Saturday, May 1, 1982


         … What appears before the eye is simple illusion.
              – from Double Sonnets from the Subconscious
                                  —Leonard Cirino
            for Leonard and those who have ridden the black mare

What separates the word desert 
from something sweet 
is the twin presence of slithering S curves 
of snake tracks in the sand. 
The letter S has no consciousness of desert sand 
or, of dessert peach.
One singular S stands alone. 

The second S changes meaning
gives plurality, gives possession 
and ownership to words.
Snakes go blind during summer molt shedding 
even the skin over their eyes.
In their hot blindness they strike anything warm 
with an accuracy surer than sight.

In the twin mirrored lakes of horses, 
verdant green blades stab at the sky.
Cows easily slip into the past.
Their prehensile tongues covet only grass, 
not the thrones of one eyed kings.
Cows carry the mark of Cain in their eyes.

Sheep pressed their lips to the earth, 
always trying to get closer to the source, 
and they forget how to move on.
They graze until there is no grass left 
and the cattle starve.

Horses tear at the tops of grasses, 
their eyes always on the next bunch. 
In the boneless desert behind the eyes,
we all carry the carrion crows within.
In the fallow fields where the grass is greener, 
the convex lens covering the eye, carries light 
to the arid folds of the brain.
The eye is the cistern in the arid boneless plain.

Yes, the same sheep graces in the same pastures
and need no eyes to find the turf.
Maybe it's the size and shape of cows 
on that always leads them onward.
Or maybe it's the cloven hooves of the goat 
and the sheep that carries the shape of death 
in its eye, bringing us still closer to the earth.
Still, it is a privilege to see the milk-blue eyes of babies, 
unfocused, half blind, closed, asleep at the breast.

As they gain age, the focus sharpens, 
clarity leaps forward, images fall into place, 
and the foraging begins.
King Lear said, "a man may see 
how the world goes with no lies."
Do we truly learn wisdom with our eyes?
What appears before the eye is simple delusion.

Reduced to the level of beasts, Gloucester, 
blinded by the pelican daughters of Lear, said,
"I have no way, and therefore want new eyes."
No, we can't return to that first sight.
There are no thrones left for one-eyed kings 
and beggars will never ride in the dry desert kingdom 
of the blind with the surefootedness of second sight.

Revised 8/82, 10/82



Like hearts of wild birds
riding the storm
or panthers defending sectors
of the universe
we seek shelter
before the visions of stars.