Friends & Enemies

Going to Connecticut

More than a third of a century later,
meeting for the first time in almost all those years,

we face each other’ s still somewhat familiar faces
across a table in a California restaurant,

and wonder why we did it, why we suddenly said
that night in July in Greenwich Village

“Let’ s go to Connecticut,” and got on a train
and ended up at midnight in Old Greenwich, Connecticut,

holding hands on an empty road that wound past
serious grown-up sleeping houses....


A man who’ s trying to be a good man
but isn’ t, because he can’ t not take
whatever’ s said to him as judgement.
It causes him, as he puts it, to react.
His face and neck redden and bloat,
a thick blue vein bulges up his forehead
and bisects his bald pate, scaring his children
but provoking hilarity at work
where one guy likes to get his goat
by pasting pro-choice bumper stickers
on his computer screen while he’ s in the john,

Dividend of the Social Opt Out

How lovely it is not to go. To suddenly take ill.
Not seriously ill, just a little under the weather.
To feel slightly peaked, indisposed. Plagued by
a vague ache, or a slight inexplicable chill.

Perhaps such pleasures are denied
to those who never feel obliged. If there are such.

How pleasant to convey your regrets. To feel sincerely
sorry, but secretly pleased to send them on their way
without you. To entrust your good wishes to others.
To spare the equivocal its inevitable rise.


My fugues have no apparent relation to past trauma of any kind.
When it came time to rehearse we decided to get glamorous.
We get all done-up for rehearsal. Gradually, imperceptibly, things begin
slipping back into their normal place. My body is slowly rotating
into its proper north-south orientation. My playing is flawless
as it turns out. The audience goes nuts
but what was it all about?
Had I longer to see the aspects and facets of the family,
which as we know are not always tickety-boo but I have drifted away

Mexico Seen from the Moving Car 

and clods of mud.
The mind drifts through
in the shape of a museum,
in the guise of a museum
dreaming dead friends:
Jim, Tom, Emmet, Bill.
— Like billboards their huge faces droop
and stretch on the walls,
on the walls of the cliffs out there,
where trees with white trunks
makes plumes on rock ridges.

My mind is fingers holding a pen.

First Snow, Kerhonkson

This, then, is the gift the world has given me
(you have given me)
softly the snow
cupped in hollows
lying on the surface of the pond
matching my long white candles
which stand at the window
which will burn at dusk while the snow
fills up our valley
this hollow
no friend will wander down
no one arriving brown from Mexico
from the sunfields of California, bearing pot
they are scattered now, dead or silent
or blasted to madness
by the howling brightness of our once common vision

Everybody Who is Dead

When a man knows another man
Is looking for him
He doesn’ t hide.

He doesn’ t wait
To spend another night
With his wife
Or put his children to sleep.

He puts on a clean shirt and a dark suit
And goes to the barber shop
To let another man shave him.

He shuts his eyes
Remembers himself as a boy
Lying naked on a rock by the water.

Then he asks for the special lotion.
The old men line up by the chair
And the barber pours a little
In each of their hands.