Read the problem
carefully—several times if necessary;
that is, until you understand
know what is to be found, and know what is given.
Decision time again, conscience mocks.
I caress pointed
shivering skin, all pits,
rough edges and hard age.
The dishes chronicle his
as they pile and ferment in the sink,
but ripe steam still surfaces from our dirty
one of the unknown quantities be represented
by a variable, this is an
and must be done carefully.
A frail hunch descends
corners of my mouth.
somehow spirit and mouth alike
became aerobic, my apprehensions,
If appropriate, draw figures or
diagrams and label
known and unknown parts; look
for formulas containing
the known quantities and the unknown quantities.
You decide. Will you dress today,
and what of the mailbox?
Have you visited it recently?
Where hides the
What happened to your
Do something, would
says conscience, hungry.
Form an equation relating the
to the known quantities.
I grab a bottle, his picture
two straws, two ice cubes, a lemon
I scratch the smile from his
eyes like the fake foil
from a lottery card.
and I begin to dance.
I slice the curtains in
pirouette, drop-kick the
choke his cat,
poke holes in his
favorite chair with a screwdriver.
Check and interpret all
solutions in terms of the
original problem—not just the
equation—since a mistake
may have been made in setting up the equation.
I set out walking,
hoping to find him, by chance,
in the liquor store.
ANOTHER NIGHT ALONE
along the boulevard
there aren’t any
cars rush like surf
people walk by
don’t look up
from the table
on the balcony
feet on the chair
with a glass of beer
trying to gather
from the rush of new
and for a single moment
the street grows
and I know
the world stretches
along the neck
along the shoulderblades
IF WISHES WERE POEMS
And I had one wish it would be that I am
given a new mind, and I do not remember
what yesterday does or last or the year before last year.
And in forgetting, that uncontrollable peace reigned
in tyranny over me, and daylight held real delight in
repeated random acts of old fashioned concentration,
and there are no vacancies yet I am fashionably empty.
And that anything, anything is easy.
And that indulgence is prudence
because then has already been, now is rich
and later has left for the day.
LOVE IS NO TOMATO
If only love made the thundering clap and whine
of a balloon deflating when it went.
Maybe then I’d know. Instead, it forgets.
It forgets sweet discovery and falls victim to memory.
It forgets how deft fingers glide through hair, how an
eye can mean so much.
One step after the next, love forgets
It quits talking about itself;
it rolls on its ribs and forgets to say goodnight.
It glances through foreheads and over shoulders
It smiles somewhere else
at something blurred and untouchable.
If only love’s rot left a tangible soft spot, a visible bruise
that I could squeeze, like a tomato,
and know. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so confused.
But its weariness grows like a cavity, or age—
mute pain at first. It forgets the feeling of a warm hand
resting on the back of the neck, a tracing of the navel,
a kiss on the eyelids it forgets.
It forgets its own promises and soon soft Iloveyous
conflate, and ambitious musings convert to mere echolalia
Soon again, nothing-at-all said, and even worse,
Then it forgets its own face for lack of looking,
and what it is becomes what it was and what it used to be,
and Love is nowhere to be found.
THE DEVIL’S CIGAR
Do come to love what needs
no monument and is not new:
same clock buzz to compel you to wake
same house of broken crayons
same mugajoe, same cigarette break,
same sad complaints, the same mistakes;
same dollars leant or lost or spent
to get you through.
is what you all thought
Do come to love the key of G:
be G and G and G, and G—go slow,
when the wind rushes on like a piccolo—
if that is enough for you to belong,
to go along if not get along.
If not in action
I am sorry in thought
it has come to this.
Do come to accept birth as an accident,
death as universal apathy, the soul as inept
beyond perception and conscience,
the past as something the memory
must mute to ease complexity,
and the future
as little more than a settled commitment
to this or that brand of laundry detergent.
And then come back to me.
I’ll be the one with
all the theory; you,
you gather a rhythm
about you. The world
is palpable and
infinite between us.
I’ll think transactions,
numbers, formulas. One
I’ll request from you,
what is the answer?
I’ll believe in logic,
You’ll bargain a rhyme,
toss me a whimpering sound:
the capricious word,
an emotional scrabble,
hoping to be heard.
I’ll promise knit knots.
I’ll hand you closed, one-
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