Poems by Gabriel Westling
The Mating Rituals of Fractals
It begins in the center of things
and grows like sugar crystals
on the rims of tropical drinks.
It is orange and shifting blue
and moves in the light, into
the light, with startling grace
And like your iris it expands under
the shadow of another's hand.
It moves forward in sudden
reproduction and crackles
in mathematical fact.
Inside it is a small plus sign
pulsing against the touch
of itself expanding.
It looks into the mirror of itself
and falls in love with someone
across the room.
It is attraction's mimic, frantic
and static in the same space.
The electric touch of infinite addition
luminous like the moment
Lovers take each other into
And break down into a syrup
like the breath after a kiss,
like sugar crystals melting in reverse.
You have been waiting for me
to walk in on your conversation,
to throw my shadow on the floor.
You stopped your speech while I approached
and took the hem of your dress in my hand.
We watched the faces that walked
past the bay window, stepping carelessly
into the edges of our vision.
You said that it had to end this way,
how the day must lean into the yellow light.
As you spoke a shadow fell over the window,
crossed your face, and I turned to follow it.
Our reflection looked back at us,
passersby showing through our clothes.
I asked you, "do you see that?"
You raised you head, and the city sunk
into the smoke of twilight
and filled our reflection with solid colors.
To William Jefferson Clinton:
Dear sir, the state of your head
disarms me, and I know that I
and my fellows have done this to you
knowingly and willfully.
And I offer a meek apology.
I am sorry for each
gray hair on your head,
for shaking your eyes to
for being so poor a son.
I know it has been hard for you to be kind,
my being overweight and grubby,
full of complaints and sharp words.
I know that when I threw the stone
through the window,
intending to strike you,
it did not matter that I missed.
I am sorry too for being a spectator,
for not letting you make
your own mistakes.
Mostly though, I am sorry for the overcast
weather that will surround you
when you walk out the door
to return to Hope, knowing
that nothing will be remembered.
That children will not think of you highly,
will not think of you at all.
And your voice, and the brave speeches,
and the little moanings in the dark
will dissolve like a long alto note
against the white stone walls.
On the tour of disabled, discomfortable bodies
conversation creeps between visitors on all fours.
The words move slow and deliberate like the
bent figures in physical therapy.
I pass by. I go my way,
defining it as a path of great difference.
The late nights stumble in the emergency doors,
check in, wait and cough in unpleasant chairs.
The residents' scrubs swish uniformly
through the halls or pace
outside under the parking lights.
There is never a still life here, even
the removal of empty bodies moves with purpose.
I have found it hard to walk without a burden,
strong posture sticks out at an impossible angle.
I have learned to walk with my eyes held forward
like headlights that will not swerve.
The hellos meet me halfway, with the inevitable
"Do you work here?" following.
Biographical sketch: My name is Gabriel Westling.
I hope to be accepted into the Iowa Workshop in the near future,
and am currently organizing a new collection of drafts for publication.
Gabriel Westling recommends:
for Moving by Mark Strand
Reason: It is a grand collection of work that approaches the
human condition with honesty, humor, and a sublime wit. The sound of the
words, the fact of them, stick in the memory as you read.
Recommendations for writers:
Always be honest with the poem, even if you're lying.
The image is life of poems, struggle to make that image as clear as possible.
Most importantly, write, all the time. Oh, and don't take any wooden nickels.