the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2007



Ravi Shankar


An act of theft, I admit, that compelled me
to pile asters and gladiolas in the car, surfeit
from a dark shed hid on the fringe of Harkness

Mansion, where an upmarket wedding of two
bankers had taken place and I poured drinks.
A full two days later, after flowers had been

planted, jiggers soaked, I reach into the back
seat for a book and discover a twitching dirt-
clod which feels clammy, mucus-moist enough

in my fist that I recoil, unable to grasp hold
of elongated anklebones or breathing skin.
Instead I need to use a rag to scoop and fling.


Encircled by vast panes of tank, fish in transit
like a clock’s second hand, schools ending
where they began to begin again and below,

near pebbled substrate and transplanted sea
grass, a silhouetted parallelogram moves
sinuous as a flapping hawk, space age vessel

all blunt stealth and cartilaginous grace, tail
a whip barbed with fingernail stingers, eyes
flattened away from a vacuum-cleaner mouth.

A ray, in mathematics, extends indefinitely
in both directions; here, fed black worms
by hand, unbounded waveforms embody.


Back to Poetry