Monday, August 31, 2009


Taking a break from Pushkin, this morning I produce a fresh new sonnet, in honor of a new friend, and my new apartment.

As with any apartment in New York, mine has its peculiar foibles: an asthmatic fridge, a somewhat lumpy carpet, a toilet that cries like the souls of the damned when it is flushed. But, apart from the wheezy fridge and the accursed commode, the place is quiet, clean, compact, and cool, and a steal at $950/month. And I enjoy its proximity to work immensely.

Perhaps the most wonderful feature of this new place is the party of Buddhist monks which appears, promptly, at 8:30 a.m., with wooden bowls, accepting alms from these elderly Asian ladies who live across the street. I see them through the shower window, which I leave cracked about 4 inches, to the let steam out, so I can shave my head.

This intersection of events has occurred every morning (So far as I can tell. I am not always up at 8:30 a.m.) for approximately the last 4 weeks—always at precisely the most embarrassing moment in my morning ablutions—when the plumbing system in the building falls into a maniacal bipolar fit.

I am not sure what the correlation between this beautiful Buddhist ritual and my wonky plumbing is, exactly, but 28 days of preliminary data suggests—to this writer, at least—that there may be more at work in the Universe I share with these hungry monks than pure co-incidence.

Rites and Rituals

Each day, while lathering my balls, six monks
Berobed in chocolate fustian appear
Across the street with wooden bowls, at once,
Mouthing the word, “Namaste.” I hear

Nothing but my plumbing, screaming pipes
Played by a malicious satyr—Pan—as I dance
From “Hey” to “Hot” to “Yaaah—!” I hop from ice
To fire—clutching a comet in my hands.

A lady in pink cardigan places
A Ziploc bag of cooked rice in each bowl
And bows. I hope the bright smile on their faces
Means monks like eating rice, not hearing the howls

Of Hell evaporating from my cracked
Window, when they show up for their snack.

To which, we add a follow up, a sort of "too much information" Petrarchan annotation...

About those Pan pipes pleading in your ear,
The lady with the rice, pink cardigan,
The monks, the balls, the bowls, Shakesperian
Bric-a-brac, et cetera, it’s clear
The fingers on a flute are what you hear:
The sort of sad solo which any man—
Poet, plumber, even mathematician—
Might play upon himself himself. I fear

The fiery ice is harder to explain
Without the use of telescopes or other—
Instruments—designed to extend our view
Beyond the bathroom—to that deep terrain—
Where light was born from night. Maybe a lover
Versed in astronomy could do it, too...

No comments: