Four Poems|Patricia Nelson




He walks upon the world

as if it were a line, a black one

without width or nuance.


Along the axis of the town,

he steps among the hot and small

who do not love his tall, black eye.


They think the giant watches them,

rakes them with his rank looks,

tastes them with dark wishes.


That he wants to pull them up

like roots or the corners of tents

and carry them away.


But the giant’s eye is rapt and upward,

in a snow of slow, cold stars, a dark

that he lifts gently, like the water in his cup.


It’s only the small who grab at strangeness,

run toward it with loud, ringing feet,

bringing a realization and a death.





Vision of Paradise


Someone is ill and dreams

a gray and fern-soft wind:

The swaying weather of Heaven.


The light of the dream is cool,

holds pale fog and black rock.

moves like the odor of lilies.


The light falls everywhere,

calls animals into bright air.


Animals with shadows that swing,

touching the curve of the animal

and the dark wave of the earth.


Legless animals that slide,

lay long shapes in the dust.


Wolves with oval mouths

pull the undulant moon close.


That’s the way things move

in Heaven. Everything sways

and everything stays.




The Nature of the Pageant


It isn’t real: There is no parade,

no ranking of the dead who rise

from the ground like daffodils.


The pageant is spectacle,

foolish approximation.


Hangs lights as thick as lemons

on the crudeness of your senses.

It touches you with roundness

and a small heaviness.


It is music, an error made

with beautiful instruments.

The intent of the deception softer

than your own voice. More conditional.


It suggests the blue that flies

beyond your simple bluebirds.





It Matters


It matters how a woman is lost,

how her first intention falls

and rises somewhere else.


How the fault can travel

like a color or a cloud

into the death that re-envisions it.


How she untangles the dark, lifts it

by its edges so that even the breakage

has a wholeness and a light.


Photo by Alex Pugliese on Unsplash


I have worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets based in the San Francisco Bay Area. My work has been published in Blue Unicorn, Panoplyzine, The Listening Eye, and other journals. I have a new book of poetry, In the Language of Lost Light, due out from Poetic Matrix Press early next year.

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