Saturday, February 06, 2016

The 7th Avenue Historic District

Up and down the street,

Committing daily errands,
Jogging, biking, joking,
My proximate gerunds.

The neighbors. They look busy.
So much ado to do.
I sit out front and read
Of romance and virtù.

But stay when I am placed.
I do not jog or joke.
Deflecting passion's flame,
I do not burn. I smoke.

Of that they disapprove,
Although they never say so.
They move along. I sit,
Half like them, and I stay so.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Pursued by a Duck

Edge of the edge, the ducks explore

Duckitude.  They don’t know it, though.
They nibble at the sludgy shore
While we call names and say we grow

L’homme qui criat canard.  That sedge
Is served them there so we can chime,
We should admit that.  If they cadge
A breadcrumb, panic.  A loup in time,

The ground subsides, the ducks retreat
Like Muscovy.  Here, let us count.
One duck, two ducks: this life is sweet,
When wild in just the right amount.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Whither Fled

I:

No, I will not plant this ground
With mace or betel, this a sound
And normal garden. Get thee hence.
I think I need a taller fence.

Me:
It is not normal thus to be
Enmired in normality.
Peas and squash. And butterbeans.
Petunias, maybe. What it means
Is you have died while standing up.
Might as well plant these, buttercup.

I:
No, take them back. I have my seeds,
And they sufficient to my needs.

Me:
Do they draw girls? Do dryads fling
Themselves about your trowel-y thing?
Do garden nymphs, with pansied skin,
Invite your stamened self within?
They do not feed on beans and peas,
Who court with pollen dancing bees.

I:
A pandar of the flower bed.
What kind of shit is this you spread?
I grow to eat. I eat to grow,
A bit of flower there for show,
Mere decoration. Here I till,
Repository of my will.

Me:
And what a way. Spirit will not
Indefinitely be forgot.
Plant coconut whilst still you can.
Vanilla saffron. Be a man.

I:
So I can watch them die and sink,
Mere bitter herbs who would not drink?
My soil's more fit for summer squash
And dirt for annelidic nosh.
I'll make my beauty out of use
And not descend to plant abuse.

Me:
Except for chewing. Your recruits
Salute you from their martialled roots.
Meantime the spirits all have fled,
Your gardens grown from gardens dead.
I fear your dull capacity.
Do grow this pekoe for your tea.

I:
My beets require service. Move.
Their lives need water more than love.

Me:
As the world turns, it turns through black
As well as brown. Here hide your eyes
With this.

I:
A lettuce-leaf. Surprise,
Surprise: you scorn the nutritive.

Me:
You breathe. I do not think you live.
You speak.

I:
I do not think you know
Where nymphs and vegetables go,
Together compost, likely lost,
And do not feel the common cost.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Epstein's Constant

This also appeared in Orbis.


I’ll call this Epstein’s Constant.  It implies
the angle of the vision from the man.
It imports paraendrocrinology
into aesthetics via sense of touch.
It makes all macroeconomics just.
By Epstein’s Constant all girls understand
all boys, and boys occasionally know
something about one girl, if they apply
themselves.  And Epstein’s Constant.  When you view
the stars through Epstein’s Constant on clear nights,
Magellan’s Cloud will match both Decalogue
And the Decameron in tone and luster,
measured against whatever scale you like.
It never changes. (I said it was constant.)
It knows no history and yet applies
To what your mother told your father you
told your teacher.  Although it will not bend,
applied to love it usually finds
the path most sinuous between two points.

Friday, January 15, 2016

When Lions Come

This appeared in Orbis.



When lions come to the door to drag you out
into the street, they won’t want elegy
or meditations on the Elder Breughel.
It’s commonsense and die with them: plain speech
is what they have time for. They’re not chimpanzees.

In camps, if you make it there, interrogation
occurs in prose, in real time, not in feet.
Elephants can do prosody; lions think
elephants have gone soft, wasting their gifts
on rumination, wallowing, and tusks.

Under the klieg lights lions want the truth.
They won’t even tell you, Soon you can go home.
Maybe they eye a haunch and hum a little.
Confess the truth and change for death: that’s all
the deal they offer, all they need to know--

lions don’t hope. They are. No note is sent
advising your next of kin you have been laid
with wildebeests and zebras in the pit
where herbivores accrue, praying, say lions,
they could be lions next. Not bloody likely.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dead Grandpa, He Dead

from The Complete Dead Grandpa


Goose, gander, ducat, duchess, dead dead dead,
and nothing you can say will bring me back,
nor cumulo-nimbus fleece floating atone
for birthday candles blown or naked gifts
on disco-lit parquet. Dead. Dead is croaked,
frogs on a spit, Achilles in the pit,
and ordinary Me blue in the face,
a little while at least. The high-toned art,
allusive and annoying, leaves me cold.
I'd rather be a butcher in Portales
than talked about in Paradise, where odes
are picayune accomplices of dirt.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

In That Great Gettin'-Up Morning

They came in caravans, like mushy peas

Lined up on a table, stuff you wouldn't eat,
No, not for anything, not even if
You had to sit there till your plate was clean--
It was, but moving peas onto the wood
Surface, which doubled back globular green,
Didn't much count--and you couldn't go out,
So there you sat, and they came on in files
And filled the fields in rows, one after one,
As if for concert parking; but the songs,
Sweetest when never heard, made dead birds fly
And unseen eagles fall out of the clouds
Onto the roofs of Minis. As they sang,
The caravans, of John Brown's Body Wash
And Vengeance is A-Coming Like a Go-Go,
The smell of sacrifice, the trampled dust,
The blue smoke of electrics ill installed,
Rose over hills where harts skipped and the roe
Carried their heads like trophy wives and posed,
The ungulate mission. Psalms of praise abound.