Dear Nathanael

You said you would come as far as the bridge. But I am here at the bridge, which is truly isolated, though it commands a great view. And you are nowhere in sight. It occurs to me now that we have been trying to meet for twenty-eight or forty-one or three years. It seems very vague, doesn’t it, against the idea of human number. Up against the scant idea of number. I can’t remember if I knew you before I was born or before you were.  But that’s why there is no year to this or any other hour with you.

But here I am at the bridge and I am reckoning what a bridge is. This one is old. It is wood and it is splintery. Insects have burrowed deep within it as the human soul has burrowed in poetry. I pick at some of the wood and pull it off. Wooden fingernails. I drop them into the creek below.

The sky is violet as you are.

You said you would come as far as the bridge. But you are not here. Did you want me to know this bridge? Is that the real intent?

The Harbor

You see, there is a pond and a telephone pole
“You see” is the vernacular
It is the language of the immigrant just off the boat
So polite, softening the blow
Or the one explaining to the one stepping off the boat
The condescending or begging side of it
That is our patriotism
A pond and a telephone pole at a polite distance
Maybe it is a large pond
Generally, I don’t really know what the size of anything is in life
I’m not Home Depot
The late evening light above these two things is not fair
The evening clouds above this duo are in riot beauty gear
Orange fluorescence of clouds, like looking up into the piled guts
Of some weird divinity
You don’t want to put a face to it
Let it stay guts
Those people can admittedly be annoying
The ones who need a face attached to it
Admittedly, it exists!
Am I already on the other side?
As the clouds move, as they “off themselves” in the vernacular
It is a feeling like soap
I am bathing old limbs of my mind
In this new soap
It is a feeling like a thought
For the telephone pole (that could have been there a century)
And the pond of indeterminate scale or size
Think the colors like a painting where you don’t know where anything                                                                                                                 begins or ends
Some sorta Whoville maybe
The clouds are set design, they are being changed
No other structure anywhere near these things
(I don’t count me)
Just myself and a spinning armor of a compass
Just myself and a spinning arrow of a compass
I meant
Do you  why Freudian analysis was in the humanities, really,
And not in science, and you are really too young to remember Freud,
The targets he put on heads
Freudianism, it’s a feeling     maybe a sap
It is shooting a b.b. gun, for sure
I have come to watch it freeze      I mean a lake      pond
You see, I have enlarged its idea already in my mind
Like a pawnbroker, like a realist
There is this grocery list
I have plagiarized reality
I have come to stare at this pond and its (I think its) pole
I have come to watch it freeze to death
Certainly
That disincarnate side, it is talking most
Though you are a stranger, I know
There are rules to you, to baseball, to everything
In your incertitude of being, its warmth, it is freezing
In your uncertitude of being, its warmth, it is freezing
I prefer it wrong
The surface of the pond is an old television
And an old dead t.v. moves in wind out there somewhere across the ice
I hadn’t realized it had already frozen
No longer an old broken television set hockey puck howling winds
Like a television show
I hadn’t realized it had froze
Fast to earth        as babe to tit
That quick or how long was I standing here?
Somebody tried to throw it through the surface
To crack the pond’s face mightily, to operatically break it
But all they did was craze its face with details
Hypnotic thousandfold details
Scratched black vinyl in the middle of the night
When the moon is shy
The way we will be reliving our lives as musical variations with age
It is no use trying to be like today today
Standing around on a street corner doing nothing you’d do better
The surface crunches underfoot   crazies     talks to itself
When I walk out on the ice to pet the t.v.
It has a face pointed to the west
It is getting dark
It has a kind face
A youthful face though it is lying
Will anyone ever fish it out
After it falls through?
It’s like theory
It is like meeting you today or it was meeting you today
Which was, I think, spitting watermelon seeds    erotically
Into each other’s mouths like a performance in a basement
We were in folding chairs
You will wish to recall
I’m sorry, this is not a poem;  this is an arson
All aboard, I hope
Unless you have been displaced too as this pond, this telephone pole
Unless you are safely cold
Like the pole and lake or pond whatever it is
At least they have each other
I mean god,  could you imagine it if it was just either one out there?

 

Immigrant Story

You want me to sleep
with you and saints
in a dark cube
where lightning has killed a woman’s body

It came
in an animal form
with thorns in its eyes

It was monstrous as heaven

You say it is nothing
but  a bridge with facts
albeit charred
the windows overlook seas     you point out
See, you said
playing Tarot cards
we can eat our toast in bed
we can waggle our toes towards the bridges
the river in human chains
when the bodies
push news of fires
forward
into the city’s stretched guts
of newspapers
blown

I don’t look forward to walking
in the city’s dry creekbed

I said to a severed head
of lettuce

knife in my hand

(the erosion of everything solidity congealing the dead and green leaves clutter motionless, shrouding, still, hark, the calls of birds bursting, gusting she follows give thanks, paint )

 

And I looked at our child
sitting on the stone floor    he knows

a tiny minotaur
the flies      infiltrating his nose

thinking of our necks as two fat slices of watermelon

How

Some soldiers in a torn field
knew one of their number
was about to be eaten
by a monstrous maw
The final lunch hour was here
and its Shadow
the simple death
(just to be swallowed up)
but then
its complicated Shadow
you must not study

They absorbed that dark bread
of the thought
of their going
its moist springiness
fear like water
in tendons
pumped them up like boys
in a game of kicking
in a field

The beast was here
It crossed over them
Its shadow painted their bodies
as flames made
their canines glow
It circled around, lowered
its horned head
unfurled a long tongue
but as it came on
they castled like a chess player
hiding one of their number
with their own bodies
a tiny being
who they felt was magic
who must be protected
at cost of all heads
its weird trunk
its speaking trunk
must be
held back
a possibly historic guest
historic ghost
for some mysterious reason
they gave their lives
for something so unknown
to itself
they thought
it might actually be innocent
it could have been
worse
than even that flying thing
dripping blood
from torn jaws
but they were soldiers
so they only had
charred choices
to hold

every good soldier
is the same one

the cowards
carve out
differences

A Secret

The train comes through the bread
The frost comes through the star
The star comes through the bread
The frost comes over the train

The thread comes through the night
The dog comes through an alley
The alley comes through a dream
The song comes through a thread

There are so many ways to arrive

We were bussing tables
We were turning the house over
We were immaculate as the star
We were deep into our first frost

For a toy is the only answer
For a child will spin like a top
For the top of your head is very bright
For you cannot touch it

Gorillas

A frustrated man in an unhappy marriage traded in his wife for a gorilla.

It was a male gorilla, but the man put it in a truly vavoom pink polka dot dress, put makeup on its face, and placed a smart, pink toque on its head. The he took the gorilla out, everywhere, just as he had been accustomed to do with his wife.

The man was able to take the lead when they walked together and even steer this “ship of two,” and the gorilla didn’t run away from him in the stores to look at clothing or jewelry or other shiny things such as would formerly happen with his wife.

The man was now able to speak first. He was able to speak as much as he wanted also. But he didn’t know how to speak first and the gorilla couldn’t speak, so they went everywhere together in total silence.

Other men in shopping malls would see the man and his gorilla walking together, the man’s right arm wrapped around the hairy, left arm of his companion in a somewhat forceful, proprietary manner, and use this example, this object lesson, to demean the wives or girlfriends walking beside them.

“She might not be much to look at,” they would say while staring directly into their partners’ faces with the searchlight of an unstated accusation, “but just look at how well he’s got her trained.”

And then the wives or girlfriends would look at the sarcastic, smug expressions on the faces of their husbands or boyfriends and immediately think about replacing them with gorillas.