“It was not gay, that life.” You can’t “make me small,”
you “can’t put me down” or take away my job
I am immune,
although it is not gay. Why did we come at all,
consonant to whose bidding? Perhaps God is a slob,
playful, vast, rough-hewn.
Perhaps God resembles one of the last etchings of Goya & not Valesquez, never Rembrandt no. Something disturbed, ill-pleased, & with a touch of paranoia who calls for this thud of love from his creatures-O. Perhaps God ought to be curbed.
Not only on this planet, I admit; somewhere. Our only resource is bleak denial or anti-potent rage, both have been tried by our wisest. Who was it back there who died unshriven, daring to see what more could happen to a painter with such courage.
Source: Berryman, John, and Michael Hofmann. The Dream Songs , 2014, p. 257.
Un beau matin, chez un peuple fort doux, un homme et une femme superbes criaient sur la place publique. «Mes amis, je veux qu’elle soit reine!» «Je veux être reine!» Elle riait et tremblait. Il parlait aux amis de révélation, d’épreuve terminée. Ils se pâmaient lun contre l’autre.
En effet ils furent rois toute toute une matinée où les tentures carminées se relevèrent sur les maisons, et toute l´après-midi, où ils sávancérent du côté des jardins de palmes.
One fine morning, in the country of a very gentle people, a magnificent man and woman were shouting in the public square. “My friends, I want her to be queen!” “I want to be queen!” She was laughing and trembling. He spoke to their friends of revelation, of trials completed. They swooned against each other.
In fact they were regents for a whole morning as crimson hangings were raised against the houses, and for the whole afternoon, as they moved toward the groves of palm trees.
Source: Rimbaud, Arthur, and John Ashbery. Illuminations. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012, pp. 52-53.
It was late last night the dog was speaking of me, and the gulls speaking of me, out over the field. You were drawing water from the tap in the kitchen and a moth was speaking of me, beating for light.
I was raising delft from the sink to the aumbry, while they spoke of you in loops, over the waves. I reached for a switch; sunlight coalesced about your reflection, helmet of bright coils.
Outdoors was a blankness peopled with black angles; waiting for the water you caught your own glance. My eyebrows bustled, you submersed in my dressed; then you were speaking of me, just a word, in response.
All the dogs in America have sisters of their own, all the birds have sisters, out on the highway. Moths have moths for sisters, beating out for light, and I am speaking of you here, to everyone I meet.
I only intend to send word to my future Self perpetuation is a war against Time Travel is essentially the aim of any religion Is blindness the color one sees under water Breath can be overshadowed in darkness The benefits of blackness can seem radical Black people in America are rarely compulsive Is forbidden the only word God doesn’t know You have to heal yourself to truly be heroic You have to think once a day of killing your self Awareness requires a touch of blindness & self Importance is the only word God knows To be free is to live because only the dead are slaves
Forgive her. Sometimes she forgets she is painfully the same as stagnant water, hollow ditches, foolishly imagines she has the right to exist.
Forgive a portrait’s listless rage, whose longing for movement melts in her paper eyes.
Forgive this woman whose casket is washed over by a flowing red moon, her body’s thousand-year sleep perturbed by night’s stormy scent.
Forgive this woman who’s crumbling inside, but whose eyelids tingle still with dreams of light, her useless hair quivering hopelessly, infiltrated by love’s breath.
People of the land of plain joys, you who have opened your windows to the rain, forgive her, forgive because your lives’ fertile roots burrow into her exiled soil and pound with envy’s rod her naive heart, until it swells.
I don’t think I can afford the time to not sit right down & write a poem about the heavy lidded white rose I hold in my hand I think of snow a winter night in Boston, drunken waitress stumble on a bus that careens through Somerville the end of the line where I was born, an old man shaking me. He could’ve been my dad. You need a ride? Wait, he said. This flower is so heavy in my hand. He drove me home in his old blue Dodge, a thermos next to me, cigarette packs on the dash so quiet like Boston is quiet Boston in the snow. It’s New York plates are clattering on St. Mark’s Place. Should I call you? Can I go home now & work with this undelivered message in my fingertips It’s summer I love you. I’m surrounded by snow.
When I wake up in a strange bed
Beside a girl called Pam
I try to play the whole thing down
And give my name as Sam
It’s clear I’m way out of my depth
It’s clear that she’s dropped a dime
It’s clear that even I suspect
I’m guilty of some crime
I know those goons by the streetlamp
Are champing at the bit
I last saw them on board the train
Before we took a hit
And jumped the observation car
Only to lose our way
In a nightmarish railroad yard
Somewhere near Noir, NJ
When I squint through the slatted blinds
Pam orders juice and eggs
She’ll let a man do the legwork
While she works on her legs
It’s clear her husband was a wimp
It’s clear he had no spine
It’s clear she lit that cigarette
To give the goons a sign
I know that it’s a rule of thumb
A gumshoe’s fingered me
When ladies who’re high maintenance
Meet lighting that’s low key
They’re just so many femme fatales
Who have been led astray
And now lure plainclothesmen et al
Back there to Noir, NJ
When a sergeant with a scattergun
Meets a shamus
Halfway up the stairs
Somewhere between Paterson
They redefine the parameters
And bid us welcome, hey, hey, hey,
Welcome to Noir, NJ
When I flash forward through the murk
Of who did what to whom
I’m pretty sure I don’t deserve
To die here in this room
It’s clear I’ve been double-crossed
It’s clear that I’ve been framed
It’s clear that Pam’s husband was half deaf
From how they shout his name
I know I’ll be reduced to pulp
She’ll gulp with her orange juice
If I don’t reassert myself
She’ll kick in my caboose
It’s not too late to be hard-boiled
Like the eggs on Pam’s tray
Through even her pistol would recoil
At what happened in Noir, NJ
Source: Muldoon, Paul. Joyce Carol Oates, Editor. New Jersey Noir. Consortium Book Sales & Dist, 2011. Print. pp. 217-218.