Saturday Sep 23

SextonElaine Elaine Sexton is the author of two collections of poetry, Sleuth and Causeway, both with New Issues (Western Michigan UP). Her poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Art in America, Poetry, Oprah Magazine and elsewhere. She teaches text and image and workshops at the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute and poetry in the graduate writing program at City College (CUNY).

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I Wish You Were


Awake. Of course,
I wish it were not
4 a.m.

and the TV
news
helicopter

hovering
over
my building,

scanning
the Hudson,
Lower Manhattan

would
go away.
Never again

will that sound
simply say:
“traffic jam,”

or “man
overboard.”
The city

as target,
the city
as

launch pad
now
lies on its back,

eyes up,
never really
going

to bed.
I dreamt
I drifted

for a few hours’
peace.
I didn’t think of you

for a few
hours
I didn’t lament

a thing.
For a few
hours

the rapid
succession
of rotating regrets

chopping
the sky
stayed still.

The older I get
the more important
sleep is. Sleep

the thing
we think there’s always
more time for

later.




oh well


A streak of white
fell like paint
and landed on the back
of her head,
her shoulder,
and slid down her back—
something a gull
exhaled and left
before landing
on a piling
where a man in a
two-piece yellow slicker
hosed down a rig
infused with
the stink of dead
or dying porgies
carcasses
crated and lining
the Sound side
of the docks.

Even now
I think of her
two years dead,
paint brush in hand
at the beach
or in bed
with nothing on,
the cross on her
forehead
so deep
no one can touch it.
I miss her
and whisper
it doesn’t matter
when I try to
keep her alive
and oh well,
when I decide not to.
She looks around
for something
to wipe
the gluey white ash
from the nape
of her neck,
a halo of excrement. Shit.