In a dream city constructed
from paper, flames were lit.
My God, I am the Japanese beetle
green and shining in front
of the dark door. World,
I grieve into you small,
disinterested ear. I am quivering
inside a thousand rooms
of one cell, where I hover
and freeze, black as a speck
descending the far, blank page.
Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, “I love and I love!”
In the winter they’re silent—the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don’t know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving—all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and for ever sings he—
“I love my Love, and my Love loves me!”
Daily dawns another day;
I must up, to make my way.
Though I dress and drink and eat,
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Leave some words upon a page,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend—
Bed awaits me at the end.
Though I go in pride and strength,
I’ll come back to bed at length.
Though I walk in blinded woe,
Back to bed I’m bound to go.
High my heart, or bowed my head,
All my days but lead to bed.
Up, and out, and on; and then
Ever back to bed again,
Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall—
I’m a fool to rise at all!
via the writer’s almanac
there are so many tictoc
clocks everywhere telling people
what toctic time it is for
tictic instance five toc minutes toc
past six tic
Spring is not regulated and does
not get out of order nor do
its hands a little jerking move
over numbers slowly
we do not
wind it up it has no weights
springs wheels inside of
its slender self no indeed dear
nothing of the kind.
(So,when kiss Spring comes
we’ll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss
lips because tic clocks toc don’t make
a toctic difference
to kisskiss you and to
When I met Vivaldi it was dark,
a ragman lashed his horse’s bells,
streets tilted into slow wind tunnels,
no, it was another night, in winter,
snow as soft as opium, two winoes wassailed
down an alley through a milk truck’s ruts,
in the subways a violin was whistling
down chrome tracks, past cobalt semaphores,
rats and pennies underneath the 3rd rail . . .
Has it never been so quiet that you’ve heard
the manhole covers rumble when the El goes overhead?
Icicles growing? Could you tell the difference
between the sound of filaments in light bulbs
burning down, and a dulcimer played in a padded cell?
A meager music hovers everywhere:
at mouths of drains, echoing stairwells
where girls in muslim disappear
When I closed my eyes,
less than a ghost,
Vivaldi cupped a mouth harp
like a match against the wind.
translated by david hinton and yanbing chen
it’s hawk teaching song to swim
it’s song tracing back to the first wind
we trade scraps of joy
enter family from different directions
it’s a father confirming darkness
it’s darkness leading to that lightning of the classics
a door of weeping slams shut
echoes chasing its cry
it’s a pen blossoming in lost hope
it’s a blossom resisting the inevitable route
it’s love’s gleam waking to
light up landscape over zero
The heavy bodies lunge, the broken language
of fake and drive, glamorous jump shot
slowed to a stutter. Their gestures, in love
again with the pure geometry of curves,
rise toward the ball, falter, and fall away.
On the boards their hands and fingertips
tremble in tense little prayers of reach
and balance. Then, the grind of bone
and socket, the caught breath, the sigh,
the grunt of the body laboring to give
birth to itself. In their toiling and grand
sweeps, I wonder, do they still make love
to their wives, kissing the undersides
of their wrists, dancing the old soft-shoe
of desire? And on the long walk home
from the VFW, do they still sing
to the drunken moon? Stands full, clock
moving, the one in army fatigues
and houseshoes says to himself, pick and roll,
and the phrase sounds musical as ever,
radio crooning songs of love after the game,
the girl leaning back in the Chevy’s front seat
as her raven hair flames in the shuddering
light of the outdoor movie, and now he drives,
gliding toward the net. A glass wand
of autumn light breaks over the backboard.
Boys rise up in old men, wings begin to sprout
at their backs. The ball turns in the darkening air.