Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Sun Does

On a gravel road with a modest playground
behind the homes that face the water
marked by a tree that he recognized:
the beginning of his shoreline property
where, in spring when all is all, cattails
would shoot
straight up, mix with forsythia and salt air,
and we would pick stiff-stalked bouquets
along the edge of the property, never
venturing into its square dimensions
because of a cousin who nearly died
of Lyme disease, this being East Lyme,
where the deer ticks are plentiful
and virulent. Then we’d pile into the Chevy and
drive an hour inland, to home. On the way,
he’d say how the salt air made him ravenous and
aren’t the cattails something,
and that
was every spring for many years.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Old Pleasure of Recurrence

The old pleasure of recurrence; even this
turn brings us
back somewhere

When do you think?
Around 11.
Around 11?
Yes, around 11.

Not air, not dreams, not distant shatterings.

In there, rag-time. The window opens
onto a summer afternoon.
There are wind-chimes in the shape of glass
butterflies just outside.

They make the wind less unknowable
in the afterjune.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Moon Wants You to Want It

A silver slipper of

an echoing body. A sojourner’s

litany. Mobile dust. An unfinished


storage both
a shoring up
(to glossia

working model


aura fictionalized, the visible


on what vanished shore of what vanished sea

Weightless Boxes

My wife’s hand is small.
It fits inside the eeeooolaay
of a wood thrush
and I am young again,
the gates of heaven not shut
against me, walking in the woods
behind the ferry landing.
No, she says with her hand,
that is a Brown Thrasher. See
the length of its tail. Her hand
becomes a length of feathers.
It more often seen than heard
but can be heard in the way
light appears to sing.
Her hand is common, spotted
with rust,
in fear of extinction.
It can hold eight eggs
if the eggs are very small.

The Rules of Engagement

I know the reason they exist
but the invitation to transgress
doesn’t settle well with a nature
that craves disorder. What is the
power of rupture when it comes
to death? Who’s counting then?
Corrections made, comments collated
and still it’s multiple.
The future is a gated city of domes
and arches without right angles.
They don’t withstand
the pressure of high wind,
the kind of wind that travels time,
and leaves no trace of the past.

Overcrowded. Full memory.
The Year of the Tiger Lily.

The parameters of solitude are constantly
in flux. I am alone in my cubicle,
I am alone with you, I am alone when alone.
I am alone on a subway, I am alone
with God. I am alone when reading,
when sleeping, when listening to Bach.

I ran backward to touch him.
He ran forward into history.
Only the improbable image
of the parallax
coincided with both.

Stolen from Li Po for Debbie

Yes, let's meet, the three
of us--this jug, my shadow,
and you--in the time of bruised
lilacs. My shadow, you, and me
in the closest constellation
to the eastern horizon.
Your shadow, baskets of lilacs,
this hollow jug finding me
under brightening stars.
How we will know each other's
thoughts in the deep, felt silence.
Friend of mine, this parting
goes hard, like the swollen
stream drunk-tossed among the rock-
blades in the onslaught
of spring's brassy sexuality
holding to reeds the river sped over.

The Beginning of the Cyborg Revolution is Love

I love my computer and would refuse
a future without it. We are
each to each tied by sturdy filaments.
We are one.

I would never abandon it. Our
boundaries are blurred. It
anticipates me, we flow.
The whirr of its waking thrills
me. Where we will go today?
Who will we see?

I give myself to it endlessly.
It knows my fantasies and failures,
it is closer to my thoughts than
any living thing.

This kind of love is not redemptive--
it spends itself without return.
We are implicated, implied glyphs.
It lessens my soul. We share my soul.
It is the glory and its higher glory.
It has replaced magic, miracle,
and myth. It is not a faddish
obsession with power. It is an
act of fear, like all love.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Fidelity, once, had been the sum of it.
Some rise, like Vandals, fleet, from
the suburbs until reduced to the future,
to everything for which, at its genesis,
everything is unmade.
Rising with the numbing slowness of one
of those napping-in-the-afternoon
invaders, pillows afire with the common
dreams of men, spittle collecting
in the Cat Prince's elegant paw.
As for the refined decision, the wild
intimacy that none call Death,
nights spent raving about betrayal--
when? and where?--stumbling upon
animals in suits and hats, watching them
parade over the wide-flung manor the trees
imitate that never seems momentary.
Yes, even life will not have been
worse than that.


No one knew how.
But then the theater of cruelty
became banal. Bad poetry
hinted that Art would remain
faithful, and that's really
the point, isn't it?
In another time, malls and highways
never promised to change.
I said "I hate you" to everything,
even when it was true. But then,
all those years, it escaped me.
My enemies moved on to Marat.
I couldn't make it through the first
many words. And I forget the author's
picture, forget her eyes, the stare
that swore it knew nothing.

If I Had Never Met You I Wouldn't Know Chiaroscuro

The end is better if you know what's coming
after. You've clocked a thousand sky
miles, and now you want to settle down.
The caterer is having a crisis--hard
to imagine these people have lives.

Back then we'd sit at Big Nick's and read scripts.
You always had an open bag of peanuts in your pocket
but I never saw you eat one. Fontech became a lawyer.
Alison married the lighting designer she left you for.
You went into the family business--fruit baskets.
I moved to the middle. Space on either side.

The best part as I remember it was getting ready.
Hanging the lights, taping the exits, repeating
word for word, over and over. We weren't
the surprising elements, returning to the same
cherry orchards, the same balconies, the same
court rooms. I was blind and in the middle
of writing a letter when you broke in.
I was sitting on a park bench, and
you told me of your trip to the zoo.
You were sleeping with a countess whose
pussy smelled of metal, but I wore a red
dress anyway. We loved those people
and each other when we were those people.

Two sisters married two brothers, and that
was the beginning of a long line of misery.
That's life, you said, not knowing that it was.

Call It Good

On a good day, I take it for granted.
I am ordinary and too civilized, closed
to all but one misinterpretation,
the non-sense of it staunched,
the speech that gets found.
Is liberating, though, this recovered
old age that I will forget will be awful.
You've departed from this step, and the moon
is never straight. Where we came to ignore
it, yet nobody sees everything that's wrong
with them. I wonder if we missed the short-
cut. We can't see into the mountains
of our past. Then what does the crowd
signify? Is it really that you disapprove?
Once, bleached figures spread on a dark floor--
silence, fear, and all their hanger-ons.

Horsebarn Hill

The inconstant enemies, our favorite trope.
Even during the days when we walked
the woods behind Horsebarn Hill, a flask
of whiskey, a joint if we were lucky,
imagining ourselves Coleridge and Wordsworth,
Gertie and Alice, Frost and himself,
the lines between us were ghost-drawn,
and we knew that one day we'd be in
civil war, defending ourselves against
our other in a fight to the death of us.
That death, like every death, is realized
in silence. The last words thud
like a dead rabbit hitting the ground.
At night when I can't sleep, I remember
those woods, the skeleton of a deer
that I dragged back and placed
in the living room, astonished at
the beauty of its spine.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Dinner at Sushi No-No

There were words spoken, promises
made, then we split into two camps.
We reconvened at Sushi No-No
and talked over miso about
his mother's cancer. How it
invades his body too, every thought,
the air itself.
-It's just that she's so young,
he says. -She's not that young,
I answer, then regret it.
What does age have to do with
with cancer? With preparedness
for death? -My brother was four
months old when he died, does
that make him more or less
ready to die? -More, D. says,
slurping. He didn't know any
better. That's why he was more
prepared. -No, I answer. He
was prepared for more living,
not death. We argue this
to take our mind off his mother,
who's still living less than
five miles away, preparing to die.
She's a 'terminal case'--"four
months" the doctor said two weeks
and three days and four hours ago.
Which means she could go
at any moment. D. leans back
as the waiter removes our bowls.
Since his mother's diagnosis,
he can't eat meat. He questions
the morality of cheese. I think
of that line from Lowell about
fallen fruit. He's eaten plenty
of that.
-I know I'm going to get that phone call,
and I'm not ready. I'm not ready. I'm
not ready.
A loop. He falls into loops lately where
repetition creates a phalanx against
terror. Talk therapy. We're
talking through the ineluctable
advance, which, when it happens,
will push him into a new, less forgiving world.
-Do you remember when we were going out--
I hate when sentences begin like this--
the first time you met my mother?
Oh God. I don't remember. I don't
remember. I don't remember.
-Of course I remember, D.
(Meeting her was like a post-script
to a letter I hadn't written yet. A Dear John
kind of letter.) She made us dinner.
She was a wonderful cook. Salmon. Wasn't it salmon?
-Well, do you know what she said about you?
He watches me pick up a tekka maki roll
with my fingers and dip it into the soy.
-No, D. I don't think you told me. I don't remember.
-You don't remember because I never told you.
She said you'd break my heart. She said 'David,
that girl will break your heart.'
Now this is when I marvel at her womanly
intuition. Her mama-knows-child.
-Well, nobody's right all the time.
I want to order more sake. I want to
pour it all over his fat head. Suddenly
all the pity that was fueling this dinner
alchemizes into venom and as if he
wasn't hurting enough, I want him
to hurt a little more.
-You know, he says, I might as well
get this all out now. It feels good to
talk like this. I still don't know why
you left me. Why?
The clouds outside have completed
covered the sky. It's going to be
one hell of a storm.
-I didn't leave, D. I'm right here.
Aren't I right here?
The waiter is slender. I wonder what
kind of penis such a slender man has,
a child's penis. A pale, pricey mushroom.
-Do you really want to know? I ask him.
I don't know. I didn't know then, and
I don't know know. You make me
feel crowded with words. You talk
too much.
Which was ironic because presently,
he was quiet as stone.
-I thought you said that was why you
loved me. That we could talk about
anything, everything. The world in words.

Yes, that too.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Last Desperate Heaven

It doesn't matter that the heroic mantle
is thrown over a titmouse. Remember
that sage cricket? Heroism
isn't measured in round numbers,
or square roots, or triangulations.
Maybe rhomboidally, but that's a different
heaven. Not the one waiting for secular
humanists, not that greasy spoon,
shadow-lit with cracks in the plate
called "pie." Tell me where
good soldiers and their horses
go when they are cut down,
not the name, the smell of the place.

After all the fuss, Tut died of infection,
not the treasonous blow to the back
of the head while spotting a recumbent
lion half-hid in the tawny reeds cleaning
its left paw in the lambent glow of ancient gods.

Come back to where? I never left.
Nope, didn't budge. Didn't sow my oats
with spread wings while seeing the world
from the exiled-point-of-view.
I've been here the whole time so I wouldn't
have to find my way back through all that mess.

Are you god? I asked the mouse brandishing
a flaming sword. No, he answered. Are you?
Let me! he implored, and plucked out my eye,
holding it very close to his own as his moony
whiskers loosely swept the air around him.
It's flawed! he screeched unbecomingly.
It's flawed! he repeated in ecstacy.
I began to feel miffed. What do you want?,
I asked, taking back my eye. Love
and cheese, he said, all a-droop.
Love and cheese. A mouse can dream,
can't he? CAN'T HE?
Now it was his turn to pout.