I am in an airport somewhere Northerly;
students are drinking coffee in small groups
and discussing the odds of our staying overnight.
The building is spacious; someone jokes
we’ll each have our own Departure Lounge.
Gradually we drift to the Yoga Center,
which is a bus traveling on a high, narrow road
facing a great river. The views
are spectacular; the driver draws attention
to a row of elegant homes below,
the second-most magnificent owned by an old
rock star we all know is ill, waiting to die.
The road leads to the river
and here we are in the far west of London,
Kingston, maybe. Although it is midwinter
crowds of people are engaged in absurd,
elaborate exercises in the water and I laugh,
reminded of Bosch. There is also a deep pool,
part of the river that ate itself,
where no one is swimming.
Overlooking it stands an ornate Victorian
brick pub, the kind you’d consider
moving to be near. In fact someone asks
if I’m moving here.
Under the pool lies the green tomb
of a pre-Celtic king. I think of him
there stretched out flat beneath armor
and water, waiting to rise.
A rose-bush blooms right in the street.
Every bud opens, gasping for air.
My brother is a pilot in the dream. We stand on a withered plain
looking into the distance. His nearby jet is capable
of interstellar travel and he’s leaving on a long flight.
I am in a car then driving on a busy street
in south Austin full of people headed to a festival.
It’s warm; they wear little but masks.
And everything is perfect in its way: we are busy as a nightmare
row of registers on a holiday; I look carefully and there
is nothing here remotely like unending night.
Fragment Of Pausanias
Inside, the temple by the shore
is reminiscent of the National Space And Aeronautics
Museum in Washington, D.C. — large clean spaces
where massive technical devices gleam,
great open shells.
Marble steps lead from there to the water
and some distance below, where a drowned
veranda overlooks the coastal shelf.
It is said that beautiful Spangdahlem will rise here
from smoking waves.
Some distance off lies a radioactive island,
the surrounding water warm as a bath.
For the second time today I face a shrine
I can’t enter. Now the steps are granite, rising to
a burning ghat.
The water rolls off me, racing to be air.
Two men on the well-worn stair are discussing
the newest deadly weapon, atomized computers,
old computers ground to aerosol
that blisters souls.
Back from the beach I return to the temple,
which on this side looks like a manor.
As so often a wrong turn leads me out again,
this time through a maintenance area to a small
instance of lawn.
In the center stands a curious structure of sticks,
a crude, make-do hut bare to sun and rain
and computer fog. In it a grieving prince
awaits the return of the land he prays will
bury this place.
Families Of A Certain Age
Every family of a certain age is a confused ghost;
what should be here is not, what’s here is strange,
all the more so for seeming right. It turns a door-knob
nowhere near a door, windows are alternately
sunlit and dark, packed with blurred reflections.
From the front door it should see places burned down
long ago and in fact still standing there on fire,
but a through-the-looking-glass fireplace and mantle
bar the way, smothered in knick-knacks only other people
recognize, a photo in a foreign language.
What to do but drift through the rooms searching
for doors or someone else, the people it was
in far-off places that looked like this,
see what there is for dinner forever, stand at the mirror,
then cry in the bathroom, writing a poem.
One was going to play it safe,
be safe as anyone can be,
and live a life of quiet, orderly,
but missed a light and hit a tree.
Another vanished down a dark hall,
long and dark to the end,
the perfect faded gone-too-soon friend’s
photo in a mental wallet.
Yet another drifted numb
an inch too deep . . . . You never think
of the last wink, but accidents
can happen in your sleep:
my own damn self at twenty-one
went down the escalator
all the way to a respirator
and points below.
But death chose you, dark brothers.
I will always be your friend.
And though my years exceed yours now
laid end to end
I haven’t ever really felt
I know what twenty-something is,
though I so early on heard out
all the best witnesses.
Without Pause Or Doubt
I love a house in Norway
high on a hill in the blue trees,
where the first snow falls.
On a phone ringing for centuries
it calls and calls, it says I’m not there,
where am I? And every century I say
sorry, I was on my way
but drowned, down in Texas
down in Germany underground,
under sea. And you were there for me,
I’ve kept you waiting all this time
alone by an unringing phone.
Believe I love you, it’s me saying so.
I can’t tell my windshield what to see.
Believe I love you. Everywhere I go
I haul my longing, I caress
each room and its emptiness,
fearful of losing what can’t be.
I love you where my road runs out;
love me there without pause or doubt.