Saturday, March 23, 2013

POEMS 2004-17

    THE STILLNESS OF THE WORLD AFTER BACH

                to Lars Gustaffson

    Trucks sputter and rumble
    on the street below,

    while cars whoosh in the rain, breaks 
    take the piccolo parts. 

    (Didn't John Cage say the sound 
    of silence is the noise of traffic?)

    Through the city's morning din I attempt
    to extract faint strains of yesterday's recital. 

    Bach's Sonata for Harpsichord and Violin in A Minor.
    The three voices of its opening canon

    wend through such pleasurable pathways.
    A trio, Bach said, for two.

    The teakettle shrieks in the kitchen and I rush to relieve her.
    A dog barks, opened doors slam,

    a train bays at the disappearing moon,
    and Bach's notes balance briefly on the finger tips

    of memory before flying
    off into the pink daybreak.

    -----

    WHAT HOPPER KNEW

    Again, here.
    After midnight
    At the bar
    And the weight of
    All those famous pictures

    Cannot equal the
    Course of each life.

    ----

    ZINC

    It was a cold spring,
    and summer never shook the chill,
    but as September climaxed

    in unnatural heat,

    You took your quiet leave.
    Three weeks is too long to go without speaking.

    Somehow now in mid-October, winter’s icy
    fingers already grasp at the city streets.
    My phone is a dead weight.

    Another meal at Café Luxembourg.
    There are a few things I would like to tell you.


    -----


    APHRODISIAC

    Last night, we served
    quivering plates of oysters.
    Each briny draught brought
    a death by dinner party.

    One large shell caught
    the corner of my mouth at
    that point where lip meets
    lip and is almost cheek.

    So thin, that delicate line of lip,
    so effortlessly severed by the ancient
    creature’s last line of defense.
    I dabbed my own blood the rest of the night.

    Today, the bright
    pang that bites each smile
    recalls the beast’s sharp shell,
    not its cold, strange meat.

    ---

    AWAKENED

    Making a hasty retreat, sleep’s
    bellicose company silently slips
    through prattling window panes
    on wafts and whiffs of wintry air.

    Why is it so cold this spring?
    Ravenously ticking,
    the bedside clock
    devours the seconds in steady gulps.

    (A guppy will eat her fry . . . )
    The alarm is set, but I
    did not wind the beast before bed.

    Sometime tonight it will silently stop
    timing time and not a soul
    will be alarmed.

    ----

    APRIL FOOL’S EVE 2008 — A 90th Birthday Party Remembered the Next Morning

    Aileen, Aileen, you take the cake,
    which was, last night, a tart
    —ahem—and make

    us toast five years hence,
    glasses raised, bifocals lowered,
    smiles gathered up and gleaming.

    In all our sprawling tomorrows,
    how we wish to spend
    the best of them with you!

    ---------

    IN LEME - Rio de Janeiro, August 2005

    Green-shadowed streets,
    air thick with salt, unseen
    the sea whispers to the shore.

    Waves on sand,
    familiar caresses coaxing
    improbable embraces.

    The women in white arrive
    with their evening tribute,
    champagne and candles

    for their forbear
    lost to aquatic union.
    Is it mourning or seduction

    that toss in the tide
    while unlit waves arch
    to kiss the night  horizon?

    ------

    LOST CHOREOGRAPHY

    I wish
    I could
    remember every
    word you said to me
    and then dance
    among the letters:

    Tracing their curves
    and corners,
    teasing each ounce
    of meaning from their
    archaic
    shapes.

    -----

    GYPSIES

    Time expands
    and contracts
    like an accordion.

    Weezing
    squeezed
    melodies
    from between
    its fingerboards.

    ------

    ITHACA IN AUGUST

    And here we
    uncovered a country
    of love, surprised to be stung,
    bees strumming, wings on
    weeds, flowers in sun.

    The field is full of sharp sticks,
    and tics, and cold stones:
    each a tiny, insurmountable boulder.
    Our picnic blanket is thread-bare
    in all the wrong places.

    But what displaces us
    and places us here,
    sprawling in gleaming,
    green fields?

    Our blanket rolls
    in checkered folds,
    and the cold dew
    promises sprawling
    tomorrows on
    tomorrows.

    Each weedprick folds
    me more into you, as fields
    of gleaming green fall faster
    and faster from
    the vaulting blue sky
    and we tumble faster
    than meaning itself,
    bumping and kissing
    and knowing that rolling we, dizzy,
    will face each face, and eye each I,
    and love-stained by earth and sky,

    will bump and roll down
    terrible terrains of radiant green,
    holding on, holding on,
    to the shining country of
    our love.
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