The Poetry of
Jack Scott


Long legged orb,
lurking hungrily
upon her net of latticed air
welded tight with crystal light,
at first sight in levitation
so finely spun’s her web,
art knit from nothing
onto nothing
so it seems.

taut and faithful
as the seams she spins and weaves
abiding in her hunger
she grooms her public loom
hidden in plain sight.

Eye music:
dew-bellied notes upon the threads,
held in perfect pitch,
distillate of darkness
clear now with dawn’s fresh light
like tears when weeping’s done,
back inside the air by noon.

which stirs the largest things
when moved in all its might,
calm, is stirred itself
by many tiny moving things:
an ocean swum by swimmers
small enough to drown
in a single drop of rain,
plowers in this edgeless space
whose furrows seal too quick
to sow with anything.

little zippers
closing up the air they parted,
healing little tears in space
on their way to anywhere
birdlife of lower air
a la carte potential
groceries for a feast
on spider’s dinner table,
uncharted in their haste.

Air is ocean
beyond the spider reef.
Its currents waft the careless
to, not through
the spider’s sieve.
She stalks
and plucks the stuck:
stranded sailors of the sky,
dines privately on profit,
one eye upon the store,
the other on her overhead.
She grooms her face
and gleans the crumbs
from here and there
upon the tightropes
of her lair, spread upon
the public, ordered air,
routine of her average day,
but all days are not the same,
one size does not fit all.
Cause can be half a world apart
from its unforeseen effect.
All that has been large before
can be normaled by enormity
if there be Juggernaut
up to the task.

Nova-noon! New island
born unto a distant sea
erupts volcanically
wails steam
and, spewing lava ,
screams loud enough
to deafen oyster beneath obstetric sea,
clears its ruptured throat
of stinking sulphur breath,
crimson bile and magma phlegm.
Firebelches drive all space insane
smashing everything within it,
driving ocean rudderless upon itself
stampeding all the winds of earth
into just one wind, looting gravity,
with nothing firm enough to brake it.

Darkest daylight’s dawn
sees beanstalk timbered low
without a logger’s warning.
The tempest of this island’s birth
rips pages from the record book,
strews them upward into chaos
swift as lightning going home,
loud as all its thunders.

Wakened into nightmare
alert in ready vigilance,
metabolism’s price,
ancient instinct cast molten
congealed into the form of beast
too loyal to leave the web
untended for a moment
too stomach to be mind,
too now ever to be then.
Where would it go?
Whatever could it do?

Milkweed, cradle of the web,
wind rocked and brittle
danced in frenzied tempo
with extremity.
Built better than she knew
for a gentler use
the web became a sail,
prevailed when its anchor gave,
the milkweed tower
snapped off low
from its purchase on the earth
with a final body blow.

A piece,
the entire ship flew free
coughed from earth complete:
Milkweed, web and spider:
Dorothy sticking to her farm,
her farm stuck tight to Dorothy.
Fierce at first
the course of clearing earth
collisionless through all debris.

More slowly than its birth
the tempest leaves
the ravaged earth
behind, below
overcome at last
by subtler victor,

at the lower edge of silence
it sighs its last and dies
in resignation
upon the upper edge of air,
thin and growing thinner,
becoming very rare.

So odd to be so slight
so suddenly,
out of context,
free of everything but air,
this failing wind behind it all,
emphysemic, weak and small
from running all the way upstairs so fast
with such a heavy load,
let go now in weariness.

Highest spider
in the deepest trench,
of thinnest sea
drowns softly
as the final lick
of longest wave
now beckons home
to kidnapt life
in this far upper place,
tugs softly back.
Wind ghost whispers
its last summons
in crystal frost
on gossamer
for spider stuck
upon the Great Divide
of Up and Down

behind a tiny pair
of heavy lidding eyes
the spider’s vision:
milkweed trailing comet floss,
slowly gaining spiral
fluffed open by the feeble wind,
web within it billowing-
masterpiece of hunger
where there is prey,
though strong as steel samara
here frail parachute
seeking traction
for the best way down,
not finding it;
up may now be stronger.

Spider has spun art
that’s freed her
from her drudgery,
her livelihood’s insistence,
incessant as the tides.
The artist’s on her art,
and in it, fisherman
reeling in what’s left of earth
to Oz, a brief reality.

Still planet,
leisurely revolving
in no haste or hurry
distance becomes you,
pretty earth.
Pretty , pretty, pretty earth,
beyond the spinning web
so small, bugsize,
it seems caught in it,
dessert, the proper touch
to end the feast of feasts
this sight of hunger’s end
now that hunger’s nearly past,
all illusion now of appetite.

A dream instead of hunger,
vision takes the place of thirst
a dream of wining,
and never being done

A dream within the dream of dreaming
at the edge of up and down
a dream of living on unhungry
or dying full-
nothing in between,
the gift of time
that would endow
equal opportunity for all
to continue falling up
while everything falls
down and out
and nevermore back in.
All that goes up
does not come down
nor should it,

The dream, continued:
a larger web to spin,
the fortitude to do it,
a web from sun and moon to every star,
large enough to hold
all things within it and at once.
Deeper, deeper, in we go
(anaerobic self-hypnosis?)
the mistress of the smaller web
spins the larger, bucket list,
her bill of rights:
homestead on the larger web
followed by retirement,

a deed to hold the property,
low interest reconstruction loans,
alarm to warn of trespass,
gun to keep bad guys away,
freezer and refrigerator, electricity,
fresh food in the refrigerator,
an insect supermarket near at hand,
good health or (failing that) free pills,
time to learn to read, and spider books
bifocals for the finest print,
company to talk to,
music, a psychiatrist,
time and a half for Saturdays,
Sundays off with double-time,
walks beyond the lattice park,
two weeks vacation on a yellow flower,
pension for old age,
bird insurance (to remain uneaten),
cremation after death,
spider union to keep it fair
(protecting patent, contract, share),
recognition in a mirror,
then time to think,
and dream.

All winds wear out
and every spider dies.
each dreamer has a final dream.
All gusted into space again
the web with all its benefits
the spider and the sun and moon
the stars
by a wind so large
it doesn’t need to blow
to move all things away
from where they were.

When that wind falters,
to move things further on
they come to rest again
right where they were,
yet always
some inexperienced things
dream a little further on
dream within a dream of dreaming
vision at the switch of choice
falling all the way again
or falling further up.

L12 ®Copyright 1974 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.