THE TRIPLICATE PAIN OF NARCISSUS

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Narcissus suffers a triplicate woe.

Lips kissing air almost into the water go.

The reeds over the pool wave to and fro.

Love, contemplated, is delicious and slow.

For three and a half hours he was happy. But I know

Narcissus suffers a triplicate woe:

Narcissus wants to be loved by another,

And this longing enough almost kills.

Imagine losing one’s love in the shadowy hills!

The saddest thing about this longing love

Is Narcissus doesn’t think he is beautiful enough.

A strange comparing waits in the staring.

Narcissus soothes wounds, remembering the daring.

Now he sits. Narcissus will not take a chance.

He watches reflections of heavy branches dance.

The almost beautiful is more obsessed

By beauty than the beautiful. Narcissus

Desires the beautiful, knowing the beautiful is best.

A pity the pond is a mirror, and not a curtain!

Narcissus thinks he is beautiful. But he is not certain.

 

 

I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR YOU

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I don’t have time for you,

Because you’re the one I love the most.

I would want you all the time. That wouldn’t do.

So I will have to be satisfied with your ghost.

I love you too much. Goodbye.

Pity my hands that cannot touch you. Pity my eye.

The dialogue between you and I will be replaced

By a dialogue with myself.

The questions and responses will be evenly spaced

Like those dialogues of Plato sitting on my shelf.

You will be a poem in my mind.

I will see you, vaguely. You won’t always be nice,

You won’t always be kind.

Sometimes you will give me bad advice.

I will have time to explore

Why you loved—and why I loved you more.

That’s when our love was physical, and each moment was new

And everything seemed beautiful,

As when you experience something for the first time, and it thrills you.

When I first heard Borges quote, Keats’ “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer,”

Homer, Chapman, Keats, Borges, and I—all lived in time’s river.

By streams and dreams I know a lot.  But I won’t have to tell.

What I reflect on will not have to be repeated at all

To you. I will never have to take your call.

I won’t have to flatter you, or tell you the right thing.

The truth will be all that matters.

You will live inside me; otherwise you’ll be nothing—

My mind eschewing the outside, which the outside flatters.

Today, in my thoughts, I discovered why

You loved me less, and caused our love to die.

Your whole life being vacant and painful, our love

Did not recall past joys for you, the way it did for me:

My strange forbidden crushes, my lovely past was

Revisited: a string of my firsts: losing my virginity,

Children. But your life was a miserable portion

Of abuse, fruitless relationships, an abortion.

Mad and hopeless love belonged to me;

You lived in all my touchstones prior;

I loved you more; you were an idle god in your superiority—

But the superior depth of my past joys fed my desire;

I was weaker, by mad love and past happiness blessed;

You were coolly above me, but by love’s standards, I was the best.

I had my poetry. I still have my poetry. I still love you the most.

But I don’t have time for you. And I know why. So welcome, ghost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOBODY RULES SOMEBODY

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Somebody said to someone, “We’re not free.”

Someone said, “I feel it all the time, I feel it daily.”

Somebody said, “Did you know we are ruled by nobody?”

Someone asked, “Are we ruled by someone we can’t see?”

“No,” somebody told someone. “We’re ruled by nobody.

When your sports team wins, it has nothing to do with you.

It promotes schizophrenia. It’s likely

This may be why you are ruled by nobody.”

Someone was offended. “I love my team.

I love my fellow fans. Is my happiness a dream?”

Somebody said,  “It’s a dream, a dream of your belief.

Believers in your country want to come here,

Leaving home, leaving dreams, leaving somebody and their grief.”

 

MAY IS THE MONTH TO BE IMMORTAL

May is the month to be immortal, to love

The scent of blossoms, to love

All that makes the landscape new

As it grows. That would be mostly you.

I cannot be immortal for another moment

Unless I acknowledge Memorial Day—

(The sun is making its merry way)

The day we remember every sorrow is dead.

I need to sink into sweet flowers now.

To lose a still growing child

Is the worst thing. This makes me wild.

I want to write an ode. Does the hangman know how?

As different as the living from the dead

Is the soldier who defends his country from the poet who dreams on a cloud.

Memorial Day is not for poets,

But poets will spit their anti-war poems

Today, to other poets. Society starts when a poem is read out loud.

Not a soldier, but an MFA instructor,

Told me Keats doesn’t matter.

But I, an historian, am mad as a hatter.

So Keats does matter.

Poets will kill poets and soldiers will kill soldiers.

The feeble conscience of the old scholar stirs.

I figured it out. The answer is found

In studying Iran. Before you fight, study.

The UK is still the British Empire, more now by proxy.

When the Empire retreated, it set fires.

Who knows what Desdemona desires?

A U.S. president apologized in Cairo in 2009,

Feeding the fake narrative that the Iran coup

Of 1953 was American. They might as well blame you.

Did everything change in 1952?

I don’t know. I’m just guessing at these things.

My father, getting his Master’s in history, was reading Beard,

Who said the Founding Fathers were just money grubbers.

Sex was everywhere. Things were getting weird.

Intel agencies and universities changed. Was it a plan?

Intellectuals became self-loathing. Deep America hating began.

After World War Two, the US kicked Stalin out of northern Iran.

The US and Iran were friends. Now the US is the “Great Satan.”

And Britain and Iran are practically sisters. Qui?

US oil fueled Europe’s two World Wars; not the US, the UK

Needed Iran’s oil—when Iran threatened to take it all away,

Churchill begged Truman for help, but Truman said no. The CIA

Agent was bewildered by the MI6 agent—

The Muslim-loving, Marxist-loving, self-loathing gay.

Churchill had better luck with the next US president, Ike:

There was something Soviet about Mosaddegh he didn’t like.

In Iran, the priests, the middle class, the military, too,

Were sick of Mossadegh; the Shah fired him. The “American coup”

Was an Anglo/Iranian one; making the US look bad

In 1953 set up 1979. Khomeini was a known terrorist

In Iran from the early 50s. The priest, Khomeini, took on the Shah in 1963,

When the Shah pushed for women’s rights. “You Don’t Own Me”

Sang Lesley Gore in America. La la la. Khomeini was exiled.

Jimmy Carter (Obama I) let Khomeini in from France in 1979,

When the Beatles had been replaced by Wings. Pol Pot.

By 1979 the world had really started to rot.

I find it hard to read Shakespeare’s Othello—Iago is so good.

This really needs to be understood:

For the last 100 years, the UK has been Iago to the US Othello.

The UK, though playing ally,

Never wanted the US to get too strong

And promote stable, modernizing nations

All over the world—not how the British Empire

Does things. Iran under the Shah

In the 70s, was a modern, US friendly nation.

MI6/CIA ran SAVAK to protect the Shah

But also to make the Shah look ruthless.

When it was time for a switch Khomeini

Made SAVAK look like children.

The Supreme Leader took my dreams away.

To be immortal, I need you. I need May.

I need the Hindu and the Christian.

I will ask the UK how to play the Muslim card.

The Queen remembers India. I’ll arrange a meeting. It won’t be hard.

The spring which never goes away

Is all. Paradise is something paradise makes.

I will have as many children as it takes.

In hot white breezes, the green flower stem shakes.

If this poem seems anti-war,

Pardon me. We’ll take another tour.

The poet, though dying, can change his spots.

We can change, the sweet historian connect the dots.

 

 

 

 

SEE

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Now, Rosalinda, it doesn’t matter.

The echo has faded, the exhibit is gone,

The rusting boats in the park are abandoned, a splatter

Which was a bodily spill of some kind

Has fled to the curator’s mind.

The statues are cold and lonely along the lawn.

The jokes which kept us going are forgotten.

The sub-dean’s dignity was exposed as rotten.

The minister’s mansion tumbles down the weedy hill.

Everything is corrupt, and corrupt inside of me.

You and I, we had our fill

Of you and I. We failed—neither gracefully nor gently.

Oh sigh. We see: our life is the depth and solidity of the sea

Covering all, except itself. See?

I CANNOT DESCRIBE IT TO YOU NOW

The clouds were worried. Understanding the sky had taken days:
Over the ocean, the high reach of the evaporated haze,
Clumping into cumulus, struck colder, drier air. Mutability stays.
The mountain range, large enough to cause problems, loomed
Over the lower currents in hulking silence; the dissolving atmosphere,
Wind and friction, ambassadors of change; the warming sun, all had a storm in mind,

Making me feel that I was a weather system. Well, wasn’t I?

You hadn’t told me anything. My kisses were about to rain.

THERE CAN BE NO PERFECT WOMAN

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There can be no perfect woman.

You can’t put a handsome, regal head

On this swimsuit model’s frame—

It would look ridiculous. Beauty

And brains together are most desired;

But beauty is the end, and brains plan;

The two of them so at odds, finally, that one idea

In a woman proves fatal to a man.

The future of all races require breeding,

But why should women perform

The one thing which is the norm?

Muslim women can. A pretty face

On Vogue can’t save the Christian race.

The man is culpable. If he should impregnate

A woman who doesn’t want his child, it is too late.

Abortion is always the man’s fault. What is sad

Is anti-abortion is perceived against women

Instead of what it really is: against men who are bad.

The Hollywood actress says, “my body is nobody’s

Business but my own.” But there’s two bodies.

There really is a body inside the body.

I grow old. I grow old. Beethoven is undoubtedly the best.

Listen. The clouds are gathering. How beautiful it looks in the west.

 

 

 

 

THE DOUBLE FEAR

Image result for deer in dark woods in renaissance painting

When I came looking for the deer,

She and I were simple predator and prey.

It might be said I felt a kind of fear

To lose her; hers? It made her run away.

I feared starvation. I held my breath,

Creeping towards her—and away from my—death.

One death dies inside the other.

To keep from dying, climb the hill,

Wait by tree and shadow. Throw the spear.

The first creature of the world must kill.

When I approach you, you strangely move.

You fear my love, but also fear I will not love.

I AM JUST AS GOOD AS YOU

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I am just as good as you.

Even commie scum have their pride,

And being just as good as you

Is how—completely naked—they hide.

You have other things to consider,

Your complex relationship is difficult

To summarize. You know you love her.

Seeds are lost. Houses crumble. Flowers wilt.

You love the rare, and the few—

But he has one broad agenda: to be just as good as you.

Not like you, but as good as you,

And that’s where the pride comes in,

The cunning. The emotion. The sin.

He will put communism in the church.

He will drag the shah from his perch.

He will leave modernizing allies in the lurch.

He will go to great lengths to be equal.

If he loses, there will always be a sequel.

He uses all space and time

To do something about your rhyme.

He will hire critics to say your style

Is antiquated. If you laugh, he will smile,

If you smile, he will laugh. He’ll go down

To the depths of hell,

To the Strait of Hormuz, and almost drown,

Or pretend to drown, and people will say

He loved the people. He has your face.

There’s just a little bit more disgrace.

There’s not as much history today.

People hate, but they want to be good, too.

That’s all he wants, you know.

Right now, that’s all he wants.

To be just as good as you.

 

LOVE SAID THIS TO ANGER

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Only when I was angry, was I in love with you.

But my angry moods were just too few

To really be in love with you.

I remember when I was in a rage,

A poet in a prose cage,

Saying to myself, “This will never do.

My silence! And others talking to you!

You, a smiling rose,

Lovelier than anything described in prose.”

I wanted to whisper in your ear,

“Here is beauty, and for this beauty, poetry is here.”

Admiration is worship. Is worship sin?

No—but her worship of me did me in.

Worship occurring mutually at the same time

Occurs only when looking and kissing; my rhyme

Was not returned by her; but a look and a kiss

Flooded worship. The gods know this.

She was not a poet, but when she kissed

Me, holy books sat, unread. And were not missed.

She was mine; I could not look at them.

Water fed the roots, and then the stem;

The rose was no longer the poetry;

Her lips pressing mine, poetry became me.

I could not be angry anymore.

I loved her, adoring her, so she would adore.

I loved. But how was it I was angrier than before?

I whispered, almost with venom, “Don’t you see?

You must kiss me! Adore me! Follow me!”

Happy tyranny! Rage upon more rage grew.

“Unholy kisses, desperate kisses. Every kiss for you.”

I found the secret to poetry and madness:

My rage was changed into love’s gladness,

Mutuality. And inspired sadness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE IS A COVE

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Love is a cove. Protected by hills,

Cities in protected bays thrive,

Every avenue meant for love.

The inaccessible port quickly fills.

The lighthouse blinks love to arrive or leave.

With scientific certainty I can say

I have been unlucky in love.

Whether I neglected, or pursued,

Or combined it in a scientific way,

The beloved eventually found me rude,

And rejected my love and my poetry.

I will say nothing about women. Some are here.

I remember a sunny afternoon,

Watching a friendly ferry slowly disappear.

 

 

A CONSERVATIVE HEART

For Anita Hill

What could she say at graduation?

Be good to those different from you,

Stop violence, work hard. Her name

An inspiration to feminism; so many

Honorary degrees bestowed; but I wonder,

In her heart, is she secretly conservative?

Her graduation talk could have been taken

Either way. It was fine. One glorious cliché.

I wonder if she thought, “there, enjoy that speech;

It means whatever the new york times tells you it means.

Frankly, I’m not who you think I am. If the speech

Was boring, yet boredom is a kind of peace, after all.”

We try. Damn, we try. The humblest lips belong to eternity.

Beneath improvement, vermin propagate;

Beneath headlines, holy understandings flow.

Beneath rhetoric, rhetoric speaks what all rhetoric doesn’t know.

Everyone regrets something they aborted,

Regrets they abstracted a wrong into more wrong.

Didn’t sing. Didn’t just sing the song.

Everyone has a conservative heart,

No matter how left wing, or how vocally they protest.

Everyone has a heart, at least. Everyone knows what is best.

 

 

THE ACTRESS

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You have to see her in person

When some high passion moves her.

Life puts its arms around theater

And crushes it. You cannot fake

What she does. No one could.

She doesn’t fake it. That’s why she’s so good.

No one can call it good. Applause

Would be inappropriate. Don’t grin.

You’re not at a show. No one can win.

She just is. How do you fill up the pause?

She will immediately discern you as insincere

Even before you do anything. “See you next year!”

Her performance is not just seen. It sees.

You are not in the theater. Her life

Means you are in the theater of her,

Which makes a moment to moment mockery

Of you as judge. “You should act,”

Is only greeted by her smirk. “Is that a fact?”

Praise her as talented? She’ll take it the wrong way.

Do you think she likes doing this every day?

She doesn’t. You are absolutely mesmerized.

But she hates it when you’re surprised

At how good she is. She is not a play

For you to watch. But she’s so natural

You can’t help watching. Never knowing what to do or say.

Theater as life as theater, as life, where

Does it stop? This is how you make

Artificial love. And yet, nothing is fake.

It’s all natural. She’s waiting. Over there.

I want to make her angry. Just to see

What anger is. But then she would be angry at me.

THE JUDGMENT

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Judging her beautiful, my judgement is what joys

To find her in my arms.

Judgment is not dour, for how can a judge be dour

When judgement approves of all these charms?

I judge her sweet when she is coy.

I judge her reticent lips the sweetest I know.

I judge her wise—for she says kissing is best

When kissing is slow.

Poorly I judge to ever judge the rest:

If she fears I will love another.

She is poor at judging books.

She fears my judgment if it judges her—

She fears judgment when it smiles and looks.

All the world is hierarchical.

Beautiful less—or more—beautiful.

She fears the more descending to the less,

And since she cannot judge—she can only guess

The beautiful will descend to the less.

Once judgement starts, judgement cannot stop,

And when joy is too familiar, the highest joy must drop.

During the judgment, the judged can only wait.

But judgment is more than judgment—it make things improve.

Judgment and improvement, our fate.

Judgment makes things love.

Everyone judges. Judgment eats what does not judge well.

I love her with open eyes. She closes hers in hell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I CAN FIX THIS

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I can fix this, you’ll see.

The best always starts badly,

The dry and handsome starts wet and small.

If you didn’t start as a little shit you wouldn’t be here at all.

I can fix this. The self-correcting is the whole

Spirit of harmony in the arts, social relations, the soul.

Young, I got drunk, to be that bull, to find that cow.

Now I avoid people, and don’t get drunk. I’m different now.

When I was young, I wrote poetry, but didn’t converse.

Now I talk poetry. And it keeps getting worse.

But wait, getting worse isn’t bad.

A little insanity is good when one knows, and one is sad.

You’re realistic. You’re careful. You sit around and mope.

At least when one is insane, one has hope.

I’m feeling best when I do anything to win.

That’s why I have this grin.

You smile, but you’re miserable within.

But I know. After a long cry, you too, want to win.

The experts will talk about strategies for hours:

Don’t ever say you love her, they say. Don’t bother with flowers.

Don’t make it easy for her. Make it hard.

This is guaranteed: Put your own personal poem in a card.

But this is what I finally learned, after the passion and the sin:

Sobriety. No derangement of the senses. No intoxication.

If they’re drunker than you, you win.

 

 

A SIGH SINCERELY SIGHED

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I saw a lady in an emptying train, sighing.

Troubles are infinite,

But when you see someone sigh, sometimes you know why.

The exiting passengers filed past the lady;

She was in no hurry to leave her seat.

She was sitting there sighing, this lady;

Had she sighed to her lover, it might have been sweet.

But this was no sigh of love. The lady

Was no longer young, and the lines

On her face, I could see, had come

Only in the past few years.

Everyone wants to be beautiful and young.

This is why she remains in her seat,

And the sigh she sighs is more sad than sweet.

She knew she would never be young, again.

Some miseries are greater than others.

Age is the worst thing that happens to us.

But something tells me, I don’t know why,

I stopped for a moment, when I heard her sigh,

When I sighed, because she sighed, I thought,

As I left the train, in the station, I thought,

The world is going to happen again,

With the very same ladies, and the very same men.

 

YES. HER DAY. A MOTHER’S DAY POEM

Where are the geniuses today? Techno-leisure has created such a mass of dweebs

Who have no poetry in their soul, it’s hopeless to look there.

Genius happens between the voluntary and the involuntary:

You refuse to take an intoxicating drink

Or join in on the racist jokes.

“Homophobia runs deeper than we know,” said Norm Macdonald,

The grinning genius, the philosopher of crack and sex.

Philip Larkin reminds me of my middle aged ex,

Estranged from her mother, and with no children herself,

Who likes to hang out with gays.

I sometimes I think of her on Mother’s Day.

Norm is the American Larkin.

Humor and poetry are involuntary answers to voluntary questions.

No guy needs to be racist. No guy needs to fuck another guy’s hairy ass.

I like comedy, but melancholy is my favorite mood, alas!

Sensitive moods makes me sensitive and the delicate listening I require

Is only supplied by myself. Some idiot reviewing Larkin

Said who cares about these boring letters, thousands, Larkin

Wrote to his mother. No, never under-estimate the bare bodkin.

“Yesterday,” that plain dactylic word which opens “Yesterday,”

Can you hear it? YES-ter-day. The moment this homely word

Is sung, you hear complete resignation;

It’s obvious to me Paul lost someone, at seventeen?

Before the Beatles were,

Before the jokey cruelty, the sound and pomp of his fame

Covered up how much this lost memory meant to him,

Covered up the suffering, the despair, her name.

Which doesn’t matter. But then the hopeful

Resoration of the iambic in those ascending notes,

The phrase ending in, “Oh I believe in yesterday.”

This belief is everything. Ironic and beautiful.

And I heard, “yesterday” for the first time, today,

As Paul, in his unconscious may have heard it,

As he was writing his teenage, sentimental song:

“Yes. Her day.” Aren’t humor and love both wrong?

 

 

 

 

 

 

OIL: THE FOREST IS RIGHT, THE TREES ARE WRONG

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The forest is right and the trees are wrong.

I don’t need the singing if I have the song.

You don’t want to fight me, but if you must,

Come at me with trees. I’ve got the forest.

Every decision you make has too much information.

If the courts tie you up, you don’t have a nation.

The trees often make the forest uncertain;

India didn’t want to belong to Britain.

And Britain said, “Good! You know, you may be right.”

Then Britain made the Hindus and the Muslims fight.

The British said, “Oh that horrible Shah!

Now here’s Khomeini. Ha ha ha!”

Speak softly, they say, but carry two sticks.

1953 Iran was no American coup.

The oil to lose was Britain’s. That was MI6.

Britannia lacked oil. Uncle Sam did not.

So the Queen put Sam with Muslims in a pot.

The U.S. manufacturing force of the world is here.

Sly Britain whispers in America’s ear.

Black gold comes from Texas. Yet the Queen

Still owns the world, shining and green.

The trees can prove the forest wrong,

But the forest is all we know.

The British Empire still plays the song.

I connected the notes. But the news is slow.

 

YESTERDAY FOR AN HOUR

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Yesterday, for an hour, I was gay.

Yesterday, for an hour, in the city,

In a scientific kind of way.

In a pure and contemplative mood,

I realized women’s faces

Were less handsome male faces—

So I wondered why I loved female faces

More, as a rule. Was my question intellectual,

A trick of the duality of the soul?

Faced with “handsome,” we call the opposite, “pretty,”

And both, for the sake of peace, are given dignity.

The small chin, the indecisive nose,

The delicate neck: she is my rose.

Women have prettier hair! And dangling ear rings!

And low notes are the same ones the soprano sings.

Worship woman, not from any calculation of more, or less.

Worship woman, and not because she wears a flimsier dress.

We love opposites, but there is only one thing we must confess:

“No man is perfect—and equal is perfect to me.

I love you, darling—and I guess the reason is a mystery.”

The idea of the opposite is strong

And effective, but in truth, the whole idea is wrong.

Opposites have differences, but only one quality as a quality excels:

You, with the uncommon face, you, breathing heavily, isn’t that you?

Only beauty, one as one, announces itself, and tells

The many: this one is the one that matters, and leaves

You surrounded by a mass of sheep, alert, and the lamb, apart, who grieves.

 

THE SCIENTIFIC GOD

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The scientific God told me the origin

Of the universe one morning when gloom

Hung upon the hills. I was the only one in the room.

The scientists were on a holiday

In Bengal. The scientific God had sent them away.

The scientific God was industrious

And knew how industry could aim

Aiming devices at the moon. No amount of fuss

Could fool me behind my back. My name

Was similar-sounding, no matter what tongue

Pronounced it. The scientific God was young,

Young beyond reckoning, in fact.

The secret he told me came from the future,

Where everything is dim and flying apart

To return. An instantaneous rupture

Made its point, overcoming contradiction

In the brain, an excited, momentary, heart.

The scientists were tortured by the odd,

Which was odd inside the odd.

God’s voice in my head gave me chills.

“Faith” and “infinity” are but words.

I listened to the scientific God,

Sinking into contemplation,

As the gloom increased among the hills.

SELFISH POET!

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Selfish poet, I know you would not tell

The sweet things if you found love.

We only hear from you because you live in hell.

The woman you loved, left.

Your poetry is pathetic, bereft,

And you write it to keep from going mad.

Poor wretch. You only make the reader sad.

See how I do it. She loves me well

And I tell her, and I will tell

You, but this will only make you sad.

There’s no help. Every argument is false to the poet who is glad.

 

WHAT YOU WERE LOVELY FOR

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What you were lovely for

Was so I—I could adore,

And, with poetry, add more

Loveliness. That’s what your loveliness was for.

Your loveliness is yours:

Oh! many mansions, oh! many doors!

When you let me sit in your room,

I knew delicious comfort was my doom;

I knew I was the luckiest of men—

But I would never write poetry again!

So I removed your hand from mine;

I refused your pillows and your wine.

I fled! but I still adore, I still adore!

I’m writing more and more!

I built a house of harmony and metaphor!

Let the wine of regret and gratitude pour!

Let me writhe and lie and cry and die at your door

Before you open it. Please open it,

And see, again, what you are lovely for.

THESE PLEASURES ARE REAL FOR ME

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These pleasures are real for me—

But they are not real for you, Rosalinda;

And it’s sad to think that nothing

Is really shared, for if pleasure isn’t shared,

What is? Two looking at a sunset or making love

Still feel a host of things the other doesn’t feel,

Or feels in a slightly different way,

So from one moment to the next

My pleasures, although they fly away,

Are mine to know, and no matter what I say,

My pleasures are not yours, Rosalinda,

Not even the pleasures I’m able to describe,

Such as how this poem gives me pleasure

As I write it, knowing I’ve found a truth—

Alienation is more profound than we know;

Pleasures can’t be shared; they belong

Inside our selves, where pleasure sensors are—

Intimacy is as distant as yesterday’s star.

And poets feel such exquisite shades

Of pleasure, belonging entirely to themselves,

Increased, even by their own poems—

Or decreased by these kinds of thoughts,

Rosalinda, and you cannot possibly see

How I see you by looking in my eyes;

The activities in me are barred to you;

Simple seeing itself is hearsay,

Even to another directly there,

And conversation, false report.

This is a kind of triumph; but only

In my poem, as much as my poem is true,

Eternally. And sad. Was it sad for you?

 

THE PERSIAN

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Here’s the scene where the woman beats up the man.

You have makeup and a camera, so all you need is a plan.

The world cannot be other than what it is.

In our hearts we know this.

A man did what he could, in the beginning, with rocks.

A woman did, too. And today men and women wear silk socks

And complain. The world has groups. The world is still made of rocks.

Progress: shadow governments. Here is the scene

Where things get mixed up.

Damn, we say to each other and laugh, that’s fucked up!

The known terrorist from France flies in. “Ha ha

How do you like your democracy now” —the Shah.

In Game of Thrones a woman beats up a man.

The world’s unnatural. The Persian man

Wants to fix it. He’ll do what he can.

WORDS OF A MODEST PRIEST

Nothing is, but what it’s doing.

Women who shut down as women

Are commonly referred to as “women”

By every kindly and learned reformer

Who wants more rights for “women.”

But how can you enfranchise “women”

When these creatures are not women,

Since they are not behaving as women?

As women they have shut down.

Only acting as something makes it something.

Since these creatures are not women,

By giving rights to whatever they are,

First, you are playing God, giving rights

To creatures of which you know nothing,

But which you ignorantly call “women,”

And second, you oppress all women

By giving rights to what is not a woman.

Only a woman knows what a woman is,

But if she has shut down as a woman,

She no longer knows what a woman is,

But defines herself by kindly reformers

Who define things and name things

Ignorantly. The worst ignorance

Is learned speech naming what it cannot define.

I do not oppose women

When I oppose progress for women

Who have shut down as women. The

Origin and purpose of women defines woman,

Not “progress” for what is merely called

“Women”—which is ignorantly proclaimed

And not understood at all, by reformers

Whose secret desire is to defile women,

To travel backwards, to control and shame.

Beware the cries of “Rights! Progress! Reform!”

Folly will freeze. You deserve to be warm.

 

THE BEST DRUG

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When I’m really angry, I’m drunk.

I lose all sense of time;

I’m not afraid to express myself,

I write a poem right away,

Writing in a fury, not caring if it rhymes.

I’m not afraid of anyone.

Drunk, I cry out, Why? Why? Why?

Idiots! Why do you accept these things?

Artificiality, neglect, cowardice, inefficiency!

And in my anger, I know why

They accept these things.

Addicted to the temporary,

They hurriedly move on.

But I will not.

I am so angry, so angry,

I see everything. I see it all.

You better get out of my way.

I am drunk. My old, polite self was an idiot.

Anger made me see.

That’s the chemical I want

When I am a weak and passive fool again.

 

TO A WOMAN WHO HATES TRUMP

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What is greater than you?

Everything. Marriage vows: saying you may not love,

Circumstances: loveless and sure of it, too,

Choice: preventing your children,

Your childless death sighing in you,

Melancholy: because these things have won,

Beauty: in you, now, a setting sun,

Heaviness: your thighs drag through your day,

Dreams: pointing to everything gone.

There on that great height

Of a cliff, tall in its failings,

You sleep, bereft, and slowly breathing

Towards morning when all that conquered you

Comes to life dully and rudely again.

We are blind. We are not gods, love.

Do we secretly love? You don’t know how I am,

What I see, or how much I love you,

Or that I search for you in old books,

Going to you as a poet, listlessly,

For I have been enlisted by poetry

To witness lovely, lyric poems like this:

Marking your melancholy demise.

Your poem has no irony, no surprise.

Once we were fools enough to kiss,

To bring hectic hell down upon us,

Everyone else turning into a dream,

And now, also a dream, ourselves,

Ourselves observed as not ourselves.

The past regret of present doubt

Seeks you in me, driving you out.

My whole world my whole world hates.

With dry, small steps I ponder you,

When here with another, a life waits,

But I don’t love them, so what can I do?

So disproportionate is my love for you,

Even the present is a memory.

I could lie beside her; she is right here,

But I am pining, against all hope, for you.

No, we are not gods! We don’t guess

The right thing to say, so by accident,

By chance—(fate’s children, cupid is one,)

We might come into each other’s view

And not turn away. I am looking

For any excuse to love you, again,

A child and a child. But fate has taken

Your children. Children don’t like you.

Frowning, heavy thighs and handbag:

Paperwork and lipstick of the lone professional,

The small, beige office, those duties to fulfill,

A life no one really wants, but you will,

Since there is just enough pay

To justify the cost of the commute each day.

Sigh. And barf. To be left alone: that’s how you pray.

We are not gods. You have to do

What the world wants, and the world

Has everything. Everything is greater

Than you. I could put you in a play.

When it ends the audience could leave.

And the sensitive, perhaps, would grieve,

A bookworm like me, feel sorry for you.

But you don’t warrant a play.

Just a beautiful poem. Have a nice day.

 

 

FRIENDSHIP IS NOT GOOD

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Friendship is not good.

It will rival love and confuse love

But it is not nearly as good.

Friendship is not okay.

I need to hate awhile to be in love.

So go away.

To be a friend allows some things

To happen occasionally,

Which thought and poetry

Do much better with wings.

Friendship will let the love

Which really isn’t love

Get too close and find things out

So love is crippled with doubt—

Any discovery doubts the poetry

Every time we speak the poetry.

Love is betrayed

As soon as we step into the darkening glade

Where love wandered off,

But should have stayed.

I will never trust a friend

Since you, who liked me,

Said love should end.

 

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