Thursday, January 17, 2019

CAPTION


Three giddy angels are holding a sign announcing that
G. Frederick Handel of London,Gent., has written
An opera called Julius Caesar. One angel
Wishes you to note the fact that this
Is an opera. A second points to G. Frederick's name.
The last blows a trumpet because what
Is the point of being an angel and being able
To fly if you can't blow a horn just because
You happen to feel like it? Below the angels,
A cellist tries to read the music; the harpsichordist
Is trying to determine whether she's bored or in love.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

STORE ROOM


It was a hard year and God and I
Were selling brooms, or trying to.
We slept in a hospital storeroom
Whose key I had inherited. Most nights
The dreams patients had left behind
Would drift in, sitting on the floor
Or leaning against the shelves 
That reached to the high ceilings.
The very highest shelves 
Had families of bats living on them.
When they squeaked God 
Would gesture and the card games
And storytelling would pause.
I never knew if He was getting messages --
But what would bats know that God didn’t? --
Or just enjoying the squeaks as music

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

RECURRING


Edward Johnston often dreamed  of a boat filled
With samurai and women of the floating world. Asleep,
He knew every language in the world so when
They invited him on board he would accept
In confident Japanese. Always the cruise
Was a merry one, filled with jests and wine
And impromptu poems of refined bawdiness
Until a night when every samurai seemed downcast
And the geishas trailed long sleeves in the water
Looking anywhere but at his face and he knew
They were sad because this was the last time
He'd ever dream of them

Monday, January 14, 2019

BOAT IN THE MIST

When Arthur dies, of course, a boat
Conjures itself out of the mist (always
There is a mist)  on the lake which seems
To have no other side. In the boat are
A variety of women and, for this  day’s death,
The God of Calligraphy, the poet Kan Shojo.
 In the bow, three Japanese demi-goddesses
Are crowded together, getting in the way
Of Morgan Le Fay, who is trying to steer.
The hand that reached from the water
To receive Excalibur has returned swordless
And apparently conducts an invisible orchestra.
The goddesses sing; Morgan swears; Kan Shojo
Makes notes for a poem which will not mention
Goddesses, fey queens, swords or kings.
He will call it Boat on a  Misty Day.

Friday, January 11, 2019

TENTH

It was a good thimble though the magic
Had almost run out before we made it.
Useless in a fight unless your foe
Was very small – a mouse, perhaps
Though why should you be fighting mice?
There was, too, a needle. Our stored magic
Was quite gone by then but needles
Generally have their own. (Just try
Making a shirt or mending a coat
With a sword!) It takes nine tailors
To make a man but what do suppose
They could make if a tenth joined them?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

INDEED

Suppose every person is,
As some have said,
A gesture of God. 
"Gesture" shares a root
With geste or deed
As in "The Gestes
Of Sir Lancelot du Lac,"
And also with jest.
We are the motions of God
We are the deeds of God
We are the jokes God tells
In the Platonic ideal
Of a smoky club
With no cover but
A two drink minimum.
Some nights the audience 
Sits on its hands.
Some nights, though,
God absolutely kills.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

DOUBLES

The doppelganger fears
He might some day turn real,
Take a job, tell jokes,
Fall asleep or in love.
He whirls suddenly
To see if someone's shadow
Has started to follow him.