April

James Schuyler - 1923-1991
The morning sky is clouding up
and what is that tree,
dressed up in white? The fruit
tree, French pear. Sulphur-
yellow bees stud the forsythia
canes leaning down into the transfer
across the park. And trees in
skimpy flower bud suggest
the uses of paint thinner, so
fine the net they cast upon
the wind. Cross-pollination
is the order of the fragrant day.
That was yesterday: today is May,
not April and the magnolias
open their goblets up and
an unseen precipitation
fills them. A gray day in May.

More by James Schuyler

Poem

How about an oak leaf
if you had to be a leaf?
Suppose you had your life to live over
knowing what you know?
Suppose you had plenty money

"Get away from me you little fool."

Evening of a day in early March,
you are like the smell of drains
in a restaurant where paté maison
is a slab of cold meat loaf
damp and wooly. You lack charm.

Poem

I do not always understand what you say.
Once, when you said, across, you meant along.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

Words' meanings count, aside from what they weigh:
poetry, like music, is not just song.
I do not always understand what you say.

You would hate, when with me, to meet by day
What at night you met and did not think wrong.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

I sense a heaviness in your light play,
a wish to stand out, admired, from the throng.
I do not always understand what you say.

I am as shy as you. Try as we may,
only by practice will our talks prolong.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

We talk together in a common way.
Art, like death, is brief: life and friendship long.
I do not always understand what you say.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

A Poem

Tags of songs, like salvaged buttons
off vanished dresses, a date
Thursday a week at eight, some guilt
for a cab she not only could not afford but:
pretty immoment matter
greets Dorabella's mounting
or are they subtracting moments. "Surely
should be otherwise, should stop, be
thought about, have other quality
than surprise. When was I last surprised?"
Now more a lilac in rain than a crocus
between her office and some gin, Dorabella
herself encounters numerously,
a not so bad looker for a tied and dyed,
a moustached nun of dubious inner life,
a character actress of no talent and less means,
a swami-smitten dowager needling a dull chauffeur,
or a hurrying woman smoothing gloves.

"What would it be like
to change, sharply as a traffic light?"

Dorabella makes a face
at life, and hurries.

Related Poems

April 27, 1937

General Ludendorff, two years before,
Had pushed the concept in his Total War,
And so it seemed a perfect time to see
If one could undermine an enemy
By striking its civilian population.
This proved a most effective innovation,
As the defenseless ancient Basque town learned:
Three quarters of its buildings bombed and burned,
Its children and young wives were blown to bits
Or gunned down, when they fled, by Messerschmitts.
Shocked condemnations poured forth from the press,
But Franco triumphed; and, buoyed by success,
The Luftwaffe would similarly slam
Warsaw and Coventry and Rotterdam.

Berlin cheered these developments; but two
Can play such games—and usually do—
No matter how repellent or how bloody.
And Churchill was, as always, a quick study
And would adopt the tactic as his own,
Sending the RAF to blitz Cologne.
Devising better ways to carpet-bomb				
 (Which later were employed in Vietnam),
The Allies, in a show of aerial might,
Incinerated Dresden in a night
That left the good and evil to their fates,
While back in the untorched United States
Others approved an even darker plan
To coax a prompt surrender from Japan.

That day in Spain has taught us, to our cost,
That there are lines that never should be crossed;
The ignorance of leaders is not bliss
If they’re intent on tempting Nemesis.
Each day we rise, and each day life goes on:
An author signs beneath a colophon;
Trucks carry freight through waves of desert heat;
A bat cracks, a crowd rises to its feet;
Huge jets lift to the sky, and, higher yet,
Float satellites that serve the Internet.
But still, despite our cleverness and love,
Regardless of the past, regardless of
The future on which all our hopes are pinned,
We’ll reap the whirlwind, who have sown the wind.