IN RETROSPECT, IT ALL SEEMED SO EASY;
A steady progression from one year to
The next, but that is not quite what happened,
Or did you really die for your art?
Pebbles in the hand, the should's and would's and
Why not's of fifty or more months torn
Into love and come and some sentimental
Song about pine trees and palaces and theaters:
This grassy gloom has some
Sort of sheen to it, so buy me some anything
And pass me all your gloomy protests.
I’m the love and the buzz and the joy
And the frozen soda and the slaps and
All the other things you do not really care
To remember after all these months,
But why protest dead cults, or
Have you been too hard on yourself?
Have you been mean to yourself?
Have you made yourself suffer?
Do you think that it is better to suffer?
Have you made yourself feel hopeless?
Have you made your life hell?
Do you feel that you are undeserving?
Have you made yourself feel guilty?
Have you made yourself worry about things?
Have you tried not to want things?
Have you limited your goals?
The price for all this advice is ten billion years of servitude
Cleaning one cosmic swimming pool after another.
If you fill your pockets with pebbles it will not make
A damn bit of difference, but at least you will look
More serious when you are pulled out of the deep.
ALONE LEFT ME, SO EVEN IN
Well-chosen appearances, I worry
About a wooden smile blossoming
Across a still, cold scrap of ecstasy;
My lapel is a desert, perhaps not now,
But someday, and forever afterwards:
Cut flowers, cut glass, cut sugar,
Everything is cut by a diminishing
Force, wound up and wound
Out in front of me. It has been so long;
Earnest contests played out for stakes
Too small to be remembered, scores
Debated and inscribed in stone
Only to be carelessly misplaced. So many
Leased and ultimately pointless emotions
Fighting each other with axes, impatient
And seemingly immortal. Where did
They all go?
I STAY SHARPER IF HELD
Like a knife found tangled in the roots
Of a dying elm tree, its leaves black,
Sap crusted around bore holes and no
Future whatsoever—I stay sharper
If saved from myself but all too late—
If I was a measuring device, I would be all hard
Angles, difficult to read numbers,
And as imprecise as hell, and no one
Would want to use me until they needed to,
And by then, it would always be too late;
But then again who cares what
The world shaves off in a moment
Of uncertainty. Definite time and a morning made
From gravel suggest that it does not matter
No matter what happens; that pair of scissors you
Buried will be found, and they will never be
Too rusty to stab you in the throat.
WARM ONE MORNING WAS ONE WAS
Too cool, too both, too overcast, not enough, spritely,
Broken beaked, clipped and oh so lonely,
(So lonely):
For so many lonely years, years so small
And frayed that they had lost everything
Except for the word “yellow” and even then,
It was misspelled more often than not, misspelled
Not just in the usual sense—e.g. yello, yelo, llelo and so on—
But misspelled in the sense that birds turned
All demented, became melted, spent nothings
With imbecilic wings collapsed from the back,
Every eye cracked, with little legs, thin little legs, legs
Far too frail to support six letters let alone
Anything as warm as a working bird,
Or a hopeful March, or any existence
Free from abbreviation and rusty wire.
I am just a red prostitute expressionist suicide, staring bleakly
Out of a London gallery that I will never leave.
If it all was not so silly, I would feel trapped.
IN CASE YOU HAVE QUESTIONS:
Shattered accidental whites, spilling
Destruction like last year’s red geraniums, leafy
And bloody amidst rusting wires and particles
Of floral foam. A broken pot pitched
From slowly moving car, and a debris trail leading
To your muddy feet: that is how this feels.
A function of perception, of knowing where
One slow particular melts and another one congeals.
Detachment, blinking and powerfully sudden: someone
Notices that you are six feet away from
The rest of your the rest of life,
So you have to think about that,
And when you do, someone fills in your grave,
An ugly planter reforms over your head
And you sink down low, waiting
For the earth to dry. That is how this feels.
That is how this feels. That is how this felt.