Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Pastorale

This appeared in Angle. It has been slightly altered since then.

Down by the river the trout are laying bets
Per croquet hoop. They swear like Fielding fish--
Damme this and Bloody that. They're old ones
With cheeks that frogs would eat. Here unafraid,
They list to port and pass it to the left
And praise the neighbors' sheep and curse the day
Electric lights infested county skies.
Crooks, not hooks, still in the adverse flow,
They praise monogamy, but that's a joke
Told when women go the separate way
Appropriate. They do not fear the fly,
A thumb upon their scales, or lemon sauce.
These are the myths told small fry. They are men.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cherry, Blossoms

Focus, they say, and Bof'us, someone laughs;

But crocus is what they mean, and inching through
A yard like iron, just before the daffs,
They make a spring. The spring remembers you

Under the cherry, blossoms in your hair
And dress too small to make a handkerchief.
It's you, and you are never ever there.
Some jocund flowers beggar all belief.

Let summer burn them down. Let the sweet grass
Give itself up to desiccate and dirt.
All memories decay, and cherries pass.

Bof'us, they say, and laugh until they hurt.
The ice is melting, all that broken glass
A spring in motion and the past inert.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Boston Swans

I vaguely recollect that there are swans
somewhere famous in Boston, somewhere Lowell
might think them his, a bird grant from the Crown.
He might discuss with Dr Holmes at night,
after the port passed by too many times,
how Zeus had managed Leda. This would pass
for smut among the philocrats, I swan.

“Under a spreading chestnut tree,” they’d laugh.
“Beg pardon?” said the emissary from
the Court of St James. “A longfellow joke,” Lowell said.
“Uh-huh,” said Robert, many years away,
trying to fit both skunk and sour cream
into his recollections of a swan
whose loins devolved a war it could not stop.
The Boston pops have brought their kids to hear
Napoleonic cannon foddering.
They hum as they tuck cobs back in their hampers,
decorously wrapped. Here Ted Williams hit
.400, which was nothing, if you count
percentages left lying in the snow
so Bonaparte could win the Triple Crown,
ambitions learned from Alexander, who
differed from Plato as to Homer’s hit.
Home and away, it all came down to swans.

--In memoriam Paula Tatarunis

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

As Numberless as the Stars

Hagar didn’t care for the manchild much,
The one whose dam she wasn’t.  In the star-
Personable nighttime sky she reckoned
The number of descendants he’d been promised,
And every one an uninvited guest.
Me, I try to avoid the sin of counting.
It leads to lust and envy.  I have named
More women than I knew, and they are glad,
Or so they say, when they imagine me.
They think about the child who isn’t there,
The period they never missed, the pain
Promised them, that they passed on, and they smile
And smooth their hair and think about the days
When boys would gasp because they happened by.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

And Beets and Pickled Okra

The pantry is a cool and cedar-lined

Room in the basement where we keep the jars
We do not need right now, but someday might.
(It hasn’t happened yet, but who can tell.)
Preserves, we call them, as if that would keep
Them biohazard-free. I think they wait
For evolution. In the night I hope
To be preserved, but I know better now,
Awake. To be a boy of 17,
A damson plum with paraffin on top
To save me from my nature—-string beans grow
Pale in their darkened room: they will not turn
To tap dancers or unicyclists if
They do not break their seals. Though tubers chant
The virtues of sequestered, reddened roots,
They do not grow, and if they did, they’d drown.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Alone in the Afterlife

At least the leaves are crispy, and they smell

Of cinnamon. Kick them aside, they float
Like butterflies and settle on the trees
Who held them last. There are no promises
Of stars beyond the stars I see. The fox
Rolls on the patio and shakes himself,
A Canis Minor. Everyone I know
Still loves me -- better, loves me now, at last,
At once. The fox trots back into the woods,
His little dance insouciant desire.
My coffee smells like it was made from leaves

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Wells of Time

This will transport you to the elder times,

Fire like slabs of meat and smells so strong
They pound the air in dactyls. In a pinch
You can recite your “Please, Sir, send me home,”
There where the heart is, but no wolverines
Or kettles of boiling grease or water nymphs.
What would you give to have your teeth decay
Authentically, to wear a powdered wig,
To spread your plot with nightsoil, or to fetch
A fair price on the open market? Home
Is what you looked like when you were a boy;
But now you’re not. Now you could almost stay
Old as the hills when hills were young, and you
Were cold and muddy. Please, Sir, send me home.