About life

We may not stay, not even with the most familiar things.

No sooner is the image comprehended than the mind

Accelerates into the waiting emptiness: and therefore

Only in eternity shall we encounter lakes.

Falling is all we must hope for, falling

From the known into the guessed-at, falling further.



for Lawrence Sullivan

There are days when 
one should be able 
to pluck off one’s head 
like a dented or worn 
helmet, straight from 
the nape and collarbone 
(those crackling branches!)

and place it firmly down 
in the bed of a flowing stream. 
Clear, clean, chill currents 
coursing and spuming through 
the sour and stale compartments 
of the brain, dimmed eardrums, 
bleared eyesockets, filmed tongue.

And then set it back again 
on the base of the shoulders:
well tamped down, of course, 
the laved skin and mouth, 
the marble of the eyes 
rinsed and ready
for love; for prophecy?

Look tight to taste the buzzard’s arc,
ignored thrash and thrash along the coast
to pool and slate with shine and cries
of jackdaw child and rattling kite.

I loved to be here.
Kissed over there and
running here and taught nice words
from people dripping nets and
treading steps with bounce and bounty.

Poised, the cliffs are able to soak it all in, all day.
And they get to stay.
As bare, as covered, as washed and weathered
as friends to the sea and sandy sky.

It is time to go.

For us a picture floats awhile and fades a print for our minds to
point at what was there on a summer’s holy day.
Your faces, your feet, your laughter shrieks
and your thirst and your feed,
in that air, in rocks and pools
forever slammed from high with jackdaw’s cry and the spread wheeling buzzard’s gaze.

You are there, always now, you cling with chat and crash running with the water
to throw yourself to the waves. You are there.

Dans le fond des forêts votre image me suit. 

There is a panther stalks me down:
One day I’ll have my death of him;
His greed has set the woods aflame,
He prowls more lordly than the sun.
Most soft, most suavely glides that step,
Advancing always at my back;
From gaunt hemlock, rooks croak havoc:
The hunt is on, and sprung the trap.
Flayed by thorns I trek the rocks,
Haggard through the hot white noon.
Along red network of his veins
What fires run, what craving wakes?  (more…)

When he failed the seminary he came back home
To the Bronx and sat in a back pew
Of St Mary’s every night reciting the Mass
From memory – quietly, continually –
into his deranged overcoat.
He knew the local phone book off by heart.
He had a system, he’d explain,
Perfected by the Dominicans in the Renaissance. (more…)

Run out the boat, my broken comrades;
Let the old seaweed crack, the surge
Burgeon oblivious of the last
Embarkation of feckless men,
Let every adverse force converge —
Here we must needs embark again. (more…)

It is this deep blankness is the real thing strange.
The more things happen to you the more you can’t
Tell or remember even what they were.

The contradictions cover such a range.
The talk would talk and go so far aslant.
You don’t want madhouse and the whole thing there.

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