my first try I made a hit it dropped from morning gray the smallest shadow both wings slipped inward mid-flight the man barked Now I shot again and again a third time with each arrow through the target I thought was it luck or was it skill luck or skill as the last one fell
its awkward shape made me run there pulsing on the ground I was astounded by its size a gangly white goose throbbed heaved its head my eyes dropped blood flowers opened in the snow of its neck behind my shoulder stepping down from a yellow bus
children made their way across the field I shot once more to end it quickly close range its death did I do this to spare the bird from suffering or to spare the children the sight my motives in humid cold yes my knuckles in the cold steamed bright red
because on my stomach in grass in rubber boots pockets and vest I slid along with that hunter I did as he directed from quiver my draw my black lashes in steely eyed release it felt good there it felt strong my breath in autumn was an animal there I thought did I really do this did I really yet what difference is muscle is an arrow powered upward or any flight to center when I did not hear it though I clearly mouthed poor thing poor thing poor thing
A man entered the subway car at Borough Hall, was about to sit, but just as his knees began to bend the train jerked into motion. He stood up, as though regaining composure after a brief humiliation, as though it were somehow shameful to be subject to gravity’s impersonal force, caught in its grip, an object controlled by physics.
Pleasure and disgust, the border of desire, of aesthetics, where beauty and the uncanny meet—is this the brink one must always live on, bare and bear, the vulnerability necessitated in feeling alive? When I have bared myself, I feel a compulsion to send out a flurry of signals to adjust the reception of others, to scramble the image that may have been momentarily revealed of me—
If only you knew what I saw when I looked at your face, headless motherfucker, with your head turned around. We do that kind of shit. We know everything. That’s how we train. We know fucking everything.
As I switched subway cars at the next stop, I saw others who had stood beside him rush to do the same. It’s that easy to unknow, to deny that we are at war.
How did the caterpillar feel when it crawled out of its face, left it behind in mulch at the bottom of its jar? Is this ahistoricity, to go forth having molted your face and all associations dragged along?
The wet in the air is like signal anxiety: life is about to change. The parked bicycle’s front wheel indicates the direction gravity has chosen, the ice cream truck emits music & fumes outside the school, luring children, as did the Pied Piper, towards death. Robert Browning wrote a poem about the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a rat catcher who passed through Germany in the middle ages, which was published in Dramatic Lyrics in 1842. After being trashed for his confessional lyrics in his first book, Pauline: A Fragment of A Confession, which didn’t sell a single copy, Browning veered sharply away from confessional poetry and invented the dramatic monologue, which, using historical figures as mouthpieces, protected him from lyric shame. Once, when I
‘[S]elf,’ wrote Shelley in a letter, ‘that burr that sticks to I can’t seem to get it off’
was part of a dance troupe, we rehearsed our
upcoming show wearing masks. Never before had I felt so free—sometimes you can put more of your emotion into art by keeping your face out. Or is thinking that way merely projective autobiography?
The Sun woke me this morning loud and clear, saying “Hey! I’ve been trying to wake you up for fifteen minutes. Don’t be so rude, you are only the second poet I’ve ever chosen to speak to personally so why aren’t you more attentive? If I could burn you through the window I would to wake you up. I can’t hang around Here all day.”
“Sorry, Sun, I stayed up late last night talking to Hal.”
“When I woke up Mayakovsky he was a lot more prompt” the Sun said petulantly. “Most people are up already waiting to see if I’m going to put in an appearance.” I tried to apologize “I missed you yesterday.” “That’s better” he said “I didn’t know you’d come out. You may be wondering why I’ve come so close?” “Yes” I said beginning to feel hot wondering if maybe he wasn’t burning me anyway.
“Frankly I wanted to tell you I like your poetry. I see a lot on my rounds and you’re okay. You may not be the greatest thing on earth, but you’re different. Now, I’ve heard some say you’re crazy, they being excessively calm themselves to my mind, and other crazy poets think you’re a boring reactionary. Not me.
Just keep on like I do and pay no attention. You’ll find that people always will complain about the atmosphere, either too hot or too cold too bright or too dark, days too short or too long.
If you don’t appear at all one day they think you’re lazy or dead. Just keep right on, I like it.
And don’t worry about your lineage poetic or natural. The Sun shines on the jungle, you know, on the tundra the sea, the ghetto. Whatever you were I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting for you to get to work.
And now that you are making your own days, so to speak, even if no one reads you but me you won’t be depressed. Not everyone can look up, even at me. It hurts their eyes.”
“Oh Sun, I’m so grateful to you!”
“Thanks and remember I’m watching. It’s easier for me to speak to you out here. I don’t have to slide down between buildings to get your ear. I know you love Manhattan, but you ought to look up more often.
And always embrace things, people earth sky stars, as I do, freely and with the appropriate sense of space. That is your inclination, known in the heavens and you should follow it to hell, if necessary, which I doubt.
Maybe we’ll speak again in Africa, of which I too am especially fond. Go back to sleep now Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem in that brain of yours as a farewell.”
“Sun, don’t go!” I was awake at last. “No, go I must, they’re calling me.” “Who are they?” Rising he said “Some day you’ll know. They’re calling to you too.” Darkly he rose, and then I slept.
For the length of time it takes a bruise to fade for the heavy weight on getting out of bed, for the hair’s grey, for the skin’s tired grain, for the spider naevus and drinker’s nose for the vocabulary of palliation and Macmillan for friends who know the best funeral readings,
for the everydayness of pain, for waiting patiently to ask the pharmacist about your medication for elastic bandages and ulcer dressings, for knowing what to say when your friend says how much she still misses him, for needing a coat although it is warm,
for the length of time it takes a wound to heal, for the strange pity you feel when told off by the blank sure faces of the young who own and know everything, for the bare flesh of the next generation, for the word ‘generation’, which used to mean nothing.
Era pobre e sórdida a alcova, escondida por cima da equívoca taberna. Da janela via-se a ruela suja e estreita. De baixo subiam as vozes de uns operários que, jogando às cartas, matavam o tempo.
E ali, numa cama mísera e vulgar possuí o corpo do amor, possuí os lábios sensuais e rosados de embriaguez - rosados de tanta embriaguez que, mesmo agora, quando escrevo, passados tantos anos, sozinho em casa, volto a embriagar-me.