Poetry: Selections from Ray Corvi

I’ve Seen

I’ve seen more shooting stars
These past few months
I can no longer tell the difference
Between dream and wakefulness
Meteors pass through me
As thoughts briefly ignited
Even this: A flock of birds
At midnight glimmer
In the moonlight
Like sardines in restless surf
Someone might pose
A difficult question here
But I would preempt them
With the image of a bird
Flying through the dead of night
As if to flee an Act of God
Which would negate its being
“The image of a bird in flight”
The very premise
My argument suppresses
An image of a bird
Catching fire as it flees
A bird whose wings have flames attached
A bird no one’s ever seen


The crows are scattering their cries
Across the sky like ashes on a field,
Lilies at a marriage on a graveyard,
Or rose petals in the intersection
Where I would one day lose my life.
Years ago I walked with an old woman
Barefoot on the shore at dusk.
There were crows there too
But they were all hidden
(Along with everything that is meaningful).
We walked around a rock
Which protruded into the sea.
The tide began to rise.
I imagined the sand was mixed with snow—
Like ashes
Mixed with flower petals.
I wondered if it would be possible
To make a mask out of the mixture.
I wondered what it would mean
If the mask never took shape––
If the rite
Would still take place.
I saw a woman wearing a platinum ring
Set with a kidney stone instead of a diamond.

She wore earrings made out of
The corpses of seahorses.
Tears of black ink
Ran down her face.
As night fell we watched her swim
Out into the sea and disappear.
When we made it back to the parking lot
Our feet were covered in tar.
Don’t tell anyone I’m guilty.
Beneath every fiction is a mystery
Where the poem seeks its rest.
Meet me there.

On the Corner

On the corner of a numbered street
& an avenue
You had a fifth of midnight
In your hand
My mind was rife with platitudes
I sought to understand
I wanted to debate
What hasn’t yet ever been said
I.e., what we couldn’t say
But the dialogue was halted
In thought-ending cliché
Sola dosis facit venemum—
The final fire of the day
The fifth of midnight in your hand
The clouds like leaves in autumn
The look fleeing your face
Posthumously recognized
Gone without a trace
The word I seek has slipped my mind
Oh here it is––
I nearly lost my faith

A Given Day
Looking at the clouds,
I somehow know that my heart
Is a pariah.
I saw You standing
One hundred yards from the sun
Reading Spinoza.
Now fraught with moonlight,
I feel my flesh turn to dust.
The night breeze flays me.

Sometime in the 1980s

My “father” had sex with a woman
In a car parked behind a grocery store
At high noon amidst all the traffic
Of housewives and housekeepers
There to buy toilet paper and bread.
I put the word “father” in quotes
Because I never met the man.
So it must be true I wouldn’t know it
If I ran into him in the street.
But that will never happen.
He committed suicide after writing
A long poem which will never be published.
I too know what it means to want to write poetry.
Though I also know it was poetry that killed him.
Thus, I don’t write poetry anymore.
My alter ego does.
The one whose father was a poet.
That is, the one who writes not to keep death at bay,
But to be close to the lightless flame
In the heart of every fallen figure.
Which reminds me,
I should’ve told you something by now.
Bertrand Russel was right.
Your whole existence actually started

Around thirty seconds ago,
Right around the time you read the line:
“I too know what it means to want to write poetry.”
The angels have assured me
That was the beginning of Creation.
Everything else is just a memory
Made up by the mind of God.

Ray Corvi was published in The Seattle Star (07/2021), OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (Aug/Sept 2021), The Penmen Review (07/2021), FRiGG Magazine (May 2022), DASH Literary Journal (May 2022), Neologism (June 2022), and Triggerfish Critical Review (July 2022).


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