Tomes

There is a section in my library for death
and another for Irish history,
a few shelves for the poetry of China and Japan,
and in the center a row of imperturbable reference books,
the ones you can turn to anytime,
when the night is going wrong
or when the day is full of empty promise.

Tomes

There is a section in my library for death
and another for Irish history,
a few shelves for the poetry of China and Japan,
and in the center a row of imperturbable reference books,
the ones you can turn to anytime,
when the night is going wrong
or when the day is full of empty promise.

Two Roses

A humble wild-rose, pink and slender,
Was plucked and placed in a bright bouquet,
Beside a Jacqueminot’s royal splendour,
And both in my lady’s boudoir lay.

Said the haughty bud, in a tone of scorning,
‘I wonder why you are called a rose?
Your leaves will fade in a single morning;
No blood of mine in your pale cheek glows.

‘Your course green stalk shows dust of the highway,
You have no depths of fragrant bloom;
And what could you learn in a rustic byway
To fit you to lie in my lady’s room?

To the Tune of

The fragrance of the pink lotus
fails, the jade mat hints of autumn.
Softly I unfasten my silk cloak,
Who is sending a letter from
among the clouds?
When the swan message returns,
the balcony is flooded with moonlight.

The blossoms drift on, the water flows.
There is the same yearning of the heart,
But it abides in two places.
There is no way to drive away this yearning:
Driven from the eyebrows,
It enters the heart.

To Rose

Rose, when I remember you,
Little lady, scarcely two,
I am suddenly aware
Of the angels in the air.
All your softly gracious ways
Make an island in my days
Where my thoughts fly back to be
Sheltered from too strong a sea.
All your luminous delight
Shines before me in the night
When I grope for sleep and find
Only shadows in my mind.

Worm Either Way

If you live along with all the other people
and are just like them, and conform, and are nice
you're just a worm --

and if you live with all the other people
and you don't like them and won't be like them and won't conform
then you're just the worm that has turned,
in either case, a worm.

The conforming worm stays just inside the skin
respectably unseen, and cheerfully gnaws away at the heart of life,
making it all rotten inside.

Woolworth's

for Greg Fallon

A kid yells "Mother Fucker" out the school bus window.
I don't think anyone notices the afternoon clouds turning pink along the horizon,
sunlight dripping down the stone facades,
the ancient names of old stores fading like the last century
above the street, above the Spandex women who adjust their prize buttocks,
sweating in the sun as I wonder how this city that has no more memory of itself
than a river has of rain, survives.

With Arms Outstretched

with
arms outstreched
and crowned with wisps
of seaweed hair she floats, eyes closed
in a world of perfect silence
that is loud enough
to hear
light
a kaleidoscope
a shimmering, elusive glimmer
dances across the bottom, the reflection
of a white hot sun that fails
to reach beyond
the blue
alone
she dives spins glides
in effortless infinite motion
bubbles trailing like round diamonds
in a perfect sapphire sea
surging forward
free
scales
pearly sheened

Witch-Wife

She is neither pink nor pale,
And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs;
In the sun 'tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of coloured beads,
Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
And she never will be all mine.

Where

My snowy eupatorium has dropped
Its silver threads of petals in the night;
No signal told its blossoming had stopped;
Its seed-films flutter silent, ghostly white:
No answer stirs the shining air,
As I ask, "Where?"

Beneath the glossy leaves of winter-green
Dead lilly-bells lie low, and in their place
A rounded disk of pearly pink is seen,
Which tells not of the lily's fragrant grace:
No answer stirs the shining air,
As I ask, "Where?"

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