Seaman’s Ditty

I’ m wondering where you are now
Married, or mad, or free:
Wherever you are you’ re likely glad,
But memory troubles me.

We could’ ve had us children,
We could’ ve had a home —
But you thought not, and I thought not,
And these nine years we roam.

Today I worked in the deep dark tanks,
And climbed out to watch the sea:
Gulls and salty waves pass by,
And mountains of Araby.


It is an afternoon toward the end of August:
Autumnal weather, cool following on,
And riding in, after the heat of summer,
Into the empty afternoon shade and light,

The shade full of light without any thickness at all;
You can see right through and right down into the depth
Of the light and shade of the afternoon; there isn’ t
Any weight of the summer pressing down.

from Gilgamesh: Tablet 11


Gilgamesh spoke and said to the old man then:
"When I looked at you I thought that you were not

a man, one made like me; I had resolved
to challenge you as one might challenge a demon,

a stranger-adversary. But now I see
that you are Utnapishtim, made like me,

a man, the one I sought, the one from whom
I might find out how death can be avoided.

Tell me then, father, how it came about
that you were admitted to the company

That Evening at Dinner

By the last few times we saw her it was clear
That things were different. When you tried to help her
Get out of the car or get from the car to the door
Or across the apartment house hall to the elevator
There was a new sense of heaviness
Or of inertia in the body. It wasn’ t
That she was less willing to be helped to walk
But that the walking itself had become less willing.


For Russians the stars are always incontinent, ejaculatory
smears across the squalor of a boundlessly

unhygienic sky. You’ d scoff, Marina, at how I go at them
with a tiny plastic shovel and my litter box

technique, scooping up the sidereal splooge while trying
to wipe down the universe. You’ d say

I tug at God’ s Old Testament beard, praying the prayers

of a coward. You’ d confide to your diary my eyelashes
don’ t bat sootily enough. Such a lummox

Political Theory

In a famous painting of a founding father
and the back end of a horse

it’ s the horse butt that’ s properly lit
groomed out smooth an immortal peach

Who can say what it means about revolution
that the horse’ s tail emerges as though it had no bones in it

no chunky mechanics of the living
And the horse is not well muscled

but has been living in the rich grass
swollen like a birthday balloon