Friday, September 19, 2014

A Black Cat Comes Out to Greet Us as if to Say, Look at Me and Not Some Old Romanesque Church

I got a call from my new season ticket sales rep at DC United yesterday. She wanted to introduce herself, see if I was happy with my tickets, with the team, and asked had I thought about renewing my season tickets for next year yet. We had a staff meeting yesterday, there's a good guy from the Science Library who always asks me about DC United as a polite conversation topic when we see each other, he has a passing interest in United himself, he asked me if I was enjoying this season, the team's run of success this year after so much suck last year. I have this bad habit: when not-loved-one's but decent people ask me questions I am self-centered enough to delude myself they actually care about my answers, want to hear what I really think, will be grateful I respect them enough to not hide my thoughts behind polite diplomacy, want more than rote nothings. Stupid me. Both the sales rep and my colleague from the Science Library quickly regretted asking me the questions and neither had the slightest idea what I was on about when I babbled about uniforms, standing and chanting at mercenaries, no longer wanting to play at tribal loyalties that infest my late-capitalist indoctrination. Sort of like here of late. Fine metaphors abound.


Adam Zagajewski

1.  without baggage

    To travel without baggage, sleep in the train
    on a hard wooden bench,
    forget your native land,
    emerge from small stations
    when a gray sky rises
    and fishing boats head to sea.

2.  in belgium

    It was drizzling in Belgium
    and the river wound between hills.
    I thought, I'm so imperfect.
    The trees sat in the meadows
    like priests in green cassocks.
    October was hiding in the weeds.
    No, ma'am, I said,
    this is the nontalking compartment.

3.  a hawk circles above the highway

    It will be disappointed if it swoops down
    on sheet iron, on gas,
    on a tape of tawdry music,
    on our narrow hearts.

4.  mont blanc

    It shines from afar, white and cautious,
    like a lantern for shadows.

5.  segesta

    On the meadow a vast temple—
    a wild animal
    open to the sky.

6.  summer

    Summer was gigantic, triumphant—
    and our little car looked lost
    on the road going to Verdun.

7.  the station in bytom

    In the underground tunnel
    cigarette butts grow,
    not daisies.
    It stinks of loneliness.

8.  retired people on a field trip

    They're learning to walk
    on land.

9.  gulls

    Eternity doesn't travel,
    eternity waits.
    In a fishing port
    only the gulls are chatty.

10.  the theater in taormina

    From the theater in Taormina you spot
    the snow on Etna's peak
    and the gleaming sea.
    Which is the better actor?

11.  a black cat

    A black cat comes out to greet us
    as if to say, look at me
    and not some old Romanesque church.
    I'm alive.

12.  a romanesque church

    At the bottom of the valley
    a Romanesque church at rest:
    there's wine in this cask.

13.  light

    Light on the walls of old houses,
    Passerby, open your eyes.

14.  at dawn

    The world's materiality at dawn—
    and the soul's frailty.


  1. Oh, come on, you're not that socially maladapted.
    Uhm, not to be condescending, seriously, but the margin in the Scottish vote is only surprising if you didn't look at the margin of error in the polls--which were already inherently flawed because of the way the rules shaped the electorate. It's also not surprising because, for more Scots, seceding from Great Britain would've been really stupid. Which is not to say that stupidity prevents outcomes.

    1. I really hadn't given this a thought until Tuesday and what I read suggested a closer vote. As for the yes or no itself and implications for either, I had no idea. I just hope that when the Confederacy votes to secede, yes wins.

  2. the scots have spoke - maybe they right, they better together

    i was wondering about napoleon and am glad to hear things are going well for him - with regard to allowing him outside again that is up to you - my late cat had outside access and we only had to take him to the vet for stitching up a dog/fox/whatever wound once - if he ever killed any birds he didn't do it in our yard (he brought a relatively large live one in once in his mouth but it flew out when we opened the door for it)

    on the other hand our remaining cat has lived inside all her life - so far - and so far as i know she is content with that

    speaking of birds and of killing, here is a James Tate poem i dislike

    The Eagle Exterminating Company

    There are birds larger than us, I know that.
    There is a bird in the bedroom much larger than the bed.
    There is a photograph of a dead bird somewhere, I can't remember.
    There is a wingspan that would put us all in the shadows.

    There is a birdcall I must anticipate each night.
    There are feathers everywhere.
    Everywhere you walk there are feathers, you can try
    to hop over and between them but then
    you look like a bird. You are too small to be one.

    You look like a tiny one-winged bird.
    If you are your mother will come and kill you.
    If you are not you will probably beat yourself to death.

    But what matters is that every room in the house is filled,
    is filled with the cry of the eagle.
    Exterminating the eagles is now all but impossible
    for the house would fall down without them.

    There is a photograph of a dead bird somewhere.
    Everywhere you walk there are feathers.
    You look like a tiny one-winged bird.
    There is the birdcall. There is the wingspan.