Pink cherry blossoms
And the syllables add up:
There’s your damn haiku.
Pink cherry blossoms
And the syllables add up:
There’s your damn haiku.
The Monday subway station’s
full of faces
fair as flowers
Then the rush, the push,
the train’s electric flexing
the shut doors’ hush
the deliberate departure
and upon the vacant station
the bough stripped of its petals
I heard of a girl who told that she was haunted by her father
even when he was still alive
she was a Lesbian and lived in Berlin
back when you’d still capitalize Lesbian
like there was a homeland you’d visit some day
she’d let you know her father had more than one quirk
That man’s name goes in a drawer, was a thing he’d say
I heard she told that her father was unforgiving
unforgiving like God, that kind of unforgiving
I heard she was the kind who stayed careful always
not to allow love to overcome
respect for distance
and recognized that after all people, they are dangerous
even if they never act, even if they smile
and that you’ll never know everything wrong with the world
That man’s name goes in a drawer, her father would say
not to beat around the bush
I heard after her father pulled the trigger
they opened the drawer, sure enough it was full of names
I heard that was always the end of her story
but I believe it must have left her to wonder
what else that her father had said was going to come true
That man’s name goes in a drawer, that’s what he used to say
you were a work of fiction
you were a solo cloud
baiting the Lord
with your sourest word
sure that His sword
was as light as a feather
you were clever and light
you had spent time underground
wasting your breath
in singing, your health
in fucking, your death
in not caring to go on forever
you were still somebody’s baby
you were a commonplace book
you rode the rails
you might have gone through hell
in the end you sat down on a tumbledown wall
we sat there together
you were as sure as a bird
you kept your friends to themselves
you had that place near Paris
you had a brother who called us
your cousin bent God’s ear
but we brought you a plastic tiara
* * *
you were a fiction
light as a feather
you were a sword
baiting the Lord
let’s sit here forever
singing your health
sense, the way a dog
is a machine for barking.
And just so, there are side effects:
the mess that takes you by surprise
(the wondering when did that happen?)
the licking your face
when you’re trying to sleep
and unless you take precautions
always more poems.
Siddhartha as a boy is willful:
shirks his chores and doesn’t listen
to his Mom — who maybe knows,
but doesn’t really care that his en-
lightenment one day inspires
a needful world. Instead, she’d quite
prefer Siddhartha do his homework.
Tell me (she says) this enlight-
enment, it pays? You’ll need a job,
it’s no fun living always tighten-
ing your belt, believe you me.
At least a fall-back when enlighten-
ment won’t make ends meet! — It’s well
Siddhartha pays no mind, content
to poke about, mindfully aimless,
ambling toward enlightenment.
Honest Al got a yard full of cars
always tells the truth
about them anyway he wouldn’t
bother to lie about a thing like that
if Honest Al wasn’t being
honest he’d probably just tell you
anyway This one’s a piece of crap
you want it?
got a junkyard and a junkyard
dog an alley and alleycats
got sufficient military firepower
for this neighborhood because
you know you never know
Honest is one thing but
no rule you gotta be stupid too
got a lot of other shit
to deal with too like banks
and trucks and insurance
and taxes and traffic
and rising sea levels and
bad air and this raised
brown spot on my arm
it’s been there
a while it’s probably nothing
Honest Al’s going to the beach
to lie in the sun for a while
forget his problems watch kids play
and read some fucking poetry
Later some said
You’d all along been practicing for dead
But I believe it wasn’t in you
To practice what you thought you knew;
You thought yourself wise and were
Already plotting your rise.
When you’d died
and they’d taken you away
and burnt you next day
all we were left with
was your whole life
packed in between the walls
nothing thrown away
a path through it
doors that opened or shut
boxes drawers cupboards
dressers trunks folders
I’d think I knew you
photos in cigar boxes
notebook lists of anecdotes
from the presidents’ lives
then find another thing
jar full of beard trimmings
secret mailorder magazines
bag of your own teeth
ticked list with the dates
of every half- or quarter-cigarette
you’d smoked recently
which were smoked with Larry
boxes of paperbags
that letter that ashtray
that hint of a romance
or was it nothing at all
in the end
all that was possible
was to just invent you
and say I’d known
(Rainer Maria Rilke: Duineser Elegien – Kapitel 1)
And say I screamed aloud, let it all out —
Which of the angels, orderly and chaste,
Would even hear? And say one did, what then?
Say one broke ranks, took me in its embrace—
I’d be undone, as surely as a matchstick thrust into the sun.
Such beauty, unrelieved, could wreck our minds.
It’s why we worship them. Still, every angel terrifies.
And so I hold myself together: never cry,
Swallow my sobs before they have a chance to rise.
Anyway, who’d sympathize? Not Angels; people, no;
Nor yet the clever animals, who realize
That we’re beyond their help, we think too much to be
At home here in their world. What’s there
To cling too, then? — perhaps that solitary tree
Perched on the hillside, that we see day in, day out?
Maybe that street we walked down yesterday; maybe
A comfortable habit that wears us the way we’d wear
A favorite shirt threadbare — perhaps we can rely on these?
But then Night comes on — like a wind from space
Slapping and chafing the faces we display,
Night comes — and always slightly disappoints — but stays;
Before whom each must stand with downcast gaze.
Loners, lovers, we share a common fate.
Now do you understand? Then throw your two arms wide,
And fling the empty space, that fills you, to the sky!
– the while imagining the birds in flight
Buoyed up, and up, on the expanding air!
The springtime itself needed you. Also, the stars –
They twinkled when you noticed them.
Oh, and that wave — remember it? —
That heaved up from the ocean toward you, long ago?
And then the time you passed the open window,
And the violin shuddered its strings
And sang to you alone… It’s what those things
Were meant to do. But did you take it in?
Weren’t you rather waiting, always waiting, waiting
As if for your one true love to come? (Yet — had she come,
Could you have hidden from her those strange thoughts
That wracked your sleep, then haunted you by day?)
Do you long so for love? Well, then,
Extol the star-crossed lovers, surely they
Could stand to be a bit more recognized;
Yes, sing the lovelorn, whom you find
So much more satisfactory than the satisfied;
But think on this ere you begin
The usual lamentation: that heroes strive and die
To earn the right of being born a second time;
When lovers fade, it’s because Nature’s done with them:
They’re all used up, the sap’s dried in their veins,
They’re good for nothing. Gaspara Stampa—
You remember her? Then you’ll recall
How many young girls, jilted, thought she was the all-in-all,
Thought: “Now, like dear Gaspara, I have lived!” And there:
Isn’t that wisdom, of its sort? Shouldn’t such pain
Be put to use? It’s high time we, who suffer so for love,
Got free of any one particular beloved. For, you know,
You don’t see arrows cleaving to the bow
That sends them forth:
To stay put is — of course — to go nowhere.
These voices, voices — Oh, my heart! Would you could hear
As the saints heard — who, being called, were taken up
Still kneeling, raised bodily to heaven
But all the while so intent on their listening
They knew not they were taken. Not that you,
My own un-saintly heart, could thus endure the voice of God.
It’s just that – listen! There’s that sound! It rises
Out of silence, never ending; it’s speaking yet,
With all the tender voices of the newly dead.
Hear, how they call to you, my heart!
As in that quiet church in Naples,
Or the chapel once in Rome —
As in those words carved in the stones
Of Sant’ Formosa, where the voices spoke before;
They’re speaking; can you hear? My heart!
Are not they clear? And thus they bid me: that I must
Absolve the dead, remit the sin that clings
To them like cobwebs, hinders them like dust.
So strange not to inhabit the world anymore,
And to abandon customs barely learned;
Not to read omens in a rose’s blossoming,
Nor hope, nor anything else of that sort;
Not to be what one was, back when everything
Seemed infinitely fragile; yes, even
To lay aside one’s own name like a broken toy.
Strange, to be a stranger to desire; strange,
To see each thing that seemed to matter so, cast loose
To flutter away in the wind. And also, death
Is tedious: one dithers, hems and haws,
Before accepting that this is — as it is — eternity.
The living are mistaken if they think death’s not about the same
As life. Indeed, the Angels (so I’ve heard) can hardly say
If they’re among the living or the dead, since the same tide
Sweeps them the same; rocks them the same;
And drowns them all the same.
At last they have no need of us, these too-soon-dead.
They wean themselves from worldly things,
Just as a child outgrows its mother’s breast.
But we, who need a sense of Mystery —
We, for whom grief sometimes shows the forward path —
We need them—how else could we get along?
Here’s no vain tale: when god-like Linos — best
Of all men living — died,
And when the mourners came to cry him to his rest—
Then Music filled the emptiness he’d left:
Shivered the dying land, shocked space,
As it entered the world for the first time,
Then, as ever after, to enrapture us; enfold us; give us aid.