LES VON LOSBERG: THIS HOUSE
Von Losberg’s perspective is down-to-earth yet metaphysical. The following poems are from a forthcoming publication of his works.
from THIS HOUSE: REAL ESTATE
the house clings to its
architecture the way
a drowning man clings to a
all reason or the limits
of its tensile strength,
beyond the rudiments
of its machinery; the logic
of its fiction, nails
and screws, the principles
of balance and the figures
of its personal geometry
all serve no conscious
end, no matter what the
wind cries, what the
i am not a house. these are not
my windows, not my doors, not my
ceilings, walls or floors. nothing
that grows upon me grows upon me.
weather does not ride my spine,
does not cascade into my gutters.
no, not the walk, the drive strip,
terrace, port or shutters is
me or anything that i own
nor is the redgold sky-sheen that
reflects, nor are the settling creakings
or its wringing groans; the birds
do not nest in my nest; the squirrels
do not scrabble through my home.
nothing of it carries forward
into the abyss that transpires;
some thing else inspires, some thing
else, though hiding.
dug out of the ground
of its own desire,
guards an empty space,
though set upon defensible
has its place, this one
under the house,
with earth and stone
and all the deeper,
all the real immutables.
even now there is a liquid warfare
going on, guerilla seepage
into the basement through concrete,
insidious as ideas wearing away the rock
of reason or the walls of disbelief.
the basement ceiling sweats and sags;
the floor puddles, unable to rest.
finally, a wound appears, a crack,
its lips turning to chalk, crumbling
wetly, decaying like flesh, water
starting like slow thin blood:
welling from stone, the patient
desire of nature will not end.
Snow settles in about the eaves;
the house protests the white, the chill,
the onslaught of this season with so much undone,
so many windows still shut tight, so many rooms left
dark, so many flights unchecked.
the shutters slap at the wind.
shingles shudder though still nailed in place.
the house remembers the smell of fresh earth newly turned,
the subtle dust of new concrete, the pitch of raw pine,
paint, paste, plaster, sun and light.
it can’t remember the day the air turned hard,
the day the wind grew teeth, the day the putty
and the paint began to line, to crack, to peel.
winter rings like a bell in its ears,
pealing away illusion. there is nothing left to feel
but darkening of the sky and shortening of day.
somewhere in the house a door slams for the last time,
solid, ineluctable as night.
in the middle of the night
the house would ponder the
ineffable—if it could
for the gurgling in its boiler
hungry for coal, for the rattle
in its windows telling a tale
all too old the way loose
teeth tell it.
the roofbeams sag; the gutters warp;
the weather wrings the house to its
foundation like a worn-out rag.
cars, people, clouds scud;
seasons whistle by.
the pregnancy of meaning in
the luminescence of each twilight—
slips past, drifting on the wind—
whipped steadily west.
memory, that could inform, lies
tucked into a bed riddled with
in the dawn, in the
twilight, stories go untold;
arguments linger, diaphanous
and drift into darkness; idea
migrates, avian in extreme,
beyond meaning, beyond
architecture, ignorant of design.
the house you see
is not the house
the house thinks it
projects; no, nor
the house dissected
when the house,
mired in leisure,
impassioned in despair,
wields the lancet of
language, deft and dreaded.
no, but some thing else
emerges that resembles
neither dream nor notion—
what it is—how to say
miss the mark. the windows
do not see it, nor the doors
open onto what transpires.
the wainscoting, wallpaper,
semi-gloss trim conspire
skin-deep impression only. at
the edges all is tidy, tacked
down, spruce, but at the
center is a hovel of straw,
a shack of sticks, and a
wind, like the breath
of a wolf, always howling.
Les Von Losberg