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Four Poems

BETWEEN myself and a lover of Spenser, there is a chasm for which no bridge
Is long enough or strong enough to withstand the blasting winds.

And if you climb down the side of the chasm to try to ford it at the bottom,
You’ll find at the bottom of the chasm is a RIVER hot as fire.

The source of that river is tears—my tears, wept gnashing my teeth:
Outraged, headachy tears, wept hating, hating, hating …

And yesterday on the subway I crossed my legs so vigorously,
I kicked the BOOK out of the hands of the person sitting next to me.

I kicked it so hard, it left a dent in the roof.
Oh, and naturally the cops were on me in a second …

MADRID! time for a getaway! A little romantic getaway.
Let us hie ourselves to the summit of Rock Glacier Grinding Mountain. 


WAR-weary general, manfully squinting into the sunlight,
Call back your invincible armies. Show mercy to the heathen peoples.

The 580 strophes began as more than a hundred and forty-five thousand,
But I have scissored out all the distichs I judged obscene.

In this universe practically naked of reasons to get to know one another,
We need every excuse we can get …

Young woman walking the road to Rome, with a book of Latin poetry in your jacket,
Come over here and read something aloud, to myself and to my family.

Iguana’s no kind of flower: only a muscular row of thorns.
The dewy red petals are elsewhere. Are in the licking mouth of a dog.

I am going into the prayer room; I am intent on saying a prayer. I have
Memorized the unrhymed sonnet that begs forgiveness of those we love.

In the STONES of a bull stands a House of Representatives.
Togas are still in fashion there—also the axe and the faggot of sticks.

Says MADRID: The buck and the rooster nest in my palm.
Therefore let the foundation of my fame be my openhandedness. 


CROW-in-the-parking-lot knows not to waste words. His mere look sticks a
Fork into the would-be lover’s hand.

In the afterlife, things are cheap. You can buy a team of oxen for a penny.
For a nickel, you can buy two barrels of powder, with match and bullet suitable.

O planet-battering working boot, top-full of ass kicks,
Your Gemini lover has run off. Has stepped out of your orbit.

I will tell the disconsolate their business; I will speak roughly.
I will reopen the metal account book with the names all struck through.

The plush underlip of the Great Male Beauty is tense, has lost its color!
The Great Sensuous Hands are trembling, look! They’re turning back into hooves.

Comes a day we all go naked; all we say will be understood.
The Tempter will go us one better then. He’ll know exactly what to do …

Aw, cool it, MADRID. Set aside that book of cruelty poetry.
Your sins are all behind you—provided you’re backing up. 


THAT she is in love with a wretch like that surely argues she has no soul.
So how is it this soulless creature is everyone’s secret ideal?

Hello, sclerotic maple! Hello, juvenile honey locust! Hello, white ash
Full of hockey sticks, and blossoming northern catalpa!

My mother knocked off a third of her thumb with a just-sharpened army hatchet.
Not a drop of blood but rather a FLAME came out.

She had to hold her hand in a pan of water for upwards of a month.
People came all the way from the next village to watch the water boil.

At Wheaton Woods Elementary, we showed no want of enterprise. We studied
Closely that pair of sexy young teachers smoking in the schoolyard.

And when shall I ever feel more the poet than I do, right this second?
The sky is blue; the bank sign says it is seventy-three degrees;—

And today’s the day MADRID’s to have his head struck off in the zócalo.
All the kids wanna see the giant switchblade of orange fire that’s gonna rocket out of his neck.