Thursday, July 20, 2017

DISCORPORATE



After Cavafy died that part of his soul
Responsible for the rejected poems
Didn't leave with the rest of him.
Some mornings bleak-eyed tourists
See it, dressed in impeccable evening clothes,
Drilling alongside soldiers who fell
During the Siege of
Alexandria
Evenings it spends quietly with the ghost
Of Ptolemy Auletes, whose equerry it’s become.
Occasionally it picks up a stick,
Dips it in water and writes a new poem.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

IN CASE YOU'VE BEEN WONDERING



My favorite thing about being a pharaoh?
Not the occasional ride in the Boat of the Sun.
The view is unparalleled but even pharaohs
Are expected to take turns pulling an oar
Rowing through the deadland while Atum sleeps.
Nor is it sharing beer with Hathor under a tamarisk
The beer is good but Hathor talks endlessly
About being both Ra's mother and daughter
Which she considers infinitely amusing.
Some pharaohs revel in smiting their enemies
But I’d no taste for war and somehow
All my enemies smote back.
No; the best part was having a second shadow
And a decorated box in which the shadow slept.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

PAWLING

Many a ghost in Pawling thinks he is the revenant
Of former governor Thomas E. Dewey.
You'll see them crowding the streets after snowstorms
Each with a shovel and a disciplined mustache,
Digging out cars, clearing sidewalks, soliciting votes.
At high school games Pawlonians are used
To massed Thomas E. Deweys taking the field
To perform at half-time. In time, they grow weary
Shunning the light, their mustaches gone ragged.

Monday, July 17, 2017

WAKING JUST BEFORE DAWN



That I was stiff from sleeping in my chair
Was Daniel Defoe's fault; his account of
Winchester
Had not kept me awake. My soul, restless,
Was typing clumsily at the computer, its lips tight.
Frankly, I am rather scared of it these days
Though not because of its torn ear or missing eye --
The predictable results of age and the life it lives.
When it returned from its long absence
It wrapped itself in all it was wearing --
A rough-woven blanket -- and slept for three days
When it woke, it didn't know me or itself
And scoffed at the notion that a soul
Could sleep, could talk, could bide its time
Until the moment for escape came round again.

Friday, July 14, 2017

TALKING WITH GUCKO



Because my brother no longer speaks to him
His imaginary friend Gucko calls me with news
In the hope that I'll pass it on. I don't tell him
That E. isn't talking to me either. I rely
On Foofoo, E.'s other imaginary friend,
For what little I know of him these days.
How fortunate to have had two phantom playmates
So there’s always one to not talk to
And one for company while growing old.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

INSTRUCTIONS



First, you must learn to answer when you sleep
To names not quite your own. Keep your face
Slightly out of focus at all times. If coins
Drop into your palm, hide them quickly.
If saluted as the Lost Dauphin, nod regally.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

YO VI ESTO



Sleep and I weren't speaking that year
So I was not wholly awake when Terpsichore
Wandered across the Midway and possessed
My Trusts and Estates professor, a small, squat man
Made uncomfortable by this sudden access of grace.
His lecture went on -- he was talking, I think,
About entails and the Statutes of Mortmain --
Though his every move had become a dance.
How that man could shimmy! His will was cast iron
His eyes like angry marbles. His closing words
Carried him down the aisle so that, at the bell,
He flung wide the door and tap danced away.

Monday, July 10, 2017

ANCILLARY MATTERS



In a 4 to 3 vote, the committee ruled
That God would no longer exist
But would still comfort the afflicted,
Mete out justice and inspire
Love and wonder, confusion and hatred.

Friday, July 7, 2017

THE MTA DENIES RESPONSIBILITY



Among the unplanned consequences of repairs
To the
Joralemon Street subway tunnel
Was the sudden appearance of Walt Whitman
In the laundromat on Middagh where he now lives.
He appears to be about forty and, while reticent
About the exact circumstances of his return,
Talks endlessly about himself and his dismay
At
Brooklyn living under Manhattan's thumb.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

COMFORT



Nights when God remembers being young
Lying awake for hours, forgetting that He
Is the Lord of Sleep, troubled and restless,
Michael hurries off to fetch Satan home
To tell the old stories and to sing
In a voice just this side of silence until
God's burning eyes fall shut at last.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

SPEAK



Do you bring news then?
What hand scrabbled in the dirt
And then was still? Whose eyes
Glittered through the smoke?
Was there a moon that night?
Did an unlooked-for child
Walk through the fire?

Friday, June 30, 2017

ALL THE WORLD




The rules of balance usually make
Quiet, dapper Falstaffs
Befriend rumbustious Prince Hals.
The end remains the same:
Hal lies dying and Falstaff,
Painfully come from the grave,
Weeps careless tears the king
Has lost the ability to understand

Thursday, June 29, 2017

PO'EM



The coach was - crowded -
Because -
She insisted  - on - entering
Not as herself but - as
Eight other women  - and
An absent-minded boy --
About nine years old.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

FURYU NANA KOMACHI



One pale spring day in 1760
Kutsukawa Shunsho decided to paint
A group portrait of the poetess Ono No Komachi.
Coaxed and persuaded, versions of her
Left, for a while, the ninth century
To pose with props in his studio. Afterwards,
The old dancer fell asleep, her head
On the lap of the girl who brought rain.
Komachi the courtier and Komachi the beggarwoman
Wandered about
Edo, telling outrageous lies
And winking at every man they passed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

AUBADE



As you approach Joralemon
Two homeless gods nod to you.
The shadows dogging your heels
Turn the corner, pretending
A dream has ordered them
To visit the
Municipal Building
At three in the morning.

Monday, June 26, 2017

WARNING



Descending from transcendence
To immanence can be disorienting
Caution is advised; objects
Appearing infinitely far
May be infinitely near. May,
In fact, be you, with a mustache.

Friday, June 23, 2017

16 GAMES OF CHESS (REVISED)

When his wife died in childbirth
On February 25, 1927 my grandfather Joe
Felt his heart stop and then contract
Until it was small and hard and round
And cold as a marble. Ase, his brother,
Brought him home and sat with him.
Joe's deft fingers shook. For three days
He sat in the dark. On the fourth,
My great aunts Jenny and Lena
Brought his chess set from the apartment
Joe never visited again. Jenny opened the blinds
While Lena set up the board. She won
Fifteen games in a row.
She thought she was winning game sixteen
When Joe's eyes narrowed. "Mate in five," he said.
"So he remembers how to talk?" said his sister.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

UNSETTLED



At the 2001 Prague Conference on Artificial Life
The ghost of Rabbi
Judah was occasionally seen
Sitting quietly at the back of a morning lecture.
He'd take a few notes and once asked a speaker
Whether he agreed with Eliyahu of Chelm
That the possibility of a golem acquiring a soul
Could not be ruled out. This set off a loud debate.
The fact that the motherboard of an early laptop
Was known to be suffering in Hell was deemed
Interesting but not genuinely conclusive.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE MADONNA WITH A POMEGRANATE



There are nights when she badly needs some coffee,
A little fresh air, some personal space, so Botticelli's Madonna
Lets the child have the pomegranate and hands him off
To one of the angels crowding round her. Lifting her hem
To keep her feet from tangling in it, she climbs
Down from the painting. On her way through the Uffizi
She stops to chat with Venus, her older sister,
Asking her to check on Jesus should he start crying.
They know her at the  small bottega across the street;
She drinks her coffee, and smokes two cigarettes
Beneath the stars. Before returning to her painting
She stands in front of it for a moment, wishing
It wasn't quite so crowded and that two of the angels
Weren't resting their books on her.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

FAMILIAR



The pseudo-St. Jerome has not been issued a lion
But is followed around by a shapeless blur
Which may someday coalesce into a lion
Or at least an enormously large cat.
Occasionally a claw scratches the sidewalk;
A tooth sometimes gleams in the lamplight.

Monday, June 19, 2017

THE WEEK



On Monday,
Fate was inexorable.
On Tuesday,
She was more lenient.
Wednesday,
She stayed home sick
(The Goddess of Whatever
Did the best she could).
Thursday,
Fate worked late
Docketing invoices.
On Friday,
She resolved again
To find another job.

Friday, June 16, 2017

HOW POEMS ARE BORN



"Jane Austen" said the very old muse
"No," said I, "a good writer but not
My dish of tea."
                    "What if I tell you that,
According to a letter in The Telegraph,
For December 30, 2011,
Her eyes were ordinarily hazel
But she could turn them blue or grey?"
"Not a bad trick, but I still think no."
"There is," she said, "also a corpse."
"Corpses are good. What sort of corpse?"
"The sort who hangs from a gibbet."
"Covered in tar?" "If you like."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CONTINUING EDUCATION



To keep their licenses, supernatural beings
Have to occasionally take classes
Intended to keep them informed
On recent developments in theurgy.
Seated alphabetically, Abaddon,
The angel of the abyss, sits by Abiala,
An African goddess who carries a pistol.
Next to her -- perhaps -- is invisible Alif
And so on, until Zzzaxx, who isn't’t real.
Knowing this has made him bitter
As has his certain sense that even if
He were to cross the illimitable distance
Of the lecture room, crossing the bridge,
Leaping the chasm, evading
The Concupiscent Bees and surviving
The Hopscotch Game of Eternal Doom,
Abiala still would have no truck with him.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ONE OF AESRED'S



He knew a few lines at least
From every song he ever heard.
When cats brought him souvenirs
From their night hunts he thanked them
Knowing they took offense at hearing
He'd no use for half a mouse.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

BIRD



A robin just now hovered at the window
Wings beating clumsily; he wasn't built
To hang in the air. (A hummingbird
Would make it look effortless.)
He flew away, obviously surprised
And with an air of disappointment.
Who is using birds to send me messages,
And who does this robin think he is
To judge me unworthy of them?

Monday, June 12, 2017

COOKING



When my mother cooked, the ghost
Of her stepmother's mother
Would watch from the shadows
Muttering approval. Yes,
So much and no more salt; yes,
Stop kneading -- the dough needs rest.
If you tap the egg just so
It will obey you, cracking cleanly.

Friday, June 9, 2017

S.D.



After his third drink
And before his fifth
He was perceptive,
Witty, charming.
His fingers became long
Leaving trails of light
As they flew about
Illustrating, pleading,
Pointing, mocking.
The ghosts in whom
He had no faith
Gathered behind him.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

KAMIONKA STRUMILOVA



Kamionka Strumilowa is 41 kilometers from Lvov
And is called Kamionka because of the huge
Rocks which wandered in with the glaciers and,
Liking the look of the place, stayed on.
Esther never thought much of Kamionka;
She was of stately Lvov which could,
If it were hungry, have swallowed Kamionka
And had Przemysl for dessert. Max, though,
Was fond of his home town and their son,
Born 7,182 miles away, knew the names
Of every street and every family. When ghosts
From Kamianka find themselves in New York
They sometimes come by though my father,
Since he died, is seldom found at home.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

DREAMING



From time to time, Ming the Merciless,
(Relentless foe of Flash Gordon,
Former emperor of the planet Mongo)
Turns up in my dreams. Most often,
He has a character role -- an old soldier
Down on his luck, or a traffic cop
Trying to persuade angry chickens
To keep on their side of the road. Once
We were beggars and shared a tin bowl
Of quite horrible soup. My father
And Ming were for some reason friends.
Having recovered from seventeen bouts
Of certain death  -- including being tossed
Into three volcanoes and twice being thrown
Off cliffs and once being thrown off a cliff
Into a volcano -- Ming insists that
My father may return not much the worse
From having been buried for six years.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

MAKING DO



The roosters having urgent business
Which demanded they be elsewhere,
Monsters perched on low branches
Caracolling to wake us. The jays
Were in conference; djinns had to steal
Shiny objects incautiously revealed.
The dead refused to acknowledge us;
The mayor called for volunteers
To rattle chains and haunt the living.

Monday, June 5, 2017

CATS



Lembergoise cats never hurried.
Gossiping idly in the sun
Exchanging barbed stories
About the folk who fed them.
(If I find a cat from Lemberg
He will remember things I forgot
Years before I was born)

Some sleepless
Lvov cats always
Padded along the wide streets
While the others slept uneasily
(My father spoke the language of cats
With a heavy
Lvov accent.)

In Lwow, the cats learned
To walk upright and to open jars
When war came, they vanished
Through tunnels they'd secretly built
(When I meet one of their descendants
We exchange complicated signs.)

A Lviv cat is simply a cat.
These days this is more than enough.

Friday, June 2, 2017

TODAY'S FOUND POEM



"Blue beans"
Are bullets or shot.
Three small bullets
Or large shot in a bladder
Would make
An excellent rattle
For a child.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

SOCIAL NOTES



In the purlieus of Pawling the Comtesse
Begins her summer progress. On request,
She will sing or tell stories or dance
Among the tombs to keep the fiends at bay.
Since there is no king in Pawling, the dapper ghost
Of Thomas E. Dewey touches against scrofula;
The Comtesse gives thin gold coins to the victims
With her picture stamped upon them.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

WHY I WASN'T ANSWERING MY PHONE YESTERDAY



Sometimes I am reassembled in haste
And, having gone to sleep a Polish Jew,
I awake a Jewish Pole, spending the day
Half in many-named Lemberg, around 1900
Reciting on the banks of the River Bug
The names of poets then unborn. I still
Know no Polish but it is a pleasure
Just to hear me pronounce Czeslaw Milosz,
Wislawa Szymborska, Tadeusz Rozewicz.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

WHAT REMAINS



When the Ming lost the mandate of heaven
Some who had opposed them became
Furiously loyal, retreating in one way or another
From the victorious Tatars. Some became hermits
Or birdlike men who stepped lightly, leaving no footprints.
Of those who fled further one skipped through time
Like a rock across water, turning up first
In a small town in
Essex in the 9th century
Where they assumed he'd fallen from the sky.
They called him "the green man." He married
And had six children whose descendants to this day
Have nothing good to say of the Tatars.
Next, he looped about and was born
In a shtetl ten miles from Lemberg. The Baal Shem
Offered to bargain for his release from his fealty
To the last Ming Emperor but the Lvoviner refused
Asking who if not he would say kaddish
For the vagrant soul of the Chongzhen Emperor
Or the soul of the beautiful Princess Kunyi?

Monday, May 29, 2017

UNMOVED



The day gods wish each other good night
As they clock out, except for those few
Working late and, of course, the Unmoved Mover
Who never goes home. Aristotle recommended him
But he is not a team player, attends no meetings
And refuses invitations to be a Secret Santa.
Sometimes the night gods invade his office
And cover him with rude graffiti. Inexplicably,
The clerks and secretaries are all in love with him.

Friday, May 26, 2017

RULES



In Wilno they teach you
Do not point at the Moon
Nor pee where it can see you.
Most importantly:
Do not fall in love with the Moon.
Some nights the streets
Are filled with furious Balts
Pointing and peeing
And writing love poems.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

DESIGN



When I submitted the latest design
For my ghost I included a note
That many things were negotiable
I am willing to be real or imaginary
Or some combination of the two.
Palpable? Impalpable? No great matter.
I am willing to wear full armor
And walk battlements armed cap a pie.
On the other hand, I can manage
As a trick of light or a pale shadow.
There is just one thing: I must have pockets
Or where will I put stones and bits of metal?
Where, when I visit my parents' grave,
Will my left hand go while my right
Swoops and points, unfolds and clenches?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

IN THOSE DAYS



Their virtues went armed
Patrolling the streets
In pairs. Honesty itself
Sought my blood
And would have had it
If some well-formed lies
Hadn’t come to my defense.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ADVICE



William Blake had a chat with St. Joseph
Who advised him that he should mix
Tempera, varnish and carpenter’s glue
With just a touch of gold leaf
Before painting on canvas or copper.
Unfortunately, Joseph knows nothing
About painting. Had Blake checked
With St. Luke he’d have been warned
That the gluie would make his pictures
Fade and darken and vanish until
Only ghosts could see them.

Monday, May 22, 2017

PREFERRENCE

Though dead since living memory runneth not to the contrary
Professor Longfellow tries to keep up with modern poetry
Reading it in English, French, German, Italian, Greek
And Proto-Uralian, which is not really a language
But a conjuration of  parti-colored singing molluscs.
If Harvard summons him back (he was chairman
Of the Department of Modern Languages) he intends
To begin lecturing as if his death in 1882 was merely
A species of inconvenience.

                                                            Though he tries hard
He cannot keep up and so has only recently reached
The Collected Poems of Babette Deutch, published
In 1969 by Doubleday & Company, Garden City, NY.
He enjoyed the pale old men playing chess by a squalid window
And thought he could have done something with her three nuns
Listening to Chopin. On the whole, he approved. Then, conscientious
As he always was and still is, to the extent that he is anything now,
He read the front and back blurbs and was startled to see his name
In her brief biography: “She was composing verse before
She could write, and likes to recall that in primary school
She preferred Blake to Longfellow.”

                                                                        Likes to recall!
Did she sit, then, by an old mirror whose glass was thick
At the bottom and thin at the top, sifting memories,
For a young interviewer and, with a smile, saying “Yes,
It is quite true; even in primary school I preferred Blake
To Longfellow?” Perhaps she worked it into bedtime stories
For her two children, five grandchildren and the one great-grandchild
Who hastily had himself born just in time to get a look-in’
In her obituary on the New York Times of November 15, 1982:
“Then the clever child led the prince, the porringer, the pedagogue
And the enchanted pump-handle back to the palace, telling them
That, though still a girl in primary school, she had decided
That Henry Longfellow could not hold a candle to William Blake.
And they all lived happily ever after.”

Friday, May 19, 2017

IRINA

Arriving just too late to save her, Irina’s angel
Gave her company the entire way from the roof
Of her apartment building to the pavement
In the courtyard. My great aunt
Had excellent reasons for stepping off a roof.
Her angel had his reasons, too, for being late:
There was something wrong with his visa;
His wings did not match, one being longer
Than the other, so that when he wasn’t careful
He’d fly long, lazy circles, repeatedly finding
The Bug River beneath him when he’d meant
To trace the Vistula. Also, he was absent-minded
Once saving an old woman in
Dublin
When he was scheduled to rescue a child
In
Warsaw.

                    Irina, my grandmother’s older sister,
Listened to the angel as they fell, occasionally
Trying to get in a few words. She was a musician
Though what sort I don’t know. For years
My imagination gave her a violin but now
It demands stranger things, as if she deserved
Krumhorns and sackbuts and tall therebos.
It could be that she sang; perhaps her angel
Provided some sort of counterpoint.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

ACTE



On days he doesn't hunt Prince Tamino
Dances for an hour before breakfast
With a servant insufficiently nimble
To be elsewhere when the call comes.
Pamina is long gone, having joined
One of Hogarth's prints: Actresses
Dressing In A Barn. (She understudies
The faithful bunter in A Harlot's Progress.)
Tamino has had the castle mirrors covered
Since the day he combed his hair --
Still a pleasant shade of tarnished gold --
And saw Sarastro looking back at him.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

BEAR



Since my brother had cornered the market
In imaginary friends, I made do one summer
With an imaginary associate, seen by appointment.
He was an offwhite polar bear, nearsighted
But impressively big. He sometimes growled
At Gucko and Foofoo when they visited my brother.
To a bear, two year olds are adults. We discussed
Politics and sports. He was frankly critical
Of my taste in clothing and advised me
That eating crayons was unlikely
To impress people or advance my career.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

THE DUET



The recording hisses and pops
Every violin is playing in its own key
Or underwater. The soprano
Died in 1937. She'd forgotten her name
But not that she'd been a soprano.
The baritone was last seen
Climbing into a cab with a companion
Variously reported as having horns
Or a pistol or being shockingly handsome.
None of this matters; Don Giovanni
And Zerlina are singing. As always,
It is the very first time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

ON EXAMINING FELIX NADAR'S PHOTO "PARIS FROM THE AIR, 1866"



If you magnify it ten million times
You can just make out, by a railing,
My old high school principal,
Leonard J. Fliedner. The photo,
Taken from a balloon over Paris,
Shows Dr. Fliedner looking as he did
When I knew him a century later
Excerpt that his mustache is dark
And his coat has a comically high collar.
He is not smiling. He is, perhaps,
Recalling his wild youth or regretting
That he did not, at the last,
Rescue Francois Villon or die
When St. Joan offered him the chance.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ON SEVENTH AVENUE



On Seventh Avenue I saw
One of Stevie Smith's tall
And spiky angels. It was
Something over eight feet tall
And narrow as a sword.
No one else seemed to notice
When it brushed aside traffic lights
Or casually plucked a soul
From an aged lawyer hasting
To the First Department knowing
His case was lost already.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

OF ANTIOCH



Because Anthony ran about the desert,
Hiding from people, never speaking
And living on uncooked roots
The folks of
Antioch made him a saint.
Heaven spruced him up,
Issued him a card entitling him to draw
Upon the illimitable power of God,
And gave him a pig. (Every St. Anthony
Has a pig. It is a universal constant.)
The other St. Anthonys -- there
Are ten of them --worry about him.
He is, by default, the patron saint
Of those who have no patron saint.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

DESCENT



Esther was named
After her grandmother
Who was named after an aunt
Who bore the name
Of a half-sister who carried
Her own mother's name
For three days and a half.
The progression
Is long, not endless.
You can trace this line
Back and back and back
Until you are in Babylon
With Ishtar, the lion-rider
Who made an angry trip
To Hell and came back
Still angry but without
Any clothes.

Monday, May 8, 2017

DREAMING



The Emperor dreamed he was a vagrant
Sleeping in a doorway. He dreamed
He was a wall guard watching the stars
Rearrange themselves. He dreamed
He was the Emperor, waking just
As a curtain fell back in place;
The Mandate of Heaven leaving.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

ST. TIBB



All who know how Tibb --
A small grey cat of uncertain breed
And questionable morals -
Became a saint never speak of it.
Experts believe it may involve
St. Cajetan's wager that he
Could make a functioning world
From oatmeal and fuller's soap.
Tibb's Day, which varies in length
From a few minutes to ninety six hours,
Comes at any time he chooses
Though rarely in summer.
He is the patron of broken promises,
Bad debts and short pieces of string.
It is unlucky to be hung on his day.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

OSO



It's not better or worse to be a bear
Instead of a monkey, just different.
I, too, walk upright when I choose.
Scampering is not for me; I lumber.
When angry I am brutal, not malicious.
Bribe me with honey or with praise.
Bright things do not last in my hands.
What you can make, I can repair.
Grace visits me, coming seldom;
I can never make it stay long.
What I seek I find at last. Run now;
Hide among your shadows.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

SCENES FROM THE RETREAT



I

The camp followers were with us still
But oddly changed. The sutlers had horns
And hoofs and limp braided mustaches
Tied with small bright bits of string.
They remained reassuringly surly
And did not allow credit. Our clothes
Were mostly ragged but washerwomen
Competed for our  business; tired feys
With black eyes and tattered wings
That could lift them a few inches
Above the rocks and hardpacked snow.


II

All that winter Death lay sick.
We had no heart to leave him behind
So he rode in a cart, half-conscious,
Groaning now and then.
When we had to abandon the carts
His attendants – bats and voles
And bears who wore clothes and expected
To pass as men – heaped blankets on him
And carried him in a wicker basket.

Monday, May 1, 2017

LEMON



Tea was drunk with lemon and sugar;
One spoonful for the ascetics, two
If you treated yourself kindly.
If you were sick -- or my brother --
There might be a dollop of honey.
No one outside a book would ever
Drink tea with milk or without sugar.
When I meet my old self nothing
About me startles him more
Than my pouring warm milk
Into a cup of unsweetened tea.

Friday, April 28, 2017

CAVEAT



Souls, she said, having read too many of my poems
Are not to be so lightly lost or idly left
Wailing on a river bank, no matter how dark
Its waters run. Her robust and stainless soul
Would throw me into the river should I depict it
Wringing incorporeal hands or fluttering hopelessly
By the Styx or the Acheron or,
For that matter, the Red, the Green,
The Picketwire, the Perdido or the Rio Grande.
Nor would I have it thought my soul and I
Do not get along or that I often go angling
In fulgin  streams. Still, if those mourners
Are not the papery souls of wayward clerists
I cannot think what they are nor why
They seem so tirelessly unhappy.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

CHANGED



My eyes, brown now, were grey when I was a boy
But eyes don't change color, except for infants.
It must be that I've been substituted for myself.
Apart from the eyes, the workmanship is pretty good
So that I very seldom realize I'm not me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ANGLING



The  black river's water stores the reflections
Of all the towns that ever stood on its banks
On moonless nights, defrocked members of the clerisy
Lower tiny mirrors on long pieces of string
Hoping to bring back a cup, a spoon,
A long-forgotten toy. Sometimes, they leap
Into the river, leaving their thin souls
Wailing on the shore.

Monday, April 24, 2017

EAST 12TH



Sometimes the moon
Thinks she's a ship.
She throws a heavy rope
Towards a pier
Decommissioned
Since 1943. Sailors
(Why does the moon
Have sailors?) swarm down
To spend their leave
In the arms and the beds
Of transparent girls
With rust-colored eyes.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A COUPLE OF THINGS




His ghost found himself in a book
Summed up in seven words in a footnote:
“William Middleton, an engineer who went insane.”
These were not the two facts he’d have chosen.
Why not “Ate a lit candle, flame and all;
Had a blind cat who came when he called?”
Or “His mother’s favorite who rode well?”
Or “Could breathe underwater and very nearly
Was elected King of the Cats?”