Fate, about which Breton and Eluard asked in an issue of Minotaur:
What was the most significant moment
of your life, and did you recognize it at the time?
Sunflower. Clocktower. Love revealed,
not pursued. Umbrella. Sandwich. Despite ourselves.
Panda we drove to the party from the church, Kathryn
between Robin and Geoff. After the festivities we headed south,
tried to sleep in the car. There are no real pandas
in Ireland, but there are badgers. One came snuffling around
as we sat in the patio finishing a bottle of wine. It was looking
for table scraps, as we almost always were, too.
Ulysse we took to Sulmona to visit Ovid’s birthplace, to walk
cobbled streets strung with Christmas lights, to buy confetti
almonds gold-wrapped as grape-cluster, pussywillow.
On the way to the Parco Nazionale, rain and hairpin
mountain curves sent a sedan fishtailing into us. The carabinieri
wanted to know if there were bears
in the part of America we came from. Yes, we said,
many bears. Man-eating bears? Yes, of course,
many man-eating bears.
Fragment, I am a fragment of us. I am a fragment composed
of fragments. Mosaic, pastiche, ruin. Everyday
consciousness proposes lightbulb, ropeswing, teapot,
David Bowie, your sweater on, your sweater off, tomatillo,
not dissociated but associated. Parts suggesting
the whole they long to be gathered into.
Frank O’Hara, superior poet and personist. I cannot pick up
the telephone and call you, so I write you poems.
Hacienda Guachipelín, a farm in Costa Rica near Rincon de la Vieja
on the Nicaraguan border. You climbed a volcano while I
rode a horse with a vaquero called Henry. Waterfall.
Coatimundi. I met some stewardesses at a hot spring
who painted me with mud, which cured my sunburn.
You came back covered in mud but also sunburn.
Gin and tonics by the pool. You kept rolling yours across your brow.
A woman carrying a sloth up the mountain asked you
“Do you want to touch my sloth?” You said no,
you were pretty sure she’d try to charge you. Both of us
saw many creatures that day but neither glimpsed the elusive quetzal.
Heart, José Asunción Silva put on a white shirt
and went to the doctor. He asked the doctor to draw on his shirt
the exact size and location of the human heart in the body.
Silva went home, loaded a pistol, muzzled it dead center
of the careful outline and fired.
Idealize, to abstract oneself. A street is for walking or driving on, not
for contemplating time’s passage. The confusion lies
in that it takes time to walk down a street, depending
how far away the milk and bandaids live.
Idolize. to make of an idea a thing, to object-
ify. In this way, an idea of harvest is found
in a stone woman with stone breasts.
Interstate, such as I-80, one stretch of which traverses
Utah and Wyoming. Sometimes we drove it,
stopping at Little America for almond M&Ms,
diet Coke and gas. Sometimes we were driven
like snow, or in a bus with itinerant preachers,
haggard young mothers, deadheading truckers, gangsters and vampires and guys with get-out-
of-Dodge tickets from the police in Reno. That last guy,
I bought him a coffee because he looked so sad.
Julian of Norwich tells us “sin is behoovely,” meaning
“fitting,” meaning only by sinning can we
receive God’s mercy. Good, I sin a lot. She also
tells us “All shall be well and all shall be well
and all manner of thing shall be well.” Good, too.
Just, not in the sense of “right” or “fair” but “simply” or
“enough,” example: Just because the world is beautiful
doesn’t mean it will satisfy us.
Kuchinoerabu-shima, an island (see also: Volcano). You called me
from the ferry. That stupid iPhone. I was talking about Zukofsky,
you were saying you hate Zukofsky. You were happy and told me
I would hate it there, the sea was very rough. You said
“I love you, I miss you.” I said, “I love you, I miss you, too.”
You said, “Tell Robin I love him.”
That’s as far as I went with you to the end.
Laramie, a small Wyoming town with a ceaseless wind
and a school. I brought my cat, read Sappho
at the coffee shop nearest the rail line. Jim and Dora
came up from Ty Siding for a Fourth of July barbeque.
Every now and then we’d walk to the Buckhorn
for a Fat Tire and I always said something
about the two-headed calf mounted on the wall, bullet
holes in the mirror and you always said
“You always say something about those.”
Meyer variety, much more like fruit than your average
lemon, softer rinds and sweeter oils. You
introduced me to these, as to many things and you
brined them for tagine. How I love that word, tagine.
soap, when I got out of the shower you grinned,
“You’re a clean little lemon drop. C’mere.”
Love, what we call it when it keeps feeling that way. But what is
it? A private language? A motion
ever towards? A promise the body makes
to remember those shoulderbones, and is it always
a kind of mourning?
Lyric, a quiet form for minor praise or meditation
or a way of pleading. When the epic is over
and heroes are dead and the wanderers
have all come home and the enslaved women
have learned the language of their new land, lyric
will pour the wine, tune the instrument, sing
of dead hearth fires, the brambles and vines
retaking the forsaken kingdom.
Risk, “What you risk reveals what you value,” Winterson
writes, “You play, you win, you play, you lose. You play.”
What are the wages of art? Of being? The same
as the wages of sin, I think, which makes
a certain kind of sense.
Rome, we spent much time shopping
for vegetables. You held my hand as we wandered
the Esquiline market, where an Arab vendor
told us we could see his fish were freshest because
their eyes most resembled glass. The rabbits all have
ears so customers can be certain they aren’t stray cats.
We stopped at the gyro place, bags bristling with onion stems
and fennel. Back home we left our bags slumped
in the kitchen and laid down together, bedroom
awash with afternoon sun. I remember my eyes stung
with the excess of light.
Sacrifice, but why? Why give up what you can
just give? You always said, “It’s not a zero-sum game”
and I always said, “It all evens out in the end.”
I still believe both things are true, and
that we have not yet come to the end.
Sanctify, William Blake writes, “‘When the sun rises,
do you not see a round disc of fire
somewhat like a guinea?’ ‘O no, no,
I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host
crying Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.’”
Sappho wrote lyric poetry (see also: Lyric) of which
only fragments remain (see also: Fragment). She wrote
about desire (see also: Desire) and love (see also: Love, Mad Love,
Fate, Need, Comfort, Risk, Bollywood, Quandry, Ex–, and Poetry).
She was Greek (see also: Greece) and as this entry suggests,
the origin (see also: Myth) of almost everything
that matters to me (see also: Attention).
Sistine Chapel, where I took my mother her first day in Rome.
When we stopped looking up and looked instead at each other,
my mother’s eyes were full. “I studied this,” she said,
“so closely. But I never really thought I’d get to see it
in person.” That was my very best day.
Skype, a program for live webchat. You turned your screen
to face the hostel wall and said, “Okay, go,”
and I lifted my shirt. Like teenagers, how we snickered.
Split, Croatia, built within emperor Diocletian’s deserted
summer palace. I once loved a man from there.
Where the floor has fallen into the basement,
a gangplank. In the crumble, a soccer ball, a bicycle tire,
punk rock graffiti. A narrow street named “Let-Me-Pass,”
a harbor full of Saudi Arabian yachts, Swiss schooners
and a promenade lined with jet-set youngsters smoking
and looking around to see who’s looking at them. You
sent me there with an archaeological expedition
to do my own digging. Something in me, under
all those layers of now-being-loved, still felt left.
You. Yes, you. (see also: Write, Frank O’Hara, Telephone,
Desire, Need, Abandon, Binary, Forgive, Poetry,
Attention, Partner and Just.)
Zephyr, the other wind. Not the mistral
but the green-faced wind
with its cheeks puffed out. The stir
of tablecloths, sundresses, curls, budding
ideas about romance, fragrant boughs.
The one that makes you forget
and not feel sorry after.
Zenith, the utmost. The height of. Perfect,
Love, an Index