the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




SEVEN WORKS
BY DAVID RADAVICH

ANNIVERSAIRE

In French there's a ring
about it, in the air

sometimes above your head
when life gives a fair

account of your successes,
you stand haloed there

before me like a saint
or sinner who has been repaired

by folding in these arms
and being healed by charms

beyond our knowing: only
that escape from being lonely

lands us here before a flickering
fire, wine in hand, where

only the courageous venture
and find the years so quick, aware.

================

GIFT

This body no longer
belongs to me.

It is a shell, a phantom,
a piece of corn.

Take what you want:
I hand over blood, skin, keys
of gold, these eyes

that cloud with age
and yet see mountains blue
in your distance.

This is not surrender.

Freely I give what is yours.

Move me in the world,
take arms,
work music with your mind.

================

ICICLE

I would have taken you
in my hand, cold
as February sunrise,

tapered as a candle at dusk,
dripping and luminous
with all the frigid glamor

of a woman's kiss
before she goes inside
herself, into the vacant ground,

still thinking of that
moment hanging, being pulled
and willing in the air,

would have taken you
in my hand, firm
and fastened as a star,

but then you slid naked,
almost shattering
into unregions of the known.

================

WAR PRAYER

What good is prayer
against a blood-bath? -

Conflagration
of souls

too cruel
to give words to -

And yet I want to pray
for all victims, hope

against seething air
for reconciliation, peace,

no neighbor
ripping another,

stabbing his heart,
torching his fields.

If words can do anything
let them stop death

his scythe

just a moment

let us feel begging
can relieve pain

and blood is not the end
but a cleansing



wound we know
can never heal but scar

over, let mind
blare out

and let us walk upright
entreating the skies


================

WAR REQUIEM

We throw these flowers -
lilies, baby's breath, Siberian iris -

and they die being thrown
at funerals, caverns

where they fall on other faces,
flare a moment in descent.

Around shoulders
of the past:
sunsets, resplendent bandolier.

We throw ourselves on
the eyes of others, descending

like dust or aged shrapnel,
wounding what we enter, ourselves

and the ground we seal
without sowing

seeds or hope
in our waiting wringing

hands. No perpetual shrine.
No everlasting kiss.

================

PERSIAN GULF WATCH

Let crocuses come.

Let everything come,
dance before us like cabaret
or searing ghosts
in this mad, sad world.

Somewhere in clinics
heads twitch in their blisters,
eyes welded shut,
the accuracy of our minds
is called to question.

It's hardly real
what we see on TV, behind
the dots colored
as if they connected.

I look at my hand
like a bomb, searching
for life-lines,
more than guilty
of a few wild deeds.

This blanket of snow
is everywhere -
even on the screen
when the war has ended

for the night
and the colored dots take
refuge, pressing

hard against the ground,
screaming
spring, spring.

================

THIN MAN: BOSNIA, 1993

His legs, everywhere,
seem to reach out, extend, fold
back on him like a spider,

all arms and legs
and that one head helpless
in pain, in wakelessness

   Someone claims
   this is just, this is
   history's remaking,

   whosoever does not
   believe
   must cry out

empty-boned in living flesh,
black spear-eyes
eating at the brain

Human insects
gathered
in a web of war

like flies that stuck
can not tear off
their wings.