I have nowhere
to go and
nowhere to go
when I get
back from there.
How easily the deer move between
the field and the woods.
Only we know a thing by its periphery:
the meadow edged with trees.
Or happiness with its horizon of pain.
From inside the house I watch them grazing,
their pooled memory guiding them
into the shade, then into the grass again.
On Hurricane Jackson
–Alan DuganNow his nose’s bridge is broken, one eyewill not focus and the other is a stray;trainers whisper in his mouth while one earlistens to itself, clenched like a fist;generally shadowboxing in a smoky room,his mind hides like the aching boyswho lost a contest in the Panhellenic gamesand had to take the back roads home,but someone else, his perfect youth,laureled in newsprint and dollar bills,triumphs forever on the great white wayto the statistical Sparta of the champs.
As soon as I am doing nothing,
I am not able to do anything,
existing quietly behind lock and key,
like a cobweb’s mesh.
It’s four a.m.
The voices of birds do not multiply into a force.
The sun does not engross from the east.
A small fly ponders the fingers on my right hand
like fat worms. Somewhere, in an empty room, a phone rings.
On the street, a bare tree shadows a brownstone.
(Be precise about objects, but reticent about feelings,
the master urged.)
I need everything within
to be livelier. Infatuation, sadism, lust:
I remember them, but memory of feeling is not feeling,
a parasite is not the meat it lived on.
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.