DIRGE FOR A JOKER . Always in a middle of a kiss Came the profane stimulus to cough; Always from the pulpit during service Leaned the devil prompting you to laugh. . Behind mock-ceremony of your grief Lurked the burlesque instinct of the ham; You never altered your amused belief That life was a mere monumental shame. . From the cosmic accident of birth To the final grotesque joke of death Your malady of sacrilegious mirth Spread gay contagion with each clever breath . Now you must play straight man for a term And tolerate the humor of the worm.
THE CURSE . Ceders and the westward sun The darkening sky. A man alone Watches beside the fallen wall The evening multitudes of sin Crowd in upon us all. For when the light fails they begin Nocturnal sabotage among The outcast and loose of tongue, The lax in walk, the murderers: Our twilight universal curse. . Children are faultless in the wood Untouched. If they are later made Scandal and index to their time. It is that twilight brings for bread The faculty of crime Only the idiot and the dead Stand by. While who were young before Wage insolent and guilty war By night within that ancient house, Immense, black, dammed, anonymous.
THE CITIES INSIDE US . We live in secret cities And travel unmapped roads. . We speak words between us that we recognize But which can't be looked up. . They are our words They come from very far inside our mouths. . You and I, we are the secret citizens of the city Inside us, and inside us . There go all the cars we have driven And seen, there are all the people . We know and have known, there Are all the places that are . But which used to be as well. This is where. They went. they did not disappear. . We each take a piece Through the eye and through the ear. . It's loud inside us, in there, and when we speak In the outside world . We have to hope that some of that sound Does not come out, that an arm . Not reach out In place of a tongue.
LEAVES OF A DIARY 31 . Snowflakes pounced at the car windows, Smashed against frozen pane To crumble on the road and then to stand again. Gathering their cursing in hurried counsel, With its breast white and withered by high winds. The highway, unleashed, raced Towards a certain place unseen in the distance, Like the frog who preordained dashes Toward the open mouth of a snake, and jumps.
THE LOVERS OF TLATELOLCO . They barely emerge from the shadow Their mumurs raise gentle signs at the foot of the foundation. Their white tennis shoes gleam. . Far from those stones, returned to one another, they forget in their lips the scream of the massacres, chests opened by dint of obsidian or bayonet-- . Indifferent to the shadow that covers them, the young lovers murmur or stay silent, while the night grows over the ruins, bolts down the plinths of the temples, the inscriptions. . Over there the urn with two skeletons embracing in their dusty deathbed, beneath the crystal where the flowers of an offering are drying.
POEM FOR THE FATHER . And it was then that with a dead and cold tongue in his mouth he sang the song they didn't let him sing in this world of obscene gardens and of shadows that came at the wrong time to remind him of songs from his boyhood in which he couldn't sing the song he couldn't sing the song they didn't let him sing except through his absent mouth through his absent voice. Then from the highest tower of absence his song echoes in the opacity of the hidden in the silent extension full of shifting hollows like the words I write
LOVE'S SECRET . Never seek to tell thy love, Love that never can be; For the gentle wind doth move Silently, invisibly. . I told my love, I told my love, I told her all my heart, Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears, Ah! She did depart! . Soon after she was gone from me, A traveller came by, Silently, invisibly: He took her with a sigh.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe . ANOTHER . Go! obedient to my call. Turn to profit thy young days. Wiser make betimes thy breast In Fate's balance as it sways. Seldom is the cock at rest. Thou must either mount or fall. . Thou must either rule and win. Or submissively give in. Triumph, or else yield to clamour Be the anvil or the hammer
AROUND US . We need some pines to assuage the darkness when it blankets the mind we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly as a plane's wing and a worn bed of needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind. and a blur or two of a wild thing that sees and is not seen. We need all these things between appointments, after work, and, if we keep them, then someone someday, lying down after a walk and supper, with the fire hole wet down, the whole night sky set at a particular time, without numbers or hours, will cause a little sound of thanks--a zipper or a snap-- to close round the moment and the thought of what ever good we did.
Saint John of the Cross . FLAME OF LIVING LOVE . O flame of living love, that dost eternally Pierce my soul with so consuming heat, Since there's no help above, Make thou an end of me, And break the bond of this encounter sweet. . O burn that burns to heal! O more than pleasant wound! And O soft hand, O touch most delicate, That dost new life reveal, That dost in grace abound, And, slaying, dost from death to life translate! . O lamps of fire that shined With so intense a light That those deep caverns where the senses live, Which were obscure and blind, Now with strange glories bright, Both heat and life to his beloved give! . With how benign intent Rememberest thou my breast, Where thou alone abidest secretly; And in thy sweet ascent, With glory and good possessed, How delicately thou teachest love to me.
BRIGHT STAR . Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art-- Not in lone splendour hung alot the night, And watching, with eternal lids apart, Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores, Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask Of snow upon the mountains and the moors-- No - yet still steadfast, still unchangeable, Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel forever its soft fall and swell, Awake forever in a sweet unrest Still, to hear her tender-taken breath, And so live ever--or else swoon to death.
ETHEREAL MATERIAL . My children are by far my greatest revolution . Twice I orbited complete like a gravid planet around the sun. I wrote new names in the celestial script, with disquiet, alarm, sedition. . I toasted them with other women, with whiskey and with beer. in the planet where we women drink a toast to things that grow, and despite them. . Happy and ill-fated I made my revolution a conquest and an open wound of those times when I orbited complete. . I keep it fresh to let enter me a certain unrecognisable family air that now my children exhale as naturally as can be.
ARK . One stormy night I will open by myself The lonely locked room beside me . I may find a candle-stub, a box of matches A bolt of spiritual lightning to set me shivering . A stone sinks in the ocean five hundred metres off shore The soul of a bird nesting in the cliffs is fervent and imperilled . Yes, the ocean is nearby, one stormy night I will listen to pounding of waves and light the candle . Write life's sun on the land And the death date of all things . But I am a young man walking towards the sea After experiencing hardships I will be fully fledged . Three knocks on the door reverberate in my heart The tide leaps on the sandy shore like a great host of turtles . This night's dagger, this flotsam from a seaborne ship I pat the ancient ark, the bright moon hangs high . One stormy night I will open by myself The lonely locked room beside me
THE CLOCK . Clock: stonecutter of time. . Obdurate chisel, pendulum, striking the hardest wall of night. . The vanilla awakens, composing a suite of fragrances in the armoire. . Overseer of the clocks work, silence moves about in hushed slippers.
LIMESTONE . I . Barefoot at times at other times shod pearl without shell shell without pearl . Silent at times other times rowdy as if ready to take over the sky . Weather life appear and as suddenly dissolve like a stratagem . the light of limestone can outdo the sun of our celebrations . II . The majority of bones lying scattered in the earth are greatly in limestone's debt . Either for metamorphosis for the resurrection of metals or the omnipresence of death