198.1: Timothy O'Keefe:: from Quadrilaterals 198

Let's say that every person has four sides. And let's say that those four sides each have four sides, and that those four sides in turn also have four sides, ad infinitum, raised to the fourth, to the fourth, to the fourth, to the fourth... I imagine there's a mathematical term for this but I don't know it. Let's say each side is presented at one time, in one place. When we wake up in the morning, for instance: one person. During the shower: another person. At coffee: another person. Renting a house: another person. Light shines through, illuminates another, here, today, now, and the light shifts and another. This week, Timothy O'Keefe's eight Quadrilaterals explore these sides of self. Tight, four-sided poems—beautiful four line machines, both playful and smart. In a line like "People pass by people passing for themselves passing people," I wonder the person I choose to be today and I will choose for tomorrow. I'm never sure which side to show. Nik De Dominic

Quadrilateral: Soluble


Where recollection fails, the body takes a fuller stride :
Like books you keep for the marginalia. A dead friend’s boots :
I can listen to the icicles melt and almost no one says much :
We’re each given a palm’s width of ocean. All the way down.





Quadrilateral: A Theory of Late Twentieth-Century America


A geriatric labradoodle wakes on a trampoline, the same :
Kids out making nowhere of themselves :
The new-growth sycamores prove a highway ornament :
Twin recliners in TV light. Hushed inside the voluble snow.





Quadrilateral: And Orpheus Was Never So Old


Crows will be crows. They skim and scatter you, who knows :
Soft hands, soft thought. The farthest earlobe you ever touched :
Outside, the mob gathers its silence like a bell :
Kicking cans in the mustard light. Back and gone. Going back.





Quadrilateral: Ideas About the Thing


What begins is a percept and we are what the percept begins :
Aghast, the war. No trumpet fits this embouchure :
Come March, we’ll wake wild and roam the topiary zoo :
That’s a history. That box of trophies in a stranger’s basement.





Quadrilateral: Red-Handed Blue


Lend me your brutes, your Dargers, your unlessonable pains :
We chose the hotel but not the selves that entered :
I love you the way a severed head loves a serving tray :
Dogs play and play their game into being. God is simpler than that.





Quadrilateral: Green Night


Something itches the years-ago, wallpapered rooms, an exacting pattern :
People pass by people passing for themselves passing people :
That the dead we convey within might carry us on without :
Dawn. Building. Sheer. Height. I was just myself today.





Quadrilateral: Adult Lullabies


Chitchat and highballs. Thus the decades, plush as zeppelins :
Rivering peal, rivering whorl, shut-eye river we swallow that pearl :
Occasionally, in heaven, their eyes drift downward to the thought of heaven :
She lights the mossy walk. Steals the tongue from his every tower.





Quadrilateral: Beckoning Epitaph


All wash and welter and the creek can’t quiet its dulcimer :
Mid-distance, a figure turns, stays turning :
The least of night fills the broken bowl :
The capital galleries dim together. One portrait keeps winking.