On the single side of my art song—my parodic air—the loveliness is perfect
because I am “last in the line.” When you sit there pondering how you got
from here to there, you forget to be there, and the years hurry by like birds,
yet without wings.
Maybe that is what poets mean by the grass between the toes: it is the kind of beauty
that strikes me as singular, and then makes me forget where I was going.
Could that be the air I am inhaling, that gorgeous little dew, the sort of fragrance
that one asks questions about. That one is good, and leaves you for another week.
I am not asking about the individual, about the wit or the sex, that one; the other
thinks she is too good for poetry and wants to hang out her pants.
The trees on Central Park West have not only dimples, but very high struts.
Many passers-by make like jumping spiders and creep along the white beech bark,
tearing off the strange multicolored pods that are the leaves of the American locust
and varnish the unenclosed bark.
For a while they seem to be all yellow, then the green reasserts itself and they all turn red.
Red like earth, red like hell. I say what I mean. Why do we make so much of appearance
and so little of meaning? If you were to sneeze on a weekday you’d make a million dollars. I’m lucky
to get one or two dollars a day for my poems, and that’s all. All my life, I’ve been scraping
and clipping in hundreds of un-sexy places. I once walked out of an interview with a magazine
that had hired me because I was willing to work for peanuts. So I said to the editor,
“I think you have the wrong guy. I’ll get a job in a steel mill, or on a frickin’ airplane,
anywhere I want.” He seemed to like that, but I can’t remember what the magazine did later. I suppose
it was less than they wanted. But that’s what I mean by avoiding the cheap. I mean always for the mind
and the intellect, as if one day the outer world were going to fall apart. When it does, maybe it will be like a tenement balcony—the floor’s going to fall out from under us.
My best poems are about love and death. I think my best poems are about women and death.
The romantic poems give me pleasure. I don’t want to forget about them; I want
to love them. I don’t want to kill them; I want to hold them.
A love that is not really love doesn’t interest me.
It is interesting to see the Queen of Sheba swat away a red and yellow butterfly that comes to you
and likes to rest on your shoulder.
But there are different kinds of love—one that wants to hold someone in a tight embrace even though
you both know that someone is going to shake loose—one that wants to hold someone
even when she’s going to leave—one that wants to hold someone when she has long learnt the fine art
of saying no.
I’m always looking for “the little door.” But there is no little door, and if there were,
I’d probably find something I’d rather do.
:: 03.24.2021 ::