“What did you do with Kenneth Koch?”
“I plastered him in a flowerbox’s bellyache
Behind the winefruit & damaged pumpkins
Through which we often scrawl.”
“The timid can’t be be bothered here, I don’t think,”
Interjected the poet’s ghost, suddenly, from behind a postage stamp,
“Though I’m only joking by using
The word if.”
Now, the wind is wired.
Apparitions are a common futility.
Kenneth Koch is not a write-in candidate anywhere, I don’t think
Though he continues to imagine that he is
From his grave in Montmartre, Pawtucket, or wherever it is.
It’s not true that he is Captain Marvel yet
But I’ll keep on reading Kenneth Koch,
Whom I almost once have never seen.
I bailed on your future
When winds grew dark
Only then you said they were
& You were there, where they’d never been before
In back of the daffodils
With some sort of crank
& Your blush or bluish graze
Lifted off teapots on cold harbor mornings
What’s still revealed
Is only what can’t yet be reveled in
The fact contains itself—
A whiter shade of winter
Is unavailable; check your screen
Presence & make something up
All this talk of
Freedom makes me leave
The showroom full of uneasy answers
To unasked questions
The job is out there
If you still don’t want it
For all the boutique smiles it takes
This is not a notebook
Tell me a shadow. Winter’s not still—
I’ll harbor the moon in my getaway.
The town hall shuttered its wild gardens,
All destiny pending in a dreamed-up surprise.
Think the imperative ’til singing’s foundational
To wretched foragers who sulk &
Rumble in dark lots, thrusting
Pennies in their ears.
Save a fist for the ancient strangler—
I’ll batten down night’s cold edges with a starry
Twirl. Don’t simper, lest you be fed daisies
’Til the end of the wind’s on the line.
The poem has already moved on—
A winding through of time & circumstance.
It is a substance of its own making,
Intervals substantiated now in wonder.
The poem is a skein, a seine, a
Substance of protracted knowing,
A glaze of imperfect seizure beveled
At the limits of the sayable.
It’s not for want of wander that we veer here,
A desert of vivid glimpses with the tongue an active verb.
If you embody commotion, will you fall down
In the poem’s fleshly speech?
It’s not you who’s saying it— embodied rupture,
The uttered thing in all its strangeness,
Comes through you, unsettles you, shakes thought’s tune
Like nothing you occurred out of ever once before.
The poem was written over a passage
Of time— & time changes you.
Who are you when you want me to be?
& Can I be for you the same as once before?
The poem is a record of that process,
A fine rumor you’ve held yourself to
Adrift in bright pages
That vanish from our care—
An idyll whorl of tarnished speech
With which to wipe the faces off
That smirk— or a bunch of tunes
The wary night still feeds on.
In the poem, vanish when you won’t quite be
Songlit in evening’s plunder;
Awake to the poem on schooldays’ raw
Glass, despite night’s bumptious charm.
Don’t spill the whiskey; it’s a sin
Clowntime has only just begun
I wouldn’t differ if I had your nerve
After the moonlight went wrong
All goes wrong sometime, & still
The sand is where you want it
Were I alone yet also near
Where streams the multivalent
Is the garden too loco, like hardwired bugs
Yes, I think it is tool baskets &
Candy. Wigwam as a helping verb
For all the desert’s tin
Impasto, impasto, poco loco
Dead salsa vérité tweezers
Except on Sundays
Toward which I also grieve
As if the dead were too juvenile
Written on a towel then lost
At nightstands up the quatrain
A ledger of impacted scrawls
I also gaze upon the shore
To mend here before the others were
Songdust on curfew, examples stuffed
By root in a scarified ear