THERMOS 5: John Craun

Perhaps the poem I return to most often of all those we’ve published over the past five years is John Craun’s “Picks Up Lucid,” reprinted below. It’s rare that a long poem satisfies me at every line like this one does. — AS

Picks Up Lucid

I remember talking about her
or the vicinity,

something purse,
an arrow to be around,

a rope—conjecture: it leads
to the river.

It is of the braided sort.
The soiled sort.

(Ships at anchor.)
Pick it up.

There are two ways
to look at someone
in a subway

car: directly,
or in reflection.

also has two meanings.
Of the two I prefer

getting off
before the cars
completely stop.

Now and then
one also sees
a double reflection—

like a double rainbow,
or a unicorn,

or a pegasus (none
of which I’ve seen)

it seems fortunate:

with two widths
of the car and the chances
of surface in between…

I have swallowed the whole rope,
and now, have only a whole rope inside me.

What would you give me for it?
I like to think of the ventricles of my heart

as boots. I do not know what fills them

except feet and feet of rope—The Whole Rope

in corridors of the imagined garden burrow
worms I missed as a child:

their greater part in the hole, and my pull,
well, not determined enough

to stretch long or kill. Though I knew, I know,


You were a sham
and I was quicksand
and our moribund periodical was called
Victory de Samothrace

“The plinth and base are made
of gray Rhodian marble,
while Victory is made out of
white Parian marble. The left
part of the bust and right wing
are plaster reconstructions.
The right hand, found in 1950,
is on view in a display case
on the landing.”

Only the ring finger and thumb

* If I am going to do
what one is not to do
I will need engine,
Dutch, English, and Russian
friends, acute tendrils

If I am going to do
sore engine again
on viola, I will need harp,
license, registration,
and proof of insurance

persons. If I am to do,
throatily, scotch tape-
leaves-the-wall, I will need,

Don’t ask him

If I am going south…
Pardon? Yes, you’ve
scanned me personally,
and found me lacking,
sewn me up. If I
I am going south,
me now? Questions
up front, answers
in the back, I said. Once,

said friends were lacking
and have come to excuse
that part of me from
outdoor dining. Early.
lanterns, early light

says one thing to me:
you want to dance?

various things in play?
Yes, I think I will,
thank you Rabbi
and Rabbinical Committee
on the Recycling
of Sacred Texts.
I think we all agree:

If I am to do
what has not
been done, Jehova,
Berryman’s Bones,
his right sir and ma’am

could come to my aide
by ferry—free, I might add
at certain hours
a lamb cries no one
and goes away hushed

on the lamb equivalent
of tiptoes, Lamby,
I say, in a letter,
with some confusion
as to the postmark date,

come to me in a dream,
it seems safer that way,
and needs not postage.
For what man can give—
postage—I have need not

for am to do
something you-know-what

The rotisserie keeps turning.

everyone keeps looking up.
You can’t have a rotisserie

downstairs. (Don’t ask me why.)
There are things in this world.
Things that keep the rotisserie turning.
I have identified at least one.

But it was not my invention.
Nor am I the first

to identify it. In fact,
my specialties and allegiances
lie elsewhere, now.

I had a suburban idea;
I moved in

to a hedge
and set my stone there
on a patch
of level ground.

Grant me two wishes,
I said, sleep…

and a new idea
with more space

and a ground floor
entryway motion-
sensing threshold

that warms the tile
before touch

warms it.
I was not myself.

The stamps that I licked
wouldn’t stick to anything.

Fertile soil, I thought, fertile soil,
and began to clean.

I can’t move my eye.
The train no longer stops

(I can move my eye) here.
I can move my eye, with pain.
There are chairs stuck in trees

And my question is

for an elder of a dead town:
Did the fruit
stop growing?

The fruit of my eye?
The oranges and grapefruit
and pecked-out pomegranates
of my eye? The figs?

The figs of my eye
are fine:
they have a place to sit

when full, unlike my eye,
my closed eye.

Light from the opposite
direction on return
in new positions
in the field—
I remember them
in valleys, now
they’re on hilltops—

is an essential form
clusters? friends?
I don’t know how to talk

and don’t have to,
ever, but especially now
as the girl next to me
wears headphones
and is playing a game
or something

as the nucleus. Electrons
crowd around to see.
Like sheep: Sheep don’t want
to miss anything. Thus

my visions of light or tide
may have nothing to do
with their movements.

Anything sheep set course by
is fine with me. That is,
until we reach France,
then I wish I could talk.

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