it is 12:20 in new york a friday three days after bastille day, yes it is 1959 and i go get a shoeshine because i will get off the 4:19 in easthampton at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner and i don’t know the people who will feed me
i walk up the muggy street beginning to sun and have a hamburger and a malted and buy an ugly new world writing to see what the poets in ghana are doing these days i go on to the bank and miss stillwagon (first name linda i once heard) doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life and in the golden griffin i get a little verlaine for patsy with drawings by bonnard although i do think of hesiod, trans. richmond lattimore or brendan behan’s new play or le balcon or les nègres of genet, but i don’t, i stick with verlaine after practically going to sleep with quandariness
and for mike i just stroll into the park lane liquor store and ask for a bottle of strega and then i go back where i came from to 6th avenue and the tobacconist in the ziegfeld theatre and casually ask for a carton of gauloises and a carton of picayunes, and a new york post with her face on it
and i am sweating a lot by now and thinking of leaning on the john door in the 5 spot while she whispered a song along the keyboard to mal waldron and everyone and i stopped breathing
the eager note on my door said "call me, call when you get in!" so i quickly threw a few tangerines into my overnight bag, straightened my eyelids and shoulders, and
headed straight for the door. it was autumn by the time i got around the corner, oh all unwilling to be either pertinent or bemused, but the leaves were brighter than grass on the sidewalk!
funny, i thought, that the lights are on this late and the hall door open; still up at this hour, a champion jai-alai player like himself? oh fie! for shame! what a host, so zealous! and he was
there in the hall, flat on a sheet of blood that ran down the stairs. i did appreciate it. there are few hosts who so thoroughly prepare to greet a guest only casually invited, and that several months ago.
1 my heart's aflutter! i am standing in the bath tub crying. mother, mother who am i? if he will just come back once and kiss me on the face his coarse hair brush my temple, it's throbbing!
then i can put on my clothes i guess, and walk the streets.
2 i love you. i love you, but i'm turning to my verses and my heart is closing like a fist.
words! be sick as i am sick, swoon, roll back your eyes, a pool,
and i'll stare down at my wounded beauty which at best is only a talent for poetry.
cannot please, cannot charm or win what a poet! and the clear water is thick
with bloody blows on its head. i embrace a cloud, but when i soared it rained.
3 that's funny! there's blood on my chest oh yes, i've been carrying bricks what a funny place to rupture! and now it is raining on the ailanthus as i step out onto the window ledge the tracks below me are smoky and glistening with a passion for running i leap into the leaves, green like the sea
4 now i am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern.
the country is grey and brown and white in trees, snows and skies of laughter always diminishing, less funny not just darker, not just grey.
it may be the coldest day of the year, what does he think of that? i mean, what do i? and if i do, perhaps i am myself again.
i wanted to be sure to reach you; though my ship was on the way it got caught in some moorings. i am always tying up and then deciding to depart. in storms and at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide around my fathomless arms, i am unable to understand the forms of my vanity or i am hard alee with my polish rudder in my hand and the sun sinking. to you i offer my hull and the tattered cordage of my will. the terrible channels where the wind drives me against the brown lips of the reeds are not all behind me. yet i trust the sanity of my vessel; and if it sinks, it may well be in answer to the reasoning of the eternal voices, the waves which have kept me from reaching you.