Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
[......] these rebel powers that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body's end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more.
Water: no matter how much, there is still not enough.
Cunning life keeps asking for more and then a drop more.
Our ankles are weighted with lead, we delve under the wave.
We bend to our spades, we survive the force of the gusher.
Our bodies fountain with sweat in the deeps of the sea,
Our forehead aches and holds like a sunken prow.
We are out of breath, divining the heart of the geyser,
Constellations are bobbing like corks above on the swell.
For one throb of the artery,
While on that old grey stone I sat
Under the old wind-broken tree,
I knew that One is animate
Mankind inanimate phantasy.
I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.
I can no longer blush. Half-face towards the starchy scape.
Birds limn the spindle trees, their Listerine-hued eyes dart
as they trill mechanical dirges tabulating not again, not
again / I can no longer blush. The flat arctic sky
boundlessly jogs to another hemisphere / She grows!
Or her pectoral grows or all her pectorals grow / A drop of body
oil the size of a water balloon splooshes down on a man as a graceless
anointing, atomizing into tears / How delicate the sounds are from
Looking at the lion behind the plate glass
I wasn’ t sure what I was looking at: a lion, OK,
but he seemed to come apart, not literally
I mean, but I couldn’ t see him whole:
Mane. Teeth. The slung belly pumping
as he panted and began to roar. His balls
sheathed in fur swaying a little. His tail’ s tuft
jerking in an arc like an old-time pump handle
rusted in midair. Somebody or something
After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –
Before I got my eye put out –
I liked as well to see
As other creatures, that have eyes –
And know no other way –
But were it told to me, Today,
That I might have the Sky
For mine, I tell you that my Heart
Would split, for size of me –
The Meadows – mine –
The Mountains – mine –
All Forests – Stintless stars –
As much of noon, as I could take –
Between my finite eyes –
Now I knew I lost her —
Not that she was gone —
But Remoteness travelled
On her Face and Tongue.
Alien, though adjoining
As a Foreign Race —
Traversed she though pausing
Elements Unaltered —
Universe the same
But Love's transmigration —
Somehow this had come —
Henceforth to remember
Nature took the Day
I had paid so much for —
His is Penury
Not who toils for Freedom
Or for Family
But the Restitution