It's the start of baseball season, and I am thinking again as I do every year in early April now that I live in California where afternoon is a blue span to languidly cross of those long ones you used to sort of sleep through getting drunk on many beers, lying next to your radio on a little square of grass in the sun, listening half to the game and half to the Pacific water gently slapping the concrete barrier of the man-made cove. I have heard it and it sounds like conversations among not there people I can't quite hear. But you could. And later you would try to remember what they said and transcribe it on your black typewriter in your sad, horrible room. When I read your poems about suicide and psychoanalysis I feel very lucky and ashamed to be alive at all. Everyone has been talking lately about radiation, iodine, and wind, and you are in your grave, far from the water. I know I don't care about you at all but when I look at your photograph, your round head tilted up so you are staring down at everyone, I remember how much you hated your body. Today I will go down by the water where you used to sit and think I do not hate my body even though I often do. When I die please write he tried on whatever stone you choose.
Copyright © 2010 by Matthew Zapruder. Used with permission of the author.
—walking along a ridge of white sand—
it’s cooler below the surface—
we stop and, gazing at an expanse
of dunes to the west,
watch a yellow yolk of sun drop to the mountains—
an hour earlier, we rolled down a dune,
white sand flecked your eyelids and hair—
a claret cup cactus blooms,
and soaptree yuccas
move as a dune moves—
so many years later, on a coast, waves rolling to shore,
wave after wave,
I see how our lives have unfolded,
a sheen of
wave after whitening wave—
and we are stepping barefoot,
rolling down a dune, white flecks on our lips,
on our eyelids: we are lying in a warm dune
as a full moon
lifts against an ocean of sky—
Copyright © 2016 by Arthur Sze. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 8, 2016, this poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.
The air is close by the sea and the glow from the pink moon
drapes low over a tamarind tree.
We hold hands, walk across a road rushing with traffic
to an abandoned building site on the bay, look out across the dark marina.
Sea cows sleep by the side of a splintered dock, a cluster of them
under the shallow water,
their wide backs covered in algae like mounds of bleached coral.
Every few minutes one floats up for air,
then drifts back down to the bottom,
without fully waking.
They will do this for hours, and for a while we try to match
our breath to theirs, and with each other’s.
In the morning, sitting in the garden beneath thatch palms,
we drink black coffee from white ceramic cups.
Lizards killed by feral cats are scattered on the footpath.
I sweep them into a pile with the ones from the night before.
Waves of heat rise from the asphalt,
and we sense a transparent gray fuzz lightly covering everything
as if there were no such thing as empty space,
that even a jar void of substance holds emptiness as if it were full.