fear is my way
of not being here although
i am afraid of falling asleep for fear
of a frightening thing taking place in my absence.
i am also
afraid of the axe i keep behind the bed hoping
that no one will come in or rather
that someone will
and there will be blood.
sitting there in the dark seeing myself kill
over and over
is not fear,
it is pleasure
though when the awareness of pleasure floats up
and i learn that it is pleasure
i become very afraid.
this new house is fear
of the unknown neighbors stretching for miles
in each direction with only
space for houses with no one in them
space for dark windows over basements filled with fear.
the long stone walk from the door
to the top of the stairs
has three major checkpoints of fear:
the cottage on the right where the spooks sit
on the bicycle chains,
the old jew’s apartment with the curtains drawn
over the candle light
and finally the stairs themselves going up
through minor and major stations of fear
which at the age of six are like the days themselves,
and now the fear of even writing about fear
the fear of awareness
The White Labyrinth
There is one waiting for you,
On every blank sheet of paper.
So, beware of the monster
Guarding it who’ll be invisible
As he comes charging at you.
Armed only with a pen.
And watch out for that girl
Who’ll come to your aid
With her quick mind and a ball of thread,
And lead you by the nose
Out of one maze into another.
–Vievee FrancisWith our down-turned mouths, and trenches
forming on each side, evidence of our disappointments.
Look at the nests by the eyes, we were so easily amused,
(what else was there to be), and nurtured (if reluctantly)
those who insisted upon our goodness. Ah, morality.
Did you buy it? I didn’t. Ethics, sure, sure one needs those,
but I value the wisdom of my own furrows. Look
at my brow. I know what I know. We are sinners, you
and I, but I can live with that. I won’t speak for you
my friend. What are we doing? With such good (or
good enough) lives and our not deserving a bit of it but
having earned it. See how easy it is to laugh at this age.
So much is funny after so many tears. You get sentimental
and it leads to truth because we are reaching that time when
we don’t give a damn about others eyes upon us. I’m glad
you are here even if you weren’t there. You were doing
whatever it was such philosophers do, and I was
meant to survive you and then some. Meant to and did and
isn’t that why you are here?
It’s good to see what survives us, how we are then freed
to move away, on, but never back. I told you I wasn’t “nice.”
Nice women don’t get this far. And you, well,
you were worse, but look at me becoming nostalgic.
We are here to discuss the turn of years over a coffee. To
note how much we forgive each other’s fallen faces.
–Czeslaw MiloszWe were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.A red wing rose in the darkness.And suddenly a hare ran across the road.One of us pointed to it with his hand.That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.O my love, where are they, where are they goingThe flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.
–Sandra LimInside every world there is another world trying to get out,and there is something in you that would like to discount this world.The stars could rise in darkness over heartbreaking coasts,and you would not know if you were ruining your life or beginning a real one.You could claim professional fondness for the world around you;the pictures would dissolve under the paint coming alive,and you would only feel a phantom skip of the heart, absorbed so in the colors.Your disbelief is a later novel emerging in the long, long shadow of an earlier one—is this the great world, which is whatever is the case?The sustained helplessness you feel in the long emptiness of days is matchedby the new suspiciousness and wrath you wake to each morning.Isn’t this a relationship with your death, too, to fall in love with your inscrutable life?Your teeth fill with cavities. There is always unearned happiness for some,and the criminal feeling of solitude. Always, everyone lies about his life.
I am the mirror breathing above the sink.
There is a censored garden inside of me.
Over the worms someone has thrown
a delicately embroidered sheet, and
also the child at the rummage sale—
more souvenirs than memories.
I am the cat buried beneath the tangled ivy. And also
the white weightless egg floating over it, which is
the cat’s immortal soul. Snow
where there were leaves.
Empty plastic cups after the party on the beach.
The ash rising above the fire, like a flame.
The Sphinx with so much sand
blowing vaguely in her face. The last
shadow that passed over the blank
canvas in the empty art museum.
I am the impossibility of desiring the person you pity.
The petal of the Easter lily—
O, that ghost of a tongue.
O, that tongue of a ghost.
What would I say if I spoke?
I am the old lady in a wheelchair
in the corner of the nursing home, like
a star flung up into the infinite, the infinite, cold
silent darkness of this universe. I am
that old woman as a little girl
in brilliant shoes
some beautiful summer afternoon,