States of Poetry
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 ...
—for Vera Pavlova, in Mexico City
On the bus to Teotihuacan, we turn
a new god's name on our tongues
like a charm, jagging past
chocked over the motorway,
grey pixels stacked so high they merge
with the smoked white Mexican sky—
then a guitar player in the aisle
begins a song whose only familiar
Bebop sparkplug spurred in withershins,
loop-de-loop interloper, he hop-steps
ravines of bark, shirking faultlines,
going solo, headstrong, scion of impatience,
juddering like the stalled engine
of prop-plane on tundra runway, skirting
and skimming up, peeling out,
reeling in spiral, spy, scout, prematurely
thrusting into the unknown, Magellan