History has to live with what was here,
clutching and close to fumbling all we had—
it is so dull and gruesome how we die,
unlike writing, life never finishes.
Abel was finished; death is not remote,
a flash-in-the-pan electrifies the skeptic,
his cows crowding like skulls against high-voltage wire,
his baby crying all night like a new machine.
As in our Bibles, white-faced, predatory,
the beautiful, mist-drunken hunter’s moon ascends—
a child could give it a face: two holes, two holes,
my eyes, my mouth, between them a skull’s no-nose—
O there’s a terrifying innocence in my face
drenched with the silver salvage of the mornfrost.
From Selected Poems by Robert Lowell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1976, 1977 by Robert Lowell. Used by permission.
From weariness I looked out on the stars And there beheld them, fixed in throbbing joy, Nor racked by such mad dance of moods as mars For us each moment’s grace with swift alloy. And as they pierced the heavens’ serene deep An envy of that one consummate part Swept me, who mock. Whether I laugh or weep, Some inner silences are at my heart. Cold shame is mine for all the masks I wear, Belying that in me which shines and sings Before Him, to face down man’s alien stare— A graceless puppet on unmeaning strings, I that looked out, and saw, and was at rest, Stars, and faint wings, rose-etched along the west.
This poem is in the public domain.
The pigeons ignore us gently as we
scream at one another in the parking
lot of an upscale grocer. The cicadas
are numbed by their own complaints,
so numbed I won’t even try to describe
the noise and tenor of their hum, but hum
they do like a child humming with his
fingers in his ears. Which, coincidentally,
is what our son is doing. Red shopping
carts crash together, and even the humans
walking by do so dumbly, as if to say,
no comment. As if two red-faced adults
in tears is as common as the polluted air
they breathe and keep reading about in
Time and Newsweek, but are clueless
as to what to do about it. Is this why we’re
separating our recycling by glass, by plastic,
by paper? Or why we’re buying organic
produce at a place that smells like patchouli
and port-o-potties? I ask you. Pigeons scoot,
and finches hop, and cicadas shout and shed
themselves into loose approximations of what
we might have in a different time called heaven.
Copyright © 2014 by Nick DePascal. Used with permission of the author.