Fallen (On Broadway)

“I wish I understood the beauty
in leaves falling. To whom
are we beautiful
as we go?”

David Ignatow
From “Three In Transition”

 

Will I end up like him, oblivious to time and place
Furiously scratching at a small square of paper?
Better him than the woman squatting between parked cars.
Or like that tiny man, who having misplaced everything else
Decided his shoes were dispensable, too.

It’s hard to be part of another’s fall.
Fall is the only word for it.
Even from a distance it’s unnerving. Isn’t it?
And aren’t we ashamed of our response to it?
How we wish they’d go away, bad dreams and all.

Still, it’s hard to see so many falling.
Hard to imagine how anyone can be so alone
Here in a world that sings of little else but love.

Published in MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry
Volume Five/ 2006.

Fallen (On Broadway)

Night In Hell Revisited

1

God continues to seek us in the strangest places.
His eyes lit from within
Like pearls in their gray closets.

2

He still calls out in that hoarse whisper of his
From those alleys he prefers
The ones with no way out.

3

Without fail he appears, shimmering in wavelengths
Invisible to the eyes he gave us
And in frequencies unintelligible
To our famous brains.

 

Published in MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry
Volume Four/ 2005.

Night In Hell Revisited

Buddha Picturesque

Great noble heads and fragments of heads
Torsos too
And fragments of torsos.
Every piece holy
From severed hands, plump as pigeons
To expansive noses inhaling the perfume of Nirvana.

Why go on?
Because they went on so I went on
To an arm buried to its wrist
To a head set in a nimbus of roots
Each refusing to comment on its predicament.
As, for example, why it was left behind while others/
were removed
To apartments on Fifth Avenue and around the Parc/
Monceau.

Some heads are arranged in rows like chessmen.
Arms and legs, stacked like cords of wood.
A few odd pieces were set flush against a wall
That was only a memory of a wall.
A few black goats completed the tableau.

 

Begun at Ayuthaya, outside Bangkok, 1991.

Buddha Picturesque

Containers

1

That things must be contained is a sign of their inherent instability. As Yeats observed some time ago, life is predisposed to “come undone.” Undone, unbuttoned, discarded, that’s just how it is, despite of our best efforts at practicality.

Bags, baskets and boxes are filled only to be emptied of their contents. Lids, seals, screw tops of varying ingenuity will unfailingly fail. Even the body, perhaps the most ingenious of all containers, is not impregnable. Once the spirit is called, it will leave its shell vacant, adding it to the piles of waste left behind. That things are intended to unravel, that our best adhesives and latches will prove inadequate to the job, should, in no way discourage our desire to contain them.

I’ve a 50-years-old penny in my wallet. Although minted the year I was born, there is no reason to believe it won’t outlive me. I may lose it before I myself am lost, or it may be recalled in a great government-sponsored copper drive, but I prefer to think that it will survive at least as long as the 2,000-year old Roman coin I also keep in my wallet for luck. What is certain is that while the penny will likely remain physically intact, it is just as likely that its original meaning will be lost. Which is, of course, just another way of saying, this penny will be pitched.

Yes, every treasure, including those hearts we cherish, will be dust and so swept up and removed somewhere. Boredom, global warming, a collision with an asteroid, these and 10,000 other fingers will empty even our most clever containers. Which is as it should be. A match unlit is worthless. A toothbrush sealed in its plastic sheath will not fight a single cavity.

2

Giovanni’s daughter Sophia is allowed to run freely through Bar Pitti. She visits the regular customers who all adore her and makes new friends as she dashes table to table. She does not appear to be contained until her mother calls out, “Sophia eat something. Sophia, come eat your macaroni.” So, I see, I am mistaken; she is contained, even if by something as elastic as a mother’s love.

Containers