PROSE FOR TWO VOICES
--Though I sleep as much as anyone else,
I am an advocate of being awake.
It had, he thought, a totemic resonance, that image of the woman suf-
It had, he thought, a totemic resonance, that image
fering. (This happened later, before I could.) In the dark I thought of
of the woman suffering. (This happened later, before I could.)
her. How can you say that she asked. How can you say that. Undulate,
In the dark I thought of her. How can you say that she asked.
fish. I spoke to her for about fifteen minutes. This is the guarded situ-
How can you say that. Undulate, fish. I spoke to her for about
ation. I am in my thoughts. This is a recollection of last night when we
fifteen minutes. This is the guarded situation. I am in my
all saw a film. I wanted. Children sound and resound. The image of a
thoughts. This is a recollection of last night when we all saw
house, filled with happy children. What more than that. We’ll all be in
a film. I wanted. Children sound and resound. The image of a
that house he promised. We’ll all be happy. Night darkens. Stains. I am
house, filled with happy children. What more than that. We’ll all
in the dream of the happy woman. Terrific! she said. As she crossed her
be in that house he promised. We’ll all be happy. Night darkens.
legs I thought: The Renaissance. Her lipstick turned her mouth into a
Stains. I am in the dream of the happy woman. Terrific! she said.
scar. I adored him I adored him. Come. Now. I want to play ball. I
As she crossed her legs I thought: The Renaissance. Her lipstick
want you to tell me how I can do it. I don’t know. Whenever he opens his
turns her mouth into a scar. I adored him I adored him. Come. Now.
mouth something happens. She was alone so she took off her dress. Now I
I want to play ball. I want you to tell me how I can do it. I don’t
am closing the door. I am opening the transit. Folie de doute. What a
know. Whenever he opens his mouth something happens. She was alone
word! I saw you, don’t deny it. She had (or so I thought) a totemic reso-
so she took off her dress. Now I am closing the door. I am opening
nance, that image of the tall woman suffering.
the transit. Folie de doute. What a word! I saw you, don’t deny it.
She had (or so I thought) a totemic resonance, that image
of the tall woman
THE SKELETON'S DEFENSE OF CARNALITY
Truly I have lost weight, I have
grown lean in love's defense,
in love's defense grown grave.
It was concupiscence
that brought me to the state:
all bone and a bit of skin
to keep the bone within.
Flesh is no heavy burden
for one possessed of little
and accustomed to its loss.
I lean to love
which leaves me lean
till lean turn into lack.
A wanton bone
I sing my song
and travel where the bone is blown
and extricate true love from lust
as any man of wisdom must.
Then wherefore should I rage
against this pilgrimage
from gravel unto gravel.
Circuitous, I travel
from love to lack
and lack to lack,
from lean to lack
LOST IN PLACE
lost in place
(In a time)
lost where there
(There is a tendency)
(The self as)
where I am mis-
(Can do nothing)
where I do not
(But there is no)
(That the group)
(Will not be)
I lived with guilt the antiquing of my visage
O body hiero you’re not worth
A little animal noted in photo and video
you capture your craft the powder
That gnawed at me if not in mirror
& your clevercoined cart to blow you up
Was never minimal tells me of the possibility
in 24 / sec you’re not worth it
And often maximal of death
“Effect” is “Affect” not worth the power-
I shouted TILT the antiquing of my visage
& all’s Effective: ful powder that could
But nothing turned noted in photos, videos
Electric! blow you up
For it was guilt but not in mirrors
Multiple Enyas you
In which I burned tells me of the possibility
sing thy way you’re not worth it
Guilt was the animal that I shall die
back to the Mamawave: not worth it at all
That took my animus that I shall not escape
Onto the guiltless water… not worth powder
And all my animosity… antiquity
Journey’s Joy! not worth the powder
that I should not be anti
blow you up
which is a natural thing
you’re not worth powder
the antiquing of my visage
not worth it
noted in photo and video
(unseen in mirror)
gives me evidence
you’re not worth the powder
of how my looks
to blow you
to blow you
I wrote this poem in response to a poem in Charles Bukowski’s book, Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck. The words in the first, third, fifth, etc. lines are Bukowski’s poem; the words in italics are by me. When I perform the poem, I speak the Bukowski portion in my “normal” voice; I speak the words by me in a whisper. I call this way of responding to a poem “writing between the lines."
the mockingbird had been following the cat
there was this cat
and I only saw him
mocking mocking mocking
teasing and cocksure;
when he gave a
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
and said something angry to the mockingbird
at the audience
which I didn’t understand.
yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
and he read this poem
with the mockingbird alive in its mouth,
about a cat
wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,
and a bird
feathers parted like a woman’s legs,
and he was both
and the bird was no longer mocking,
the cat and
it was asking, it was praying
but the cat
and he was devouring
striding down through centuries
would not listen.
through the poem.
I saw it crawl under a yellow car
And I listened
with the bird
letting him die
to bargain it to another place.
summer was over.
dedicated to the sixth Marx Brother: Typo
from a notebook:
a waking dream.
Someone (me, not me) on a rooftop. Being chased?
Crowds. The man’s friends, below, holding a
net which looks like an awning, urge him.
The man jumps!—he misses the awning.
I remark (it is remarked to me): he didn’t check
which way the wind was blowing.
if there is any truth at all (there is)
it is the greeks I blame
the lines in which
speech takes place
& Melville did
no chance to take away
does not change
the sun was done with her
and the meeting-edge, the
a place called Pueblo
noting what you have noted
bone muscle nerve brain blood
definition & expression of it
reindeer language permits
in his last poem
to the women who are buried in England
a wajubq dreanL
sineibe Oone.bit neOOib a riiftioOObeubg cgased.
Criwds the man’s friends bekiw
gikdubg a bet kiijs kuje ab wawbubg’greeb
it is not done yet
figure on this (as so many things)
the rain jumps
the man jumps
historic fiction with a bearing
in Latin lettering
the story contains
any account of
naturally divides itself
dawn in a period when no dawn is possible
rare blue and green unknown
the page is not the
natural dividing point
PORTRAIT AT SIXTY
for Anthony Holdsworth & Leonard Breger
This man looks out at me
eyes full of interest and perhaps suffering
whatever he looks at registered on his face
It was not the actual circumstance the artist painted—
me, posed, at ease, happy to be with an interesting friend—
but something “other” which only he saw
and which makes me look over and over again to see what it was
Is that me?—that whirl of light in which red (fire) predominates?
It is only the sun reflected on my forehead
but perhaps the artist sees me as the sun—
Apollo? The poet?
The artist is my friend,
but it is not our friendship which is reflected here
but some inward, powerful thing
which manifests even in these public circumstances—
a café, a little table, my glass before me.
It is a gloss
I guess at.
Does he know, does the artist
or was my face a passageway
into an underground
in which he was as lost as I?
It is vivid life
I look at with such intensity
and which looks back at me,
life neither “in” me nor “in” him
but something shared with the sun,
life all around, in my glass, in the lamppost behind me,
life insisting on its own facticity, its utter presence
so we cannot look away
into this heart.
“I’ll paint you so you’ll know what you really look like,”
said the artist, smiling.
What he painted was not “what I really looked like”—
though everyone says, “It looks just like you”—
but something like the real
something like life itself
leaping and dancing.
When I hung the painting,
I put it in a place
where the light shines
FOR NORMAN GOLDSTEIN 1925-1994
Grown accustomed to elegy
in this rainy weather,
I think about your warmth and dry wit,
the way you could say "woo woo"
and make it funny and pertinent at the same time,
the jokes you spoke to waitresses
with your smile and beard,
reminding me that the word "satire" comes from "satyr."
I rented The Secret Life of Plants
so I could see you in it
What can I rent now to see you as you are
"Is it really you or did I get an especially good recording?"
I was not easy to reach by telephone
"Shall we dim sum it?"
And we did
often at your expense
"How about that Japanese place in Montclair?"
The secret of your life was food and wonderful talk
You knew much and always took the risk of learning more
the American Movie Channel, Bravo, and musical comedies
Now when I hear again Kurt Weill and Gershwin I will
remember you and your kindnesses
"I've got it, I'll record it for you"
"Lou Harrison–yes, I knew him in the old days."
You knew Duncan and Varda too, and you put on a poetry reading
Mais c'est un rêve
you would recognize that I think
It's a dream a
Il n'y a pas
There's no such place
But it's a dream
There's no such place
there's no you either
In that near, far, totally other place
what lunches will you have? what companions?
I can say anything to you
and know you will understand me
with that thoughtful, intelligent, witty, compassionate, Buddhist mind of yours
(and is that scattered?)
You chose the moment of your death with courage and determination
"It's enough," you said, "enough"
There is a restaurant in Montclair
where I will have lunch
and hope your spirit
comes to me
All lives are secret
or, as you might have said, loving puns,
It's not a dream
We lose those we love
but we love
LINES FROM FRAGMENTS
qui croit pas (comme moi)
c’est pas une question du “bon” dieu
du “non” dieu
O non dieu
A Toi nous crions
et Tu réponds toujours
avec le même
O non dieu
je ne Te vois
et je ne
FORTY TIMES FOR FORTY YEARS: AN ANNIVERSARY POEM FOR MY WIFE, ADELLE
forty lines, each line a speaking of her name
Forty years? what are they? dust
“I think I’ll get married,” someone said
when I was young, “it’d be a cool way to spend a year”
It wasn’t, for her.
Forty years. Who is married that long
except someone’s parents?—
a couple cordial enough
but hardly real.
If I remember,
you are always there
except for my very earliest life
I have a friend
with no marital history
no history of “relationships”:
he remains in rapt wonder before his childhood
My own history
is a violent severance
of the child—
and then you
You held your hands out to me before I knew the need
Without knowing, you kept my imagination
clear and in the world
You gave me a son
who has grown
into a loving intelligent man
No one can tell my life
without telling yours
No one can say my name
without adding yours as well
What are the throbbing intricate ways of love?
We barely know, nor should we
It flings us here and there
It opens us.
In all this clamor,
in the rubble of my affections and my grief
I say your name, “Adelle”
and say it
for forty years.