Horoscopes without Telescopes
It could feel good to stare at numbers
all day, another job but I can’t name any;
still, on a scale of dismal to dazzling,
most people have absolutely the wrong idea of how to go about cutting a throat, the right way to do it on animals anatomically similar to humans such as dogs, sheep, veal calves and very young pigs—emphatically not on full-grown pigs
He said: “Straight from the horse’s mouth.”
He said that was straight from the horse’s mouth.
He said it straight from the horse’s mouth.
This cemetery is no haven,
old Jews waving at you
offering Kaddish for a few dollars,
A man once rode away on a yellow crane,
leaving only this empty pavilion.
In the sixty-three years
I have lived
some instants are electric:
Birds of Riverside Park
As thrushes start together all at once.
Abrupt and charming when they sense the dusk
That was long coming now has come, we lie
It wasn’t as deep as I expected,
your grave, next to the grandmother who died
Did we run out of things or just a name for you?
Above us the sun doubles its acclaim for you.
Negative sun or negative shade pulled from the ground ...
“Each ray of sunshine is eight minutes old,”
Serge told me in New York one December
night. “So when one looks at the sky, one sees
In a city where I once lived, for many years
an old man sat on his doorstep, in his hand
a brown facecloth, which he turned
It begins in the back of the head,
gathering force like the strangler’s
mop in Slam sweeping across the floor.
Even in sleep your shadow watches, me
Your whisper rustles through the sleeping room
As though you moved in silks. Why keep on trying?
Not smart to be out under trees with the wind still this
high: billowing & breaking bring down stob ends
of last year's drought-wood that died way up in the branches,
wdn't it be silly to be serious, now:
I mean, the hardheads and the eggheads
are agreed that we are an absurd
O transients on earth, what is man?
what not? The shadow cast
by a dream. But one whom the gods give
Patrick Casey is sitting on the beach.
Patrick Casey is surrounded by sunshine.
Patrick Casey has a sunny disposition.
Happy baby. Bobbing. Strong arm. Slap. Hard
water. Bottle-green swells smack, splatter. Chuck
the chin. Bluster. Rip-roaring rumpus. Scutched.
In this country we manufacture cages
We construct them just as you wish
made-to-order, a cage for each occasion
Blackout-in the theater as well as on screen. From a distance
we hear Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians." It almost
sounds like a train approaching. Now we hear voices: by turns
Could Darwin instruct those turtles? Pixilated pin-dick tax
atmosphere, he also enjoys an occasional highball: wanna see my
veteran postage and were honorable if yes based on where do you wish along dotted cut post office box or print a campaign badge or service medal 5000-C through July i, 1955 ex-service daughter who died in civil service appointment to use in item
Perched on this metal tripod
silent as an uninspired sibyl
I watch a living body (male,
white, 56) draped in skyblue
Bananas are an example.
—But who reads that shit? About as true to life as a
—I think he judges poetry with his dick. And poets, too.
The soldiers were in the habit of saying that a dying
soldier was “going west.” Are you going west on your
vacation? We turned west at Allentown and drove west-
Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine
Must I recall
Our loves recall how then
The first time?
So long ago—that brown-eyed boy…
How can I say thi s, your Reverences,
Because of your own natural sense of death,
death's stench in the fur, in the follicles, sweat glands,
death in the roots of the teeth, it's right
THESE ARE THE THINGS WE THINK ARE BEAUTIFUL:
Flames and money with colors. Good thick paper
rubbing between the fingertips like oil.
Sparrow who drags a footlong crust of bread behind him
Sparrow whose head is pecked bald from so many quarrels
"Oh, murder!" she was heard to mutter, or
"Mary mother of god!" You see how close
these utterances come? Please kiss me, Mom.
"Oh, how we love the glow of holy gold!"
They curled, cavorting in the evening sun .
"Oh, but centuries have passed since the rage
As if encarmined tulips opened
with a sudden pop like that of a toy pistol
morning surprises you again,
As in an old memoir, the rhododendrons were over.
Hunger persisted, and the light was weak—
the light of music and books, the light paintings cast
Each year the monuments grew larger.
The citizens demanded this.
As their lives got worse they wanted
Only the dead don’t know
what heaven’s like. For the rest
extrapolation is possible.
The madhouse statuary seemed to dispel the pre-life
we gave it.
For all I know I was meant to be one of those marchers
into a microtonal near-future whose pile has worn away—
as was proven
when they entered the house
The blackboard is erased in the attic
And the wind turns up the light of the stars,
Sinewy now. Someone will find out, someone will know.
Better homes and gardens for many
but for the rest, we are not so sure.
I thought that if I could put it all down, that would be one way. And next the thought came to me that to leave all out, would be another, and truer, way.
Silly girls your heads full of boys
There is a last sample of talk on the outer side
Your stand at last lifts to dumb evening
You are my most favorite artist. Though I know
very little about your work. Some of your followers I know:
Then I reached the field and I thought
this is not a joke not a book
My sister and I don’t seem to get along too well anymore.
She always has to have everything new in her house. Cherished ideals
The deep water in the travel poster finds me
In the change as I was about to back away
The immense hope, and forbearance
Trailing out of night, to sidewalks of the day
Like air breathed into a paper city, exhaled
Impatient as we were for all of them to join us,
The land had not yet risen into view: gulls had swept the gray steel towers away
So that it profited less to go searching, away over the humming earth
A hears by chance a familiar name, and the name solves a
riddle of the past.
B, in love with A, receives an unsigned letter in which the
The sore trees cast their leaves
too early. Each twig pinching
I will go rent a U-Haul, and move to Hackensack,
And a cheap condo buy there, the driveway freshly tarred,
Hard by the Jersey turnpike, a swingset in the back,
I knew a girl who also had a ghost
living in her mouth-what we called dumb
Claude, be still, light
is what you're seeing now:
the moon contained in dusk,
Our field is the sky,
tilled by the sweat of motors,
in the face of night,
My mother shrugged off life
Three thousand miles from Paris,
City of her birth. It takes
1.Dawn was their greeting time.
Such pleasure one needs to make for oneself—.
She has snipped the paltry forsythia
to force the bloom, has cut each stem on the
say, when what they mean
Lemnos, you harbor me, moon-mountained
and reticent, motionless in flux.
Dusk festers too long in the distance,
Though the rest of us remains closed, tired,
we go on hoping for what we know,
the essence of it enclosed in a dream—
In the midst of winter, where moonlight carves
stillness into the shape of hills, there is
a cabin feeding smoke to the low-hanging sky,
And when you are finally caught and questioned, it is discovered, sadly, that you know nothing of use. Your captors exchange glances, nod. You are released in the freedom of some afternoon,
Let us console you.
Music’s the answer.
Had she not lain on that bed with a boy
All those years ago, where would they be, she wondered.
From where she sat she could see
a sundial, but she couldn't read it.
Time was a brush fire burning somewheres,
It's time for the feasting that follows the four men it took
to carry the dead monster's head.
Just look at the clock—
“The quick brown fox jumps
Over the lazy dog”: it was a little bedtime story
The sun is a drum
the moon is a cymbal
The flow of time is caught in a cup.
The moon is sick. I fear she'll die
from lack of love, from poverty
and homelessness, lost in the sky,
What they had for ideals
must persist in the taut set
of that rearing horse's head,
Flecked on a layer of mortar on the pillbox lid,
the tiles pieced together by some kindred myopic
have caught this much of Tuscany: hills worn down
The suddenly bought land
Was stilled in its habits. Indians
Too light-fingered for events
We hiked up a canyon in the cold summer rain.
It was late in the day and on the mountain
across the canyon there was a section of
For the base I prefer a paste of unscented soap, egg white, & glue or gelatin, often peroxide—
never, as do some of my competitors, chewed muslin strips or (loathsome!) bits of animal tissue!
Though receiving but five dollars each night at the lyceum (a dollar at home),
I am like the king of a rainy kingdom,
rich but weak, young yet very old,
Two events have a spacelike separation.
Show that a frame can be found in which
the two events occur at the same time.
Some are drunk. Some are mumbling.
Many are solitary, each in his way fixed.
They are all happy over their very good number,
Love, here we stand at the beginning
of our life together, and I find myself
thinking of a hot summer night
You could see windstorms and a piece of floating string
making their way to the school
for hours—you could watch the sun,
I know you, smaller than Circumference
Of Bone—smaller than Orbit—than Silver
They gave me a choice I didn't want: the fate
of a twenty-three-year-old man named
Frank Spencer Robertson,
Describe a scene from your daily life.
The sky has come down around us like a shroud.
Use plain language.
Six years have gone since I have been loved
by you. All appearances have been more or less
phantom. There is a boy, now, applying for your job.
I forgot to tell you my husband
died. He was in Spain and something
strange happened with alcohol or water. He loved them
That light behind the Olympics at supper hour—
it takes a sky of clouds from here to there
to spot the sun, seam and snow just right.
I envy the cellist with the sculpted barrel
between her knees.
I envy the violinist, the trainer of a mahogany bird
There is a cataract of blood over the dawn;
I know by watching
from the river’s fringes of wild grass
As if they were trying to build on a different thought
the clouds accumulate between sun and the city,
so the beams go wide and break into sheaves of light.
Breath through the flute like light constrained
in a prism, rays, and is made to weave
a tense web trembling as the notes blow over a
The wind and the rain, the trees swung like a bell
all across Massachusetts in the fall,
and the torn fog steaming from the yellow mountains,
Dear Emile, I'm tolerating the tribute
of these flowers in the garden you once planted—
their modulating wits, the conspiratorial
Gothic flowers bedded themselves
in the edges of this night, the night
when a bullet pierced her rib precisely,
At the Crux
Grieving takes its lyric turns,
sometimes en pointe.
The idea of being tried by "A Jury Of One's Peers,"
Which, as we all know, is the pillar & pride of our American
system of jurisprudence, among others.
You, who live in this world, & claim to understand about everything about life—lyricizing in your written words about how
Love Is At The Heart of Things
(With its lovers coming & going)
The energy chest
One keeps dipping in
There will always be a distance
Even when things are pressing
Against one another, so hard
In the rain, get your hands off my trickling face!
A damp rug
my chilled hands
You hoarded oyster shells through the R months;
they jut from the backyard garden like unwashed ears
of earth, and listen to your footsteps growing heavier.
I hold my brother’s daughter in my lap
and clip her fingernails. She sits expectant
and will not be distracted from the unfolding
So hot the shore we drove through four states
to reach stays dazed a skipping-stone’s throw
beyond the window, though the tide creeps out,
From tiny up, a grand jeté to a slow freight
was basic movement, or losing a footrace allegro
to neighborhood punks. And to fast-talk my way
well, she's a little fat,
the life and fall of thick '
I'm the one who has imprisoned the rain dragon.
You know the story? About the dark-eyed girl who seduces
the holy man and ends the long drought.
Bands of distracted emotions snap getting
wider as daytime colors sink and roll on their
sides. White powders smashed tight into
It’s a socket—I don’t know how,
but you soon learn to count millions into that province;
they roar and change, and that's all,
Take that hand away, the hand
washing like small warm stones along my neck
There’s a donkey standing in the doorway,
The difficulties, in passion,
are not news: the knot at the throat,
the lipstick that smears, the skirt
Summer so histrionic, marvelous dirty days
is not genuine it shines forth from the faces
littered with soup, cigarette butts, the heavy
It’s very interesting
Weighing 500 lbs
You might even say, “it’s great!”
(2) photos of Anne
80 years old
lovely, as always
and I am lost in the ringing elevator
sweeping me to the top
there there were pine needles
Through the blown clouds and the plate glass,
sunlight slides across the chrome fountains.
The Muzak drones like some huge machine
on the windowpanes
on the porcupine’s skin
on the curtains
Morning came, in buckles and lace,
asking to be held. The birds began
with sultry murmurs, their notes soon rising like sirens.
The ivory wedding hat came tumbling down—
how long had it been stored away, untouched
like desire repressed and bound—
It could feel good to stare at numbers
all day, another job but I can’t name any;
He cakes night as a kind of medicine,
swallowing it with a buck and shiver.
Sometimes a drowning muse come from within
Still gripped by the illusion of an horizon;
overcome with the finality of a broken tooth;
suspecting that habits are the only salvation,
To all those driven berserk or humanized by love
this is offered, for I need help
deciphering my dream.
The vegan gourmet will have his way. Lamb chops
will soon be relegated to quaint cabins in the olden days.
The ballooning business of burgers, too, will change,
Moving away from rattled towns,
gaining, as a bird in a dishwasher,
It was made of pulp and flesh
It was fruit pulp
It was clayish flesh
Those lolling china heads and rag-stuffed arms
will never love us in return, said Rilke,
whose mother dressed him like a girl, whose charms
Okay A nightingale
outside this window
Over the tops of the lockers,
I hear a woman
It is called Trent or Noel
for the most beautiful girl
turning woman on the continent.
He raised his hand above his head.
His hair was a surface of gray,
his hand a semaphore.
He believes, he believes, the gray-eyed one
who puts your shards together.
(Cleft saucers are mended in Vitebsk.)
Because I want to watch them do what I would like to do
if I were free, and because it is late and I am tired
and out for what I say is my nightly walk, I stop
For peace and peace and peace the prayers ascend
From tongues in darkness sung to tongues in light
If we are truly free and live in a free country,
When shall I be without this heaviness of mind?
When shall I have peace? Peace this way and peace that way?
The long waves boom in the naked Norwegian caves,
Men with gray hair come, men
Like Polynesians, their long hair is like bark falling from a waterfall,
Heaven’s roots are still.
O holy trees, rejoicing ruin of leaves,
I’ve heard the sea upon the troubled rocks
Waste this past night, with dreams more troubled still,
And where the images that you and I
Out of the jetty slip the dark bark rides,
As I more leave, each day, the man-leafed tree,
Hearing the Norse tell how they sail the sea.
The dove returns; it found no resting place;
It was in flight all night above the shaken seas;
Whenever Jesus appears at the murky well,
I am there with my five hundred husbands.
It takes Jesus all day to mention their names.
Bracelets, jade, rubies, teak, silver chain armlets,
Topaz, smoking sapphire, diamond tortoises of gold,
Columbus glimpsed them behind the green hills before he died;
It’s a good idea to figure what to do with parents.
One man I knew, after caring for them for years,
Where the stone foaress shoulders the leaning city,
where vacant windows front cracked rooftiles, dislodged
She called the white ducks with a soft
Clucking of her tongue and they came to
Her busy hands for the hard corn she shelled.
He said he was going to make this the worst beating
I had ever had, while pulling the split strop out
From its hiding place on the top shelf of the
They made money—
maybe not the way
you think it should be done
Auto in sunlight: every trace of gloss
Is dulled a rusting green.
Even the fenders are a dirty chrome
After a dingy rain I walked out
Through a world stripped bare of narrative,
How faceless their pathos, the ovals
of these heads, huge, smooth, hermetic
as eggs, and solemn, especially the man's
You could be turning it in your fingers like a planet.
A knife would do, if you're good with knives,
bracing the hard fruit in your slender hand;
No stranger to the faith of eyes
asleep under the surgeon's lancet,
to time gambled with every try
Who's to say where the man ends,
the world begins; what it is
that wakes him in a visible sweat,
Doubly silent the afternoon
By virtue of empty summer, and of a flame
Overflowing, is it from this vase
In the lure of the threshold.
Like a seal
in broken sleep,
aware of how
I’m drunk. My head holds up
the soft vibrations of the room.
Dusk. My daughter jogs her answer
He waited for her the last time
in the Cafe Eichberger, at their table:
walls the color of chocolate, tiles worn
On her dress she wears her body. —Blaise Cendras
Concrete forest, puddled houses; clouds
sweep across the sky—a thunderhead
settles in. Think how anger seethes
Honest-to-god color, god said, for artists.
But first, graveyards, to grind the human femur
In the living room of the trailer, the father of the woman
I love calls the family into a huddle.
Dinner is over, the charcoal is ash on the grill.
I am in a temple or maybe it’s a sweltering
summer camp lodge type, of a room.
Have too many cats...
The night has made the apple tree a scent,
A motion in my ear, as if delight
Ever so softly trembled in decline.
O depth sufficient to desire,
Ghostly abyss wherein perfection hides,
Purest effect and cause, you are
She never knew the brittle rose would wake
The far-off dormant egypt of its day
That she entombed; spring gave, autumn would take
Antlers butting against the full moon.
Bellies lolling on my belly.
Creamy chestnut crania in convex cones.
Passing out of a great city
A flower in confusion,
I, the speaker, and you, the listener;
There was a bed prepared and avoided
Too great a distraction
I am straddling Marini’s horse
using the horseman’s cock as my handle
I tire as I carve the passage
Til the wind peeks out from underneath.
Yes, I guess this is clean now.
It's true: I am a coward. The other night,
at dinner, I neglected to tell you how much
I detest your latest novel. Had you asked me,
How easily we say he’s down
And out or itinerant, that tramp
Rummaging the afternoon,
& with a blunt cafeteria table knife
mr macadam clerical officer bludgeons
the half poached egg that is his
September’s lovely in New York, the sky
Returned to baby blue, the breeze now mild
It seems someone else was interested in order, too—
The squat trees edging away down the slope
In wavy lines like rivulets—but wasn’t very good at it.
Everybody has a point of view,
a public expression when
all is said and done,
Nothing of the son occurred, of course,
not the evil dreams, not the dementia,
neither bovine diet nor bestial appearance,
They cut off hands and composed cantatas;
They gutted their neighbors like fish and released
The shape of spirits from bonds of ebony;
The sidewalks are wobbling in the god-awful heat.
Ninety-eight in the shade,
Where there is shade, as New York lies locked under
Layers of high pressure
There are worlds, unwieldy, dreadful,
Difficult to grasp, just pick one up
And it grasps you, its grip of iron;
Like I get this phone call from Shirley MacLaine,
it's the middle of the night, right,
she's all confused about time,
Eventually she stayed
with the overflown artery of Ouse
fingering pebbles one at a time two
You see a bright ship
with a flourish of little banners
formed in one single gesture
The river's applause fades 'round the ridge
like a candled freedom snuffed by a junta:
wounded echo. Crumbly shale of ocean
I know the general outline of despair. Despair has no wings,
Many things will still change,
other flags fib and sing,
different ideologies may march—
Moonset at sunrise, the mind
dividing between them. The teeth
of the young sun sink through the breast of the cloud.
King George the Fifth
looked like my grandfather
and felt as close
Loaf of bread or sheep's
head, rubber nubbed
for traction on flatnesses
Winter was the ravaging in the scarified
Ghost garden, a freak of letters crossing down a rare
Path bleak with poplars. The yew were a crewel
I was not ready for your form to be cold
Ever. Even in life
You did not inhabit, necessarily, a form,
Lie facedown in the pulsating mantra:
dried flowers bathed in sunshine
Of slowly submerging monograms
I’ll compare Jew-love to Roman light,
stone palazzi in travellers’ perspectives
obelisks and domes,
The scenes that were on the inside of his ribs,
when he willed them outward, they appeared,
tattooed, in front, behind, strips of pictures
The real is a wilderness
that ambitions calls a garden.
“Well, what’d you dream of this time, Gorbunov?”
“Oh, mushrooms, mostly.” “Mushrooms! What the hell!
Again?” “Again.” “You really make me laugh.”
Everything has its limit, including sorrow
A windowpane stalls a stare; nor does a grill abandon
a leaf. One may rattle the keys, gurgling down a swallow.
Fillmore alleyway window frame fat woman,
drunken, at kitchen greasy oil-clothed table
half gallon carton of milk and a fifth. Dark,
The maestro, in his Paris hotel, clicks
the television on. A girl with a purple mohawk
chops at the Wall with a hatchet, blasting
“Have you any cure,” cried the young sailor
Pulling against the tide,
“Have you any herb or spell to help
“Red as butchered beasts
Sang the first wound
Moving across the light, on agitated hips,
She hurries away breadcrusts and grapestones
And glances in mid-talk, as if from fear,
As I walk down NYC I wonder into the ground
Glee a short road across my face
To a sparrow observing from the cool agenda
On this day, anno 1966
The thin Scandinavian girl whose fine-nosed
white collie sniffs along the shaded walk.
United at first
ham and cheese fall apart and slip
through my trembling hands
Some men say I've forgotten why I sing,
as if I were a happy, careless thing.
But just my speechless body stayed behind—
I still liked anyothertime,
anyotherplace. which means most
of my life, but it was now,
I read about their hive in a beekeeping book,
the 1916 fire near a lumber pile where
they fanned their wings furiously,
A thrush in the syringa sings.
“Hunger ruffles my wings, fear,
lust familiar things.
Snow is irrational
and the rare song above the snow insane.
Every tree is a personality:
Refugees flee their homes. Exiles
move back in, thirty-year echoes
of mortar shells rattling windows.
A naked woman rides a naked man
and vamps, and moans, and both pretend to mount
the summit of desire, although in these
Somebody is always expecting you home.
Somebody's saying you've been gone too long
and stayed too late, and no good can come of it.
Your eyes show peace, discord
is foreign to your lips;
most necessary motion
Without fear or fault, the green
Expanse of it drops off at acute
Angles, sudden and inconveniently,
Impatient at the ferry slip, he hoped
He'd long be out of Beaufort when they heard
The fool he'd been, the fools he'd made of them,
She cannot get it to her mouth fast enough. She cannot
What rush correspondence of blood replenishes dangerous
—like Venice, save
that the canals are scarlet, and decay
impossible, neither are the boats
The way had become unbearably slow, progress
imperceptible. Even his hunger had become
less, little more than a poorly remembered myth
Yes. I have seen the end, and yes,
I was disturbed by what I saw.
No rain for weeks, cows hold
their milk within covetous udders.
The river lies still as an infant
It’s getting harder to remember the Thirties.
Public gestures are so replacing private embraces
That, thinking back, I can visualize old Cactus Jack
I remember an old city, red walls and battlements, on the immense plain burnt out from the August heat, with the far-away spongy cold comfort of green hills in the background. Enormous emptiness of bridge-arches over the stagnant river dried to thin leaden puddles: a black moulding of mosquitoes shifting and silent along the banks: among the dazzle and
Coffee: the tightening at the heart,
The wreath of ice, like thorns
Arranged there to give pleasure,
In bars of cement light
Orange suns chain across the sky
After the consuming rain
Damned fool to make a hash of it like that.
Is this what comes from wanting to make art
out of the Middle East's sunbaked back streets?
All this gold and silver for her to have
a sitter's fifty-minute hour go on
past lunch. Stomach mewing. Saffron shafts
Zara Vanities, What do they see in each other?
It is the “soon” and “better” got them.
Feeling 'little quicker, new: A drama
the gestures of fire.
“This is how we will burn,”
Leaves when she wants, sorry bitch,
Said the white man, presuming to judge.
His mustache hid flakes of the itch,
I have walked these streets so often I could
forge the shadows of skyscrapers as they fall
to rest between the sculptured air of midtown.
These eyes an accusation.
Or quiet question
Containing its own answer.
of a day,
even though it's two below.
If I seem to patronize and always limit what I say
to the cliches of affection, mother,
and never give a good goddamn what you are doing:
Blue poles (well ?) on the beach
in a snowless winter and
I’m too cold to ask you
Day changes from cannon to morning glory
her body dances death dances in the prell light
beads strung out all through Japan’s public parks, my head,
A trifle pompously, my love, you move among
the mass of nerve-
tissue in my cranium:
Sat for three days in a white room
a tiny truck of white flowers
was driving through the empty window
When I consider the children of the middle class
as representations of phenomena to my subject sense
I can hardly see them at all, they fade
The white birch saplings choiring in a praise
of sunlight, spring, late April, the little voices
of nature’s chorus for the clearing that was
Sometimes I think you are absolutely right. Your
rightness comes to me like the absoluteness
of God. I am vouchsafed the sudden glory
I was born in the circus. I play the flat man.
My voice is flat, my walk is flat, my ironies
move flatly out to sock you in the eye.
All he could see from this scene over Bluehill, Maine
(no distortions here: the work is from a seagirted light),
is enough of a world for any man, it seems plain
She gave me the car and two
hundred dollars. Said, So long, baby.
Take it easy, hear? So much
Tonight I hear machines at their dark work in the dark, I understand
the sound they make among the gaps between the trees
One evening, after the sun (and not only the sun) had gone down in the west, the Jew went for a walk, that is to say he stepped out of his hut and went for a walk, the Jew, the son of a Jew, and his name went with him, his unspeakable name, as he walked and went on and went shuffling along
The guillotine is the masterpiece of plastic art
Creates perpetual motion
Leaped at the caribou.
My son looked at the caribou.
The kangaroo leaped on the
O blue and nerveless
stars. The night and the
distance of the lake.
In her dream
the wind blew her vagina out the bedroom
down the Spanish steps
From where I watched, the shiny satellite
Almost occluded summer Sirius.
I might have sworn they’d touch and set the night
First my books grew stiff
brass clasps like the books monks read.
A hush enshrouded them. They were
Here Follows an Account of the Nature of Fish.
Here follows a description of an unknown town.
If I look to the opposite shore and greet myself there,
if I call out to myself come here
Clouds scuffle and clinch in this March sky;
wind presses our turned collars to chin
and Chris casts his line against the grain.
Perhaps by the time I have written this
the last three or four will also be gone:
not many people will mark a few less
Nobody understood her cruelty to herself. In this life, cruelty
begets cruelty, and, before long, one would have to chop off
one's own hand to end the source of self-torture. Yet, we
In the Kyi Valley of Tibet, a snow-white desert
where an orchestra of lamas performs by starlight for the gods,
it is said that when we near death, and may least suspect it,
A wall of fire steals across the prairie
and the string quartet in the downstairs parlor
breaks off suddenly when a blizzard of light invades our sleep,
At the bus stop a blind man sells colored pencils.
Ballpoint pens, too, at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Ten cents for a pencil, two bits for a pen.
“Now, I must tell you of our grandeur,”
she’d written. “We are going to have
a Turkey!!! carpet in the dining room . . .
Rainstorms that blacken like a headache
where mosses thicken, and the mornings
smell of jonquils, the stillness
there was in
Kowabunga! The amoeba was
Venusian burgers were sailing out
Grammar tells us
The margin of mountain grass moved from our feet
the apron of
The sweetpeas, pale diapers
Of pink and powder blue, are flags
Of a water color republic.
You approach me carrying a book
The instructions you read carry me back beyond birth
To childhood and a courtyard bouncing a ball
The door behind me was you
and the radiance, there like
an electric train wreck in your eye
Beautiful beyond belief
to look at you the whole way
would be to walk away maimed
Green beetles tick against the lighted windows. The crickets stay. I’m irritable on the phone, feel I’m supposed to entertain you, but I’ve had a stupid day and my only thought is full of complaint. You’re retired, and the delay on the long-distance line causes us to interrupt each other and to say with a harsh edge, “I can’t hear you; I’m sorry.”
My neighbor who tends the rhododendrons
across the street-mulching, fixing soil acidity,
watering by hose for a long hour each evening—
I know I scared you last night by shaking,
the only time you were forced to share
a dream that seemed so bad upon waking.
it lay in my palm soft and trembled
as a new bird and i thought about
authority and how it always insisted
in the latter days
you will come to a place
You said you wanted to see
some baby pictures of me.
So here they are. Before you look at them
In a blow to Marxist thought, our romance red-shifted
from farce to tragedy. I had the paper trail to prove it,
a receipt from the erotic bakery with your phone number
Here I am, alone in my room, feeling lonely.
Loneliness is horrible. This is an objective
statement. Sometimes I think to objectify
A fire truck goes by‚
On its way to the station
With a low roar‚
Scrawling the letters of my name,
I found and changed what I became:
Such is the way with monumental things:
to make us see and wonder.
The unreserved calm of the place
All I can offer you now is weathered—
this face, these hands. I've lived too long underground.
My eyes cannot fix on the distance
Eugene would say, "Someone died . Time to redecorate."
Everything we owned was secondhand.
We needed to move. We were running out of space.
Neck pulled back. Wrists tied. Weight pops
shoulder from socket. All disjunction.
So many Judgment Days. Hell absorbs us
If you wanted flesh you had to wait
till second grade, for the box
of 64. Until then you outlined us
This is the only reality, wrote Sartre,
this public garden and its gravel paths
dappled with sunlight
The one resting now on a plant stem
somewhere deep in the vine-hung
interior of South America
It has a bronze covering inlaid with silver,
the sides are decorated with openwork zoomorphic
It is possible to be struck by a meteor
or a single-engine plane
while reading in a chair at home.
Suddenly, you were planting some yellow petunias
outside in the garden,
time is an enemy
a pigeon writes
The big yellow house
up the hill a blue-green house
across a gray house
Out after dark in what was left of the Combat Zone
we ate raw sushi next to Big Mo's Live Sex,
Remember where I came from.
Think of a continent of sabled czars.
Leave your home. Let exile fill your mouth
arch film duds
“Cheever” can aiming laps
in could both
Irretrievably girl in other words
ashamed pear-shaped earnest canary
has just about licked up her past
Some of the sailors
change easily. Brought
into my presence
In his prison letters, Bonhoeffer is thankful
for a hairbrush, for a pipe and tobacco,
for cigarettes and Schelling's Morals Vol. II.
Telling our story is . . . painful as anything
I’ve ever done. More painful than. A lapse
Of time so long and I’d assumed, wrongly,
Because dusk comes in not long
after 5 o’clock in Chelsea
and lamps come to life, a gold
No one but the prodigal returns.
Extravagance, the same as parsimony,
disguised a bent for pillaging oneself?
The Wife to Potiphar
Regret his imprisonment? Yes! I wanted him dead.
But a month or two of Egyptian penal correction
Should serve the purpose. No, I don't miss him, not now.
Rumor, the homemade metamorphosis;
That with each telling modifies its key
Adjectives, its semicolons; that scales
You dismiss the tiny, protesting fraction
back home, claim you've learned a nation
and its customs, people, mores. Did you and your
Suddenly fatigued among French
women in the roman
“Look, my legs,” you point after lying on the rocks.
By your toes, water is light yellow
like the most beautiful mouth wash.
Under the azure where the noon sun totters,
Its golden poop, its silk pavilhons
As radiant as a galaxy of suns,
Liberal, blue-eyed, shivering, trying not
to look like a bill
collector or detective,
I used to pretend I stumbled into the place
casually, after a long day shopping or
I'd pretend I was a drunk
I lived in the poor part of town
where the hookers hung out on the street corners at night,
Because the houses
are low and driveways
stubby, the sidewalks
Here, where the people chiefly are resigned
To doubting all the words their leaders use
(Mass-graves that hold forgotten hopes), they find
I was warm on the quadrangle
Warm on the grass by the library steps
Eating my sandwich
Never receives visitors, only inhabitants.
Outside, icicles thaw from the eaves in winter,
And even with its windows painted shut,
Now the universe wants to be known for
Itself, isn’t that why we’re here
Popped out on this terrace the color of stars
Too much of a subject can interfere,
Be a drag, so subvert the procedure to which it refers
That the wisest course is to visit it just for fun,
The senses of one’s
to fade. Rather,
The time is.
The air seems a cover,
the room is quiet.
make the space
of it. Yellow,
Either in or out of
the mind, a conception
overrides it. So that
The mountains blue now
at the back of my head,
such geography of self and soul
Nothing prepared me for your absence,
except, perhaps, the wind rattling stalks of autumn corn.
My world is always on the verge of silence,
The way the hunt progressed, I thought
The fox would hound me in my sleep.
The way he carved the bottom land
Sunlight sang through the chick door's crack.
And I heard her words,
yet chose not to wake my brother,
The skeleton clicks, endlessly doubling
over in my hands. Damned things that steal soul
and flee. Mine, the son of a virgin father
For hours now the Last Supper has been over.
And the beating almost over, and morning's cry
Yet to be heard by the workmen in the courtyard
Once it seemed possible, those boys
Peeking out of gun slits at the German line
Or on graves detail, wet, miserable,
We offer each other a dark
brew. But we must drink.
The buildings stand, with all intention changed
from what designed and built them—killer ants,
their Gallic genes resembling old blueprints,
When I build the fire in the living room
and unroll my sleeping bag beside it
it dawns on me I’m not