In the margins of Sadie’s nap
on a humid day with some sun
raising the ante after thunderstorms
this morning and to judge from the cloud
cover in the northwest we may not be out
of the woods yet (yes, this be the verse
supple enough for cliches, as it encompasses
dailiness on the level of toenail clippings
and the umbrella I forgot, then recovered
from the bagel place this morning—not
to mention world events that I have as small
a chance of hammering to the scaffold
of words as I do the ephemeral and all else
of a nature to be missed, lived). More time
in the archives today in strange intimacy
with the dead, Ammons, A.R., his papers
neatly ordered in boxes and folders such
as only the most neurotic person organizes
in life: reading letters, unpublished prose
autobiographies written on yellow
pads, and—but the baby’s awake, I’ll
resume without break here but impalpable
hours shall pass in the meantime:
well! the weather has made a complete
cycle: we went for a walk under
lowering skies with thunder trundling overhead
and made it home just in time to watch the rain
from the porch rather than get drenched:
cats and dogs (uh-huh) and strong winds
took precedence but as the afternoon wore
into evening the clouds broke up
and now with Sadie down for the night
sunlight is spreading long wings
over the back porch and the roofs
of my neighbors to the immediate east:
also had dinner already with my daughter
(we both had spaghetti but I wasn’t the one
who rubbed it all over my mouth and
cheeks) and in a bit Brad will be over,
the mathematician-cum-Blake scholar
and we’ll talk about our work and drink
beers: it’s a good life in the present
tense though you’ll notice I’m actually
either living in the immediate past or else
anticipating: so it goes, we’ve already seen
what happens if I describe each line
by line, though I will mention a steady dripping
somewhere to my left, residue of rainwater
that very occasionally syncopates itself
with a double drop, so if that particular branch
or eave isn’t living in the past, what is:
what I’ve come to like about this kind of writing
is the forward progression or I should say digression:
it’s not exactly narrative but writing every day
enforces a certain order while permitting a certain
freedom to predominate: the illusion
that anything can and will go into the poem:
very different from my novel in which plot
to my surprise is suddenly strongly
asserting itself: that’s fine but let it be
just one piece of the puzzle, not a master
that claims language for its slave: I want
as I’ve said elsewhere always to be writing poetry
by which I don’t mean poetry but that freedom
that discovers its law. Play with paradoxes means
it’s time for another natural observation
but I can’t identify the birdsong only register
that it’s binaural, play for each of my ears
short chirps on the one side long pitches
on the other and the summer evening
just goes on, persists in making felt
the internal tensions of its name.
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Farewell, Barbara Guest .
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