Skip to content
Menu

Poetry

1. February 2, 2008: Learning the Rosary

Birth is the first affliction
but there is no birth.
Birth is the beginning of endless affliction
ending finally in dying
but there is no death. This
has never been explained
to me in words, but
mutilations. I watch you
watching something
from the window and smiling
in fear. (Will I somehow
still know you?) I see you
fifty years from today.
God is still naming the stars one
by one. And I see you alone
pushing your shopping cart;
the sun outside, much like today,
is shining, but all
that is illusion.
But if all is illusion
what to make of the heart
being torn from my chest
and force-fed me? Nothing,
nothing at all I guess, not
in the world, not in this one
and only world
of time, where
I have a bad feeling
I won’t in that other
be able to see,
ever, your face; and with that
I am having a serious problem,
and still can find no words
for it, the star being
hidden, the one
that might have led me
back to where words
are, still standing
for all of these things
that don’t use them
and don’t need this
broken mouth—

2. February 2, 1988: Park Drive, Boston

Aldebaran.
Gray winter park. The
room overlooking the end—

Hour
when the commonplace
objects around you, the weather
and the light peculiar
to the time of dusk begin
gradually to take on an unknown but
disquietingly personal significance

Don’t look for happiness in the world

Don’t look for it
anywhere else

Don’t look for it—

It’s everywhere

Because I couldn’t feel it
didn’t mean it
wasn’t there

It was

once, up at four in the morning
in 1961
before you ever were
to read, to have two
whole hours of my own
from that strange grade-school world,
and two worlds

All the way to the part
where Athena
yanks Achilles by the hair
snapping his head back
to gaze upside down
into her eyes, her
gray invisible
eyes in the air

It was there
once in a glance
of feigned indifference at my watch
trolling some Combat Zone slasher flick
there in straight-faced exaltation, that
suddenly remembering
in eighteen hours and thirteen minutes
I’m going to see your face

Aldebaran. Now
rose gray winter
Fens. The
unfurnished
room overlooking the

rear of the MFA’s long vast white windowless
tomb of the unknown

veiled

increasingly in horizontal blizzard, one
inch closer

Now

let go, forget
all that

put the pen down, this time
shut up
and wait

in the wordless

the patience, it
will flash

again

Await

the desire
the delight
the

energy clear understandable

spirit to set out once more, maybe
for the final time
like Basho

to go
on foot
and die into the

beyond image allegory correspondence

 

3. February 2, 1998: Reunion

The best years came to me at the end, and
the best years came to me at the end
how many men can say?

And I’d like to keep it that way:
and every day I’ll get myself a taste
of being gone, I don’t care what I do.

And every day, every last day of my life
I have to sit down and write something,
oh I’ll write weirdly well, with each word

mirroring her, the mysterious quiet-
spoken beauty, the brilliant, remarkably
non-Euclidean blonde called my wife. But

how little say I had in what I said:
the best years came to me at the end, and
love, the next best thing to being dead.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Welcome to Image. 

We curate content just for you. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter ImageUpdate for free.


Pin It on Pinterest