I all alone beweep my outcast state
and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries and
look upon myself and curse my fate
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope
featured like him, like him with friends possessed
desiring this man's art and that man's scope
with what I most enjoy contented least
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising
haply I think on thee and then my state
like to the lark at break of day arising
sings hymns at heaven's gate
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
that then I scorn to change my state with kings
thing, fixing something, going somewhere, feeling purposeful,
useful, competent - even coughing, as I just did, gives me the
satisfaction of having "just cleared something up." The phone
bill arrives and minutes later I've written the check. The world
starts to go to war and I shout, "Hey, wait a second, let's think
about this!" and they lay down their arms and ruminate. Now
they are frozen in postures of thought, like Rodin's statue, the
one outside Philosophy Hall at Columbia. His accomplish-
ments are muscular. How could a guy with such big muscles be
thinking so much? It gives you the idea that he's worked all his
life to get those muscles, and now he has no use for them. It
makes him pensive, sober, even depressed sometimes, and
because his range of motion is nil, he cannot leap down from
the pedestal and attend classes in Philosophy Hall. I am so
lucky to be elastic! I am so happy to be able to think of the
word elastic! I am so happy to be able to think of the
word elastic, and have it snap me back to underwear, which
reminds me: I have to do the laundry soon.
'Cause just in case you haven't heard today is do-mi-do day;
Dress me in my silver garters, dress me in my diamond studs,
'Cause I'm going do-mi-do-ing in my do-mi-do duds!
I want my undulating undies with the marabou frills;
I want my beautiful bolero with the porcupine quills;
I want my purple nylon girdle with the orange blossom buds;
'Cause I'm going do-mi-do-ing in my do-mi-do duds!
Come on and dress me! Dress me! Dress me in my peekaboo blouse,
With the lovely interlining made of Chesapeake mouse;
I want my polka-dotted dickie with the crinoline fringe;
For I'm going do-mi-do-ing on a do-mi-do binge!
I want my my lavender spats, and in addition to them,
I want my honey colored gusset with the herringbone hem;
I want my softest little jacket made of watermelon suede,
And my long persimmon placket with the platinum braid;
I want my leg-of-mutton sleeves, and in addition to those,
I want my cutie chamois booties with the leopard-skin bows;
I want by pink-brocaded bodice with the fluffy fuzzy ruffs,
And my gorgeous bright blue bloomers with the monkey feather cuffs;
I want my organdy snood, and in addition to that,
I want my chiffon Mother Hubbard lined with Hudson Bay rat!
Dress me up from top to bottom, dress me up from tip to toe;
Dress me up in silk and spinach for today is do-mi-do;
Do-mi-do day! Do-mi-do day!
So come and dress me in the blossoms of a million pink trees;
Come on and dress me up in liverwurst! and camembert cheese!
Come on and dress me up in pretzels, dress me up in Bock beer suds;
'Cause I'm go-o-o-ing do-mi-do-o-o-ing
In my do-o-o-o-o-o-mi-do du-u-u-ds
at noon, springtime, the city streets
full of office workers like myself
let loose from the cold
glass buildings on Park and Lex,
the dull swaddling of winter cast off,
almost everyone wanting
everyone else. It was amazing
how most of us contained ourselves,
bringing desire back up
to the office where it existed anyway,
quiet, like a good engine.
I'd linger a bit
with the receptionist,
knock on someone else's open door,
ease myself, by increments,
into the seriousness they paid me for.
Desire was everywhere those years,
so enormous it couldn't be reduced
one person at a time.
I don't remember when it was,
though closer to now than then,
I walked the streets desireless,
my eyes fixed on destination alone.
The beautiful person across from me
on the bus or train
looked like effort, work.
I translated her into pain.
For months I had the clarity
the cynical survive with,
their world so safely small.
Today, walking 57th toward 3rd,
it's all come back,
the interesting, the various,
the conjured life suggested by a glance.
I praise how the body heals itself.
I praise how, finally, it never learns.
itself felt and trembles towards meanings we never intuited
or dreamed. Take, for example, how the warbler, perched on a
mere branch, can kidnap the day from its tediums and send us
heavenwards, or how, held up by nothing we really see, our
spirits soar and then, in a mysterious series of twists and turns,
come to a safe landing in a field, encircled by greenery. Nothing
I can say to you here can possibly convince you that a man
as unreliable as I have been can smuggle in truths between tercets
and quatrains on scraps of paper, but the world as we know
is full of surprises, and the likelihood that here, in the shape
of this very bird, redemption awaits us should not be dismissed
so easily. Each year, days swivel and diminish along their inscrutable
axes, then lengthen again until we are bathed in light we were not
prepared for. Last night, lying in bed with nothing to hold onto
but myself, I gazed at the emptiness beside me and saw there, in the
shape of absence, something so sweet and deliberate I called it darling.
No one who encrusticates (I made that up!) his silliness in a bowl,
waiting for sanctity, can ever know how lovely playfulness can be,
and, that said, let me wish you a Merry One (or Chanukah if you
prefer), and may whatever holds you up stay forever beneath you,
and may the robin find many a worm, and our cruelties abate,
and may you be well and happy and full of mischief as I am,
and may all your nothings, too, hold something up and sing.
now that's a trick I want to learn—
hopped up on pheromones,
wings flapping impossibly fast ....
For that I'd take a spin
as an insignificant lepidoterid.
For that I'd give up
all my nature programs,
rock music, erotic poetry.
I'd even do
penance in the egg.
I'd crawl through adolescence on my belly
eating none of the food I love, eating nothing
but cabbage, cabbage, cabbage.
For that instant
of sudden weightlessness,
fluttering with my beloved on the verge
of a holy convulsion
I await my turn.
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.
The sky is a thick, cold gauze--
but there's a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.
--Or maybe I'll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.
I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
in a room by myself
with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
like a disconnected phone.
But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,
and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over
and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.