Manifest

A clay vessel, circa 100 BCE:
Stained with ochre used to paint the dead
In streaks and daubs and smears
Of false gore in place of birthing-blood.

Three jade beads, goshintai of the Kohun period,
In the shape of comets, or commas:
Houses of spirit to allow the bodiless to receive
Libations, rice balls, and the smoke of burning spirit-money.

Polynesian god-stick, collected 17th. c.:
Carved staff of unknown wood festooned with
Shell, stones, feathers, and coconut fibers
Bound in place with bark-cloth strips.
To unbind them is to free the power of the god
Trapped within, risk his refusal to return,
Or his revenge.

A relic of an unknown saint, dated circa 8th c.:
The phalange of a martyr, credited with healing the lame,
Easing the ache of a day’s labor, and glowing and trembling
Before the sin of the secret foot-fetishist.

White porcelain soup-tureen festooned with metal charms, 19th c. or later:
Spirit-home of mankind’s gentle creator, drunk on palm wine.
His tools hang ready for his hand; two carved-ivory eggs house him
So long as it is his desire to be near his children.
Alcohol must never be offered to him, but he loves sweet meringues.

Partial page, torn from a journal, dated 6 weeks ago:
Turner untied several of the cloth strips on the god-stick yesterday,
trying to get a better look at the carvings. Thankfully the grad student
assigned photography duties had already finished with it.
Something needs to be done about Turner.
Had a terrible night, no sleep at all. The humidity is enormous,
even for here. I think it’s going to storm; even that would be a wel

[remainder missing]

(2011)

Another exercise poem; this one sprang from two exercises: Choosing two homonyms with different meanings to work with (I chose the ones that provide the title) and writing a poem that is nothing but a list.

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