July 23, 2004

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down

Three Poems by James Tate, from Viper Jazz.


He was obviously the emissary
and we shook hand with the secret shake
He was not surprised by me
nor I by him.

"I made use of your absence to remember you,"
doffing his cap cordially.

Why did I let him speak to me
those warm rivers.
Children in wheelchairs came down the hill.

"I made use of your absence to remember you,"
he repeated cruelly.


We were just a couple of drifters
on this planet of
some off billion customers
open all night. She was always
loving and attentive
but made
what I considered
an abnormal number of morbid references,
so that at times I felt like fungus.
Meanwhile, we drank and smoked
and listened to country music.
She died in her room
and I in mine.


Language was almost impossible in those days
as we know it now and then.

When you tell me about your operation
I hear you, but I don't hear you.

Wind gathers behind a barn:
torches are lit, men whisper.

One wears a hat and is very serious
about the war in his bedroom.

"Does it seem like I am sleeping all the time?"
Ask me another question.

Look Ma, I found something beautiful today
out in the forest, it's still alive...

* For those in DC: the caribbean plays Ft. Reno monday, with beauty pill and semaphore. the caribbean will hit the stage around 7:45 pm. Fort Reno is at 3950 Chesapeake Street NW (Chesapeake & Nebraska), but as the performance space is simply a big metal stage in the middle of a field, the address is somewhat irrelevant.


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