The Lady of the House Puts the Alarm Clock in a Drawer

Somewhere someone is sleeping, / somewhere the lady of the house / puts the alarm clock in a drawer / where she cannot hear it / then tells the children to be quiet / and stands there listening / to its tick.”

‘Lightly, Very Lightly’ by Mary Ruefle

It was raining.
I could hear the rain
taking the pins out of her mouth.
Soft rain became hard rain
so that hard things became soft things.
The wet leaves under the trees
became heavy as diapers,
the book left open
on the grass
could finally sink in her bath
without a word,
the way, after a hard day,
I rest my head on the edge
of the claw-foot tub and
my mouth falls open, empty
at last.
Actually I saw that in a painting
when I ducked into a gallery
because it was raining.
It is always raining somewhere,
somewhere the wells are filling
from above and from below.
Somewhere someone is sleeping,
somewhere the lady of the house
puts the alarm clock in a drawer
where she cannot hear it
then tells the children to be quiet
and stands there listening
to its tick.


Source: Ruefle, Mary. “Lightly, Very Lightly.” Dunce, Wave Books, 2020, pp. 52-53.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Lady of the House Puts the Alarm Clock in a Drawer.” Nov. 7, 2020. JPG.

The Great American Rebrand

“an advert for the lightning that fills one’s body”

taos taupe on the meaningless wall an advert
for the effortless lightning that fills one’s body
1960s if i had to guess

masked up against the russian nike strife force
members of which giddily violate
the agreed upon terms of the hue and colorway

sapphire mayan air force marine corps
dozens of dead children some tourists
note i’m still not willing to count peaks

around the mountains of fin-de-siècle literature
dropped from the eradicating chlorosis
could be your ear to the ground

for the right exporter
cheap-as-dirt materials
dog-cheap labor

a skillful color field
beside cotton romance
this standing next to you

a million-dollar gradient
meaning returns
as the temperature rises

safe and dry in the suburbs
where no one can wring you out
and survival is an abatement for wellness

Stuck Tight Old Boy Stuck Tight

“My word / Hand caught in the door / Stuck tight old boy stuck tight”

‘Safety Lock’ by Louis Aragon

My word
Hand caught in the door
Stuck tight old boy stuck tight
In other words
Or
The password please
Many thanks
Now I hold the key
The bolt begins to twist like a tongue
Therefore

Trans. Michael Benedikt


Source: Aragon, Louis. “Safety Lock.” The Poetry of Surrealism, edited by Michael Benedikt. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1974, p. 151.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “Stuck Tight Old Boy Stuck Tight” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.

Men in Hats Rise from the Ground

“Men in hats rise from the ground: / Bless these broken dolls and mend them.”

‘Five O’Clock’ by James Schuyler

Men disport themselves.
They help each other:
“Reach in my chest and massage my heart.
I am not dead.”

If clouds are God’s table linen,
what is rain?
He gave men towels to dry themselves.
He blessed their soap.

The city grew like the desert, by erosion
Men walk in it.
God is not so much dead as resting.
His seventh day has just begun.

Men step out of the wind.
They give money and necessaries.
They steal what belongs to them.
The eighth day, doors open on new sights.

Men in hats rise from the ground:
Bless these broken dolls and mend them.
What goes through cloth, walks and floats?
We rise lightly in you.


Source: Schuyler, James, James Meetze, and Simon Pettet. Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. Print, p. 179.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “Men in Hats Rise from the Ground” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.

The Song of One Hundred Thousand Chemicals Approximating Sunshine

“This is the song of one hundred / Thousand chemicals approximating / Sunshine in my hair. My lover bit / My cheek this morning.”

‘This is the Song of One Hundred Thousand’ by Ariana Reines

This is the song of one hundred
Thousand chemicals approximating
Sunshine in my hair. My lover bit
My cheek this morning. I think I’ll
Fall from one trance into the next
Might fall asleep any minute
It gets tiring making yourself look
like you’re alive while you’re looking
Hard practicing turning
Away from the shit we’re in


Source: Reines, Ariana. A Sand Book. , 2019. Print, p. 157.
Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Song of One Hundred Thousand Chemicals Approximating Sunshine [Secaucus Junction].” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.

On One Leg (House Beautiful)

The Lauder Family Cardiovascular Center, Mount Sinai, Nov. 14, 2020

prokofiev cobham & darnielle circle one’s
crown blue llama equilateral winged
what have we here
seen? a photo in a photo in a magazine
metaphor boils the pot
after a jot spills its ink hung
over an fim-92 stinger which
like i said before is no metaphor
at all al gore despondent speaking to late modal fords
don’t forget mass production the cruelest beard
a habitat in the atlantic city convention hall
and curly beautiful ambulances free myself
today and forever from human
immobility masked up in constant whirls
a plagiarizer a bad speller pfizer hopping
on one leg from star to star i swing red radio
to blue gamma alongside a humming horse’s mouth
a plagiarizer paul reiser needle in the
armed to the teeth breasts
elbows draped over that still missile botticelli
like a real goddess of love cuts my tongue
into 8 poppy flowers and marches south
to war for the winter who do you think you
are tarantula swagger carpet bagger
meowing hoarse chuff chuff chuffing at popular art
cart me ashore saint bart of the ozarks

200! (Dog Talk)


200! the old mutt says
hallelujah and forevermore
the rats of us
keep banging on that drum
if the sky has his way
if the shy sky has his way
frank o’hara blessed me
early in my career — he blurbed
my christening i’ll pray for you
says the well intentioned divorcee
really where would we be without soft
scrub the bathroom would be the barn
no other poet should mention prokofieff
you’re setting yourself up for failure
it’s like last tuesday when the martians arrived
and locked all the inmates in with the guards
and burnt the whole penal colony
for fuel — i know it’s cruel. you’re not
telling yourself anything you don’t know
he blurbed my christening he read radio
but spelled it the old russian way
i remember something now about my grandfather
but can’t find a reason to type it — i’m not
the showboat All week long I trudge fatiguingly
i couldn’t name a damn thing the inanity of it
would crush me like a slug beneath a heel
in hell he made me come close i’m in
no condition a man is a man is a man
we think we can do anything and then
anything comes face to face with self-recognition
and the whole national book awards go ka-boom
how do i get out of this
promise me you’ll find a scholarly way to shuffle off
how? i listened and i didn’t like what i heard
another bug in another field of heads unrecognizable
except for it turns around — means of rotation
unknown — and shouts backwards into his
spinal column: 200! bark bark rough rough etc etc
and out of the eye’s corner a dune buggy
accelerating cliche-first into the azzurri sunset

Good Blue Clay


Tanka, by Ono No Oyu

The city of Nara of good blue clay glows like a blooming flower, now at its prime


Source: Ono No Oyu. “Tanka.” From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, edited by Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, p. 43.

Photo: Church Street, New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace


“Ono no Oyu (?-737) was a Japanese bureaucrat and a poet. He served under Ōtomo no Tabito during the Dazaifu administration. He rose to the rank of Assistant Governor-General (daini). Three of his tanka poems have been preserved in the Man’yōshū.” Wikipedia

An Urge to Flex Everything

“I seem to be very and/or, / with an urge to flex everything until it loses / what I secretly feel to be its false polarity.”

‘Solidus’ by Ron Padgett

Why am I making myself
do and be things that I don’t really want to?
Because I have an idea of what I should be doing and/or
I don’t have an idea of what I really want to be and/or do.
And/or both. I seem to be very and/or,
with an urge to flex everything until it loses
what I secretly feel to be its false polarity.
E.g., there is a such thing as good and
such a thing as evil, it’s just
that they aren’t opposites.
Am I a good person? Yes, after
a certain point, and no, after another.
Deep down I’m just down there, a kind of gurgling
black Jell-O that doesn’t have any idea
of what’s going on up here. Up here
I have on a baseball cap and have
a vague desire to fix the closet door.


Source: Padgett, Ron. Collected Poems. , 2013. Print, p. 503.

Photo: Main Street, New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace

The Fiction of Time Destroyed

“the fiction of Time destroyed, / free from love, from me.”

‘Anticipation of Love’ by Jorge Luis Borges

Neither the intimacy of your look, your brow fair as a feast day,
nor the favor of your body, still mysterious, reserved, and childlike,
nor what comes to me of your life, settling in words or silence,
will be so mysterious a gift
as the sight of your sleep, enfolded
in the vigil of my arms.
Virgin again, miraculously, by the absolving power of sleep,
quiet and luminous like some happy thing recovered by memory,
you will give me that shore of your life that you yourself do not own.
Cast up into silence
I shall discern that ultimate beach of your being
and see you for the first time, perhaps,
as God must see you—
the fiction of Time destroyed,
free from love, from me.

trans. Robert Fitzgerald


Source: Borges, Jorge L, Willis Barnstone, and Alexander Coleman. Selected Poems. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1999. Print, p. 39.

Photo: 11 Church St., New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace