Three poems by Nicholas Laughlin
First published in Poetry Review, Autumn 2002
• • •
Fell from the Sky
Fell from the sky, or I chose to fall,
blue-slate-shod and iron-shirted,
and all you knew was I came from a cloud,
a flying stone in a squall from the north.
The valley’s breath was moist with the smell
of the months I passed—the sharp of green
or purple weeds crushed in the hand.
Weather exhaled me and I was glad
to lance the troubled air, surprised
the earth would have me so easy and fast.
Winds deserted me, my flight
was broken, elbows into grass.
You found me rising from the thick,
naked shoulders draped in clay.
I too was astonished, wished
I had a word to prove my way,
a better token than my haughty
bruises, forehead flecked with blood.
Your tender faces made me weep.
I would have trusted you the keep
of all the silences I learned
aloft. I wanted you to hear
the urge that tumbled me above.
I wanted you to take my love.
• • •
I Will Build You a New Machine
I will build you a new machine,
a more concise device to twist
& preen your elementary self.
I spied your scheme, I stole your blue-
print veins & ganglia, I solved
the cube root of your appetite
(that coefficient of desire),
the query pending from “and” & “and”:
a wheel of small titanium hooks
(like question marks), pardelicate
with sinew springs, are measuring
the snag of your skin & sparkling
your nerves, as though a sort of spool
could catch trajectory & weave
a speed to thread you hot & keen
& clinging after rupted gleam:
the only architect, I loved
till I was raw & clean, a stone
to cut a piercer pulse, intent
to prang from you convulsed consent.
• • •