Eric Pankey

August 10, 2015 Pankey Eric


An Excerpt:


Plow blade excavated from a tomb
Roof of camphor and cypress
Longbow of lacquered catalpa wood

The error considered a source of lively regret
A folded length of willow-green silk
The moon hidden perhaps

Four rough ink sketches of cicadas
The error considered a serious lapse of taste
Hailstorm over open sea

Perspective box with Dutch interior
The continuum of a pantoum
The tyranny of the present tense

Empty space filled with conjecture
Four angels holding the winds at bay
Whirlpool in a tsnuami’s wake

Carved bone buttons wax-dipped rose
The red end of the spectrum
The spotted hood of a pitcher plant

White-tail hung from a barn’s crossbeam
Tick-tock of blood into a galvanized pail
Nanny goat atop a steaming dung heap

A golden age when Saturn ruled
The error unacknowledged as error
This and this and this and this and this

Thicket of rusted razor wire
Lightning strike interred as glass in sand
Confluence of the Fox and the Wabash

Dead man resuscitated by a single word
Healer with a birdcage for a head
Fragments of a much larger thing

Vipers awake this late in the season
Sooty smoke of a kerosene lantern
No Trespassing sign riddled with buckshot

Cold stove of a peat bog
The least dangerous of reported side-effects
Rhyme of allure and terror

Jesus in the house of Mary and Martha
Fog a fugue of interlocking grays
A nail clipping’s sharp ends

Antebellum antecedent antediluvian
Antelope antemortem antenna
Antepenultimate anthem anther anthill

Solidarity undermined by rumor
Charlie Parker’s grave in Kansas City
Verb meaning to look back from the seventh day

Noun meaning a discrete body of work
“The Great Speckled Bird” sung by Lucinda Williams
Contradictions common in dreams

Fragment of an Egyptian queen’s face in yellow jasper
Abandoned crutches at Chimayo
King Lear Act 4 scene 7 lines 43-46

Redacted version of the torture report
Vague sense of having been here before
The error that unfolds into good fortune

The cellar stairs submerged in flood
Goat-footed Pan tapping a tree for honey
Rhyme of recur and endure

Below where bodies writhe as flames
Last dregs of a turned and livery port
A poor and jerry-built rebuttal

Smeared stain of a loose saffron thread
Ice-heaved tumble of stonewall
Soul awaiting its body’s arrival

Shreds debris tailings shrapnel
Onslaught of grief without apparent occasion
Fall of acorns on a shed’s tin roof

Spilt cauldron of a hornet’s nest
Hyphen that links and keeps separate
Threshold uncrossed by Eurydice

“The Great Speckled Bird” sung by Roy Acuff
Spanish moss’s ghostly web-work
OK meaning be that as it may

Pinyon pines wild olives chiffchaffs goldfinches
Inarticulate cries and gestures
The past like a struck string shimmers anew

Screen door caught before it slams
Gleaned windfall all pocked and blemished
A thermometer’s acrid trace of alcohol

A string of fine purple wool to bind bay leaves
Trance utterance ecstatic murmur glossolalia
Green shoot from a withered tree

Compendiums and bestiaries
Commentaries on commentaries on commentaries
“Peace in the Valley” sung by Sister Rosetta Tharpe

“Peace in the Valley” sung by Clara Ward and the Clara Ward singers
“(There’ll be) Peace in the Valley” sung by Loretta Lynn
Thimble cap black morel horsehair mummy-cap

Sky’s clear/night’s sea/green of the mountain pool/
Cow-cress poor-man’s-pepper shepherd’s purse
Aftershocks along the fault line

Contingency quintessence
Ancient harbor silted in
Nod of moored skiffs in the wake

Cocklebur imported in bales of wool
The five hundred year flood plain
Tumor on my mother’s tongue

Pretext by which one begins to speak
Curative waters in glass vials
Falcon mantled over its prey

The translucence of the Eternal through and in the Temporal
Black tacks kept in an old baby food jar
Emery board tweezers eyelash curler

Owl of Minerva nostalgia of the infinite
The forgery authenticated
Cobra black mamba desert death adder

Verb meaning to forget a dream upon waking
Bunkers beyond the dunes
Arranged order of an encyclopedia

To revel in ambiguity to reveal ambiguity
The quorum the denouement the flimflam
Stubborn door-latch sooty ceiling

Gate of ivory gate of horn
A thread bit not cut all fray and snarl
Noun meaning the first to acknowledge a miracle

Verb meaning to build up in order to tear down
The luck of the draw unfinished business
Split infinitives slipped disc

Inventory of the summer’s yield
The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry
A tornado’s lash and drag

The error considered tragic
Carp and bluegill in a quarry lake
Woven wool of a Viking sail

Ice-spalled brick face wind-rucked shingles
First word that comes to mind
First in a series of errors foretold

Soluble rock such as limestone dolomite and gypsum
Transom knot tumble hitch slippery eight loop
The nine rasas the ninth planet

Cold fog from which a trawler emerges
Slug loose change foreign coins
Two iambs followed by a spondee

The work and charm of memory
Two whole notes a rest
An outline darkened in with charcoal

Verb meaning recently departed from a place
Detour that ends in a dead-end.
Ram snagged in a thicket

Papyrus fragment with lines from Homer’s Odyssey
Game of Hounds and Jackals
Warm laundry in a wicker basket

Match crimped and blackened by flame
Spindly taproot of a dream
Bottle tree glottal stop gingko leaf

The dung beetle the stag-horn
Unbleached coarse linen
A body’s obedience to gravity

Ritual functions of repetition
Bed of nails a sarcophagus an arcane song
An enclosed interior called a shelter

A carton of Camels a cartoon duck
Surveyors’ instruments abstracting a field
Sconces niches amphorae

Levee crested not broken
A surface blackened to absorb light
Dugout canoe horse trough pothole

Deputy Dog singing Dreadful sorry, Clementine
The rafters’ regimented shadows
An invitation to the voyage

Jabs gouges scars facets
A child’s counting game
Ruined chapel collapsed circus tent

Forthcoming revelations
Narrative sustained by and then
Ghost pale before a whitewashed wall

Edges rounded by wear
Incunabula incarnadine incandesce
Fertile crescent futile attempt

A wheel in a wheel way in the middle of the air
The unforgiveable error the error of pride
Sporadic killings after a massacre

Circular calendar of megaliths
A colander’s functional elegance
A pair of aces three twos

False eyelashes false indigo false start
The avant garde’s puritanical zeal
A counterweight an assumed consensus

Moment when theory replaces practice
An unattended tripe cart near Dante’s house
The unintended consequences

Mercator projection mercenary Mecurochrome
This and that but more of that than this
Verb meaning to be reminded of a place you never visited

A stowaway a splinter a virus a prosthesis
Scarp’s erosion wind-riven scarecrow
The error of the sentimental

A random number generator
The pretense of pictorial depth
A Madrid morning’s pale silver shimmer

Glass pill bottle Duane Allman used as a slide
Pin knife Blind Willie Johnson used as a slide
What de Chirico calls the metaphysics of the most ordinary objects

Green door into a courtyard
The background the backbeat the backhand
Shortwave radio left on all night

Woman born not from a body but from sleep
Dark energy stone light a journey’s tedium
Just the cello’s part of a late quartet

The name everyone called her
Verb meaning to abstract to the edge of recognizability
Reverie rather than engagement

Shape a dress takes as it falls to the floor
Jar of star anise opened
The mind as a repository

A prairie a pasture edged with oaks
A granite erratic half submerged in a wetland
What occludes what dims resolution

A slur a slub a sluicing
Upriver tributaries flint-strike of horse hooves
Grapes left on a gleaned vine

A discourse on love a distillation
What is unknown unknowable
The metaphoric dimension of rhyme

A banked ember words that baffle
Another day older and deeper in debt
Uneven floorboards the blue of Mary’s robes

Rigid geometries of a rented room
Sever gleam and glare from a chrome bumper
Buttonwood tree’s rubbed-off bark

Angles of rooflines field of shocked corn
Public farm auction outside Lone Tree
Malware warehouse household holdfast

A rough-haired terrier digging for moles
Silky plumage of a crow’s wing
Set of six ladder-back chairs for forty dollars

The awaited verdict chanted snatches of old tunes
The Connecticut from Deep River to the Sound
Open shutter above Piazza Santo Spirito

“Dark was the Night Cold was the Ground” sung by Blind Willie Johnson
The past authenticated by a souvenir
The complex and finite algorithms of etcetera

Eric Pankey is the author of many collections of poetry, most recently AUGURY (Milkweed Editions 2017). He has a book of poems, a book of prose poems, and a collection of essays all due out on 2019.