Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth
it’s no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners
the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn’t need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water
I wouldn’t want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days
A Supermarket in California
What thoughts I have of you tonight Walt Whitman, for I walked down the
sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious
looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit
supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full
of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca,
what were you doing down by the watermelons?
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price
bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our
solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy,
and never passing the cashier.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does
your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade
to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in
driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you
have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood
watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?
Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir, 1929
How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget’s steeple leaning a little to the left
here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it
and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting’s not so blue
where’s Lana Turner
she’s out eating
and Garbo’s backstage at the Met
everyone’s taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park’s full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we’re all winning
the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building’s no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)
and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining
oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much
Persephone Writes to Her Mother
Tara Mae Mulroy
Mother, he is a gentleman.
He is a builder with bricks of moonlight.
He knows the secret places of the earth.
He washes the sleep from the eyes of the souls.
He lets them look on beauty.
He lets them tell him they hate him.
In the mornings, I gather berries and apples.
I scrub his back with rind.
I weave spider-spit, eyelash.
He talks in his sleep: pudding, fire, discus,
the things he misses.
He breathes, Your body is my orchard.
I am undulating grass.
I am a field of wheat he parts with his fingers.
Poppies bloom in my veins.
When he kisses me, he tastes pomegranate.
The night crawls nearer.
The moans of the dead roll and swell.
Mother, we are well.