I tried telling you…

I tried telling you about the seahorse

It’s coordinates, a map

Inside each creature

A silly thing to discuss

In the age of automobiles

Very foolish in fact

But I think so poorly

Of capitalism

So little do I recognize

In the looted faces

Of professors

I need living geometry

Rising effortlessly

In the seas of custom

No One’s Home

I write about spilled coins and fallen tree limbs

Forgiving myself for the common

My attention is often misdirected

The schoolteacher would say broken

I remain happily deviant in all settings

There’s a string on the floor

One lightbulb is missing

A man at the podium talks

“Data,” he says, so composed

He could be an undertaker

I’m thinking about my windpipe

And my hands, the opera

Of every mysterious body

That has ever lived

A Theodicy 

If as I believe there’s a theater

Beyond Andromeda

 

Faulty yet welcoming

That arch is Auden’s—

 

Scripts of universal alarm

Must be recited

 

In cold and light

While gods make

 

A polite audience.

Here, as tomorrow

 

Is untitled, our shoulders

Bear luck or mass

 

And from the wings

A determined plain voice

 

Cries wait, wait for me.

 

 

Autumn Mirror

After summer came and went and some were ill

And some were in love—many traveled—

The world was unsafe or generous

I wept as men do

Choking in my white room

As the spread out

Abstract gas of war

Suffused every inch of me

So that my obedient hands

Become war hands

My neck a battle neck

My tongue dipped

To atrocities

Like a bee ignorant

Of its flower

Unable to distinguish

Where it’s been or what lies ahead

Do you see, it said, my tongue

How the body, even in repose,

Even with this poetry

Is just a war lord’s gavel?

 

 

Notebook, End of Summer, 2017

I’m reading the youthful notebooks of a long dead Finnish communist poet and it’s raining in my neighborhood. I too desire houses for the poor and a joyful horse for each child. I want politicians to perform real work. Plant trees. Every day the President of the United States should be required to plant an apple tree before he can open his polluted yap which stinks of dollars and iodine. Meantime think of St Francis of Assisi, his death, what it means to our poems.

**

Seeing at the edge of daylight as the blind inevitably must. Thumbing through Goethe for balance.

**

Flaubert was essentially a psychologist. So was Stalin. And Jesus could have been also but he did all his studying in childhood. Poets should really understand the difference.

**

Razzle dazzle of nincompoop advertising, all that’s left of the USA. Quick! Act now! Buy your own murder! On sale!

**

Caruso took his mother’s hand once, the day his infant sister died—just the two of them on the steps of the church of Gesu Nuovo. They stood and looked across the piazza at the orange and yellow houses, so cheerful, the sky so impossibly clear, he thought there could be no limbo, no way station for the souls of innocent children. And his mother had removed her hand from his whispering “you are too warm.”

**

I love the voice of Enrico Caruso. All subsequent tenors want to be him. His was a voice of power, delicacy, warmth, and mystery. It’s the mystery everyone else lacks.

**

Opening old books to see if postcards fall out.

 

History of Fingers

What if I could tell you how it felt

Under the skin, intra-nerves

Where the meanings are—

Would you know me,

Kiss me perhaps,

Your lips without

Politics? Yes and no

I say, ambition

Is lovely, the light

Of the mind is like tea

In a Russian glass,

I love you, my heart

Lifts like a taffeta skirt

In a good dance.

No, no, it is mystic

When the party’s over,

When there are no words,

Each of us waving farewell

With printed pages in our hands.

 

Ode to Fernando Pessoa

I think there’s never enough time for a single man,

His life sparks, wire-like he shudders,

His tiny eyes memories fade,

Why not split into three tragic men?

 

Each will have mere seconds

On a pitched stage, his own show.

As a blue curtain lifts (no sound)

One has trouble with his legs,

 

One has problems with his heart.

“The idea,” says the third, “is to sit

In the audience, smack-middle,

Solo but safe in the herd.”

 

It’s an old joke in the theater—

Looking out, seeing an empty seat,

Actor one whispers to number two:

“Oh look, there’s a dead subscriber.”