Issue 127, Summer 1993
In the Reading Room of the 42nd Street Library
These good New Yorkers bent low over books
deserve a Paradise of softer chairs
and sleep, their heads against that fringed and white
length of swan neck, spotless, damp, sleek, warm,
to recover on, after a god’s form
has entered and taken them willingly
thoroughly, and with great, big, tender sighs.
They deserve that mythic neck, a Christian
heaven, the upliftings of good fiction,
cushioned seats, and sweet poetic dictions.
But softly one hears, from almost still lips:
“They no longer pasture on new meadows.”
Then, “Poets sound like salesmen, talkshow hosts .. .
Who’s ‘molle atque facetum’? Speak! —
wonderful human—from the mountain peak . . .”
They mumble this from their vast, troubled ooze
of dream, as the dusty light filters in.
Only in their fragile sleep a singer
reappears, the notes begin to linger
and sound, only here time’s scraping finger
begins to carve some worthwhile heap of words
to scatter widely for a swan’s return
to paint the visionary dreariness
to light the dawn coming up like thunder
that breaks like ice down the face of wonder.