States of Poetry 2016
No one is going to come and save you.
And because of this you must fold
your clothes at day's end
despite the urge to abandon them
to the backs of chairs. You must shake
the crumple of sleep from the sheet.
You must clean your teeth. Wash the teaspoons.
Fold your pyjamas too and lay the neat squares
to rest under your pillow of a morning
Timing and manner my mum would always say
and it's true, the how and when override the what
of what's said, and the same is true of poetry.
I don't think people remember their tone when speaking –
other people's yes, but not their own. Tone, like texture, is crucial
for the feel of things – is it honey or cactus, metal or water?
And if the words ...
From his ebony eyrie
the moon is salubrious,
round as the white lotus' root.
The desert's his adversary.
The moon is salubrious
with his godly left eye.
The desert's his adversary,
spiteful, like a hippopotamus.
With his godly left eye
the moon is neither ossuary,
Unexpected on a day like this—
sun shuttling through the 125th Street bridge,
plastic strung in Harlem's elms like tattered wreaths:
unseasonable, unreasonable spring.
Under the red shadow of the Grant tenements
lunchtime noshers clatter china at Bettolona,
dogwalkers spread out on the grass in Sakura Park,
men from the halfway home
drag their deckchair ...