John Ashbery called me after he died So you can imagine my excitement When in his droll hyper-nasalated Timbre quite undiminished by death He chatted on about the bowls of Pitted cherries provided as snack-food In the upper worlds and of afternoons Climbing trees with Edna Millay to read Comic books with her in the branches. Then his voice dropped two octaves And he spoke solemnly of Jack Benny: ‘You can say funny things or say things Funny but silence was the punchline For Jack Benny.’ And he was gone.
Whatever Walden is to me—we swam there two Julys—
I hope to skirt that never-ending trope,
Drowning like a pilgrim in that pond.
We pushed past mothers and their kids,
Cedared summers in Wellfleet cottages,
Past foreign languages that hummed across
The narrow circle of that one dirt path
I drive through the yellow ribcage of maples
arching the road, past the butch woman I want
to be, raking leaves in her front yard, hair
slicked back at the sides. Yesterday, searching
the internet for winter tights, I found crotchless ones,
a model’s diffident fingertips barely obscuring
the hairless glow of her pussy, and remembered
the years I spent lying on a table in a quiet room,
piped sound of harps descending from the ceiling,
while some other woman carefully made my body
as smooth and unthreatening as a child’s.
I ask the river if he were Rizal what he would be.
A boat on a river or a river in a boat.
Would Rizal rather be in the belly of a whale
or have a whale in his belly. I ask Rizal
as if he were a river and he never blinks
or makes smacking sounds to register his disapproval.
The soapy drench is physics drawn to river toward me, 15 feet away in my flimsy chair. At first its body fans to deliver brims to concrete sinks I had not glimpsed, then narrows to speed unveiling dips and bellies, then courses on to a hole with a remnant pool anchored by a cigar butt. A halt belies its reaches. A lump has pushed the grey drool around the promised lake in delta featherings while another drive has passed beneath my seat to rest in my colossal shadow, clearing its slate of suds. The flow now ponds in the heat and readies its ghost mirror to catch me, gray in noon’s appraisals, the reaper of the day.