Things I cannot alter or forget
prove me Love's apostate
whom I most strove to serve.
the women who were everywhere
I have no ruins or rented tenement
do not await a bird song
or a multifoliate rose.
My high cave faces west
toward Mexico and Monterey.
I read by day and watch tv at night.
on our first date, I brought you home
to a carefully prepared stage set:
fireplace, music, wine, cushions...
asking: "Would you like the full seduction here
or should we go straight to the bedroom?"
"What's in the bedroom?"
After that, love-making every night
all night intermittently
fellatio, fucking in cars, elevators, woods
until the fault lines fractured
blew us apart, even as
bonds of atoms smashed, release
the energy of suns
but time and again
we came together, ever closer
always repeating the explosive end
each time more violent
and each time
resistance to your love...
my stubborn, bachelor will
crumbled a little more.
At last you married, moving out of state
a final severance
wounds sealed, annealed
one more return
would find me shattered, all defenses down
ripe for idolatry, kneeling before a throne
where you would sit and wear a queenly crown
the fan blows steadily
sunset's slant light
diagonally bisects the far wall
the artifacts of my living room
below my balcony
time scrolls across the urban landscape
like the clear hump of a wave
and here and there rips off a leaf
launches a fruit
or snaps a twig with ice
the door opened
loaded with parcels
gifts, boxes, bags
and rush to kiss me.
The cups, plates and furniture
listened to the story of her day
in rapt attention
as I did not.
Now the door is still
the phone silent
the tv babbles
Time soaks into the walls
dulling the paint.
Sitting easy in my satisfaction
I idly dream the door will open
that someone will
this is a very thin reality
a screen reflecting light
where are the real actors
the real world
built with billions of numbers
for those who eat shadows
drink mirrored water?
we don't embue
we don't engender
only the light that reaches us
teaches us to move and speak
the missing energy
the dark matter
all in the projector
all in the light
be there no more meeting of our ways
let each awake to different worlds and days
let memory of me, by time distilled
dissolve in darkness leaving just a glow
like the spectre of a blaze
what was I thinking just now?
what was I thinking just before that?
what will I be thinking after this?
do they still play
on the stone tables?
we played till dawn
afternoon, evening, night
circled oblivious warriors
do the fishing boats still leave
from Sheepshead Bay?
does the fog still drown Pacific Grove?
who lives in that five-story walkup
who has found love
on the Lower East Side?
The trains all rush
to their terminals
the airports silenced by snow
in 1945 my brother was two years old
I was ten
we were a family of four
in a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment
my bicycle took me throughout Brooklyn
as far as Sheepshead Bay
Today's Lesson: answer 25 questions.
tomorrow: the same
Israel in Palestine
Kennedy in Dallas
Johnson in Vietnam
moving slowly, inexorably
toward Bush, 9/11, Iraq
America down the drain
helpless to prevent
In my mad ardor, my lust, my needs
I would have done far more damage
had not the unknown gods jerked me short.
I'll be in a bookstore
or by a river
in a Florida supermarket
or a movie house in Vera Cruz
on 8th Street
or in Washington Square Park
in a Bickford coffee shop
(waiting for the rain to stop)
or in a fifth-floor walkup
trying to improve my chess
Hwaet! We Gardena. We spear-Danes!
Kia! Chariot of white gold, great snowy steed!
Lochinvar rides to rip you from your clan, Robin
nocks an arrow for your freedom.
I, Beowulf, spoiling for a fight
arrived at Herot, Hrothgar's Hall.
A Long day's Journey to Heartbreak House
Amfortas' house of pain.
We feasted, drank deep, but by night
Grendel tore our comrade
devoured flesh and bone.
Arabian Nights. Asian nights. Latin nights.
Stations of the Cross, the living dead.
War's immaculate conception. Empire's
What of it?
Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous...
O man in the mirror?
I'll get a drink in hell...
Let God sort 'em out
Let it begin with me.
I note down every hour
reading, cooking, walking the park
woodbine, wood song
circles of dream
day breeze tastes of meadow
night wind scents of sea
the forgetful brain reminded
of things fallen from sky
or hauled from the depths
fragments of stars