By Roberto Harrison b. 1962 Roberto Harrison
i fail in the retry of possible gaps
               for the middle of canyons
               in crumbling lights
               for the scarification of vinyl.
               it rides through the forest
               and throbs a small packet
               where parallel seams
               scratch a readable surface
               on the backs of the camels
               in mirages of separate planes
               to the bursting eclipse
               of pronounceable service,
               two spots on its forehead call out
               for the country of doubling masses
               on a highway that cuts into faces
               in line for the city
               every stream ties a knot
               for an opening under the sea

i lose all my digits
               to the moon that will one day be bare
               to the parched piles of breathing in farms
               to the doorways that promise a morning
               on the accident prone to a murder of chance
               every mouse in the dust in the kitchen
               will harvest the cold
               in the sickness of scattering twigs
               in the answer of mirrors
               for the double that sings with the night
               by the prayer full of ashes
               under frozen cadavers that once
               were the hearts
               in the egg of a wound

i disappear in the wrap-up
               for invisible letters that leave all the snow
               for the hunt to deliver migration
               on the mushroom fields full of returns
               under beaches in roads by a promise
               where the water turns into a home
               and the blame of the air will no longer wail
               for the spot in the cloud full of planets
               while a bubble reenters a womb
               for explosions in placards
               like the front of a bus
               crossing vines in a prairie
               that were traced on the skin of a goat

i look at the picture of too many races
               for the blood of a horse
               that a bundle of sleeping
               3 shorted connections
               for the change of electrical chairs
               under pools of announcements
               for the battling showers
               that tell all the stories of war
               to infants in sight of the corner of trading
               for the telephones buried in answers
               under barrooms and sawdust and piers
               where the songs of an isthmus
               circle the beacon
               where the moon cannot pull
               where a whisper
               moves sand off a stone

i weigh every mote in my eye with the fingers of handshakes
               they calibrate walks like the wheels of a car
               they reflect in a wave
               like untying the knot of a bruise full of ice
               where once was a number
               where the count was eleven
               where equality lifts
               like the dough
               that incarcerates mud clots and showers
               for the vanishing thorn
               in a guide by the pillow
               softly omitted
               what the second hand sees
               under gears by the hand of a cripple
               for the ditch in a face that is fine

i bury my head in the leaves
               that the buses were lost in
               that day when i looked for her here in the Arctic
               when the telephone poles were the marks of equators
               when the mornings at home
               could not write their own name
               when the shepherd was singing too many shields
               at the entrance of staring at stars in the basement
               with the light in the chest of what follows
               with a walking that pulls at two seals
               for the trouble in words
               in the empty
               in the on and off one
               why there have to be zeros
               to raise all the shores
               for piñatas to line themselves up in the snow
               under spreading the phase
               of recalling the crosshairs
               on the hive
               that the singing will never return
               when the breaking gives others
               a prompt to give air

i radio frequencies meant to undress all the parrots
               in the knot that a hill on the head
               of the viewer can see
               without even a monkey to grow
               with a molecule’s power
               in a black hole instead of a screen
               in identity swimming to surface
               every outlook reframes on a break
               in circular lots
               by the parking spot full of directions
               where a jacket sinks into the roll
               of an orange in Fez
               around trains in the mountains
               that the pantomime echoes
               in the valley of shells that call out
               for an engine to answer
               when penalties cease in the skull
               of another score gone on the pavement
               with the sound of a bell that is broken
               to bear its first weight in the sand

Roberto Harrison, “[4,2]” from Counter Daemons. Copyright © 2006 by Roberto Harrison. Reprinted by permission of Litmus Press.

Source: Counter Daemons (Litmus Press, 2006)

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Poet Roberto Harrison b. 1962

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Roberto  Harrison


Poet Roberto Harrison was born in Oregon to Panamanian parents; he and his family moved to Panama when he was a year old, and then to Delaware in 1969. Harrison pursued studies in mathematics and computer science as an undergraduate; after a year of graduate work in mathematics at Indiana University in Bloomington, he traveled in the United States, Europe, and North Africa. His collections of poetry are Counter Daemons (2006) . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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