The Secret

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.

I who don't know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can't find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it


The Saddest Poem

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?


The Right Mask

One night a poem came up to a poet
From now on, it said, you must wear a mask.
What kind of mask? asked the poet.
A rose mask, said the poem.
I've used it already, said the poet,
I've exhausted it.
Then wear the mask that's made out of
a nightingale's song, use that mask.
Oh, it's an old mask, said the poet,
it's all used up.
Nonsense, said the poem, it's the perfect mask,
still, try on the god mask,
now that mask illuminates heaven.
It's a tight mask, said the poet,


The Reward of Merit

DR. BELVILLE was regarded as the CRICHTON of his age:
His tragedies were reckoned much too thoughtful for the stage;
His poems held a noble rank, although it's very true
That, being very proper, they were read by very few.
He was a famous Painter, too, and shone upon the "line,"
And even MR. RUSKIN came and worshipped at his shrine;
But, alas, the school he followed was heroically high -
The kind of Art men rave about, but very seldom buy;
And everybody said
"How can he be repaid -


The Red Shirt

If I gave 5 birds
each 4 eyes
I would be blind
unto the 3rd
generation, if I
gave no one a word
for a day
and let the day
grow into a week
and the week sleep
until it was
half of my life
could I come home
to my father
one dark night?

On Sundays an odd light
grows on the bed
where I have lived
this half of my life
alight that begins
with the eyes
blinding first one
and then both
until at last
even the worn candles


The Reasons that Induced Dr S to Write a Poem Call'd the Lady's Dressing Room

The Doctor in a clean starch'd band,
His Golden Snuff box in his hand,
With care his Di'mond Ring displays
And Artfull shews its various Rays,
While Grave he stalks down -- -- Street
His dearest Betty -- to meet.
Long had he waited for this Hour,
Nor gain'd Admittance to the Bower,
Had jok'd and punn'd, and swore and writ,
Try'd all his Galantry and Wit,
Had told her oft what part he bore
In Oxford's Schemes in days of yore,
But Bawdy, Politicks nor Satyr
Could move this dull hard hearted Creature.


The Present

The day comes slowly in the railyard
behind the ice factory. It broods on
one cinder after another until each
glows like lead or the eye of a dog
possessed of no inner fire, the brown
and greasy pointer who raises his muzzle
a moment and sighing lets it thud
down on the loading dock. In no time
the day has crossed two sets of tracks,
a semi-trailer with no tractor, and crawled
down three stories of the bottling plant
at the end of the alley. It is now
less than five hours until mid-day


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