On Growth

- 1947-

Dressed all in plastic,
which means oil,

we’re bright-eyed, scrambling
for the colored cubes

spilled
on the rug’s polymer.

Inside each 
is a tiny car.

When we can’t unscrew the tops
we cry for help.

We’re optimists.

            *

To sleep is to fall
into belief.

Airing even
our worst suspicions
may be pleasurable;

we are carried,
buoyed.

In sleep,
the body can heal,
grow larger.

Creatures that never wake
can sprout a whole new
limb,

a tail.

This may be wrong.

Upper World

If sadness
is akin to patience,

                  we're back!


Pattern recognition
was our first response

to loneliness.

Here and there were like
one place.

But we need to triangulate,
find someone to show.


     *

There's a jolt, quasi-electric,
when one of our myths
reverts to abstraction.

Now we all know
every name's Eurydice, 
briefly returned
from blankness

and the way back
won't bear scrutiny.

High voices
over rapid-pulsing synthesizers
intone, "without you" --

which is soothing.

We prefer meta-significance:

the way the clouds exchange
white scraps
in glory.

No more wishes.

No more bungalows
behind car-washes
painted the color of
swimming pools

Yonder

       1


Anything cancels
everything out.

If each point
is a singularity,

thrusting all else
aside for good,

“good” takes the form
of a throng
of empty chairs.

Or  it’s ants
swarming a bone.


       2 

I’m afraid
I don’t love
my mother
who’s dead

though I once –
what does “once” mean? –
did love her .

So who’ll meet me over yonder?
I don’t recognize the place names.

Or I do, but they come
from televised wars.

Two, Three

Sad, fat boy in pirate hat.
Long, old, dented,
copper-colored Ford.

How many traits
must a thing have
in order to be singular?

(Echo persuades us
everything we say
has been said at least once 
                                        before.)

Two plump, bald men
in gray tee-shirts
and tan shorts 

are walking a small bulldog –
followed by the eyes
of an invisible third person.

The Trinity was born
from what we know
of the bitter 

symbiosis of couples.
Can we reduce echo’s sadness
by synchronizing our speeches?

Is it the beginning or end
of real love
when we pity a person

because, in him,
we see ourselves?

Related Poems

Probable Poem for the Furious Infant

Probably you’ll solve gravity, flesh 
out our microbiomics, split our God 
particles into their constituent bits 
of christs and antichrists probably, 
probably you’ll find life as we know it 
knitted into nooks of the chattering 
cosmos, quaint and bountiful as kismet 
and gunfights in the movies probably, 
probably, probably you have no patience
for the movies there in your eventual 
arrondissement where you have more
credible holography, more inspiring
actual events, your ghazals composed 
of crow racket, retrorockets, glaciers 
breaking, your discotheques wailing
probably, probably, probably, probably 
too late a sentient taxi airlifts you 
home over a refurbished riverbank, 
above the rebuilt cathedral, your head 
dozing easy in the crook of your arm,
emptied of any memory of these weeks 
we haven’t slept you’ve been erupting 
into that hereafter like a hydrant on fire, 
like your mother is an air raid, and I am 
an air raid, and you’re a born siren 
chasing us out of your airspace probably
we’ve caught 46 daybreaks in 39 days, 
little emissary arrived to instruct us,
we wake now you shriek us awake,
we sleep now you leave us to sleep.

Lullaby

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

Mamoyi

(for my son, Daniel)

The child is sleeping,
folded in among the brown boughs of my arms,
and a promise, formed beyond language, drawn upward
like sap through a pith, stirs through me.
In its slow course, i feel a vow so deep
it does not reach the flower and fade of word
but leaves me steeped, resined, in its truth.
Because i wish this child, awake, a man,
to know that he can keep, lifelong,
the trust, the self-astonishing joy that he has now
and he can draw from them the strength to make
his true path from the place i am
to where he will become, for his own child, a tree,
i vow: these boughs will never break.