“The universe is absent from all your plans”
(Gérard de Nerval)
Somewhere at the Atlanta airport
I dropped Diabetes with Owls––my signed
Sedaris––tucked inside, a fat
missive from Marge Piercy about traffic
wrecks, the Boston bombing, cozy
sleeping cars, her slope of daffodils.
I believed her letter would save me
from falling out of air. Reread it
a hundred times. Good thing,
now it’s only in my brain.
As my friend Alice said about losing love,
“It’s like swallowing a couch.”
Or swallowing a hardback
with a voucher for paradise inside.
Quickly I bought another Sedaris, the way
we Americans shop double
when we feel like Job,
told my woes
to the young African-American
bookstore clerk with the tee-shirt logo:
My Story’s Worse!
“Oh no! A signed copy!” she groaned.
“But think of it this way—
now someone else has found treasure!”
Then I boarded Air France and
eight hours and one disgusting
supposedly salmaun parmentier later,
at Charles DeGaulle, my loss
A bubble with a feather on it.
Those missing pages sailed in front of me,
out of sight, along with my early dead.
My father in his private’s uniform
did not look up. The top of his handsome
dark head gleamed with Bryl Cream, in lines
his little black comb had moved through.
In Atlanta I had sworn to write more, to patch
rips in the fabric of in my existence
with poetry, never again to lose mindlessly.
Not to bargain with God.
When I woke two days later in Auvillar with
strips of duck breast in the frying pan,
a bowl of yogurt flavored with violet figs
on my table, I was calm.
My belly pooched out
and I felt less stricken
by what a bubble-head I am.
Lost and found seemed pareil, equal,
as if I had caught some
particulate in my net
worth more than the Piercy letter
which will perhaps
pop up on e-bay
along with the Chanukah book
I once signed––L’Chayim!––to John Updike.
From The Book of Excess
If I loved you more they’d have to lock me up
I’d have to leave my body
all that triage
can’t get rid
Catullus, me too—
I’d need an extra body
I is someone else
whirling, not pretty
I’d melt like tiger butter
everything pancakes boys
If I loved you more I’d careen off the edge
of the known word––
you croon and croon to them
and they’re not babies, not even close.
It has no worries
and no memory.
turn up at the edge
of forgetting, another
man down, gasping,
looks like Dante, a.k.a
Orpheus the Heartless,
Seine water in
his veins and ice for his