Fall 2018, Volume 24

Poetry by Stuart Greenhouse

Mechanistic Reproduction of Distant Motion

i.
there was a tree
among whose branches
squirrels would come and go
birds would come and go
insects and their generations
the tree never
wanting them there or gone
a vision of enduring peace
for the whole interspecial neighborhood
it just being there concerned
in its sycamore way
with root warfare, water rights,
the hostile stretch for sun
of one bastard silver maple
and fuck that maple sideways
the sycamore’s highest branch said
inching leftward
for years, fuck it rotten and split
starved, cankered to the dirt.

ii.
there was a house
and in it an idea
and in the idea a boy
and the boy said
“the tree out my window is peaceful
as I feel forgetting
my parents’ hate for each other;
it is gentle in the wind
as when they are out of the house
and the words of the book I am reading
come and go in my mind and I not moving
enjoy first their weight and then their weight passing
and not trying to make of my feelings
whatever shape will least upset those around me        
feel without care for what shape I find,
what finds my shape home.
I want always to be like that tree
where gentle things mingle.
That would be a life.

 

iii.
In the book there are words
and in the words motion
and in the motion Galileo Galilei
lifting his brass interlinking graduated tubes
set with hand-ground eyepieces eyes
Jupiter, sees lights there                                  
moving with peculiar epicycles, over
the winter months builds
an alien orrery he christens the Jovilabe
which shows in abstract miniature Io, Callisto,
Europa, Ganymede fluttering
around Jupiter like leaves
in a ceaseless, even wind. These rational
motions he anchors with raw beech-
wood dowels to the calligraphic point
Earth, then sets all in circuit
round a stylized brad-rivet sun.
Years later, under house arrest
by order of the holy Papal See,
he spins the perceptually-corrected distant
moons through centuries, wonders
at the providence
all of creation is bound by, moves inside of;   
which he cannot see, and which does not exist.

.

 

 

 

BIO: Stuart Greenhouse is the author of the poetry chapbook What Remains. Poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Boulevard, The Collagist, The Massachusetts Review, and Tupelo Quarterly, among other journals.