from underneath the footbridge where it passed
over low tide and the muck of low tide
as I passed above with a chatter of tires
of a sudden out clamored a flock of gulls
and their thick feet were tiling the flat sea with ripples
all in a pattern as if they had rehearsed it
and they were identically honking like toys
all in unison as if they had practiced it
as if I were the catastrophe they had been waiting for
The very rich are different from you and me.
They have bigger eyes. And they like what they see.
The very rich are different, they have bigger feet,
They will kick your tin can clear across the street.
The very rich have bigger pockets. They have bigger hands.
The very rich have bigger wishes which are your commands.
The very rich use bigger. What they want, they taste.
They don’t believe in you the way they don’t believe in waste.
The very rich will buy the biggest tree to knock it down.
They’ll buy a bigger factory and say that it’s your town.
They have bigger faces. They have bigger belief.
They may sail their bigger yacht into a coral reef.
The very rich take bigger, what they always can’t replace,
They will leave a pile of dead coins in its place.
(a translation from the Spanish of Jorge Luis Borges)
Fifty-two cards push real life aside:
flimsy, parti-colored charms
that make us forget where we’re bound to end up in the end.
And who cares where? —we’ve stolen this time, anyway,
let’s build a house of cards,
decorate it, move in, and then play
as we were always meant to play.
Nothing beyond the table’s edges
carries any weight.
Inside, it’s a foreign land
where bluff and bid are high affairs of state:
The Ace of Spades swaggers authoritatively
like Lord Byron, capable of anything;
the nine of diamonds glitters like a pirate’s dream.
A headlong rush of lethargy
slacks conversation to a drawl:
our slow words come and go
the while chance exalts some, lays others low;
the while the players echo and re-echo all the tricks they know:
until it seems that they’re returned—or nearly so:
the crones and cronies and their bony friends
who showed us what it meant to be true Americans
with the same old songs, the same old works for idle hands.
My father told that story again
the one that ends
You can’t get there from here,
and he laughed again like always.
I didn’t laugh though.
It’s only a good joke
if it couldn’t be true
that’s what I thought.
I haven’t slept well
ever since then
because I keep wondering
is that really how things are now?
I don’t know why
it never occurred to me before
but today I thought
that I could kiss you
for letting me know poetry
after all is
a respectable thing to love
so even though it’s years on
and you, last time we met,
hated me, anyway
there’s a kiss outstanding
you don’t really want
and I won’t really give
and that’s poetry too
as much as anything is
Insensibly, spring’s thaw had started. By then they’d begun
Reciting one another’s commonplaces like a favorite song.
Later, their sighs swelled summer’s air as summer’s days grew long.
Each met the other’s stolen glances, each one shining to the other like a sun.
As in the yard the new grapes imperceptibly prospered
Where the same force drove life up through the cinctured vine,
So she beneath his breathless hands, he beneath hers, in their good time,
Grew bountiful and swollen and about to burst.
After that perfect, endless season throughout which they grew
(Endless, because perfect; perfect, for seeming without end)
The early frosts began to come. Little was left unharvested by then—
And the young wine already making, that would be laid by,
Years on to savor of those dusty, languorous days, those earnest nights,
Those vanished morns when she, and he, and the whole world, were new.
There are plenty of blues
just like this sky
but nowhere else
this much of it.
O happy dog!
The waves are a perfect flock
endlessly to herd.
The little boy runs back laughing
from the rushing surf
but all the same he knows
the ocean takes what it wants.
(after William Butler Yeats and James Harbeck)
The falcon circled, then flew off; the falconer was pissed.
Well, what did he expect she’d do, with everything so dis
There’s a book I read, predicted this: come
the millenium, and things would fall apart, get discom
As you see: just look at this rum job:
A riddling monster, shambling through the sand, has discombob
-ulated the indignant birds.
Brother, it’s a bad job—who
can stand to swim? The bloody tide’s so loose and discombobu
While the best lack all conviction, haters hate;
No wonder everything’s so fucking discombobulat
It’s been more than twenty centuries our end’s been fated:
And now it seems the whole damned world is discombobulated.