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




EIGHT WORKS
BY JIM MCCURRY

Neighboring countries gaze at each other,
   Hear their roosters crow and their dogs bark;
   The people reach old age and die
   Without coming or going.

                              Lao Tzu (tr. Samuel Moon)

TO ROSE
     FROM THE SEMANTIC QUIBBLES

whose fingers
red like shrimp

I took in mine--

who walked and walked along
beside in jade

ocean light--

Just the evening light,
you say

  +

And now in your gown of green satin
as you stare up at the sapphire stars

as night fades from prussian
to that perfect horizonal limpid shade of blue--

Who holds aloft those warm lamps in the distance?
No one. And yet behold.

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

ORCHESTRA

First the high treble trills,
mysteriously happy--
happier even than the cardinal
who shall chime later--
a song whose warbler I cannot name
begins the session.

Then the one far distant, and her peers
(First Twig Thrush, Second Twig Thrush,
and so on) whose job appears
to contribute a sense of
space. Crisp dimension.

Then the cardinal, spritely
as he'll be even later,
in noon tide heat.

And last, almost at last,
the long and longed for
low notes, the cooling,
cooing doves.

Even the raucous crows
can be called a contribution.

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

19 SEPTEMBER 2001

This morning, driving through a stretch of pavement where water had
gathered, I noted two or three crows, feathers fluffed, taking what appeared
to be both a drink and a brief bath. And I slowed and steered to avoid them,
holding a brief eye contact with one, who did not fly off with his fellows
but merely moved aside and looked back at me. I thought of my preference
for doves. And what did that crow's eye tell me? Well, I drove through
that puddle of water and went to breakfast, and (God help me) I took my
usual eight or nine pills.

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

ZACATECAS

In Colorado
the mountains

look out
toward Nebraska

 _

Take your choice

Be in these mountains
or see the mountains

 _

The first time I saw
mountains

the city had not spread

the shimmering distance

the air in Albuquerque
aromatic

warm & dry
like sandalwood

though perhaps
To Objectivists--

hot and dry

 _

Adventure, future,
train or car

silver mines
highstrung overhead

the cable
car rocking

against high
winds

 _

Five and a half years from now
Xenical having purged

this dross, goat
shanks

in urban canyons
negotiating Zacatecas by

night, break

of day--
rivulets

water glints
on black,

grey blue.

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

AMONG THE TOOTH FAIRIES

By putting balloons down gullets,
Inflating them at set intervals
Then interrogating the subjects,
Some torture artist or other has proved,
A full gut does not dispel hunger.

Incense of sanctity. Tokyo mojo,
There is a vacation: And the reason
Our little xenolith collector
Hangs out by the curios counter
Of Papa's rainmaking shop?

Half koala, half mountain puma--
The little tlaco miztli
Won't be able to say so till fall,
But he wants that 2012 picante model
With the hoodlamp lids glassed orange

Offset by a chassis of shimmery light
Worth how many quetzals? cactus & sage

  ___

[perhaps I shouldn't say
tlaco miztli. It's Nahuatl for "cacomistle": having grayish or
brownish fur and a black-banded tail.

tlaco = half
miztli = mountain lion]

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

ZINE DAZZLE

early sun
crow

dancing
up & down

in the prajna-
paramita

or, call it,
the nondual

breeze--
the snow

sparkles down
like confetti

from boughs,
mostly

pine. They
would dance

--would they not--
even if they

could not hear
the salsa

on my radio?

And who
says

they do?

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

THE BARON AXEL ANGST BURGER

Place in blender: chopped tomatoes, tomato catsup,
small amount of honey, Laurie's colleague's homemade
sweet pickled cucumbers & onions.

Fry burgers with egg whites in extra virgin olive oil.
Toast the buns.

Now you are set for nonpareil, though simple,
burgers, without mustard.

  _

Anyhow, I have invented Eli Yale Hamburger Sauce.
I call it that because it is close to the taste
achieved by a New Haven restaurant, a popular
hangout near the Yale Hall of Graduate Studies
in 1965-66.

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

DEAR ELI YALE

I am in a school where, to graduate, you have to
  swim the backstroke in the nude.
I have a problem. It is night and I go and
place my pajamas by one of the bunks and practice
  alone in the tank, and suddenly I feel
no fear of drowning, and (hump be damned!) can
  even swim on my backwards. But only
underwater. Have I grown gills?

Returning to the group, I ask the Japanese girl
  to go for a walk afterward. She smiles.
Not understanding this for a yes, I say, "At least
  forgive me for placing my pj's on your cot.
I didn't know it would be yours."

Some frat jocks accost me for seeking a doctor's
  excuse, and the mother of my special friend
calls me un-American. Yes?

I compose a rejoinder to which no one will listen,
  all about how I have been moonlighting
in a meat packing plant to make money for her
  last ditch operation, and then (I stammer)
I should listen to this abuse? Everyone laughs,

except for my wide-eyed girlfriend, who
  takes my hand. My back stiffens, suddenly,

poor but proud I walk to the strange vat,
place one hand on its canvassed edge, leap like a
pole vault artist up and over, ready for the test--