Poetry

 

Chicago

 

Only out-of-towners hear the el at night,

the city reflected in passing windows of the evening train

like a film shown to an empty house.—

 

O somewhere else

they are drinking to your memory tonight.

The wind howling over the empty prairie.

 

An immense anguish.—

Lawyerly summation.

 

In darkness

sensibility is honed

right on the floor.

 

Knuckles scraped.

Heart aching.

 

This is important.

Yeah yeah.

No, it is theatrical.

I mean it is anecdotal.

 

Yes, it is ontological:

 

One folds away a handkerchief,

the day’s architecture an arrested motion

over which we have traveled—

 

overheated rooms

in which we feel like children again.

 

 

Old Tooth

 

How queer to sit here looking at a piece of myself

that has fallen off

like a hat.

 

The fragment of tooth in a box

one good match, one burnt,

smooth and yellow as a tusk

Old ivory

One imagines museum-goers

on tip toe peering over

glass, imagining

the beast

 

 

Dog

 

For a while

I kept myself aloof.

Ate little

and spoke rarely.

And what I said was measured out

by need.

 

Then I came to hate the thought of myself,

so I sought to strive among men.

Their power,

their affection,

all that they withheld

 

raised the hackles of me

like a hairbrush.

And what I thought

was not my thoughts,

and what I said

was not my words

but the words of men

which concern a human fate.

 

Only sometimes at night the long,

tremulous thing

would come over me,

oh and I would run out into the wind

like a fool, like a drunkard,

heedless of everything I’d become.