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Sometimes I enter this apartment not my own
with a spare key not my own, for emergencies
or a bouquet or with the overflow of lilacs, daisies
I don’t stay & what I don’t do is more important
than the flowers or chocolates I leave behind
what I don’t do is look in the bathroom wastebasket
for scarlet reminders or check the levels of booze
or look for stains on the rumpled sheets, I don’t
open the underwear drawer or sniff
panties in the laundry basket, search the cabinet
next to her bed, count condoms, or check the vibrator
I don’t read the grocery list on the counter
the phone numbers clipped on the frig, I don’t
sort thru mail, open notebooks, read the
scribble of poems, to-do lists, rants, random notes
I don’t pick up crumbled tissues, beer bottles
left on the coffee table, socks on the radiator
I don’t interrogate the ghosts for their opinions
don’t ask the fish in the tank for insight, I close
the refrigerator, ignore irrelevant beer
bottles, last night’s doggy bags. I am gone quietly
lock the door. Leave it all behind, not a word out of place.


Perhaps an Answer …

of sorts, from The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by Jose Saramago —

We never really understood each other, that was inevitable, since each of us was a multitude of different people.

or perhaps this from Carl Jung —

In each of us there is another whom we do not know.

Reflections on Becoming Others

The longer I am alone with books, my favorite poets, with my own writing, visiting strange places, even flirting, online, the more I think I am becoming someone else — or “someones” else.

I return to that great novel of Saramago, or to the poets, & see myself — that it is me the novelist is writing about.  I don’t remember being in Lisbon, let’s say, or Egypt, or the encounters they describes, but I must have been, it seems to real.

& when did I write those poems in those books I pull from my shelf?  They are so familiar, I can almost see my scrawled penmanship, my handwriting in one of the myriad notebooks in my trunk.  But the dates in the book are so many years before I was even born.  Still, they are as real to me as the poems in last year’s notebook, or what I wrote last night before bed.

& whatever happened to those women — Marcenda, or Clea, or Lydia, or Justine…?  I feel the memory of my love for them is more real than the smell of the cheap perfume from last night’s date.

Birthday Poem (of a sort)

the line thru feathers
crosses out
a design less
literary than

‘though feathers
are more script
the tines are lines
the spine crosses

(although not written “on” my birthday,
it was close enough, as nothing else
will do)

Barbarians at the Gate

The Old Poet of the City wrote
“The barbarians are coming…”
imagining the decadent Roman
senators be-jewelled in scarlet togas.
Their artists pictured barbarians with
unkempt hair & beards, wearing
trousers & a long cloak.  To the Romans
the Irish were barbarians.

Tonight when the wind & rain
drive me into this pub I see
that the barbarians are already here —
drinking beer, whisky, uncombed hair
tucked into baseball caps worn backwards
TV-styled beards of an imagined frontier
jeans & rain coats like they had just
crossed the mountains, if not to rape
& pillage at least to drink
as if every day was St. Patrick’s Day.


Birthday Poem, 2017

Of course
there is fog
one lives here
for the fog
in spite of
the morning sun
burning off
the way dreams
as soon as
your eyes open.


The day would have been grey anyway
the old rain in the gutters expected.

After all, the seasons change, the light
changes, repeats itself like the dark

with dreadful regularity, each night
more, or less, hours of darkness

each day less, or more, light at dusk
until the Sun falls into the dark Sea.