JERSEY CITY LATE AT NIGHT
for Joel Lewis
Who else is worried on this street
of winter rivers, floating ice, and taxis,
drivers, steaming glass. --
Only people wearing khakis
coming home from friends
get to ride in style.
The rest of us
explore the docks. My orange
colored friend without a name is back.
He gets his tan, like I get mine, at night.
Our walk in Jersey’s orange air
has made me think my skin is
pitted like the moon. I’d tell
the aging beach boy by the PATH
that Jersey air can made you crafty --
he’s my pigeon in the night.
This friend wears khakis, too.
We stalk a jacket as it scurries home.
It tells us by the leather he’s distressed.
But as for me, the Jersey shore’s a
work of art. The thing this town does best,
this cake of ice, is cut us off. Our jackets
and our khakis, beauty, make us both
a thing apart.
for Chris Sawyer-Lauçanno
and Patricia Pruitt
We could not sit on the Dogana’s steps this year
since they were being fixed. We tried to take a picture
of San Giorgio, but yachts cruised by and wrecked the view.
And so we sat and talked on the Zattere, Doug and I,
not far from Ruskin’s home, today a pensione, very nice.
He said, I doubt the gondoliers could satisfy a specialist like
Symonds now. They’re getting older all the time,
or so it seems. They charge so much to take folks anywhere,
they never bargain fair. (Another Lume Spento?)
The boatyard’s there, and here’s Pound’s Venice home,
where he began to write. But Olga’s house (if that’s the one
we found) is gentrified. Pound wouldn’t like it now.
And so the day got colder, and it rained. Doug (whom
I’d hardly had a chance to know) returned to his hotel,
choosing, as I chose myself, to sleep alone.
A POET LEARNS TO DRIVE
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned
about life: it goes on.” --Robert Frost
Bill couldn’t drive, nor could Ted.
Leonard learned, and geese flew cackling
through the fog at his approach.
Scary man, they said.
The fog divided space from dawn.
All ourselves, we might be driving past a town
or beach, a morning calm, or
lonesome men. We hit a bump,
the car goes on. Right now,
there’s not much left in Leonard’s world
but asphalt, fog, the traffic lights,
and other things he has to see.
POETS, SET YOUR WATCHES: THE DEATH OF ILHAN BERK
Slender stalk — a field I’d enter, trespass
But where did Alice go? She was known to touch us all,
angelic, as I think we said, angelic — the only one to criticize
our fault and have no fault her own. Even then the century was shutting down.
As for now, I place a row of stones upon her stone,
mystical design that can mean nothing anymore.
It used to hold a secret, cabalistic tone —
engine of the universe that would groan and clack
until she set our time — but time itself shuts down these doings, too.
And holding hands, we’d penetrate so deep within the field
we scared ourselves, thinking we would never see our friends again.
Among the slender stalks, each stalk, sweet surface,
held a scent we’d feed ourselves, knowing rapture.
These were secrets then, and poets dressed for Carnival.
The stalks grew old. They made disease. We could be happy
if we had not thought the field we counted real
held things that keep.
Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.