Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Imaginary Past

You note the cunning of my gentle song,
Describing an imaginary past,
In which the future (where such friendships last
At least until the morning makes us strong)
Has made us lovers, like the handsome throng
Of motion-picture paramours, a cast
Of millions who are duly primed and massed
Before the cameras; what is right or wrong?

I have not loved you yet. When morning comes,
That morning after, both of us will know
The difference. I promise neither drums
Nor trumpet flourishes, but friendships grow
And, making something good out of dry crumbs,
Take on a proud, imaginary glow.

Our Hearts, part 9

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Aftershock

I pause here, cold reflection giving way
To protestations of a common sort:
I sought your favour as I sought a port
In hard weather. I was prepared to pay
The price you set for safety, any day
Or night you chose to succour me, for sport,
For love, for fear, or merely holding court
As Queen of the Aftershock, as in a play.

But now the play is over; a new game
Begins. The shock is, that the game began.
The aftershock is starlight, terror, blame,
And explanations. As an honest man,
I told the truth when giving you my name,
But never claimed I had some sort of plan.

Our Hearts, part 8

Monday, September 26, 2005

Apology for Cold and Shadows

The process of inspection lingers on,
An excavation of the truer jokes
And falser sermons. Love is not a hoax,
But nonetheless is full with vermin spawn,
And should be ranged with dusk instead of dawn.
It puts on gaudy, many-coloured cloaks
To dazzle, as when sentiment invokes
The light to brighten fear, when love is gone.

Do not fear me. I never seem so cold
As when the future freezes in my heart,
And castigates my tongue for being bold.
I must, and do, apologize, in part
For being young, pretending to be old,
And, too, perhaps, deceiving with this art.

Our Hearts, part 7

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Real Memory

I will forget you. No, not everything –
Your eyes cannot be banished, nor your scent,
Your voice, the words you said, the words we meant,
The way I breathed near you, the whispering
Of music in your touch. We choose to sing,
But making sense out of our own intent
Is somehow difficult, as if we spent
Our memory on dreams, night ravelling.

I dream of you. These reveries are slow,
Dark-hued, and feckless, keeping me awake
Through long, warm nights. Real memory will go,
Played out like string; increasingly opaque,
The dreams dissolve into night; your touch, scent – no,
I will forget you, and for your own sake.

Our Hearts, part 6

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Darkness

Do not expect such things as love, despair,
Or worship. Adoration is too fine
For my heart. I express myself through wine
And other stimulants (a woman's hair,
The memory of sirens, or the glare
Of stars), external, preferably divine,
But anything will do that isn't mine.
I have too little tenderness to share.

I gesture from the distance, promise you
The praise that I denied you earlier,
A token of affection. Coming to,
From darkness, from the darkness where we were,
We exchange cries of recognition, true,
But we remain apart, tactful, unsure.

Our Hearts, part 5

Monday, September 19, 2005

Irregular Noises, Haste

Were you a goddess from Olympian heights
Or someone's sister from the neighbourhood
You still might not have fully understood
The meaning of the subtle appetites
And strange, irregular noises and sights
I have described to you. Perhaps you should
Wait; expect the arrival of Birnam Wood;
Exercise caution; watch; assert your rights.

Perhaps you should, this time, expect the worst,
Expect discouragement, distress, and waste,
Unpleasantness and cruelty, rehearsed
And then performed, all in the poorest taste.
I did not mean to frighten you at first,
Or calm you, but perhaps I spoke in haste.

Our Hearts, part 4

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Another night slips by, and in my ear
The far sound of your voice remains, and rings
Far changes in my mind. One or two things
You said about unsettled thoughts, and fear,
Describe my own thoughts, captive and unclear,
Watching for signs: the moon, the morning, wings,
Or any unexpected waverings
In tone and pitch – whatever signs appear.

And signs are plentiful, but what is meant
By these? Did we expect our hearts to fly?
Those letters we wrote cautiously we sent
Courageously. We monitor the sky
For tokens, wonder where our courage went,
And wait. Meanwhile, another night slips by.

Our Hearts, part 3

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Gesture Made Too Far Away

If I remember anything of you
The way you lounged and stretched seductively
(Perhaps not meaning to) will stay with me
As long as I remember going through
The motions: love, and lust, and a mixed stew
Of other feelings. Watching as your knee
Just failed to gesture irreversibly
I almost leaped, but failed to gesture, too.

So here in easy, distant print I leap,
A gesture made too late and far away,
Now that the stakes are not so very steep.
I got your letter in the mail today;
I hope the bright spring moon will watch you sleep,
Tonight, and that some evening I, too, may.

Our Hearts, part 2

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Dead of Night

Because I met you in the dead of night
Your eyes seemed brighter than the sky. Unknown
Stars played in rings together and alone
In the blue cage of darkness. There was light
From other sources, and, however slight,
It lit your body as if the light were bone,
White shafts appearing, zone by zone.
Your skin shone as if for some holy rite.

Uncannily, you took the measure of
All things: all stars, all travellers, all speech.
I hoped that you or I could speak of love,
Although I thought not even you could teach
Love. You extended a delicate white glove.
I did not think it was within my reach.

Our Hearts, part 1

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Woes of Enemies

I've put on weight, and all my hair's turned white,
Just when I thought I'd conquered all my foes.
When I hear cracking, probably my toes,
My lower spine, or teeth too soft to bite,
I pause, remember evenings full of spite
And warm days filled to bursting with the woes
Of enemies. Although I don't suppose
They think of me now, it was a delight.

I only hope that, when they do recall
The way I sometimes took the part of Fate,
That they can smile, in their diminished state,
Remembering the lift, the rise, the fall,
Thinking how everybody ends up small:
My hair's turned white, and now I'm losing weight.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I have no vices. I am not averse
To making statements truer than mere facts,
Or now and then engaging in gross acts,
But there are many people who are worse.
I will not honk at any passing hearse,
As long as it won't block traffic. My tracts
On killing sufferers with cataracts
Should seem, I think, less literal than terse.

Don't argue; just remember that I gave
My money to the poor. You speak of vice
As though, when I was faced with a great wave
Of needy indigents, I gave them spice
To ease their hunger. You ate meat. Think twice
Before you say which soul you've got to save.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Gleeful, Bold, and Rootless

Watch one pedant run that strident yammer
All about our syntax. Ooh, how shocking,
Such inaccurate and reckless talking!
If he only had a giant hammer
He'd chide us truly for our dreadful grammar!
Split infinitives, but wear a stocking
Covering that smirk. He knows you're mocking
How his dignity comes with a stammer.

Who cares if your negatives are doubled?
Heaven's deaf, his troubled cries are bootless
And complaining to his wife is fruitless:
She just laughs when he explains he's troubled
By the way this ignorance has bubbled
To the surface, gleeful, bold, and rootless.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

On Sonnet Form

Some people understand the sonnet form
As standard: fourteen lines, pentameter,
Iambic, and enclosed. There is no storm
Of controversy here, no flying fur,
But arguments exist: with Shakespeare’s rhymes,
The sonnet breaks up into four small bits,
Which may reflect the tenor of the times,
Fragmented, puncutated by short fits;
Petrarch’s Italian form divides in two,
Uneven – balanced, though unevenly –
Connecting separate halves by leaping through
Into a resolution, discretely.
There’s Milton, too, and Spenser, more odd schemes
Than kings had food tasters, or Homer dreams.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

August's Secret

It was a secret, August promised me,
But when he shared it, I got pretty sore,
Because it was all stuff I knew before,
But he kept saying, "Only you and me,
That's all that knows about this, don't you see?
Why scowl like that?" I could say, "I deplore
Your confidence, your cynicism, more –
The way you smirk, you anaerobic spore,"
But I just smile instead, quite silently.

It was the month of August, ending then,
And cooler days and nights were on the way:
Cold afternoons of rain, skies dark and grey,
And August, leaving, one more denizen
Of seasons in the past. I drop my pen,
Remembering something I had to say.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Fourteen True Things About Me

My father died when I was forty-eight.
I've never been to see the midnight sun,
And dislike touching any sort of gun.
I do my best to disbelieve in fate.
Embarrassed as I am to turn up late,
Sometimes I am the type of man I shun.
I'm certain that it's better to have fun
Than to consume sour stuff. I love my mate.

My child was born when I was twenty-nine.
My life is not wholly controlled by fear,
And I like strolling, when the weather's clear,
Through pleasant neighbourhoods. The smell of pine
Fills me with wonder. In too much sunshine
The sky seems empty to me. Truth is dear.