Symphony #4

Hilarious to be the blind boy who loves Brahms

Face pressed to fabric speaker of radio

Holding fast, seaward, first hint

Of big idea—cardamon pastry

In his hand—rain

At the window


1958 & grownups

Sleeping, Helsinki

Late Winter

Ships calling

From the harbor


His heart beating

As if he’d

Inherited it

From a gull



Picking mushrooms

A proper Scandinavian

Original food of poverty

Summer of baby coffins


Where are the songs?

I’ve one or two

Funereal cradle lullabys

Old Finland


Sometimes play them

On a guitar

Now end of Winter

Preparing for Spring

I Started the Day Feeling Fine


That is, my simple trousers

Hung well

On my stippled

Inefficient legs

& I was right with the world



On the street

Had contributions—


The village pump

I sang a short song


The seahorse’s coordinates

Had their way with me then

No longer welcome

In the story teller’s circle

I was far at sea

Without friends by sundown


In my grandmother’s attic I found a silver toothpick

Buried in a small wooden box

Like Egyptian sarcophagi

For mummified crickets

Something funereal


Once there was a grand occasion

1906 the Great Caruso home

After San Francisco

Everyone raising a glass

At Del Pezzo’s


Strangers lovers


To be alive

In the age of song

& the tenor handing out his souvenirs




One more day I’m a poet
Rolling the planet across a table
Infantile game–macassar oil
On the chairs, Victorian bookshelf
Crammed with taxonomies,
Yes, a stuffed owl

Everyone wants the source
Of the Loire or a finely woven
Net, something informative
As we feel
When the moon comes close
& we’re picking mushrooms
In summer


Here come the dancers, half Greek half sky

Fragrance of goat’s milk and iron—

All day, blind, alone, talking to myself

(For that’s how it was

Lonely kid telling stories to no one

In a bomb shelter, 1960

Already in love with Hercules

Who must have had friends.)


I lay on cement whispering—

How storying unfolded

Talking in the dark

Breathing odors of Army blankets.

Who loves you, who doesn’t

Where’s a lucky window

How high the sun, my lips moving.


Even now I talk to myself.

My wife sees me, says,

“what are you saying?”

I shrug. How can I tell her?

I recite fragments as some boys skip pebbles.

It might be someone else’s words

Maybe Ezra Pound:

“And the days are not full enough

And the nights are not full enough

And life slips by like a field mouse

Not shaking the grass…”

Then again it’s just me: “Trace

The veins of a barberry leaf

That’s Braille enough…”

In sidelong darkness of broken manners

When the day is insufficient

Minutes not feeding me

Up river go the words the outcast words.

Oh anything will do.