Landscapes of fire and music

Olympia motel

The bitter green calligraphy of weeds in the gravel lot
and crows circling
and bluebottles
and the limping aria
of sun on a dusty window

rotten boards smell like spoiled sunlight
pressed through gauze curtains yellowed
by sunlight and dust

grab a fistful of cobwebs from the bushes
and etch sgraffito birds all over the boarded windows

the four-poster has ivy winding over its belly
the wineglasses are caked with silence

at night the tarpaper roof
swallows stars


The Dead

The dead speak through train whistles,
hunger dragging its cries through the colorless morning
cries dissolved in dawn’s flood
or whittled away by gray scythes of rain.

They pry at windows with cellophane fingers
strong as rockface, ocean, sand;
they mutter at the blinds in jigsaw syllables,
rattle the panes with desperate codes.

Their eyes are white paper caught in wind.
They roll fitfully, clattering
in empty cans marooned on empty streets.
Their skeletons are dust caked in the wrinkles of the living.

They dream in the language of creaking tree limbs
and kiss us bitterly with the swoop of frightened starlings.


To be Morning

To be morning must be like
hewn earth dripping moss into an orchard of flames
and mist
and a sad panorama of eyes that have seen
and cannot go blind.
Flesh is only flesh.
It’s not enough to say things.
The world is full of ruins. The river is full of bones.
A cloud is a river with its heart
torn out.

To be morning must be to forever need mending,
torn by birds that fly
in ragged formation of a blade,
torn by the wheels and teeth
of seasons that collide, and fall together
a conversation
of stitches made
from guttered leaves
and rain in a violet’s throat.

Morning must be
a blessing no one hears
staggering in the back way
to lay down on the floor and try to talk itself to sleep.
A stone sheds its skin
and is a seraph, a walking flame.


Poems by G.L. Ford

Landscapes of fire and music (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2004)

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4 thoughts on “Landscapes of fire and music

  1. Greg Ford says:

    Thanks for posting these old poems of mine – nice to see that UDP’s online archive is getting some viewers!

    • El Búfalo says:

      Hey! Thanks to you for writing back! I really liked that book :) In case you have a website or any other place where you post more of your work, I would love to see more. Cheers from Mexico!

  2. Greg Ford says:

    Very kind of you to say so. Here is one long poem I wrote a few years back, also on the UDP site:

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