Two for Tuesday: Addressing Life
Dear Regret, my leaning this morning, my leather foot, want of stone, my age
Old, burnished and bruised, my hair lingering, my hand caked, spongy as
November my dear Relentless, my dear Aging, your voice tinny, dissonant
As Stein shot through decades of war and Fortrel, cocktails on the hour,
Zeppelins over Piccadilly, bombing blindly in the fog. Dear Skin, dear Tobacco
Mouth my refusal, my merely geographic, my fibrous strings for you: your
Abundant wit, your lack of shadow and still joy nosing the air. Each moment
Stretches toward you, your dry feet: I carried them, pumiced and peppery
Laid them where regret is a biscuit thing to lean upon and sweeten,
My hour of you, my cursive thoughts, a pulpit beating under these ribs.
Dear Time, you swallowed us whole, swallowed us lovely, sharp as bones
Crimping sadly under foot my benign, my flotsam and crabs thin as leaves
Your smoothing, your sinking in. Mornings or mooring, or wallowing
Jericho: tapioca air indolent. I am still there, supple and driftwood, you lovely,
You loved me, your memory dark and west, thoughts like tugboats stitching
The horizon, you pulling me, my pudding, my thin crustacean, sideways
In the late afternoon, your gaze, having so soon forgotten the sharpness
Of mornings, the bite of your look serrating the hour: my treasures, all
Of them, for the pleasure of that slice once more, of our dangling,
You and me, the lot of us in some car, driving some hour, mapless.
Under a spiderweb, a tire, slouched: flat, sad-lipped, I think of Newton
Of the original apple, all of these clones since, all of these scentless
Descents. I shake my glass, shake again, melted suffixes tinkling; observe
All things natural: foliage unfurling like old bills, wryly betraying
Your habits, like the dog who digs and rubs, the dog who whines, who
Paws and circles, you trace. Why is pain so much better than nothing? Or
The mark of it more understandable? Why is saying nothing so much better?
Your one-liner like blossoms, uplifting, your currents strap me to air, yes
I guess there is a little texture up here, and oxygen pure as baby’s toes
Which if I recall, are sweet as kernels of corn, if I recall so long ago.
To arrive is practice, conversation or conversion, a story over a field
My Sweet, of concrete or whispering, furrows of a path no longer, not
Sure, was there, and snow combed in curlicues and dog ears a zigzag
Through January. Sure you are witty, but are you any less romantic?
In my remembering, I have undone all my beliefs, it is a luxury to lay
Unencumbered here, or there, the bones flexed with tendons, the
Spine like a seahorse, the heart far from a cliche unless beating is
Innocent, though innocence is not as supple as you think, nor as flexible,
Nor as perfumed, nor convenient, or even clean: between things regret
Gathers force. I remember that day: it was cold and the coffee tepid.
The small red balloons like thumbprints, waves green as the brush of
Cedar, the wind lapping your hoodie, blind strings tap the air, camera
Bobbing like a dog’s tail. Such lightness, the dog heading off, all
The dogs of English Bay angling off-leash. I would follow backward,
Lay old maps on your white sheets, so sincere, I am in earnest for you:
We won’t regret having not yet knit our acrid puns and jaded barbs, nor
Having the wind slip in under our belt loops, though I gently refuse
Gor-Tex, and you bet I will not concede the game. Those small red
Balloons like tulips in your eyes specs of amber, an amulet, an avatar,
My thoughts of you fully indexed, ready to step into.
~ Sina Queyras
For a Long Time I Have Wanted to Write a Happy Poem
Between two worlds life hovers like a star.
It is not so easy to live on the earth
as an angel, to imitate the insects that dance
around the moon, to return what air we borrow
every few seconds. I am going to enter
the hour when wind dreamt of a light dress
to stroke, when water dreamt of the lips it would meet.
The famous Pascalian worm will just have to find
another heart to eat.
I will reveal the actual reason birds fly off
so suddenly from telephone wires.
The road will ask my foot for help.
The lightning will forget its thunder.
I will discover the hidden planet
to account for Pluto’s eccentric orbit.
Pluto, of course, is ready to leave the alliance.
I learned this from a recent Scientific American.
No longer will I have to lament
the death of Mary, the circus elephant,
hung with chains from a derrick on Sept. 16, 1916,
in Erwin, Tennessee, to punish her immortal soul
for brushing her keeper to death.
She looks out from her daguerreotype
as if she knows one day we too will hear
the stars gnaw away at our darkness.
It is not so easy.
One day I will free the clouds frozen in ponds.
No longer will the wind lose its way.
I will start hearing important voices like a real saint.
The emir of Kuwait will answer my call.
If I am not careful I will loosen
the noose of history from around my own neck.
Just to keep sane I will have to include my weight
which is the only thing that keeps me from being a bird.
Walking on air will no longer be a problem.
Meanwhile, the Hubble telescope is still wobbling
its pictures from outer space so we will
have to rely on imagination a little longer to see clearly.
Why don’t windows tell us everything they see?
Here come the characters of my sad poems.
They have been standing in line to get in
like fans for a rock concert.
They are gathering around Beatrix Potter who spent 30 years
locked in her room. The maid brings up her supper.
She sneaks out into the garden to capture
small animals to draw or reinvent before they die.
Beatrix, I say, we no longer have to kill what we see.
I know this in my heart, in my wolf, in my owl.
In the Siena of my palms. The Bergamo of my head.
In the garlic of my fingers. My friends say
I use too much. There are never enough
streets crossing the one we are stuck on.
No one wants to be a cloud anymore.
Who still believes in the transmigration of souls?
If you believe Bell’s theorem, then the fact is
that the squirrel falling out of my tree this morning
makes minute subatomic changes from here to Australia.
Will I have to put on my pants differently now?
Just when we start to believe in moonlight
we notice how many stars it erases. It is not easy.
I am going to come back
as the birthmark on the inside of your thigh,
between your dreams of angels and solar dust,
between your drunken skirt and the one that laughs.
I am going to learn what the butterfly knows
about disguise, what so astonishes the hills.
All this is going to take constant vigilance.
In The Last Chance Saloon, Tombstone, Arizona,
I saw the lizard creature with its glued head,
almost human, tilted up from under the glass,
as if it didn’t know which world to claim.
Apparently it fooled a lot of people in 1872.
I kept thinking if only Ovid had seen this creature
he would have known his nymphs
could never escape just by turning into trees.
In Dora Noar, Afghanistan, the young soldier,
Mohammad Anwar, age 13, believes he will turn
into a desert flower when he dies in the jihad.
The barrel of his AK-47 is sawed down
because he is as small as the four prisoners
he has returned with. They understand
that all we know of the sky we learn by listening to roots.
I was happy, he says after shooting them
against a wall, over and over again. I was happy.
Happy. Now maybe the earth will want to change its name.
It won’t want to be the earth anymore.
Shadows will be abandoned by their objects.
The light will squander itself on the flowers
because they do not even want to be flowers anymore.
It is not easy to live on this earth.
We don’t understand that the universe is
blowing away from us like litter,
but at an incredible speed.
There is a new theory that the universe is left-handed.
It has to do with the spin of quarks.
Someone else says it’s in the form of a horseshoe.
The rest of the animal is metamorphosed into a black hole.
I happen to side with the fanatics who believe
it is following the call of a mythic bird too distant to see,
but this is only poetry, like the old papers
the homeless use to stuff their clothes on cold nights,
the kind of poetry that says, Flowers, be happy,
trees, raise your drooping eyebrows,
sky, don’t turn your back on us again,
my love, how wonderful to have lived while you lived,
which is not the sort of poetry you read anyplace anymore.
~ Richard Jackson
Music by Natalie Walker, “Urban Angel”