Arts & Sciences

In the Reading Room

Alone in the library room, even when others
Are there in the room, alone, except for themselves:
There is the illusion of peace; the air in the room

Is stilled; there are reading lights on the tables,
Looking as if they're reading, looking as if
They're studying the text, and understanding,

Shedding light on what the words are saying;
But under their steady imbecile gaze the page
Is blank, patiently waiting not to be blank.

Walt, the Wounded

The whole world was there, plucking their linen,
half-bald, mumbling, sucking on their moustache tips.
Broadway was still in business and they asked no favors.

All the cracked ribs of Fredericksburg,
the boys who held their tongues at Chancellorsville
as the bandages, mule shit, skin and shot

overran the Rappahannock’ s banks
and poured it in our mouths
that summer.

The Problem of Fiction

She always writes poems. This summer
she’ s starting a novel. It’ s in trouble already.
The characters are easy — a girl
and her friend who is a girl
and the boy down the block with his first car,
an older boy, sixteen, who sometimes
these warm evenings leaves his house to go dancing
in dressy clothes though it’ s still light out.
The girl has a brother who has lots of friends,

Biohack Manifesto

It is terrible to be trapped at def con
with not even Ray Kurzweil’ s
daughter to gaze upon
I know some of you wish
I would go wherever
my people go, the factory,
physical therapy, a telethon

No! says my mentor
Not this. This is too angry

This is too much about
Not that. Not that

I like to hack, sometimes,
the Hebrew Bible

I don’ t think my mentor hacks
the Bible b/c it has too much
lame deaf blind circumcised in it

One Train May Hide Another

In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross
The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at
Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read
Wait until you have read the next line —
Then it is safe to go on reading.
In a family one sister may conceal another,
So, when you are courting, it's best to have them all in view
Otherwise in coming to find one you may love another.
One father or one brother may hide the man,

The Brassiere Factory

Is the governor falling
From a great height?
Arm in arm we fled the brassiere factory,
The motion-boat stayed on the shore!
I saw how round its bottom was
As you walked into southern France —
Upon the light hair of an arm
Cigar bands lay!
I kissed you then. Oh is my bar
The insect of your will? The water rose,
But will the buffalo on
The nickel yet be still?
For how can windows hold out the light
In your eyes!
Darling, we fled the brassiere factory
In forty-eight states,
Arm in arm,

The Magic of Numbers

The Magic of Numbers — 1

How strange it was to hear the furniture being moved around in the apartment upstairs!
I was twenty-six, and you were twenty-two.

The Magic of Numbers — 2

You asked me if I wanted to run, but I said no and walked on.
I was nineteen, and you were seven.

The Magic of Numbers — 3

Yes, but does X really like us?
We were both twenty-seven.

The Clock in Literature

“Would you mind
If I headed up early?”
Says the husband
To his young wife.
“Follow when you like.”

Later that evening
The beautiful face
And exquisite limbs
Will rise from the table
Of the Southern inn
Having been spied
By the antihero
Across the room
Reading an indifferent book.

Oh, quick —
Let a storm kill the light!

But you might as well say it
To a wall.
We can’ t change
A single
Silver setting, or
Even by one day
The bright full moon.