September 11, 2009

I have such sad eyes
I'm going to put a disguise on
walk to the horizon
to watch the planes land

Nikki Painter, Divide, 2009

-- by Bob Kaufmn

Should I sing a requiem, as the trap closes?
Perhaps it is more fitting to shout nonsense.

Should I run to the streets, screaming lovesongs?
Perhaps it is more consistent to honk obscenities.

Should I chew my fingernails down to my wrist?
Perhaps it is better to blow eternal jazz.

Maybe I will fold the wind into neat squares.

Bud Powell, Paris, 1959
-- by William Matthews

I’d never seen pain so bland.
Smack, though I didn’t call it smack
in 1959, had eaten his technique.
His white-water right hand clattered
missing runs nobody else would think
to try, nor think to be outsmarted
by. Nobody played as well
as Powell, and neither did he,
stalled on his bench between sets,
stolid and vague, my hero,
his mocha skin souring gray.
Two bucks for a Scotch in this dump,
I thought, and I bought me
another. I was young and pain
rose to my ceiling, like warmth,
like a story that makes us come true
in the present. Each day’s
melodrama in Powell’s cells
bored and lulled him. Pain loves pain
and calls it company, and it is.

In My Next Life
-- by Mark Perlberg

I will own a sailboat sleek
as fingers of wind
and ply the green islands
of the gulf of Maine.
In my next life I will pilot a plane,
and enjoy the light artillery
of the air as I fly to our island
and set down with aplomb
on its grass runway.
I'll be a whiz at math, master five or six
of the world's languages, write poems
strong as Frost and Milosz.
In my next life I won't wonder why
I lie awake from four till daybreak.
I'll be amiable, mostly, but large
and formidable.


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