January 9, 2009

glance, don't stare


Gerhard Richter, Abendstimmung, 1969


Dirty Joke
-- by Rachel Berry

A husband and a wife walk into a bar.
They are, of course, not each other's.
Just lovers, just for a while, for now
and how this escalator to the bottom
of the ocean will end is simple.
Sand. She'll hold their hourglass on its side,
decide on another glass of Pinot,
and show him, slowly, the architecture
of her left breast. At night, bars become chapels,
and full of whiskey or was it bourbon,
her shirt undone enough for it not to matter,
their chatter, their whispers, are as wet as vows.


A Dark Summer Day
-- by Denise Levertov

I want some funky jazz band
to wake me,
tell me life's been dreaming me.
I want something like love, but made
out of string or pebbles,
oboe of torn air
to tear me to my senses.
Emily's black birds
don't bate their banjos nor the throbbing
of their quick hearts.
The leaves part to reveal
more leaves, and darkness,
darkness and the intense
poised sequence of leaves.
I want to take that last of all leaves
between my lips and taste
its weight in stone.

What the Living Do
-- Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here, and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living, I remember you.

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