(with apologies to Yeats)
When morning comes on
with its promises, and hurts my eyes,
I will be sleepless as I am always sleepless.
Like a wrong thing, I sleep at daybreak,
I hide my head under dawn’s pale hem.
While others dream new, whole, true dreams in darkness,
I rouse, to gather threads of older dreams:
like cloth of gold I lay them out before me,
I have woven them myself,
and stung my fingers on the gilt,
and bruised my fingers in the frame.
Now it is time to rend the pages, re-
sew them, stitching and unraveling
and stitching again. I must be Penelope
at her loom, unweaving: I must be Abraham
offering his son each night,
letting him die this time,
reviving him in altered form.
Then I must hawk what remains
from door to door, from city to city,
saying, I have woven a cloth of gold,
ask me my price; don’t say
it is only sacking.
When you find the blue-
green beetle in the grass,
it bites to wound.
Then the jaw sinks back
into a shell smooth as lacquer.
The beast humps off through the dark yard.
Crushed grass-sap leaks into your knees,
and as you rise you weep
for the red-swelled gem
on your thoughtless palm.
What you learned then
you will learn over and over:
the blue and lustrous things you seek
will hurt you,
the damp sudden absence in the bed,
lush, clumsy lies from well-shaped lips,
the apple, pin-stuck,
that leaves blood on your tongue.
Each stab of rancor leaves its weal: even now
you blow on your fingers, wait awhile
before you touch crabgrass in the dark.
Summer sieves to its end
so fast it startles. White light slants down toward fall,
gumming the heat-gouged street.
Beads of clammy grime cling to my ribs:
Throughout the hot night
shouts echo from the stoops. But it ends.
No more redbrick and ivy,
no cloistered classroom days for me again.
I know I’ve tumbled past that rim.
But summer ends. I’ve built my life
loose-bricked; the love I chose
needs work, and further work, to carry on.
Everywhere the burly leaves
go fat with sun and green. Gone
to seed, the pigweed stalks
hurl their heads up through the walks.
Bare branches lurk
through the weeks ahead, and shards
of conversation slice us up, draw blood.
A stranger has crumpled my blue pillow.
I don’t know if it was me or you.
I want to chase stars on the LIRR after dark
down to the lip of the sea
and away from New York.
“Commerce surrounds it
with her surf,” Melville wrote.
He wrote: “Who ain’t a slave?”
My blood’s up. I need a rest
from the insular island of the Mannhatoes
and its white nothing-light, and clouds.
But thunder’s coming
and a terrible rain. It’ll blot
the stars out. I wonder
how far I’d have to go for a clear sky.
White roof. White sky. I won’t chase
after the Perseids, on a train
that slices billows into foam
down to the warm sea, alone.
But if I could I’d go south
as far as I dared
to watch that salt-dark water burn
under a torrent of glowing air,
and the cold wind batter your black hair.
‘I held at my side the glitterer.
and the hammer, sister of tempering winds.
In my belly I held a piece of rage
thin as the moon, and it rolled there,
guttering. Then I took it up
and I opened my mouth. My tongue:
a coiled dragon
born on a windless sea.
I will call you to your grave with it.
Your soul is in your body like a boiled yolk
in a stuck egg, I will pierce it.
Your brow, a cliff’s cave, shelters you: I will shatter it
and I will not stain
my golden armlet.
Though your blood scald it,
my sword, raven-beak, burning
hair of a god, will not falter or cease.’
Originally posted here (my old blog).
you can thank being cramped at a desk for this:
I read this poem by H.D., “Garden,” whose second stanza perfectly sums up summer in New York City:
I wandered into a spell-candle emporium around the corner from the apartment I’m moving to in August. There, I found out about the power of the Chuparosa:
There were all sorts of candles, for love, money, curse protection and anything else you can think of… but for some reason - either a mistranslation or a weird attempt at legal protection, they all had “alleged” written on the glass, as in “Alleged Candle For Love Success”…
I am excited for this move.