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Portraitomanof a W Brushing Her Hair and Other Poems PATRICK KANOUSE

Portraitomanof a W Brushing Her Hair and Other Poems

for Gina

©2007 by Patrick Kanouse • All rights reserved. • Photographs © 2001 and 2005 by Gina and Patrick Kanouse • Cover Photo by Keith Cline • Design by Louisa Adair • First released June 2007 Visit

Table of Contents Portrait of a Woman Brushing Her Hair pg 4 The Aegean

pg 5

Carnations in Venice

pg 6


pg 7

Unde origo inde salus

pg 8


pg 9

Ruins Above the Sea

pg 10


pg 11

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Š 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

Portrait of a Woman Brushing Her Hair Florence, June 30 You brush your wet hair in the breeze Of an early evening light, Backlit by a single, hanging bulb.

In Italian: “Lentamente! Fermate!” I hear espresso Machines and the clapping of hands.

Your face shows a quiet pleasure At the bristles running through Your hair like today’s latest cure.

The Italian night has just begun. Earlier we shared gelato: Melon, colored like cantaloupes.

You ask me to brush it for you. Your hair smells of aloe and ginseng, Which I let slide through my fingers.

I hear laughing and distant cars. From the thin alley beneath Our window, lined with bicycles,

Your eyes close; I turn off the light. In the mirror the curtain reflects Back to us our room; a fang

Garlic and basil mingle With the light on the breeze.The sheath Of caffé swells and reorders

Of light from the alley twists Through the lace curtain and echoes On the wall; a maze of light

The priority of senses. I fall asleep to foreign tunes With strands of your hair in my hands.

I tire of tracing. My fists Holding shadows, I wait for sleep. Outside a truck receives commands © 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

The Aegean Islands drift. Islands drift Like stars sheltering in the sea. Islands drift, stubby rises Hazing in and out of horizon. Your coffee hair twirls About your face and out to sea. Yesterday’s islands Harbor our cozy dreams Of radiant light And wine that’s sweet. Tomorrow the electronic age Where we dream of wading Periwinkle seas beneath cliffs Topped with olive trees, Where I see each strand Of your hair trill gold. We face the islands vanishing— Adrift in the blue seas of yesterday. © 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

Carnations in Venice This is a place where I think I can die— With you, fresh carnations in an evening breeze Quiver above canals as we pass by. The weight and feel of buildings like old keys. Slow with the glimmer of ancient matter This city where everything leads to water.

Š 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

Santorini The sentence of the sea Haunts these cliffs, Echoes a thousand years.

Standing atop this island And its cryptic, Gnostic lure Gazing into its steaming core

At a glance, the cataclysm, The heaved earth, the ash fall, The slow centuries of warm wind.

Soon sighed as routine As the white-washed, blue-domed Church crosses gathering dawn.

From violence, visored by time, Stark, bold grace. All scars brushed to beauty marks.

Let us watch this sea, Spell our love in the ash, And dream a thousand years.

As if we touched the honey sun, Whispered the phrases of blue sky, Clung to the heart of God

Š 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

Unde origo inde salus from the origin comes salvation Dusk light on the lagoon: copper threads vibrate the riddle of time and space. These waters conceive me anew from the foam—young, breathless, the shadow, the dreamside of god. If I blind my eyes, if I strangle my tongue, all this drowns. Dip our feet, hear the splash, embrace this enclosure of time—of light—of spaces—, watch the ripples from our feet merge and merge with passing boats, coalesce with the sea and light, for still the water continues its millennial work of erosion, of taking back.

© 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

Matala Lounging on the beach, death overlooks us. Centuries of the dead, of the buried overlooking the sea. We climb the cliff’s catacombs, pierce Into the coffin-caves emptied and graffitied. And all I can hear—not the waves, not the wind, Not my heart—a rustling like distant leaves: A requiem for these dead, forgotten, and removed, These hollow eyes gasping down to the peopled beach. Whipped by wind-frothed sand, interrogated by the waves I touch your hand and stare into the sea of your eyes.

© 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

Ruins Above the Sea I



From a temple above the sea, vision Of islands, sea, and sky; visage of fire; Sonorant thunder of rock; explosion Of mountain; plume of ash.The water recedes Like someone breathing in deep and long. See the altar of fire, the hate of the gods.

In a temple above the sea, she lies Face down, legs apart. No candlelight. She breathes consciously and stares at nothing. The smell of destruction is oddly sweet. She knows now all has become ritual, Shocks of sunlight sprinkled through the temple.

From a temple above the sea, the water Rising strangles the sun’s light on the slender Islands that vanish in the wave’s gluttony. Rising, rising. Maniacal water’s surge. The priest sweats.The earth shakes. The wave dooms Every sound as the temple and act perish.



II In a temple above the sea, rituals Prepared. No fruit, no wine, nor even bull Can repeal the gods’ act. A blood bucket Adorned with bulls. A bronze knife faced with a boar, Its gleaming candlelit edge honed with blood, And slivers of hope offered to the sky.

From a temple above the sea, the sea Rises, swells, inhales the air, Torques the sun to a fragile, dim spot On the now small sky.The water Throws ships, splits masts, hurls men To its depths, to the rocks. Screams cannot form.


III In a temple above the sea, agate Ring, thumbing of iron, a priest paces, Purifies his hands with water and prayer. The spring’s water cold and clear. He splashes His head and struggles for breath as if Salvation’s sum lay in perfect ritual.

From the ruins above the sea, visage Of cataclysm—of marble palaces, Shattered ships, and hyacinth gardens Awash in ash and fish.The temple hallowed Now for the blaze of iconic language: Schism of idea, comma of creation.

VI In a temple above the sea, he lies Face up, legs bound, bronze blade on his chest. He knows the blade must cut but wishes This day’s sun glared the same as yesterday’s. The priest rises.Water rising, rising. The priest, looking up, reaches for the knife.

From the ruins above the sea, clear sight Into an opal sea. Ships sailing slip beyond An island’s rib with wines and seed. Barking dogs. Sounds of children at games. Sound of wind through Curtains. Sovereign scent of gladiola. But somewhere the slow panting of wasp’s wings. © 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

Notes Sanotorini Reference note to “Ruins Above the Sea� below. Matala is a village on the southern coast of Crete.The beach is noted for its ancient caves used by the Romans for burial. Brutus, the Roman general was said to frequent Matala. From here, Zeus snatched Europa. Perhaps more infamously, in the early 1970s, hippies migrated and set up homes in the caves, frequently painting or carving graffiti (such examples as peace symbols and JED).

Ruins Above the Sea Circa 1645 BCE,Thira (now Santorini) in the Aegean exploded, sending a plume of ash into the sky and creating a lagoon on the island, now known as the Caldera. The explosion was so catastrophic that its plume was likely seen as far away as Egypt and recorded as the pillar of fire in the Old Testament. General theories suggest that pieces of the volcano were launched into orbit and that people many miles distant witnessed the waters on their shores shrink several inches as the sea rushed in to fill the vast Caldera. In a temple on the northern slope of Mt. Juktas near Knossos on Crete, about 55 miles distant from Thira, witnesses to the explosion prepared a human sacrifice.The remains of the temple and the bodies and objects therein were excavated in 1979. Most certainly this explosion was an early, if not the first, event precipitating the complex processes that culminated in the decline and the end of the Minoan civilization.

Š 2007 by Patrick Kanouse

Portrait of a Woman Brushing Her Hair  

Seven poems with pictures.