Pavilion of Leaves

Matthew Rohrer

Central Park in a
pavilion of leaves
with extra sauce
for midday
is only a snack
and a photograph
of cold cherries
like a young woman's
legs softly peeling
after burning
a pennywhistle
in the distance
with the piping children's
voices which are
distant peace
in a breeze
two white butterflies
trying so hard

More by Matthew Rohrer

Ski Lift to Death!

It was a basement with its own basement,
and in that basement were machines
and dusty weapons, the engines of the house;
where the floor gave way because of intense pressure
from below, and magma boiled up
through the wood-looking tiles;
where to leap to safety
broke my sister's foot;
where the animals that weren't as smart as we
were captured and admired;
where we watched in horror as the ski lift
lifted the men inexorably to death;

it was my favorite room in the house.

venus waning/apollo waxing his car

Then there was the night I decided that if I ignored everyone
I would transcend,

so I covered my ears with my hands,
stepped off the porch and rose like a wet crow

and the sprinklers chattered to each other over the fences.
And "How long will you be gone?" my neighbor called nervously,
my neighbor whose saw I had borrowed,
and "Come down right now!" my landlord called out,
climbing to the roof of his Cadillac to reach me
as he got smaller and smaller.

And there I was with the stars hanging above my house like live wires
and the night sky the color of stockings.

I stuck out my tongue to taste the sky
but could not taste.

I inhaled deeply
but could not smell.

I used to look to the sky for comfort
and now there was nothing, not  even a seam,
and I looked down and saw that it did not even reach the ground.

And my only company was the satellites counting their sleep
and the Sorrowful Mother swinging her empty dipper in the darkness,
the Sorrowful Mother picking her way through the stars over my roof.

And I knew I was nowhere and if I ever took my hands from my ears
     I would fall.

will the red hand throw me?

1. Though our radiator is painted the color of the walls we know he's there. Whatever we set on top of him bursts angrily into flame. He has come to be known as Petulant. He has come to be known as Wasted Space. To be contrary, the radiator will not heat us when we need it. "If only I could find his fucking face," I say to her (who sleeps beside me), "I'd stick something in his eye. I'd stick this in his eye." And I hold out a fork. Night has grown up around us and this luminous fork is our only light. 2. By the light of our luminous fork I see the old Mexican shortwave radio weeping on the corner. All her tubes are cracked and it is late in the century. No one will be putting on a hat and boots to find tubes for her, because they can't be found. She is like the last auk in its cage with a shattered wishbone, while the naturalists were helpless and could offer to bring it something, again and again. She is like the last passenger pigeon when it realized it was the last passenger pigeon. We don't notice her anymore. "God's curse on you for ignoring me," she used to moan at night. Now she only weeps or says her prayers, but either way we can't hear her because her tubes are withered and it is late in the century. 3. The luminous fork is also worthy of investigation: Our grandparents cannot remember when the luminous fork first came into their lives. It was prefigured by the tools of Poseidon and Michael. It has appeared in my poems before. It is the last of the luminous flatware and is lonely in our drawer. Imagine a luminous fork in the company of our silverware and their steely glances. Think about this fork who cannot share his secrets with the dark knives, who will never lie with the smooth spoons. The luminous fork knows that someday when I open the drawer I won't recognize him among the tarnished forks pointing at me, just as I am told one day there will come a knock at my door that I won't answer.

Related Poems

Central Park, Carousel

June already, it's your birth month,
nine months since the towers fell.
I set olive twigs in my hair
torn from a tree in Central Park,
I ride a painted horse, its mane a sullen wonder.
You are behind me on a lilting mare.
You whisper--What of happiness?
Dukham, Federico. Smoke fills my eyes.
Young, I was raised to a sorrow song
short fires and stubble on a monsoon coast.
The leaves in your cap are very green.
The eyes of your mare never close.
Somewhere you wrote: Despedida.
If I die leave the balcony open!