Sunday, November 05, 2017

Approaching Paris

Things have unravelled — not just old dress shirts,
But new ones, also cardigans and shawls,
The special clothes you knitted for the dolls,
The hats, the heart-shaped cushions, introverts
Discussing meats and savoury desserts,
Long, dark imaginings in long, dark halls,
Objectionable asses in their stalls,
Unsavoury Beau Brummells, cads, and flirts.

So pick up needles, threads, tight skeins of yarn,
And get to work. Don't think embroidery,
Think basic, unadorned utility:
Torn seams to join, patched holes, cheap socks to darn.
Approaching Paris, on the western Marne,
We glimpse a new life, intermittently.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Crouch Together

With all the Cossacks gone, the Hussars still,
The wheels of the artillery in shards,
And battlefields abandoned to the bards,
We'll crouch together just below the hill
In holes the enemy forgot to fill,
Remembering our own brave Savoyards.
Call in the infantry, call out the guards,
Whisper our names to keep away the chill.

These deep, wet ditches will be good enough
To hide in, till we die — but not alone,
We'll crouch together, craving the unknown —
Come, Hotspur, Roland, Sohrab, Kong, Macduff,
Sit with us underneath this quiet bluff,
Remembering each friend, each exposed bone.

Monday, October 02, 2017

This Week, in Balloons

I'm coming back on Tuesday's train. Be there.
I'm bringing back a piece of London sky
That fell on me one sunny afternoon.
It came upon me, hurtling through the air
At speeds fantastic; first I heard a cry;
I heard a busker playing on a tune
That I had heard somewhere before, I think.
Be waiting for me, please. I'll need a drink.

Such strange things seem to happen on my trips.
They never seem to happen, though, to you.
My life has sprung up from the comic strips,
While yours is real. I don't know what to do.
I had the answers at my fingertips —
That is, until my fingertips turned blue.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Poor Excuse

We're not responsible for anything:
Not horses dancing, not for eating meat
Or eating only pastries, sticky sweet
And substanceless, not how the angels sing,
What lovers whisper while imagining
A world of grand responses, not the feet
That march through winter to the hapless beat
Of twelve-bar blues, not for the wicked king.

A poor excuse for running, it may be,
But that's the boldest one we have. We run,
Avoiding consequences. What we've done
And what we hoped to do were unfairly
Conflated in your mind, so what you see
Looks bad, though we did not harm anyone.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Unexpected Lift

Experience the unexpected lift
Of kisses in the sunlight by the sea,
The moment when the right hand, coming free,
Clasps something wanted, needed. It's a gift
That destiny provides with special thrift.
Note how the eyebrow quivers, tenderly,
And how the heart is warmed, a canopy
Of stars is formed, dismay is set adrift.

My luck has been extraordinary, true:
Keeping my dreams in check, my heart on ice,
Has been a lifetime's labour. No device,
No cold machine has served; I am a stew
Of bright desires, of gold, of morning dew,
Of love's touch. I have been surprised here twice.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I Wobble

I wobble and I wiggle and I spin,
Not making sense of things, not making friends,
Unable to think clearly. Not the bends,
Just ordinary dizziness: too thin,
My blood won't reach my brain. The state I'm in
Resembles deep imbalances, extends
To somewhere near the spot where all time ends.
I hear no sound, a harsh, inchoate din.

Who are these people, and what is this place?
How does this taste? When did I feel that touch?
Could I hear music? Did I have a crutch
To help me wobble past that empty space
Where I smelled garlic, thyme, sage, cloves, and mace?
I've made my piece with knowing not so much.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Falling

You're looking for somebody to despise,
A mean bastard, a fallen misanthrope
Too filthy to be introduced to soap,
Impassive enemy of lullabies,
Loving the sound of desperate children's cries,
Resisting kindness and detesting hope.
Your sister's husband was strung out on dope,
But he loves animals, and has nice eyes.

Don't look at me. As sweet as candy floss,
I'm known for friendliness and tranquil smiles.
My mother came here from the Faerie Isles,
Meeting my father as she came across
The Ocean of Interminable Loss,
And still the sound of falling stars beguiles.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

At Sea

We won't eat waffles, pancakes, or French toast,
We won't drink coffee, tea, or orange juice,
We won't read bedtime verse by Dr. Seuss,
We won't acknowledge Uncle Reggie's ghost,
We won't bring harlots to the weenie roast,
We won't make gravy for the Christmas goose,
We won't complain our shoelaces are loose,
And we'll be satisfied by that. Almost.

We will expect our friends to understand
That things will break down unexpectedly,
And while I'm copying Gray's Elegy
(But duller, grimmer, and extremely bland)
We'll claim our wariness has us unmanned,
And everything we want is here, at sea.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Growling

He heard me growling, and he told me, "Stop!"
He said, "We do this slyly, silently,
We make our souls true, and our bodies free."
I made a guttural, loud "Hmm! Pork chop,"
And thought I very nearly saw the top
Come off his head. It was lovely to see
What I had dreamed: a monkey in a tree,
An envelope of mist, a sudden pop.

I've done each goddam vocal exercise
Until I'm sick and tired of every sound
A human mouth can make. I'll turn around
And look that snake director in the eyes
Hoping the omen in the entrails lies.
It said we're rabbit meat — I am the hound.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Dream

Remember when you chewed the rabbi's shoes?
Did you believe they'd be a lovely treat,
Or did you only think the rabbi's feet
Were too nice to be smelly? Were the clues
You raved about the clear result of booze,
As they appeared to be, or was the street
As badly paved as that? Were you discreet,
Or did you come with highway-paving crews?

Or were you merely thinking, "I'm a dog!
So what if my food choices are extreme,
Where everything is food, not just ice cream
And beef scraps, bits of Allegheny hog
And chicken hearts? I'm living in a fog;
I'll do what beagles do, I'll live the dream!"