The chambers of the heart


You are in the fourth chamber
You are in the fourth chamber and you are pushing    
half impelled          at a doorway

a moving crowd     a crush
like breath held far too long 
and far too deep

lockstep on a pilgrimage of longing 
a pace     another pace inside 
this carapace of gesture and humiliation

s'io credesse       s'io credesse
move me Lord
but let me know I am being moved 

Only my first robin

but it was only my first robin

Every day I face the suspicion
that you have had secret springtimes

sunlights that you hid from me
clandestine pussy willows camouflaged
whole choirs of spring peepers
cued by no baton but yours

hidden nations of tulips
daffodils and crocuses
held in boxcars
and run through town at night

without stopping no lights
no whistles

I don’t know which of us to worry for


I’m waiting for the song that writes itself,
A choir of one with hymn sheet white and clear,
Whose even blankness is a kind of wealth.

A coruscating symphony of stealth,
At once a glance to Heaven and a leer—
I’m waiting for the song that writes itself.

A city full of strangers, smug in health,
Devoid of life and liberty and fear,
Whose even blankness is a kind of wealth,

Averse to dying as to life itself:
They will persist, though cities disappear.
I’m waiting for the song that writes itself.

The teacup cracking on the kitchen shelf,
Discarded with a backward-looking tear
(Whose even blankness is a kind of wealth),

The brahmin contemplating loss of self…
Both gravitate toward something too austere.
I’m waiting for the song that writes itself.

I cannot hum it, even to myself,
Nor puzzle out its immanence, this fear
Whose even blankness is a kind of wealth.

Existence has a price that’s far too dear,
But nothingness? A trifle too severe.
I’m waiting for the song that writes itself,
Whose even blankness is a kind of wealth.


And Love says
to Death, “That’s the last time
I let you borrow my clothes.
Just look at these wrinkles–
and that stain! My God.
What did you DO?”

(Whacks her over the head
with a hairbrush, and they’re
scrapping all over the room.
Love comes up short one

She screams, but Death,
her eyes are burning like dull coals:
“You just don’t know, do you?
You never never try to understand.
Well it was an accident
but right now I’ve a mind
to accident you.”

(Love is hysterical.)
“You wouldn’t,” she screams.
“You never could!”
(Runs out in tears. Never comes back.)

The birds arrive

The birds arrive at six, begin to feed.
Petulant and raucous, their harangue
stifles the belief they ever sang.
Squirrels make off with all the fallen seed.
The chickadees are orderly in greed;
The jays are not: on suet left to hang
they find a perfect stage for sturm und drang.
Only poets could decry this simple creed.

This is no scene of joy, but satisfaction
flies on stronger wings than love or beauty.
Think good thoughts, but in the end it’s action
(applied with elbows) that defines our duty.
Feed the masses, let the poets rue it.
Their verses nourish less than lumps of suet.

My heart announced

My heart announced today that it will leave.
It kicks in expectation like a child
in the womb, a trapped miner at piled
timbers: long past the urge to grieve,
he gathers up the threads of air that weave
life in darkness, then is reconciled
and only waits. I am no more beguiled
by death than he. Still, my heart will leave.

The unborn child cannot begin to fear
the pain his mother feels, the open wound
that he creates, and when she draws him near
no memory will scar him. All too soon,
I will live this parturition. Pleasure
has no gift to match this last long measure.