Thursday, May 15, 2008

North Florida, 1998

When I return
                in summer,
I return
        to the summer rain—
   thunder in the distance,
                then near,
              then rumbling

If the trees could
        they would shake themselves
           like dogs—
       every leaf is dripping.

And I walk
        between the puddles
under the trees
        to the field—
                subdued sunlight
          and grasses
and a moment
  I try vainly
        to grasp
           from time.

Beneath the opening sky
the thunder soft in the distance
there is a peacefulness
which is caught
     by the summer air
and fills
        every crevice

Sunday, May 11, 2008


        “Need is my tactic, detachment
         Is my strategy. When I had
         No lover, I courted sleep.”
                                 — Robert Pinsky, from “Samurai Song”

I could quote you—
I was told once that the rhinoceros
with its one horn was symbolic
of purity—
the rhinoceros was the unicorn—
but to me, the rhinoceros is rage—
“Your letter truly shocked me.”

“Your letter truly shocked me.
And yes, it angered me as well.”
You could have accused me of arrogance,
of hypocritical self-righteousness.
But instead you accused me of ignorance:
“I realized you [. . . ] don’t know me at all—how sad.”
You are the zebra who says,
“You are not like me,
    your stripes are not like mine.”

When I swam with the fishes,
I was mean and cruel.
Sometimes, when I caught my prey
I would nibble on its fins
and let it swim away—
knowing, slower,
        it would never escape
        the next predator’s gaze.
But there is no ill-will among the fishes—
life is too short—
in the depths, they say, is Leviathon.
What Leviathon is afraid of
they do not say.

Yes, there was a change in tone.
In our notes we discussed plans
to spend New Years in New York City.
Where I was so kind and understanding,
I became callous, cold.
I criticized you,
        and I criticized your life.
I wrote that “I never did want to fall in love with you [. . . ]
the primary reason is this: you are fucked up.
Your life is fucked up.”
I must have sounded
    like a baboon
           the lion.