerves like needles, like
eyes, reading the grooves.
Sprouting wires & branches,
splicing into a sky-stoned amplifier,
the buzz of warming tubes
breathing mud into the drone,
Earth sings, ‘If light exhumes the
truth, best send hope into the dark.’
That’s all they need to hear & we
still fail to understand. “Bury it
deeper,” someone yells, the glass
of our eyes breaking as they speed
away & leave us to our graveyard
planet & everyone-all reels, trimming
heartbreak into the landscape, its
all we know how to do.
So like that we've been found out,
seems so inelegant, so abrupt
to be read like yesterday’s tech;
the final equation of our ideas
solved, revealing the pity of
essence like an echo coming
after the hard part of being.
Still clinging to ideals even after
we carved giants in our shadows
& bade them, sing our songs.
Eta, queen of my nothing,
heart like morning, bridging
the long reach from center
into the lobes of night-sky
where day overflowed.
We’re fortunate, my love,
blessed through distance,
the ache of our gravities
too dear to overcome;
would I fall toward you —
Fall with ears like barbells,
fall uneclipsed & hollowing,
minefields for eyes & half-heart
pulsing to the supernova’s thrum,
I fear, I fear, we would change:
Revelation before distortion,
a shift from heel to toe, foot
& foreleg, stars at the harvest;
solar grapes crushed under
Dionysus’ staggered step.
Indeed, we’re lucky for these
miles for now, for an orbit that
was not ordained to decay. Beg
mercy, I watch you now & should
Castor care to dance, how
fine would the crush be,
a giant branch vintage
aged in a cask of pining.
I met a traveller
She sings to the ruins, soft
voice cooking in the sun —
the imitation of an imitation of
an interpretation of life as translated
through two hands, one brain,
now calcium & loam & speculation.
There are so many highways here,
so many interchanges buried &
forgotten like the ideas that surge &
are lost because I’m driving, hello, or
there isn’t enough caffeine in the world
to wake, wake to make imitation like life
or at least a life I’d know as true — hands
too weary for speculation, joints twisted & ancient
& root-like, digging into the sand as if was my own
memory, telling the tales as they were heard, as a million
dusty eyes knew, momentary harbors for the ruins
& the wind & the goddess who hums her songs.
Leave the measurements
to chance, to the flow of
spring; a gold bowl that
holds against the torrent
of having & refuses
to shrink in the famine
that comes later, or before
when you were just learning
to cope with yourself as
a thing you shrug off like that
kid in high school who called
you out lesbian or his friend who
counted the marks on your
thigh in gym class & assumed
they were erotic instead
of pathetic & so he named
So many ways to wound &
describe it, an art in braiding
surgical text into newsprint. Pain is
evergreen when inflicted
by intention, by tilting lines like
knives; carpals, metacarpals,
all structure united, conspirators
in a plot to grasp until the
thing is dead. But is it the
thing that raises itself, yes?
Neck like a stem, snapped & told
to rise again by Brigid’s narrow
fingers, now new & bright & unaware
of the year beyond spring & so it is
the thing you will shrug off & leave
its measure to the gods who know
the words but choose not to say.
The cross and the lily
the world in my hands
the sea that swept the floor
of the dreaming world
& offered up brokenness,
offered up flesh that stank
of brine and gray;
as we tried to divine future tensions through the grains feeding the beach.
So much rests upon
so much written in
a Salamander’s tail on
the stone floor slithers,
seeking the battlement’s edge.
LE Francis is a multiple medium procrastinator writing from the shadows of the Washington Cascades. Find her online at nocturnical.com.