Air the Trees


Larry Eigner


          the disappearance of matter

                 where is the
                  end of the poem
                 tired eyes

                    the sun travels
                   and allows dream

        orange cap
     the hydrant
              is silvered


        it may never be used
          but is flushed

              alarms have passed

         the availability of water 
            at some points, all 
              considered, so fine


                      often the sky reflects

                 the trees as well vary
              much color, and substance
                             more or less flame
                 comes and goes

                      birds fly
                          and raise shout

     Huge hill, so much
        to lie under
             life burying you
      or overlooks you
         the view diminishes 
           you come down 
          a hole in the wall 
           brings quiet the 
            water flows
           through pipes there as
             the sun might burn leaves through
               clouds slope
                     around the earth
                  monsters are quiet
                   the tree shapes 
                  singed spots 
                black through the centuries 
                 twisting towards the light 
                  they grow familiar cross 
                   each other
                        a skyway   lanes
                       channel dug out
                        from a river of sap
                       or a log
                        never floated
                          what time
                           is    day
                         and night changes
                          in the weather
                          the asphalt road
                           calcine a way off
                                  out by
                                   then spreading its light
                       in the wind the cold fountain

     hang on the tree there's
       the opening

          however gone there's
                outward, around,

           birds settle, think

        they're always hungry, eyes

          or sleep is the dark sky   ,   rain
                 sinks in

           seaweed smells 
     in the breeze    sewer-gas 
     blowed up the drugstore 
     injuring several    that's what 
     the hospitals are for,    with 
                    quiet wards

                      but shaken

              to bear miracles

                  "   the contents
                        first taken for blood

                  so horror,   so easily

                                          from the day

              so here   come   random   eyeteeth 
              crashing out through the window like 
                              bony fish

                        (yet the glass hurt

                                a faustian
                          flame by the soda fountain

                and above the arena 
                where the circus's 
                  3 rings go in

               still banked with its
               accessory porous world

             tiers checked to the nooks of its sky

                       over the railroad station

          massing goods and swarming people

            The apples we take in


                  a few leaves left

well, a tree
       is obvious

 thank god for it




        the road



        Sun there

            cloud stacked

                 make hay

             a further place


           a ground of winter
            in the head

                 gulls flying
                    close   lately

                          shadows and other birds too
                              grow small    cross the snow

                       soon you may think
                                in the windows

                                                a wheel you get

My mind a cloud
 a wet sponge

   there are mountains nearby

      construction   men going to the job
          in white helmets below

                  )or yellow like
                          their crane    timber immobile swung 
                    the heights      distances

                            all in mind


            green cars pass

                blue   red   white

         nails   build   slow as the clock

              now   fog burns
                    the sun up
                     and down    through

                bird sounds
               make the sunned room pass
                  the opened window

     f o r   t h e   m e n   in   the   y a r d

city                              some round thing, a clock
peace                            with all its parts            

there is    
                                     the door close to the ground
a road                                 he stepped out of

                                             to talk
a tree is divided
 food                                    ten minutes
                                           but no exhaust visible
     birds we imagine singing
                                             or any tail-pipe

   a truck comes                           that kind of a job

         time of day its
      lights off

    white and red

     it's blue, reflective

    peace is clean

        we think

      or maybe it's nod

   the wall has occasion

     the far spread height

    as you come closer

      memory has made  

The difference
       of a small room
 they've thought enough kinds of windows
  and the paintings there made
                 to be close  similar scenes
                               from the floor above

        walking around down there 
             zigzag circles  aimless 
         puzzles my head

               or the odd moment, tired
                in their wings
                         more or less

           across the stone
                 stuck to the paving

         in gait
    the pigeon might be anyone

 while the machine, the way
   equipment bears on the road

      up-ended, some
        stretches in hills

               family cars
              of workers

           the wooden however torn down at 
             building one other time 

              more than two mirrors to 
                     each room 
                 you step to the path 
                   a dividing line

                    the particular streets fade in my mind

        steam heat   birds
        January   damp

           a huge gull visits    here

         trees    still

     sound of the clock   looking
         up to find white

      move horizontals the air

           then clouds pass level

     snow fills the

     the trees take
       birds the
           light air

         shhh goes the lawnmower
            should I stop
             the razor

  as a bird

        the sky fades

           the stars     out
                 all this time

               air  through
              the houses

          a dog is barking
              should there be memory

                 the moon wanes too
                to some appearance

   Ozone? peal the
      day slide the
       lectric car
        Hurry   the
         picks up
             Drops em

         They should make
               wing if
           the weather's mild

     the sky become
       the clouds islands
              at this level we

                  then leaves spread
                  the hills' breasts

               Small, flightless birds
                 the voice   far   tinkling bells


                      of sorts, the rats destroyed

                         moving ashore, M i d w a y

     slow is                       flat wall of the sea
         poem                             and sky

                                 each island

                                   farther than any whale


                                      breathing above the waves
                                                    the mirrors


                                   past sunshine

                                     vibrations of air
                                       spiders, then birds, settle 

menageries                           bringing what he can
  from the bottom
    rock crumbles to earth
            under rain                    in
          the seas
                                     the quickening run-though
   clouds mulct the moon
              flats                    one thing at a time

         the whale is still hunted       tides, a large motion
               in certain parts
                                           small waves give boats
                the deep light

     the tree like a
        the green day time
          the sun dies

            or stretches, eventually


              a place   come to   moved

     m y   l o v e   i s   a l l
     a s   h u n g r y   a s
                  t h e  s e a

As much as you want 
 The little you can take 
 through the store window

     glass splatters the 
           hole's empty

      a fire braze open the roofs 
             quieter than planes 
            jammed shadows

       you slow turning up high

          out of the
         comfortless air
           the corpses drop you come 

          to some grave   all 

         motion is the same

             you've taken away
              the time for ballistics

          a man from the Pentagon 
         in your falling apart chair

                    bullets   no
                     felt wings

                  the absence

                        they stop what

                   lightning replacements

        the girls stabbing each other

                your hat not
               right on yo'r head

quiet lawns

    nice air

        smells voices
      crowd on words you

     think there's no crime

               just     because

             the world is a cloud

           men    dim
                    shot   cross

        capacities    for excitement the

           force    acceleration

               the heart beats

       sounds a distant bird


           F o r   y o u r   q u i e t   l i m b s

Imogen, was he stupid    ?

                  It's a
      foolish situation

all these houses around here are stages

             you want that, don't you?

  a mean garment

     children's sizes are indeterminate

then there's those ones across the road
they live from a lawn split by a driveway

-- well, let's go in, the kitchen someplace in the middle 
the tv in the corner down the aisle    , 
the basement window shows the circled grass

the kids have a dog   that's ownership 
Where he keeps his hat, they sometimes put on 
they push the sidewalk for four lots
        take a diaper car for a milktruck

so a year is a long time 
the snow more reflective than the glass 
they see coming at moments in their minds 
   and far away, the trees stay bare

in the fall the cats will spawn, usually 
and birds come out in the sky, the nests dry 
like crusts, and plants in the earth, fires at the gutter 
the hens smelling the chickencoop 
or garages hot, ragged water and oils 
they rake up the beds with their toys

   n u m b e r  1  .  k i l l e r  .  t h e   h e a r t

     he was shot 3 times 

      mouth, nose, and bladder 

     rushing blood to the scene 

     of the arrest of

      a busy morning on the 

        cloth rest
     and the coke in summer

                 down with the sea
        united nation beyond
                the desert, against

             a trial    cost
                        of argument
               row on row, and the shields
                            for the mind health
                 picture frame of the
                        tin cans
                      the river slugs
                     and the playground
                     waves ride as the weather
                      ice cream
                     ultimate pasturing
                         and sparrows around in the sky

              a very serious, threatening expression

 Beethoven's fist
in the end at the thunder he imagined
     a chord    to go on something else
        as may have been different

                    fell back    words 
               silent   no more remembered 
                       in those walls
                            that succession a round

  Frederick Douglass
took his chances like
  when we fly?

 I don't know  the landing gear 
     far from my mind I 
    was trying to see 
   where there was anything but

          a large ship only
         that appeared small

   Do you love Maryland that 
    state there  how 
     would you like to go back
    where you didn't come from   Most

       have something they can
     take shame from withdraw it fish

        life lurks in the sea
       we eat it,what
             is germane

                   the St. Louis slave mart

           something to remember is
        still there	days
                              after the War -
                  of the Rugged Individual when

             man was man the 
          head of the family and so on  we 
            couldn't have gotten along

              why risk your shirt no 
             hands to pick the cotton no 

               in a man's thoughts

            Hall after what happened

                    the slave likes
                  what's in the air

             the free wonders
            as well what
              there might have been

                       don't often lose sight of the ground

                         a cruise is expensive

                            no tall dark face in the air
                             no porter    what

                              have I to do with
                                   what I don't see

     at least the chair makes
      some noise   it's

     As soon as you lay down

           to snatch up again
                   a crime not

                 the guns
              silent  mouth to the bays
                         slagged in the sky

         stinking breach

             there are improvisations when
              government burns

                  the purposes
                played out like a fiction

              at night hanging around

               silence the cannon for
                   slaves   are free
                  and we have joined
                    to turn home

               stars   the candles
                                   remembered echoes
                 bring quiet  for

               the whiffing against the cold

                   sawmills afloat

                      barns    impregnable to


                     the bricks    windows anchor


                   rifles  emptied air
                       improved aim

                 in place of propositions
                    drifted off

                  the swaying car
                    is swift

                         on the streets

                       picturesque also

                         the pines are
                        a straight

                          mules wires

                           rakishly  light

                            the stacks take off

                   it's we uns captured them 

                 it aint fair to a mule 
                    to begin learning im 


                      with army experience

     The Confederacy, you have to
             was real

                     to be denied
           lines there down the map

                if you recognize yourself


                   colors of your state

                            to make a noise in

      the sheer slavery
        of abstruse thought

              full of the sky    rough    river 
              dirt         the captured ordnance 
                made game (to puff 
            in imagination  (useless    with the real
                    shot   crater   powder-kegs 
             strewing the ground
                                 now then 
          behind grass    the
              slope of cloud    house 
               bed and emptiness besides 
                 returning the sun
                     shown everywhere
                   the full-decked

         t h e   c a t c h

     the slogans


          below the quick rain


          bound into the sun

         again    in descent

              shines   ,    cave back the cloud

          people who
            hump the boards

              this moment,    going
             forth, a time

               for birds, those

          where the leaves themselves are

         quieted, after the fall

                               dancing the table 
                                  the whole gutter 
                                 of the street

             and listen more

           again, the birds

                within leaves

                        the openings change 

             above crickets 

        come with the moon

              a texture
                  of   abutment

       a man climbing 
       his steps while the clouds go 
     by he comes to the corner 
       apt.      above
          the store

           what string
            I hear the wind
           banging, flights
                    13 up
                next  door
                       the bell not visible
             either        set
                         more cry of the air

              a fitful thing outside 
                 anywhere it seems 
                closer to the mart 
               where we get food

               fish, say, blank
              with indelible eyes

                  the still distance to 
                travel    unconsumed 
                         a plane increases 
                       above the sea I depict 
                      a curve nearly in sight

                       more solid

                    two in black down the arched hill

     immediately the apartment
       smells empty like
                 some cellar
           in the rain
              a warmth again

               the weather
                we have

            a leaf floats still 
              in the gutter   no 
             particular speed
               vague in time you've
                  heard the sea

          the twilight
            of rain

             the window


                 no more light

                     a passing


                           keeps on

                              the center

          smoke extent of chimney
            getting less visible as
             we drive by

                  horizontal from London
                   burning exhaust

     a road in mis-
      sissipp i through 
        trees the 
     number to the 
           around the world
         the time is the same

             where he walked and 
          he walked how 
           could you do much 
          in the century a
            line    orbit
             some place 75 pieces of

     Carriers    In winter the dogs "chase" 
            car fumes,  the treads 
          bang out     Summertime

                in great bodies, come
            to supper, come

               the spreader road bed

                 shortly following birds

                trying the thick
                   only in ignorance of sand
      that's all
                it is   the druggist
           pestle on wheels shaking     come

             sweeping the sea

                            even today

            "news"       the ads
                 present confiding tomorrow
              and the wind blazes

          the soggy edge-on past          downtown
                                               to be
               rung up
                             the sea splashes

                                the window

                      what milkman
                      through what crossings

                                what bus
                         will you take next

                what flashed sunlight is still

              what day-long grass is healthy

     deeper, deeper history in
     what might have

          the future in him out of
              voice ground

         and there's your registered dog

     tramping the cemetery

        you wouldn't take the occasion
           of eating

     one thing
              Waterloo was
             one of the men

                 bladder trouble

        smoothness infinite portion

sleep was in his mouth   he woke the 
 birds called   a strain of words    swung   falling 
  as the apple tree

        back on itself
       the slow life
          is fast

              waters or wings    growth
           a solemn pole    some gate
                grass, not very high
                    to bare patches

   any of the trucks
     bread     a half dozen chairs

   by the window the lost
    man     years
     in mind he
               knew the way 
        how he story came out 
         the bower 
        he left the arrowhead 
          later the cellar

        flowers looking in

       under the moon the
      chairs tilted back a view above the screen
         flies were in the way
            the trunks bark hollow

       now the black man brings the
        clean pants and he has to pay

                         S e n e g a l

                    The dead walk


                     there are such


                       women loaded


                             the road-side

after a film on
  Leopold Senghor, the        tall
      country the
           life                onward  smilling

                             or bring a seat

                               for a man waiting

          don't go
        it backwards

             time or space

            the crickets match
              the morning


               birds dreamed there

                  the trees in wait
                 for food

                        stars shone
                       on deadly fish

          happiness     from the year
                                  (1820 or so)

     end of life    what 
      would you like to know 
            the nature 
          of wants
                  a cloud 
           all one   over 
          a few big trees 
         the whole sky

             whatever put
           time in your mind

          water or light 
         at various temperatures it 
           rained down

              a substance or

           your body stretched

         now there's a long tail
          balanced along the wire

             you take a dinosaur
               pink thing

                 spread all over the lot
                extensive number

      for the first time in my life 
       i see a bird 
         sit on a phonpole nail

                trees   weed   clouds
                      their due

     light   walls  the
         shape of a window

           or more blurred
               the street
           grazed   a long

          hot cold with
           smoke in mouth

        where the sun shines

            heavier air

          or light
               minute song

             may imply leaves

               a few clouds
                milling this day

                 are more shadow

                   the cut blaze
                  turn back such heat

                       darkness to ripple
                      the line of spring


                        the sea's dance

     I in the foreground 
       mirror of time huge as
     I may be small
        face puffed short
       music comes

      we have    a forest 

       trees     the leaves mass 

         summer      autumn too

           wind, sun and 
                     stars move

     it's the air here
     periods separate

            the day the held light
          how it gets through we've

        a puzzle box

       of wood   house
      hard glass doors      
        there   street signs opened

          rain streaks

            distance the birds



     motor around
     the sky and

       bumps of (f the road

     the woman      a tree

       leaves   of
     a basket

           dying or green

     he clips backwards

     enough so you're confident 
         to be aware 
     packed like the gutters
      splice pilings   level through the air

             the great 
     world at the window 
      stirs with the breeze 
     smell   onwards   seasons

          to the old storms
         baffering air
           tides of spring

                     the flowers
                and stars
            have opposite names

     Come out of your eyes the
     soul is a corner
      back two steps
          now you-re shadowing walls

     broken into houses
      carry the ground

           eternal spaces


             the sun turns west

         you are what I am   the empty flat 
                   has clean sills still 
                       been taken

                     that dog
                is younger than you
                       memory is less, not so crowded
                   as the trees are

                slightly, the earth is changing
                              as much

                 you remember the papers 
                       the dim place 
                   the branch held by the attic

                      it's a lengthy view

                         night coming

                    the sun to divide

                     and suppose the thin
                      shadow going down

                        in one window and
                         out of another

Copyright © 1968 by Larry Eigner. Copyright © 1997 by Ricard Eigner, Conservator. Originally published by Black Sparrow Press. Long out of print, the text is presented here complete. The original edition contained a suite of drawings by Bobbie Creeley. Return to Light and Dust Poets. Light and Dust Mobile Anthology of Poetry.