I am a passenger in the shipwreck of time
And a bizarre symptomology
Upon my understaffed body
As a vulture on a long awaited meal
And if you think this mode of expression
Rules out poetry, I assent.
And I invite you to supply a wretch
Of your own
With as impressive a salvo of symptoms
To salute the world with
And snatch despair from the imaginary
Jaws of hope
But for me, hope is a defective
In a Stygian darkness
So please all your good pleaders
Roll upward prayers on my
That I might have some remission
And if not, then remember me while
This my poem
Is eminently forgettable
And at this, this work declares
August 30, 2009
“I’m happy,” she says, and means that happiness
Means that she’s married, no more and something less.
Born in the cradle, married out of there,
She chose her husband as she combed her hair.
Ego bred aggression, and aggression spite,
Thus in others humaneness became prerequisite,
And a mask to put on, to force others to don,
While she can take hers off if others keep theirs on.
Her mother programmed her to be clean, to wive,
And keep the world reminded that she was superlative.
The best of everything, the dots on the dotted line,
A self-possessed and persevering Frankenstein.
“But I’m not perfect,” she admits, thus liberating her
To chop the other fellow into hamburger.
Her husband’s personality fled headlong to its lair.
To dominate completely a comfortable chair.
Thus father and mother to her children, she
Provides them with loves in times of adversity;
A kind of three-layer cake, wherein one can infer
That she moulds her children, as her mother her.
Acquaintances are mirrors, emotions a hoard,
And all existence must conform, or be ignored.
It is very honorable to love a woman
In the spring, at midday, in the shade
Of the very long ago, which is only human,
And the weeping willow glade
Very possibly is Eden
In the middle of which transacted a trade
Which reminds us that, when the world began
Woman was contained in the side of man.
To be a snake is not very honorable
And yet he was the go-between.
And all of us, or those who are able
To see the truth instead of the fable,
At the center of it, or whatever I mean,
Has some part of him snake, liable
To tempt and be cursed, and crawl, having done,
Responsible for every mother’s son.
So love, why not, it is a very serious business,
And supports commerce, industry, wars,
Poetry, women, I am told, somewhat less
Than honorable, and leaves not scars
Which can’t be healed by the next generation, or mars
Anyone’s beauty sleep, permanently, and the princess
In the story awoke, and was alive. Now let the song,
Its singer, return to their beginning, end, where they belong.
This poem is reprinted from The Academy of American Poets, University and College Poetry Prizes, 1960-1966
When time and thought conjoin
In the reflecting pool of memory
Quite often there sign to me
The shapes of butterflies I’ve known,
Stamping their abstract signatures
Upon the medallion of the moment,
Piercing the inner eye like a wildflower
And, like it, filling the heart
With an incomprehensible sense
Too all-comprehensive to be borne
Except in silence,
And impossible to reduce to thought.
My niece also
Draws me into her orbit,
Signing the shape
Of years to come
In her continual present,
And my hopes for her
Blend with memories
Too long to promise that I’ll gaze
At length upon her in her glory,
But perhaps my part-time gaze
May sign to her
In some far forgotten future day,
And wink, like a friendly, falling star,
To tell her of my love.
From their buds the roses pop
And the long day slinks
to an end
When will all this come to a stop
This road, this road without a bend.
The curlew calls upon its nest
And I think of the girls I have known
Oh curlew, the one that I loved best
Comes to my mind fully blown.
Cry then, for all past years blend
And the pains of living abate
Not mine to avert what the savage
Though precisely what I await.
June 22, 2014