I know no greater delight than the sheer delight of being alone
It makes me realise the delicious pleasure of the moon
that she has in travelling by herself: throughout time,
or the splendid growing of an ash-tree
alone, on a hill-side in the north, humming in the wind.
Tell me what’s the difference
between hope and waiting
because my heart doesn’t know
It constantly cuts itself on the glass of waiting
It constantly gets lost in the fog of hope
Oh, I should like to ride the seas,
A roaring buccaneer;
A cutlass banging at my knees,
A dirk behind my ear.
And when my captives' chains would clank
I'd howl with glee and drink,
And then fling out the quivering plank
And watch the beggars sink.
I'd like to straddle gory decks,
And dig in laden sands,
And know the feel of throbbing necks
Between my knotted hands.
Oh, I should like to strut and curse
Among my blackguard crew....
But I am writing little verse,
As little ladies do.
Oh, I should like to dance and laugh
And pose and preen and sway,
And rip the hearts of men in half,
And toss the bits away.
I'd like to view the reeling years
Through unastonished eyes,
And dip my finger-tips in tears,
And give my smiles for sighs.
I'd stroll beyond the ancient bounds,
And tap at fastened gates,
And hear the prettiest of sound-
The clink of shattered fates.
My slaves I'd like to bind with thongs
That cut and burn and chill....
But I am writing little songs,
As little ladies will.
My apologies to chance for calling it necessity
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologise for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologise to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
you gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from
Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man.
I know that I won't be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.
Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you're tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They'll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.
Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren't alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren't alone. Go to sleep.
Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.
I used an arrow to kill the spider.
I used a steamroller to flatten the worm.
For the ants I called in an air strike.
Bee that found its way in through the screen:
The mammals were easier—
a bucket of water for submerging the cat,
a poisoned word thrown to the dog.
For love, only a kitchen match. That
and a stove leaking gas
and waiting until the dinner
was good and burned.
The tree lay down
on the garage roof
and stretched, You
have your heaven,
it said, go to it.
Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again.
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release
or nagged by want past resolutions power,
I might be driven to sell you love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.
Remember, my soul, the thing we saw that lovely summer day?
On a pile of stones where the path turned off, the hideous carrion-
Legs in the air, like a whore - displayed, indifferent to the last,
A belly slick with lethal sweat and swollen with foul gas.
The sun lit up that rottenness as though to roast it through,
Restoring to Nature a hundredfold what she had here made one.
And heaven watched the splendid corpse like a flower open wide-
You nearly fainted dead away at the perfume it gave off.
Flies kept humming over the guts from which a gleaming clot
Of maggots poured to finish off what scraps of flesh remained.
The tide of trembling vermin sank, then bubbled up afresh
As if the carcass, drawing breath, by their lives lived again
And made a curious music there - like running water, or wind,
Or the rattle of chaff the winnower loosens in his fan.
Shapeless - nothing was left but a dream the artist had sketched in,
Forgotten, and only later on finished from memory.
Behind the rocks an anxious bitch eyed us reproachfully,
Waiting for the chance to resume her interrupted feast.
Yet you will come to this offense, this horrible decay,
Wou, the light of my life, the sun and the moon and the stars of my love!
Yes, you will come to this, my queen, after the sacraments,
When you rot underground among the bones already there.
But as their kisses eat you up, my Beauty, tell the worms
I've kept the sacred essence, saved the form of my rotted loves!
She's the one sleeping all day, in a room
at the back of your brain. She wakes up
at the sound of a cork twisted free
of a bottle, a stabbed olive
plopped into gin. She's prettier than you
and right now you bore the shit out of her,
sitting there sipping when she wants
to stand on the rim of the glass, naked,
dive straight to the bottom and lie there
looking up, amazed at how the world
wavers and then comes clear. You're not
going to let her. You've locked her in
with her perfume and cheap novels,
her deep need for trouble. She's the one
calling to you through the keyhole,
then sneaking away to squirm out
a window and tear her silk dress.
You can't guess where she's going,
or who you'll wake up with
when you finally wake up,
your head throbbing like a heart.
She's the one you're scared of,
the one who dares you to go ahead
and completely disappear. It's not
you the boys are noticing, not you
turning toward them and throwing off light.
You're crouched in a corner, coming undone.
She's in love with you now. She's the one.
Marc says the suffering that we don't see
still makes a sort of sound — a subtle, soft
noise, nothing like the cries of screams that we
might think of — more the slight scrape of a hat doffed
by a quiet man, ignored as he stands back
to let a lovely woman pass, her dress
just brushing his coat. Or else it's like a crack
in an old foundation, slowly widening, the stress
and slippage going on unnoticed by
the family upstairs, the daughter leaving
for a date, her mother's resigned sigh
when she sees her. It's like the heaving
of a stone into a lake, before it drops.
It's shy, it's barely there. It never stops.
Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake
and dress them in warm clothes again.
How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running
until they forget that they are horses.
It's not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere,
it's more like a song on a policeman's radio,
how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days
were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple
to slice into pieces.
Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it's noon, that means
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we'll never get used to it.
I stalked her
in the grocery store; her crown
of snowy braids held in place by a great silver clip
her erect bearing, radiating tenderness,
the way she placed yogurt and avocadoes in her basket,
beaming peace like the North Star.
I wanted to ask, “What aisle did you find
your serenity, do you know
how to be married for fifty years, or how to live alone,
excuse me for interrupting, but you seem to possess
some knowledge that makes the earth burn and turn on its axis.”
But we don’t request such things from strangers
nowadays. So I said, “I love your hair.”