Richard Jarrette









There is something maddeningly attractive

about the untranslatable, about a word

that goes silent in transit.

Anne Carson




I try the hand in my left glove the right

the head under my hat—


arms open face lifts to the sky trees lose their tongues

to wind mountains cease proclaiming massif

become undulating river valleys seafloor—


something always torn away something always

arriving before the nails of language no

vault of heaven no beginning.


 .  .  .  .  .  .  .


You couldn’t reach me in your dream of fog

though muscles and tendons

strained and tore—


the interference of demons suspected.

But your fog and your demons

found me.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .


At a confluence of awarenesses obscured

by churning I study your first letter,

employ principles of philology:


She gathered up the all fragments,

But couldn’t make them fit.



A warning:


Hurled to earth—

]  fallen  [ ]  catastrophe sea  [ ]  panic-men  [

Paradiso to Inferno getting smaller.


My neck twists in wonder at your Akhmatova—

Vita Nuova of Dante by heart?—the half-grin at your

Sappho’s glukupikros-sweetbitter coffee.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .


You settle debts and make arrangements

for Africa, the unsayable to come,

breathe a Russian phrase—


Na ryekakh vavilonskikh

tamo syedokhom

i plakakhom.




(By the rivers of Babylon

there we sat and wept.)


The most anguished lament

of the Orthodox psalter,

you say, Alliluia.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .


I’m overswept by memories of spring harvest below our yard to the west,

swallows nesting in eaves above our entry door. How can we live under one roof

on Main Street? Kill the ceiling, you purred, the roof will follow—then Freud. I lost

my nerve stepped backward off the edge of our green world without a butterfly or

Coco the Cat, you to Nigeria with Médecins Sans Frontières—wars and horrors,

kidnapped-unpersoned-ransomed—and in a reverie en route home after the

terrors grinned and cracked, A five hour layover in Newark New Jersey is worse.


I knew your mind and the feelings without language nor wires for muscles to give

them familiar colors. Love is a single soul inhabiting two bodies, Aristotle said, but

you were one of those fey beings scarce arrived as Sappho without the missing

volumes and lyre. I think we were one and a half people and me self of you half-

aware of some far fragrant and clouded world.


I sense with you legs and peer through eyes tracking women dragged from

gurneys—from surgery, childbirth, ectopic pregnancy—tortured and killed

in the dirt by fundamentalists, you volunteers forced to watch and watch

unblinking—too late maybe after now—and you run to the now where she bleeds

out as those men shake their knives, shoot the sky, and praise God.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .




Canary Island Pines sway on the high air

junipers unmoved the stand of laurels thrilled.


All our days uplifted by trees through their seasons

a burnt offering to the silence-seeing stars.


Birds open unhinged doors to the wild

my wings drag on the dusty ground—still


this rasping upward seeking voice more earthly—

Nearer my leaves to thee.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .


My reveries soften with arrival of winter rains

in your second death year—


Earth’s face always open my heart

not turned away.


Mi corazón, como una sierpe,

se ha desprendido de su piel,

y acquí la miro entre mis dedos,

llena de heridas y de miel.




(Like a snake, my heart

has shed its skin.

I hold it there in my hand,

full of honey and wounds.)

—Federico García Lorca


 .  .  .  .  .  .  .


Desire sings of a heart not bereft—

released one, far past returning, ashes of the chambers of your salty

mortal muscle—the Paris of your joys our starry nights

in a glance, murmurs of wrist and neck little ear

chiming, your body the lip of one heart

mine the other.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .


Tormented-seeming clouds throw a sword of light

to a mountain that accepts.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .


You flew on a west wind toward the Sierra I could not

hold your thin smoke in my arms close to my chest.


A dream-voice said, Run into the woods.

My dream-thought, You there in a glade




poised on your one-hand handstand—strange

little tree—Coco the Cat near.


 .  .  .  .  .  .  .


Massive silence, cathedral bell missing its iron tongue

struck by phantoms—hours without tolls


to answer, the glance from labors, moan from sleep—

the silence of eternity too soon.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .


Late December leaves blanket the yard

gather in a pile at my door yellows and browns.


The season for dying into earth arrives—passage

toward roots and rebirth—as above so below.


What I cleave to our hands unclasp at a whisper—

Blessed the Kraftgänge who are the flowing


and the channel in which it flows.


 .  .  .  .  .  .  .




The night more day

a world overthrown by moon


figures pale in silver air

deer unsure


the empire of mind

some mist.



from The Beatitudes of Ekaterina (Green Writers Press, 2017)












Richard Jarrette is author of three poetry collections: Beso the Donkey (Michigan State University Press, 2010), Gold Medal Midwest Independent Publishers Association for Poetry 201l, A Hundred Million Years of Nectar Dances (Green Writers Press, 2015), and The Beatitudes of Ekaterina (Green Writers Press, 2017). Jarrette is Poetry Columnist VOICE Magazine of Santa Barbara. A retired psychotherapist, he lives reclusively in the Central California area.


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