the destination

October 11, 2008

i
you arrive in a town where you will spend
the remainder of your life the lawns are browned
by frostbites and leaves on sycamores shrivel
the view from the church parking-lot presents
a hydrangea hedge still in bloom and teeming
with chipmunks the soundtrack hijacked
by blue jays the stained glass of the lancet windows
shimmers with a hymn intoned by the throng inside
the sky they beseech is watery and low
and the lake is within a stone throw from wherever

ii
you have picked it at random simply by counting
seven exits from the last stop unwilling to tell
one hicksville from another you were looking
for a place to lay down your burden and this one
happens to have a red courthouse tower seen from afar
with a clock whose frozen hands
almost touch midnight without specifying
a day or a year must be the late seventies
judging by a decaying steel mill the very
fish skeleton of the existence as such

iii
speaking of which remember hitting a fishmarket
some sixty miles ago where in front of your eyes
the deft piscator gilling a black bass produced
a brass ring from within the creature’s bowels
never having thrown it in the lake you could not
have been the addressee or perhaps the fisherman
was a classics dropout armed with an aged joke
he may be using it as a shibboleth to sort out
the locals from the commuters with a harvard diploma
to better avail himself of their monetary situation

iv
come to think of it none of those locals seems
to be in a hurry to greet the new settler
except for the presumed jarrers of the stained glass
the locals are paramount to the entire scenario
you will secretly award each one with a name
of somebody once loved or simply met elsewhere
it has been seven exits but the true one is found
as to the doctor the matter can wait
one will turn up eventually but the verdict
is immutable still the life was a burst of joy

v
here under the unresponsive sky
on their soil saturated with rust you will settle
in a rented hovel with a porch facing the lake
not necessarily placid it owes you nothing
like the sky let it be simply a space of water
and the clock on the tower at the edge of time
will mutely chime while the natives shuttle
to and fro their secret names unknown to any
smiling you will sit on the porch with a dead laptop
and type blindly lifewasaburstofjoylifewas


snowed up by stars

September 21, 2008

a wayfarer perhaps in wyoming
with the night approaching is wheeling away
when presto his car gets struck by a meteorite
the tiny bugger pierces the hood right through
now he is stuck on an empty highway
cursing his windfall of sinister luck
and the stars just keep falling around

the month being august the odds are higher
though not by much and he could have
used the chance at the indian casino
of which he fell short only a few miles
fate is a chain of wasted improbabilities
and the night is a storm cloud sowing stars
on the luckless and lucky alike

he is sullenly certain of making it into
the county sheet or becoming a butt
of jibes at the water cooler
come to think of it cooler it certainly gets
the star storm thickens he is ringing harder
against the sky excised by the waning summer
what a rare and preposterous way out
it is wyoming if you know what i mean

does it make a difference in the end lightning
or lottery to the chosen and the blessed
whom the gods apprehended awakened for once
from their eternal inanity
stars flowing like snow up to his icy knees
perhaps not even in wyoming anymore


never come

August 30, 2008

i
ulysses is back and the sea has receded
its hum tamed in a conch on the mantelshelf
and its salt on the kitchen table beside the pepper
his sea legs are slowly adjusting to dry ground
they say there are countless cities between here
and the coast with warehouses full of dead fish
their streets slicing the night like glowing eels
the squares crammed with statues of the phaeacians
who were turned to stone by the vengeful god
of those cities he has seen none he stays at home

ii
mornings penelope shuttles majestically
between the living room and the pantry
twenty years is a twinkle for a heavenly body
whose orbit was clasped by the cosmic cooper
and being a wife becomes her even though
he still wonders what was the nose job for
the desk chair keeps suggesting alien shapes
but the stars in the window have not changed
since he drove them home from the journey
he likes the stars well enough but he misses the sea

iii
they have no kings now and he has been
pensioned off by the municipal council
he could have tried his hand at a service station
but the models are all new jammed with wires
and he yearns for his little statelet he used
to criss-cross each morning smiling benevolently
but the sea has receded his subjects are dispersed
the dead fish whisper in the foam of his dream
and the statues hum their distant sea shanties
cut into shreds by the wind in the pillars of air

iv
this evening is probably his now-or-never chance
what with his son not back yet from the rehab
his wife off to her weekly quilting bee whatever
ever so furtively he turns the ignition
launching his tin ship onto the waves of dusk
is this a flight or perhaps his last assault
something to be decided later for now
he reads the remaining stars not yet mowed down
by autumn from ithaca all the way to albany
and on to troy aiming at the maine coastline

v
he will never come back now no such thing
as back because the sea retraces its retreat
the lobster season is over and on the beach
a solitary someone lights up the smoke mixes
with the mist while the smoker merges
with the observer let the rancorous god rage
at the trespasser who is the king again
of infinite space and his own lone subject
braving the foaming jaws of the last element
gone and never come back never come


pins on the map

August 27, 2008

i could surely use an auxiliary life
running alongside this default one
such as being a ufo junkie someplace in iowa
where i would spend my rural evenings
connecting dots on a map and marking them
with certain special pins bought on the internet
a particular brand never to be profaned
by other uses the source kept secret

perhaps i would also keep a row of file cabinets
in a sealed garage having exiled the old buick
a battery of drawers which i am not going
to tag farmington centerville or guernsey
a simple code would do just as well
one can never be too careful even though the key
is well hidden and the one from the map room too
some extra copies of the clippings i would perhaps
paste on cardboard sheets in a meaningful design

even at work while filing the claims
i will knowingly look at the sky now and then
and when they finally pull a plug on me
in the local infirmary there will be no time left
for the lifelong confidence to expire before me

if only i could steal some certainty
from that extra existence elsewhere
powerless to solve the mysteries
accosting the brain at every step
with nothing to pin with this place on the map
slowly sliding away from under me


fermi’s paradox

August 25, 2008

in a patio facing the street
a woman is crying into her cell phone
in front of her neatly arranged
there is a paperback a pencil a pack of merits
with a lighter tucked in a porcelain mug
emblazoned with a cute kitten and her hands
flutter and settle again like startled nestlings
she is slumped in a wicker chair in front of an oaken
table and her heart is broken

should have taken the alley haven’t i witnessed
enough of her flaunted grief on my way
from the metro on the last three occasions
yet i know it could have been worse
and cringe at the prospect of incessant laughter
this way at least i see what she is after
crying is a craft we never have to learn
and her secret by now is as good as mine
there’s no one at the other end of the line

you can turn the thing off altogether and the static
ceases just the little cosmos of random
objects fades against the wooden backdrop
all channels of communication are open
into the void where her plaintive voice
posts its daily bulletin of pain
with me limping glumly into the golden fall
as she cries and cries for no reason at all


love lost

August 11, 2008

in my relative youth employed as a porter in yonkers
i was totally out of my mind i truly went bonkers
the days were scorching yet my nights were hotter
i fell in love with the superintendent’s daughter

an exotic transplant from russia newly arrived
i was reading stevens and keats but my tongue was tied
and without the tongue as such my options were few
she was hot and a student then at the city u

getting desperate and to pick myself up a notch
i procured a new haircut bought a digital watch
still there was the hall to sweep and the lawn to tend
while she was cruising around with a smart boyfriend
can’t forget his hotrod pacer his preppy tie
once i met him on his way in and suavely said hi

to console myself i caroused with russian poets
some of whom have long since earned their obits
buzzing over the booze obtained with our last bucks
and the verdict unfailingly was solzhenitsyn sucks
i drank their vodka neat but it was like water
for i was in love with the superintendent’s daughter
green as a sprig of parsley dumb like a lamb
bent on becoming a phd and now i am


lost in the midwest

August 1, 2008

a whorl of air hovers over the highway
throbbing and humming where the kites launched
from the neighboring lawns disappear
the bane of swallows and police helicopters
although the well-read brain prompts otherwise
blaming the blind spot the few loops dropped
in retinal crocheting yet even if so
whence comes the sound explain
you sapient sponge

unfit to join the exodus of kites
i do the next best thing and cross the overpass
having shed a wife somewhere in the rest area
perhaps too many people stare at me
look down where in their sleek carapaces
they come and go doomed to be half-happy
with no one to instruct them better
unless one counts their daily intake of rush
limbaugh laced with faith hill
or lou dobbs when they reach their plasma holes
beaming with his cordial hatred

no one left for me to fall in love with
the wife forever lost in a rest room line
see how the kites converge farewell my brain
winged walnut messenger indelible in the sky