for Pat Silliman
Old stone inn, used by the Tories to plot the assault on
Philadelphia, still serves rich veal medallions covered with crab
meat, spinach and Hollandaise sauce. Cardinals in the silver birch.
Metronome of an old wind-up mantle clock. Your body beneath
that new little night blouse, then my hand beneath that.
An enclosed front porch converted to language. Each person I
meet insists on telling me their "California story." Restaurant on
main floor of old municipal building: the workers stash their
belongings downstairs in the jail. Elf-like, a porcelain imitation of
Santa's wife, the woman warns us of the "colored" districts (this is
1995). Cat stops to stare at me, then turns and glides away.
Read me. Full moon in the dogwood. In St. Petersburg and
Moscow, a gang (eight young men, two women) has been
murdering apartment owners in order to sell their apartments. I set
the pager to vibrate. Driving endlessly along Bethlehem Pike,
seeming to get no closer to familiar landmarks, I notice the sun
starting to set in the East. Don't look!
In the next room, the large formal dining room table is covered
with thousands of pieces of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle (little more
than the rectangular outer rim is complete, an echo of the shape of
the table, though two of the corners have begun to be filled in,
clusters of two and three joined pieces dotting the center), but in
this light (at this angle and distance), it's impossible to tell what the
image is, or even that one exists. Crow screaming in the trees.
Gypsy curse: May you have a lawsuit in which you know you're
The problem with poetry is poets. Bone spurs grab the heart. First
shrill roar of cardinals. This storm doesn't so much arrive and pass
as it does gather and dissolve.
The writhing lesson. The dog's paws as it crosses the hardwood
floor. The rain stops but the trees still have to shed their water.
House with two fire places (in sight of one another). Telescope in
the dining room. We imagine the bird's song as an expression of
Paragraph is burning. Alone in the playground, dressed in a suit
that doesn't quite fit, red shirt, black tie, stands the
developmentally disabled boy atop the tall slide, vomiting.