December 8, 2006

once in the morning and once at night


Pearl C. Hsiung, Tidal Wretch, 2005.

Private Eye
-- by Charles Simic

To find clues where there are none,
That's my job now, I said to the
Dictionary on my desk. The world beyond
My window has grown illegible,
And so has the clock on the wall.
I may strike a match to orient myself

In the meantime, there's the heart
Stopping hush as the building
Empties, the elevators stop running,
The grains of dust stay put.
Hours of quiescent sleuthing
Before the Madonna with the mop

Shuffles down the long corridor
Trying doorknobs, turning mine.
That's just little old me sweating
In the customer's chair, I'll say.
Keep your nose out of it.
I'm not closing up till he breaks.

Miracle Ice Cream
-- by Adrienne Rich

Miracle's truck comes down the little avenue,
Scott Joplin ragtime strewn behind it like pearls,
and, yes, you can feel happy
with one piece of your heart.

Take what's still given: in a room's rich shadow
a woman's breasts swinging lightly as she bends.
Early now the pearl of dusk dissolves.
Late, you sit weighing the evening news,
fast-food miracles, ghostly revolutions,
the rest of your heart.

Silence
-- by Marianne Moore

My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
nor the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self reliant like the cat --
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth --
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "Make my house your inn."
Inns are not residences.

Major League Salaries
-- by Melinda Thomsen

Now, I find a 10 million dollar
salary reasonable for players
that stand sixty feet from Clemens
or Martinez. Their pitches spin

forward in white and red seamed
swirls like peppermint candies
that change into jawbreakers
and could shatter a face

like what happened to your
poor cheekbone. The one
that pleats like a fan as you
smile or presses against mine

when the world descends
in leaden sheets was crushed
by a high school pitcher in Ohio
who had no clue of its value.

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