Christopher Buckley

Post Structuralism
August 21, 2019 Buckley Christopher

Post Structuralism

But the first idea was not to shape the clouds
In imitation. The clouds preceded us.
W. Stevens

Mornings I’m here
looking out over the sea,
trying to read whatever
the waves last inscribed
on the shore,
regardless. . . .
Where else is there
at this point to look
for meaning?
Nothing to be made
of clouds—
I don’t see Einstein,
no clipper ships,
no rib bones,
nothing very like a whale. . . .
sign in please. . . .

Throughout childhood,
through the afternoons,
the long silences
settled like shade in the parks . . .
cumulus and nimbostratus
trailing me
home like beggars—
no other interpretation.

Now, all autumn,
I walk around
and find no one
in the doorways waiting for me
to stop and
discuss the sky,
point above the pines to dust
falling instead of rain
over the rose beds,
the acacias,
the brief
bright life of nasturtiums. . . .
Whatever it was
we sang in hope,
or recited by rote
for significance
in our lives,
faded with the bells
and incense
each Lent,
beneath the ineluctable
subtext of death.

Shearwaters, petrels, foam trails
on the waves . . .
we’re all speeding through
unscripted space
no matter what
we see embedded in starlight.

Out the high windows,
a couple clouds still form
in support of daydreaming,
which, as a sideline
all these years,
put little in my pocket—
chalk dust,
coming out to much
the same. . . .
Just so,
our assembled particles
from the faint blueprints
of our bones . . .
we’re an arrangement of atoms,
here on contingency
of we don’t know what,
hoping there’s something
implied behind each buzzing
electron, each invisible
proton in the cyclotron of light,
in the underlying
theme of grey matter transliterated
behind our eyes.
What do you say
we scuttle the theories
in favor of
the old sea-links in our veins?
We’ve been guessing
all along,
gambling with the tenuous
chemicals of our blood
and breath—
double or nothing,
nothing wild,
house rules unknown
beneath the blank
slate of the sky,
beneath each dim
sheaf of clouds,
imperceptibly over the sea.

Christopher Buckley’s most recent book is One Sky to the Next, winner of the Longleaf Press Book Prize, 2023. He has recently edited: The Long Embrace: Contemporary Poets on the Long Poems of Philip Levine, Lynx House Press, 2020; and NAMING THE LOST: THE FRESNO POETS—Interviews & Essays, Stephen F. Austin State Univ. Press, 2021.