One day a kid yelled
and everybody on the street
To move the language toward happiness,
or failing that, toward love. Like this:
the trees have undone their sandals and silk saris,
thrown light scarves down onto the brickwork.
One red thread is caught mid-air on an updraft,
held by a spider web. Remember the way
he described the green soup he moved through
coming out of surgery? A swift current
of warm water, swirling and turning among
floating cylinders, friends inside them talking.
Next door the little boy swings higher and higher.
His half-scream is also half-laugh — more, more.
Follow the vowels; laudanum, potpourri, chrysanthemum.
Trust the verbs: to meander, to sashay, to bear up.
Today, Another Universe
The arborist has determined:
senescence beetles canker
quickened by drought
but in any case
not prunable not treatable not to be propped.
The branch from which the sharp-shinned hawks and their mate-cries.
The trunk where the ant.
The red squirrels’ eighty foot playground.
The bark cambium pine-sap cluster of needles.
The Japanese patterns the ink-net.
The dapple on certain fish.
Today, for some, a universe will vanish.
then just another silence.
The silence of after, once the theater has emptied.
Of bewilderment after the glacier,
the species, the star.
Something else, in the scale of quickening things,
will replace it,
this hole of light in the light, the puzzled birds swerving around it.
After Your Death
First, I emptied the closets of your clothes,
threw out the bowl of fruit, bruised
from your touch, left empty the jars
you bought for preserves. The next morning,
birds rustled the fruit trees, and later
when I twisted a ripe fig loose from its stem,
I found it half eaten, the other side
already rotting, or—like another I plucked
and split open—being taken from the inside:
a swarm of insects hollowing it. I’m too late,
again, another space emptied by loss.
Tomorrow, the bowl I have yet to fill.
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.