Of course, there are armies, when aren’t there?
And a falling-down house with cutaway walls,
that reminds you of a bombed-out building
you might see on TV. Fantastic that
some people keep crowding out others,
when some have too much and others, all
but nothing. Too much, it seems, got its way.
The boat of the oligarch is bigger
than the dreams of the beery captain. Ahoy!
Look at these gifts, so lavish—silk, fur, jewels,
stiletto heels in six colors. The oligarch’s wife
will wear a pair to the gala. Pushkin Bridge is
falling down falling down falling down. Do
not forgive them, they know what they’re doing.
Adoration of the Magi, Hieronymus Bosch, ca. 1485–1500
The sky tells you it’s spring. It must be
true because its blue is that of a doll’s
blue plastic broom from some other-
time. You touch it, you keep it
in your memory cache, an attic infested
with bugs. Spy in the house of yes.
I worry that it’s too easy to make monsters
and gods out of clouds. I have hated
my failings that failed to make good
on the heaven I’d hoped to invent.
The long wintering-in is/was difficult.
That icing over. Today, I’m at home.
The sun’s the color of a canary
in a mind shaft. A yellow jacket laughs.
Penitent Magdalene, El Greco, 1576–1578
for Lucie Brock-Broido
The transient snow in a shaken globe was making me think
of the Moscovian dome, below which,
in a small private room called a cubiculum, I’d read
they had buried an empress’s golden hair.
After she’d died, after “They inquired eagerly
for the tsarina, but she was nowhere to be found”—
From the Remotest Periods to the Present Time.
Snow becomes rain under the overhead rainforest
showerhead—drop by imbecilic drop dripping
onto a broken stone floor. About the absolute fracture
that death represents, my brain believes in what I believe:
like any animal, we make our way. Amphibian. Reptilian.
Mammalian. Some days more than others, I put away one
moment and up comes another, a replenishing
gold Virgilian bough. Outside, snow engulfs the asphalt,
the sidewalks, the drivers. In a second, it seems
a million trains enter and exit the tunnel.
The flood-protective walls rise, a tower of torn eaves
over a storm-drenched oubliette. The dome dissolves,
leaving only the ineffable portion of this time and the idea
that we who are still here have kept what was left of her.
The Theory of Personality
Is change even possible? The color of the sky
can be altered by a blue-dot sugar cube melting
on a tongue. Someone’s green glove decapitates
a daisy (deadhead removal of a dead flower
head). The petals gesture: she loved me once,
she is no longer. In some languages, a window
is said to give—as in the window gives onto
a forest or a backyard garden. A pale yellow
chrysanthemum can stand in for the sun above
the same window but it won’t give light.
A fashion craze for leather pants can easily
alter your view of skintight. There is, of course,
that surrealist train, the one that is continually
leaving the station while staying right where it is.