Natural Wonders

Poems about Natural Wonders.

Exploring the Pastime Reaches and Beyond

Exploring the Pastime Reaches and Beyond

Things in the dark
exist but are not realized.
Perhaps with wings
they wait for enacting light.
I start out as the sky descends
to the visible spectrum and begins.

Midmorning I find in a lab
a blue magnetic fluid:
revolving in the stress of gauss,
the source of blue resides.
November nights, up to the first snow,
derive from this seat of blue.

I spend a month reflecting at Palomar.
My delicate fourteen tons
I bring to bear
on galaxies: their lonely shine
on my dustless, understanding curve.

I come to a mountain out of season.
The brass benchmark telling the height
is under ice.
Without witness, without cease
a blizzard
pummels the summit's face.

I reach the pole. Here at the axis
the wobble and grind is audible.
My compass tries to point straight down.
It, too, deceived: Having achieved
one absolute, the source of north,
to find that south surrounds, is all but it.

The Humboldt Current has my boat
and its mile of line straight down.
Now and then, fishermen haul in
the inexplicable
along with seabream, haddock, squid.
I hook a coelacanth, thought long
extinct, and brain it with an oar.

Nose to the bottom
I shove off from the hundred fathom curve.
Slow footage of mud unreeling through my mind,
the miles of decline become my age.
Hauled up someday by accident,
rupturing in the lost pressure,
my look will say how knowing feels.

Living among the trilobites
I learn you cross great lengths of time
by stilling the waiting in yourself.
From scavengers I see how you can live
off your own dead kind.
I gum the grit of a tidal flat
and have no name.

A chance letter brings me home,
telling how I was found.
Returned I sit
like water in a jar,
light from a window passing through,
a slow rain of precipitate
remembering the bottom.

John Barr, "Exploring the Pastime Reaches and Beyond" from The Hundred Fathom Curve: New & Collected Poems. Copyright © 2011 by John Barr.  Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.Source: The Hundred Fathom Curve: New & Collected Poems (Red Hen Press, 2011)

John Barr / from The Hundred Fathom Curve


He comes when the light is right,
banking the pond’s perimeter
to land and step into a statue’s stillness.

When the light is right the fish come in to feed,
feeling it safe to nose among the weeds,
to risk the proximity of feet, of legs
that rise like reeds to a distant body above.

Once I saw him come in heavy rain,
knowing it would roil the fisheye view.
I watched his neck–a question mark–release,
his beak harpoon a startled shape,
and saw it go head-first down the hatch.

Perfect hunger. Perfect hunter. Perfect prey.
I wait for the heron to come.

John Barr / from The New York Times

Spider Web

The Orb Weaver

In the pre-dream of Creation–dingo
savanna, crab surf, serpent arroyo–
I was assigned thicket and air.
Whitetail taught to flee dissent,
coyote to collapse on his prey,
right whale to mouth his meadow's krill,
my trick, to make one thing repeatedly.

Out of this orifice unheard-of muscles
press a cable mile, 8 hands pay out
in junctions that I simply know.
I steeplejack an undulant array's,
a billowing acre's, rungs and radials.
From the host of brother structures in genetic gel,
my radical dance deduces one recalling
by moon the tenure of rails, by noon's blue hole
the 20/20 of a clean kill.

As language was given to man that he may have
dominion yet again, my web
like metaphor its hold makes good on air:

compass rose of indirection,
proof of an occult geometer,
dread nought, round hosanna
shout of spatial glee.

After the maker's heart
I put the merest gloze on air.
Having sutured nothing–nothing
nearly nothing still–I frame
a reference for the flying folk.

lighthousekeeperlike I tend
this hazard feet above the forest floor.
Each few days, the lattice rent
and apparent with dew, I eat it and renew
(word made flesh, made fresh) its invisibility.

My hands take hold of certain strands,
I settle to see what comes my way:

ariels and tinkerbelles,
a butterfly under double flags of truce,
manic mosquitos, a hoplite bee,
a Mack truck Luna hit the silk.

What happens next, whether to tiny tocsins
or large beats of alarum to come on the run,
whether to spring, fang, decant
is left, I believe, entirely to me.

I see a watchworks, socketed and sprung,
and I say "jeweled movement, motionless."
Immune to vertigo, I say "excused from gravity."
I see my causeways littered with body bags
and I say "Form is hunger, hunger form."

John Barr/The Hundred Fathom Curve: New and Collected Poems

Deer Xing

Sitting on sixty, we moved through Illinois.
In fast slow motion, farm by farm,
Wisconsin, like a realm whose deer
dream cars and leap, came near.

They panic, the wardens say.
but this one was intent,
crossing a lane to charge. The impact
of a deer in the air was a near wreck.
With a buckled front, but otherwise no harm,
we stopped and backed.

Sprawled in the ditch, wide-eyed,
the doe looked surprised that it had died
instead of us. As if that was the accident.

John Barr / from Hundred Fathom Curve