Amber

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The immense still heat trapped the day like amber:
seeped into the lodgepoles and the ponderosas,
immobilized the blue air, hovered over the lake
that dispatched idle waves to lap the sand.

The taste of coffee lingering in my mouth, on my hand
the smell of you, dust smell rising from the path.
It was the hottest summer on record.

The sun made idle progress of shadows
across the path; the taste of dust lingered in the air,
the grasshoppers’ shrill shirr-shirr-shirr hung
heavy in the heat, neverending.

Where was I in all of this? I was the footprint
trod beneath the lodgepole pine, the dazzled wave
sacrificed to beachsand, the grasshopper
immobilized by heat somewhere in dry grass,
invisible, as that great endless summer
lingered like the smell of you, the taste of you
through that hot hot day.

 

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Paradise (p.8)

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And so Paris, and so then Italy,
between wars,
as always between wars,
her shores lapped by the gentle sea,
habitation of old gods…
So Rapallo,
so mare medius terraneum,
the sea in the middle of the world,
the cradle of man’s ambition…

Rapallo, Rapallo,
Hers a quiet grace,
neither the sinuous grace of Provence
nor the assured grace of Firenze
Hers a grace that cannot be multiplied
that cannot be exploited
She can be loved only by those who love her.

And the mule-driver:
“The famous poet
lives in that villa; I’ve seen him:
black hat and a purple cloak, and
he carries a stick. Maybe he was in the war?
‘s very famous, and so many visitors!”

Only the love of those who love…

(and twenty years on a new word will enter the language,
Rapallizare, meaning to put up concrete buildings all over the place,
to build without thought,
to scatter hotels like money.)

 

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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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