Now it occurs to me

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Now it occurs to me that some day
our son who is about to be born
will wear this knit cap
that was given to me
quite some time ago
by someone I was in love with
quite some time ago
and I’ve never told you this.

There’s keeping and then again
there’s keeping it to oneself
but sometimes I think about her
and what it was like to be in love then
and how it was different
from what it’s like to be in love now

and that some day our son
who is about to be born
will wear this knit cap
and he will not know a thing
and you will not know a thing
and she will not know a thing

about it, the way the yarn
follows the yarn.

Won’t that be something?

 

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I learned it from watching you

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I learned it from watching you: everything starts with oneself.
There’s nothing but tomorrow: a single shot, a single
Life, narrow as a line that runs through me. I fell in love

With the child of Dawn and Night: the sturdy one who set out
Knowing only one language; drank from the well of sorrows
Between the worlds; Spring-trap; Storm-starter, who set the earth to

Quivering. The stars wheel about us, and all that matters
Happens between us. The young leaves are coiled. Their uncoiling
Tells the story: nothing will ever be as we had feared.

Just think of it: one day there will be none to remember
When things were not this way: the sky grey, like no tomorrow
Will ever be enough to save us. And then the rainbow.

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In Cold Comfort

8507444415_5681bcb8bc_oThere isn’t much left for me to do
During this dead of winter
While the snow covers me up
Like language, like bitter
Hexameters, like a cold poem.
Like a long letter from home.

Like the fall of words
That piled up years long
That thawed and froze and thawed and froze
That one fine day were dislodged by a mere nothing
That avalanched all at a go
And strewed our bodies to the far reaches
Of the meadow, from which they
Couldn’t ever be recovered
When it turned out spring
Didn’t come.

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The Limerick-an Constitution: Article I

The Constitution of the United States (A Limerick Cycle)

Preamble and Article I

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Preamble

The Union we hereby decree
Shall be Just, Blessed, Tranquil, and Free.
We establish, ordain it,
And herein explain it,
Presuming you all will agree.

Article I.

Section 1.

The power for all Legislating,
Resolving, and also Debating,
Inheres in the Senate
And the Representat-
ives, as we’re herein designating.

Section 2.

Representatives each State supplies
Proportionally to its size.
(There’s provision for Slaves
And for Indian braves,
But that language no longer applies.)

Representatives serve for the space
Of two years, then must run a new race.
If one of them dies
Their Governor supplies
Us another to serve in his place.

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In Memoriam (two translations from the English)

Dear reader, I’m curious: of the versions below, which do you prefer (if either), and why?

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I.

They built a grand monument to the dead
And the place where the stone was quarried
Soon filled up with rainwater
And the young couples would meet there.

II.

Built to commemorate the dead
This palace stands, untenanted.

By the still pool in the quarry pit
The lovers sometimes come to sit.

 

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Chronic Healing

epWywuc[1]He was always just recovering from
some shit, talking his way back to
normal, learning to live in
the present and yanking
the stuck parts of himself out from
underneath the deadfall
he’d somehow blundered into
again.

 

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Rodin’s Gates of Hell

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The Thinker contemplates a moveless turbulence: men, angels, children, women
agonize eternally, leaping or cast
from shrieking Hell into a lesser torment, seeking what can’t last
beyond this frozen moment. Here are long hands, long arms stretched tight of bone and skin

in knotted ecstasy of pain; tight mouths caught too tight to scream;
sleek writhing forms trapped bursting through the gate that swells and thins to let them pass
for this caught moment, too fleeting for relief before Hell draws them back,
back below the seething gate, back to the wailing dark and the company of the damned.

It must be balanced; an opposing Heaven must exist:
a timeless, flat, cool, blandly pleasant place, where no stark weathered bodies strive
for respite from the blasted murk, that lacks this endless
doomed struggle. Perhaps this is what the Thinker contemplates: that Hell is,
and so Heaven too must be; that somewhere men, in sculptured bliss eternal as
these damned he watches over, are content: are blessed: are not so much alive.

 

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Sestina for Hero and Dragon

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I.

Out with you! In Christ’s name, dragon,
Out! Come from your hole and face my blade,
For I would try if dragon’s-blood be truly black.
From grieving lands beyond the sea
A hundred hundred dead cry for your death.
Hai! Out! I’ve not come such a way to face but empty air!

II.

O erring, misinformed! This so-called empty air
Is rank with camouflage, could shelter many a dragon.
Shall I appear? Do you so earnestly seek death?
For face me, and you die — nor brightest shield, nor sharpest blade
Can alter that. Heroes have come before across the sea.
They lie about you: armor shattered, bones charred black.

III.

A cowardly reply for one with heart so black,
A murderer whose very name befouls the air.
Come, worm: between the mountains and the sea
I stand to challenge you! Will you not try me, dragon?
Your claws against my shield; your hide against my blade.
Or do you fear to meet a test of death?

IV.

I having slain a hundred hundred men, think you one more death
Means aught to me? I come. The sea boils and the clouds turn black
Before my coming. My mouth’s a cavern, every tooth a blade;
My breath a conflagration, and my wings breed hurricanes into the air.
Man, behold a dragon.
My bones are stronger than these mountains; my blood is older than the sea.

V.

Dragon, behold a man! The clouds and the sea
That feared your coming shall rejoice to see your death.
These mountains are not so strong as my rage, dragon,
The sun is not so hot, nor Hell as black.
Could you but hear, the wailing of my kindred dead fills the air.
Now they will be avenged. I swear this by my blade!

VI.

I shall unbind your body’s several elements; come, try your blade.
Your bones shall mingle with the earth, your thin, cold blood dilute the sea,
The smoulder of your burning dance inconsequent upon the air.
You speak of death? You have not learned to speak of death.
Death is mightier than your rage, hotter and more black.
I know this, who have killed a hundred hundred men. Death is a dragon.

* * *

The dragon claws for purchase in the sky; the man holds tight his blade,
As clouds scud low and black above a furious sea.
In one of these is death: the dragon’s stoop; the bright sword that cleaves the air.

dragon lightning

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no / Really gone

(poem written with a found pencil:)

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That small perfect photograph of him
From before disaster slow-motion struck
And took him away leaving
His aimless eyes behind
From before his mind began to turn in on itself
Not even turning from fear or indecision but horribly
Turning and turning again because he’d simply forgotten
Which direction it was going before that moment
From before death went to work on him
The way a child with a big cheerful pink school eraser
Goes to work rubbing out words written on damp paper
It’s gone

It was in this locket
I’d swear
If not for this evidence
The empty thing

Fool that I am I thought
I could reach out
Find a bit of stone-smooth happiness
Shore up the present with the past
Then I found it I opened it I looked inside it and it’s
Empty
Contents gone like a magician’s borrowed coin I thought at first
But no

Really gone
Gone like a child’s prank of pulling away
The chair just before
You sit

 

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