Poems by John Bellinger

Three Days Falling

Above the broken trail of condors,
above the uncaused
and reckless clouds, I am
cast down
from the arms of my mother,
the frame of my weakness
pushed through the air,
bone and bone, bone
and blood,
the heart,
betrayed by the Smith of its lock,
the heart enraged
like a beast without legs,
in the face of things,
pure trajectory and the light
of a sickle-curved moon,
in the black,
and in the small flat sun
of morning.

There are no echoes here.
I have called
and I have called
and I have wanted to remember you
the way it was
when you took me up
in the smile of cradled morning,
my gown blind white, unworn..
My able hands
played, the sun fell bright,
but for my weakness
by the light, betrayed.
we could have stayed,
we could have stayed.

You, After the Rain

“Everyone knows it’s windy”

It’s only you in the interrupted wind and moonlight, pushing
your feet through the grass, bringing your bright disruption,
your pretty legs flashing on the street-lit street, in all the rain
and where it has fallen. You have taken the moon in your
hair, my love: I can only watch, can only stand beside myself
and whisper my god she is still so young. She has made
herself the moon,

she has made herself young and the moon’s bright angel in
the rain, and in its falling.

I have grown small, and nearly without coincidence. You
travel the stars without aging. Sometimes I am cold, yet light
will move no faster. I’ve brought you here, alone in a year
made of consequence, two pockets full of fingertips and
mischief in my clothes, to see what you will leave me in the
rain, in the ungathered wind; to watch you light the pretty
moon in short red shorts, your feet in the long wet grass,

for Daneen

Gesture One
Drawing a line through the moon

Draw a line through the motion of the wind
and the moon curved like an implement
and in time the motion will take you out
and through
every point of vanishment
and all the while the unassailable truth
comes at you like analytic geometry,
comes at you like a vector,
and it is only the seeing
and the moving hand, it
is only the long remembering
of the moving hand
that allows you to reach back to the point
where this drawing began
late and through my weary Compline,
drawing a line
through the moon.

Buy a little Springtime

Winter is coming and this is my heart.

All the money I am bringing will not seem enough.
All the money you are bringing will not seem enough.

There is wind in the windows. Things come in:
air, the idea of snowing, small harbor seals.

We will rush from warmth to warmth, our shell so frail,
lulled by wind and the television news.
You will live in the pink of your bathrobe.

The collectors will come,
taking the furniture:
leaving the cheap bowl of butter,
reminding us what Christmas
is really all about.
It is all about what Jesus did
for you.

Everything will get colder.
We will eat white rice
and ketchup.
We will watch the clock
in tattered blankets,
and talk to each other
on cell phones
in the dark.

Yet if we close our eyes, if
we make crosses with our uncrossed fingers, if
we remember the fragrance of wintering herbs
and the steadied light of candles,

we may buy a little springtime,
we may buy a little springtime soon.

If You Woke Right Now
At the grey keel of twilight
you are folded into blankets
where the half dark rest its quiet hands,
where the heat breathes up through this chill April
a sigh in the audient spring.

If you woke right now,
you would notice that the trains have stopped,
that the clocks have stopped,
that above, the uncaught rain
is caught remaining.

If you woke right now,
you would find me swallowing your life.

In the morning,
I’ll bring bluets fresh with water.
Comstock Review, Fall 1997

you never know the moon

you never know the clear pitched moon
where it sings against the thin washed blue,
a cresence hung in middle June
curved sharply into spring’s late hue and dimming
where the day begs down
and calls to sleep.

you never taste the half mint moon
where it slips along your jaded tongue,
such sadness in a boy so young,
such pulling back from life so soon, yet smiling
where the solstice calls
down by the creek.

you never see the fat pearl moon
where summer speaks at last in stars,
at zenith where the night turns noon,
and fireflies not caught in jars go swimming
as the season runs,
pooling like a mirror once more around our feet.
–CR, Fall 1997


Your Clone and How to Use It

A clone can’t be trusted with your job.
It doesn’t know who to be afraid of, whose
cubicle to avoid on a Tuesday:
you simply cannot teach him everything there is
about being the you that you must be
when you punch the clock and become another man.
You cannot explain that Ed likes Dolphins, that Al
likes Giants:
he will not know that Donna is divorcing, that Sarah’s husband
has Parkinson’s disease, that Alice has been with the company thirty-two years
and knows just about everything.
No, a clone in the office would raise some suspicions,
and deconstruct the carefully preserved mythologies
that you have written about your life.

And a clone cannot be trusted in the house.
It will not know where to put the soggy mittens,
what to feed the turtle,
and not to let the dogs out
on garbage day.
There is too much to explain:
cutting toast into triangles,
how margarine must not melt on waffles,
how two scoops of real coffee must go with the decaf.
And there are all of your spouse’s unspoken words,
the sighs and unbreathed warnings,
the sexual codes that make up the legislation of marriage,
and the price, the dear price, of infraction.

So give your clone a life you do not have.
Send him to Vegas.
Send him on that long and cleansing dharma retreat
that you sometimes think about
when the phones are always ringing
and the bills keep falling off your desk.
Give him a week in the woods alone, to draw, to write,
to trace every sunset that races
through the bracken
and the green.
Send him to workshops and coffee houses to read your poetry:
anyone can do that.
Give him his freedom, and your freedom, too.
It is the best of all possible wakings.

Believe me.
It is butter on both sides of your life
–CR Spring 1998