To Last

D. A. Powell - 1963-

I have had to learn the simplest things
last. Which made for difficulties...
—Charles Olson


We know from accounts of the judgment of Paris how Love took first: 
the apple burnished by—it turns out—her own husband, working the bellows,
forging to Discord's specifications, her need to break the spaghetti strands
of marriage, her undiluted vitriol, that oversaw his flux and foundry, 
guided the sparking hammer to its urgent deed.

Spoils of war.

Power, undeterred and wily as it always is, the figural eye and its agency,
took gladly the second chair, from which advantage machinations could be seen.
Advised, conferred, deployed the second wave of ships, provided mercenary aid
to every side and fanned the air, and made her counsel with all sides, supporting
every one and none, out-waiting tides.

If we believe the Greeks, the spokes of Fortune's wheel in constant turn would allow
the last to be the first—beatitudes bestowed upon the losing side, 
a draught of time in which the wily ones, by their equine portage made
the mind the victor over Love's inconstancy and strife,
and, over brute acts, gave thought dominion in a golden age. But that's just myth.

Wisdom, you are the last to whom I turn. Not for your spear, 
fashioned in that same fire as all bright jealous objects of desire. But for your shield.
Protect the least of us. Or lift me from this battlefield,
and take me home.

More by D. A. Powell

[the cocktail hour finally arrives: whether ending a day at the office]

the cocktail hour finally arrives: whether ending a day at the office
or opening the orifice at 6am [legal again to pour in californica]: the time is always right

we need a little glamour and glamour arrives: plenty of chipped ice
a green jurassic palm tree planted. a yellow spastic monkey swinging

a pink classic flamingo impaled upon the exuberant red of cherries
dash of bitters. vermouth sweet. enough rye whiskey to kill

this longing: I take my drinks still and stuffed with plastic. like my lovers
my billfold full of rubbers. OPENs my mouth: its tiny neon lounge

corydon & alexis, redux

and yet we think that song outlasts us all:  wrecked devotion
the wept face of desire, a kind of savage caring that reseeds itself and grows in clusters

oh, you who are young, consider how quickly the body deranges itself
how time, the cruel banker, forecloses us to snowdrifts white as god's own ribs



what else but to linger in the slight shade of those sapling branches
yearning for that vernal beau.   for don't birds covet the seeds of the honey locust
and doesn't the ewe have a nose for wet filaree and slender oats foraged in the meadow
kit foxes crave the blacktailed hare:  how this longing grabs me by the nape



guess I figured to be done with desire, if I could write it out
dispense with any evidence, the way one burns a pile of twigs and brush

what was his name? I'd ask myself, that guy with the sideburns and charming smile
the one I hoped that, as from a sip of hemlock, I'd expire with him on my tongue



silly poet, silly man:  thought I could master nature like a misguided preacher
as if banishing love is a fix.   as if the stars go out when we shut our sleepy eyes

Abandonment Under the Walnut Tree

        "Your gang's done gone away."
                —The 119th Calypso, Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Something seems to have gnawed that walnut leaf.

You face your wrinkles, daily, in the mirror.
But the wrinkles are so slimming, they rather flatter.

Revel in the squat luck of that unhappy tree,
who can't take a mate from among the oaks or gums.

Ah, but if I could I would, the mirror version says, 
because he speaks to you. He is your truer self
all dopey in the glass. He wouldn't stand alone
for hours, without at least a feel for the gall of oaks,
the gum tree bud caps, the sweet gum's prickly balls.

Oh, he's a caution, that reflection man. 
He's made himself a study in the trees.
You is a strewn shattered leaf I'd step on, he says.
Do whatever it is you'd like to do. Be quick.

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