Rob McLennan Poems







The crispness of the night remains at the bottom, a vanished design.

Nature is not mute:

††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† : The growth rhythm of ferns, vines, and orchids forms

the infrastructure of memory. The silhouettes of flowers glow, a melody

somehow impresses the mind centered in the heart, not the head. The tune

leaves a trace, an engram, that lasts until

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† input is throughput

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† once a tropical sea.

††††††††††† The tapir, the jaguars, the peccaries descend to drink:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† : how the

mental map is retained and then one slice of scalpel and the rat through

the maze is assaulted by the strange. The memory of the maze degraded

like a reader accumulating rock and sand, compacted over time, then lost,

trying to tell people what itís like to see green when they donít see green.

††††††††††† Many millions of years ago a light flew behind broken clouds, a blue

pillar of light so bright eyes could not distinguish it:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† : each time Penfield

stimulated the spot, an earlier time was related, and every time this spot was probed

the same event was repeated,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† but sometimes they sounded like hallucinations or

debris thrown mystically from the blast raining down on the earthís

surface. Salt crystals levitated. Corals rose above the atmosphere to veil

the moment of a shift, the quiet heat intensifying

††††††††††††††††††††††† so that I remember the blue mat of Minnesota lake water

††††††††††††††††††††††† so that I remember the frozen cold of blueberries on my teeth

††††††††††††††††††††††† so that I remember the skin beneath my teacherís dress

††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† the same color as one of my crayons

††††††††††††††††††††††† so that I remember the hurt in my mouth after braces tightened.

††††††††††††††††††††††† Timid mammals swarmed, evolving to fill a niche:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† : one neuron

†††††††††† fires another:

††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† : the descending water, acidified by the decaying

††††††††††† humus on the forest floor, dissolved channels in the limestone.

††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† [the Machiavellian abyss of human emotion]

††††††††††† †† †††††††† †††A monument of scars along the rim shows the detonation

††††††††††††††††††††††† †† rivaled the size of the highest lunar craters:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† : an electrical

††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† shock to the nervous system makes the rat hypersensitive

††††††††††† ††† to touch,

††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† like the time I was nine and visited

††††††††††† the moon where I felt the dust invading my pores.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The hum of the breast pump has gone missing

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† from my catalog of sounds:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† : the map of the world

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† disappears with the help of a beautiful little switch.

††††††††††††††††††††††† In the Yucatan jungleís sun gaps, the blue waters

††††††††††††††††††††††† pool, now exposed to the sky:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† : once the ratís control

††††††††††††††††††††††† loop was disconnected, it became too distracted to

††††††††††††††††††††††† finish any one task. Its behavior was open,

††††††††††††††††††††††† unburdened by the memory of anything it had learned,

††††††††††††††††††††††† but eventually the stupid animal recovered:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† : the fault

††††††††††† line, vanished, hints at the trauma:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† : my friend in

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† fifth grade who never told the truth

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† after his father left them,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† said he broke his leg

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† fishing: later as an adult

††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††† he was indicted

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† for embezzlement.




Hear Tim Kahl's reading of Cenotť on SoundCloud.



Tim Kahl is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009) and The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012). His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, Notre Dame Review, The Journal, Parthenon West Review, and many other journals in the U.S. He appears as Victor Schnickelfritz at the poetry and poetics blog The Great American Pinup and the poetry video blog Linebreak Studios. He is also editor of Bald Trickster Press and Clade Song. He is the vice president and events coordinator of The Sacramento Poetry Center. He currently teaches at The University of the Pacific. He currently houses his father's literary estateóone volume: Robert Gerstmann's book of photos of Chile, 1932).




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