Some Kind of Compass

by Sam Rasnake

                   “The one thing I know is that I don't know”

                                                 Dekalog 2, Krzysztof Kieślowski, dir.


The gods are broken. A tear for us all.

When the mind figures what the heart

believes — all the reason in the world

can't unspill ink from a blank page.


                                                              This frozen solitude:

~                                                            smoke from a winter's fire

                                                              with wet eyes searching


In the glass of fruit, a bee climbs the length

of spoon out of syrup, then shakes her wings.

Drunk with not knowing, she edges along

the rim as if moving were the only absolution.




What remains unsaid is not the gift we dreamed —

as if other worlds were possibility. Betrayal is

a bitter cold of dull razors, empty drawers, and

lies with midnight calls. The streets are deserted.




In the shadow of candles as they go out,

letters from the dead can never give us truth

to hold — no matter what the body wants or

the fingers need or the eyes cannot unsee.




What's the measure of grit and belief — How is the love

of trees ever strong enough — When do these bits of life

happen — when was, is & will are one — so guilt is not the only

thing to feel — Why is the crease of an old photograph always

a map for hidden grace or loss — Where's the gaze, the last

hard look into my eye — Whose face sees mine


                                                              The river is cold — and

~                                                            uncertainty, a throb

                                                              so the rains will come


Every window a story, every voice a telling.

Beauty never hides from the sharpest edge.

Only the bandaged pain of fools would think

otherwise, and if we stare into the dark long

enough, we see ourselves at some end or

beginning — moving, aching, spilling milk.




All life is stolen, ripped away. No face, no name, no place

to stand. And the catalogue of innocence? — an empty

merry-go-round, a thrown twig floating downriver,

the train headed for brittle fields of a restless doubt.




There's a life we all grow into — long stands of birches

with bird calls, talks of what is and is not, then cups

of tea while an orchestra plays, all the years dragging

at our borders. If the only thing left is nothing — what then?


                                                              The eyes appear, disappear;  

~                                                            as if this flash

                                                              could mine a truth


Every moment is liquid, and the physics tells us

the body will lose its weight, will submerge into mirrors

& notebooks & closets. What's broken opens its fissures

so light and shadow can whisper to the troubled silence.  




When the world screams, I scream back

in a frenzy, in a rage, a mosh — “Everything

is yours” — the growled anthem to dead fish,

lost kidneys, to the undiscovered child.


                                                                     — Warsaw, 1989