The Polish Poets

They occupy the recital room quietly—
there seems to be no music—and then—
all at once—the broad strings swell—

On the other hand—their music
sometimes sounds like a kazoo—
that humming—that beautiful

distortion of the human voice—
becoming a buzzing in the brain—
And never far away—there’s an inside

joke—a funny little vaudeville turn—
a dog act—the dogs wearing tutus—
smiling—all the way through it

Eagle Lake

In those old days—it was way out
in the country—at the end of a long dirt road—

after passing through the vegetable kingdoms
of corn and sweet peas—cows waded in the slow

water at the farm across the lake—
the sand on the beach was hot as the Sun—

and I turned brown—as a nut—in those days—
in that week—my spindly legs—my sensible buzz cut—

we never saw an eagle at Eagle Lake—they’d been
dispatched somewhere else—farther north—somewhere

more remote—we stayed in a converted garage—
painted a creamy brown inside—all the surfaces

the color of chocolate milk shake—
our three generations there—at the end

of the day—eating fresh corn—hamburgers—
all my sweet life—I’ve been surrounded with care—

just so I could be there—to see the turning night—
how the unmistakable stars came out—how we each

turned ourselves under the close quilts—until
morning—when the Sun lit the lake—once again.

Before the Storm

Out on the front stoop—
facing West—the artillery

of the weather—battling us—

someone’s probably sending out
TV warnings right now—

What do I care?—

I wait on the stoop—
for the rain to smear

the ink on my page—

blur my words—go ahead—
drop the temperature—drench

me—in the blessed rain—
the rumbling all around—

the flashes of light—

Then—we hardly notice how—
the calm comes too—the calm—

comes—in the drip—drip—drip—

the quiet flashing—the rumble
of the house in all this—

I love every moment of it—

Message

I wanted to send this message
to you—just so you would know—

I was thinking of you—at a time
today when the wide world crashed in—

but I should not say that in my message—
that—would be upsetting to you—

and serve no purpose other than to give you
an opportunity to send a message to me—

Did you know—that Vincent Van Gogh
could send a letter from Arles in the morning—

to his brother Theo in Paris—who would
send a letter back—arriving the next day?

(who says things have changed for the better?)—
and the money would arrive from Theo—

to buy a wicker chair—rough pottery—
a visit to the prostitute for—hygenic purposes—

a meal or two at the little café on the square—
and paint—fat tubes of paint—

enough yellows and reds and blues to cover
a field—or to animate the friendly face

of the uniformed postmaster Roulin—I wanted
to send this message to you—about—

nothing—except—I was thinking of you—
and—I wanted you to be sure of that.

Inventory

Pencils—15—7 without erasers—
11 without lead—3 too small to hold

Paper—lots of paper—acres of paper—
enough paper to cover a parking lot

Vermouth—one-eighth of a bottle—could
put a little flavor in the sauce

Flour—three-quarters of a cup—a muffin—
a twist—a solitary donut

Mail—an abundance of mail—half of it—
slick and sorry—half—serious

Artwork—a few tender watercolors
held up by refrigerator magnets

Books—all these short-lived paperbacks—
wanted to read them—didn’t

Laundry—an endless supply—a 200%
increase from last year—t-shirts that never die

Furniture—lots of chairs—chairs that don’t
work as chairs—chairs sitting out their time

Kitchen utensils—grandmother’s ricer—
a spatula from Italy—one good knife

Dishes—who cares?—coffee cups that came
with a bottle of Irish whiskey

Records—Highway 61 Revisited—Meet the Beatles—
The Best of Taj Mahal—the turntable doesn’t work

Basement—don’t go there—could be—anything—
snowshoes—boxing gloves—a stuffed arctic hare.

All those dead computers—computers that once went—
Yes/No?, Yes/No?, Yes/No?—in fading yellow light.