From a Lost Book of Divination
I see the sky burning as tillers find
they’ve planted the wrong crops.
Men with flaming ties will split fruit from rind,
feeding the hungry with slop
that never lived. Hairless dogs will gallop.
Baring white eyes, colts will go blind.
Drooling, sedated children will yawp.
Before chloride skies burn, scribes will find
beggars fulfilling what my book divined.
Lesioned beasts will wither—along with hope.
Licking posterity’s ink from “undersigned,”
leaving oaths in obscure scraps,
a dragon will drowse till its scheme develops.
Like a vine, the reptile will unwind
its gaseous torso and tail up
above the people—tyrannous, enshrined.
A new city will be designed
to fit in a radioactive wall. Drop
by drop, acid tears will fall. Mined,
they’ll taint blood with a poison no mop
can expunge. Spiral wings will loom atop
the city to protect the confined.
But outside urban limits, it won’t be stopped:
the dragon will stretch in its lair, claws grinding.
The sky will burn.
SHORES OF WALKER LAKE
--- an anonymous nineteenth-century photograph of a Native-American boy
Come to water as to a page.
Point your fishing-rod and trawl,
scrawl the muddy floor. Reflection
swims into itself: bow meeting
bone—outline of a beak,
outline of another boy poking
his fishing-rod up
where yours impales
water’s skin. Tilt your head
into his liquid shadow—
read his featureless face. One
like sage smoke. Ghosts
dissolve into a pollen trail. Chants
warble through the valley
where the dog-star web leads, where
you surely return.
The boy below the lake
waits, cawing the Nevada sun
to flood canyons with wraiths:
they feast on trout and bitterroot,
they feast on acorns and bergamot,
they feast on sweet cicely and violets,
their mouths erased like a smudge.
THE STONES OF THE CITY
Livid lacerations on gray.
Chisels etch our granite like hot blades
Trains & cars grub
through our primordial hulk,
into slab and tile, into entablature
and pillar, we
—the expendable stones—
into secular parabolas.
Dense as complicity,
we buttress skyscrapers.
Without our heft, our dark
schist, those stories would soon
relinquish their gleam.
Color of wind, color of mind.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Dean Kostos from his book Rivering, Spuyten Duyvil Press.
All rights including electronic are reserved by the author.
--after a surrealist drawing by Benjamin Palencia
In arid elsewhere,
musical bones leak
by nuclear wind.
Gray leaves sprout, confusing
The horizon line slices into
Acidic as an aquatint,
faces of inhabitants
Otherwhere: a new poem by Dean Kostos (C) 2015. All rights, including electronic reserved for the author.
Dean Kostos’s collections include Rivering,Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends with a Comma, and the chapbook Celestial Rust. He co-edited Mama’s Boy: Gay Men Write about Their Mothers (a Lambda Book Award finalist) and edited Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry (its debut reading was held at the United Nations). His poems have appeared in over 300 journals and anthologies, such as Boulevard, Chelsea, Cimarron Review, The Cincinnati Review, Mediterranean Poetry (Sweden), Southwest Review, Stand Magazine (UK), Stranger at Home, Token Entry, Vanitas, Western Humanities Review, and on Oprah Winfrey’s Web site Oxygen.com. His choral text, Dialogue: Angel of War, Angel of Peace, was set to music by James Bassi and performed by Voices of Ascension. His literary criticism has appeared on the Harvard UP Web site, in Talisman, and elsewhere. He has taught at Wesleyan, The Gallatin School of NYU, The City University of New York, and he has served as literary judge for Columbia University’s Gold Crown Awards. A recipient of a Yaddo fellowship, he also serves on the editorial board of Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora. His poem “Subway Silk” was recently translated into a film by Canadian filmmaker Jill Clark.