by Pádrí Veum

                      For Gore Vidal

The lights have gone out—
a boat set off for
the far shore—

navigating by rising towers
of fog,
angel hair and salamander
locked beneath the waves’ disturbance.

Point to point
your flameless lamp now
wanders.  Printing skins
to be read
printed once more.  Palimpsest—

this word you gave me—
magic trick, hiding with
oil pastels and creamy
French writing paper—a
never spilled bottle of green ink
and the

stylus—like a weapon in
the writing jar—
wondering where your hands
have gone.

by Pádrí Veum

The courtyard a map,
the childish names of freedom
laid on lives—

liberated, federated, united.

Relief map where my sneakers
are bringing up mountains,
coastlines and graves.  
Shallow graves.  Mass beds
crowded hastily in a final
laying down.

My body wears conquest like
emperor’s blue.  Without shame,
though subdued in the wealthiness
of choice.

I thrive on fire, indulged by the
walls that keep my benefit’s anguish
in foreign lands.  I sit in
un-shattered cafes,

my mind a treasure;
belief an intoxicant—I call
for more.  More freedom,
more choice, more
subtle history and incriminating meaning.

by Pádrí Veum

You say grace beautifully;
devout petals, mauve wings
gently ascending.  The
realization of the beatific lays
across the table—the glasses filled
            with ruby candles,
            the plates of steam, platters
            and bowls like pots of paint—
undisturbed by the unseen.

Is it the hanging lamp or
some vaguer source that
softens the lines, the dome now
exposed to the elements.  Once
you were a blacksmith; once a bird.
Your many selves blooming
out of your costume (brown trousers,
            holes in the knees; green
            wool—also holey)
once you were a forest floor, alive
in root bound monasteries of hermetic fungi,

building foundations for red towers, assuredly
always moving up.

Where do you linger when the voice
of the one, calling in the desert
comes on you?  What retreat when
you step beyond daylight and
return, wearing the language of grace.



Pádrí Veum was born in the Great Plains, but grew up moving so
often, he can’t say he’s really from anywhere.  He has worked for
many years in theatre and community organizing, and continues the
tradition of moving every few years to a new city.  His work has
most recently appeared in
Q Review, Red Fez, Milk Sugar, and
Wilde Magazine, among others.  

On “Palimpsest,” “Childish names of freedom,” and “The language
of grace”:
All three of these pieces share the distinction of having come out
very complete.  All writers appreciate pieces like these: there
was no hair pulling, no sleepless ponderings of this adjective
versus that.  They came as close to their initial vision as possible,
and what few edits were made only enhanced that vision.  
“Palimpsest” was written at work the morning I heard of Gore
Vidal’s death, and titled as such in homage to his memoir of the
same title.  “Childish names of freedom” was a spontaneous
meditation on war as I watched hummingbirds and roadrunners
playing in my courtyard.  Short of the simplest explanations,
poetry can’t be explained, it can only be experienced.  I still feel
on re-reading these three that they have taught much in our
short time together; their biggest lesson has been: Leave
behind expectation—just keep your pen handy.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 8, Number 1
(Spring 2013)

Copyright © 2013
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
Childish names of freedom
The language of grace