after Sweetest Counting by JKD
John Gardner said to Raymond Carver
Glory belongs to the act of being constant to some
thing bigger than damn ego.
Raymond said, Tess' friend Emily tells me
the purple host of burst rejection slips
comprehend sore need more forbiddenly than flags.
And you're published.
So what do you know.
My sister said, You're a cold shoulder
anyway, John. Warmth doesn't write
about morality. Your moons are caught like
icepicks in bare trees, even summers,
characters arctically haloed.
H said: I'm buried.
Double-spacing yourself and stamping
for delivery to others' approval. Your poem
uncaved me a little, that hazy stairway for
toddlers reaching up the cliff at the
end of the beach, fooled a faster ink
through me than adheres to that rock
for eons, reachable by train to south of France
and a tour for walking blood from stones.
I said: Migraine is an icepick I haven't had the
pleasure. But my eyes have been jittery lately. Some
creeping through my head thing, confetti
rain, paper flame distended radio cheering. Once
more Alleluia with
my thickened ear closer to distant matter.
Decoding after a day with a walk around the block.
The dryer colder air lets my key out of
the mailbox lock more easily. Leaving
short-memoried crumbs in my footsteps on the
sidewalks, under the transparency of bare limbs,
dwindling to a crumple of clothes,
J said, Sunday morning couples are everywhere
in their mussed mops. I only get annoyed when
they come out Mondays! Massing in pastel doorways with
their bluegray morning arms around their coffees,
English toffees, dissertations.
I hope the new year will bring a calmer carnival,
a dunking booth would be an improvement, the
brief lash of splashes, wiping the eyes now
and again. Thank you for remembering me the
many payoffs and layers of the coatly
K said, Be happy
that you are distractible by grass,
dunes, sand spitting on your fingers, spending
on skin, on clothing, watching lovers kiss
Do you want to place a sum in my column?
Consider that you will vanish.
I vanish, a whisper, a bumperstickered
car pulled parallel to yours at
a red light. Then rowing apart through
the rippling fen of curbs and glass. But, I
had dreams of you. Those limbs will come
together again, at least.
My cat said, I told him, John, he was
going to pay more rent.
Now wasn't I right?