Monday, August 21, 2017

KNOW

Since she doesn't exist
The angel Ayin
Cannot answer prayers.
She listens, though,
To all who want
No one to hear.

Friday, August 18, 2017

PREFECT



The prefect's statue does not accept that he is clay
Nor that the state he served fell centuries ago.
He stares back into each face peering at him
In the display case where he keeps his office.
Some day the vandal who chipped his nose
With a stone idly tossed will surely return;
The prefect will arrest him in the name
Of the Empress Regnant Wu Zhao.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

AT THE MUSEUM



Henry VIII's dress armor
Is black, with golden details,
And filled with ghosts.
Thomas More looks
Through the eyeholes
Great Wolsey sits at ease
In the expanded belly.
Sometimes, the left hand
Slowly clenches; Cromwell
Is having a bad dream.
The six wives
Lodge in the codpiece
Except for Boleyn
Who sits in the helmet
Arguing with More.
Henry's soul huddles
In the left boot's tip
Wishing the others
Would quiet down
So a man could sleep.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

PERFORMANCE



The music strikes up; dancers,
Already on stage are in motion.
They’re just a few at first but,
From the wings come more
And more again until the stage
Cannot hold another. No matter;
A scrim lifts, and there is space
For those coming from everywhere
Rappelling from the rafters, streaming
Down the aisles. The musicians
Put down their instruments to dance;
The music now plays itself. Last of all,
You rise, arms links with yours
And you’re dancing.
                         If this isn't Death
What can it be?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

THE RETURN



Grown old, Mr. Hyde finds he misses
Dr. Jekyll. He is not a chemist –
That was Jekyll – but he has the notes
From the original experiments
And signs up for some courses. His wife
(Hyde gave up murdering women years ago
On the advice of his cardiologist) thinks
Jekyll is unlikely to return from wherever
In Hyde he’s been larricking about. Still …
She prepares the guest bedroom
And buys porridge; Hyde hates porridge
But says Jekyll will want it at breakfast.

Monday, August 14, 2017

INCIDENT



Almost featureless, the ghost
Stands by a wall. The rain
Makes people hurry by.
I furtively put in his hand
The memory of a dime
One of the old ones, silver,
With Mercury's head on it
He curls his fingers around it,
Nods and is gone.

Friday, August 11, 2017

CHEAP AT THE PRICE



If this was 1940
I might take a subway --
One of the new
IND lines --
And walk a block south
To
24 West 40th Street.
There, I'd ask "Do you have
The Goddess of Time?"
"Certainly," the jeweler would say
"That"ll be one dollar down
And $2.87 a month
For the next ten months."
My grandfather, a watchmaker,
Might have cautioned me
That any watch called
The Goddess of Time
Was no better than it should be
And was not to be trusted.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

CALL NOW



Chief Mullica, licensed detective,
Can be found, when he chooses,
At 577-S, The
Orpheum Building,
Jersey City, where it is always
October 1940. He is willing to train,
To investigate, to fingerprint,
To shadow and to solve
Cases which have baffled
More ordinary detectives.
That he works out of a building
Torn down 60 years ago
Is not a problem. 
For $15 a day and expenses,
He’ll  travel almost anywhere.
Particulars, say his ad, are free.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

DANCERS IN A SKETCH OF DAUMIER'S



So tightly they grip hands!
How fast they circle round!
The goose, in vain, honks
Alarmed that their feet
Have left the ground.

Monday, August 7, 2017

AYIN



Alif, who can't be seen,
Has an apprentice --
The angel Ayin --
Who doesn't exist
But hopes to.
Homeless, she sleeps
In alleys, wrapped
In a torn shadow.

Friday, August 4, 2017

FIX-IT



My grandfather Joe could tell why a watch had stopped
By winding it, holding it to his ear and then tapping it --
Three precise taps. After this, the diagnosis:
A bit of grit in a cog wheel or a broken spring
Or a simple desire for attention. He'd ask for a tool --
A needle, say, or a butter-knife or a drop of oil --
Which always proved to be the right one. If people
Had been watches, he and his older daughter
Would've gotten along quite splendidly.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

CHILD ALSO OF PODARGES



In my despair I called on Xanthos
Which is odd. What use to me
Zephyr's child, a yellow horse
Who'd wept for Patroclus
And raged at Achilles? Still,
One goes where one must.
An immortal horse, half wind;
There might be worse company
For the cold journey I'll someday take.
Lions and bears, a pig and a horse;
Any number of cats, stray virgins
And glum saints. Really, we should get
Some banners and perhaps
A small escort of trumpets and drums.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

COURTESY?



I could hear God, jesting with the Lvovner
As I approached, but, catching sight of me,
He fell silent. Really, God? Does my unbelief
Require this pretense that You don't exist?