A Trick

(a translation from the Spanish of Jorge Luis Borges)

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Fifty-two cards push real life aside:
flimsy, parti-colored charms
that make us forget where we’re bound to end up in the end.
And who cares where? —we’ve stolen this time, anyway,
let’s build a house of cards,
decorate it, move in, and then play
as we were always meant to play.

Nothing beyond the table’s edges
carries any weight.
Inside, it’s a foreign land
where bluff and bid are high affairs of state:
The Ace of Spades swaggers authoritatively
like Lord Byron, capable of anything;
the nine of diamonds glitters like a pirate’s dream.

A headlong rush of lethargy
slacks conversation to a drawl:
our slow words come and go
the while chance exalts some, lays others low;
the while the players echo and re-echo all the tricks they know:
until it seems that they’re returned—or nearly so:
the crones and cronies and their bony friends
who showed us what it meant to be true Americans
with the same old songs, the same old works for idle hands.

 

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Anyway (poem written with a found pencil)

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I don’t know why
it never occurred to me before
but today I thought
that I could kiss you
something serious
for letting me know poetry
after all is
a respectable thing to love

so even though it’s years on
and you, last time we met,
hated me, anyway
there’s a kiss outstanding
you don’t really want
and I won’t really give

and that’s poetry too
as much as anything is

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Winchester Station

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1.

This train platform
so skillful in the daytime
to lie flat, soak up heat
and breathe it out gently
into shimmering air
by night hardly knows its own name.

2.

It seems like daytime
always comes around again.

3.

There was this kid
was smoking this pack of cigarettes
all the way to the bottom
kept his back to the tracks
refusing all destinations.

4.

They’re inside the train
You know what I mean?
I mean they’ll never understand.
I mean it’s different
and they’ll never understand.
I mean the question is
which is it goes by
you or the world?

 

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As to theories of spontaneous generation

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Time was, we had to be cautious
since the dead world could quicken
and anything was always inexplicably
about to become an animal:
bare dirt birthed worms,
toads sprang full-blown from muck,
and mice could breed
from a stale loaf kept in a quiet cupboard.

We now know that’s not the way of it:
life’s not spontaneous,
but always it’s the product of
some effortful seed
and some intent or accident of sperm;
life breeds life, and furiously
goes on living.

Not magic but poetry.

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what / should I fly

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what

should I fly
unto
my senses

delight
with
crowns and rich apparel

dance and then depart

show
what magic can perform

and do
a thousand
deeds?

I
shall

Faustus 47 unredacted_RedactedFaustus 47 unredacted
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