Friday, April 8, 2011

from Helsinki by Peter Richards

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In time I came to see death was the hay
binding one soldier to another and my own
death would appear partially lit as during
a nighttime operation the moon barely attends
whereas I with new density carry on as before 
again I go razing Tanagra so plainly familiar
to me that it does sit upon my own reflection
and all about me on deck where my double
does well so the spoils and I can finally make
it just this or that way for a while never mind
the snipers the charges and this loose cloud
of animal gadgetry eating air and chrome alike
until absent any ship garrison or wish to remain
we set out with our lancets on idle command

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When we came upon this large orange hide
staked to the ground by three orange feathers
I knew one of our boys lay headless beneath it
but from the air who could tell he was one
of my own or that I would come to remember
his face what restraint he brought to my tent
at night his anxiety that seemed to smile upon
me same way a white dot begins to ripen inside
this one mountain of Nice a face of sad orange
decorative stone where I lay surviving the prattle
but losing the kiss until finally I gave his name
to the mountain the campaign all night the full
story how for sixteen hours I hung from the beams
of the parliament ceiling and while the jeering
population looked on I could hear in the blackout
the plan for one day holding their lives in my hand


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Possibly a human face grows intensely black
when excited for I was carried inside a blackened
little ship of playing fields and hives involving
practical guides to civilization in the white dot’s
presence I felt this ongoing chance to be neglected
I was being photographed by a flag of especially
crying six-thousand men each one having deserted
the patriotic part of a lion for now on they study
my life as a papal state and consider it my duty
to maintain a forcibly shaved militia between two
families there’s a ball we can touch together during
the party one of the oarsmen rolled me a cigarette

when he stood up I could see his waist was enchanted


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For gulls sitting a score at a time
my mouth carried a broad arcade
and so rich was the slaughter
afterwards nothing could imagine
my body a late plentiful number
saying would that I was your true
cause to love your rose so deep
was the torchlight in consultation
with itself that dawn was that
twice tied odious trumpet
my tent did fetch itself a city
and to his mood I let out the gulls
thinking it unnatural as his mouth
sought out my fingers in the metals
ribbons and bright hooks I undid


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Or if the large body of a boatswain
had come to my assistance but I was
shot down and plied with a spade
or that I go to a hospital to see how
a body might suffer in life I suffered
very little I had no idea how terrible
a body could be mostly what I recall
is taking great pleasure being your hand
especially your hand which is the mean
flower of Italian youth day and night
I follow you like a mound of falconry
that cannot follow or stand being
regarded until passing a solitary farm
house I burst a mild burst and flew out
over the mound filling your hair
with backbreaking nearness it was
impossible to be held for 200 times
and when the boatswain’s large body
wept ceaselessly into my body I felt
afterwards faithfully observed and never
to be abandoned by gods or the 300
north’s where I can stretch out my body
and enjoy equally assailants and combs





(from his book Helsinki, Action Books, 2011)

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