SMITHSONIAN–Mark Lamoureux

I.
Victor Ekpuk slave narrative
face tracings dissolve into
a black blood tsunami, benches
like coffins, eviscerated by the gold
trade; masks are discrete beings.
Punu link the white-faced masks
with female beauty, the afterlife
& spirits of the dead, while the black
masks are said to be ugly & male.

Afewerk Tekle stained-glasslike
homage to Russian ballet,
red, white & blue & yellow
& green, a ring of pale grass,
hoe currency—
money recast into something
useful, other objects good
for when the system dies,
other masks come out to dance
& ride the one within;
the mask known as Hawk
was exiled from the town
because of bad behavior & Eagle
was fashioned
to take his place.

II.
Staff of a counselor,
an impressive command of language,
particularly proverbs:

the one gold man eats,
the other goes hungry.
           The food belongs to the rightful heir.

A window of veldts looks
out upon ascending stairs,
forms crosses, quatrefoil
emblems, a crosshairs
or a zen circle—the well of the soul
as an eye.

III.
Secret society, secret birds
like the doves or the hens shown here
are supernatural & can see the future
rimmed with blue Turaco
feathers. Eyeless masks
wrapped & kept on person for healing
or protection, furrowed brows,
stern lips overseeing,
choosing to speak
nothing.

IV.
A rue of verbena, extinct birds rise
from clots of white
flower spikes, daisies freer
at the periphery pollinate:
Adspice Respice Prospice.
Asters in urns bloom before the byzantine facade
of Natural History.

Whistler’s mistress thumbs though
meisho, blue Hokusai bricks,
kimono singularly designed
to grant egress, Hiroshige configures
the industrial landscape
of the Thames. Nocturnes: Silver & Opal,
Symphony in Grey, Blue & Silver,
Grey & Silver: Battersea Beach,
Grey & Silver: Old Battersea Bridge,
Blue & Gold: Old Battersea Bridge,
Blue & Gold: Southampton Water
.

V.
Statue of celestial dancer,
quickly-worked chloritic schist,
soft when quarried, hardens
& brittles into pendulous-breasted
Madanaki—epitome of love.

Bright blue wings of an aphid
so formed by white-throated kingfisher
feathers cut & glued
to a lightweight metal substrate.

VI.
By comparison the National Air
& Space Museum is crowded
& bloated with marketing, people
in lines spending money
in front of defunct ICBMs. Apollo & Soyuz
kiss above brown, stained carpets. Ours
a great bullet, theirs a giant dildo
or lime-green chess piece, spare solar
wings furled, a Baba-Yaga bird.
U.S. spends $20,000 on a fountain pen
that works in zero g, the Soviets
use pencils.

Spasibo Ivan Ivanovich, 35 years
in suit, so lifelike they had to stamp
“MAKET” on his forehead, an anti-golem,
a dummy & his dog, prana hissing
out his third eye, his body full
of mice & lizards & guinea pigs, singing
alone every part of “Alexander Nevsky”
& a recipe for borscht.
I shall go across the snow-clad field, drowning
out squeaks & pig trills,
I shall fly above the field of death, high
above Kuybyshev. I shall search for valiant warriors;
heavy weather, March 1961,
my betrothed, my stalwart youths,
Ivan Ivanovich lifeless in the snow:
Here lies one felled by a wild saber;
rats crawling out his opened throat,
there lies one impaled by an arrow,
birthed by Moscow Prosthetic Appliances
next, peel & slice the beets into match sticks
& add them back to the pot,
now
on loan from the Perot Foundation.
In Soviet Russia space
walks in you.

A foreigner, I expected my feet to be shod in cymbals.
A little boy throws karate punches in the air
in front of him, May the arms of the cross-bearers conquer!

Let the enemy perish!
Cold War Bad Guy, sidekick
Natasha says kill moose & squirrel:
Two years, five Vostoks after Ivan, Valentina
Tereshkova becomes the first woman
in space, a solo mission, followed
19 years later by Svetlana Savitskaya,
Soyuz T-7 & then in 1983, US’s
Sally Ride, STS-7, Challenger crew of six,
Mustang Sally, they must have called her.
Challenger explodes in Social Studies,
1986, Ride gone in 2012, Tereshkova & Soyuz
still going in 2014; Tereshkova at
77—ready for a one-way trip to Mars.

VII.
Turtle dove down,
was gone for four days,
four years,
four hundred years—time
isn’t that important.

Cormorant moves
between upper & terrestrial
worlds, black beak
like a scimitar.

An operational consecrated space.
                                                                  Single glyph
                                                                  floats in a bowl
                                                                  surrounded
by turtles,
           the story unfolds
           by turning the jar.
                                                                  Armadillo digs
                                                                  graves.

Jar in the form of a woman;
summer or winter people—
           no ambiguity there—
           I weep for the end
of August.
                                                                  The smoke purifies
                                                                  & heals
                                                                  whatever it touches.

           All prayers begin in the West
whose color is black;
           red the North,
                       summer,
                               thunder beings,
                               infancy.

VIII.
The blighted man
           hears a plaint through
woodpecker-pecked cane
           & brings back this

music
           of remorse
                                                                  an old man’s lips,
drone flute
           a singing angle.
Assimilation & integration.

           Bone & horn combs for daily use,
           wood to groom the body
                                                                  for burial.

IX.
Shaggy blazing star
Splitbeard bluestem
Marsh lady’s tresses
Coastal doghobble
Moss phlox
Found rose
Barrenwort
Oblong leaf snake herb
Tongue fern
Inkberry
Norin 10-Brevor 14
BR 43A7
TS4299RS
Floss flower
Husker red
Downy shadblow
Bearberry

X.
O moon made
of anorthosite,
           regolith & breccia,
fragile gleaming sheaths
a heart of basalt
           & feldspar;
Mare basin,
           hare face,
                      fickle lord
of sleep.

A ghost in a crystal
is a cessation of growth
coated with mud then
it restarts.
           Azure turns
to malachite green in the blue
eyes of saints.

A crystal is produced
by repeating configurations
of molecules.
By repeating configurations
of molecules
a crystal is produced.
Differences in temperature
can cause crystal
faces to grow
at different rates, creating
many variations
on one basic shape.
A crystal is repeating,
produced by configurations
of molecules.
A crystal is molecules
produced by repeating
configurations
of a crystal,
by repeating configurations
of molecules
is produced.
Molecules of a crystal
produced by
is repeating configurations.

Lithium produces
           antidepressants, batteries
& hydrogen bombs.
           Thus are we wed
by purple lepidolite,
           towers of spodumene, bloody
glass; iron molecules
           suspended in quartz
give the purple color
           to amethyst.
.

***

Mark Lamoureux lives in New Haven, CT. He is the author of thee full-length collections of poetry: Spectre (Black Radish Books 2010), Astrometry Orgonon (BlazeVOX Books 2008), and 29 Cheeseburgers / 39 Years (Pressed Wafer, 2013). His work has been published in print and online in Cannibal, Denver Quarterly, Jacket, Fourteen Hills and many others. In 2014 he received the 2nd annual Ping Pong Poetry award, selected by David Shapiro, for his poem “Summerhenge/Winterhenge.”