Xu Bing’s Phoenixes at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine










standing under Phoenix and his lofted bride
both newly risen in the nave of a church
at a quarter of the height from floor to vault
—I am small and still beneath their static glide.

a cross in the distance where they might have perched,
is centered on choirs set on either side
as simple as the nexus of sinners’ faults
at the crux of the moment their songs might rise.

these ninety foot creatures made of sweat and steel
and of light and of industry and touch and feel
and of hoses and spades and of wire and sight
and of chain and of pipes and of silent nights
and of canisters pulleys ducts and vents
and of reason for rebirth to where innocence went
and of hope and contrition and of blood and bone
all Phoenixes together here un-alone

by Jim Culleny

Time Talk

poets talk time
to get a handle on it,
to hack a place to hold it
to turn it, to fold it
to climb it and mount it
to ride it, to flip it
to hide it, to turn it
to toy with and tip it
to wrench it, to rip it
apart to unlearn it
to kill it, to burn it
to track it in the innards of clocks
to tear it apart like a crow on a corpse
to drill it to dig it to bore it
and finally, ignore it

poets would do well to pour time
like water, or blood & wine
and savoring,
sip it

Science & Religion

my brain’s a pouch in which
I stash my loot
if I keep its purse strings loose
I might add to its load
when new coin comes to town

but if I tighten down
the purse strings of my mind
and garrote its capaciousness
all that I might be
will be hopelessly consigned
to dangle from its noose

Jim Culleny

A Footprint

Long ago
a fox ran along a clay river bank.
After an interim
of tens of thousands of years
a footprint turned fossil remains.
Looking at it, you’ll see
what the fox was thinking while running.
by Shinjiro Kurahara
from Iwana
publisher Dowaya, Tokyo, 2010
translation Mariko Kurihara, William I. Elliott, Katsumasa Nishihara