The dog cannot walk
straight to the door.
He must weave under the table
only from the right.
If we move the table
he still follows the same path.
The cat has worn a narrow path
between the yards. It follows
the line where the fence used
I stop for coffee
although I have decided
to give it up. I go through
the motions. Set the cup
before the well-known faces of
the beggars .
I do not even know
that I have not given them what
I could not speak to
your blessing on Monday
voiceless I did not raise eyes
and still you were calling
lifting your arms as my head
hung more and more
why turn away
only to be?
JUST LIKE THE DOGS
when I hear you come home
I want to bark--
whine if you don't come to me--
wriggle under your hand, tail wagging,
if you do.
towards mid-summer, late afternoon
where sky and sea
Merge in a haze of light
Like some new York abstract expressionist painting
Just before it completely transcends the figurative
That's when we chat pleasantly to each other
With an "I hope you didn't forget
The beach umbrella"
The one with color blocks
Green, blue, yellow, red
Next to the lime green
Hull of the sailboat
Beached, bare mast
Looking like a French Impressionist
Painting just before
It completely loses the narrative in mist
And something towards the horizon
A dirigible? A parachute?
And the P-town Pilgrim Tower
On the promontory curving around to the right hand corner of the view
And people I don't know playing on the sand
And the sea's debris, like a cast away dream...
At the beauty parlor I sit with my sister,
My nephews get their hair spiked,
My daughter her nails painted blue.
It's Saturday, in Ohio
We can almost believe
Nothing will ever be shocking or new
But the flyer
By the check-out counter
Announces the Lutherans
For the family
Of Connie "killed in a water accident"
And her daughter Katie,
People we don't care about, or know.
Still, there's a little chill
Of recognition of our common fate
Like the strange copper contraption
The receptionist has brought back
From a beauty convention in Vegas
That we take turns with
Sending a shiver up each other's spines.
I say I want to see the mounds,
More typically, we end up at the mall.
Towards dark, and after ice cream cones
Says he'll drive me by
One mound left between suburban houses.
Great builders of the Mississippian civilization
Built these ziggurats of sod
Buried dark burnished pots, and kings.
It's gone--almost all of it,
Plowed for fields.
We can't actually see it
In the dark.
Still, the historical sign
Proclaims it is there
In the development--
Something we know remains within us.
There is this war going on inside me:
Microscopic beings in white jumpsuits wrestle bacteria
which must look like dust mites, all claw, too many eyes, stooped.
Like a Western brawl, I feel them rolling against walls, turning over
tables and breaking glasses. Every 12 hours brings reinforcements.
Jeeps pull up: Bleached soldiers combat intruders, mano a mano.
In a way, I feel bad. The bacteria found a home here, they liked my cell
exhausted blood, unrested mind like a southwestern sunset's extreme
purples and blues.
"We'll camp here for a month," the lead alien shouts. "You with the phlegm
get going!" A drenched lieutenant asks, "What about the onslaught of honey
"Harmless!" the chief laughs. Their furious work a forced vacation for me. In
you might root for them, your heart held in suspense as the blood stream,
like the Potomac, empties bald revolutionaries into the sleeping camp,
camera capturing squeals, last quivers, one remorseful on its back.
Work done, GIs collect feathered corpses and ride the river out,
launching into their signature, "We hail thee, Mme Curie,"
rousing harmonies lighting my nervous system like Vegas at night.
And at dawn, oxygen blows in, a front erasing all signs of battle,
a strange calm, save sunlight on tiny binoculars.
Corporal, I am well now, I say. Go home.
Frank O. in AA
For poet Frank O'Hara (1926-1966)
Hi, my name is Frank.
And I'm a... curator
at a big museum
where one day I saved
Monet's Water Lilies
as if all that blue
could burn! It's really
Oil. Turpentine. Cloth.
All I could think was:
Hi, my name is Frank.
And I'm a... poet
although some might not say so,
Robert Lowell, for instance,
who hates Lana Turner.
Sometimes I think
my friends John and Kenneth
are better than me but they adore
whatever I write.
Hi, my name is Frank.
And my mother is an alcoholic.
Must I talk about her? Evil awful woman she is.
No one to help her or
me for that matter:
She like a sandpiper avoiding waves
but I love the beach,
wet sand and pounding cold Atlantic.
You're going too fast, I tell the driver.
I saved Monet,
The arrival of old age
doesn't bother me,
less hair . . . . less energy,
ever-fading callow attraction.
What really bugs me
is misplacing my dictionary
in a brief moment of distraction.
Especially, the effect or affect
on Sunday nights,
when Saturday is a blur
and sleep, a Thursday memory.
And Monday, when I awake,
forget it was missing,
rush to my brother's house
to walk his Alaskan Mahmaluke;
and it's not there, but he is,
and has been, a week back from vacation.
Ann Cefola's work has been published in Confrontation, the Louisville Review and California
Quarterly. In 2001
she won the Robert Penn Warren Award judged by John Ashbery.
r.j. savino is a native Long Island poet by desire and bank officer by need. His poems have appeared in
literary journals including the Babylon Review and the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Dr. Kelley White has been widely
published and is a pediatrician practicing in Philadelphia.
Once of New Jersey but now long gone, Miriam Sagan's recent books include
ARCHEOLOGY OF DESIRE (Red Hen) and THE WIDOW'S COAT (Ahsahta). She is Editor of
Santa Fe Poetry Broadside, an e-zine at sfpoetry.org