“If you’ve fallen for someone, it is nothing
unusual—it happens to the most calculating
as well as any ordinary bum—but you’re in deep shit, man!”
he says with the softness of a malevolent grin
He lits a Marlboro as if to stop the ambush of words
from his bottled heart. He’s on a Hamlet mode,
the invisible skull telling it like it is,
& in this telling he eases that pain—
O let sleeping dogs lie?—so malignant like a bad tooth’s,
but as in the earth’s tectonic shifts
that rock islands & continents,
this pain is strangely dulled in every beating of the heart.
[Move, move, move! Or you die]
He sees me staring at his San Miguel.
Quick is he to signal that, like the palm of his hand,
he knows the story’s semaphore. He, Kilroy, has been there.
What is there to say?
The history of loss is everyman’s common history.
[& God Almighty doesn’t seem to care.]
“O yes,” he adds, “that cruel rap is just another sign,
a microdot on Yahweh’s nose
whose designs we mortals never will understand.
& so it goes: the street wisdom of flaneurs,
eyes properly grim & sad, hands clutching at straws
like pistols cocked at some dangerous guys;
that life, brief & linear, is a complex plot of truths
hidden under layers of sand & rocks…
She, he points out, is a “girl from Ipanema”
who moves, o slowly moves, out of his radar’s eye.
This, paňero, is your given: How shall you grieve?
Is it beyond the alchemy of texts?
You wear your pain like a filmic brand for all to see
Oz pedagogues to decipher, reinscribe
probe a sadness beyond suspicion & rite?
The history of passion is heavy with poisoned blood”
[But what about her?
O yes, what about her who roams the circles of hell?]
“Nah,” the guy across him drawls.
“She has her own world to conquer.
Her smile is the future where doors are slammed shut.
Way off are you from particularities of her sighs.
It was all happenstance: when she smiled
you were simply blocking her path, ha-ha!
You’re in your prison house of signs
that strapped your divinations onto a circular rack.
If, monsieur, you cannot snap out of it, buy a shotgun
& aim it at your heart, ha-ha! If scared to make real
this Shakespearean art, Shut up, man, shut up!
Does God exist? He does; he does not.
The first, after all, makes pain necessary, multiple
The second makes abandonment real, acceptable
[Imagine Sartre floating on an Atlantic chunk of ice.]
That love isn’t fair, that’s the golden rule?
O when passion’s most true, truly most inconsolable!”
I rise, making for the exit
& into the deepening night
that doesn’t give a hoot
to love, loss & truth’s hellebore.
From Voices of Violence, 1971