Two Poems

Praise

Your whole life might pass without thinking

of the debt of gratitude you owe, say,

Walt Disney. Thank you, Walt, for Goofy,

the man-dog hybrid, wherever you are

cryogenically contained, cheating death

in that bunker beneath one ride

or the other. In thinking of this, I’m invaded

by happiness. I can’t even sigh

as the autumn sky deepens like your breath,

anonymous former lover, to whom

these poems are always piping

up, in what no one has ever called the armpit

of the night. That means I think

of you when it is unbearably dark

and the world has drawn so close

my face no longer dreams of secret proximities

but of dull air. Thank you, lungs,

for abiding even still, for never leaving

your obscure posts within the pink

shell of my only, my aerobic, my life humming

like heat. And thank you, Godard,

for saying the only things

a good movie needs are a girl and a gun.

In agreement I admit I am

tingling. In the silvered light,

I’m dreaming of the red haired

girl and the murderous gun, like a cannon.

Thank you immense Escalade, thank you German Touareg,

for not running me over each day.

I’m speaking to the dogs who hate me

beyond even animal reason,

thank you in spite of your blessed velocity

and your thirst for oil. I am

thirsty, too, but this is no surprise

to the ones I loved, who helped define

for me the idea of direct address,

for it is your hair that fans out in the waters

of each sad poem and it is your heart

that is amazingly cruel

and thank you, living world,

that you do not cease, that you go on and on and on.

Early in a New Year

Maybe scientists have found Mozart’s skull

and it’s possible one man has brought

back from extinction the miniature zebra

called the quagga, but in both cases

genetic tests are not conclusive. List for me,

would you, what this world knows

about the next. And the ones in a chain

beyond these. Draw out the diagram

that will prove the rate of decay

in that star, that cobalt flickering one

we see each night in bed, and

in the calcium lode that is my femur, my thigh

where your hands, your mouth

have been–show me how it is true

I am receding from you like a star

and I won’t sleep at all. Dissolve

the endless parade of dumb

that is this story I keep professing

each morning. It isn’t me that dreams of me

orbiting the moon like a moth,

I swear. Somewhere within there is

an impudent cell that recalls

some other life, some other apple green world,

and when I am quiet and still,

when I stop speaking out

to the motion of the water ringing the drain,

I hear its story, I listen

like a child and in that darkness the monsters sing.

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