October 29, 2004

I look in the mirror and everything's funny

Three Poems by James Tate

The President Slumming

In a weird, forlorn voice
he cries: it is a mirage!
Then tosses a wreath of scorpions
to the children,
mounts his white nag
and creeps off into the darkness,
smoking an orange.

A Pretty Girl Like That

Now in a shabby raincoat
along the pier, now her flaming hair;
her blood is a noise
and makes the window tremble.

Her movement is bewildered desire,
she has no coverings for her eyes:
now a dry hand rockets forth,
and dies. She might never

be seen again: aquamarine lies,
damned aria-- she holds
her black gloves as if the sea
had just proffered them.

Is she drunk or is she asleep?
Thrilling loons cry
in the cloudless air.
There is no answer anywhere.

Dark Street

So this is the dark street
where only an angel lives:
I never saw anything like it.
For the first time in a lifetime
I feel the burgeoning of wings
somewhere behind my frontal lobes.
So this is the dark street
Did his lights come on,
or do I dream?
I never saw anything like it.

Even the trees' languorous leaves
look easy to touch.
So this is the dark street.
Here he comes now:
good afternoon, Father --
your handshake is so pleasing.
Brush the shards from my shoulders,
what lives we have ahead of us!
So this is the dark street.
I never saw anything like it.

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