Whatever hid the sun and moon inside a mountain
brought people there to found the night
where a city swans on river water
laving with light each passing wake,
mesmerizing a couple on the riverbrink.
They seem unaware what is myth
or real, taken up, as it were, by a swan’s bill
and flown to a milkwater world
where it’s possible to drink only the milk
and eat pearls. A gunshot, a siren
interrupts the quiet. Something is thrown
into the river, then the swan is mute.
To sing of this the swan would have to out-swan
itself, Sibelius out-Sibelius Sibelius.
the orange ball arcs perfectly into the orange hoop
making a sound like a drawer closing
you will never get to hold that
I am here and nothing terrible will ever happen
across the street the giant white house full of kids
turns the pages of an endless book
the mother comes home and finds the child animal sleeping
I left my notebook beside the bed
the father came home and sat and quietly talked
one square of light on the wall waiting patiently
I will learn my multiplication tables
while the woman in the old photograph looks in a different direction
When I rise up above the earth,
And look down on the things that fetter me,
I beat my wings upon the air,
Or tranquil lie,
Surge after surge of potent strength
Like incense comes to me
When I rise up above the earth
And look down upon the things that fetter me.
I will not walk in the wood to-night,
I will not stand by the water’s edge
And see day lie on the dusk’s bright ledge
Until it turn, a star at its breast,
I will not see the wide-flung hills
Closing darkly about my grief,
I wore a crown of their lightest leaf,
But now they press like a cold, blue ring,
I dare not meet that caroling blade,
Jauntily drawn in the sunset pine,
Stabbing me with its thrust divine,
Knowing my naked, aching need,
Till I bleed.
Sheathe your song, invincible bird,
Strike not at me with that flashing note,
Have pity, have pity, persistent throat,
Deliver me not to your dread delight
I am afraid of the creeping wood,
I am afraid of the furtive trees,
Hiding behind them, memories,
Ready to spring, to clutch, to tear,
Wait for me there.
A field cannot be empty, only full
of fieldness. A factory near the tracks
next to a field can be empty. A home
is often empty. Sometimes the train
goes so quickly for so long,
it becomes difficult
to think of ever walking again,
the delicacy of that motion
to which the entire body commits itself.
And sometimes the heart turns
into an engine, surging
at the thought of being elsewhere, elated
that, so solid a muscle,
it persists, even through Trenton,
or seeing some old church in Pennsylvania,
the steeple cardboarded
against the dead-computer sky.
I’ve been in a suburb before, though
it’s so long since I was outside of something,
but not so far away as to be elsewhere.
translated by B. Frangieh And C. Brown
My lover asks me:
“What is the difference between me and the sky?”
The difference, my love,
Is that when you laugh,
I forget about the sky.
It’s just me throwing myself at you,
romance as usual, us times us,
not lust but moxibustion,
a substance burning close
to the body as possible
withut risk of immolation.
Nearness without contact
causes numbness. Analgesia.
Pins and needles. As the snugness
of the surgeon’s glove causes hand fatigue.
At least this procedure
requires no swag or goody bags,
stuff bestowed upon the stars
at their luxe functions.
There’s no dress code,
though leg irons
are always appropriate.
And if anyone says what the hell
are you wearing in Esperanto
—Kion diable vi portas?—
tell them anguish
is the universal language.
Stars turn to trainwrecks
and my heart goes out
admirers gush. Ground to a velvet!
But never mind the downside,
mon semblable, mon crush.
Love is just the retaliation of light.
It is so profligate, you know,
so rich with rush.