Time with the Season
Time with the Season
Time with the season: only she doth carry
June in her eyes, in heart January.
---The Spring, Thomas Carew
Three times in my life I’ve heard that cellophane
sound (shrink-wrapping the bloody circumstances
until the words are colorless) standing between a corpse
and an open window on a summer’s day.
I was thinking about what Larry Fagin said
before he died about paradise, poetry and love-
of those poetry being the hardest to hang
on to. The big fish was “all head” and very
difficult to catch, but sometimes twenty years
will go by and Le Monde might report that
a certain Mossad assassination had taken place
near the Eiffel Tower with its one pyramid
eye casting a street lamp onto someone’s head.
Then there was a droning sound of a blimp
above the cars that streaked past as pressure
built up in the forehead. You can’t convince
me that I was sharing in some collective
hallucination for a new season and/or a
companionable nostalgia for the Greeks.
The evening window dreams: as I do with
the sun fading on the magpie brown carpet.
The cupboards were full of colorful cans.
Can the dog stay put or be whistled inside?
I was beginning to catch the writing bug like Dean,
but lacked the bandwidth to take on anything new.
I thought of Spain before Rudy was born,
and the weird phosphorescent void of Lincoln Tunnel.
A slow opening in the sycamores on a sunlit
morning was the only thing between us and
these random propositions and far out worlds
and seasons, more suggestive of affirmation,
fate and the funny scent from the fungus chewing
its way out of boxes—-Psyllid pouring from
car window. Colors coalesce black and maroon,
inspired by Spain and the film we watched
together on BBC’s Channel Four. Anything can be
dispensable and invaluable—-understated
flirtations, a numb sky, oxymoronic phenomena
like “affordable housing”, the evanescence
of vapor, hard water, the beauty of drifting
trash or a spare cigarette lit and cupped
against the wind in a lyrical gesture
all can be reduced to its nuisances, belabored
propositions or a litany of excuses with some
nagging nostalgia for an Iberian shore
taken in small doses. The list is an absolute
good and all around its margins lies the channel
or a new category. That’s how it goes.
All understand the magic regarding what is open
to me in the repetition. But you, dear reader,
are an in depth person proud and sad
with a face for all weathers and seasons.
I think this is an act of repositioning--
or a darkening of responsibility.
In the white sterility of the frozen food empire
I once lost my mind. What remained was sold to
a grocery outfit. White bear of the poles, white
shark of the tropics—-instances of freezing.
The dank foreboding of our wine cellar, now much
bigger, a metaphysical winter of snow and salt.
The idea that money should settle upon me
like a gentle snowfall, but little snows falls in
March. A place holder word adds nothing to
the familiarized working mind. One’s absence
from the social scene is live-able up to a point.
The Zinc Bar made each arm of Buddhism a tough
sell. Poet identities are in decline these days;
Sipping perceptions from the wine basket of inquiry—-
Or what you’d call uneventful French writing.
Recently, I bought an expensive dog,
a French Griffon and an “armoire comme toutes
les armoires”, stuffed with Parking tickets.
Three or four things had fallen into my lap
unexpectedly, a vacation home and some
mysterious ailment causing me to roll over
onto the stone floor by the hotel pool shaded
by a few sickly palms recesses where tireless
minds display their most secretive and affordable
memories. What if the graph of set expectations
was itself unmoored and you no longer knew
Where you were standing?
To remain goal oriented across a span of time
as one does for a dead-line with purposes
unknown. Something you said in passing
about how we can no longer tell the seasons
by the fruit we find at the market. I guess
there was something practical to learn
in the nursery. I was riveted to a view of the
ocean and the beach ball. The wind didn’t
stop. Without identity all is lost, paper is scarce.
If we use less we’ll have little to say.
My affairs turn out badly, the sky papered
over with flimsy nuances. They cross the limit—-
You’d think, by now I’d be used to the rain
stealing the light and the girls in galoshes
waiting for the drug stores to open.
Is ordinary fruit no longer acceptable? Must it be
pomegranate or mahogany antique? Are puzzlers
found only on $ 100 bills? Are the plazas to be unshaven,
trickling down to the poor like a useless tear?
When sitting next to beautiful people the most
endearing object was always you. Anyway, you’ll
never get to know them not even their Christian names,
with the terrible onslaught of breakfasts, brunches
and phone calls, all that schlepping and shelving
because you don’t want anything extraneous in
your way. Some liked the gorging, yet nothing
happened and they flew away beyond a white wall.
Can you keep up? It’ll take weeks to fill you in on
the savory details. Me, I’m doing ok up here in
my crumbling crows nest. Land ho ( I guess) a newly
minted land called Israel, not part of any one person.
Its boulevards go quickly by, flanked by houses
not built to be lived in, flagstones set for you
to walk on or between. A joyful evening on a sad
occasion is better than the reverse, I suppose.
Nights after my father’s death I carried
my briefcase up and down the stairs to a carrel
in the library. Dorm life was sublime, with its moon-
shaped elevator dials. Footnotes come to mind
and a subsequent march in a continuous succession
of goose steps. Then after a month long hiatus
I resumed donating blood to the Red Cross.
Research made everything take longer, even writing.
A parade of authors. As the visible world disappeared
the word, spit or spirit entered my mind like a distant
steam boat. The fan’s steady whirr of where...where?
Lulls, scolds. Come back into the beyond.
The darkness of a plum high in the plum tree
Are a deer and her fawn in early morning
watchful, on “alert” a dream or a naive conceit?
Thinking they are unobserved, they bed down
in the mulch, leaves flickering between light
and shadow. To wander from room to room, so quiet,
a hair descends, steps creak, finger tips
drip heat or sitting errant, a little inscrutable
world in a pinprick. This shelter of neglect
and decades long delay, whiskered white
repairs fall from the sky and exit or enter.
The poor light up the island, whispering the “truth”
about “lonesome” Jim, the tortoise who ignored
his companion for ten years before
attempting to mate with her again.
Then he died. A black bird caught a worm
it could not eat all at once. Feigned affection
bounces right off me shining the x-ray
beam on the paint chips in Van Gogh’s beard,
which may have staved off his madness.
Van Gogh’s leaky jar placed in a marsh,
it’s cross-hatched reflection on the still
surface of the water. The day wore on as if it
had been etched in with a stencil,
or with slanting pencils of sunlight.
I took pleasure in the disorder of the day,
transport, place names, prolonged absences,
now a rolodex of faces, compressed knees,
crowded train, found a seat between standees,
filling of pages. Time bent inevitably without
my knowing, shapes right around the corner.
I went as myself changing course now and then
to make sure I would up where ever.
It made sense to certify myself as baluster,
oriel, book plate or console.
To circle places and things, hover over them,
honeyed, haunted lost names---a table, a swan,
sudden beauty of the sky trapped in a puddle,
Bach, stone, a tree that bore the zig-zag
of branches shagged with ice, toupees of grass
that sprouted from regions still scarred
from winter. All this was throughly researched.
What was broken inside could not
be rejoined to a vertebra of metal.
The city presented itself as a glint of light;
the sky swollen violet, the hue of swollen
gum lines. As a child I conceived of the city
as something behind the border, somewhere
abroad. Every time someone in my family
drove there I would imagine crossing
this border to a place which was new, scentless
and sober. Here everything was out in
the open. At first glance the city seemed
to be without its secrets, but a tension
in breadth and height, nothing else.
Everyone knew that behind the bleakest
facades extraordinary things were happening.
So I linger in certain rooms, seeking the indefinable
something from the earlier life lived in these streets.
Nearly everything that passed through
my hands slipped away, change, pens,
my waiter, who was abstractly preoccupied
with how little time there was. Has it come
to this, at last? I’d prefer a less despairing cup
commemorating my birthday rather than
one pieced together again. Should we pay
fealty to objects or map ourselves in the gaze
of the Medusa with every line of flight across
cornices, flagstones, arcades traveling
inward towards a sovereign spectator
One asks when will I find love?
I don’t know, maybe next Wednesday?
I go along like a bird, staring into the dark
of this soft June if only to traipse through mop
drenched trash with all its yeses and nos.
The breakfast rolls shuffle across the boulevard
until my waiter in a dark vest looks over my bill
with his adding machine. How do flies die?
Virginia said she liked the word breach.
So a word that once existed faded by the end
of Wednesday. My friends come upon
by happenstance in adventures I never had---
That’s the way it went. I wanted to live
my life in such a way that each moment expressed
some connection to the one that preceded it or
at least someone to walk beside.
Whoever is alone by the end of Autumn will publish
sparingly or quit altogether for twenty years
or so to find out how the mind works, others will
spend time explaining the difference between
The New Yorker and a scratchy sweater
This farce of an arcade with coded
patterns for a new season, its arrival
and departure. I tried to refuse the outcome.
I put on blinders and a sleeping mask,
but still the upset came bearing gifts:
a watch, a wallet, Godiva chocolates.
and it wouldn’t stop. When we confronted
it, nothing. A faint smile of acknowledgment.
A few subway maps representing the figure
of the Narcissus projecting himself into
a sphere of influence. A desire
for self reflection leads you to smoke
in the garage which smells like
failure. That one wouldn’t be able to cope
without spending at least three consecutive
days in the city was the unintended
complication of having a home in the
suburbs one could return to. I had long
ago lost interest in the ocean,
the environment, and was out of touch
with just about everybody, starting
with my own family. Friends will confirm
that I’ve been going on about it forever,
without realizing how long it would take
to get there, or that so much would
happen before I did. I’ve tricked myself
into believing in one button saved
everyday even if by age fifty there’s no 401 K
to live off. Cypress and Indigo led odd lives,
often departing from a grid of plants,
a sheen of a dense selection of rose buds.
A rose is an unremarkable plant
for a dog unless another dog has planted
it’s urine on it. The lives of insects those
the size of buttons beneath broken glass tinfoil
dying plants, the wing of death overhead
it’s fly ointment in the bathroom fifty
miles East from Denver. Begin at fifty
and walk backwards. Mother’s trick of forcing
empty ketchup and out fly the words.
You can’t even live. It’s nothing, but
where to plant one’s feet to look for
missing buttons. Isabella of Bavaria made them
very fashionable. Pedestrians could live
or die leaning against the flying buttress
through shadow, dust and fly buzz.
Dickens kept mum about the prospect of losing
it all to death, even though he invented
the cliffhanger, the paperback and Miss Havisham’s
yellowed wedding dress. The wind through
a skeleton had no story to tell, neither
had we, so there was nothing to lose.
Yet the cliffhanger had to be resolved
Magwitch left for the dusty new world
where convicts could lose themselves.
Overall, too dusty, bad insects.