diode v9n1



Arcadian Inscriptions

You write: wind grafted to an apple tree,and offer no argument the image fulfills.

You write: like an ember blown upon and think of wind grafted to an apple tree.

In the distance, a muted light grows a bit brighter like an ember blown upon that             soon fades.

You think about the sphere and its progenitor, the circle. About the pyramid and the             triangle.

At the end of a dark hall, a glass-walled wooden display case for archeological finds.

You assume that all future discoveries will fit into the sets or subsets of the current

That is your first error. Did you mean inert or misbegotten?

You write spindle dropped in a well.  You write silhouette of pollarded willows.


Depiction without a Subject

When the world was flat
We could stand at the edge
And take the whole thing in

Windows held light
A snow-reflected transparency
And let light pass through

We recalled the static on the line
But not the conversation
We could not tame time

Change its velocity or direction
The mysterious immateriality
Of eternity

A byproduct of nostalgia
The gods
Fell out of favor

Shameless we shared
An anecdote a bit of gossip
Memories still intact

Understood the attraction
Of the not-quite-complete
The vertiginous arc

Of the story we told
And in telling
Came to believe


In the Presence of Animals

We descend
Into the dank dark
To behold bison

Stags and ponies
Crushed ochre
Mixed with tallow

A burnt willow twig’s
Charcoal reanimated
By flashlight

And try not to ascribe
A liturgical drama
Upon the space

Penumbral hidden
Despite the years’ accretions

And yet we feel
The presence of the sacred

The slow progress
Of herds
Across cave walls

The patience
Of a maker making marks
An agitated horse

The bison head down
Consults sweet grass


The Wapsipinicon

The surface not overrun
With reflections gives way
To an unobscured pebbled bed

The river remains level untroubled
A sun-flash here and there
Suggests the water’s swiftness

Eight or nine sand grains
Stirred up swirl into an orbit
Only to resettle a little downstream

Fingerings gather below the cut-bank
A water strider held aloft
Skims upon the moving transparency

We haul our canoes up onto the sandbar
Wait for the kindling to catch
We cannot see the stars for all the daylight  


Eric Pankey is the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University, where he teaches in the BFA and MFA programs. His most recent book is CROW-WORK from Milkweed Editions.