It is to Emerson I have
damp February, for he has written
of the moral harmony of nature.
The key to every man is his thought.
But Emerson, half angel, suffers his
dear Ellen dying only half consoled
that her lungs shall no more be torn nor
head scalded by blood, nor her whole life
suffer from the warfare between the force
& delicacy of her soul & the
weakness of her frame...March the 29th,
1832, of an evening strange
with dreaming, he scribbles "I visited
Ellen's tomb & & opened the coffin."
--Emerson looking in, clutching his key.
Months of hard freeze have ruptured the
fields of Ohio, and burdock is standing
as if stunned by persistent cold wind
or leaning over, as from rough breath.
I have brought my little one, bundled and
dear, to the lonely place to let her run,
hoary whiskers, wild fescue, cracks widened
along the ground hard from a winter drought.
I have come out for the first time in weeks
still full of fever, insomnia-fogged,
to track flags of breath where she's dying
to vanish on the hillsides of bramble
and burr. The seasonal birds--scruff cardinal,
one or two sparrows, something with yellow--
scatter in their small explosions of ice.
Emerson, gentle mourner, would be pleased
by the physical crunch of the ground, damp
from the melt, shaped by the shape of his
that half of him who loved the Dunscore
too rocky to cultivate, covered thick
with heather, gnarled hawthorn, the yellow
not far from Carlyle's homestead where they
--that half of him for whom nature was thought.
Kate has found things to deepen her horror
for evenings to come, a deer carcass tunnelled
by slugs, drilled, and abandoned, a bundle
of bone shards, hoof and hide, hidden by
bramble, or the bramble itself enough
to collapse her dreams, braided like rope,
colored, blood-barbed, tangled as Medusa.
What does she see when she looks at such
I do not know what is wrong with me
that my body has erupted, system by system,
sick unto itself. I do
not know what I have done, nor what she
when she turns toward her ill father. How
Emerson behold of his Ellen, un-
embalmed face falling in, of her white hands?
Dreams & and beasts are two keys by which
to find out the secrets of our own natures.
Half angel, Emerson wrestles all night
with his journal, the awful natural
fact of Ellen's death, which must have been
deeper sacrifice than a sacrament.
Where has she gone now, wholse laughter
like light snow on the beautiful hills?
Perhpas it is the world that is the matter...
--His other half worried by the wording.
Late Blooming Roses
The Sun cracks through
the bracken sky-
black clouds, rain, spit-
mist of fog
gripped with terror,
and mud against
Now the dog down
the street's racked with
and the red flag
waves on my e-
I want the petals
bright, the whole
so when the hel-
from somewhere to
again the heart-
rattle, that old
--that thrum-as in
a movie of
watch, though no
particular note is the issue
of originality. Each boy has
etched and painted-over in purple his
onto his bike's frame tubing.
Presumably this will prevent someone
taking it, riding it, mistaking
its true ownership, which is important
if you are to keep your integrity.
They have propped and parked their expensive
the dusty path by the chopped field_
their fathers before them, they sweep now
like water, recurrent in waves, chasing
large, white ball across the big park.
art is bereft by war,
yet American play is a battle
wild. Consider the bone-cracking games
at the mall, the light spray of spit issued
from spectators_ lips on TV
But who would wish a real life of trauma,
tyranny, grief, or the blood-bruised
gums of poverty, even if that would
our art authenticating pain?
Simic survived Sarajevo_
Serb married to a Muslim, with two
children_through three brute years of
in a small apartment, writing
poems: There's a photograph of my father
carrying a sub-machine gun, a
Russian gun (only the best for the best),
walking into our town from the hills.
He's yelling _Victory! Victory!_thin
death and wearing a garland of flowers.
Is he grateful for his daily witness?
Someone has strung a clothes-line in
writes in _Sarajevo Spring,_ and
a hundred diapers semaphore the wind.
would a poet, in such circumstance,
dream of seagulls and the sea and
play a child's fast game? Our local
man . . . sits all day by
the running track in his wheelchair as
it might suddenly come back to him: what
Is borrowed agony more or less true?
goes on en masse, just as the boys
a little battalion of strategy,
few flanked out by the weeping willows,
one or two speeding counter with the ball,
falling. Their voices swell like wind.
takes on a more pointed meaning
more oppressive societies, writes
Louise Gluck. Free society, the society
that neither restricts speech nor values
ennervates by presenting too few
not advocating war,
but she's sick of American poets
the prestige of bravery,
when the horror in American hearts
more like pale irony than peril.
can we make art from that? Or, let's be
blunt: how can we not? The poet's work
hard effort of the passions gathered
everyone around us. We speak what
we're given. We must be grateful for it.
the boys below in the field
blown beautiful with sun and clover might
dead in an instant. It's what Milosz saw
in Warsaw, fifty
years ago, haunting
work ever since_in his head the image
of a white skull kicked by feet in passing.
his head, the image of a white skull
kicked by feet in passing. What else to
Thus blood, as the cheer goes, makes the