Dan Beachy-Quick

Syllabus for Homer

– For Pam Rehm

Life said life but thought arrow
Arrow said arrow but thought life
(I don’t mean to bite the mouth
That speaks me) I love this fool
’s errand those clouds this toy bow
The gods running through the air
Dragging their garments of stars
Across the face of terror and other
Errors left abandoned up there
A cloud of butterflies is followed
By a cloud of birds the weather
Radar brightens the forecast pink
And blue the brush my girl can’t
Drag through the morning’s tangle
Of her hair sent away to school

A man is a creature that looks up
Wisdom that dizziness that comes
When the air is understood as
What always flows the breath pivots
A gear some men call my lonely ghost
Others call genius the world drifting in
And out goes the sun eclipsed
By a thumb taking an arrow’s aim
(I won’t say whose thumb I’m not
That kind of dumb) innocence

Not ease I want to learn to speak
Plain sparrow not house wren slain
That silence a child in sleep explains
Why it is you’ve stood still all day waiting
For the clouds to give back the arrow
You thought you forgot but shot it straight up
Into the emptiness behind the sky that eye

Dan Beachy-Quick's Of Silence and Song, a collection of essays, fragments, and poems, will be published by Milkweed Editions in December 2017. His work has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, and he teaches in the MFA Program at Colorado State University.