Before tackling the actual infinite
etherized into some cliché of blue,
you should practice with the difficult moment,
the heirloomed crystal serving platter
shattered in a baroque fit,
the celebration abruptly ended.
You should reflect upon why you sent the letter
filled with precision machine buzz and thorns.
Maybe it was because of an absent mother?
Decorative shadow on the dining room wall?
At first the invisible is tangible
only when it’s rotten with technique,
so daily you should exercise your technique
as though the great guest house were on fire,
which it is, the house of upper-cased Being
being consumed while you sit here reading
thinking fretting planning and Big River
follows its clumsy course to the sea.
Stupid lugubrious, stupid myopic river,
who asked for its prehistoric opinion anyway.
The heart is made of sturdier stuff
than that neo-platonic sweetness and light.
Admit it. On hundreds of occasions
you’ve tried to piece it all back together
only to discover some hissing swan
or vaguely swan-shaped piece missing,
and still you feel you’ll be made whole again.
At first, wanting everything to feel all romantic,
I memorized a handful of the, quote,
immortal words of the eternal Shelley,
suspecting that there was something to his
each poor passing moment is
a rare and delightful beauty. So sue me.
No, really. It felt like a season
of floating the shallows submerged
in a tenure of dreamless sleep. Cool,
that is, like a chill pill. It was. And later.
Later I just flailed and sobbed. And screamed
what have I done with my goddamn keys?
Thinking, that’s a pretty funny gesture alright.
When I slip into the night, what do you think
stares tellingly back? A tongue
tied marionette spot-welded to some jr.
administrator’s gilded age? Or history
personalized then gone astray
in a Jersey-sized thicket of how-to books
fencing out even vaster forests of dream
and need? For two decades
dialectics of loss seemed just the thing.
Now military software shadow boxes
with every third tank-like car. Where
oh where leads artlessly to my oh
my Ohio, that Lebanon of the pastoral
scheme. Ever been there? Me neither.
Ever seen a live one? Yep, me too,
and I’m still paying for it, spitting bits
of faulty teeth into the offering plate
while the morning’s chainsaw chorus
chirps oh take me back to the backyard
garden’s potted delight where the house
sparrows squawk at the house finches
as the goldfinch flutters and cries. Wait!
I know that dance. I pull my pants on
one leg at a time. Give me a minute.
Okay. I can show you those ropes now.
Offer it a bribe. Say Happiness
why don’t we take the chill ease
of this spring day and make something special,
you and I, some demiurgic cocktail
to sip as the sirens plunge
over the edge of our private peso opera.
The future adores its hometown parades,
the donkeys on bikes trailing flies.
Biting flies. Fireflies. Suggest fireflies.
Say Happiness I sure like you more
now that you’re no longer a bio-
in the developmental leagues—nice cut,
but no turd in the parlor.
The enthusiast’s dream is a rapt idol,
an escape module fashioned like a second head
from government surplus neoprene.
Describe one bird you have never seen.
Show it to Happiness. Say, Happiness
these balloons are seized by razor wire
while yonder burgles a mortgaged wind.
We’ll give you one chance to make it swing.
Patty wants me to write a poem titled
“Poem in Homage to this Poem” mostly
because it has always been about love with her,
about needing to explain away the obvious with her
with reference to the slightly more obvious—
hunger and its descending call notes,
fire’s recourse to flame.
With her it’s all let’s go to the store let’s go to the movies all the time.
It’s all round and round in some Rorschach’s pond
of spontaneous intent
like free falling in an empathic elevator.
If she wasn’t at work right now I would need to invent her.
If the stores ran out of sugar,
if the bees abandoned their hives,
if I wasn’t teaching right now I’d surely call her.
The classroom’s been set on fire, I’d say.
Someone spilt sun all over the desert.
And I’ve this pain in my head that aches like seltzer.
Let’s go and see about those shoes.
The bumper sticker on my friend’s car
reads Visualize Whirled Peas
and so I close my eyes and concentrate,
but all I can see through the grey snow
of dead ocular cells is me suspended
over my desk with its clutter of photos,
last month’s letters and party bubbles,
my eyes screwed shut. It seems
I am trying to concentrate, but the day
keeps casting me out, reeling me in.
Fill the thistle sock for the goldfinch.
Water the lava rocks. First coordinate
then subordinate. If what you don’t know
cannot hurt you, then it must be impossible
to be hurt by anything at all, which sounds,
on the whole, like a pretty fine idea.
Like fifty one push-ups before coffee.
Like quote-end-quote now. Now!
Really now. Just place the needle
in the groove, the groove in the basket.
Asked what I wanted for my birthday.
Asked when I would finish the job.
Asked about the comma, the mocha,
the jaw pain which last week was chronic
today is mostly tragicomic, function
mimicking form like Matisse’s Dance
where all seems union, more free & perfect,
and bright levitation in the presence of flowers.
Asked where I wanted her to place the flowers
I responded that everywhere would be fine.