photographer unknown, st. tropez, 1978
Home at 3am After DJing the Late Shift
-- by Christine Potter
All the lights are on. The kitchen's empty
as someone who's lost her train of thought
but is still speaking. I've been speaking for hours
on the radio, spinning music, which
is somewhat like work in a kitchen: hang
the station identification on the top of each hour
like a clean pot that fits neatly
in the rack overhead. On the drive home,
every traffic light was green and I was so tired
I almost forgot what that meant, how lucky it was,
all those wordless permissions to pass. I almost forgot
I was no longer speaking, but rolling through
what was left of the night. If someone were awake,
I thought, he might hear me, the smooth rush
of my tires one long exhalation.
Much of what we hear we don't mean to.
Like tonight, before I came in, dozens of bats
whirled through the cedars near our door.
A few, round-bellied, dove past lit windows,
but I heard many wings and an impossible density
of chirping as they followed their echoes
to the open, black sky. And looked up at the late stars,
unable to count all the songs.
Puma In Chapultepec Zoo
-- by Gregory Corso
Long smooth slow swift soft cat
What score, whose choreography did you dance to
when they pulled the final curtain down?
Can such ponderous grace remain
here, all alone, on this 9×10 stage?
Will they give you another chance
perhaps to dance the Sierras?
How sad you seem; looking at you
I think of Ulanova
locked in some small furnished room
in New York, on East 17th Street
in the Puerto Rican section.
Two of Three Wishes
-- by Carl Dennis
Suppose Oedipus never discovers his ignorance
And remains king to the end,
Proud as he walks the streets of Thebes
To think of himself as his city’s savior,
The fortunate husband of Queen Jocasta.
The blessed father of two dutiful daughters.
Would we call him happy, a man so unknowing?
If we did, we’d have to admit that happiness
Isn’t all we ask for. We want some truth as well,
Whatever that means. We want our notions,
However beautiful and coherent,
Linked to something beyond themselves.
First, I want to dream I am in your thoughts.
Then I want that dream to be a picture
Faithful in flesh and spirit to what is the case.
First I imagine your heart as a city like Thebes
With me as the park you prefer to visit
Then with my open eyes I want to see you
Resting again and again on one of the benches,
Gathering strength for the messenger
Who may be nearing the outskirts now
Wondering if you’ll know how to take the news.
Complaint and Petition
-- by Hayden Carruth, 1/28/03
Mr. President: On a clear cold
morning I address you from a remote
margin of your dominion in plain-
style Yankee quatrains because
I don’t know your exalted language
of power. I’m thankful for that. This
is a complaint and petition, sent
to you in the long-held right I claim
As a citizen. To recapitulate your
wrong-doings is unnecessary; the topic
is large and prominent and already
occupies the attention of historians
and political scholars, whose findings
will in the near future expose your
incontinent and maniacal ambition
for all to see. Let it suffice to
say that you have warped the law and
flouted the will and wisdom of the
people as no other has before you.
You have behaved precisely as a tin-pot
tyrant in any benighted, inglorious
corner of the earth. And now you are
deviously and corruptly manipulating
events in order to create war.
Let us speak plainly. You wish to
murder millions, as you yourself
have said, to appease your fury. We
oppose such an agenda—we, the people,
artists, artisans, builders, makers,
honest American men and women,
especially the poets, for whom I dare
to speak. We say, desist, resign,
hide yourself in your own shame,
lest otherwise the evil you have
loosed will destroy everything
and love will quit the world.
- back Tuesday