Why did things have to get all retarded when I came out of The Shepard? Why did I have to be the only bull to see those bulls clocking that bull? One stick! Then two! Popping down on Old Man’s dome like me cutting open melons for dessert. Poor homeless fuck. Punk ass with a Kidd jersey’s kicking him under the alley light but it looked like he was just kicking a bunch of tattered rags. Poor emaciated homeless fuck.
– for James Wright
Like I’ve been saying
All along, I’m not sure
Where they’ve gone
Off to. Why can’t I think
Of that place as full
Of lovers secretly kissing
In unmodified light?
This afternoon’s rain settles
Along my jaw.
The invitation came—
come to the museum, walk
in the garden with me,
drink in the azaleas
As the rain sopped cement becomes an ever darker hue, Jeanette calls to insist that she’ll be over to visit within the hour. Thirty-three years of watching the rain in blissful solitude isn’t a bad run. Besides, I already know that today’s rain isn’t going to be one of those eternal days. The air isn’t right. I’ll check outside anyway, even though the rain wasn’t violent enough. It wasn’t urgent. Rain needs to be urgent; my husband taught me that.
Gittel Goldberg turned her back on her cramped kitchen and gazed out the window over Madison Street. How she longed for a space between the tenements, a glimpse of the ocean—the last thing that had touched the world she had left behind. But no, only an unyielding line of stone and metal stood before her, buildings and fire escapes huddled together beneath a gray sky heavy with rain. She wiped her hands on the dishtowel and untied her apron, all the while staring at the window directly across the way—Frieda Mandelbaum’s place, with its fringe of white curtain blowing to and fro. Looking at it, she remembered the dream of the night before.
I don’t know what to buy my grandmother.
At eighty-three, she surrounds herself
with trinkets she can no longer see
I ripped the carpet off my stairs
so now I’m halfway up and halfway
down, extracting staples from scarred
slabs of pumpkin pine. Destruction
beats creation in a footrace every day
Like the way religion gets in the way
of the spiritual, and the habit
of honesty gets in the way of truth,
I have gotten in the way of myself.
I worshipped them,
my new deities;
Mr. Jack Daniels,
made an altar
with empty shot glasses
I have mis-carried three babies in a field of wheat,
laboring hope from my hollowed self: coleoptiles,
those budding leaves and lives in protective sheathes.