by Patrick Hurley

Selections from “Variation” (Part Two of Quartet)

sequential fantasy bends
sheets of light
into cylinders­­––

the waxing and waning
of pressure felt
like forces imposed

mercury rises
in a chamber––
in the background
the hum of equanimity

questions about the number
of the world’s corners and
whether they can be folded

this is jumbled like
voices in a diner or
voices on a train

you can listen
any way you want

you can listen
to any part
or none

feel the cool air
smell the wood smoke
or the burning leaves

a pattern of vibration
grows in complexity
ruin’s spectral beauty
shows through new stone

continuation of a sort not
idle fantasies of inverting
a dominant paradigm

what’s the point of
watching a hawk circle
in a blue sky?
who assigns names
and numbers to
colors and how
are they used?

behind cold glass
a lemon tree
heaves with fruit

certain types of
damage admit of
no repair––
some people
tear down monuments
others erect them

most pass by them
obliviously playing
the games of a child


but for me
a hunger for
sharp clean lines
etched in cool air

cold gasoline permeates
this background pigmentation
causing colors to thin and smear

a wrecked antenna sits forgotten
atop an old building collecting
broken signals from places
that no longer exist

a whine of motors turning
hums in the background

what mischief comes form
the backward gesticulations
of malevolent gnomes?

some of the pavement
is cracked and buckling
ages of fallings leaves
are rotting into a new surface
smooth and quiet with
a smell outlasting
competing forces

from a surfeit of signs
select a random stroke
to start

wandering through a
forest of plaster birds
someone trimmed back
the wild bamboo

the cuttings on the ground
have faded to silver
on the same ground
a small twig the
shape of a wishbone––
like the radical for ‘man’
and I think of roots
even yam––
pigments growing

the topography above
breaks itself down
into lines and angles

everything composed
of strokes––
best where fewest

not a cycle with
repetition and
incremental variation
though it could be

change the base of
a number system
then wait and see

some areas sprout
less statuary and
fewer flags

a sudden freeze––
everything changes

does excessive use
of conjunctions
presuppose tragic
reliance upon causality?

Now a northern lake
would be frozen stiff
like Thoreau’s sheets
in winter

fallen things again and
again suggest radicals
suggest ideograms

in the soil at the foot
of a short old stone wall
they say are coins
of great antiquity

cold constriction and
blinding light
let the frozen inkpot
have the eloquence of
a well-aimed projectile

the milkweed has died
and with it
a certain dream

the river birch’s
echoes the transistor’s
desire to be bound to
the thin surface of
a microchip

the spiral is tightening
colors blur
against the sky
where the edges dissolve––
a different kind of thought

OK it can’t be done
in language
does a squirrel think
while gnawing a pumpkin?

It is not restructuring
random frequencies
random can be
experienced as

Not everyone knows cold
who knows cold
as an Inuit?
or a Southern Baptist
on a train to Churchill?

Try to walk in the park––
weekend numbers
pinned to chests
chalk lines guiding
rapid movement

Radio speakers
bleeding into my
should have taken
allergy pill after all

Then shifting wind
then smell of wood smoke
carpet of gingko leaves

It’s all just a catalog

About the Author:

Patrick Hurley taught writing and literature at various colleges for almost 20 years. Now he makes poems (and tends bar to pay the bills). His work has appeared multiple times in The Adelaide Literary Review (where he was the top finalist for the 2017 Poetry Award and Adelaide Voices Literary Award for Poetry Finalist for 2018), The Alchemist Review, Clockwise Cat, Futures Trading, Eunoia, The Furious Gazelle, Poetry Pacific, The Quail Bell Magazine, Clementine Unbound, and New Mystics. New work is forthcoming from Cough Syrup Magazine. He recently completed a long poetry project called “walking.” It will be released by Adelaide Books in January 2020. https://www.patrickhurleypoet.com/