- Three Poems
Found Under a Chair Cushion
1. dark brown hair tie
One of a set, once primly wrapped around a card,in varying shades of brownmeant to match the ponytail ofanyone who wanders into the CVS.
I don't know what color my hair isso long have I paid to have it painted goldas an October leafwhen the pavement is cool and wet.
2. Mad Men DVD Season 1, Disc 1
I tried to watch it, I really did.It turned into an elephant, lumbering toward me.Then it tiptoed like a Disney elephant, eyeing me coyly.But lumbering and shilly-shallying areFaddish. I wanted a bullet,Express and true,I've always been a boy in that way.
The boys on the disc are splendid and shaved,In white shirts, courtiers forming a circleAround the Sun King.While the velvet folds of my spirit slept,I tried to believe I owed it to my generationTo act as a dutiful audience member.In other words, even in the presence of the Sun King,I tried being good but I got bored. [End Page 755]
3. flyer for housecleaning service: Life's too short to clean your own home
I agreed, and the family flew apart.Couch flew apart, hand towels flew apart.Dust overwhelms the lungs, twice daily.
Homer for example has never been out of print.Is it because he lacked ambition for the clean life?Capitalism + art + laziness, a dangerous formula!
4. seven dimes and one penny
Dimes are jewelry,pretty beyond what monetary valuewe endow them with.With 71 cents I could buyalmost three-quartersof a Snickers barbut I'm off sugar.71 cents is what I needfor three-and-a-half minutesof garage parking on 12th Streetwhile I teach the willing and unwillinghow to laugh and cryabout line breaks.
Or the amount I earnfor every dollar earned by a man.
Or shall I adorn myself with coinslike a mad girl in tatters.
It is time.It is time to wrench out all the ugly hairs,the Sun King approacheth! [End Page 756]
6. redhaired Playskool® plastic kid dressed in jeans and gray hoodie, paint-spattered
This small person appears to be angry,having spent ten years under a chair cushion,having first suffered abuseduring some long-forgotten crafts project.He is furiousbut is nevertheless giving mea thumbs up. [End Page 757]
On First Meeting Roddy Lumsden
Ear Inn, Spring Street January 19, 2002
Light: supreme optical clarity, quick-dry, scratch-resistant.Clouds: feather-pregnant, groaning, insistent.
Exterior: A puzzle, one continuous Olde New Yorke alley.I did not know you. You did not know me.
Interior: You. Me. Cheap-ish beer. Warm-ish tea. Sonnets.Yours: My Dark Side, My Pain. Mine: My Best Self, My Luvox.
The possessive a tack, pinning 14 lines to the Beat wall.Yours: Thick and celtic, crafty. 14 lines tacked outside the confessional.
We hid the secret we were too shy to give:It's only part of what I do, the other part is live.
Confess! Confess! But poets don't list sinsand dreams of the night never alter where the morning begins.
Exit and scene: New friends, happy. And un-.Words I didn't dream to say: Goodbye! Next year in London! [End Page 758]
On First Reading Susan Wheeler
57th Street, c. 1995
In Coliseum Books, the calendarsimply december. Answers I have none,or feeble. And how could questions be sourcesof pleasure or of profit? Her answers flick:blue or 29 or candlebright.December windows. Snowflakes spit like candles.Cold, and books on shelves that make me cold.All around, on shelves, final lines shrivel,dead filaments in a lightbulb. Who can stopwithout subtracting? Only, it seems, she.
It was "What Memory Reveals" and Ilived near Columbus Avenue at the time.How sickening that fallow orange juice inall the most delicious ways! It said:You're responsible for your own zoo.I stretched toward it, the zoo, which had been alien,like a...