– January 1, 2011
I’ve heard enough of nightingale and thrush,
of trees and long, deserted country roads.
They’re beautiful, of course. But just as lush
are city lights, its traffic and its crowds.
There’s music in a subway’s clatter, sparks
from the third rail make subtle melodies,
and car alarms seem tuned to distant barks
invisibly conducted in major keys.
A steal baton clicks when the streetlights snap on
shifting the rhythm, and the city’s theme
changes to night, wind twirls a paper scrap,
lights flicker, keeping cars and people in time.
Every spontaneous decision blends
or counterpoints, even an accident
is part, where someone’s final note descends,
revising over and over what it meant.
All day long at work I pass the window
and steal a look at that far world outside,
thinking of all the lives, of all the places
I hope to know or visit before I’ve died.
Toward the end of the day the window darkens,
and when I pass, only see my reflection,
and think that dying might be like that: turning
from the world to a long, dark introspection.
Words fall from me
dropping around my feet,
pages of them
scattered and in retreat.
discolor, harden and scratch,
limp through the lines,
through the crippled syntax.
I hold my tongue,
put aside the pen
and fall asleep
until it’s light again.
Curse the fool and everyone of his kind,
Curse the halfwit, the dolt, the crass and crude,
Curse the philistine who misses his cue,
The boorish and the bore who think they’re refined,
The dull, the overly polite, the overly rude,
Everyone afraid of something new,
Of art that offends them, questions what they know,
The gutless, passionless, lingering prude
Who condemns you for having a drink or two —
A plague on your houses, and everywhere you go: