When the flute players
couldn’t think of what to say next
they laid down their pipes,
then they lay down themselves
beside the river
and just listened.
Some of them, after a while,
and disappeared back inside the busy town.
But the rest—
so quiet, not even thoughtful—
are still there,
Coming up from the subway
into the cool Manhattan evening,
I feel rough hands on my heart –
women in the market yelling
over rows of tomatoes and peppers,
old men sitting on a stoop playing cards,
cabbies cursing each other with fists
while the music of church bells
sails over the street,
and the father, angry and tired
after working all day,
embracing his little girl,
mi vida, mi corazon,
brushing the hair out of her eyes
so she can see.
“You” have transformed into “my loss.”
The nettles in your vanished hair
Restore the absolute truth
Of warring animals without a haven.
I know, I’m as pathetic as a railroad
Without tracks. In June, I eat
The lonesome berries from the branches.
What can I say, except the forecast
Never changes. I sleep without you,
And the letters that you sent
Are now faded into failed lessons
Of an animal that’s found a home. This.
Mr. Teodoro Luna in his later years had taken to kissing
Not so much with his lips as with his brows.
This is not to say he put his forehead
Against her mouth–
Rather, he would lift his eyebrows, once, quickly:
Not so vigorously he might be confused with the villain
Famous in the theaters, but not so little as to be thought
A slight movement, one of accident. This way
He kissed her
Often and quietly, across tables and through doorways,
Sometimes in photographs, and so through the years themselves.
This was his passion, that only she might see. The chance
He might feel some movement on her lips
The fern in the rain breathes the silver message.
Stay, lie low. Play your dark reeds
and relearn the beauty of absorption.
There is nothing beyond the rotten log
covered with leaves and needles.
Forget the light emerging with its golden wick.
Raise your face to the water-laden frond.
A thousand blossoms will fall into your arms.
(June 30, France)
I set the cookbook on fire
by holding it close to the
I began the reading lamp fire
by holding it close
I lit the romance by
close to the cookbook
That coffee you forgot to drink,
this light, eight minutes from the sun,
words I thought for a second
the hottest ever written.