February 17, 2023

Max Orkis’s Stunning Poetic Visions

Max Orkis’s Stunning Poetic Visions

Eight poems you won’t soon forget. Poems you’ll want to read again and again. Each reading reveals new layers, depths, insights, poetic visions, and an overwhelming desire to understand the heart and the mind of a true poet.


Fold, collapse, telescope. 

How piercing glows a ray — if 

The star rolls round once every so many 

Forevers while night falls daily? 

So cold to hope, 

In an ice age, for global warming 

As streams  

Grow stiff, 

Like a bay leaf, 


Fossilize, like a trope, 

Like the uncanny 

Flower that buds more  

Slowly than  

Death blooms — so, grow wild, bow, garden. 

How real are dreams 

If even after brainstorming 

One can hardly recall one or  

Forget disbelief 


~ ~

Divine Dream 

I often wonder why my dreams so seldom 

Remember me in any kind of detail 

Dreams are forever guessing what I meant 

Interpreting once I have disappeared 

Vague images — into a film to weld them 

By heart it seems my dreams are doomed to fail 

What causes me to fade and to fragment 

What might I represent one-nosed, two-eared 

If gods have never heard a person’s prayer 

What evidence suggests they do exist 

Do they suppose the phone is off the hook 

If thoughts of gods in people feel too rare 

Are they afraid they’ve made their short shit-list 

Or do they ask themselves if they mistook 

These beings’ reverie for being revered 

~ ~


Killing a god  

Feels easy because 

A god has no face 

No need to dehumanize 

A melody can work with no bass 

Nature with fewer laws 

A creature without ears  


Or eyes 

Without books  

There’s nothing wrong with a shelf 

A bod  

Still has its looks 

Self-effacing as a bombshell 

A god or goddess fears  

No future, fixes no flaws 

A god or goddess knows  

No goodbyes 

Doesn’t applaud  

But gets applause 

Music with no musician dies 

Quick to erase 

Art is the only arc there is to trace 

~ ~


Some life might seem slow 

Even if it’s brief 

For instance, watching a tree 

You might feel bored 

Different time — you fast- 

Forward you see  

The boughs swell, grow 

Reach out erection-quick 

Lifelike, creepy, soon passed 

Up it gets wound, not re 

You breathe, breathe with each chord 

With each atom uncrushed by a tome 

Magic falls flat 

Like a type of leaf 

You can’t remember that 

Which you missed the day you were sick 

That’s why we cause such grief 

Monsters of love are born 

The question when remains 

Rome didn’t fall in a day 

It breathed like a motif 

Flakes were flying, though  

Rome didn’t yet know 

How, how can you warn 

If brains won’t grow grains 

Cows eat them, grow beef 

Though Rome went away 

It would stay the Romans’ home 

Or such was their belief 

What survived was Greece 

In the belly of Rome 

I saw a spider display 

Symptoms of life so 

I got it enveloped, glassed 

Had it caught and caged 

Only to release 

It — in the slaying snow 

It had dropped with the snow like Rome 

Spared from the letter, unpaged 

A monster saltily strains 

Its mortal soul to mourn 

It’s to do with 10:10 or May 

Like corner’s to do with corn 

~ ~

An Inaudible Unison  

To tell two silences apart 

When someone’s sitting by a grave 

Between a full stop  

And a dot 

A tear and a drop  

Of water  

For life is fluid 

A sigh is nothing but a deeper 

Breath, so long as it too goes 

Through the nose 

So where  

Do we 

Where does a silence start 

Or end 

The absence of a soundwave 


To out-mute 

Or to unpack 

Each other they will need to be  


Not to be there 

Is not the same thing as to flee 

Or to break out, up, through, or free 

Which one of them’s the creeper? 

The one who blew it 

Or say  

You’re deaf and see some mouthing 

Or fingers flying on a flute 

It’s like to gods a then-and-now thing 

Is there no grave if there’s no plot? 

How do you tell an absence from a lack? 

If bodies stay  

A mile 


Is it denial 

Or pleasurable? 

It’s like to dial 
And not hit Send 

It’s like two spaceships from two worlds with air 

Passing each other, headed 

Around two versions of a bend 

Each unignored, unbedded 

How do you tell if you forgot 

Or never knew it? 

And does it matter if that matters not? 

A silence grows 

Can there be two or only one of those? 

~ ~

Meandering Frankly 


Is hard to grasp 

To pin down or achieve 

Not all the matter or the glossier 

Matter, for that matter, is knowable 

That’s a utopia 

So if, say, one were 

To gloss 

Over a faint hue of a word 

For we are many, each a polyseme 

It would by no means seem 

Mean or purposely ignoble 

Not to have put it through a sieve 

Not to have kept a detailed dossier 

Taken apart a length of purr 

A stretch of whir 

A groan 

Into the gaps 

Between each rasp 


For just as long as blades have whirred 

By gleaning 

How the beats have grown 

Slow as on opium 

Or otherwise to hug the blur 

Or grieve 

One’s loss 

~ ~

A Plunge from a Flying Boat 


My rowboat glides and slices through the waves.  

It splits the waters into dusk and East. 

My gaze is backward, and my path is true,  

for my boat will not sail from land to shore— 

It dances. 

I rock with it. I hold it by the oars.  

With me it swells as if I were a child.  

My body bends and straightens, wobbles, hurts.  

The paddles dip and stroke the kissing waves.  

I smell the teasing, soothing briny wind.  

Big grows the star. The welling clouds light up.  

Now I can see the etchings of the waves.  

I also write on water with my oars.  

What kind of madness, carving words in clay.  

It goes away, like curvy, rippled brains,  

Moonlight off waves, come day.  

The lilt, the drum, the whisper and the sway—  

Songs live through death and carry you to hell.  

When all has withered, that is all at play,  

Stuff left of things of which it was once made. 


Smooth spreads the sea. The slate lies sheer and still.  

This sudden halt has taken me by storm.  

I feel the water’s forehead running warm.  

Down at the limestone bottom, stops a man.  

I wash my eyes.  

Hair drips.  

No, there he stands. His shirt, like seaweed, waves—  

To me, it seems, is moored his tilted stare.  

A woman wanders into my boat’s shade,  

Her mouth wide-awed, her hand against the light.  

Her hair afloat, her skirts swim slow about,  

Like leaves and banners flying in the wind.  

A crowd then gathers, stirring clouds of sand.  

They look, they weep, and they outstretch to me 

Beseeching hands. 


These heavy skies lie wobbling thick and bright,  

But what is this? A shadow darkens me.  

Am I the only one who’s skipped to dusk? 

All else is bathing in the morning light.  

I’m overcast—was I so picked to be 

By my own cloud—no, by a flying boat? 

But rowboats do not hover in the heavens  

Nor cast their shadows down on mortal men. 

If this is god’s will, I don’t know which god’s. 

Is it a goddess in the boat I see 

As overboard she leans and gazes down?  

She reaches out to me, scoops up some sky,  

And then she splashes, rubs it on her eyes— 

That is, I reckon, how she might have washed  

Her dark and creamy skin with lukewarm milk. 

What’s all this noise, and when did all these folk 

Wrap round me, reaching up to her on high, 

Beholding her from down here, as am I?  

My tears are pouring out of them, my cries. 

Soft rocks the boat, and headlong jumps the god. 

Her breasts are jellyfish—like waterdrops they quake, 

Then we all gasp, and less there is to breathe, 

And we swoop in as she lands on her feet 

We’re hungry swarming fish who thirst for love. 

“I’m dying,” she cries out, as if surprised— 

The splashing sky does not drown out her plea. 

~ ~

The Un-scene 

In a dark place, in an unspecified era,  

at an unknown time,  

someone half-awakens from a dream. 

Perhaps it’s a beautiful young woman, a brunette.  

No, a blonde . . . Most likely, though,  

it’s a short  

middle-aged man  

with a tufted tummy, a belly-like bald  



a set  

of blushing mid-sized ears. 

Maybe it happens in the past,  

maybe in the future.  

It might  

be going on right  


It lasts only a moment, but this moment lasts  

forever. Somebody probably knows  

who this man is, or was,  

or will be.  

Otherwise it doesn’t seem  

possible to identify  

him. Maybe you’ve seen  

him in a crowd, and his ball 

-like features  

ring familiar. Maybe  


have forgotten him. Perhaps such a man never actually existed at all. 

He may  

have appeared only as a reflection in  

a little girl’s snappy pocket mirror, which she  

accidentally abandoned on the seat  

of a train  

when her incurably stressed-out mother gripped her hand,  

pulling her up, out and away. 

Perhaps, by coincidence or by  

mistake, this man’s image found  

itself bouncing around  

in the mind of a complete stranger, who  

was shaving. Puzzled by such a  

random occurrence, the bather pondered  

it until, channeled to celestial bodies, horticulture, and team  


his thought  

never meandered  

back to its globular origin. Then again,  


if it happens in a dream?  

Pages turn, words disappear, and soon the book itself melts away,  

leaving only whiteness (or  

blackness) in its place, because  

nothing is unimaginable. Maybe this man is how  

a reader had initially pictured a heroine,  

but a couple of pages later, constructed another image instead,  

dumping the old one into  

the subconscious. Maybe, inexplicably, the baldy is germane  

or explicably connected to absolutely nothing. Quite  

possibly this is a never-written scene  

from a book. Many authors won’t write  

passages involving bodily functions, and  

their characters sometimes go  




setting foot in the bathroom. And so  

the man half-awakens from an already forgotten dream. It’s more  

of a gluey sort  

of in-betweenness of non-sleep and non- 

alertness left over from the dream than 

a recollection. The sharp understanding he  

senses is that nobody’s ever needed to go  


any man about any horse as urgently as he  

does this very instant. He slouches on  

the edge, pulls the floor  

up to his feet  

by the mattress and bumps into furniture on his round  

trip to the bathroom until he walks right back into bed. 


Max Orkis lives in California and works as a writer/editor. His prose and poetry have appeared in Grand Little Things, North Dakota Quarterly, The Atomic Flyswatter anthology, Weber — The Contemporary West, The Milo Review, Empty Sink, Words with JAM, the 2011 Grigoryev Competition anthology, Topos, Polutona, Dvoetochie:, and elsewhere. 

#dreams#goddess#greek myth#meaning of life#silence

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