January 7, 2004

Two Poems by Denis Johnson

After Mayakovsky

It's after one. You're probably alone.
All night the moon rings like a telephone
in an empty booth above our separateness.
Now is the hour one answers. I am home.
Hello, my heart, my god, my president,
my darling: I'm alarmed by the alarm
clock's iridescent face, hung like a charm
from darkness's fat ear. This accident
that was my life will have its witnessess:
now, while the world lies whooly motionless
and sorry in a crapulence of stars,
now is the hour one rises to address
the ages and history of the universe;
I swear you'll never see my face again.

Vespers

the towels rot and disgust me on this damp
peninsula where they invented mist
and drug abuse and taught the light to fade,
where my top-quality and rock bottom heart
cries because I'll never get to kiss
your famous knees again in a room made
vague by throwing a scarf over a lamp.
Things get pretty radical in the dark:
the sailboats on the inlet sail away;
the provinces of actuality
crawl on the sea; the dusk now tenderly
ministers to the fallen parking lots --
the sunset instantaneous on the fenders,
memory and peace...the grip of chaos...

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