March 26, 2015
An acute sensation of falling
for and into a black hole:
a soft focus abyss, otherwise known as bliss.
Or a train wreck, carrying hazardous waste,
something I can look forward to
looking back on with distaste.
Constantly fighting funny familiar feelings of futility,
trying to put the brakes on the morbidity,
but it keeps rolling down the line.
And as I watch it disappear,
life as I have long known it,
becomes all the more precious
and acutely defined.
March 12, 2015
Outside, a sparrow sits on the telegraph wire,
a stray dog limps across the sidewalk.
And that is the extent of nature in these parts.
Silence drills through me, birdsong flickers in the air,
overlaid by the constant drone of traffic and tinnitus.
Urgency fades into futility, and once again I find myself
on the verge of giving up before I have even begun.
If I could see myself sitting here –
a lazy perfectionist sinking into the unseizable day –
barely engaged in the pretense of activity,
I don’t know whether I’d laugh or cry…
or remain numb.
March 6, 2015
Shakespeare, Proust, Kafka, Camus, Orwell, Gissing: What do each of these distinguished authors have in common? They all produced a lot of great work, but surely their most important unifying quality is that they were all younger than me when they died. I have outlived Keats by a quarter of a century: that’s a morbidly sobering thought. But let’s leave poets out of this. In the time it took Balzac to write 91 novels, covering every aspect of the human condition in its myriad complexity, I have produced two very slender volumes of poetry, addressing a rather more limited sphere of activity… or rather inactivity.
March 4, 2015
I wandered the pre-dawn streets of St. Louis and breakfasted at a cafeteria called Miss Hullings, where I pushed aside a plate of lukewarm scrambled eggs. A man at a neighboring table repeated a bitter litany over and over to himself: “You lied to me and deceived me… I’m going to miss you.” I fell asleep with my head on a thin pillow in a room on the sixth floor of the Mark Twain hotel on 9th and Locust. I rose in the middle of the afternoon and wandered through a deserted warehouse district by the river, along the landing, and up beneath the arch. Darkness fell and I returned to the cafeteria. The same heartbroken man was still sitting there, although at a different table. “Selfish bitch,” he mumbled to himself, “you’re a beautiful person in a lot of ways… I don’t need that kind of love… what have you got to be mad about?”