November 09, 2011

Except when he sleeps, I never get to see the crown of his head. He always wears a baseball cap.  His jeans hang low off his hips. This is the fashion. He holds his hands—as I do—as all the men in our family hold their hands—shyly. He’s a beautiful boy—smart. The two of us—we cannot say this  directly—we can only indirectly acknowledge how beautiful and smart we are through our mutual  admiration society where we speak in nods and grunts and mumbles from the crowns of our beautiful heads. This article appeared in the December 1, 2011, issue of the magazine.

From March 1979
October 26, 2011

Sick of those who come with words, words but no language, I make my way to the snow-covered island.  Wilderness has no words. The unwritten pages stretch out in all directions. I come across this line of deer-slots in the snow: a language, language without words. —Translated by Robin Robertson This article appeared in the November 17, 2011, issue of the magazine.

The Couple
October 26, 2011

They turn out the lamplight, and its white globe glimmers for a moment: an aspirin rising and falling then dissolving in a glass of darkness. Around them, the hotel walls slide like a back-drop up into the night sky. Love’s drama has died down, and they’re sleeping now, but their dreams will meet as colours meet and bleed into each other in the dampened pages of a child’s painting-book. All around is dark, and silent. The city has drawn in, extinguishing its windows.

Children's Ward
October 12, 2011

Half frozen, manmade, it’s not much of a lake. We called it Hospital Pond, strolling home from elementary school, inciting the geese to chase us--seeking reasons to scream. The walkway around the fake lake teems with graffiti I’ll be able to read in a couple of weeks, they say. Squinting through gauze, as I’m admonished not to do, things look runny and warped, like peering through egg white, but the world’s still there, ready to ask me to dance.

Terrebonne Bay
October 12, 2011

The deep evening-colored rose of the sea  is closing. Sweet crude oil, orange as rust, finds an open pathway into the marsh. And what you thought would be your home, lush with grasses, is no home, drives you out into the gray-glazed gates of sleep. Blood flowers where we don’t see it. And every chance event is a high note racing from stars in sea depths of brightness, and every shock we feel we feel only with the slack ropes of our arms.

September 28, 2011

I call it exile, or being relegated. I call it the provinces. And all the time it is my heart. My imperfect heart which prefers this distance from people. Prefers the half-meetings which cannot lead to intimacy. Provisional friendships that are interrupted near the beginning. A pleasure in not communicating. And inside, no despair or longing. A taste for solitude. The knowledge that love preserves freedom in always failing. An exile by nature. Where, indeed, would I ever be a citizen? This poem originally ran in the October 20, 2011, issue of the magazine.

After “This Room”
September 28, 2011

Something shimmers, something is hushed up. All those feet shuffle off, taking the sofa, taking the portrait. The shimmering slackens. I lie on the bare floor for a long nap and dream I enter the room you entered first. There was the sofa, the oval portrait of a dog, all those shining feet. But the dream flags: you’re not even here. I wake up full of thirst for the way you used to speak.

Freedom and Chance
September 15, 2011

She says, there is another city, exactly like this: same sardonic cat, complacent dog, fat-chested sparrow trilling its brains out before daybreak, identical abandon and thrilling sorrow, familiar machinery chuffing in darkness—belt sander, leaf blower, radial arm saw. But that world is Queens, this is Brooklyn. The law is like wind; it has no self.  There Frank Viola stars, here Julio Franco. Here light is a wave, there a particle. Here we marry, we grow old in a tiny house with a porch swing and complicated locks. There, you plod through deserted chain stores in search of someone you cannot

To My Cat William
September 14, 2011

Mr Boo, be still It’s 3 a.m. Furhead simulacrum of my restive heart You do, you do, you do as you will Bother, bother ... Poppa, Poppa! Transformado en mi gato Oh, mi Dios The things night brings us Am I dreaming Are you really you, or you Companion on this distressed plot Your wakefulness, health Mine not The broken-up bits of me Scattered, shivering like mercury Tickletickle Pother, pother Willie Nocturnes’s now my father Hullo, Poppa Hullo, Sonny Say, wasn’t that you I saw in the funnies Mr.

The Everyday Enchantment of Music
September 14, 2011

  A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble.