POEM FOR MY ONE-LEGGED LOVER, THE WINE GLASS, NO. 41
Let us be metaphoric, something that usually
POEM FOR MY ONE-LEGGED LOVER, THE WINE GLASS, NO. 42
Cancels itself to be symbolic, in the sense
Of what is being uttered is beyond what
Can be said in the false discourse of the ordinary man.
Come let us compare our relationship
(We could call it "love," but the word "love"
is now under suspicion. For when the word
is spoken, written, or thought, it refers
to everything or nothing. The word is as meaningless
as when in a grocery store the young cashier
calls the purchaser, an old man, dear, sweetheart,
darling, pops.) to something anachronistic,
abstract expressionism, say, something like a DeKooning.
We started with a simulation. In the past, a kiss.
In the present, sex. We put this illusion on canvas,
Then with wild brush strokes, or tepid drips,
We cover it with a new composition. Some
Of the new additions resemble steeples,
Or the windows of condominiums, sometimes
A pied piper looking for Hamlin, or a hangman
Looking for a criminal. After much effort
Dedicated to our attempt to become an artist
Which means we two are one, we stepped back
From our creation, saw nothing but suggestions
Of the shapes of politicians and rhetoric
Derived from Aristotle and Cicero.
It was the formalist way to display
And hide that we had nothing to paint or say.
Now, we both take scissors, use the blade
To curl purple crepe paper into purple roses.
Shelley sat by a Tampa river on his return
From somewhere. He did not know where
He had been. A college near by so out
Came an English professor to jog
Off the weight he gained eating the cafeteria food.
The professor was thinking about how
The twenty-first century would end,
Would it end with dancing and the next century
Began with dances from all over the world
As it happened during the last two centuries.
He saw Shelly sitting on a concrete bench
Gazing at an egret who had lit on mud.
Shelley showed his poems in manuscript,
The same poems in the textbook
The professor taught. The professor
Asked, "Have you ever been published
In The New Yorker, say at an early age
Like twenty-four. Or had your picture
On the front page of The American Poetry Review."
Shelly said, "No." The professor
Reread the poem he had taught
And praised many times, but
In manuscript unrecognized, said,
"I'm sorry, son, you'll never make
it as a poet. Your style is too lyrical
and realistic for our age when
poetry has taken a "linguistic turn."
POEM FOR MY ONE-LEGGED LOVER, THE WINE GLASS, NO 43
POEM FOR MY ONE-LEGGED LOVER, THE WINE GLASS, NO. 44
Or what never had happened
She wore for beads
Bulldogs from gum ball machines.
Mosaiced on her skull's walls,
Caused the gumball dogs
To sniff and bark
In a chorus,
An ancient ritual,
Older than Greece,
A prototype of Aristophanes.
When I touched her
I saw flying low over snow,
The white owl's eyes
That brought a fiery color
To the whiteness and life.
But when I touched
My hand was transformed
Into the fleshless, gold
Hand of an icon.
A chinaberry in front of a red barn;
Two chinaberries, one hers, one mine.
She observed from an angle
That would give the tree a background of blue.
Lifted her eyes to see
Light surround the topmost leaves like a nimbus.
She saw light disembodied from its origin,
Did not see the green.
She had obscured the scene
Into a miracle invented by the mind.
From above, the spectral stretched down its arm of light
Touched her thighs.
I sensed she felt she was loved,
But I was not the lover.
I gazed at the red clay ground
That in sunlight became vaporous
As a flame tha would burn her away,
Leave me responding to something in absentia,
Although present and ungraspable.
At the base of this tree, yellow dots among the green,
I looked down while she looked above
To see light flying with angel's wings.
I saw the yellow berries rip off their yellow clothes,
Sink into the earth's embraces, become trees.
POEM FOR MY ONE-LEGGED LOVER, THE WINE GLASS, NO. 45
The bride arrives, a wedding on a wet day.
Under a green striped white umbrella,
Her parents sip spiked punch. They are present,
But are elsewhere.. He wears a silver-gray ascot;
She, a pink-ribboned, wide-brimmed, pink-ribboned
White-straw hat. They were at a croquet match.
The two were always at scenes from movies.
They always thought their daughter
Was not their real child, but a hospital substitute.
This girl had never been seen
Wearing a top hat and dancing on a wide screen.
The daughter looked at the sugar couple
Atop a sugar skyscraper, wished she were in rags,
Hidden with rebels in a field of wild sugarcane,
Looking up at a condor's outspread wings.
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