Give Us This Day Our Daily Pain

God supervises
the pain the son feels
at the father’s anguish
when the ghost in the mirror
slaps him awake but then
the boy walked in his sleep,
making speeches that sounded
like a gangster imitating Gertrude Stein.

I made him lunch, drove him
home from school. Evening fell.
“Look at the lady in the window,”
he said. I looked, saw a lamp post,
curved on top, with a muted amber light,
and she glowed.

An Ecstasy of Woe

In the mirror of the snowstorm
The second in four days,
We walk in an ecstasy of snow
And the mirror dissolves into a lake
Or it sends back an image
As unlike the author
As the author can manage,
A man of courage and truth
On paper,
A foul-mouthed drunkard
In life,
Or a poet terrified of death,
For only such a one
Would dare to describe it
As “an ecstasy of woe.”

Something Falling Slowly

for Stacy

you remember to water the plants.
It is raining in one window
and snowing in the other,
and the violinist in the alley
is happy because we’re listening
to Debussy’s La boîte à joujoux
playing the parts of
the toy soldier and the pretty girl,
the snow coming down
more slowly now so much more so
you get to examine each flake —
that’s happiness
something slow, something falling slowly.

New Year’s Day

It’s not every day you embark
on a chronology of sonnets
and other poems lasting fourteen lines
or so, observing no requirement other
than the music of the spheres of their influence.
Yet each makes us feel it’s a sonnet,
each day exhibits the poetic logic of a sonnet.
On New Year’s day, you wake up refreshed
though you’ve had hardly any sleep.
The adrenaline of the evening, the piano,
the whiskey, the snow saw you through.
The threats of sabotage were real
but none came true. We were happy
just for the sake of being happy.

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