SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING
Sign often seen in New York subway stations
Our bags are heavy,
so much so a woman sits on hers, exhausted.
She’s been lugging batteries,
bottles of water, masks. Things they say to keep
for emergencies, since one never knows.
A man opens his suitcase and out flies
a wad of coupons, but redemption
is nulled by an expiration date.
On the far end of the platform,
someone reads a collection by Pound. It’s 7:15 am
& PK thought it no more absurd
than reading the financial times
or the horoscopes. We’ve already said
too much, our mouths parched
from repeating the alphabet songs
as our poems sometimes testify.
A row of fluorescent lights overhead, funereal
or a white siesta?
The woman gets up with her little boy
who’s quickly a step ahead, hands free.
THE MOVING WINDOW
1. Postcard From Winter
Snow dulls me,
too much, too long.
It caves like a heart
drained of desire.
In the center is a key. But
it is bent and won’t open any door.
2. From the Hotel Window
A crow nosedives
from the rooftop, swoops up
and does it again.
Why when it could fly straight,
be as single-minded
as an ideologue.
3. At the Golden-Gate Bridge Bus Stop
The driver yells at the tourists.
“Step up! We got places to go.”
Maybe he is one of us:
restless when rested,
a faithful lover of a moving window.
4. Chinese Couplet
My agitated heart tells me I am alive.
When peace comes I listen to the four winds.
* * *
Ancient poets look east and think of spring,
look west and think of autumn.
To my east there is memory,
to my west there is time,
unbridled time beyond which
it should not be my business.
5. In Bed Hearing Rain Come
Battalions of arrows, fired by whose
archers from what other world?
6. What Joy Can Be
To be with your beloved in a town
so small it’s off the map,
to be ignorant of its language and its wars.
To fix your gaze on its whisky-colored sunset,
to not remembering you have a past and a future.
7. Late Dance
Memory returns to salvage what it can.
Time trots ahead as if tired of being riffled through.
8. The Vanishing City
They can rename the streets, the monuments,
the schools, the parks—
they existed in your city
and will vanish only with you.