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In what ways

In what ways do you flourish—
in between no longer and not yet,
where what’s not becomes what’s been?
At least I’m not that guy,
asleep in bitterness on a sidewalk
near concrete city steps
on a flattened cardboard box

with a dirty fleece blanket on my head
“She broke my glasses” he says
Then he shows them to me
(lucky me), then to my grown son,
as we wait for the subway train
and yes, they’re broken alright
In a review of a new biography of Nixon

the reviewer said Nixon’s father
was such a bad farmer
he couldn’t even grow lemons
I wonder whether it’s really
easy to grow lemons
The passage here between these
two stops is difficult, slow,

stop and go, always congested
Glasses guy gets on another train
and I’m not sorry about it
Our outward courage is a ruse
Our deep faith only shadows
I see no angel crowns
within these city lights

When electronic games first came
out, Lon’s fingers moved faster
than the console could follow
I willed it so, I made it so,
I argued for it and the only
thing to stop me was, it wasn’t
The relentlessness of sunshine

strikes hard after a loss
Once I found someone with whom
I could interlock
We were perfectly tight
and together like one person,
like a story out of Plato, so little
air was there between us

Grey days better cover
our rigidity and fragility
After she breaks their marriage apart
Cliff stares out the window for a year
he said, and it nearly cost him his job
If it’s precious you can’t command it
You can’t command love

He became bored, crazy
Hopelessly, relentlessly bored
I used to steal quarters from Dad’s
dresser, some of the ones he
saved for the laundry
Now she steals pot from me
Kind of the same, I think

At the airport they won’t sell
me my ticket—“You can’t go there
I sold your seat to someone else
So sorry—you can go tomorrow maybe”
They would put Robert Lowell in
a straitjacket when in one of his fits and
take him to this temporary jail

There, confined with other madmen,
he was given over to the doctors
who, after a few months, some
shock therapy and some drugs
would set him free again
“Why can’t I fly there today?
I reserved my ticket yesterday”

There was this little apple tree
I thought it would last longer than me
Not true—a freak tornado ripped it up,
its little fallen yellow ornamental apples
strewn all over the sidewalk and street
So I wiped one off and tasted it
Not bad, little tree, not bad

 

 

 

-April 8, 2017-