Wednesday, February 17, 2010



Here, the buildings are splayed like jack-o‘-lanterns:
the big grin of windows separated by stone
and metal, illuminated by a lamp that may
be overhead or may be in another room.
Orange, yeah. They’re orange inside the
eyes, the mouth, the nose. The outside is
black against gray overcast. It could rain.
It has been and it could again. I do not
watch the sunrise when it has yet to happen.

The first time it started we were both eighteen:
I promised you would start to feel everything.
I want to fuck the trees so you went west
to Washington whose evergreens I have seen.
I was drawn to a pile of leaves last week and
your hair was in it, whispering –like the
filament of a light bulb that is about to go out.

Incendiary Balloons are dangerous.
The Japanese sent them over the Pacific.
They landed in some remote areas of
Oregon and California. They killed a
few children who tampered with their
release mechanisms. The Americans,
at that time, were developing another
kind of weapon that they would also
send over the pacific in a different kind
of balloon. That too would explode.
It took me a twenty-five hundred mile
plane ride and thirteen hours on a train
to learn that the Japanese attacked
America on four separate occasions
between December 7th 1941 and July
11th 1945. I was not surprised: some-
times knowledge takes time.

The moon held a twilight sad. Is that
a line from another poet because the
moon held with it a twilight sad, an
arrow and bowl of tulips. It sighed
What use are things to a form in
orbit? Circles in squares –a massing
of objects– on top of another.
– a body on top of another– in orbit;
Love? Letters. Asparagus. Today
I will take out a life insurance policy.

A friend tells me I should settle down
with a nice woman who is ignorant to
things that keep me preoccupied. What?
Am I supposed to talk to keep her mind
at ease at night? I don’t say this. I lie.
I agree. I listen to her breathe. I want
to be loved like the pediment of a temple
front: ordered around and sat on like a
stylobate. This is a mouth that is much
prettier when clenched tight, kept quiet.

It is nice to be ignorant of language:
in not understanding one is left to listen.

1 comment:

Will said...

The first two times through, I missed what connected all this stuff. Presuming there is only one speaker, it became more obvious to me when I framed it all as a part of the addresses occurring in the 2nd stanza (and what sort of returns in the 2nd to last stanza). All the motion, all the traveling and exploding, is all part of both the connection between the speaker and the "beloved."

The first stanza might be worth reordering, or changing its place. Beginning the poem with a tableau (however beautiful) can lead to the assumption that everything is happening under that skyline (or in the head of the person watching it). Some of the stuff happening here was already over before that skyline even existed.

With that said, you have turns of phrase that evoke really powerful feelings. And you really know how to end a poem.

"It is nice to be ignorant of language: / in not understanding one is left to listen."