Blue Bowl, Orange Orange
Hello orange, un-spiced as
yet with winter cloves.
Hello adolescent sun
trying its angles on
our drink glasses. Hello
drink glasses wet with songs
about halves and thirds,
about loss and refilling.
I bought this tablecloth
for an Italian price. The price was
suspense over small cups
between two fumes. Women really do
lean out of windows! Laundry
becomes an announcement regular as
a church bell. But what do you do,
still life, with that man's red boxing gloves?
—for P. Violi
A suspended cabbage and quince
goof against the black background.
The seated melon is serious
as suffragettes; here's the cucumber begging
to be taken in the Freudian sense.
Too much! I chuckle
from my string. The cabbage hovers
defiant as ruffles on a pirate.
For you the lifted glass, O cabbage
my cabbage. April is here!
Here I had plans of cramming
magnolia petals into your wallet,
switching out the milk for bottles
of twenty-year tawny on your porch
in Putnam Valley. I don't want
a toy piano or the mention
of eternity. You do not go
like the grass. You asked if perhaps
I was too young to be moved by ubi sunt:
where the hell have they all gone?
You sent me a note from Poughkeepsie,
on a bridge two hundred feet over the river:
"Walked across and bought a lump
of fried dough on the other side.
As excursions go, it wasn't impressive."
I am quince hanging over eddies
while you go on the aft excursion.
After you, prince, tumble out of the frame,
the melon and cucumber bore me.
The still life is not the same.
Aromatherapy in the Age of New Form
Sure, the idea of curative smells
makes as much sense as, say, cancer does,
the body mutating against itself.
When you stop remembering
the signature equations
emanating from the military beacons
it becomes easy to feel attractive
all over again, to be the first
to blood the boar, to order absinthe
and lift its obsidian mule
to your chapped lips.
Melancholia, melanoma, Malathion
you repeat to yourself, sinking slowly
beneath the other customers
you've imagined in this bar,
the off-duty bailiffs, the legal aides.
The reason houses are built foursquare
is the tenacious verticality of trees
which keep surprising us
in their capacity for altruistic
self-destruction. It's true, Rene Char
fought for the Resistance,
committing his romance with the nation
to memory's vellum asylum.
We read him in the shadow of
Desnos, Keats. If you offered me a gun
I would know just what to do
with my medical history
masquerading as this twisted menorah.
It makes a difference
whether you evade the tolls
out of mere boredom or a more particular
will to power, to resist constraint.
Atalanta used the gods' own fruit
to speed her lover, which meant
so that she could give birth,
later, to an opera. I don't
want to get too serious about this:
I had to use Wikipedia to remind myself
who Atalanta loved.
His name was Melanion,
or else Hippomenes-like everything
at myth's distance it's hard now
to be sure. All the crows
lift from the power lines at the same
moment, circle the same maple
as if some secret telepathy were at work.
You see those shiny things along the road
where they've sprayed for weeds:
Chekhov's ghost sighting
down both barrels. Experience
glances off the physical
and we call it "ivory," "chocolate,"
"napalm," "brie." We stop to pick it up.
Simone Weil had some ideas
about freedom too, you know; they
killed her. Studies show
if I draw myself making friends
with my disease I'm much more likely
to transcend it, so I do. Then
I burn the drawing. It smells like gasoline
and cinnamon. I cross my forehead
with its residue of waxy ash.
The Other Intelligentsia
There was this intelligentsia
that was in love with another
intelligentsia, but the other
intelligentsia was not in love
with this intelligentsia, it was
in love with another
intelligentsia. The first
intelligentsia loved that it loved
the second intelligentsia and
that the second intelligentsia
did not love it back but loved
another intelligentsia, a third
intelligentsia. The second
intelligentsia loved that it was
loved by the first intelligentsia
and that it did not love it back,
and that it loved another
intelligentsia, the third
intelligentsia. The third
intelligentsia, which was loved
by the second intelligentsia, did
not love either intelligentsias. It
was, of the three, the coldest
intelligentsia. The first
intelligentsia would meet in a
corner of the café and
philosophically consider the
situation of loving but not
being loved. The second
intelligentsia would meet in
another corner of the café and
philosophically consider the
situation of being loved but not
being in love. The third
intelligentsia, which loved
neither the first intelligentsia
nor the second intelligentsia,
would meet in another corner
of the café and whisper
The way things are going, children
will have to upgrade to more amusing.
No one could say that when
the highway snapped in two,
he saved her, then wandered off
and later did not remember. In hell,
on an airplane, in a theater, on a tightrope
made of light-no one said there was
no plot, but everything fell where
it belonged and roused conflicting
ecstasies. There is no paper, no pages
to burn. He saved her but did not
see her. He and his friend tried
to resurrect a man they both had
spoken with, but since they could not
agree, the third person doesn't exist.
How is anyone kissing anyone
possible. Events have to poke
through almost every story; it's how
they work, otherwise more people will
feel disappointed. A parking lot
where couples go to argue, a neighbor
looking cautiously down-to be caught
watching is to enter the argument,
which changes its character.
Another relationship to narrative,
almost legible. Next, no children
at the party, but everyone wants
pictures of the dog. The store
closing, the train stopping, the man
the others know and then evade.
Even the boys check their hands when
someone says girl holding a snake,
to make sure they aren't the girl.
What lay over the hill was unavailable
before they stepped into their voices.
Not singing, no song to describe.
I held the stage
with big, slow, boozy breaths
mindful of the happy crowd
making lavish use of where I am
and notably waving my arm lightly
to make it all dance
with a pillowy interior
this next one just might be too smooth
to love or too great tonight, friends
I remember scrambling
up a mountainside
when it came to me
the line about the crowds
shoving past the old man up the hill
let's sing a round together:
for crying outloud
I'm old, assholes!
and, you know, I have to admit
for a second
I felt a twinge of guilt sipping
on my chardonnay that afternoon
at the summit vista café
before I remembered
my exceptionally fit survival
against overwhelming odds.
Soul Gun attends meetings
consults with the others
The others are always chattering
but Soul Gun doesn't have much to say
Its aim is off but it never fires itself
so no one ever knows
though a stance is something to contend with,
how a barrel testifies
Soul Gun more thinks "Soul Gun"
less "My Soul Gun"
Soul Gun doesn't say,
"My Soul Gun, My Soul Gun, you sweet clueless thing"
but it does wonder how not to listen to the voices,
being so concerned with its intention
Soul Gun slaps its flat feet against the cement,
wishes warm birthday wishes to strangers
Its dimension is never uncovered,
hovering here between days
invisible halo waiting only for a raised hand
Unstoppable voices, it thinks
It thinks, I am dangerous despite this cotton
Soul Gun likes rock-and-roll,
has dance parties in the middle of the day when no one else is around
It signs its name with little hesitation
and says, Yes, Community, I will stay a little while longer