white pencil on etching and acquaint proof, twelve and a quarter by twelve and a quarter inches
                                                                                            —after a drawing by Agnes Martin



 
the grid's a little calendar  I  put each minute into
 
an elongated box       grey with an e      the color
 
of the thinking preceding       a divisive brighness
 
the time before migraine         or the thin needles
 
the healer sinks in my head      to release its heat
 
let's put this minute  between   the need to vomit
 
and the history of metaphysics         my hot mind
 
cleared of its luminous fogs        I polish each line
 
of white pencil and think         being ill makes me
 
an object full of a process      hard to see at work
 
inside my body      the lyric might be a plastic art
 
after all    if my voice also takes place as a shape
 
arranged to stop the pain       when I pin the grid
 
with acupuncture needles      the page clicks shut
 








We cannot understand everything that happens to everyone.
                                               —Agnes Martin



 days of headache
flushed hot skin
my mind a loose
weave stained by
thoughts it's lost
illness keeps
a little calendar
the look of water
color on cotton

so few memories
I return to these
colors as evidence
I'm writing it
by natural light








Any mistake in the scale and it doesn't work out. It's pretty hard because it's such a small picture.
                                                                                            —Agnes Martin



the problem with illness
is I think there might be
a way to be ill that would
free me from suffering
the way correctly placed
needles calm symptoms

too much heat
in the spleen
general fatigue
foggy vision
stomach spasms
 
during headache's iterations
I begin to miss visual images
though lyric is a woven grid
hard stresses threading weft
through the warp of stacked
lines the last stanza finished
I put my ear to its little box
in the old medical textbook
each pressure point turns
metaphorical
  thought shelter

labor palace

dwelling bone

broken bowl








As grass that is hard to grasp cuts the hand itself.
                                  —from The Dhammapada



for a long time
I lie on my back
in the visual field
I lie on my back
and think I can
 
loving questions
think my way
 
because I think
through pain
wind is a great comfort
I have no answers
as if I knew
 
I have no choice
no difference
 
I have to live life
between pain
the teacher Agnes says
as I know it to be
and thinking
 
led by my mind
looking always
 
formed by mind
for safe passage
religion is about this grass
that is also my body
between them




A former NEA Fellow, Brian Teare is the recipient of poetry fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Fund for Poetry, and the American Antiquarian Society. He is the author of four critically acclaimed books—The Room Where I Was Born, Sight Map, the Lambda Award-winning Pleasure, and Companion Grasses, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award. His fifth book, The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven, will be out from Ahsahta in September 2015. An Assistant Professor at Temple University, he lives in Philadelphia, where he makes books by hand for his micropress, Albion Books.