Coming by chance
Upon a mate from those days called Mel
I called him by name at the mall’s crossroads
Where two rivers heavy with tailings met
For he was drowning in his chair
A pair of dirty white socks
And private openings open to the air’s
“Mel,” wrote the skywriter, tarring the moon,
“Maestro of melancholy, manufacturer
Of Finer Ladies Raincoats.”


Coming by chance
Upon a mate on the glassy shoals
Of the mall’s expanse, Mel tapped
His voice box with reflexive
Volts, finding friction And spraying bits of sound
Auk Auk,
Behind the old saw mill.
For he was its sawyer and he was its mule
Its camel, its clam. Un-calm man,
Rising from his chair and going hard down
Splashless, by the well’s wall.


And I foresaw it all, coming upon my chancy mate
En route to a formidable dappled
Not a cloud in the mall.
I foreswore the custodian slumping on his shin.
I, four, saw pale Melisande take a dip
In the fathomless while a melange
Of EMTs ascended from Sears
With a man-sized board and assorted Fasteners.


Mel, I called, internally, calling him
By his acronym
For he was scaling the mid-passage at
He turned his head for once.
For once we studied each other across the valley like
Two birds in a burning tree
All wrapped in leaves. I never was a good bird since my
Corona was clipped.

















Third and long.
A poem of distance.
A picture window giving on a black maple
a squat Yeshiva and an embankment
on which transcontinental traffic whirs.
I need assistance in the matters
of routine existence, if you will,
like gripping a ball or cleaning my ass,
like getting down field or knowing my name.
It’s not important I know my name
as long as I know yours.
And you are, you are, you are, you are.
I can find my way out of here and back
in the absence of landmarks, past an acre
of identical doors, garage doors,
patio doors, rectangular doorways, shafts
of dormant ruined light, for I
have my place here, absent though I am,
though on reflection you are nowhere
where I left you.
You might have left early
which I can appreciate.

















As I was saying,
My belt was in need of repair
At the clasp, thereabouts, useless weapon
I was saying.

For it stood in the rain
Garnering grit in one hand, pants
In the other, clenched, cursing, defenseless mouth
Filling with rain.

For its teeth were in need of repair,
Having stamped rivets
In a stiff sash, conjuring
Water to its roots.

And when it grew lost it trod the long gangway’s
Sopping boards, pants at heels,
Foraging, speaking these words
To itself as a gun does.

For I had a trade, said my man, honing tools
On the old rack, said my man,
Sorting bones, scouring fountains.
Having a use. Regard,

Tip passes through buckle and retracts.
Pin enters punch hole.
Tip reverses self once more.
Through the loop. Tighter. Again. Once more.




















What do you say, new you?
I say I am at a remove.
The boys came yesterday to take my chair.
They succeeded, technically (storm troopers);
yet the soul stayed on, in its own soil,
waiting for evening delivery.
If I could envision, I would follow
the old logger dragging his felled
tree through winter woods by its chain
until he reaches a river, yellow banks heaped
with logs waiting to spill downstream
among drifts of chewed ice.
Day done.
Then, then it’s a long way back to camp
not much sky left in the gaps
where trees once were.
And this path just one among others crossing
halting and going on
illegible and new snow
sweeping over the slash.
Yet he can’t not find his way
not make it back.
Wherever he settles
beneath an old lean-to
wherever he sleeps he
wakes with me.





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