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Monday, November 13, 2017

Everything Wednesday

Everything Wednesday
gets lost in translation.
November libraries
in South Shore cities.
Bank-tellers crisply
counting the minutes
till lunch, till dusk.
College-town pubs
serving hot chocolate
with the Daily Deal.
Everything Wednesday
gets lost in translation.

Everything Friday
is a shifting dream.
Warehouse basement
doubling as a venue
for open-mic poetry.
Allergic reaction
to soapbox evangelists
among rutting pigeons
in Winthrop Park.
Off-colour tabloids
reporting stories
you wish they hadn't,
blaring your private
wishes and dreams
with neon subtlety.
Everything Friday
is a shifting dream.

Everything Monday
is glum but resolute.
Walking against
a bright north wind
and a blinding cold.
Filling out paperwork
for cyberbureaucrats.
Getting offline
at half past seven
for eggs, for exercise.
Everything Monday
is glum but resolute.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sweet Spot

I never bring a notebook
to a coffee shop.
I can't write in the minor
din and muted bustle
of the average café.

But my friend J-----,
she'll bus to the 1369
and sit and write
furiously, without
compromise or qualm,

and my friend E-----
will visit the South Holland
Starbucks, and craft
her serene villanelles
amid baristas and WiFi-ers.

I need the wee hours,
a foredawn cup of coffee
at the laptop,
a thirty-minute head-clear
where all the words

in my teeming noggin
are let out to play
on the virtual page,
and later get showered,
dressed, presentable.

I'm not sure this is relevant,
but today I went for a walk
with my friend Ms. H-----
in 48-degree temperatures
down the Minuteman Bike Path

lined with trees whose leaves
have not yet delivered
on the customary colour-blaze,
have not yet broken out
in the wonted riot of colour.

This is what I write about,
here, with coffee, at the laptop:
the joys of friendship,
of autumn weather,
of bright sun.

Could I recall these things
just as easily
in the Kickstand
or at Gail Ann's?
Maybe, maybe not.

But here,
this is the sweet spot,
this is where the work gets done.

Monday, October 30, 2017

It Hits Me

We ride the B Line
as far as Chestnut Hill
& chase squirrels
through the hedges
of St Ignatius Church
& duck the boisterous

college-age jockazoids
& their crass shouts.
We eat avocado sandwiches
under a spacious
& theological oak
(What did Dylan Thomas say?

"All trees are oaks
except fir trees")
& you tell me about Colorado
& I remember
the Cambridge
of 1983

where studious sparrows
drank Mountain Dew
in front of Schoenhof's
(on Mass. Ave. at the time)
& Billy recited
his cockatoo poem

to the twenty-four winds
& the thousand Harvard scholars
& Tracy was a busker
near the dying Booksmith
& you were not yet born.
Newbury Comics

(a record store)
occupied hectares,
as it still does,
of a brick building
called The Garage.
Aimee with the platinum hair

who'd later sing for 'Til Tuesday
worked the registers:
Aimee with two e's,
meaning "loved one."
I ate prodigious slices of pizza
with John Cradock

& Ben Pomicter
(stressed on the penult,
like "predicter")
at Caffè Avventura
after taking the SATs
& analyzing Le Bateau Ivre

(all poems are French
except English ones).
I was never cool enough
for the Smiths-&-Cure crowd
though I tagged along with them,
always the follower,

never the leader;
they made the least awkward fit
among all the cliques.
Cradock would write
consciously casual poems,
minimal even in his scrawl

like a cramped cardiogram's
inscrutable print-out.
I had that distaste for him
that we reserve
for those whom we envy:
he edited The Register,

the Latin School litmag,
& thought me bombastic.
O sagacious diagnostician!
I spy a Jesuit,
perhaps African-born,
among old college libraries

like Protestant cathedrals
in this Catholic quadrangle.
It's a nice place,
this patch of green,
to have a picnic lunch
& discover each other's

intricate histories.
It is May
or September.
The sun is shining
through tufty leaves
of sturdy oaks,

impossibly tall.
Pretty undergraduates
(male, female)
scurry between classes:
lives in flux,
bustling worlds,

competing universes.
You catch me looking
philosophical, wistful,
& you fling a straw at my face.
It hits me just to the right
of my forehead's dashing scar.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Psalm at 3 a.m.

I cannot listen for the pulse of praise
That's rumoured to be beating in my breast.
The din of worry, clamor of concern
Whelm the still small voice, put out the fire.

It's rumoured to be beating in my breast,
The heart that loves God, that would live in joy.
What whelms the still small voice, puts out the fire,
Stifles the prayer deep in the spirit's womb?

The heart that loves God, that would live in joy,
Grows sluggish with many cares, weak with want.
Stifled, the prayer deep in the spirit's womb,
Nipped in the seed and frozen in the germ.

Sluggish with many cares, weakened by want,
I would do little else but sleep and breathe.
Nipped in the seed and frozen in the germ,
My will to make poems, my will to sing.

I would do little else but sleep and breathe.
The din of worry, clamor of concern,
Deaden my will to make poems, to sing:
I cannot listen for the pulse of praise.

Monday, October 16, 2017

In the Silverware Drawer After Dark

The steak knives
are playing the Ramones
at full blast.

The salad forks are dancing with the teaspoons
to the tune of "Come On, Eileen."

A solitary soup spoon sits moping
in a corner reserved for the dateless.

Plastic sporks are having a spitball fight
as if it were a high-school cafeteria!

The butter knives
are writing love poems
to Parkay,
to Land o' Lakes,
to I Can't Believe.

And a loutish corkscrew
is making rude remarks
to the shapely tablespoons.

If the tablespoons could give him the finger,
they would.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Advice

Give us poems
as hard as the sharp stones
beneath the feet
of Christ.

Give us poems
that insinuate their way
between dying fiery leaves:
squirrelish breezes
in the early burn
of dusk.

Give us poems
battered, worn-out,
damaged, suffering,
give us poems
that have seen better days,
give us a young widow's heart
seared by hot grief.

Give us odes
to the joy of morning,
irised light
bejewelling
the wet, lush grass.

Give us stubborn poems,
poems that won't budge,
impenetrable poems,
monumental,
thick as the ice
of a Minnesota lake
in the wince and grip
of winter.

Give us laughter and colour,
drunkenness and jokes,
give us the come-hither look,
the blunt nudge of tongues,
the saucy dance of a language
frisky and lissome.

Give us ---
in the swelter of noon,
a haven of shade;
in the nerve-rattling din,
a cool pool of silence;
above the waste and wrack
of a ruined city,
the resolute and watchful purity
of a single lasting star.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Notebook: September 28

A couple of hours
before the sun comes up,
and here's a list
of the things around me:
coffee, second cup,
in a mug decorated with cacti
and the legend MI CASA ES SU CASA;
seven-year-old laptop,
for blogposts, social media,
the flotsam and jetsam that passes
for the news of the day;
Wallace Stevens' Collected,
to re-read "Sunday Morning";
air conditioning
as it's a sultry night,
unpardonably so
for this close to October;
my friend Mary's book,
her clear and complex poems
of wild accuracy
and adventurous precision;
my reading glasses
parked where they should be,
the "cheaters"
(I really should fill the prescription
for the bifocals).

But what among these objects
of 3.36 am
will bring out the poet in me?

Who knows?
But I'll sit here and write
until I exhaust the coffee,
or maybe until morning comes
with its bombastic sun
and the noise of commuters
and the riot of birdsong.

Everything Wednesday

Everything Wednesday gets lost in translation. November libraries in South Shore cities. Bank-tellers crisply counting the minutes til...