the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Stephen Massimilla

        —After Rilke

Wait…that tastes good…but it’s already on the wing.
Just a touch of music, a rumbling, a humming:
girls, you warm girls, you silent ones,
dance the flavor of the fruit you’ve learned.

Dance the orange. Who can forget her?
how she, immersed in herself, still holds out
against her own sweetness. You’ve possessed her.
You’ve turned her deliciously into you.

Dance the orange. The warmer landscape—
cast it around you, so that your ripe fruit shines
in its native wind! A radiance unfurled

fragrance after fragrance. Create your relation
with the pure, resistant rind,
with the juice with which it blissfully fills!



When the brain is quiet and the night too long with no love, to squint
is to wake up images
and call them fishhawks

stealing under eyelids in sparce light, long skimming hooks
over lines that might
mirror their wings…

They are gliding so low. The fins of far islands, all else, every
shift there remains but a ridge
in clear water moving,

though I have visions of this shoreline other shorelines cannot
know, each rip let loose,
that dry screen of night.

On the balcony I’ll meet the orange air, waking for a sign of prey,
scanning for where I might have
begun… In the darkness

a single beaker sweats. See how the chill grants
me ripples of light! Too clear
to slake thirst, I am glass.


Full Cooler

moon doubled like a fish-
hook in the corner of my car
window by the Long Island
clouds on the horizon
frozen like schools
of mackerel in a faded scuba-
diver’s snap-
shot. Leafless
spaces blink beyond
faint boats, fog
horns, and the whistle
on the roof of the biscuit
factory flickering
inland. Scratches
on the side-
view mirror cross-
hatch the bleary
lunar rim: glint
of fish
bones on a dim-
lit plate.


A Gift for You
         —After Rumi

You have no idea how hard I searched for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What good is bringing gold
to a gold mine, or water to the ocean?
Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.
It’s no good giving my heart and my soul—you already have these.
That’s why I’ve brought you this mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.



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