Nature

Gravelly Run

I don’ t know somehow it seems sufficient
to see and hear whatever coming and going is,
losing the self to the victory
of stones and trees,
of bending sandpit lakes, crescent
round groves of dwarf pine:

for it is not so much to know the self
as to know it as it is known
by galaxy and cedar cone,
as if birth had never found it
and death could never end it:

Sylvia

Across a space peopled with stars I am
laughing while my sides ache for existence
it turns out is profound though the profound
because of time it turns out is an illusion
and all of this is infinitely improbable
given the space, for which I gratefully lie
in three feet of snow making a shallow grave
I would have called an angel otherwise and
think of my own rapturous escape from
living only as dust and dirt, little sister.

Left Hand Canyon

The Rev. Royal Filkin preaches
tomorrow on why we are sad.
Brethren, Montana’ s a landscape
requiring faith: the visible
government arrives in trucks,
if you live out far enough.
If you live in town, the government’ s
gone, on errands, in trucks.

Let citizens go to meetings,
I’ ll stay home. I hate a parade.
By the time you get the trout
up through the tiny triangular
holes in the Coors cans, they’ re so
small you have to throw them back.
Glum miles we go
to Grandmother’ s house.

Morningside Heights, July

Haze. Three student violists boarding
a bus. A clatter of jackhammers.
Granular light. A film of sweat for primer
and the heat for a coat of paint.
A man and a woman on a bench:
she tells him he must be psychic,
for how else could he sense, even before she knew,
that she’ d need to call it off? A bicyclist
fumes by with a coach’ s whistle clamped

Nabokov’s Blues

The wallful of quoted passages from his work,
with the requisite specimens pinned next
to their literary cameo appearances, was too good

a temptation to resist, and if the curator couldn’ t,
why should we? The prose dipped and shimmered
and the “flies,” as I heard a buff call them, stood

For a Coming Extinction

Gray whale
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

Night Singing

Long after Ovid’ s story of Philomela
has gone out of fashion and after the testimonials
of Hafiz and Keats have been smothered in comment
and droned dead in schools and after Eliot has gone home
from the Sacred Heart and Ransom has spat and consigned
to human youth what he reduced to fairy numbers
after the name has become slightly embarrassing
and dried skins have yielded their details and tapes have been

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