Wednesday, December 11, 2019
You are dear. Without you I'm nothing.
Often with you I'm almost nothing
but you tell me that I can't really
conceive of nothing, so you instruct me
to use "almost" up there. When I first learned
your name, Mind, I was a child.
Your name was not one of those words
that interested me. It seemed like other words
for things, like car, sidewalk, leaf.
Except unlike those things I couldn't see you
or ride inside you (it never occurred to me
I could) or walk on top of you or watch you
turn colors and fall. In many ways both of us
miss those days, days that if there were no school
were sometimes fabulously unending.
The nights were rarely as good, school or not, since
you made me so afraid of the dark. Yes, I'm
blaming you. And whatever parts of me
are not you
also deserve blame. So here we are, both
67, truly approaching the dark. You suggest I write
"truly and falsely approaching the dark"
and there, have I satisfied you?
Silence Like Another Name
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
(after Karoly Escher)
A young man with two flowers in his cup
Has turned away across the platform
To move towards two women wearing headscarves.
He is the country I am leaving.
He is beautiful, a beast decked and garlanded,
He stands gently and placidly, tall, slim,
Melancholy, prepared for sacrifice,
A peasant soldier, simple as they come.
Death has half closed his eyes
Ready to devour him at a blinking.
Behind his head the blur of a wagon pulling out.
He seizes one of the women, embraces her,
Presses himselg against her.
As we depart I am tempted to shout
To attract his attention. I can only guess
The occasion of his death, his tenderness.
The Budapest File
Monday, December 9, 2019
Native one day had one of those
Plastered wire sculptures in
His dooryard and it was a giraffe
And though his kids were too old to
Appreciate the thing it looked newer
And brighter than anything for miles
Around. It must have been picked
Up by Native on one of his autobody
Rounds or else given as payment
For some job but I hand it to him for
Plunking the friendly beast close
Enough by the road for all to see.
We knew it wouldn’t last a month
Amidst all the grime and turmoil,
Yet it was one more example of
Native trying to do well, despite
The fact by winter’s end giraffe
Was in pieces, legs last seen
The Evening Bird
She can do this what she’s doing
If light could be liquid, well then
This is it, thrilling itself into
The lamp, and only later do I
Taste the kerosene on her lips
Just to let you know —
A little mouse
Stuck its face
Out from the
And by its
It cared nothing
About me or
Anything about you
Sunday, December 8, 2019
Saturday, December 7, 2019
I am sitting here now with my father's eyes,
and with my mother's greying hair on my head,
in a house that belonged to an Arab
who bought it from an Englishman
who took it from a German
who hewed it from the stones
of Jerusalem, my city:
I look upon God's world of others
who received it from others.
I am composed of many things
I have been collected many times
I am constructed of spare parts
of decomposing materials
of disintegrating words. And already
in the middle of my life, I begin,
gradually, to return them,
for I wish to be a decent and orderly person
when I'm asked at the border, "Have you anything to declare?"
so that there won't be too much pressure at the end
so that I won't arrive sweating and breathless and confused
so that I won't have anything left to declare.
The red stars are my heart, the Milky Way
its blood, my blood. The hot khamsin
breathes in huge lungs, my life
pulses close to a huge heart, always within.
translated from the Hebrew by Ruth Nevo
Sheep Meadow Press
Friday, December 6, 2019
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
At the saw buck —
A little sweaty
Loosening blonde hair
Rugged black skirt
A Gift for the Living
We heard them —
But it was a moment
Before we saw them
Clear the trees —
I counted 66 or more
And she was still
Counting, her hand
To the sun, as
Geese flew over
Who they sent out looked like someone
I never liked because he never wanted
To work and this guy doesn’t either —
He has every excuse for you: they sent
Me first north to Putney on a wild goose
Chase and now I’m here past quitting time
And those lugs won’t budge. Sweetheart catches
Him throwing his tire iron back into his truck
From a good distance off. Did he bring a
Long bar to help crack the lugs? Nah.
Did he have a box of sockets? Nah.
I could string out a cord from the woodshed
If he had his drill? Don’t bother.
He usually carries with him a can of
Fix-a-Flat but not today. Scowling at the
Troubled tire he predicts the lugs
Will need to be torched and even then
They could snap and he wants nothing
To do with that. Goodbye.
His truck is pint-size and
He can’t wait to leave.
He does a comb-over on his hair
Which I could do but don’t.
Every second he is reminding
Me of a son-of-a-bitch I know.
It’s a half-hour drive back into
Town but it isn’t fifteen minutes since
He has left and the agency we
Call tells us we’ve been charged by the
Jerk for a job well done. Imagine that.
Now, imagine what we said.
The next day the agency sends out a flatbed wrecker
From a different company and with a different guy.
A wide body bruiser with an equal size wife.
They push open the doors to the wrecker but
Sit there a moment as if sniffing over this piddly job.
Watching the guy finally roll out I can imagine
Him lifting the back end of my truck with one
Hand while changing the tire with his other hand.
He almost does. No excuses. Done in a flash.
He’s already heard through the grapevine about
Our visitor yesterday, says with a grin,
Don’t send out a boy to do a man’s job, right?
Something both our fathers told us.
Something, one day, you have to live up to.
Within seconds we are talking about firewood,
Mutual people we happen to know; his wife is
Complaining to my wife about how the agency only
Calls them when everyone else bails out.
They reek of bad attitudes, pissy luck and hard work.
We tell them we will be going back inside
To call the agency at Triple-A
To make them famous.
Wait A Moment
All that snow-
Storm and everyone mad
As hell and saying so —
It melts in two days
Without anyone’s help
for Jonathan Greene