I ask my sons what they want from St. Hieronymos, too old to befriend. Red hat, my dead son says. Fat book, my live son requests. No one mentions a lion, meandered in.
The lion asks for an edit= do these sons mark jars filled with body parts? Baboon son, jackal son? They flatten to black-rimmed eyes. No.
I climb through mountain sons. They are finding how far blue takes them. They are learning the ropy muscles of a man (higher animus/ they r anonymous) becalmed in a cave mouth. His red hat and book, the little fire.
We pass a lighthouse and you tell me the legend—
a seer, an emperor, his daughter, the snakebite;
the tower he built to keep her at the edge of the sea—
when an old woman passes us on the ferry,
sniffs us twice, You are in love, I smelled it!
and last night on the island, over fresh fish
and a pitcher of ice-cloudy raki, I asked how
many words for love in your language:
When I first became a bee I was just so nectar naïve.
I tumbled over petals waving my antennae frantically.
Then, when I was living life as a flower and not a bee,
well, to back up: this is tragic: I didn’t identify as flower
Or else swoon to death, the young poet wrote,
though these in the seminar’s steadfast room
appear to want little or none of it,
however coddlingly the professor prods.
They are the poet’s age at death, or almost,
but do not find “relatable” these words
composed by one who knew his passion hopeless—
especially the sleepless Eremite,
belonging to another world and time,
and even his fair love’s ripening breast conjures only suspect looks, withering stares,
or now and then a tolerating nod.
Of course, they must assume their own bright stars
will rise aloft some digital empyrean
Sundays I’d walk down the hill toward the green four o’clock
dark beginning like a rumor—
always she was leaning over the counter, head tipped toward
a tiny phone,
her husband turning the pages of a Daily Mail like a man
whose suspicions of human nature were
being fed fresh evidence.
Stale fryer fat, ale, black and tans in the fridge.
They knew I’d be there before the match started. You alright yeah Every Sunday a matinee I attended for three years
as volcanoes exploded
and she died,
white slipped into my beard
wars began and others ended.
Each Sunday the words gathering new weight
as words do when you repeat them. You alright I didn’t know but by halftime if I wasn’t too pissed
I’d walk home in the furred darkness before the beer wore off
and a sudden gust of wind could blow cold air on my heart.
I was in Egypt nine months before the towers fell.
The people spoke to me in Arabic Roh Rohi
but I spoke back in English so they called me “American”
/I never called myself American.
America never called me American – not without a hyphen.
At an artists’ collective near the Polish border about an hour from Berlin, I’d been taking a break from translating texts into English, a task I once enjoyed but was beginning to resent, as I was beginning to feel invisible—or was it burnt out?—in any case, I was glad to get away for a few days: it was my first vacation since I-don’t-know-when, and I’d begun to feel my soul was spent. Over lunch on my last day there, a woman from Seoul who went by the nickname Hae—a transliteration of the word “sun” in Korean, she said—asked what the word in German was for “soul.” Actually, the woman sitting next to her asked, but the woman sitting next to Hae came from Spain and was shy about her English, so when she directed the question at me I heard the word as “sol”—we’d spent the week speaking both Spanish and English—and said, in reply, “Sonne.”
It’s the last day of school, and I get home with butterflies in my stomach. My mouth already tastes like summer, like heat outside and air conditioning inside, like the darkness of my cave, like cloister and crypt. I turn on the television and change the channel, change the channel, one to the next, discovering the lineup for the beginning of the end of the week, the beginning of my three-month rest, the beginning of a new wave of televised hunger, the same that ensues from another year of school.