Paul Asta

Five Poems

Luminescence

My brother & I found a slingshot
& a basket full of stars.

All through the night we ran
deep into the woods

& climbed high into the oak trees
until our legs ached

against the branches, & the shadows
grew thick below us.

& while we were listening for the trains
to fade into the distance,

the washing sound of horses pulling us
home in waves, the moon—

the moon like our mother—gave way
& disappeared over our shoulders.

& in its place we found darkness.
A cavity in the mouth of night

where we took turns dipping our hands
into the basket,

each handful of stars, a new galaxy,
slung out into the cold wilderness

until the mouth swayed
underneath the weight of decoration.

& what few stars were left we divided,
turning them in our coat pockets

with admiration, carrying them down
to the edge of the woods,

down to the clearing, where we could hear
the wind sweep through

thicket & weed not with a harshness—
but a whirr.

A mumbling wind, unsorted, untamed.
& underneath the open sky

the moon crawled back into view
calling for our attention,

calling us home—where in the driveway,
beneath the streetlights,

we took those stars & swallowed them
whole. Each star

a golden marble, a small bead of honey—
radiant & incendiary.

Our bodies glowing like lakes on fire:
dark at times, but full of life.

A Chorus of Static

Not the soundof the siren

but the breath of it the chatter of crows

quivering in grey light we learned to dismiss the sky

the corridor of rainthe silence

the concessionsof broken glass

we only have to hearthe house as it begins to fall

the blue jayon damp red leaves

washed in colorthe night

tethered to our waistspouring

our shadowswhispering to the mirror

in all formsof streetlight

because we fellasleep

just like the radiopredicted

The Unraveling of Dreams

You are the stranger who gets stranger by the hour
 - James Tate

There are dreams here
that I forgot to mention.

The same dreams I’ve had
before. The slow crank

of a wind-up toy, pretty
little thing. A mother calls

her son from a distance.
A marble is dropped

in a porcelain sink.
The phone rings and rings,

the marble turns and turns.
Again there is a train

in your hands, insoluble.
Still, there is time.

This time you’re awake
and the phone is silent.

This time you cannot move,
and this does not make sense

except when you hear it.
Yes, the marble will stall.

Yes, this is still a dream.
How a pause is not a silence,

but rather, a misdirection.
An understanding.

And of distance:
a mother has called.

Her voice dislodged
and waiting.

An unopened package,
the contents of which remain

unknown. This time a coin spins,
heads or tails? How hard it must be

to choose which side to fall on.
To be held in relation to another.

To be held at all. And yet,
the dreams continue.

I am painting a picture.
Oil on canvas, tar on lungs.

The way all things breathe
differently. A paint brush,

a lasso, swung out and dragged
over and over. Again,

I forget how many times
I’ve been here before.

The way the wind negotiates
with the blades of a turbine,

cutting itself
into unfamiliar pieces.

A marble is calling.
A mother is dropped.

A package remains unopened.

Maybe I will Sleep Tonight

and take souvenirs from dreams that did not ask to be taken: the sound of insects before the rain, the day old glass of water and the taste of copper, the violet sky, ephemeral; no mention of any other color.

Variation

We made rain
Fall

Every sky
Grey

The affirming
Color

Worn

Washed
& Rendered

As if
Faded

As if
Swayed