Mortu ary Music for Mo ther N ature

Joleen Ovind

Mortuary Music for Mother Nature
(collected poems, 1969-1993)

by Joleen Ovind

Harijan Press

For information address Harijan Press Rights Department 1703 Montura Lane Frisco. TX 75034 First Harijan Press e-book edition November 2009 Designed by Jacob Bailly .Harijan Press 1703 Montura Lane Frisco. including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. TX 75034 Copyright © 2009 by Joleen Ovind All rights reserved.

Manufactured in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN 0-9636069-1-3 (e-book) .

MORTUARY MUSIC FOR MOTHER NATURE .

. Their cries are impaling My heart as it's failing In sorrow to see That birds die at my Far-too-human Immensity. Their feathers are falling All over the valley. Touting my tortes in the lee of the scree. I won't be insipid. It drives up my lipid And cholesterol levels: Hurts me. But what really stings Is the acid-green wings Of the creatures who fly Through the acid-gold sky. Morris-green arid-zone barrister. you see.3 ACID RAIN I'm a forester.

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and the worth of ale in a daily schedule. sir. and are now comprehensible only with an effort. This particular set of opinions allows you the most public exposure with the least possibility of interference. pedestrianism. as my regular theme. Oddly enough it's comfort you're offering. footnotes. the noted mossback wit: I could take for granted. I am irritated. . But I alas find myself ever the unrenowned pest. No doubt airing your isolation so utterly is pleasant. the real recluse despite having entertained before you did your various opinions on public morality.. They've acquired a lineage. but never really damaged by my chaste opinions in your transforming mouth. occasionally allured. almost folksy.. along with the Compleat Conservative Self with which many are tempted to identify.. from afar. and the sign of a long and lucky upper hand.5 LETTER FROM RABBLE TO ROUSER If I sat on privatism's broad and urbane couch: if I were you. No Me Moleste.

6 .

He cannot find it ever. No hero's robes. no crown of thorns. as he said. (Father. don my tunic. (Take him and lead him safely . a broken gesture of betrayal. is it I?) and remain.) A thin moustache graces his upper lip while I admiring and more. my spine a bent symbol (Whomsoever I shall kiss) of what he won't say (That same is he) -my body a genuflection. hast forsaken me?) He wears a cross-topped crown of jewels now.7 HEIR TO YE ROYAL MARTYR The right tone is taken from him. touch down my forehead (Lord. beat the floor with my fist. His hair is long and black and curled: his frontispiece of fearful armor shines. bare my tonsure. (He's risen.

8 away.) .

Many have found the moon a door.9 FAITH "Fear not the night!" The raven called in flight. "Many have come this way before." .

Filled with fear. I whirled around without a sound. But I couldn't resist the temptation To take just one more peek. I've been prostrate for more than a week. "Begone.. It was not at all what I'd come to seek. . I thought I'd seen a ghost.. The thing had claws and a sharpened beak And feathers.. It was gone without a trace. But is was just My face in the mirror. And sure enough... Stretching its mouth in a noisome boast.10 APPARITION I stepped back. foul apparition!" I shouted to that face And turned my back.

sweet Mary of the mothered uplands: a rabbit runs on the face of a rock in the sun of your smile. "Rejoice! All hail. ripe and rife in his voice.11 CLARION He was born with a high burnished note. And he cried." . when he saw what he saw. the note of a bugle.

Well I had been fasting again eating locusts and honey sitting on a pole in the desert. the heathen no longer rage. have learned in fact to be . my flaw pursues me behind the wall. I mean how can I ever forget that I went downtown and went publically mad: I never expected that. The truth is I went down to the sheriff's office and went mad. am not free. they were STILL good about it all.12 THE SCAPEGOATS IN THEIR MIDST I saw only my own flaw: a significant break in the scheme of things. but the sheriff's office was good about it all. and never had the magazines on the racks targeted me: I never expected that. everyone downtown was good about it and when I returned a week later saying see. I flee. In fact. good citizens don't do that. but after all I'd fasted many a time. I suppose they see this kind of thing every day and have learned to have mercy on those who display their sores. so that I almost wonder I mean if I didn't know better I'd think they didn't notice.

run rampant on the free stones and break our bones on the same scheme of things. Citizens. Who know the law and have forged their own yokes: citizens.13 grateful for the scapegoats in their midst: tamed goats. For we go up and we come down. . prevent me from falling into the pit of my own premonition. rank domesticated madmen who know the law so much better than they do themselves. prevent me from singing up the sun till it explodes in the grandeur of my fiery voice.

mimesis and mummery: all are the antics of an ape. .14 PERSIFLAGE and flummery.

The sea has fish who only flash their violent scales for summer's gulls.15 SUMMER'S FEET Spring's feet are clay feet to urge up flags and daffodils. Fall's feet are waxen dolls dressed up to charm drear chills. William rose right up. to end his summer's day." And. after all. fall's feet in wool are warmed. Spring's feet are finely formed. The sand has shells that show their pearl only to the summer sun. Summer ground is frayed and fine for any earthworm's crawl. trotting round the bay. But summer's feet are choice and meet and. He said it lying on his back. I think 'twas Shakespeare said. But summer's feet are choice and meet and barely touch the ground. Of winter's feet we need not speak. Summer can gull anyone. touching ground. A thousand fronded ferns and things fling off the sandman's thrall. "I'll let you have your say." replied the Bard. a bird took him for dead. ." "O piffle. winter's feet can mutely speak (but no one wants to listen). "Alas? Poor Yorick? You'll get burned if you stay out all day. bird. they glisten. yawning. on horseback. as it happened. they're frozen.

16 MI SEÑOR CLAVADO: MY LORD NAILED Last Christmas you sent me the poems of Neruda to his wife. Only a year has passed. I keep looking up at them. Ex libris nihil(o) est. I do not belong to them. I do not belong to them. --Is that Latin? Pig latin? Tell me. --Más tarde que sol bajando. Later than setting sun. I keep looking up at them. done with her best. Miss Haversham. I loved them all but one On the taking up of a gun To save the general life. I can't take my eyes off them. I can't take my eyes off them. From the book of life nothing has risen To comfort the wedding guest. --Darkness comes fast. But your silence is deeper than sin. .

. Last Easter you sent me the prose Of Pontius Pilate who posed As a just judge in Israel. I can't take my eyes off them.17 I do not belong to them. I keep looking up at them. . I hated each weighted word But that one which pinpointed my Lord. You belong in the heart of them. Your eyes take no note of them Nor look down any longer on me...

chocolate candy bars snugly in the rotund little belly. and me: a whole age devoted to the fashioning of knickers for indecent piano legs. dog asleep under a table.18 SAD LASSITUDE The Victorians were highly skilled in writing about lassitude and self-indulgent passion. Lassitude: sinuses. Lassitude: the wisdom tooth operation put off in favor of a case of poison oak. a man doing income taxes reluctantly in the next room. grey wool sweaters drying here and there. lassitude: hiss of grey water on grey windows. fire sizzling through wet logs. Lassitude: and shall I never have the petulance for prose? Lassitude: menses. but not hard enough to be at all engaging. They must have spent a good deal of time at the drawing board on days like today: rain pelting down. . the Victorians. a grey tin of muffins waiting for the microwave. Lassitude. Lassitude.

The divine a clown: Get down. "the Unsullied skies That used to be Before I set forth On my smoking spree. It's thirst for that.19 INVISIBLE MAN (To Be Continued) for Ariel Dorfman The emperor's unclothed. The clown's profane." says he. Bitterly cries The desert rat: It's thirst for this. Bitterly complain Professors inane Of the toll inanity takes. The scribe is blind. to boot." Complained the sailor On his horn. get down. señor. And on greased wheels The trainman cries. The poet's batty." "And I the sea do sadly mourn. . "I miss.

A spy am I. . Invisibility is the bane Of all below Who follow Apollo. Instead I'm condemned To endless Excursions. Who should be Queen Of Medes and of Persians.20 A performing sax (An obvious fact). It means I see And am not seen.

Tell them to take a walk. It turns one into a . Please oh please release those women. BRING ON THE PAINT! Please release your lovers.21 BARNEY DEAR. Tell them they've been supplanted. Really they mustn't tarry. Tell them I'm lying in shock. Temptation's at my door. such a crashing bore. Send them the names of available men. And polygamy's such a bore. Tell them they've got till the count of ten. Yes. An awful unending chore. If I have to stoop I'll have to fall. Assure them you'll never marry.

22 saint. dear. (Barney. bring on the paint!) .

.23 COYOTE SPELL Coyotito. ease my path. Place the magic on my tongue. Coyotito. make me young Enough to snare the Hunter's foot. ancient craft of slyness: trickster. enough to know to tear his boot.

cedars draped to the gills in bad mistletoe. The pipsqueaks. our God our paper state soliciting Rebellion. all Of us who hope That Nature will relent. Repent Of that sort of caretaking she Requires. jays (yep true Pynchon) "stomping around on the Roof" and stealing food from Productive hens.24 MORTUARY MUSIC FOR MOTHER NATURE Nature is a dirge. . The two? Too close to disorder to satisfy Many fan dancers. All occurs post-valediction: The centurions. The others. The silence of a precedent (predeceased and precious) idea Is not a dirge But our poor old Papa. piñones fresh and hopelessly mating in Cinder soil. most editors.

"Holpen!") .25 DISARMED What do we do With the wild pendant howl Of the mercy-till-now Brigade? (Hear them calling. "Holpen! Holpen! Holpen!" Hear them calling.

26 A PITY Humane lawyers bid us have compassion on emaciated hulks in the drinkers' hotels. And we cannot bear that they should go free. warm because it is cold. blood satisfaction of blood needs: honest because no vice is beyond them. These as often as not do not ask our attention. . being sunk in the glow of decrepitude.

27 POEM MADE UP WHILE DREAMING I WAS DRINKING WHISKEY WITH A MEN'S CHORUS Powder is a shrouder. . But diamonds reveal.

too coy for us to call our own!) Says who? I I I. (Oh really now. . for perseverance's sorry sake.28 THE JOB A transparent elixir whose job is to persevere falls to the nib of the bottle. whose job it is to fall to the nib of transparency. Who said the heavy alcohol had such a fate? I I I. the job whose transparency is bottled by fate.

. But now he don't even blink. He never thought she'd do it.29 HABITUATION When God taught woman to think. He's got so accustomed to it.

No Treble Audible. . Speakers on All Sides.30 NEIGHBORS Interior Monologue's Witty Turn Was Made Flesh By a Buzzing Fly Whilst the Rude Encumbrance Of Outer Worlds Was Beat upon Beat Of Bedtime Stereos. The Awaited End to the Poem. Though the Soothing Burr Of Neighbors' Pipes Reminded Me of Water. Crushing Last-Ditch Silence. And of Resolution between the Two. There Was None.

will have turned to profit the pride of a peripheral stance. There's no one near save a Mexican cowherd on the horizon. of course. I'm quite alone. They learned to love the scorn in your voice. I'd lose the will to read on. You'd never guess how the wind blows here in the lap of natural beauty-how desolate is its universal judgment and how pristine. They find it charming.Though one never knows how many sit in suburbia (off to the west there) fixing frybread with white flour and lard. I've been reading your books.31 AND POINTS NORTH I'm proud of my isolation. But a man like you: I'm pretty sure he will have made his peace by now. now. I read the juicy parts . If in your youth you had failed to cast a sympathetic eye upon the reprobate. -. First I skim to see If you pass muster politically. Second. I'll bet--those colleagues who almost pushed you out. I mean if even in your youth you'd been comfortable.

I realize I'm a fool to take heart at this sentence. we shared one caul. "Might. I could not ask for a better twin. closely. Dear Minister: My name is Emily. (Tautology. I'm an academic in exile.. The wind blows the fire out. have known such desolation. Possibly you composed it unconsciously. Your wife is my sister. Exultation fills me at a sentence in your preface claiming your wife did everything in her power to aid in the composition which except for her might not have been possible. never. to refresh my memory. Still. You will not.32 such as they are." cur? Wouldn't! No.it's such a BAD book. I suppose. It is as I suspected: you've never been touched.) ..

drive me --to the Yukon. The flame itself. you know: and even an academic in exile. might still. last face. -Old Maid.000 square miles. Slavery is a woman's due. I am not a talking women with cold blue thighs. when the last idol has fallen and every father is dead. Here in the . You. Yes. I try not to wax lyrical. stranding caribou on the murderous melting islands of itself. can always serve and so preserve the flame. It cracks. a radical reformist? I survived. Do you remember back when I was an up-and-coming famous philosopher. I mean. simmering lotus stews in the isles of the blest. When the stripes of my servitude have been scars for long enough. I have tasted once too often the pleasure of offending you with the pretense that what I write could by any stretch be called poetry. Do you remember when I was interesting? Proud now of quietude and girth. in a way. Gudwyfe. for it has a watershed of 333. if female. A general rhythm merely.33 Being female. breaking the sound barrier every spring. I am sorry. then I'll become a Woman Poet. I'm called housewife. It lies silent when the air is seventy below.

going so gravely there about your business. seen who dies to sew your cloak? My words are to my own ears the croaking of a frog at best. make it into mooseburgers. You'd better hurry. vegetarianism in general. Have you. ever. My throat hurts. in imagination even. A chunk of Yukon ice is lying on my living breast. I know my place. We're expected to forget about salads and chocolate eclairs. . we're expected to skin out moose without a word. for use. for the river.34 Yukon. any day now. convert the thews to strong thread. I'm leaving soon.

forgive me. I hadn't thought of him in years. *********************** . I had to write and tell him. when he appeared." he wrote. shocked. I hadn't been waiting at the corner long. "I've seen before where it leads. But vision was exhausted soon enough and a human friendship came with soon enough the old confusion/stagnation/longing/ barges passing in a moonless void till "Things not good. Twice.35 GIFTED "Please don't dream of me. so clear in the night." I said. "You're on time. not late. I've dreamed. Things not good. so like himself. hardly time enough to gather my parcels and umbrella about me." Well it wasn't as if I'd invited the dream. Don't dream of me. So I went in to dream again. So. He shrugged lightly and passed on. But here he'd come. strolling with a quiet smile. and perhaps this time I invited his shadow." he wrote.

I'll send it back. It laughs. it weeps. Three words rose and fell in senseless repetition. . Three words filled my mind. could educate myself. he'd watched the fire and disobeyed. The book is a holy artifact. From eight hundred miles away. I must not read it. The book arrived next Friday. And a blind man's curse. I sat before the fire. He'd sent it over my protest that I wanted no more books. the title of a book I'd never read. and watched each log run to etched embers and precisely die. it dreams of me. bound and branded by that very title.36 But no number is conclusive.

He is a throwback. No matter that he is young.37 THE THROWBACK And here is a trio of brown boys. He's bold and throws rocks. in his parents the move away from the past toward American civilization is marked by assumption of the clean Protestant religion. slyly. One is the savage. long cloyed with the dark side of decency. . talks with the two good boys. Her back is turned to the savage. The woman. The others are smart and gab away but the savage looks at the white woman.

38 .

And though his ass is under glass. His stinger's not been pulled. And if you are a trifle gross.39 POEM ABOUT A PAPERWEIGHT This is a gift For _______ ____. He'll sting you with his Adiós. Oh no. . the noble Scorpio Can sting you high and Sting you low. It's not because he's old.

I say.40 THE SACRIFICE spirits who love me call up at one thirty to ask why i'm never um stable steady or secure and hesitantly inform me people are dancing in the streets tonight. . burn it. the prescriptive temper reigns we squirm in its grasp and are still. all this i give up for you. mutual efforts in speechmaking and oh what a thrill. go to LA. the typewriter is poison. other spirits who love me hinge debates on my earlobes.

41 TO THE MOUSEY TRANSCENDERS AND PLEASURE CONTENDERS A peak's a peak-(A peek's a peek) (A peke's a peke) (A peak's a peek) (A peek's a peak) (A peke's a peak) (A peek's a peke) (A pique's a pique) (A pique's a peak) (A pique's a peek) (A peak's a pique) (A peek's a pique) (A peke's a pique) Why squeak? .

.42 SOBRE LA MAR The anger of the fishermen Followed me like a hook of darkness But the poet Was a bad influence.

massed light.43 PASSIVE RESISTANCE A white hawk. Up toward the sun where it started from flies the hawk. It looks at the hawk. It stops stock still. to the ground. The mouse is gray with eyes of gray. it looks at the hawk. The hawk drops the mouse and rises straitly through clouds already gathered. but does not go in. Now a mad dog dashes at its prey. poised. . But a hawk is not a mad dog. it blinks its gray eyes. with eyes of blue and a silver beak. moving. peaks in its flight. at the very entrance to its hole. moist. straitly. it has the noble nature. and falls. The mouse quivers. on its mighty white wings. fangs swathed in awful foam. With sheathed claws the hawk grasps the mouse.

There were benefits to old age. The dog threatened intruders with a dusky frightening growl. except when roving between rabbit den and coyote's must. prairie dog village and the last landing place of some jay already squawking high above in the branches of a yellow pine. He walked the miles of forest at heel. Piñones and pines were dusted for a Christmas-tree effect. dogs are supposed to. Can dogs act? One day they went for a walk in what started as a minor snowflurry. Well. dominating the scene. When his owner drove into town in a white International pickup the dog waited on a hill of dirt. though: the years of training had come to a perfection which was on most days almost sublime. Afterwards he greeted her as if absence had broken his heart. . Prescience of death was an old worn habit for the dog. white of muzzle and dressed in a reddening coat a long way from the sable sheen of puppyhood.44 BLIZZARD The dog looked sad. One elbow was bald: the dog's owner couldn't bear to look too closely to see if there was still skin on it or if this was the bare bone it appeared to be.

It was suddenly a blizzard. The woman. She stumbled to the bottom. The dog sniffed the wind as he ran in his wide circles. descended sideways. Flight to the south side of the hill. usually a clement dell. stuck the woman's jeans to her thighs. falling on loose rock gone invisible under snow. froze their hair. tripping. The woman and the dog climbed a cinder hill in snow-laden joyful horizontal flashes of wind.45 Little discrete patches of snow failed to cover clumps of weed. the dog sheltered in the lee of her legs. back to the wind. brought no respite. . But at the summit of the hill a harder wind hit. blinded them.

. The sun was shining. and almost immediately they were on a prairie swept bare.46 The walk back to the truck was quick and grim. the woman thought death by exposure in that slight overcast patch there on the hill ridiculously remote. The dog was loaded in back. here. Turning back her eyes.

47 HERESY OF JEALOUSY The hardest thing on earth to see: Thee. . Damned for me. not damned to others.

scratching his hocks. "Ahem." you exclaim. People write to the county with their temperatures up and the county makes a conciliatory sound: "We are servants of the people and we see your side. "don't put it on me!" "I'm a good-hearted doctor and I give to the poor and I'm popular too with the girls. ." A woman lies bleeding in your backyard." A forest has been felled by a developer's axe-the corpses cover the ground. a victim of misogyny. But my specialty is diseases of the eye. --Let Counselor Jones take the case." coughs the lawyer. And no doubt you deserve this just for being his kin-you yourself are to blame for the shape you're in. Jones see her. And she'll bear her scars till the day she dies-"Oh please. --Let Dr. and I won't be casting the swine my pearls.48 LET JONES DO IT A prisoner sits handcuffed in the dock standing trial for his brother's crime. "you expect me to defend you for a lousy dime?" "I've a wife and children to support at home and I dabble on the side in philanthropy.

The full moon rises and shines through his pane. He walks outside just to take a leak. The guy owned that parcel. back on a dusty lane." . and he pauses a moment in his weary toil. I suppose I'll just have to patch it up. so our hands are tied: to deprive him of his rights would constitute theft. and he presses his fists into the small of his back: "My mind must be getting a little weak-I just thought I heard the firmament crack! --Well.49 but there's plenty of pine trees left. poor Jones sits burning the midnight oil. --Why don't you take your grievance to the Jones Commission?" In the meantime.

-By me. wading through mosquitoes with a fancy in my head Of naked emperors on empty thrones-Vowing that the connections I conceived should Be recognized at last though no one could ever suppose them to Be true. which I had seen but twice and that by trying. my father's prouder arm? Just howl. Be true. And I seemed to remember how he walked in another Wood. else you shall fade.50 REVENGE Just howl again. just howl up through the oaks and Headlights piercing the fog where it is usually Night. that is. . -Shall fade THIS ghost. ghost. ghost. ghost. and howl louder. But I could not avenge wrongs I myself had done him. Just howl again and I'll remember-Remember like a shot the turn of loamy river waters waded By you and me in a summer nightmare. I seemed however to hear a tone come belling up the glen And in that tone was the sonorous lament of a king among Men.

and I Begged him to howl. to howl. to howl louder.51 I was losing my hearing. . upon which I so depended.

You are so scornful ( you probly think this poem is about you ) of the gaps in your own knowledge manifested as matters other people unaccountably insist on. You guess your bigotry is a kind of bulwark.52 HEAL THYSELF You are buried in your office under a mound of manners. . bold stumblingblock: don't abandon me in the morass. Only your eyes stick out. Throw down your prescription pad for the briefest of moments and listen to what the sick have to say. and oh how they gleam in your dark. Thorn in my side. They look like the bright glued-on eyes of an old-fashioned doll. a shelter in the time of storm.

I'll hit the bottle. I've stolen lines. You ascend the scaffold that you built To save you from a cursed plight. "Death before dishonor. So sad that love can never last? No doubt that's it. Oh you've got nothing at all to say. have a bash. . For you've got nothing more to say. they watch me well. The very dogs of the streets can smell That I'm a thing betrayed. For you're so cruel in your timidity." you write. and time. You've driven me to gross cupidity And greed. THE OBSERVER Had we but world enough. They circle round. am guilty of libel. I write strange letters. You're mired in guilt And will not take another bite. I pound my Bible. This coyness. would be no crime.53 TO HER COY MASTER. I knock on doors. But I'm growing weaker day by day. I'm getting brash. What is it now? Is it your Wife Or Mistresses who hold you fast? Or are you weary of this poor life. I feel your betrayal from miles away. sir.

I sing the livelong day. I have my white dress. For. it would seem. For what have I got to lose? Oh what have I got to lose. This wouldn't have happened had you just stayed By my side. "Call off your dogs!" The house is silent. Again they strike. I escape with my life. I sit at the line of the turning tide And sing those lonesome blues. They strike. I sit with my suitcase and sing. I am your bride. all betrayed. my pink shoes. rejoicing that I'm so afraid.54 They bare their fangs. I scream. they form a gang. . but that's all.

at home.55 CHEERS as the frogs on the roof sound in unison i offer you schnapps and the snap of the re-ordained orison sounds redounds to the glory that was rome. .

Doff your sharp Italian boots. eat. Open wide your prison doors. You'll pay. Forget that stuff on assured security: All is forgiven. I say you'll lose one-half your wealth In the nick of time: a tax on stealth. You're not wizards with eyes of ice. You slipped up once and acted nice. Humpty Dumpty's fixed his head. The Huns aren't camped beneath your bed. Empty your bags of magic tricks. In the ancient fires they're baking bread: Take. And for wishing ill on those who love. See how they fall. shake the dice. And please don't use the united news: It's spring. on earth. and soon By seeing your tears from the face of the moon . And you'll all die poor: come.56 TO THE SEVEN MAYORS OF MAMMON Lay down your silver spears.

.57 Fall. plummeting down like the hunted dove.

You're such an old curmudgeon! You cause me so much woe. You swear I won't succeed. pause and blink your staring eye (That bleary. For though you're awfully bright. Now. teary. I sighed and stubbed my toe. It can't be done. Just look into the starry sky: A boring black and white. But I've another creed That makes the high the low.58 CRITIC'S TIC TALKED OVER You hit me with a bludgeon. wearing eye): Behold the endless light! Observe the matchless sight And lay down your red pencil. You miss the note Of grandeur God intended To sound unsuperintended By men who cannot make Even a reasonable fake . You tend to try to stencil The stars upon the sky by rote. I guess you ought to know.

59 Or facsimile Of this infinity. .

You've grown to be a bore." she wrote. I thought. "Dear Lady. "For I've been saving up some things I thought you'd need some day. UPON HIS REFUSAL TO RESPOND MORE FULLY I had a dear old auntie Who sent me gifts each year On Christmas. .60 TO E. I'll send them off tomorrow. For feast days came and went Without a sign from Auntie. in your profusion." Well. For you mistake a mouse's squeak For a lion's lusty roar And besides. Easter Till I began to fear That if she did not stop it. that took care of that. I Pray thee send no more. And so I wrote. birthday. "I'm glad you asked. At last I thought I might relent And drop her just a note Inquiring on her lot. Beneath that flood I'd drown.A.

Just pass it down the line. by the way: If something doesn't fit you.61 And nephew. For probably your neighbor Will think it fits him fine. ." I read her letter with a sigh And hailed a hobo passing by.

hears there's a literary scene again and everyone's brilliant again. and he's not saying a thing just looking at a cinder cone. Dineh.62 THE ANCIENT ONES? HE ASKS THE PEOPLE. old volcano up ahead. one color. but you know they rarely rhapsodize while they're about it. He's riding behind them in his truck down a long mountain to the high desert. He knows the Navajos now. untried. Fate's put him up against broad brown faces. But he's fallen. It's solid. THEY REPLY A back-country reticence is getting him. Anasazi? he asks. they reply. They help each other out sometimes there (it's a tradition) and sometimes they don't. by a stroke of luck. untreed. He realizes it's awfully elegant in Paris these days. The bashful buttons on his school shirts have long torn away. . immoveable. back into the Old West.

birds of the night.63 HARBINGERS Crickets. . bite the too-deep silence with sharp wings.

Excess is an extrusion and our heads are all too big. Descartes was underconfident: dared not state the opposite of his theorem. therefore I am NOT. But since the insane need advice least of all. we will now be sane. advice to the insane would have improved by leaps and bounds. it was fortunate Descartes stopped where he did. However.64 AN ESSAY ON IMPOTENCE I think. . Freud and his afterword Nobby teach us how to view the overdeveloped brain in the light of Jonathan Swift. Had he. The mad head is the one with a large bump somewhere.

live long. blasts townships from off the face of the earth. The acceleration of energy which fills those few moments when we cannot control (sink within the capacious brain) ourselves. . and prosper quietly on the sidelines.65 We will guide our increasingly spastic movements with an iron will and emerge strong. Most of the time.

--Why. go do the dishes. Daddy is tired of waiting. Do them again.66 When in doubt. . ladies are eschewing all over the place. three times for good measure. doing the dishes thrice. Little do they guess what daddy is doing: this long hunk of helium filling a barn lies coiled just beyond the kitchen curtains.

But how can I bear the boredom of this long surcease from whoredom? . like my luck in swimming channels.67 UNSUBMITTED I like ducks. like white flannels.

the three bold men: shamed. the old man looks up as I pass. don't eat it. don't labor for meat.68 SPRING SLAUGHTER They're cutting up the cow now. then they stuck it and took off the skin. It hangs from a scaffold. beige in the sun. but I am the cow myself. so what. Smoke rises. So what. smooth under clouds. They slit its guts and catch them in tubs. I'm tired and beat. worse than a child. The killers. . tall. doing a job. The cow was a cow just hours ago. the clouds gather. forever expecting more and more. They stand on ladders. I go out for my constitutional jog. exalted. now.

and I.69 meat-eaters. remember. the abstainer who came with a wad of grass once to feel the rough tongue. take on its flesh. .

70 MISCEGENATION A blueblood a redblood a blend of purple passion: why has the adding of apples and oranges gone so out of fashion? .

71 TABBY TRANSACTION A female feline from Salinas Was constantly coming between us Till I in my ire Found someone to buy 'er Who pronounced her a veritable Venus. .

I'm a crab.S..72 B. Both of us equipped to grab.. Frowns eclipsing sudden smiles. You're a scorpion. I'll journey back across the miles. If as a poet I'm not stunning. Maybe it's because I'm running From this barren bastard punning To the arms of BURMA SHAVE! .. Threw a rod in Santa Rosa-Fate has brought us that much closer. But the difficulty lies In this deity which pries Prizes from our pincers. For I'd never deign to call If I didn't slip in alMost all my earthly ventures.

He knew all there is to know about animals. (You help me. But I beg you not to come riding around my trailer with your torches: come riding out of the night in your paint and your feathers laying waste to my livestock and my women. about the heat and the cold. My grandfather died five years ago at eighty-nine.) SHIKA ANILYEED. LIT: You are running with me. We're both well aware that my ancestors stole this land from your ancestors and I don't expect you to sit down and smile about it. Da'nimásáníísh hóló? (Do you have a grandmother?) Da'nimásáníísh bidibé hóló? (Does your grandmother have sheep?) Nimá yázhísha' bidebé hóló? (How about your aunt: does she have sheep?) NICHEII DOO NAMASANIISH BIDEBE HOLO? (Do your grandfather and grandmother have sheep?) Both sides of that old war are long dead now.73 APPEAL TO THE NAVAJOS Diné bizaad bóhoosh'aah. (I am learning the Navajo language. Only.) Shíká anilyeed. the land he worked wasn't his. All his life he was tenant farmer to .

He died blind in both eyes. He taught me how to play the fiddle by ear: now my son has that fiddle. lean. He looked like your old grandfather. . only it was brown not black. He even wore a hat like your grandfather's. now past ninety: wise stubborn face. but his arms were robust. invincible nose and jaw. I miss him. and he wore overalls and his hair was short.74 another richer white man who got there first.

SHIKA ANILYEED. For I am an Indian pulling corn. . I am quiet. waiting for the day when men again will walk with respect upon the earth.75 I come from generations of relocated peoples to this land. Shíká anilyeed. our home: when men of every race will lie gently as babes at their mother's breast. Diné bizaad bóhoosh'aah. Let us not forget that again so soon. The land is mother to us both. and you are a Norwegian out digging potatoes.

"Oh." "Yes. "A good glass of ale and a nice spitfire wench. Don't stand there and tease." the bold bird said and took to burning papers in her bed. ma'am." she said with subtle ease. Old paper men in divine paper ties squinted at her tirelessly in quaint mild surprise. misery loves company. yessirree it do." they spoke without a flinch. "Come hither then and test it." Tease Tease Tease On Ancient Bended Knees Knobs Of Bony .76 ODD BIRDS "Misery loves company.

77 Penitence Monotone Wheeze Overbold souls fly sudden from their beds. Flinging little treasures On odd birds' heads. .

Caught. I stared hard at the face of the councillor.) The face of the councillor. . Ruddy. your grace." (My fear. expecting to be knocked back on my heels by the shine. better not be caught in some poet's stance hanging around there half in another world. black-browed. a Saxon bass rumbling of savages at their unimaginable games of chance: you'd better not be caught strumming threnodies on their thresh-hold. medium-high councillor.78 POEM FOR WALLY "There is nothing hidden that shall not be made known. shone in the cold council room.

But it was a cold whitefaced bishop preaching a sermon on loaves and fishes.79 the shine.. (My grace. ... your fear. a man about town touting gravity and glut.) His brow was hid in a heavy cloud.

Oh no. He said. a bachelor. Ez. We must admit he gave us hell. And since then has said not a word. turned his back." He went into a huff. Like the needle in the proverbial stack. "On your breaths I smell The distinctive eau de carrot. It's hard to find a bird With an adequate sense Of the absurd. Not for the wine (though we now forswear it).80 POEM FOR BERND When we got home to our garret-Stumbled through the door-We heard the squawk of our pet parrot. .

the sound of horses' hooves. Evening falls. their streaming steeds. The spoils of war are lying on the ground. Hearty sounds the roll of trumpets. For God's a word to them. drowns out and mocks all softer sounds. . a warhound bays. all lighter deeds. Common day is dawning o'er the band of clever men who will maraud and lay to waste in careless haste the work of God. In dust and blood my honor lies.81 HEAVY LIES THE HAND Heavy lies the hand upon my honor in a land beyond the pale of common discourse.

And heavy lies the hand of victory upon the conquered head. and then the smoke disperses.82 and quiet drops down from the smoke-filled sky. upon the dead. .

enemies. scented with remorse and lilac sachet? Spring has faded from the earth. spare land shrouded in smog. flecked with discarded beer cans. smooth faintly shimmering head. beaming down delicate messages about military installations. the pillow on your bed. daughters of your loins. You are springtime in my soul. shabby books on your shelf." Are these oversanctimonious tones? reminiscent of Grandmother's Bible.83 WINTER ROSE "Spring has faded from the earth: you are springtime in my soul. Look up at the thick night stars: they are moving in man-prodded orbits. I claim my right to every inch of you: courtly hands folded on a walking stick. all senile. Look down at the desert. paychecks. .

old yellow car.84 night sweats. . mysterious. nudged by nothing but the clumsy and cardinal out of time bud. I claim my right to the depths of your refusal. and my right to say it as it lays: haphazard.

The liquid sun is about to rise. . Knowing the petals will fall Open now. Redding California heavy moonlight Passes through slats. Petal tip touching petal Tip-toeing the line to heady oblivion. Opium extractors are moving Limpidly up through the rows. Arranged for the barretted girl with her Case of the mumps and her Woolworth's ruby Bracelet on the thin left wrist.85 SUBSTANCE ABUSE Smooth sleep of the poppies. falling On a striped cat on a jade Green carpet: All so very up-to-date and modular. On the blond right angles of a 1950's Davenport.

Pastoral. but he kept prognosticating. his well-contained ire. She hulked sullenly . who had intended to do it all. (Every travel scene should include these animals. The pure poetry arising from her multiple stomach found echo in our gaskets and turning wheels. "Better fire and brimstone. we call cows when we want to make something of it. The amiable answer the mother gave her cowchild was heard in every sentient auto passing. for a woman roiling in anger in his back room could not stand his hushed recalcitrance.86 DAILY BREAD "A soft answer turneth away wrath." she thought. their mothers standing loyally chewing overhead. Clover-fed calves loll in the mythically green meadow." lied the holy prophet.) The prophet busied himself with the labor he had stolen from the woman.

.87 over what menial tasks he had left her: the arts and the dishes. It was not an ideal scheme. but it did stoke the fiery juices they used for sauce on their daily bread.

But it had had its way-And doubt it not. The eye looked out and saw Its own. When viewed by varied men. . It doubted not. The face would never boast. For heaven far away The body was a hell: But mind held singing sway-It doubted not. a pearly shell. The ear soon sounded sleep-It doubted not. There was no blame nor sin.88 LOST FACE The face was faded fey With all around grown gross. It doubted not. The lips were caught by sleep: They rode like rising birds. If beauty was its law.

For it had lost its way-But doubt it not. .89 The face was faded fey. Most mortal flawed by words.

90 REGISTER Where the customer is hiding And the shopgirl wears a mask. I have learned to keep my back turned To the world's noise and news. There's a message more abiding: We are taken all to task. While I practice how to seem spurned I have lost the will to choose. In your pocket's paper treasure And the ring of my machine Lies the microscopic measure: WE could never be so keen. .

"To strengthen you. have sinned. aflame. The boy presented gingerbread." replied the boy. "In God's immortal game!" Then fell the sailor down to die. I who thirst?" The sailor cried. "Why do you taunt me." quoth the boy." .91 IF A MAN ASK FOR BREAD. I guess. A sailor sighed and begged a sip. "Forgive him. Consumed in seething wind. "He must. Father. WILL YOU GIVE HIM A STONE? The boy stood on the burning deck When all around had fled.

would you? No you wouldn't want to pin your unchanged hopes on the remnant of a dream if it really were evening. . You have more sense even yet. in the evening light.M. You wouldn't want to speak in a whisper.92 P. You remain certain your mind has a breadth to it which couldn't let you down. You cling instead to what speaks in calm tones in the lighted rooms. unpuissant.

93 SWEET TE DEUM Sweet te deum: by a particular arrangement of wires and pulleys the orator is connected to a regular mob of isolated technicians. Garbage wafts its ether body on the breeze. so they don't mind. His mother stands weight on one foot still in the old human style drying her reddened knuckles in the sunset. He speaks. Sweet te deum: a phenomenon so familiar by now that it no longer grates on the poor raped pate of his father. They are puling and moaning. She sighs under a lightbulb and returns to the unpeeled potato. He admits it freely as it isn't his fault. crowned heads swoon. and kingdoms sleep. calves who would drink the rich new cream . And a life of idolatry has turned his subjects into Pinocchios all. Now are his children required to rinse crumbs from the banquet plates.

.94 saved especially for crumpets. Their tongues are not precisely golden.

And silent now he wanders. For he has no time to bide.) Paving the way for rapture Came the warlord to his doom. Raving always of capture He return'ed to his womb. Swords of song his only guide. . And swiftly now he wanders.95 THE WARLORD (Being the earliest written poem in this book.

a sterile treat. "You've missed my motive altogether. Touch me once.. a warlock's teat. I faced the sun and ran.. "I've grown into a ghost for lack of love and all my words are winded back upon me like a shroud. I've loosed myself from the temptation of temptation. I ran into the arms of quite another man. hat in hand. ." he said and looked down at the ground..96 SHH SHINY SIR DON'T Shh shiny sir don't come creeping up the way between the vines. ma'am. so meek." I turned and fled. a tear stood on his cheek. He kept on creeping. I'm through with all your howling in the void. and I shall live.

whereas the second way inspires a mere weak single . Someone else likewise respectable whose name I forget speaks of the whore par excellence who has developed a system of parasitism which gets her through." meaning that I am not the only victim of this terrible this terrible but belong to a class.97 THE DIFFERENCE BEING Kenneth Burke and Marx call for "socialization of losses. I being none of the above three famous men say the first way is much the same as the second way: the way of the politician in burnished tophat who spreads the burden around is the way of the slipshod woman who spreads the burden around: the only difference being that the first way requires a state to administer it.

98 survival. .

I would not spend my coin to prove I have no need of money.99 COMMON DAY I've come round. and lost my luster To the dust of place. a grace Bestowed. You're right: I really write on bathroom walls. "Lady. but only eyes: they froze the sullen bower. your home: home. you see. no more. The state's fate is my fate: it's Calif. lady. didn't you know I've watched you from my tower?" I felt your eyes. Where is high phi los o phie? And where the highborn scourge I chose To cloak me from that common day Which covers o'er the scorned? Round to a need for cheaper wine-Yet more! Yet cheaper! Bring it on. woe. I scrawl my soul for every caller. I Only run in secret when you Hide your eyes. "Why listen. From his tower he spied my soul and said. But woe. to the final hour-I would not flower more. . do-or-die.

100 You lie." .

Lesser multitudes of swirling worlds bask in their light. I want you to remember on the darkest night of the year that we have pillaged only this one little planet. And I want you to take a certain consolation." De Tocqueville deferred to the woods. no. our primeval cradle. lost in the world of an American thicket: "Here man seems to enter life furtively.101 THE PRESERVATIONISTS Multitudes of suns still shine in universes we have not destroyed. You and I had no idea in our aboriginal childhood. and I don't want you to forget that. the traveller. for he . --Would use our opposable thumbs to fashion words while our enlarged brains burned to extinction through the long evenings of winter." said de Tocqueville. that we would grow up to occupy ourselves with whispering to the deaf (shaking the dead leaf from a banyan tree). --Would turn out metaphysical copy for this sole purpose: to save a single world. "Here.

. the crash of a hydraulic nozzle blasting gold from out the bowels. the bulldozer. from out the veins.102 heard what was not there: the chainsaw. of the earth.

spirit. ruminating on remains. too.) . But I have camouflaged my tracks. thrive. have gone out to the badlands of creation. But while I stray. bird: thou never wert in flight descried along the bed of a river threading down from the laps of these local last hills. you. (Hail. --Have gone there and there found bones. at the feet of descending glaciers.103 I. yea. no doubt. dreamless. clasping my mantle about me. for the relics I unearth are signs and sacred and not collector's items. the ponderous bones of mastodons who slept. You are blithe. trod heavyfooted up into the badlands of my skull. to the murky caverns.

when he serenades on the wooden post rotting away on a scant barbless corner of unturned sod. . and when at last the meadowlark returns. Here it is almost always winter. out-of-season hope from the sleet. and I take a private. I recall the keenness of the blizzard.104 I expect the summer cicadas will be droning soon in your neck of the woods.

("for I'm tormented in the flame. And he wept not.. And the holy prophet.. who dips and flees now to the river.. rose up... but not you. his eye fixed 'neath a spectral and noble brow... -Here it is the coyote and the hawk. His mouth was hard. . bird. hoary with years. And he pulled his robes about him. . come and cool my tongue") Though I at least am too parched by now to be a voice crying in the canyonlands. ("Dip your finger in the water.. There it is quite often winter: there the grizzly is the endangered species: the grizzly and the wolf.")* banished as I am to dry-farm a low-income lot with a view.105 Oh yes.. neither did he reap. I like spring like anyone but after three or four weeks of it I dust off my Yukon books.

... Electricity of course shall be the first to go..106 "First of all. Sow not the whirlwind: you get what you desire.. nor any nonrenewable resource. He said.. nor petrol. ." Are you listening.. nor metal.." . Lowland Boy? He said to throw the typewriters on first. "He that saves his own sphere will lose any world at all. throw your typewriters upon the pyre.. And for pity's sake." quoth he. hear me: don't play with fire. "Ye shall use war no more. ye that have ears.

We hear the fearful cry rise up from the river and smell singed flesh. You just please be first.107 We squint out through the billowing smoke. You be first. *Spiritual. soothsayer. arranged by Jester Hairston .

. a car they sing dirges in all along the Gulf Coast they're singin OM old bloodman OM old dead head burnin rubber 'cause you ain't got no soul. Burnt-out peasant crone might've seen me step on that horseshoe set into the sidewalk in front of the Bourbon Street Bar.108 HOP ON THAT Who but an old Navajo lady saw me spit on the Zombie's car? O it has a tiger in its tank all right a folded certificate on its back seat a scorpion decal a Dade County (dreadful Dade County) plate & it's a funeral car all right. hop on that horseshoe there you can go over & step on it yourself only the voodoo luck don't hold so good the second time around.

. You're pretty fancy all right all right but I'm the one you're after & I say you're not people. you don't live on earth.109 So in essence it's 2 old crones done spit on your car: one in secret one in the open watch out Zombie whose name you're takin in vain I mean Lincoln you might have shot him once but you won't shoot him twice oh no. a Zombie was never even born. He said government of the people by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth. We ladies are speakin for Lincoln he's no one the likes of you can drive.

The staff sprouted leaves the first season after it was cut but no more. My father Manuel put a pack upon his back and carried the staff of wood well-polished by his hands since the day he pulled a sapling at the age of fourteen. he set forth on foot for the north. Jude) I promised that when I came of age I would follow upon my father's tracks. Urged to stay at home with his children and grandchildren. he replied that he could read signs. . By the time I arrived it was already as if he had been gone a year. until I found him in the north. My father was out of sight when I raised my head and then I turned. St.110 THE ILLEGAL ALIEN In the sixty fifth year of my father Manuel's life. I followed him for a mile. He set off without looking back. for the border and for the land of opportunity. But he never looked and I threw myself on the ground under a tree and hid my eyes in cool fallen leaves. I went to bed and when I prayed (Pray for me. that night and every night: dreamed it until I knew I would find him when my turn came to set forth. He must have scented me (my father Manuel has a good nose). that to leave was his only choice. I closed my eyes and I dreamed of his journey. I had to turn back to my mother and brothers.

Burrito blanco y bello. heading north. with long pale lashes and a hard bone in the nose which my father rubbed. and awakened to the song of sparrows in the oleander bushes under my window. My father turned and looked behind. Ladrón! I whispered and crossed myself and forgave my father. Then he entered the pasture and cut the tether from the burro's front feet with his knife. . I saw this clearly. the thief Manuel.111 I closed my eyes and saw my father Manuel stopping by a field and holding out dry grasses to a white burro. The animal said neither yes nor no. while my father scratched its head and looked carefully to the right and to the left. He swung his leg over the burro's back and grasped it by the mane and the burro walked along the road.

If you take this land you must take the settled melancholy of its afternoons and its rabbit-hunted (coyote-haunted) nights.112 LIFE IN A BOWL OF LIGHT Passed over Dead River. You must accept also the resurrection of sunrise. . Life in a bowl of light has long passed over the happenstance death of each humble thing hugging its rim. Saw an old Model A Ford crushed and rusting in the scrub by an arroyo under winter afternoon scudding sun.

.113 RATHER Rather a pauper in the courtyard of a palace than a queen on a toadstool.

grandeur is listlessly fading on the lips of an old girl who really should have been Henry Miller. With the simple cunning of a saint.114 OH WHERE ARE ALL THE HANDSOME RUBES Oh fie. . olde English stalwart peasants? Not in this rural lane. how tired she is withal of reading them. No. she wants (no shame) a pearl cast in the mud to rise and summon her out of sanctimonious immolation. Perhaps she belongs in Paree after all: for where are all the wholesome rubes.

"Let another milk her for me. "for me. he stopped and tugged her forelock. or call it trembling call it anything but late for dinner." Only far far too obvious is the rigor in his voice. He was always late." Wants he begs the tone's too much. We rang the bell twice thrice and he came ambling up the path through lilies and Indian paintbrush as the last spoonfuls of dessert were served.115 LATE FOR DINNER He wants he begs (only you can't tell what he's saying) the subtlest utterance of all: fine line 'twixt truth and falsehood. You pour the bucket of pondwater ." he says. the blueberries with spiced fresh cream. "Walk it all your life. The cow cried when he passed.

he turns his face aside scourged and rejected by hyssop dipped in vinegar. Pour the pondwater o'er his head: fine grains of mica shining tadpole willow leaf a dun silt of mud: every beauty you can take up in your pail.116 on his head. . subtlest thing you can do. You make a public spectacle.

Like kites upon cruel wires caught (stout wings to span the fire). you'll laugh at last with some relief: "Well bless me but you've got a point! . And I'll get mad. and you'll be sad. my cat will leap from off my lap.117 A GOOD MAN'S NAME Don't believe a thing I say. But if you're prone to disbelief.. And then you'll come with hat in hand and scare me from my supper. You're bound to take it wrong all wrong.. the startled birds will soon be gone. the things I fling like flying birds. my dog will lope across the lawn. Like ravens cutting off the sun (like sound and not like song). no don't you trust the words. the lit'ry life will seem so bad--so full of mind.. You're bound to wake me from a nap. so hard and dire.

for time's a thief and war's a shame and words can't ruin a good man's name.118 Hale home. we'll drink a pint. my friend." .

"I've taken care through all these years to turn my eyes from others' fears. a woman wept in pain and wrath. "my book is not a tragedy. When I go down to that dark bourne.'" But on a grassy forest path. 'Here passed a mild and sunny morn: a smallish soul. they'll smile." uttered he. ." She laid her down beneath the sky: "He loves me not. but not forlorn. this modest elm which shelters me and drops its leaves like sweet stilled hearts which do not grieve." He read The Times. and say.119 MORNING BECOMES HER "I'm not a Hamlet. He gave a sneeze. I prune my pleasures like a tree. and I shall die.

"Say. obtained a towel. . waiter. removed the vase. And watched a furtive spider pass.120 He said. would you please remove these flowers from my booth?" The waiter bowed. She dried her tears upon the grass. and left the room with seemly haste.

I have worked out a code for fans like myself: a canonical affair. So I try to read you without reacting. John Donne's last sermon. But you will understand if I explain that I have long suffered as (I blush to name it) a Woman of Letters. As such. an anorexic Frenchwoman's ignored advice to DeGaulle on the proper conduct of peace. And yet to react is in the descendants of Puritans to destroy. . We enlightened readers have a hard lot. unfortunately besmirched by bats in the cave: Jonathan Swift's girlfriends.121 IN WHICH THE READER REGRETS THE HEAVY HAUNCHES OF TASTE I have tried not to address you." This code emerges in practice as mercifully vague. immigrants' ditties: "Ten thousand Swedes ran through the weeds pursued by one Norwegian. for we cannot help but react.

122 sparely. to talk back from one's private typewriter is a polite sort of pity. in the spirit of Moses refraining from naming the Name or from gazing on the shrouded top of Mt. For to answer once is already a gift. Not answering at all is an untimely end. To answer again is a different sort. but would let it stand as it now stands." concluded Kierkegaard. And letters deceive. from my eight-rock tea garden. And taste. a black and white exchange. After all. . MOTHER AND SON READING KIERKEGAARD ALOUD WITH LESS THAN REVERENCE "And oh that no half-learned man would lay a dialectic hand upon this work. Sinai: Moses sparing Jehovah corrupt human touch. These are the fancy pervasive rationales of farce.

. it doesn't count: for he says. But maybe. "No half-learned man" but you're a woman and I'm a child.123 And we repented of the way we'd been reading him. said my son.

. sat weeping by the road." The pedant meant it. But the mendicant with her bowl.124 PENDANT CAN'T MEND HER "She bodes to be a major writer. earthen bowl.

that shall not be known. grown to a woman's estate. prate on a' that and a' that. .125 HOMAGE TO BOBBY BURNS Samizdat. and hid. Same as that. Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered. that shall not be revealed. In Russia there is an artist banned from official rounds who doesn't mind so much for he still has his bicycle to paint pictures of. and I. and his Victorian house tumbling down in a dozen different directions. The underground apes the overground. and his round wooden table with wine bottles fruit cat typewriter coffee cup (newspaper in the Cyrillic alphabet tossed aside).

And the State's electricity poles run into God's trees which shed red leaves on his Victorian roof for a' that: We dare be poor for a' that! (Our toils obscure and a' that.) .126 I thought they only had tables like that in Paris.

and I. . cow'rin. and she still hears sparrows caroling in Greek. Same as that. ground down to the size of a mouse (wee. there is a singer banned from official rounds who doesn't mind so much for all her arrangements are logarhythmic. still hears angel choirs swinging low: fathomless sound. tim'rous beastie). The overground apes the underground.) Samizdat. that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear.S. creep under a toadstool to sleep. that preach ye upon the housetops.127 In the U. though she once flunked math. sleekit.A. (I thought they only had choirs like that in Heaven. fallen to the ground. What I tell you in darkness.

MASTER'S MNEMONIC Mene mene tekel. Yep. He wuzn't good at nuttin' 'cept baseball. ol' Sam. I useta know him when he wuz jest a kid. Portions are from Robert Burns and the King James Bible. Iz dat so? Dey say so. . he's on duh ball now. as you kin see. sittin' on a park bench and feedin' duh pigeons wid duh crumbs from his san'ich. den. Lethe and argos: Ergo. eros. but he's branched out some since.128 Sam is dat guy over dere in duh fedora.

unfinished. no one says it has to be you. Dolor Man: I'm a true beatnik drunk. full fathom my father lies.129 DID THE EARTH SHAKE FOR YOU LAST NIGHT. meek as Magdalene. a real reeler-in of the fish of the sea: Spanish eyes. He twisted me up into an oddity because I was weak. a dreg of some daughterless . 1989 San Francisco. CA or Never was a quick touch like Dolor Man. LADY? I SURVIVED THE PRETTY BIG ONE 18 Oct. It ain't right. My main man: don't pain me with wronghearted cussed surefooted surliheadedness. tried now and trussed in a trunk like a corpse washed up from the watery main. ain't true. a pain-sanded equipoisist. Don't diddle me.

130 mother. He said. "Did the earth shake for you last night. He passed me on the sidewalk without looking at me. Lady?" .

They aren't supposed to SAY. "A smell I can't identify. "Offhand I would think inch and a quarter.) Still the scientists are discussing in my livingroom. And the other said. for you. and my love won't mean a thing by then. I'd counted on the scientists to be steadier than that. ("Don't say it." and went on discussing slots. He said. "Offhand. my love. My love: your resistance is not secure enough." you say.") Yes I will." especially when coupled with mute sure measurements. wires to lay into. my love." Damn. . "You'll only leave me in Spain. (My love love liquid love too soon love I'd waited till way past time.131 OBSERVING THE SCIENTISTS I asked one immediately to comment on drunkenness. My love my love: don't you see it's a matter of science bypassed for me? A matter of science surpassed.

in tandem. "It's no big deal. "is reverse the thing and hit it with this." "I don't know what complications that would imply." says the other. my love. But you do. "I think what I'll do." says the other. my love. "Exactly. ." says one.132 They don't even realize it's my living room." they both say.

No false eye could fake it. But you're doing OK for having just got out from your chains and straitjacket and there's really no doubt as a wheeler-dealer you're bound to make it. . jabbering away in street Japanese the livelong day. DRUNK IN AN OLD BUILDING IN SAN FRANCISCO B&B's can put you in a fog so that you mistake an angel for a dog and a dog for John Steinbeck. PRIVATE EYE.133 ON MEETING SAM SPADE. And it's a nice old building.

Why would I breathe the curse of history on your seed (Sherwood Anderson would say seed: the King James ponderous held-back coal-fire Lucifer of the modern factory would wish godspeed to that sleeping detail)? I said that. 'I've twin infant angels trying to sleep here. Blond hair and Spanish Catholic skin. I can afford easy titles. Why I don't write for The New Yorker is I won't cut this for you to Beginning Middle and America's best fiction's End.134 THE CLOSER I GET TO CALVARY THE MORE FORE-ORDAINED THESE MEETINGS SEEM Get this straight. glancing out and looking right back in over your shoulder. I jumped down your throat twice before you even opened the door. 'For God's sake be quiet. like Cain and Abel.' You didn't say that. Just give it .' you said on the threshold. I'm awfully difficult. not identical only friends.

. hung up the right rear tire of my pickup in thin air. my passenger panicked.135 one short shot or be lamed and lost forever at the Ninth Station of the Spanish-Catholic cross: Jesus Falls the Third Time. They'll want to know how. you had to call the wrecker who specializes locally in hoisting things. bottomed out the rear end. tried to back out over a perilous moat. I drove in to look. after that. while touring. Your house was for sale. he dared climb the hill of Calvary.

I know that college. Typewriter in foyer. Alcoholism. too.136 I left without waking the twins. Leave the stone in the door of the tomb. I read that poet. and am free to to too. I drop the same name. unpublished. I've a castle in Spain (mortgaged). No toilet paper in bathroom. Stone was recently crucified. bulging blue eyes. quite possibly. I heeded your advice (it did sound avuncular) to watch the heavy traffic on the turn.' you say as my eyes skim your books: Jung. I seat myself politely on a roiled bed with raisins and bottle nipples and inform you you look like Dylan Thomas should've: red disordered hair. (I use my skirt. like your friend whom Tess took . Pre-emptive. never see again. big loose frayed unused energy.F. face flooded with blood. I will never see you again: will.) I. 'I've been running.) (Jesus is a personal poet.

. . larky to sit in the bath-tub not needing any tea. Jesus said.. (Moisten: the perverse lingo of a child who makes paper dolls of the apron models in a Sears-Roebuck catalog.... Moisten: inelegant Americanism.... 'I come to bring not saints but the bourgeois to repentance..' I live in the outback and preach to professors. Marx (whose name you dropped) said rurality is idiotic. teas.137 to Europe and tried with some success to dry out or moisten. . From the tub. Stone said 'twas larky to be a pariah never invited to English Dept... as in the Moist Towlettes they dispense in chain roadhouses..F.) Before dying I.

and when I awaken is mopping my brow with an ice cube. grappling. Who polishes . gently places a towel between my teeth. 'strangers owe each other a little restraint. 'I think. who thinks Sherwood Anderson has potential and needs instruction. Who has a rage for order.' you get a word in edgewise.or some adjunct who never got to Graham Greene. gawping. father: why has thou forsaken me?' says Jesus from said tree. Ole? -. yawning bourgeois.' Is that you. and the father's voice never never sounds. not bitter but sad at his father's lapse. Church is letting out its crop of the yearning. Your wife arrives home from her job on the ward and throws me (in one move) to the ground. 'Father. gaping at the symbol pinned there on two pieces of intersecting timber. Only a raven. still unresisting. grackling.138 It's Sunday evening. There remains one more Station of the Cross.

I have to re-paint the two exterior walls where ill-matched tint from the eaves dripped down. talk of the town. . See you around. Time to move on. I like Pound. Named my parrot Ezra. You have to re-lay a floor. even this kind. Poems end. --Yeah.139 pruning shears.

and we'll all Bask. A homeless hobo sits In the gutter and begs. my friend. But take heart from this ale: Don't shiver. . The children keep close To our fat winter legs. It's winter. don't fail: Soon summer will come. no easy task.140 STORM Flailing angry branches Tear the brittle air. We hold onto our hats For fear of our hair.

All of which would be fine if only the molten moon would split into fat fragments of spendable silver for the sake of paupers peering from bankrupt eyes up at lights which drop from day or night skies. . its face.141 THE RESERVATION All of which would be fine if only the golden sun would relent. revealed. its veil of vain haze suddenly rent. fair nuclear halo. half-spent.

142 QUEUE Men go winding out. Men come winding in. Yes here by the hair of their chin. Here by the hair of their chin. O it's clear beyond the slightest doubt They're here by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin. And it's clear beyond the slightest doubt They're here by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin. .

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QUIEN SUSPIRA INSPIRA Poema Triste y Verídico Perdóneme si sean mis palabras incorrectas. He olvidado mucho. Soy solamente poeta: persona sin fundamento, mujer sin básis. Pero no quiero viajar sin objeto, aunque esto cambie con cada momento que pasa. ")Qué pasa, artista? (quien cambia)." Poquito. Ships passing en la noche; estoy muriendo anoche sin inspiración. -No no, no estoy muriendo, porque has llegado. ")Qué quiere decir? )Adónde llego yo?" A un desierto terrible, un lugar de serpientes y árboles secos y piedras duras: a un lugar que no es lugar. Si exista, es como falta.

144

145
SUNLIGHT FALLING ON THE STREETSINGERS IS AS YELLOW AS THAT IN THE BANKER'S IMPRESSIONIST PAINTING

Tinsel choirs of street dipsomaniacs Have their pastel delicacies, too. So lately fallen, some singers: so light. So lately freed. Take this one: Henry, a bass, a drudge, Retired-with-gold-watch from the Department of Innocence. Has a dockworker's Cap, neatly knit, of that same incongruous yellow As the insular class's ecstatic Easters. Or take Theodore, tenor (he interprets the dirge): his Holy socks are baby blue, anemone eyes has Ted, and a tie of Cerulean hue. It all meshes. Theodore was a tailor In life; they're called fashion designers these days. He threw away his money, all of it, on Francine, who is fattish but quaint and wry, Won't shy away from those who shy Away from her tin soprano's cup: A coloratura's ploy. "Out of Work, Out of the Way," says the Cardboard sign pining plainly on her Curb.

146
And last, ah the alto, Alta, halt and lame, unrelated. She came to her voice, so lambent, so fine, The hard way. O stay awhile and Attend: pale fires; rose, orange, streaked Aquamarine, run and range down her scales. A leprous too-varied luster startles the mind's Eye observing Alta. Turpitude turns Tail in this voice. Street throngs gather, turnstileGraspers pause; it's a big big choir under Alta's Tutelage. It's the poor, their tinsellated gaudy Famine, their world-girding street, their sunlit Limping song: the decorous do-gooder's excuse to Exult.

147

NG Oh China: Blackshoed clothfoot Fool of a balanced soul. Give me back what you took: The open unenclosed eye, Square chopped hipbones of a Bovine (you don't drink milk) Woman. Incongruous New England nose on a cheekboned Eggface: Erase the memory of my white unbalanced Skin. Oh China, I never thought an Eastern sensibility would Rise in my bed.

ground of my being. because I know you're fine. Jr. importuning with my rough hair into which I pour such cheap perfume. "diamond in the middle of a field full of stones"* I rest in importunate self. Every dastardly day I lie here trying to succeed because you caught me (fisher of men) on your hook and forgot to dine.148 THE IMPORTANT TUNING OF MAGDALENE You said. finest. never letting go of your feet. *Hank Williams. So. fearless.. I forget. I'm not a hapless juvenile with a bad plan.. .

149

THE OTHER MARTYR OF CHOLAME PASS I live in a clean land, Chastise with a clean hand. My Puritan pranks have joined the ranks Of the Honorable James Dean, man. I went out in a crash at Cholame Pass And proceeded to Heaven to have a bash. I'm lost. I cost. I die in the dust Because I must. (And what salvation is there In such a sorry tale? Just this: I can't succeed Until you make me fail.) The car was hot. I chose my lot. Died young, Not unsung.

150

THIRD TIME'S A CHARM Soul sits on death row and plays its radio, twisting the dials, this channel, that, up volume, down. Soul looks out the window and sighs. "Bars obscure my view," it says. Bird in hand spots two in the bush. "Run for cover," it warns. But the bush resounds. The man with the snare and the knotted hair and beard comes up to the birds unheard. Swimmer lifts iron arms and plies the waves, land falls behind, gulls dive, shriek, sea lions sport. Sun rushes up to the heavens and beams. Swimmer rides the tide to shore.

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TO J.N. If you've grown weary of answering letters from your worsers and your betters, don't answer this. (It's an abyss.) But I'll tell you why I "only skimmed" your collected works of fiction: I crave a measured and pompous diction, and shy away from the friable friction of the more or less true-to-life depiction. (I'm a monolith, and must have myth.) Still, I know it was rude to goad you by mail: "I'm not not a fan," and so on. It's only that at this altitude, I have to develop an attitude to delude the mere dude with his visage wan. But I thought I'd be safer with _________________.

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I forked out the dough and brought it home. And I'm happy to say there's a slower pace, a curb on the word's old compulsion to roam. The clerk in the bookstore assured me you'd changed-that's all right with me, I'm at home on the range with its spitting seasons and arching light-and I know what it means to fight to write. (Or rather, vice versa, if verse is a vice.) Now I've read every line and there's nothing I owe except just to tell you that I'm not your foe but a parallel case of evolution: a problem which finds its own solution.

153

NOT YET SUBJECT Emerson on compensation is quite convincing. As a man, it is true, he might be missing out on the more poetic aspects of compensation. He is linear in his speech, martialing his arguments in orderly pairs. The unfortunate woman has to martial something less specific than arguments and theorems. She must martial moods: those bodies not yet subject to the tyranny of grammatical structure. She is apt to be misunderstood by the likes of Emerson.

154 TRACE Snowflakes under a night light Look like gnats in the noon-day sun. . But something is missing.

Hallelu-When morning sun doth rise. So raise your hands to heaven. The earth's all over bright. one is left. Two maids by the river milling One ascends and one's bereft. The foolish with the wise." Calling out. ." Holy savior. The kingdom's come and we're made one: The foolish with the wise. From shore to shore the wide waves roll The earth's all over bright. Two souls on the rooftop watching One is blind and one can see Jesus walking on the waters Calling out. Hallelu-Jesus comes tonight.155 Song. Two men in the fields a'tilling One is taken. for accordion and guitar with voice REVIVAL Holy savior. "Peace be to thee. "Peace be to thee.

Let each one claim his own. The earth's all over bright. From shore to shore the wide waves roll The earth's all over bright. Hallelu-Jesus comes tonight. .156 Send praise up to the throne. Holy savior. Lift up your hearts till woe departs And each one claim his own.

.157 THE POET I die in your eye but I live out of it.

. But till you've been banned in Boston. Flagstaff has its sights.158 UPWARD MOBILITY Santa Cruz has its graces. You haven't touched the heights.

Except the poet And he.159 AAH. But no one heard. Didn't know it. "Me neither." said the bird." Said the poet to his parrot. STOW IT "I'm not much of a social person. . As usual.

160 FIFTY-FIRST WAY TO LOSE YOUR LOVER You're a mouse in a hare's hole. . Better turn tail.

ma'am. I deem a shame. So pull in your ears And keep dodging: I'll cheer." said the circling rabbit To the fox who breathed in her ear. She lay down on the ground and played dead. went home to bed. . without a slip. And the recompense Is fairer by far. I hear." Well. And the fox ate her--it's sad but true. "It makes more sense. Then I'll pin your pelt To the top of my mast. (You wanted a happier ending. didn't you?) And the fox. replete. ol' hopper. "I don't talk to my dinner And YOU'RE the sinner: Get hip. get hip.161 FABLE "Let's talk. the rabbit quailed: she shook in her boots. "For my coat is red and my teeth are sharp And I intend to laugh last." Said the fox." "Your syntax.

) But then one morning the bugles blew And the rabbits thronged to the call. The animal kingdom lay in deep thrall. The race of foxes proliferated. From east to west the rabbity best Hopped down to their meeting hall.162 And forty years passed: sun up. The rabbits' luck had long abated. (Do pardon the doggerel. . sun down.

those well-tamed . Then over its walls one day there leaped The finest and fittest of hares. Meanwhile. engorged in their cozy dens Heard the clarion bugle note too. Doin' the same old soft shoe. I've got my chores to do. --They were GOOD at it too. "Fool music!" they growled. and the morning sun rose On a very well-stocked cuniculus zoo. And padded and prowled. She landed. A week or two passed. pulling the plows.163 Now the foxes. Cheered on by the pigs and the chickens and cows. And that's all it took: I won't write a book. full stop On the back of a fox Who sat sunning away his cares. the rabbits were through with talk And were doing what rabbits are s'posed to do. But I noticed last week up at Rabbittown Ranchos They had foxes in harness.

.164 Honchos.

For you're a comic soul . Dear me! I'm picking on a stranger. didn't you know it?) I do prefer old Ravi Shankar to the City's slickest banker. I'm just a poet paying back a debt: the labor on a tube. But must I also then rejoice to hear a high and raucous voice emerge from out in back? You've got a knack. (Now. Yet.165 APPEAL FROM BIKE # 4072. and haven't dared to place a winning bet. of squeaking like a cornered bat. You'd think by now I'd see that that's a fearsome danger. more or less Please don't be scared. ("You only THINK you had no puncture?" I'm certain of NOTHING at this juncture. I've gone too far. I'll grant you that.) For I'm a HUMBLE rube.

But if you're also kind.166 and I'm more like a mole: blind. just send me back a note explaining why you think I wrote and telling if my debt's repaid and if you are afraid you really must evade this sudden ambuscade. this biker's big crusade. this awful escapade. .

For liking's weak tea. I'll opt for the proper retort: Sir Sophomore! . said a chap in a personals ad. But his point was so subtle I forgot my rebuttal and things went from worse to bad.167 SIR SOPHOMORE Liking comes only vis-à-vis. and this vis-à-vis isn't nearly so apt as aft to fore. And this chap's chat is propped on illusion.

. but work.. Yes in the fraying grayed edges of maladroit doom.. Yes when the furies rage I remember you in the pastures of the woods where you used to roam ... then I think of you who wearies not neither do you lie down in the heat of the day..168 LOVE LETTER FROM A SCHOLAR TO A NOBLE SAVAGE When weariness shows in the eyes of my friends.. of the Schopenhauer is the harness of several lessons and it doesn't take long to find out 'n' I found out (find out 'n' I found out).... the preying manti of (om) souls.. And when the vampires rage. Yes in the game in all the games of acidic preoccupation of the freighted will. Yes when the storms and winds of my soul bluster through dry corridors of doubt. When in times of stress and trouble I remember you and speak in cadences: Yes remember you with the general pitiful willing helplessness of the great unmet: Remember you from the comfort of my corner.....

.169 (Flush berried lips and the lookalike cattle of your dreams).. . Used to roam cave or corner unnoticed in the fields that were a sort of home to you..

What's wrong with me that I can't crave iambs. while living. Shock of awakening became a topic of conversation in parlors. The wind is Restless. Over tea. to feel sure that wonders would Never cease. The tones are belling through the conifers. All six thousand of them. From studying. We were fairly silly. Someone in an appropriate red shirt cuts wood and.170 NOT TO THE MEMORY TREE. I played violin this evening and harmonica. and sweet is the Sound of amazing grace keeping the neighbors. We might as WELL consider our Minds united. our deaf and desperate were I more of a Liar I would say utterly nonexistent . II. rills: water Ever water. Oh yes I remember now. sings. someone hangs from a wide oak tree. We began. We had intimate goals that came with the spring & surprised Us no end into talk of rebirth. or lengths of Poesy from the days of Greece when Eros by God was Eros? III. but not close. let's say. THAT'S FOR SURE I.

.171 Minds. Damn cheap wine And Avoid literary ladies: They talk. Surely with a little imagination we can cook up a quick Consummation over the miles.

All right. Its eyes remind the scrupulous observer that everyone has to Get down get out and walk through the carcasses Of cattle and hogs being moved out of trucks in sawdust. There are sold carnations and spitting cripples. Ladies on platform heels admire this fact. What? I said. They did. They preferred the birds sweeping through fogs who swoop for insects. It hurt. . I don't care I'd rather do this now OK than have to get Out and walk myself. I don't care. They claimed to prefer sunsets. But I thought you? No dummy that was you. Then several seemed to breathe. What I said was. They preferred horses and their smell in brown brush. No way. V. It's either this or the street.172 IV. Where? Not to the memory tree that's for sure.

I did not mourn. . Did not brag in free verse. not morbid motley forms of myriad sinking sorrow. (There will always be cars with warm engines beside your sleep. Did not did not mourn. I did not mourn.) VI.173 They preferred red tail-lights down the hill. Rhmmm rhmmm breahhh Off into the tiny lamps of town. I pulled back my white curtains.

And oh so carefully every day She picked the specks of paper and clay From floors. just like her mother Before her: many a glorious find! . A poet like any other.174 HOUSEWORK A woman lived here with her mind.

his mama is an ax. what i want to talk about is this enemy of mine.175 SIDING WITH AN ANGLO-SAXON do you care that the creature lies trapped in an outgrown incubator awaiting the ax? are you indeed a vegetarian at heart. . do you really empathize with the short gorged life of a meat animal? or is the thought of the gravy paramount? this is a poem of pretentious latinate words: empathize paramount latinate-about anglo-saxon inflammation. hardly worth the name: nearly a lover only lax and hiding behind his mama's skirts.

but they're not. he's scared words will break his bones.176 his mama is a doctor of law. hardly worth the name: nearly a lover only lax. he says i've broken them. and when his mama looks in he pretends his bones are broken. i'm stuck with decency pululations loyalty imitations ire. 'hel-pelp!' he cries. in the night. piteously. i didn't. and hiding behind his mama's skirts. he does not soothe my sudden aches with simple words the way a strong soul would: no. what i want to talk about is this friend of mine. .

with tiny white flowers. my plight is very like that of a chicken awaiting the top spot on an empty table. i think i am going to side with an anglo-saxon again. ill-used. this is unfair.177 other women have genghis khan for an enemy and albert schweitzer for a friend. its blaze did not show bright in youth: therefore it spends its middle age on tenterhooks. its life did not go gently in infancy. . i mean i think the pain in my mind is that of a bird conscious (if they are) of the impending platter: a blue one.

178 PAN CONCEALED AS A DEALER IN SECONDHAND GOODS One imagines this particular gentleman in front of a gilt mirror looking at himself. is a wit and a throwback. but with a touch of private pride. He is willing to argue with his customers in a voice that carries. Bet he doesn't like literature. . does not deign to vociferate in their faces. Sometimes he just glares. Bet he can't read. One would say something but he might not take it wrong. This man is not a feminist. critically as is befitting. exactly as alarming as he looks. This is the one who hoots and makes loud comments in the movies. He adds on a paper not with a calculator. while up front in quieter opposition ladies mutter. he thinks women ruin the Democratic party. stares from under a neolythic brow.

This red reindeer Goes clinking through the skies. Crowns justice in its stead. A woman dressed in red. You too begin to rise." . Claus. She takes her final stand." "Why Mrs. Believe in THAT-In seconds flat." Says Santa's fool." "Ah well.179 THE NOSE KNOWS "The golden rule. Cruel Nature's laws An eye for an eye demand! For red in tooth And claw. "Dissolves the sense In recompence. mein herr. forsooth.

180 COWARD If you're a little yellow fellow. you're not gonna care if you don't dare. You'll have a ready excuse on your tongue for every time you bung it up. .

distant station-Not a station of the cross.181 AFTER THE IDES OF MARCH The beauty of your absence. Like the beauty of a star. Expands my soul with gladness As three kings come from afar Bearing gifts of incense. But your kiss was worth the most to me And if I nevermore you see Or never hear a word. But a sombre celebration Of the meaning behind loss. . Come marching single file To an infant in a manger Just to see him smile. I'll bear it bravely through the years And not obscure it with my tears: A softly nesting bird. Your smile was worth the waiting And worth your silence now-Worth all the sad debating Of a mind which cannot bow To its humble.

Like the beauty of the moon. Plays on my heartstrings music Which nothing can untune.182 The beauty of your absence. .

and I was only five in nineteen fifty four.183 THE POINT The point is not that I managed to make it through more weighty tomes than most before succumbing to the inevitable toils of womanhood. Nor is it the point that I well remember when Roger tried to give me his piano in a fit of schizophrenia. . too young to be innocent like that. I refusing at the behest of Wendell who persuaded me Roger would want it back later: that I well remember when they stuck Roger away for a while because he tried to drive his car into the deep blue sea and also because he thought his treatise on mathematics musically-rendered was a work of genius (I grow increasingly certain with each passing year that it WAS a work of genius). inedibly innocent like that again. too numerous to mention herein: Nor is it the point that it will no doubt take me the rest of my life to finish The History of Civilization by Will and Ariel (And Ariel. and Ariel) Durant: Nor is it the point that I resemble Sylvia Plath somewhat: though after the fifties none of us can ever be innocent.

fallen far... try to get my attention.184 Nor is it the point that those around me have utterly outgrown the need for genius: how it pules and whines! how it makes them bow rage and worship in its vicinity! how they forget it three minutes later for 'tas fallen.. . Nor is it the point that birds wild and tame know me. sit posed with wind fluffing up their tail feathers. haloes round the behind: that I sit in the highland winds watching grasses sere and sullen: that hinds and hares round the bend ingratiate themselves: that Russian olives respire just though the glass: that Robert Penn Warren hoary and hale has not cast his mantle round the white shoulders of a woman.

. maid's jobs (though one can always write a letter to the boss that even the boss has to admit.). they're wielding scimitars. (They've changed. That one is considered barely capable of holding the most menial jobs. It is not the point that I myself went mad and considered certain stock scapegoats to be executioners.) It is not the point that the men of my generation (best minds gone mad) have all studied zen and are making a living at it whereas when I found out about pointlessness I fell into a hole-I mean I really fell didn't I but you were born blind.185 It is not the point that one bleeds by the moon. borne blandly on the breeze of your own most holy and public afflatus and if you had said that: . (With one eye open.) Here are the birds again there they go again it is not the point that one of the few critics who bothers has only one eye open.. which is better than none but still thinks I'll be good some day when I learn to see the point.

Blotted out the sky. Someone said You Look So High. 'Tis not the point that a girl named Burden married last Sunday: I saw it in the paper and then my husband turned to me and said why'd you stop putting out your little magazine and I replied: Someone told me I was holy. .186 I mean I think you must have. somewhere: if YOU had said that whole armies of the just would have arisen before water could move through the fine sands of the arroyo to fill your footprints: would have arisen and gone out to tear down the dam. Someone turned his dog upon me.

(I hardly wore them.) Take THIS. just now and saw me peering out. nor a lass. . take THAT. as it slices their salty seaworn mouths." But how should I interpret this: a neighbor in a Jeep passed through. and WAVED.) And I've given my only child my thirty-two dollar running shoes. I'm nice. Is this the point? Time's out of joint. I'm not a lady. (The cow next door is also nice as from its pen it moos. Mr. do: this ditty of dignity in dearth. It's not what we had hoped you'd do. of marlins lashing out in the air against your hook of unnatural spite. my ass is grass. Hemingway.187 "But none of this is quite the point.

For try as they might. . they won't get the point.188 Serves 'em right for trying to bite.

the one the angels Envied? It's the thing bright Lucifer Fell for What Tarsus sang in his Cell for .189 LAST ONE TO KNOW for Arlo Guthrie Has it happened then the holy Transformation? The Thing that takes the twinkling of an Eye? From west to east the Raped earth was riven? And all the Saints were sure of it but I? Has it come to us the final Dispensation: the one called Grace.

ARLO called it Waking Up Dead! . It's the word in the mouth of The innocent babe Who leaps from a virgin's womb. The son of a Singer man. But there's someone I Know who said it better. It's the color of Joseph's colorful coat The ring in the door of a Tomb.190 What Daniel died to the Lions for Why Joshua rang down the Walls. When he came to my town in the Bloom of renown.

There came a knock at the door. the good Bill Buckley!--I gasped. through open mouth. sire. --And all that I want is to find my bed. --Why. what brings you this way (On such an otherwise wintry day)?-Said Bill--It's not that I'm ill. or be rude.191 GARGOYLE I was playing--said Evelyn Waugh-Dominoes with the poor. And I fear he was near his end (God forfend). for you. he smelled like a wolf. Had a gangrenous growth by his eye. on my way up the lane. --You've come to my door to say that? . As I sucked up my drink through a straw. --If this isn't good enough. Or wish any way to intrude.-Waugh roared like a lion. --Sir. It's only that. I spotted a mutual friend. Father William-.the gargoyle said. He was shuffling. I've given it quite The College Try! I am old.

192 The fellow was doubtlessly wearing a hat. He sits and begs By the curb down on Broadway... . You ever have with you. I know whom you mean. There's a bed behind that door. Dominoes with the poor. Just throw a coin in And give him a speech on grace & sin. friend.. You have sucked all your drink through the straw.. Where was I?-You were playing.. dear Evelyn Waugh. also say Hi. and pass by. Or say! Just to cheer him.. The poor.

"O fearsome Lord 'tis you again. I'll bet you scrub them down by night with Brillo pads? Your children three all thrive on lily pads? Nyet? Would you like to brush your teeth and be my pet?" She dangled her hand in the water." she said to the alligator. "Your scales are a silly shade of Army green. "I've been sailing this lissome Nile awhile (it's thirst for this it's thirst for that) but a lizard as long as you I've never seen. thick with its foreign mud. .193 CAESAR'S LIEGE The Queen opened her mean eyes and looked at her Perpetrator. as yet.

then glanced at the alligator (glanced down at the crocodile." she hymned to that stony. her eyes aslant.194 Her hue was olive. she turned her skin to the sun: her face that was made for profile. . The amethyst jewel in her pyramid nose flashed in the glare of the muted sun. glanced at the armored floating shape submerged to its snout in the silty Nile). sullen sun. "The hardest part is practically done. her orbs that were made for fun.

Lizard. like desert ice. and tossed it (under a muted sun) into the ooze of the tossing Nile And watched it sink quite out of sight. go to the bottom. Then he sank like a stone out of sight. can you even swim?" she said just a little later. He perceived her with something like fear. and something like appetite. and one went under. and pinched herself: "I've got it right! He'll have to dive. I've got 'im!" So saying she took up her spear. it wasn't nice to observe.195 The Queen opened her mean eyes and looked at her Perpetrator. The other gazed green like hazardous thunder. and plucked the gem from her nose (a nose just made for profile). and while he's down there. And sank to his sockets. "I wonder. by Caesar. .

.... . The Queen was cousin to Jezebel.. ....196 And was down a day and a night and a day.. O by the way: The Queen had Eunuchs who bent to her will.. 'pon which she reclined (then as now) to practice reciting her Wedding Vow... The Queen had pillows up in the prow.

He couldn't quite give her the crocodile smile. the alligator rose. And the awful throngs convulse in a . as he sheds that infamous crocodile tear. in increments.197 Up from the slime. a thousand dents flowed red from that gash of a fang-filled gate. but he spit out the stone at her feet. Up from foraging came King of the Nile with a jewel for his Queen. The First Lady of Egypt will henceforth evermore hear this spent and saturnine hiss he emits at the flowering thud of her spear. her scale-piercing sharpened spear. He rose slow-motion. and was seen by the host of her vassals. half-fused by the heat. His snout was wounded. with weeds on his pate. some million last counted.

--Are you listening. Dear? .198 cheer.

now. to us lay. Dave. But let the soul-dealer. He gaze is steady. or. and you've my life long gratitude. Which is why I can say Thanks. He'll get to die in bed. Later. Dave thinks the biggest. the heart lord. directly afterwards. a hunger for milk).199 AFTER DAVE PALMER (FOUNDER OF CHIROPRACTIC) The skeletal lord is a big one. six whole blocks with nary a dizzy step. Take up thy bed and walk! said the healer after one quick jerk of my nodding head on its stalk and I was afraid my art was gone when I saw I could walk. heal yours with the bit iteration (I mean a rhythm) that the blood lord. His back is in the nature of things straight. Dave. . Doctors should heal the body. He has less soul than he used to (calcium attrition. is even bigger than the bone lord. stripped of only the littlest modicum of it.

.200 MISOGYNIST AND FANS His women are ghosts Or at the most Inveterate eaters of fish. He watches them walk Beside the dry dock Adoring the supper dish.

. We're a class apart. needy sad sack of money. A mess. wee willie winkle's kin. a malformation in a world where dogs sleep through the afternoon and crows calmly feed in the garbage pile.201 FEE FI FO FUM We lumpen. the giant in the beanstalk's Englishmen. and talk back. success. in America a class devoted to the remembrance of that ratty tattered edge of the social quilt. give to our life an aching back. Our social guilt's an awful term. and sway the straight back of our dictator: pointillist greed. prefer the people but the people aren't too sure about us. We lumpen lovers. the term of ants constrained to success.

202 DIVINE COLD SHOULDER I intend to go back to the nematode stage of is it the brachiopod? For the trouble is. pain has invaded my game or is it just age? Ask God who won't let me regress to the place I belong." . won't let me go back home: "Your pain is acceptable in My sight but I do not like your poem.

found herself mourning a lost fanaticism. the old gem. Come now: courage! Don't come boasting to me of your guts in quitting after the first year of writing.. your tenderized heart. -Your gentle and acrid irony.203 ABRAHAM STAYS HIS HAND If you're going to refuse me the flash and dash of your dramatic personal life. was a POETIC sentence requiring the elucidation that destroys? Fear not. . and that's all. Gandhi's disciple.. now. I suppose. folks? Take Mira. I usually DO destroy my firstborns these days and never remember afterward that there was anything in them to stay my hand. I wonder if she ever grew up. Her thousand and one letters never shook his assurance. eh? That. Poor Mira. worse off than me. then to keep my attention you're going to have to become impersonality incarnate.

204 Or heroism. So now if you're going to be this way.) . Pity the poor antinuclear sermon: could if ever be efficacious? And it dare not be stylish. old concerns: guilty sins for liberal and conservative theologians. not me.. They're not tailored to you. Anyhow they're not that good. will I place the weapon in your slack hand? Ha. Just antinuclear sermons. (Efficacy and style.. not personalized. I won't show you my stories. respectively.

or have learned how to use shame: then I confess to a genuine anonymity. promising but not granting deliverance. There you stand in the neither/nor position.205 If what I say is confession. and if I have shame. You have a talent for longevity. or to a friend bought sold and implicated in similar sin. . to the masses.

And that Eve with an Apple brought on Man's Fall. And did I meet Evil in that dank thorny Waste? Will I swear that I know now its rank musty Taste? Or is Evil no more than the absence of Good. As Death is the vacuum which Life once withstood-And will once again if I lay down the news And take up my Pen. Thrown out of the Garden. I stayed up all Night 'neath the Dark of the Moon Fighting the Demons that crept round the room. roamed round the Wall. Hyde Would heckle the Jekyll who deep in me cried. I have Nothing to lose.206 A WRITER DRIVEN TO POLITICAL DESPAIR NONETHELESS RESUMES I read in the paper that Evil is real And that scars on the psyche seldom do heal-Than an Empire of Evil threatens us all. Yea. I gave up all hope Of singing with Angels or meeting the Pope-For Earth was an outcast and I most of all. it was dreadful. I dared not get sleepy for fear Mr. .

Still. and words have I spilled: they are tears to a wind which carries them short of your window. I weep again at night. Mary's brown babe did not rise for his mother. The forest is burning. and the heart dips its wings as in love. It is not that I'm now only mortal: all is safe and grave as usual in that victory. But my father no longer walks in the forest.207 IN MEMORY OF W. I sink to provisional glories. . The wine is half gone. fragile night like a knife is tender to the flying soul it strips. discontent.

but then I began to reward him for good behavior. A child shrieked and stiffened his knees because Mother would not let him pet the parrot. The parrot sat there. . "He used to be nervous all the time.208 A LITTLE REPLY TO PAVLOV AND SKINNER "I don't believe in negative reinforcement." said the trainer rather smugly. The parrot sat there. He soon learned to associate it with food." The parrot sat there. The mother whacked the child on the rear.

I tell the boy. an eager boy. The chased bird pants faster. for all traces of him are erased from the author's likeness on the book jacket. The campfire burns and consumes the wood of the hunter.209 HAD YOU LIVED The chased bird pants faster. an eager boy. The campfire burns and consumes the wood of the hunter. . This is what you'd have looked like by now had you lived. he will fall. he tires. I look at the author's likeness on a book jacket--wry. the frown gone deep. eyes unafraid: the face of a survivor but not of a savior. self-assured worn. he will fall. The man's a success. he tires.

where boys with joints in the corners of their mouths sing syncopated things and where the beaches I suppose are really white. with its poor who refuse meat and protect the sacred cow. Well I have enough at last though I've gone into debt for life to get it: to relations who whip me about the flanks with (o please no more) Christmas presents. . But my soul how my soul longs for Africa where the high sun hits bones tied round the ankle of a soft-voiced headman who runs through the grasses and doesn't talk about war or about peace. But my soul how my soul longs for India With its gods and its fevers. But my soul how my soul longs for the Caribbean all tainted so I'm told with Marxism and witch-worship.210 BY AND LARGE IT'S A CLEAN COUNTRY America is a clean country. hey rama rama. If you get worms in your gut here it's your own damned fault.

211 Yes for a few years here I've had plenty to eat. and I've just bathed. By and large it's a clean clean country. for a few minutes each day the men's missiles move over my head. .

. Something is always like something.212 POETS BANNED FROM THE REPUBLIC Plato has excised the image because metaphor is pure confusion to the mind. eh? Bah. metaphor makes you split-brained so you never see the thing in itself and wander around all day in dire pain.

their fine ascetic faces. They should all calm down and realize that a man who displayed such blatant exercises in desire had passed the point where desire is binding .213 THE MASTER SENT INTO EXILE I wonder if the newly enfranchised students of the zendo might be unaware that there exists an unbridgeable difference between master and student. His students are still frozen at the old proto-puritan stage: they consider what we used to call free love (so long ago) expendable not in general but in particular. For their master's abdication was all but deliberate. And his exploitation of his servitors awarded them their martyrdom. but rather gaining in what might as well be called might. I suspect he knew he was losing nothing by losing position.

. like all aging potentates. has something to teach them.214 and that therefore he.

Lord. . Let me lie down in green pasture intoning Songs of the seabirds. the nightbirds Honing Knives of their wings on the flint of the storm.215 HONING Let this cup be taken from me. a circle. Lord: take it from me. Lord. But he answered only Always Till I felt him turn my Face to the wind Which blew around and Around again. the raven. My master is torn By the tear in the eye of the cattle Lowing As belly deep in the river they Sweep Through the fields of the dream of a Child. and Lord I am Born Anew to the sound of it blowing The seagull. A cycle. There's still all of Time to avoid it.

216 And blow me down mild. Flush berried lips and I supped and was filled With something quite other than what I had willed In the days before I came round to know To put away childish things. . And the cup was held up to my lips. I cried to the sky But it was too high.

the shipper type. neither here nor there. But that's not at all what I wanted to say. traveler. the sad standard raised in a cancer ward. but rather that it's neither remembering nor forgetting. a purple flower only just now opening in clear morning light: and the latter by an ineffable But. traveler. I wanted to say there's too much remembering and too much forgetting: the former characterized by an elemental tat tvam asi. a blandness. . Your mistake is you assume I don't exist. But that's not what I wanted to say.217 ON HIS EMBARKING FOR ENGLAND You're the chipper type. the chipper clipper ship skipper type. and that words would erase it if they could.

Herculio sat wildly in the thigh of a mothlike den--raucous. The neighbors were monsters. Not a pod to kiss in.218 I AM AN ANCHORITE Cast in the pocky mask of a decayed imagination. . pick: I can no longer say what I can no longer distinguish in the grey and greyer fog. I languish. I pull and pinch with deathbed jitters at the wool of a social blanket. In other words. they lived on in the dawn of species demise--I mean scars on their faces. Pick. inconsolable. a fair number were already numb to the appeal of horror in which they lived like unshelled peas. like not a pit to hiss in. With a handicap like that he was bound to be fairly ironic and indeed sat wildly in the castlike din of a million snorting jailbirds. slave to a manner like a tanner-and-dyer born. heads shaved. Language a soporific one of the best. grim mouths casting imprecations and shoulders scrawnily drawing in on themselves in the backseats of busses.

219 But rhythm downpulls fasting cells in the hut of bones. (Go down. I was spared for lesser things. And had I ever asked to float on the skin of the sea like a bark of victory? Did I ask to be corn punned and puckered in the refuse of midwestern suns? I wanted to stay under. But no. way down in Egypt land. a mermaid by birthright. . Herculio.) I wanted to be the eldest son slain for lack of blood on the lintel.

heavy. He's only a thief. the doctor said. Barred from the stores. now. Shattered his vision.220 STANDING ON HIS HEAD He came to me again in this town Upside down Upside down. But I doubted. battered his brow. And never been fed. Ponderous. now. . built like a bear. Shaking his head from side to side.

Well this moon no longer offends. Sometimes I swim in a silver sea or lie in a car on the beach with my head thrown back in the sheer light.221 WANE Every time the moon is full I think of you. Sometimes I think. I no longer count on its ever being so again. So long. Usually I am a harsh mistress angry that man ever looked on my pocked face only to leave. Stern side of the moon: if I vowed anything to you I vowed to keep blackness behind me. to show only the tracks you left on my white shining mind. Song of Solomon (that wiseacre who simply wanted to be known as fair to all concerned). uttering. The moon's not full at the moment. . "One giant step for mankind!" as if there were any such a thing. It's too late you've made me wait too long.

hacking it to bits with a harsh heel. and it is only by faith that I manage to differentiate the two. but a deeper silence from his direction overlays the overall silence. exactly. and even third? You've taken refuge in the idea that no one is climbing a high hill. A silence rests on the silence. It doesn't work. But what is my climb to you? Are you not a man unutterably bored with first person tales? and second person too. You've taken refuge in the city dweller's delusion that wilderness is barren and that the voices of birds are not brothers' voices. but scratched records put on expressly to irritate you. He does not shriek again. I hear a jay foray into the silence with one raucous question. But I know I am human and suppose that only by softening my voice can I persuade him to listen to something so strange. everything weary but my knees. .222 THE JAY As I climb the cinder hill. I whistle back: pucker my lips and try to make a sound comprehensible to him. be honest.

and that you won't listen to their dead songs. and his cry is answered--immediately!--by the cry of another jay in another tree. .223 You've told me in the most dread hour that the trees whispering in your joyful voice are liars: you've told me that the trees are liars evermore. But up on the hill the jay is ignoring me now completely. and the wind is beginning to move and the sun is going down and I won't be home till after dark today.

Emily. a sprig of springtime's long and sure release. I'm losing my sliding scale. No. I'm not like you. for Higginson's a prig to whom I--pray. DICKINSON Emily. . you are a breath that blows half-noticed on his brow. But I'm a winter-hearted suitor mourning the loss of the here and now.224 TO MS. I cease to matter when my master waits a day.

Get some dirt Underneath your nails And torment me not With critical tales. Don't argue with me: It makes me weep. . The matters of which You can talk about Don't carry with me So very much clout. Poets prefer To wake and to sleep.225 MILKMAID'S LAMENT Poets are writers Who hate to write. They have better things To do with the night.

226 LET WITCHES LOVE OLD MEN Let the gypsies hold up lanterns as the clouds roll in. Couldn't find the bats or bantams in the raw cold night. let the fools all give birth! I saw a sinking phantom rise a moment in the western sky. O lordy.. Let the fools give birth. High to the vision of his unrepenting sigh: "Praise n praise n let the fools give birth. Heard the drinking bantam crow and bats saw fly High to the vision of my old love's laugh. and the light? . Let witches love old men." . Let termagants tipsy in their garrets bow: "Praise to the Lamb. I'll love you in your mousetrap/rat-trap/stone soul's lair. Summer as the days slip by: Praise n praise. All praise to the Lamb!" Let twist-toed scarecrows rouse in every graveyard on the earth..Reign. Love you for a moment or a long long year: Winter as the owls cry. Couldn't find my soul: where was the Lamb. Praise n praise n let the Lamb now reign on earth.

And to termagants tipsy as the moon sank low.) . Gave it to the gypsy to the wild wind's sound. Gave it to the ground. (So let the witches laugh.227 Couldn't find my cloak or broom or see my face anymore. Couldn't hear a mouse's squeak or a lion's fading roar. Only witches love. Blowed it to the phantom for his ashen gloom. Stowed it in a garret or a rat's round room. Let all the witches praise The old old men.

Oriental bones: not a cross but curved and mobile to escape on. But five toes. As oft as you do. Crucifixion Bones of the feet creaking 'cross the floor. II. Carry me 'cross the floor. a pentatonic scale. Creaking cross: what for? For piercing the soil of Calvary. Resurrection . Take.228 ON CALVARY I. eat. Capon: price paid. Cape on to turn aside the wind. remember me. Take up your tree and follow me for my feet are split by spikes of importunity.

Praise the Mother and forgive the Son. "This is my cross.229 Salvator Mundi and Mater Dolorosa met alongside a felled ponderosa. Only firewood. Your race is run. Woman to love what he has done." Man condemned to do. . "No." claimed God the Son.

He tried to persuade me we both could be sure Of rational structure that's clear and so simple. But God too was cunning Hunted me down Now He had won. Spoiled my night.. He said. And I WAS having fun In this flesh-tinted sun: With the temple's debris I made myself free. Better the night--any old night. Draw back thy hand from my precious quicksand! He showed me connectives objective and pure.230 DELILAH He called me lucid: I turned in fright. He assured me he certainly DID understand. But I cut off a lock and down came the temple! Yes I cut off his hair as he hollered Unfair! And bald-pated surfaces shown like the sun. He spied me in shadow Hiding in shadow .. "Let there be light!" Overwhelmed me with sight.

231 .

) (But death shall be no more. By every passing whirlwind that scours the desert floor-But the minute that he said it. (Ye always have the poor. very different in the Age of Faith! He walks on water. Upon this cross I die." Then Jesus wept. I'd only stand and gawk. pursued by every wraith. he became a crashing bore. walks through walls. It scraped the desert floor. "Now God like man's forsaken me. "I'd rather slop the hogs. An angel pushed the stone aside." Quoth the flying horseman. "or split the stubborn wood Than tread the streets of shining gold or be forever good.232 LAUGHING JESUS "'Twasn't any different in the Age of Faith.) 'Tis very." Three days in the tomb he lay. Darkness crept Across the burning sky." said he. A stone stopt up the door. I'd rather soap my saddle or sit and watch a hawk-If I HAD to go to Heaven. .

He lies and laughs in the desert grasses. And when the flying horseman passes. .233 Spies every sparrow as it falls.

234 INFLUENCE SOUP Sir: In honor of doctrine which is only an accretion and only incidentally applicable to the discipline of your subject. It was all he could manage to ignore the legacy of the past which various parties kept dumping in his lap. Finnegan's Wake is sufficient proof that something was the matter with his memory. . However. I am surprised that you let his utter innocence of his damned influences (influence soup) escape your attention. continue to suffer terribly. Picking like a hen on philosophy. You have no right to turn James Joyce into a disciple of Aquinas. But we the mass at your elbow. I must say that it is always a shame to have to acquaint the lecturer with the moral imperative. we the proletarian audience. If Joyce was blind he was simply blind: deaf: dumb. you proceed to establish a pecking order for lyric poets and then to embellish this triumph with facts. he did manage.

235 Of this the class should be left fully aware. .

Watch the window-washer Wash off the windowpane. Infection's on the wane. .236 MIGRAINE AURA Latticework inflection.

Buzz off!" The fox went out to the field to check his line of traps. mein herr?" said his pals to the russet swain. "And why are you pestering me. The fox thought he'd better warn her not to break a leg. "I've been laying here now for many a year.237 DON'T COUNT YOUR GOLDEN EGGS BEFORE THEY HATCH "Climb to my rooftop--Dance your dumb contradanse. compiled by Italo Calvino." Italian Folktales." From "The Little Geese. The house will stand. His lips he kept close-sealed till he stopped for a quick game of craps. "So how have you been. and on will play the band. buccaneer?" said the goose to her russet swain. "Sniff any fat geese on the air?" . and no one but you has deigned to hassle and jostle in coldhearted jeer. The goose went into the barn to lay her golden egg.

and the fox he took their dare: "Go for it!" The goose stepped out of the barn on both her fine webbed feet: "Oh golly gee & oh darn! Where can I go in this heat?" She took herself down to the stream. hitting his head. turned to steam: . But there stood the russet swain. he made it all plain. the fox.238 Well. He was wrapt in a vulpine dream and never noticed the rain which fell on his intricate scheme-which.

and ah'm faelin' sa sad and faerlarn. The fox has been stung by a bee! "Tee hee. "Oh tee hee." . sainkin' sa low on useless old pegs. He saw something red give a jump. He picked him a little clump of violets." said the goose. then subside to the grass--and 'twas gone. down by the john." He sat himself down on a stump and noticed his goose was gone.239 Alex the farmer clomped out to the barn to gather his golden eggs: "Aye.

240 IMPERSONATORS OF MORNING Impersonators of morning under a calm gold sky: --the housewife hanging up her clothes. the crow outdoing the jay. Morning itself grows slowly in splendor. making work. then reconsidering the trip back when the freshness of the world at last strikes them. waiting for the cyclist in cap and sweatpants to say a word in passing --the dog charging out to fend off the cyclist with a terror of brash barking --the other dog looking up with one eye. standing around. then turning his old head stiffly aside so as not to give offense. nothing can remain noisy for long underneath its canopy--grows steadily in brightness until every object stands outlined. sitting around. . the sparrows on the fence speaking a language of careless comfort --the men from the electric company. and laying it back on grizzled paws --the jay breaking the silence. feeling too guilty to quite enjoy their freedom --the lovers lately risen driving lazily to the store for more wine. from the telephone company and from the roads division. stomach pendulous from six successful births --the horse hanging his head over a barbed wire fence.

You can count on a room with me sitting stirring homemade mocha pudding and drinking California chablis and listening to the walking blues talking about that streamlined train. There are hundreds of thousands and all of them excellent lovers. ol' Jack Rabbit. I drink to bad poets. I will never stop. BREATHING I sit here sipping nectar on the occasion of having desecrated your grave. . I have not stopped playing Cripple Clarence Lofton. I splash oil ochres on the canvas of my desire because I hear your released feet running across the square miles of my beautiful painted deserts. and circle back.241 THIS IS BILLIE HOLIDAY. Run.

business: desire transmuted grown ravelled under the ropes is delicate still: a matter of hands.242 NO DAMAGE Heartless heart of a darkened mind: you call yourself will. Rhapsody comes suddenly to the obedient servant of spirit: the one already gifted with the word yes. If not for you. reluctantly. Sterile mimic. It is not bad. and precedent demands. What my nemesis hints is my own business. perennially. implicit dogma. gall and wormwood would long have had their way. What is it then that breaks in a creature whose heart has been considered unnecessary for some years now: is it the will? . Two million years is not a long wait (the voice of will cracks in the telling). you resemble those who once gave not this patient thing superior to the great grotesque sensualities but only bodies. under cover. I need not thank you.

243 .

244

EL PEDESTAL

On a post in the desert I sit Deciding what's fatuous, what fit To be bound by the tie that binds, To be found by the guy that finds: Great God. Nor do I blaspheme in my intrepid vigil: I have not heard, out here, quite yet, where they've interred Virgil. For all I know he wanders still, one step ahead of Dante. I am tied to one spot Beneath the black sun And it's not, I assure you, A question of fun But of waiting, outwaiting An uplifted sire Who's consigned me to wait In his stead for the fire To finally fall from the sky. Why Escalante, with his expedition, Once passed quite close to me! He didn't pause, But raised his arm In the Spaniard's brusque salute. "Adelante!" Onward! was what he said.

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But a henchman of his held back and gave bread, And moistened my lips with a drop of El vino De la vida Que pasa Como sueño De sueños.

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THE SPILL Granny landed on her fanny. "It's feast or famine," said she, and picked herself up with the aid of a stick, and sat down to sup, and finished up quick, and passed down a scrap to the cat on her knee.

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PROFESSION The moon was a caracol shell of silver, But my gliding eye fell on cretins and saints, Cretins and saints Carved like lines on the face of the light. My every ode was to some poor sage Lost in his nook Picking his brains for a book I could love. And I did, I did love the brainwhorls of myriads. It was my profession. I made no other. I followed my brother the moon with lowered eyes Till I died in my room, Reading, Blind at the last, Ablaze.

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CHECKMATE Said the Amazon to the Neo-phyte: It's been a long time since the spark of our mute neat crossing rose in its inexplicable pose to breast the blank tides of the dark. And I never did catch your name, I only just noticed (re)birth was your game. But game to me is an antelope, a flash of sharp heels on the windward slope, a print in the cinders, and scat, a sure thing for my singleshot prowess, a bird on the wing in the face of the sun. .............. Said the Neo-phyte to the Amazon: It's over, my dear, but very well done.

rye whiskey and woe: quick as we come.) . perdition.249 (Ambition. more quickly we go.

. "I don't speak more than I have to. the mountain poet: remembered him in spite of the fact that the gendarmes of the Cultural Revolution have scrubbed his poems off the cliffs.250 I LIVE ON COLD MOUNTAIN On a weary day of prose. I don't give lessons.. I called out to Han Shan. I remembered Han Shan. there rests only one seed on the glassy ice: who will feed the fliers?" On a weary. Bird cries fall from the empty sky. sultry day on the edge of a city. fallen too far into the common discourse." said Han Shan.. I sit without shoes and watch. "I live on Cold Mountain and no map leads to my home. And no one answered. flung too far from the broken boulders. the mountain poet. . High clouds rebound from the face of the heights.

"You are unguided. untamed. One came to tell me all my love was vain. a creature bent and braced by chance." I laughed. Ah precious lover. "You call that food?" he hissed . not daring or not caring to take up the higher toil of those who would escape the coils of circumstance. Come follow me lest darkness cleave your pate. Ah God. It snows. its careless weather-weaving takes our hapless life to task and makes us pay the common price of strife: Inferno. Its icy warp and woof. but then he spat upon my plate. Dear God.251 A DIVINE COMEDY I was a scion of the humble soil. lost. I never noticed till too late the elements of hell. hear the wind! The blizzard off the mountain falls on our tin roof.

Purgatory is my realm. I knew no more Till in a trice hard starlight called me back: hard harsh those singing spheres. a canticle divine." he said.252 and wrapped me with his cloak. "and follow me. a midnight which did not abate. Its nether lake will purify desire. and I its virgin potentate will turn your dross to gold . My name is Virgil. no doubt: but how my mortal eyes were burned and singed my earthly ears! "Arise. And darkness fell.

He would not let me rest among the pliant weeds. . and felt my sweaty brow as if in other days I followed at the plow and saw the loamy furrows roll along the heavy blade. A vision flaring from the shade.253 if only you will follow me." I held a calloused hand above my eyes. a night of shattered promises and shards of broken hope. I will. He would not slake my thirst or offer meat. The mettle of my poor benighted mind was tested then. I will believe!" I swore. and stumbled in my master's wake. The blue and burning vision which whispered like a tide. "But still. He was no more a guide than Beatrice had been a lover to that man who too attended Virgil through a dim unearthly light. a tide of azure swept upon the shore of Purgatory's deep and reed-encircled lake. and wept a little at the cry of some sweet bird whose eggs I'd buried there.

and "Master!" shouted I. I wandered on. And these were wailing. for in my dream I'd lost him. Full well I knew that without aid I never could determine what they asked.254 which rushed the reedy shore. now that. I only heard the echo of my aching voice which drove upon the cliffs . hailing me and pleading: now this. bore within its bruiséd heart the countless souls of those who likewise came before. almost in anger.

then. my master Virgil or the quiet soul beside me in a bed I'd never left. Its . this face: but was it. don't you know that this has all along been Paradise enough for you and yours. I dropped my head upon my breast and wept and wished I'd never left the verdant meadows of my homely past. I knew it well. hear the wind! The blizzard off the mountain falls on our tin roof. Dear God. "Why child. and someone smiled. Ah God. It snows.255 which all around with blind eyes watched. Ah precious lover. while snowdrifts rose outside the rough-hewn door? I really couldn't tell. for bird and beast and tame and wild? My child?" I traced the outlines of his smile. And someone wiped my tear away.

.256 icy warp and woof. its careless weather-weaving takes our hapless life to task and makes us pay the common price of strife.

. The smooth patter of eon upon eon. apes. past upon past. Genius is unseen. sprout palms.257 THE EVENT Ev o lu tion is slow. binds the foot to a secret ledge from which it could not fall if it would. rock rising from a dead sea to ring itself with coral. blinds the beholder to itself. man. parrots and an odd fish. Evolution choked when it tried to swallow genius. was rudely interrupted when mutant man ran in.

.258 inventing a future.

.259 SUBJECT CRITERION Thou Wendell Berry woodman in a dream that Wendell Berry would be what I deem: a heavyhanded hewer. not a naysayer: is what I seem. maker and a doer. worker not a player.

260

THE WOMAN'S MOVEMENT FORGIVES EDWARD ABBEY Most of all you wanted out of clichés like the bit of being an environmentalist or bitter backwoods salvator mundi. Monday you stopped by the bar all balled up in a rage of humor and human risk; it wasn't risque when you spoke of love, the common sense: not bad really all those tales of heart-shaped ends. Your end I'm certain was heart-shaped, the obit said you died of a circulatory ailment, and doesn't everyone lucky enough? Don't get me wrong, I for one (and one for all) remember the fearsome foe you'd have been had I been born a little earlier, had you been crowned a little later. Most of all you were a philosopher, such a good one that I, who can't but believe, announce in good time that you are a philosopher, hobo-king, and doctor by now

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of divinity.

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ALL FOR LOVE
Oh teacher, teacher, marry me. You'll see how happy we can be. Of all my acts, this is the corker: I'm published now in the New Yorker! But the poetry editor gives a sniff. "We never take stuff that has a whiff Of the bareheaded backwoods brat about it. It runs in the face of all we've touted: The lavender nun and the flower unflouted By louts and your lewder roustabouts. "Better luck elsewhere. 'Fair-fair is fair-fair,' To be faintly third-world in our first-world diction. Why don't you turn to humorous fiction? Why not submit that wit to forms A little bit closer to big-city norms? You remind us of course of Dorothy Parker And Vachel Lindsay and Ogden Nash And Gertrude Stein, the way you clash With the light fantastic, though somehow starker And more perverse And dunderheaded And not quite terse Enough." So I fold my hands and resign myself To remaining ever on the shelf

263
Up here with the cans of tomato paste And tuna fish. It's a life of waste. It's a wallflower's life (a flower, at least). It's the beggar unheeded at the feast Of the rich feastgiver who doesn't need The blooming wish, the burgeoning risk, The florid calling Of a female Johnny Appleseed falling Off the rails, into the mouth Of the beast. -Like the least Of you, my brethren. Oh teacher, teacher, marry me. We'll sail away across the sea To make our home in the British Isles And wake each other with daybreak Smiles.

264

DUST You think I'm coming to tear you off the tree and devour you seed and all. You think I'm traversing the deserts deliberately to give you scope for your revenge to make a spectacle of myself to out-martyr you to put off goodbye. But, It's just a slowness you give me and measureless depths: Murky backwaters iridescent on the surface, rainbowed, empurpled, flyspecked. The layers of fern and frond in a rainforest on in a flawed emerald. In short, eternal things smiled upon by reigning immortals with round bellies and red beards and gold back behind the irises of their eyes. We won't catch it this time, either. Expect nothing but my tireless patient pursuit, you gray mouse in the sights of a white hawk in a whirlwind of deathless

265 dust. .

Graybeards are dozing. Sort it all out. piledrivers. survivors. Mists and miasmas. Gentlemen bulldozing A corridor back to you. Ma's razzmatazz at Venerable Bede's old bust. Pull on the sugar-teat. Do now or die as you must. . Sleet days.266 DUST (II) Street boys. sweet. A simmering onion stew.

267 LIGHT FADES FROM THE RED AND WHITE INNOCENT STRIPES Am I the less for taking my half-tutored idiom to the back trails. necks broken. Wine barrel rooms are awash in sulfites. Fish and Game drags them away. where the only prize is peace on the face of a literate nun? Where the only publication is a confusion of passion in an aging aesthete? Hie Vachel Lindsay and remember America. and an urban ogre my pastures and primitive sleep. blinding anyway through a growing pall of smog as the light fades from the red and white innocent stripes. as the bright stars dim in our cobalt sky. But I can't go on about environmental decorum. Is the Statue of Liberty... fine idol she. bellies fetid for the flies. furred antlers a waste in the dust. for the usual Raven Scavenger has stolen my drunken tongue. land of unsought buffalo suns. Fat black bucks are strung up by their heels now from strands of barbed wire. any the less for Oklahoma roots? Will her crown of thorns fit the homeless head .

are still unstable. Their electric power plants run the blenders of nice white folks. black as a prune dying one day old of his mother's AIDS. Their uranium streams are picturesque shrines.268 here pillowed guileless in streaming gutter? Hie Vachel Lindsay and pray for this babe. Bury your children in reservation sands on a day of drought. But their feet. . DRINK! Barrel house kings have dignity now and a brand new name: Native American. beat drums for this Redskin babe. Vachel Lindsay.

where Hangs a city plague-blest. I quite gave up. often out of reach With hands entwined like hippies. "My dear. bowing from the strand To where the margin is. I'll take a rest. I lay upon the beach Where every itinerant comes down at last to teach: Cruel as crows' eyes. The septic sun itself was falling red and fast. keen as hens' teeth. His wife sat back and said." .269 TURNING WEST WHILE TALKING TO HIS WIFE He was turning west while talking to his life About the death she had vouchsafed him and About a castle built on shifting sand. the end of things. I coughed to let them know I'd noticed but They blinked and went on (on and on and on).

It wasn't easy to tell The smooth-faced infidel That he'd better beware of Jezebel. Queer bird. Jezebel ties her hair into tails In front of the looking glass.270 POR AMOR PARAMOUNT Bad boy. Took away my tongue. . It's got emeralds and pounded brass. Tailor-take-a-tuck in his suit of tails-He's a damn fine old jackass. Jezebel wears a girdle. Arms around his lass. mon. greybeard. Sweet man. street boy. 'at's reet. He was the meat rat. Sleek and low slung. But she was the mute cat. The mute cat keeps eunuchs Who bend to her will-They once caught the meat rat With his hand in the till.

) .271 (But it all faded. Nothing much Happened. The covetous cleaving and bizarre bereaving Took a tittle and jot of a toll. It fizzled. Then they both went on the dole And ended the rigmarole.

Baked unyielding snow-spliced tarn bottom. will fall like a sentiment. 'Way. like sands in the hourglass to this spot. That spot's filling up. like yon Yule bauble. real peasant ground and I'll take the low road. if it's pure. .272 DOWSER Seed of cold water. Rode lo these many years in highwayman's red garb Eureka he's risen forked stick flies up like an adder's tongue. a wonder. Willy. outta the way Willy. pearl-like and engendered.

273 LONGEVITY: AN UNFINISHED POEM The fraught sea cannot scar the stone It runs upon like blood on bone Unless it run for countless years Bereft of human ties and tears.. Its waves won't cry out to the gods.. .. The sea's not human in its ways. But gales and storms draw out its days Like gamblers beating down the odds.

drops to one knee. But just reach out and feel the lace and Furbelows upon my hat: harrumph! I'm a PIRATE. Peter." You hear that. Pete. From Tinkerbell I come to thee. I'm not a scarecrow. And my praxis. so Peter.274 YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING O Peter Pan: 'tis Captain Hook. "I never wished to fly so high. Just cut the cord and let me die. I sail the seas And steal my supper And don't pay fees Or taxes. please. by an heiress With a broadsword (privateer's sword) . I'm a cat. Parsed in Paris. Here in all my finery. And says her piece: "Now set me free. nor a spook. Fairy dust just makes me sneeze. Pan?--ill-named at that! If you're a forester. She folds her wings. Nor bounced out from some winery. done with Strings. And anyhow it's all a trick.

. not a Game for children. Flyboy. lukewarm? Taking time? Oy! I'd Rebuke you... Sir. On my galleon I've seen smoke.. Pan: Comprehend me if you can.275 Finds your blackboard by a Fluke! You say you're still bored. War at sea is not a joke. If you'd once wake up and rub the chalkdust from your Beautiful eyes...

it's no more than I expect. get yr. and that's a natural fact. press unpacked: steal this for a literary supplement. just leave it all intact.276 FINALE That's all for tonight. . equipoise. But if you still are queasy. boys. And console yourselves with the observation that it's the lowest chicken who most gets pecked. If I've shook yr. Let your minds rest easy-you've been so circumspect.

off with my barrow of rags for the street. Was the common old edge of the Scythemaster's scythe: A hint. seduction. ripely considered. Nostalgia was ever your word. a sigh Which cut deep. strange Is too tame and usual a word. 'Twas the word For failure to tip the felt hat to a bum Soliciting sweets from the curb Or a crumb From Chance's rich table. through my thousand houseless words. intimation. .277 LAST CHANCE And me you leave. Much too deep For a baglady's day. My tatters of things for carbuncled feet. fabled afar: Last chance to feed Lazarus Caviar. Mute. all my life. as vividly deep-dyed mute As the manufacturing marrow. For which. For all that you ever gave Me. So good night.

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