Thursday, April 28, 2016

Major Bear

Although I'm cracking wise and quoting Yeats,

explaining all the voices Kant can't do,
the damn bear won't look back. He has a den
accessible to meat- and berry-men,
but not to those whose popcorn-covered cates
feed just themselves. He may live in a zoo,

which is his loss to bear: but one must buy
goodwill from prisoners. He can smell my heart,
so fat, so crowded, from this far away.
When I go home to betty, he will stay,
a bear among men, a bear who will not try
to rise above his nature. Take your art

to some museum, where a red Matisse,
resigned to gilt, rectangularly framed,
hangs. Never shuffles. Never craps or roars.
Blinks not. As squares dance in the in-of-doors,
my bear is moated by such white police.
Die, will you? Do. The bear will not be blamed.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tomorrow in a While

Tomorrow, or tomorrow in a while,

After you lay down secateurs and pause
To watch the housebirds swoop, and when you smile,
Thinking of what a wilderness it was,
This little eden, when the warmth of order
Makes of fatigue a friend, when you install
A sense of fence along the gravel border,
Carving out here and here and here from all,

Remember that it was not always so.
Change uproots comfort, stains, then shatters, glass,
Packs up a house in boxes, hands to weeds
Their lasting triumph. All disaster needs
For flowers to be overcome by grass
Is one small crack through which the wild can grow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Not Far Behind

Spring on the horizon, the nightbird says.

I’m here, you know, not going anywhere.
It’s in the offing, spring is. Blackwing says,
We’re here for the duration. Longtemps is
Our middle name.
 Now bring the car around.
We’ll soon fill it with primroses and peepers.
We feed when you’re asleep, the jetblack says,
And never seem to get enough to eat.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ripe for Recruitment

Under the bridges, then, where can be found

Men lost, bootless, unready hands on fire
And hair they use as lockpicks. Or The Last
Piazza, where the contract killers meet
Their lawyers, to insert a venue clause
And limits on assignability.
Down by the tracks, it’s far too popular,
Crowded with scads of housewife-realtors
Who need time off to study Avila.
The Polo Club will take an application,
But not call back. And Kitty’s 24
Prefers you dazed, emetic but aroused.
Or there’s the crossroads. Sandwiches and smokes
Purchase apparent assent. Fruition is
Another matter: these are not the deans
Of Mayhem College; often they forget
Objectives, falling asleep on wiry doormats
Stamped with cardinals and black-capped chickadees,
Right at their victim’s feet. Such tasseled shoes.
Nothing says loving like a drunken bum
Sprawled at the doorstep, hunting knife in hand,
Asking, if kicked, for dollar bills and beer.
Try beneath bridges. Covered in newsprint there,
Soldiers with stories, drumheads fast asleep,
Forage for excess, settle for skinny sweets.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

When you just can't get enough

You know, if my posts here don't suffice to fill you up, you can find more of me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/richard.epstein.3) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/rhepstein1), even, rather more infrequently, on Ello (https://ello.co/rhepstein).  But if you are pressed for time (or not all that interested), it's the poems which really matter.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Yard Work

The columbine grow everywhere. The bees

Pursue this with an appetite which bugs
Their eyes out, and the honey goes to feed
Those other bees, so they can churn the blue
Delphinium across the sculpted yard.
Sweetness and flight, the noblest of the bees’
Intrinsic obligations, comb-schooled: hives
Are where you have a duty, not a name;
And yet you bleed for the angelica,
Honeysuckle, and, late, the rose of sharon.
Flight in a buzz and whirr of obligation
Brings the columbine on, unto the fourth
And fortieth generation; and the queen
Invites you with the fittest floral set,
Even when brown and yellow do not go
With pink or with the silence of mid-June.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

From the Homefront

No, not a mansion, an estate,

Nor a chateau.  It’s just a house.
The taxes here are second rate.
No pheasantry.  The famous grouse
In the odd cupboards never call.
We have a lot.  Who has it all,

He works downtown.  His hands are clean,
He’s made of iron, cap-a-pie.
He is a gent we all have seen.
The women claim he ran away,
Just at proposal.  We are sure
His kind is weak and won’t endure

A liberal incumbency,
Yet there he is.  And here we are.
We mow our own.  And you can see
The oil which needs a newer car.
We have a vision: Saturday
We’re going to scrub those stains away,

Uncreak the door and love our wives
And make our children sweet and smart.
Life after life, lives after lives,
We barely finish where we start,
Exceptional in no detail,
Tepid and permanently frail.

The heat increases.  As we sink
Beneath our debts, the clocks explode.
No one has asked us what we think.
Our recent bills have come in code.
It’s later than it used to be,
We translate one.  But there are three.

A civil servant with a broom
Is dancing.  There’s a gravid fox
Has moved into the rumpus room
Where cellotape obstructs the locks.
Lawyers assumed to boardrooms rain
Upon the gold and fruited plain.

An organ grinder plies his trade
At 6 o’clock: This is the news.
We waltz in the diminished shade
Between our house and Duncan’s Mews.
The children write, We have been lent
By LSE to Parliament.

Thus we, content, replant the mint,
Repaint the windowbox, and wait.
My wife takes off her clothes.  Her hint
Is good enough.  We shall be late,
We shall be last.  We shall be saved,
Our names erased, our dates engraved.