Professor Jackson in Music Appreciation

You cram our course with lore of candlelight,

Of Beethoven’s and Haydn’s bursting heads:

We feel their music pulsing through the white

Plain walls. We know they really can’t be dead.

You wear the tones of music without fail,

A dress of black and white, your hair the shades

Of crows and chestnuts, face in creamy pale

Like paper marched with musical parades.

You tell us, “Put your ears on! Here it comes!”

It’s the bassoon, the awkward brother-wind.

Though reared on rock and roll, I feel at home

Beside your tender lisp and slicing grin,

And even with these music men, long gone:

If music be the food of love, play on.

Vodka and the Cat

The stairway smelled of smoke. On top, the door

cracked open an apartment where a gray

lean cat crouched on the table close behind

a shining flask of vodka and some wine.

 

The feline had the attitude of haze,

or a half-clothed woman lounging in the day

a blear-eyed morningtide, not much to say

(though it was evening – seven, probably).

 

Anthony, asleep in the next room

curled fetal in a blanket of soft green,

would not have startled at my brother’s touch

with such a gasp without the alcohol.

 

My brother said, “I’m sorry, man.” The gasp

expired, and Anthony recurled himself

soft and green and caterpillarous.

Ashamed to see him, I observed the cat.

Goodbye You Crashbang City

Goodbye, you crashbang city. ImageUnlike you,

I like my quivers fat and callous-toed:

I mean deep-hearted families by the stoves

propping country feet against hot wood.

I flout you, you big city, lonely-faced.

You swarm with slick successes, narrow youths,

Thin visages: the popping pot of soup

America the sterile melts into.

How many thousand for my chipping flat?

The bathtub’s paint, the broken light, switched off?

I’d like my family. Write an add for that.

Big city money, honey, don’t buy love.

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Physics Makes Me Weep

The arbiter of Physics, Dr. Kucks, is like a sweatered fruit and walks the room, hands pocketed. I eye the glossy book. He titles good the diagrams of doom. But Virgil cousins my creative brain; like me, the forest reared him and he wrote. I bite my pen in half at formulae and smear the […]

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I Hate Hope

Sometimes I hate to hope, and what I mean is that I go a-publishing my loves to persons who will laugh them back at me: A hazard of my personality. I heap a secret slow this time, all smiles. I shall not let it leak, whatever comes – then do. The New Year had me […]

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Word Girl

I’ve longed in life for words, red-apple fat, To fall for me in grace, in perfect time. I wanted hard to be young when they fell And be loved widely long before my death. My hands were right. They knew to page-turn slow, To labor over letters with a quake Of one wee hand with […]

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Your Umbrella May Save Europe

A crying shame it is, that you can’t sit outside inside the blowing hurricane, the weather touching you – not everyday its fingers come so close  to you as this. It’s just her fringe. She oversnows your clothes with rain so fine and soaking it is strange. Umbrella-bring, unless you want to change ten times […]

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More Important than Plato

Returning to this classical brick school, attended always by that stinging scent – in saying so, my love alone is meant – of ladybugs and drying soccer shoes: Returning here is golden. When I roam I cannot help but speaking  of this place. By some unsought and terrifying grace it’s something like a womb away […]

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Back to School

A day of visits is the best goodbye. The guests stream thick, my black dog at their legs: For them we scramble. Seven grinning eggs We break against the cast to spit and fry. Potatoes, too, and waffles, and real bread my hands pushed life to (generation three) were percolating in the mind of me […]

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First Married Friend

First married friend, so small and nineteen years, so pure and kind, for spoiling earth, the salt; for this your word how can we thank our God, your “yes,” knees bent, beneath your parents’ prayers? God bless your union, and so bless us all. The world is groaning, people split at stings. Like paper glued […]