No story

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There were never two men named Charles
in spite of what they both said
there were never two wives of two men named Charles.
There weren’t four children of two wives of two
men named Charles, and they didn’t
have eight pets, and forget about everything
you think you know,
nobody ever gave them sixteen names
thirty-two Christmas presents
or sixty-four walks around the park.

None of that ever happened.

 

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There you were

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There you were
helping your friends
who were not yet married
before their reception
by cutting something small
smaller,
carrots or cucumbers,
something.

You were being mindful
of the knifeness of the knife
and how strange it was
not because it cut
but because of the way
it cut

and in consequence
you were working
slowly,
holding up
everything and everyone
that depended on you.

I loved you for
your mindful sluggishness,
and how you were unconscious
of your beauty
in the beautiful moment

so now
I think sometimes
how if that beautiful moment had lasted
I might have married you
and you me
and how eventually
someone else would have had to take over
for both of us.

And I think:
how lucky
one moment
doesn’t lead to the next.

 

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Now it occurs to me

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Now it occurs to me that some day
our son who is about to be born
will wear this knit cap
that was given to me
quite some time ago
by someone I was in love with
quite some time ago
and I’ve never told you this.

There’s keeping and then again
there’s keeping it to oneself
but sometimes I think about her
and what it was like to be in love then
and how it was different
from what it’s like to be in love now

and that some day our son
who is about to be born
will wear this knit cap
and he will not know a thing
and you will not know a thing
and she will not know a thing

about it, the way the yarn
follows the yarn.

Won’t that be something?

 

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Paris was fine

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Paris was fine,
though the girls stared at us
whenever we took the bus,
and the bus we boarded
was never going to our destination.
Paris was fine,
and then we left it
and haven’t thought of it once since then.
Until today
Paris was just fine.
But today there were
these girls on the bus
who cast knowing glances at me
all the way, who giggled and
who as they got off
spoke loudly to each other
in a language I didn’t understand;
who left me on a bus
that wasn’t going to my destination.

 

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Scylla and after

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Εὐρύλοχος:

… and said, “Trust me so all ends well!”
So we prepared to follow, yet again, Himself.
Turned out he was no wiser head, who, wanting but support,
Would steer us safely through the strait.
We hesitated once, though, I recall

And might have done any of three things, then:
The first thing, or the second one,
Or else what finally we did, which now
At least we can rule out
As an effective plan.

We could have fled; we could have gone
A longer way around; or else we could have done
What, as I said, we did, which was
To follow orders, rise above,
Pull oars, and carry on —

Only to see our shipmates, one by one,
Grabbed up and gobbled as their ship raced on.
Now, our surviving few starved and marooned,
Captain Nobody having gone off to commune
With some god or another, what’s there to be done?

Meantime these farting cattle, said to be the Sun’s,
Grow fat as we grow leaner. I say, Come!
Has any sign we’ve had yet been this clear?
Men live on beef, not prayers.
Then let us do what’s clearly to be done.

***

Their Captain slumbering in the hills, his men
Put flint to iron, steak knives to the hone;
Meanwhile the gods, as ever fanciful and grim,
Brush up on animating carrion,
Seeing (they always see) what’s to be done.

 

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Some tasks can’t wait

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In the back yard the girl is digging a hole
to China, while in the lavender the bees mutter
in anticipation and in the tree red winged blackbirds
flash their epaulets. The girl strikes gold!
The bees hum out the news, the blackbirds flutter
semaphore. Now for the hose, the hole wants to become a lake.
Did mother call? The birds, the bees, the girl pretend they haven’t heard.
Doesn’t she know about digging holes? Some tasks can’t wait.

 

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The birds gave autumn up

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The birds gave autumn up for dead
But made a song before they fled
Here are the words they sang and said:

Oh, no, it’s the end of the world!
Oh, no, it’s the end of the world!
Oh, no, it’s the end of the world!
Let’s scatter the nests and fly away!

The frogs have sunk and turned to stone
The seeds are sleeping, each alone,
The rest of the world may do as it pleases
When we are gone, gone, gone, gone.

But Spring hatched from December’s nut;
The grass turned green and the ram sprang up;
The birds returned from where they’d flown
Acting as if they’d always known;
The frogs from their stony sleep uncurled
And the birds made song for the beginning of the world.

 

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My morning commute is not just as it seems

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If things are as I suspect
There is another world
Where I am the lover
Of the driver
Of the morning bus

Where he awoke predawn
And slipped from our bed

Where a thread of lamplight
Shone under the door
And I heard the soft
Beginnings of the day
As he made coffee
I’d drink later

Where I shut my eyes
As if in prayer
Pulled the bedclothes
Around me like arms
That smelled comfortingly
Of last night’s cigarettes
And sex

Where I lay quiet
Until I heard his cup
Set on the countertop
Until the light went out
Until I heard the door
To the other world open
Then heard the door
to the other world

Shut.

 

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There was that morning

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1.

Then there was
that morning: you, the sun;
and I woke

thinking: the world
will always be this way
full of you.

2.

The waiter came
bringing perfect coffee, perfect spoons,
not knowing yet;

took one look
and gave you your name
saying: Happy Girl!

3.

You, oh you
were my first only; be
my only last.

 

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He said we would meet

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She lingered by the marble stair
till it was full night
and the dew had soaked her stockings
quite through.

Waiting for what?
As it turned out,
only to sit at her window later
watching the moon go down.

 

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