Wednesday, November 22, 2006

grandeur only works at low speed


west broadway 1958


Fifty milligrams of Paxil, another hundred
of Trazodone, not enough to loosen the knots
you tied in the tendons of my thighs. Half hitch
clove hitch, sheepshank, useless save

the square knot. I interpreted your uniform
as trust, the patches as promises, unaware
that a seam ripper had unspooled your mind,
threaded it across the Pacific, from Nam.

I sewed a diamond patch onto my sleeve,
silver, five years in your troop. Deeply I slit
my khakied wrists, unable to remove

your signature, that stitch you mis-stitched
across my flesh. Your fingers sutured my life
to your felony. What I couldn't rip out, I forgot.
- Michael Hardin

"Passing Time in Skansen"

I went dancing in Stockholm at a public dancing place
Out-of-doors. It was a beautiful summer evening,
Summer as it could only come in Sweden in nineteen-fifty.
You had to be young to go there.
Or maybe you could be old. But I didn't even see old people then.
Humanity was divided into male and female, American and other, students and nonstudents, etcetera.
The only thing that I could say in Swedish
Was "Yog talar endast svenska"
Which meant I speak only Swedish, whereas I thought it meant
I DON'T speak Swedish.
So the young ladies, delighted, talked to me very fast
At which I smiled and understood nothing,
Though sometimes I would repeat
Yog talar endast svenska.
The evening ended, my part of it did, when they started to do folk dances.
I didn't even know how to look at them, though I tried for a while.
It was still light out though it was after eleven p.m.
I got on some kind of streetcar that eventually stopped near my hotel.


Just to read Keats’s letters, drink a beer,
Watch the yard slip quietly into its petticoat of darkness:
How in the one to his brother the soul emerges only
After great effort and even then along a steady

Dialectic of loss and more loss, each of us
Perambulating our own dim forest of predatory grandmothers
And invidious wolves, our bread crumbs eaten hours ago

In a moment of now-embarrassing weakness.
Which explains, I think, the kiss.
- Spencer Short


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