Volume Five, Issue 2

Dax Carswell

To Kiarostami

“Why? Because I want to be a poet, and I want to work towards becoming a seer...”-Arthur Rimbaud

It is my passion that guides me, which saves mw2we;
my infantile practice, a motivation
in the form of growth, in the form of
flowers, in the form of Spring.

In the tender wings of vultures
there is an inkling of poetry.
There is something to be said
for the scavenging of beauty.

It is this sea
whose edge I
sit, and reflect.

I don’t approach tenderness

I see it coming from a distant place

bringing silence, rising above my hand.

The Moon in the Lake
keeps asking me if I want to live,
or thrive. I reach for it

and the silver handful,

the cool milk of the morning,

catches in my throat like silt, and pebbles.

The gurgles replicate the sound
as much the table shows
the tree’s awesome weight, and age.

I lean towards a mirror image,
faintly laughing, grinning,
gawking at the sight.

I lean towards
the Sun, tonight.

A film? No film-maker here.
A poem, no poet here.

Only deceitfulness in its clearest view;
a lamp acting the Sun

as in its absence, someone must.

Sabzians, rest that weary head
in my arms-they are made of glass,
they will reflect your sadness-

It will be good for you to see it without alteration.

Exposure to the undiluted frailty
and sudden rawness of one’s own
experience resembles truth
or mocks it.

And Makhmalbafs, appreciate
what it means to be venerable,
what it means to recognize
an opportunity, an assistance.

Lions do not shame their cubs
for the crime of aspiration
or the willingness to dream.

To the families Ahankah, well-
my actions are not born of an evil place.
I know you know, and yet
it must be said; I am sorry.

Penitence is the poet’s offer
to the world; an indulgence
for the lies that we have told
and for those that we have yet to tell.

Thus for the director as well,
the sorrow stemming only
from a proper application
of beauty. Tell them the truth
of what you have shown them

and you are ruined.

Let them dream,
let yourself delve
into that expansive world.

As for myself
I have stolen only that which has captured me
and kept only that which I found I could not part with.

As for myself
to capture the contours of the mountains
and the idleness of the Sun in the Sky at mid-day
for the sake of bringing it to you
is the only goal.

As we have always done,
under the shade of a hidden name,
I have eaten the fruit of duplicity
and slept in a stupor, drunken with myself.

Under your roofs, we ate,
under your roofs, we slept,
under your roofs, we lived
in the only manner that we knew.

When the penitence no longer suffices,
but my crime still necessitates payment
however I make restitution,
I will be haunted by my silence, that

even in the slender arms of Charity,
(who graces chiefly this world)
theft is not unconscionable, and that

even while resting under Allah’s eyes,
I am no more at peace.

You Sabzians, we Sabzians-
what hope is there for us
if not to continue?

Let us make honest men of ourselves in time,
and hold the present close;

for who knows it better than we
that only a fool does not keep one eye trained
on the Sky-
and the other,
on the hands of thieves.

“Tamper down great expectations- O, tamper down!”

Fret not; Let the ocean do its holy work;
Let it all wash away.
Do not fear its coming; the slow and constant tide
Will always rise and fall at its set time; neither pitched whine
Nor slow, slow acceptance can abate this coming and going;
No dream can stop this, no amount of optimism cure this-
Careful, as salt settles around the feet, and murky catfish
Take brave nips at wading ankles, that you do not slip.
Great tide, indeed, is patient; why should you not be the same?
What is it that you rush towards, all sopping wet?
Entertain yourself with predictions if you wish,
But be prepared to watch them drown and sputter in the current-
And when you look up from the sinking and turn towards the Sun, for breath,
Do not be surprised to see a white underbelly resting on the surface,
Nor to find that air has lost all its meaning, and water as well.

Go Home, Young Man

Address young underworld,
Sing Orpheus black. Become the muse
Of shades, Hades, the damned: Power on
Through the cold grip, through the world’s long light,
Through the meager night, and the night eternal;
What comes shortly afterwards is predestined-
What is predestined only, comes.
Address young underworld,
Paint water red like night, or white
Like stillness. Grow myself bone
To keep standing, or mesh iron
To rust, but nobly. Paint myself
A non-entity, or never.

The Child’s Georgic
“Humbaba stirs within the darkened wood and in the hearts of men”

Stories of the past spoken in hushed tones

half dreams and nightmare scenes.

of ladybugs
gloating in their multitudes.

Reality called by any name

The unseen seed sown blossoming into anything and everything

The blurred dichotomy of childhood

a man like a woman

a woman like a man

White light undivided

or set only into a green filling

a horizon of twisted branches without beginning or end.

I see no end in the world today

but yesterday’s end has come and gone

and the leaves of time crunch and flake beneath my feet

bare and calloused.

What wild  rhythm

do I step to?                                                                                                                                             do I live and breathe for?

What ancient fire

         burns in these coastal woods?                                                                                                                                           refreshes, and restores?

My breath has no source aside from this.

Earth grows, and extends itself toward  Sky;

how they long for eachother is etched


into the memory of matter, into its energetic interactions.

Rocks of the forest,

Give soil for the hands to rise.

Hands that rise in the dusk,

Claw towards the evening Sun.

Evening Sun, kiss these palms.

Palms—-become true in fire, and exalted.


The ascent

is all that there has ever been.



I could not recognize the sea

I have been assured that its sting is sweet

but I will never know.

I could  not recognize the sand

A shifting ground is in defiance

of all the things I know.

How am I to determine my place?

If this virility is illusion

then let the greening dogwoods where the air is filled with salt

                        and where the pigeons sing like doves be

              overcome with torrential rains

        of fulfillment and sublimation

   become fertile with illusion-

and pregnant with a lie.

How am I to determine my place?

If this muliebrity is illusion

          then I will live to see these pines capped with snow

live to see active caps rouse themselves from dormancy

                                 and overflow with a breeze of bucolic ejaculate 

                                                                         to  fertilize the womb of illusion-

and become the father of lies.

How  am I to determine my place

having found myself flattened

by the cloying pollen of the night?

Nature abhors a vacuum.

In this world, there is no space

for a plain

waiting to be flooded, washed away, made an effacement of itself:

a monument to emptiness.

No hope exists for retention without roots

nor for sunlight to be caught without leaves.

No great conflagration to call me home

the blankness is an affront to fire

as something left behind.


Shame the desire for cleanliness, of a sort;

Dirt, God

as good as any other.

Before, there was no confusion—

before was the pleasure

of being the pistil and the stamen

of running free in the unknown woods of love

of the body’s blank slate painted  in the hues of sunlight

and the strawberries crushed with every step.

I ran free in the darkness of existence then

as much the wolf as the deer

as much the grain as the boulder

As much the hawk as the mountain;

(A free body of movement and power

Motionless without want

Endless, and all  the Earth.)

Freedom was all there was to be worshipped-

freedom, and the forest.

Dreams of the wind’s free-shifting

as remembered in these fading hours

of midnight contemplation and thought

where the mind fills in the gap—

on teleology and genesis—

                                            You arise on two feet to walk

out of the dream,

                                                                      and return in sleep,

                                                                                                             and return in death.

The imprecise dichotomy;

Female and Male

Sky and Earth

the Endless Cycle

                         the Recurring Scene

                                        moment after moment, reappearing

                                                                                      like the faces of flowers

                                                                                                                             like swallowed jimsonweed.

For A Motion

Tremble pursed hand; arm lock
To key code swipe and ticket pass.
Jagged in line do we move, crosswise
And crooked in our vaguery, our destination.
The wind in motion, the body still
In motion. The time is properly
Irrelevant, the weather dormant
But picturesque. In one,
There are many-the eye,
The train, the world. Breathe
Pursed lip, quiver and shamble,
Shake loose dust and the past;
Rose wilt winter morning-
Returns in summer
As painting or as portrait-
As summer, or as seed.

Dax Carswell: “I'm a black gay man, and an MFA Student at Naropa's Jack Kerouac School.”

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