The first finback whale took an evolutionary leap onto land,
and the president was on TV,
shaking the whale’s fin,
all sleek and blubber.
The TV is on mute: a slender man
in a towel shoos a moth from the sill
of an open door, while on the porch appears
Slow light is breaking
beyond the donkey’s pasture.
Inside the darkened house
brightness rims the shutters.
The harbor hardly sleeps at night, what with
listening in, glittering. Masts hover and sway
while keels answer in watery knocks, their own way
It’s the peeling birch and the lake glimpsed through it,
sheets buckling in wind, the emerald seams of moss
between pavers, three children rounding a bend.
In the Father’s shadowy hoard
pillows belch feathers across
mattress and floors:
I row with the wind in my apple-wood skin,
maw on crow’s dust and raw turnips.
What feeds on want behind the masks of houses?
A year of rain in an hour.
Then dawn. On the Quikcrete
patio a leaden mirror.
On Sundays we composed our own music.
Tapped a nickel against a mailbox,
pounded the wall with the heel of our
palms, and sought a demo-type sound.
Strange word for so simple
a thing as a flat felt hat.
Don’t forget your bear-ay,
my mother’d say, and I thought it
You nicked me
now give me back,
Summering in Pennsylvania
and wintering in Florida
would give me two addresses.
Making a pilgrimage to Albuquerque
to give thanks I cheated heart surgery
of a bad outcome only last month,
On a road leading to where I used to live,
thoughts go back to friends who would visit,
most now are in places quite exquisite,
I remember there was a big bridge
with a toll, and for once I had change.
The river was a shadow of itself below
A cartoon rider on a horse so real
it shits and stalls and rears against the rider
it’s been saddled with in this narrative.
I came out of that country
with one suitcase
crammed with newspaper,
seeds in every fold.
There is one pointtwo point and pointless
(I am referring to some of
the excesses of Canaletto).
Sorrow, keep calm.
Evening—you asked for it—has come.
Darkening streets (depending who you are)
bring peace, or fear.
The dawn of the age is an old tune just barely in d minor.
You can go there, listen, hear what Arnold Schoenberg heard
Boats are sad folks
as they rock
and they rock tied
Murmurous muezzin, hedge-
hiding, no reason to
silence for never I’d harm
you, not Rueheart, not
Slovenly blondes, mussed
in feathering snow,
in ice-burst of spring,
How could I calm the ache
that drifted through my sleep?
A plain ceramic jar,
rounded at the lip,
Like a monk hunched over gilded letters,
my brother studied flies hatching on the Pootatuck,
picked a red and gold Parmachene Belle
from a metal box, tied it to a tippet
“Well I drank it,” says the scientist
When they ask him what he has
Done with the contaminated
Water. “There is less in the lab’s
A test. In a morning
Blue suit the Census taker
Drops his credentials
And picks them up
The museum was closed, so no one saw
the statue of Adam
tumble to the floor, and break. No one saw
the plywood pedestal
We’re always other people, whoever they are.
I’m grateful to poets’ biographies—a genre nearly as
Obsolete as its subjects—for helping me make myself up,