Friday, November 30, 2007

More Lies




We couldn’t live without them, lies,
could we? It’s difficult to see
how we’d meet each other’s eyes.
Our lives are lies disguised by v.

Do Aunties really have to know
the strict proportions of their derrieres?
Can’t we let our bosses glow
at how we tremble, how we care?

Of course they don’t. Of course we can.
This is life, not Sunday school;
if Daddy isn’t Superman,
to tell him so is merely cruel.

And if your war is going wrong,
why get the people all upset?
Just sing a patriotic song.
The dead won’t tell. The dead forget.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Paul




When the music ends I think to change the station,
but sit in a flood of Spanish from which I pick
a word here, phrase there, finally
submerged in the bewildering velocity,
ten again, riding, watching your thick
wrists nudge the wheel, fingers quick
with silver levered from your oiled machine
to Puerto Rican voyagers on Riverside.
At lights you turn and make your toothpick
bounce to “Ach du Lieber Augustine,”
the one whose bus I wait all week to ride.
Thirty years you drove, well or sick,
your iron horses. You were immortal. There was
no zero in my young arithmetic.

But zero is, and finally Christmastime
was the last stop. Sleep, deep and dreamless,
descended on a long day of rain;
you folded into silent night, humane
and bitter passage, unheralded, unless
the angels sang somewhere to give you rest.
If so, I didn’t hear it, and I drove all night
to see you in your glossed mahogany.
But it wasn’t you, the satined, overdressed
cadaver, mummy under muted lights
which yet betrayed the wooden forgery
by earth inherited, by clergy blessed.
We put a good man in the ground.
We told each other it was for the best.

We packed your things away that afternoon.
The top drawer fell to me: a silver chain
on which two broken pocket watches hung;
two old Hohners, G, one sprung;
a squat Sir Walter Raleigh’s which contained
your last few years of slugs and foreign change;
a safety razor, three-piece, brass, Gillette;
a new Norelco dusted with your hair;
two vials for Parkinson’s and two for pain;
some collar stays; a sleeve of cigarettes.
I smoked, thought: This is it? Here
one day, the next a box of stuff?
You whispered, framed in regimental gear:
“The Ritz it ain’t, Kiddo. But enough’s enough.”

Friday, November 16, 2007

An Announcement



I'm happy--and a bit incredulous--to announce that Opening Chapter will publish a book of my poems in the new year. Details are sketchy right now, but I'll let you know more when things clarify. Meanwhile, I can only say thanks to those who made it happen. You know who you are, and--fair warning--so will everyone else when the thing comes out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tools of the Trade




I notice, putting pen to paper,
the absence of a line behind
the chased bill of my trusty Shaeffer.
There comes a certain peace of mind
to find the line I tried to write
has dried to powder overnight.

Less to cancel, less to think,
less misgiving and mistaking,
less for postage, less for ink,
less back and head and belly aching.
I’ll print a whole empty book,
buy myself a Meisterstuck.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Knowing



We were young once, and knew
everything there was to know;
if life was shifty, we were true,
if we were callow, we could grow.

And grow we did, until we knew
a ghost of what we used to know;
but life was shifty, that was true,
we’d seen it in the video.

And more and more of what we knew
conflicts with what we think we know,
and now nothing rings as true
as what we knew a life ago.

Kid, watch it. Don’t be too
quick to doubt the things you know;
most of it is wrong, it’s true,
and the rest simply isn’t so,

but if you haven’t got a clue
that’s at least a place to start;
the needled rose will point you true,
the compass gimbaled in your heart.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dream



The woman runs in a grove of firs,
red warmups a contained flame
along the plotted corridors,
face a mask neither tame
nor wild, a static ecstasy.
Beyond the needled hush lies
a meadow with an oak tree;
a square white house justifies
the thin, deciduous, autumn light.
A tire swing gathers the sun,
leaves caught on its inner bight,
where her eyes fix as she runs, runs.

Something in her progress might
suggest pursuers or pursuit,
but not the barest hint of flight;
only an air of resolute
abstraction, cool, suffering
suffused with eagerness, disdain
for what the next strides will bring,
as if pain or the end of pain
were waiting just beyond the rows,
as if grief or the end of grief
might wait in the swing, the meadow,
be caught in the veins of a spun leaf.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Visit




What if, one
sun soaked, most particular afternoon,
that treacherous forsythia there
should shrug from its complaisant splendor
into flame? Should flare and thunder
with Immense authority
your name?

Insist (from
the safety of your belly, face in the grass)
upon current and immaculate credentials:
who but demons wheedle in
incendiary shrubbery?
This protocol observed,
lose your shoes.

Ask Him,
(your most mollifying modulations)
what on earth could bring Him to your
(His) humble and unworthy garden.
Say something nice about His light,
the diamond edge of His cast shadows.
He likes that.

Beg His
forgiveness for the rucksack of sin you dragged
into the world by your belly. Show Him the scar.
Then, scorched pure by His
consuming grace, be just: do not
omit to thank Him for His
mysterious ways.

It may now
be proper to most obligingly inquire
what He might require of His servant
(you.) No frivolous visitor,
Good Landlord, He never comes
without His itemized agenda.
He’ll tell you.

Be sure
that to His purpose you are the optimum instrument.
You might be asked to build some small apocalypse,
or become the vessel of transmission
for some entirely new disease.
True, it may only be time to
clean the ovens.

No matter what,
accede. You can’t outrun His awful will.
The only possible alternative
is to cast yourself forthwith at the heart
of His redeeming fire, dare Him
to spit you out alive: turn
the hose on Him.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Whitetails




Three does, at the corner
where the arclit
hexagon had stopped them
far beyond their tracks
to puzzle some meaning
from the hieroglyphs,
watch me scrape along
the pavement with my face
turned toward the moon.

So still are they,
hidden in the brilliant
copper camouflage
of municipal light, so
acutely do they mime
the transparency
of the air surrounding them
that I only see them as
I step off the curb.

I freeze, but before I can ask
what they could possibly want
from our metallic streets,
our steel trees that sing
with the rain, commanding
YIELD, or CAUTION, or STOP,
there is suddenly just a riffle
of hooves on warm asphalt
fading into the air.