Common Knowledge 12.3 (2006) 508-515
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Eight Late Poems
Northern SighTo the left, the road to the harbor. It's not the inhabitants
that matter, so much as the topographical features.
The walk to the reformed church, red and white
surveyors' poles constitute the idea of God.
The way the road bends at a zoological negotiation—
the addressee of my lettergrams might be pleased to call it love.
People don't go to Kyoto or Venice. The world
happens in out of the way places
Just mind you don't leave any tracks [End Page 508]
Edge of TownNew buildings, unborn
rooms, no more noise please
in your coffins after ten P.M.
Bread and salt
for the single occupancy tenants—
lay it down, the insects
don't mind waiting and
will whisper condolences
into your white sliced. [End Page 509]
After Setting Down the BiographyMaybe
Trabizond would have been the place.
The bleak Northern shore
and a vocabulary out of nursery rhymes.
He doesn't know,
won't ever know. [End Page 510]
OpticsAs the eyesight gets weaker,
you take an extra step
to make out your friends.
Put on your glasses,
wear contact lenses
only to catch
a grandstand view
of the dirt
under your enemy's fingernails . [End Page 511]
NamesNames with i
or names with o,
the effort to remember
seems beyond me.
It all hisses by
like the hiss on the phone,
I listen hard.
A lot of conversations
in the year 1200
but the pronunciation is different,
which throws me off.
Someone with a
is addressing me now,
a particular pressure of the hand
that I don't return,
a sip of wine
a leftover u,
an unavailing y. [End Page 512]
AugsburgThe sluggish light.
I used to like going swimming with Agnes Bernauer
but she had herself sewn into a sack
Light is supposed to be fast,
but it doesn't reach me.
So she found a possibility
to escape from me,
sluggish as light,
fast as light. [End Page 513]
From Seume's PapersWhether the honest Hurons
were able to
compensate for the rising air-pressure—
I never met them.
I'm thinking about qualities
far beyond honesty.
But it might do:
as comfort, as discomfort,
as meteorological observation,
as souvenir of foreign parts,
as relief against
a gouty death. [End Page 514]
LaterThrottle back my experiences
to 93 and beyond.
At any rate
I have an engagement
for New Year's Eve,
Higher up the mountain,
on a chaise longue, I'm pleased,
don't encounter much
in the way of variety.