Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Born Eighty-Three Years Ago Today
Four excellent poems below the fold, one of them possibly one of my most reread dozen. Click, yo. It's also Charlie Parker's birthday. Waiting on Hamster's playlist.
Nightmare of beasthood, snorting, how to wake.
I woke. What beasthood skin she made me take?
Leathery toad that ruts for days on end,
Or cringing dribbling dog, man’s servile friend,
Or cat that prettily pounces on its meat,
Tortures it hours, then does not care to eat:
Parrot, moth, shark, wolf, crocodile, ass, flea.
What germs, what jostling mobs there were in me.
These seem like bristles, and the hide is tough.
No claw or web here: each foot ends in hoof.
Into what bulk has method disappeared?
Like ham, streaked. I am gross—grey, gross, flap-eared.
The pale-lashed eyes my only human feature.
My teeth tear, tear. I am the snouted creature
That bites through anything, root, wire, or can.
If I was not afraid I’d eat a man.
CONSIDERING THE SNAIL
The snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
has darkened the earth’s dark. He
moves in a wood of desire,
pale antlers barely stirring
as he hunts. I cannot tell
what power is at work, drenched there
with purpose, knowing nothing.
What is a snail’s fury? All
I think is that if later
I parted the blades above
the tunnel and saw the thin
trail of broken white across
litter, I would never have
imagined the slow passion
to that deliberate progress.
MY SAD CAPTAINS
One by one they appear in
the darkness: a few friends, and
a few with historical
names. How late they start to shine!
but before they fade they stand
perfectly embodied, all
the past lapping them like a
cloak of chaos. They were men
who, I thought, lived only to
renew the wasteful force they
spent with each hot convulsion.
They remind me, distant now.
True, they are not at rest yet,
but now that they are indeed
apart, winnowed from failures,
they withdraw to an orbit
and turn with disinterested
hard energy, like the stars.
All today I lie in the bottom of the wardrobe
feeling low but sometimes getting up
to moodily lumber across rooms
and lap from the toilet bowl, it is so sultry
and then I hear the noise of firecrackers again
all New York is jaggedy with firecrackers today
and I go back to the wardrobe gloomy
trying to void my mind of them.
I am confused, I feel loose and unfitted.
At last deep in the stairwell I hear a tread,
it is him, my leader, my love.
I run to the door and listen to his approach.
Now I can smell him, what a good man he is,
I love it when he has the sweat of work on him,
as he enters I yodel with happiness,
I throw my body up against his, I try to lick his lips,
I care about him more than anything.
After we eat we go for a walk to the piers.
I leap into the standing warmth, I plunge into
the combination of old and new smells.
Here on a garbage can at the bottom, so interesting,
what sister or brother I wonder left this message I sniff.
I too piss there, and go on.
Here a hydrant there a pole
here's a smell I left yesterday, well that's disappointing
but I piss there anyway, and go on.
I investigate so much that in the end
it is for form's sake only, only a drop comes out.
I investigate tar and rotten sandwiches, everything, and go on.
And here a dried old turd, so interesting
so old, so dry, yet so subtle and mellow.
I can place it finely, I really appreciate it,
a gold distant smell like packed autumn leaves in winter
reminding me how what is rich and fierce when excreted
becomes weathered and mild
but always interesting
and reminding me of what I have to do.
My leader looks on and expresses his approval.
I sniff it well and later I sniff the air well
a wind is meeting us after the close July day
rain is getting near too but first the wind.
being outside with you, active, investigating it all,
with bowels emptied, feeling your approval
and then running on, the big fleet Yoko,
my body in its excellent black coat never lets me down,
returning to you (as I always will, you know that)
filling myself out with myself, no longer confused,
my panting pushing apart my black lips, but unmoving,
I stand with you braced against the wind.