R. L. Swihart

The Sky Becomes a Painter’s House

Wind spirals down shelves, rifles through books.
Ankh. Kouros. Ziggurat.

The cue is carrot and a veggie messiah
descends a rocky staircase hefting his bunny scepter.

Gérôme’s Galatea drops her towel on the stoop
before crouching in an empty canyon.

Twice frozen, a domestic Bengal catnaps in the den
while her doppelgänger purrs into the soft shell of an ear.

Except for the erosion, the American Southwest
is a perfect setting for Rilke’s tree.


Very little to change in Muzot.
Mouky still picks up an Orpheus sketch in Sion
and tacks it to the wall.


A doctors’ death isn’t for him.
When the wretched disease strikes
he ditches Val-Mont to match fire with fire
in Grünewald’s Christ.


Further, he returns to Russia.
Instead of writing Farewell, my dear
he and Lou again go barefoot along the Volga.

Turning up the volume
let white horse become white horses
soundless thunder over black steppes.

Tsvetayeva II

Oblivious to country
a fault line crosses her heart.

She's neither Red nor White
but touch her—and touch off
a pyroclastic flow.

Savoring delusion's sweet logic,
blow ideas to kingdom come
and maybe:

my river—with your river
my hand—with your hand
will meet...


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