Wren Song

 

A wren captured—or killed—kept 

in a wren house glass at two sides 

for viewing the corpse or captive (an ancient act).

 

Young men go noisy from house to house hoping

for food and drink. Hunting the Wren after 

Christmas the anniversary of the stoning 

of St. Stephen who, while hiding, startled a wren 

 

who betrayed him to his enemies. A stuttering 

call warns his fellows, but makes him a target 

for stone-wielding boys. The wren, 

stoned to death, yet lives. 

 

 

 

They Are Like Grass

 

 

The work of our hands when we have

no hands; we spend our days as a tale

that is told, completed before. So

while we wait we make things, small

things that click or sing to us. Crickets

of straw and string. Plucked.

 

Another thing to do is think

but the glitter of the horizon

casts bright shadows against us

thus we must watch closer

think more finely like children

 

even though the number of our days

diminishes, like light like little toys

made of leftover light.

 

 

 

Night

 

 

the pencil is black in fact the whole process of drawing 

is making the paper dirty…in the right spots   Marcel van Eeden

who was not present that night 

 

Lack of presence is a symptom

of death or forgetfulness

or the desire not to be there,

for instance

 

the erotic nostalgias

hover above the (death) bed

a feathery frenzy as of

sparrows, furious for life

light and future

 

fluttering against each other.

 

A formal dinner in New Haven, my debut, 

at Red’s seventy-third birthday a party

Linda and I at a table a round table with Holly, 

Hersey, Warren, Hugo, Ripley, 

 

Eleanor (her year of Eyes, Etc.)

Hersey then famed for his work

The Wall: it was the task of the search party

to go out into the huge wrecked space within the twinkling wall

and try to find…the little tombs of Levinson’s Archive.

 

To govern is to archive. This lesson learned too late

saves us for a time from time.

 

 

 

Yesterday When It Is Past

 

 

Would you if you could live

to be a thousand? Think of the candles.

Think of which windows will have broken.

 

I was remembering today

a path along a bayou I walked watching

snakes swim across, two snakes across water

 

gray, the snakes and the water, a gray

mud of watery light against the stars from

the stars that evening as I made a way home

 

thinking in spite of the snakes and the water

of only light like candles consuming

themselves wickedly.Wrong.

 

 

 

At Home Among the Nostalgias

 

 

The seven nostalgias include

the erotic, prerequisite

for the completion

 

of certain forms of art 

especially of floral subjects

or indeed of the floral arts;

 

names of nostalgias vary by region

but “anxiety” is often applied

to the involuntary form considered

 

illness, often allied with

stress-induced hyperthermia;

tastes and smells change

 

with the onset of other nostalgias

especially the later ones, such as 

“desire” and “delirium.”

 

The first nostalgia was hunger but unnamed

and beyond syllabification it 

returns and returns.

 

I have a cabinet with sliding drawers

intended for an office of 1947;

documents would fit lying flat,

 

the darkened oaken case 

closable by an upward-sliding 

cleverly flexible door that

 

clicks closed but I leave it open

and slide one drawer open with

its collection of minerals,

 

pebbles I found at different times 

of my life some pretty most not;

or another drawer my collection

 

of pens some fountain some ball-point

some dry but resonant;

what steps are those that break Wallace Stevens

 

this crust of air he wrote I loved that

he himself he felt the third nostalgia

his spiteful memories

 

and refusals refulgent with bitterness

and butter. It was a dinner and no one

was invited. To grow old is the proper

 

punishment for youth misspent, which is

most dreaded, the Swiss Disease.

Some consider wistfulness, like a web walked

 

into in a garden, invisible threads disturbing

the eyelids, wrapping around the neck—

as the modern version, arising in 1920.

 

To desire to be elsewhere is also to desire

to be other, in another time, too. I slide

my cabinet closed and consider

 

collecting myself moving on onward

but find an object in the street 

incidental to anyone’s life, and keep it.

 

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