THE MOON BLOOMS

IN OCCUPIED HOURS

ANIS SHIVANI

BLAZEVOX[BOOKS]
Buffalo, New York
The Moon Blooms in Occupied Hours
by Anis Shivani
Copyright © 2017
Published by BlazeVOX [books]

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without
the publisher’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.

Printed in the United States of America

Interior design and typesetting by Geoffrey Gatza

Cover Art: Suzanne Duchamp, Chef d’ouevre accordéon
1921, oil, gouache, and silver leaf on canvas, 39 × 5/16 × 31 7/8 in.
Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery.

Illustrations: The illustrations are all images of woodcuts by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, part of the
collection at the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, and are reproduced courtesy of the museum.

First Edition
ISBN: 978-1-60964-286-0
Library of Congress Control Number: 2017934576

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Acknowledgements

Many thanks to the editors of About Place Journal, Boulevard, MahMag, Pank, and
Posit, as well as to the editors of the anthology Devouring the Green: Fear of a
Human Planet, where a number of the ecological poems in this book appeared.
“The Great Wall of China,” I and II, are found poems. I am grateful to Sam Witt,
Debra Di Blasi, Metta Sáma, Richard Burgin, Shadab Zeest Hashmi, Susan Lewis,
Wendy Chin-Tinner, Hadara Bar-Nadav, and Ali Eteraz for encouragement
during the writing of this book. My deepest gratitude to Geoffrey Gatza for his
indispensable labors on behalf of contemporary poetry. I dedicate this book to the
poets who particularly inspired me during its composition, namely, Antonio
Machado, Kenneth Koch, William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, Federico
García Lorca, Osip Mandelstam, Anna Akhmatova, Wallace Stevens, Frank
O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, and Allen Ginsberg. As always thanks to Mehnaaz for
living the life of a poet, though she may formally be an academic, in the true
meaning of the word; it is true that Bengalis are born poets. This is for our years
together, and those yet to come.
For Mehnaaz
Contents
I. Anchorites 13

Light and Space .............................................................................................................. 15
City: I .............................................................................................................................. 16
Crisis................................................................................................................................ 18
Dreams ............................................................................................................................ 28
Death ............................................................................................................................... 30
A Study of Grapes ........................................................................................................... 33
Feather ............................................................................................................................ 34
translation: the devil’s waterhole .................................................................................... 38
Gothic ............................................................................................................................. 39
Jest ................................................................................................................................... 42
Soap ................................................................................................................................. 43
Some Trees ..................................................................................................................... 44
Three Poems After Po Chü-i ......................................................................................... 45
The New Yorker ................................................................................................................ 48
Nocturne ......................................................................................................................... 49
To You ............................................................................................................................ 50
Mussolini/The Loves of a Blonde .................................................................................. 53
The Great Wall of China: I ............................................................................................ 55
Apocalypse ....................................................................................................................... 56
Drone Wars .................................................................................................................... 59
Banquet, Emergency, Social Security, Rope .................................................................. 60
Pure: I .............................................................................................................................. 62
rain................................................................................................................................... 63
Sleep: Ghazal................................................................................................................... 64
II. Sodomites 67

Ideology ........................................................................................................................... 69
Capitalism ........................................................................................................................ 70
Leafblower ....................................................................................................................... 71
Wallace Stevens ............................................................................................................... 72
Aesthetic of Railway Stations .......................................................................................... 73
For Anna Akhmatova ....................................................................................................... 74
For Sylvia Plath ............................................................................................................... 75
Nostalgia .......................................................................................................................... 76
Greenland ........................................................................................................................ 77
Portrait ............................................................................................................................. 80
Landscape ........................................................................................................................ 81
Dear National Park ......................................................................................................... 83
The Novelist .................................................................................................................... 84
The Painter ...................................................................................................................... 85
The Dictator .................................................................................................................... 86
To Testosterone .............................................................................................................. 87
Conjunctivitis .................................................................................................................. 88
City: II.............................................................................................................................. 89
To Los Angeles................................................................................................................ 91
The Reluctance of Candida............................................................................................. 92
To My Twenties .............................................................................................................. 93
Renaissance ...................................................................................................................... 94
The Death of John Ashbery ........................................................................................... 97
To the Twenty-First Century ......................................................................................... 99
The Great Wall of China: II ......................................................................................... 100
Pure: II ........................................................................................................................... 101
Changes ......................................................................................................................... 102
THE MOON BLOOMS
IN OCCUPIED HOURS
I.

Anchorites
Light and Space

Aspens have shed their morning light:
in medias res Hercules has ascended
to grip the father’s ankles, wrestle him
down to the ground, where layers of fungi
arrest the bottle-broken sun. Daughters
drink the winter air in all good conscience,
Mexican arias fly off to oven smiles.

15
City: I

curving to the frail edge
washerwoman of the sun
mind your own matter

said baby carriage
rolling down a slope
gathers humus of love

crisp cake baked
in the tender eye of laziness
for florid spare moments

in an office patterned
after mauve fishbaskets
sunlight arrows truth

a teacher in a cup
of not-sorrow, drunk
in burnt Quixote suds

I find you palpating hearts
on the discarded tram
running on foolish electricity

the cinema is free
a bare auditorium of life
as it was in the caves

the afternoon is art
turned on its head
slowly the muscles easing

to love like tigers in garages
floating like boxes of the future
zookeepers are locked shut

16
a boy and a girl in blue
chase the stone football
ballerinas in the nude

a free telescope
wedged between floating libraries
a home made of whispers

17
Crisis

1.

The lenders have an axe to grind.
All afternoon the clocks flurry to a pause,
sniggering at hags fired by stones.
There is a back channel, somewhere
across the street from the bank,
pimps falling over themselves to heal
naturally. We buried that tall pyramid
out of sight, somewhere in the Gulf
perhaps, or in the Keys? Hot fires
have suppurated into back talk.

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2.

Peel the label for the cruciferous
bounty nature has been pounding
its head over. There are classes
upon classes of ordinary folk competing
to be the first healants. If we
shorten the radicals multiplying
like ants in a line, we permit old
wrinkles to die. There is a glass
half full there, on that counter
where money is never counted.

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3.

Oh, those presidents with a noontime
fetish to break peace, those hardheaded
advisers with guns to load in their
cool anatomically correct backpacks–
those silent fences mended while we sleep,
guns for butter, butter for guns,
whatever the talented tenth have got going.
Oh, that vision of melting glaciers atop
the planet’s hard hat, our only fighting chance.

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4.

Where I was on welfare, back at home,
I punched the clock of eternity twice
in its rabid face. Twice I hollered
at the blonde woman ahead of me to please
spare no honesty. I can take it like a
man. You see that fence wound
like a noose around my land? You see
how the dogs know to stay away? Alone,
we make our bed of love, alone we live.

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5.

In Poland a gate opens. In Siberia
the trains pause with their nose in the frozen
dust, like panthers stopped short by
the likeliness of the moon. It is cold
in this line, hands chafed in the wool
pockets my mother sews for me out of
bread and misery. It is cold as long as I
grip the horn of possibility. I can read
into the distance where the letters dance.
It is a winter day greedy for me to pass.

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6.

In this talent for grief, for the child
left marooned in the womb, deprived
of air weighty as sugar, I have no
competitors. Then as now parents took
no chance on coming home unmolested.
Home is where molestation is finished
as a thoughtful act. These divisions
multiply, it is too easy to leave out the truth,
when we sit down for breakfast in June.
The garden is everyone else’s job.

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7.

I wouldn’t trip you up at the door.
The heavy oaks have withered
under roomy skies, beating down gratitude
and honor code decade after decade. To make
a moldy bed for you, from flattened
wet newspapers, soaked with dead thought,
we have demolished the last barricades.
Whose eyes watch your burning promise,
dripping to waste, like plastic candles?
Whose dead hand brushes against your thighs?

24
8.

We held the doctor’s hands across the desk.
Tell me I have ten more years to live,
and I will auction off the last remaining grief.
It is how we were raised as children, how
we opened dead rooms to dead orchards,
dead flowers caught in dead hands,
that repeating cycle of unfinished stories,
sleep in the arms of the frightened one,
that causes the disruption to the soul.
Each time we cheat we are a little more clean.

25
9.

We send you off to fight the wars,
equipped with the proper helmet,
and gun, and boots to march through
the black marshes of the icy lands
whose people barter chicken and eggs.
We send you off immune to germs
and viruses that plot against finality.
We expect you to live a full life,
eighty-five years old and desperate still,
to touch that one person who eluded you.

26
10.

He has a slight stutter.
He lingers over “our boys,” fights off boredom.
His eyes are a shade of lemon,
his lips dismiss genies invisible to us.
He has been made to look like a banker in a bunker.
Or a movie star tired of the stuntman’s blaze.
He reverberates with high hopes,
sent his way by mothers in Ohio,
wary but convinced of his finality.
He says we have a duty and a rose
and a garden and a rope and a reputation
and a choke, and it is for him to
decide who gets to win.
He says he gets sunburnt too easily.
He says there’s water under the bridge.
He says he has no fight to pick,
he is skinny and a dope, such a pushover
when his daughters come to play
in the Oval Office. If he could, he would dream
of the Mayans circling the tomb
suddenly sprouting in the desert brown,
wondering what possessed their predecessors.
But he only dreams of playing with
his daughters, the lovely and the lovelier one.
Men become great in crisis–
or wither. He knows which is which.
He almost winks, as he dissolves into white,
leaving that perfume of power behind,
burning our nostrils, cutting its way
to the dead center of our brain.

27

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