Standing Knife, Pinon, and Morning Glory
a sculpture by James Surls, Charles Cowles Gallery, New York


     Knife, be my source. Cleave.

           Be root, a surge. Wooden knife,

     rise, rise into pine.

     But your tree has wings

     embracing absence—become

     undone, the wire bloom

     an aural-outline.

     A phonograph’s horn, it pipes

     music from magma: 

     green the sound, mute the

     color drenching what eye hears,

     what ear recalls. Can’t

     a morning glory

           coax & curl with sweet hissing?

                 Knife, be my source. Cleave 

     to, from. Be perfect

     kundalini. Energy

     arcs: a cobra’s hood. 

     The spine of spirit

     is the portrait remaining

     when a blade flays form.

DEAN KOSTOS is the author of Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends with a Comma, and the chapbook Celestial Rust. He also edited the anthology Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry, the debut reading for which was held at the UN. He co-edited the anthology Mama’s Boy: Gay Men Write About Their Mothers, a Lambda Book Award finalist. His work has appeared in Barrow Street, Big City Lit, Boulevard, Chelsea, The Chiron Review, Cimarron Review, Cincinnati Review, Confrontation, The Dos Passos Review, The Dirty Goat, Ekphrasis, Euphony, Minnetonka Review, Porcupine, Rattapallax, Reading Brokeback Mountain (anthology), Southwest Review, Stand Magazine, Stranger at Home (anthology), Talisman, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Vanitas, Western Humanities Review, on Oprah Winfrey’s Web site, and elsewhere. His literary criticism has appeared on Harvard U P Web site, in Talisman, American Book Review, and elsewhere. He has co-translated poems from Spanish with Jaime Manrique for Bomb; his translations from Modern Greek have appeared in Barrow Street and Talisman. Voices of Ascension commissioned him to write the text for the choral work Dialogue: Angel of Peace, Angel of War, set to music by James Bassi. Box-Triptych, his choreo-poem, was staged at La Mama ETC. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has taught poetry writing at the Gallatin School of NYU, The Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Wesleyan, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, and CUNY. Recipient of a Yaddo fellowship, he has served as literary judge for Columbia University’s Gold Crown and Gold Circle Awards.