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Two Poems

18 Nov

I haven’t written, let alone put out into the world, any poetry in quite a while. The lapse in poetry coincided with the rise of prose, interviews, reviews and other such works that are intended for clear articulation of ideas, getting down to the point. But so many phrases rack up in notebooks and scraps, and the appeal of imagery and ambiguity has it’s own appeal and nourishment. At a party several years ago where I hurt people, an older writer told me, drunkenly, wisely, “Don’t kill yourself.” The best and bluntest advice I ever got. It was, at that time, meant literally, but contains in it a truth about everyday living- do those things that let you live. So the scraps coalesce, the soul convalesces and words, lost words, wild words, need a home. It was only inevitable that the form would return.

11354-self-portrait-with-doctor-arrieta-francisco-de-goya-y-lucientesSelf-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Elegy 27
(Sweet Guadeloup)

“Goya agradecido, á su amigo Arrieta: por el acierto y esmero con qe le salvo la vida en su aguda y / peligrosa enfermedad, padecida á fines del año 1819, a los setenta y tres años de su edad. Lo pintó en 1820.”

Give it up, Sweet Guadeloup, you’ll never make it
through a Minnesota winter with a scarf that thin.
Not with bare feet tracking leaves into the library
like sacred offerings made by cats to kin. Keep walking,
find a friend to give you shoes.

Leave it to your eyes to flesh out the giants in the mist,
bit into the soft ground plate that autumn offers
as a masque for the approach and blows away your prints,
your footfalls so delicate.

Shield yourself, love, resist,
mark the well-appointed rooms with mounted mantel-clocks
and un-moulded door-jambs framed with sealing caulk
to keep the wind away
from a vase of roses. That could be you, but for the plate glass.

Sweet Guadeloup, rattling home on the Eighteen
Where you been? Treatment. Me too.
It is good to commune.

Poesy 99
(Edna & Konstantin)

It’s supposed to rain, it was supposed to rain:
Fly away to Maine to stand by the Atlantic,
she wears her sensuousness, infinite,
like a gauze. Crashing upon the shore and pulling
the wolf teeth one by one, tearing the at edges to bind it up,
stanch the leaching out of hurts and blood.

It’s gonna pass by, shake the necklace in the fist,
salt the water, cast spells on the concrete
freeway overpass, busstops, the unending litany of
names names names articulate the possibilities;
Speak the speech as you pray it, haltingly
like dogs unsure of affection, come on home.

Laughing with inexplicable joy opens veins to air. Why would you but
to live. Give them doves, the teenagers in leather jackets
going places with heads of dynamite and pockets full of hinges-
each finger a conductor’s baton, each joint a break to make
the music more personal.

It should never go unspoken, unsung; the gamesmanship of
sufferings mounts up a pale horse that
swiftly rides away from love and life, reigned back
when tongue and heart conceive and name the tune.

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