Poetry

Modus Operandi
May 03, 2004

The curtains drawn, all rectangles are blue. Four morning pigeons wheel in the school glue. I hate the treacherous light of December. Cold. I eat pumpkin soup out of the blender. The central heating grumbles: “You, get out.” Right.

Hurricane Hymnal
March 22, 2004

"Put your trust in sea-glass," whisper Lovers, kissing. "Lay a towel out For shells." A good Anthology To have handy once New Jersey's swept away. "Just stay Inside the eye, you'll be Safe. I once was Saved that way."  This poem appeared in the March 24, 2004 issue of the magazine.

Backyard
May 05, 2003

It didn't rain. And it didn't rain. And it didn't rain. Returning, after a month away, from a place up north, the yard was parched and dying, the horse coiled like a snake— As if the present were past, I walk from this thing to that, touching dry leaves. Here is the dogwood that bloomed when T. was dying. Here is the sunflower, ravaged by July, and here is the Rose of Sharon, coming, in August, into its own.Here. Here. And here. The arbor.

After a Death
April 21, 2003

His wife waits by the gate. The afternoon meal is all but finished. What will you say to her, which of the speeches, long prepared, will fall trippingly from your tongue? The village center's just a short walk. The parson is a clever man, and fancies himself a puppeteer. You watched him play out Luther's amazement with a small stringed toy. Still, the point is made. We should all see differently, though of course, some do, some are made to do. So it seems, Lynn, so it seems (and here you pause, thinking better). Well, let's go for a walk. I've been inside all day.

Mr. Emerson Tries to Complete an Essay
June 24, 2002

At his hard desk, no longer wholly conscious         Of the pen in his right hand, no longer confined                By the dimensions of the floor and the four walls But ascending through the ceiling toward the threshold         Of Transcendental Understanding, he heard                Ker-luck-a-put, cluck, the chickens, his own Chickens outside the window, one of which         Would be reduced to portions of itself                And stewed for dinner, and though he had lost The thrust of his hierarchic argument         For a moment, he took the chicken to be an example                Of the

Lovelife—The Home Stretch
March 25, 2002

An olive branch, both given and apologised for in the same breath. Like the gift of sécateurs that will come to weigh upon the gardening gloves, freckled with damp, between the French doors and a row of annuals, until the Grundig runs down, the day thickens, and a lamp in the living room flicks on. This poem originally ran in the March 25, 2002 issue of the magazine.

Other Hand
February 24, 2002

The lesser twin, The one whose accomplishments And privileges are unshowy: getting to touch The tattoo on my right shoulder. Wearing the mitt. I feel its familiar weight and textures As the adroit one rests against it for a moment. They twine fingers. Lefty, continues to experience considerable Difficulty expressing himself clearly And correctly in writing. Comparison with his brother prevents him From putting forth his best effort. Yet this halt one too has felt a breast, thigh, Clasped an ankle or most intimate Of all, the fingers of a hand. And possibly his trembling touch, As less merely a

On a Stanza of H.Leyvick (1888-1962)
February 11, 2002

"Like careworn cats who schlep all their umpteen Kittens around on agitated feet, We go schlepping our poems by the neck, between Our teeth, through every New York City street." --Those were the Yiddish poets: (ubi sunt Leyvick and Halpern, Leyeles, Mani Leib, Glatshteyn and Teller, Yehoash--who by dint Of innocence wove a Hiawatha, babe In the Yiddishwoods, into another tongue?) And so with us, decades later, hopeful boys Moving with grimy manuscripts among Earlier Villagers, through milder noise And scenes more reticent in that earlier time, Our poems typed in telltale pica fonts, too large

November
December 31, 2001

When the executioner's bored he's dangerous. The blazing sky rolls itself up. From cell to cell there's knocking and space wells up through the ground frost. A few stones shine like full moons. --translated from the Swedish by Rika Lesser

Over Easy
October 29, 2001

Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins (Random House, 172 pp., $21.95) The associated press report of Billy Collins's appointment as poet laureate in June was a document of startling philistinism. Under the headline "Popular Poet Named U.S. Laureate," it began: "Billy Collins, a popular poet who makes money at the job, is becoming the 11th U.S.

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