Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Ginkgo

Pages, pages
all around
my courtyard fall
without a sound.
Yet, full of sage
advice, this tree
might hold a book,
dog-eared, like me:
a paperback,
spine cracked and dry,
shedding leaves
and leaving sky.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Loon

I know it sounds crazy, but—like you—I might be a tenure-track catamite today, instead of a virtuous poet working temp jobs that I detest: if only Fred had selected a slightly tighter pair of pants that evening—our first date. 
Our dinner was fine. French. Bouillabaisse. His conversation and his choice of wine, thoughtful and excellent. We discussed my possible future—the famous men and women (and others) that I might meet at cocktail parties with his help.
After coffee and crème de menthe, we took a stroll. He waxed poetic, rattling off bits of Bishop and Merrill by the light of a waning moon. It was a beautiful autumn night. The sky was clear. The air was crisp. Three or four stars sparkled above Manhattan. I doubt that we would have lived happily ever after, but we might have enjoyed a few evenings of strip-poker in his apartment, or, at the very least, a healthy hand of Old Maid.
It was not to be. I was his student, you see, and a former gymnast, as I had just demonstrated on the horizontal bar in a little park near his apartment.
Fred Roland was here on a special Visa: a visiting professor of poetry at the university. And he wore baggy khakis.
I looked down at his face. I kind of admired the man for attempting to defy time as well as gravity: turning purple, eyes-bulging, hanging upside down in Washington Heights—keys, credit cards, condoms, and a handful of change cascading from his pockets. I realized with sadness that cards were probably no longer in the cards for us. Not even Old Maid.
So much for my career.
I lifted my eyes toward Heaven, and I sighed, “Don’t kill yourself, dear.”
He consented to live, with a grunt, after a painful attempt at something more spectacular—some kind of spin—before he dismounted, with stinging soles, upon the Earth.
Fred staggered over to a nearby slide and sat on its steely lip, to catch his breath and balance. I crouched to collect the scattered contents of his khakis, chattering about how I had once crushed my nuts in junior high attempting a similar move.
He said nothing.
When I thought I had collected everything, I handed the stuff back to him. He sorted it. He counted the change. He looked at me quizzically. And then he looked around. He squinted and he said, a touch tersely it seemed to me, “I think you missed something.” He winced, “over there.”
He pointed to a derelict disk shining in the dark.
I followed his shaking finger and walked over to where he was pointing, to see for myself.
He was right.
I had missed something.
I picked it up.
Even in the dim orange light under the swings, I could tell it was a coin. A newly minted dollar. A lost Canadian Loon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Man Inside

Goose-stepping down a model
Tokyo street, picture a man
half-dressed in a Gojira suit
preparing to stomp around Japan.

Suspended by suspenders, his
lower parts are all reptile—
rubber ones, I grant you—fake.
All is fake except his smile

The smile is real. He loves his job:
crushing cars, burning towns, killing.
Monsters have more fun than us.
They know it's far more thrilling

to revel in monstrosity
than be a good man for forever,
lying in a foreign field
nobody will visit. Never.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Fall mornings like this
conjure up the hand
of Helios. I see
the great sun god himself,
patting the flanks of his horses
with affectionate fire,
offering one last word
of advice to Phaëton,
before the eager boy
takes off in his chariot,
and loses control of the day,
the night, the entire sky.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Iliad

For J.M.

Death changes nothing. Priam still is king.
Horses run. Fresh flowers—lilac, rose—
still lift the spirit out of time to sing
an everlasting song. No heroes

here. Only towers made of sound. The wind
sweeps across their breastworks like a hand
across a harp: a vortex twisting in
agony across a devastated land—

a land hard to define. A voice. Not
one in particular: the voice of dust,
one speck among millions; an arrow shot
into your throat; remains of a man who lost

his life in a long-silted river, drowned,
as a great battle raged all around.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lux Fiat

Sitting by the Hudson,
reading Borges, I
removed my Ray-Bans,
looking up from my book,
risking a little blindness.
I wanted to let the light
fill my empty eyes.
I wanted to be Borges.
I wanted to hear that
immortal Latin phrase,
spoken from nowhere,
the first day of Creation.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Dear Martial, may I
borrow a vertebrae?
I need a keystone
to cap an epigram
to glorify our age—
this golden age of poetry.

My name is Eric. Yes,
I know you dont know me.
I’m an American poet.
I have no spine to speak of;
apart from one eyebrow
(see) lifted in irony.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


If it weren’t for that
horrible screech, I might
begin to envy gulls:
their tiny brains, clear eyes,
those feathers of ash, and those
hollow bones; that flesh
so rich in fat it floats
effortlessly in water,
air, above fires; the way
they twist and turn around
the local siroccos rising
flames create for them.
If only they’d shut up.
I really do admire
their special spiral flight
pattern (patterned after
Yeats’s infamous
gyres, I suppose)
sustained by next to nothing—
the minimum of toil—
pure buoyancy—like music—
the sweetest morsel of
humanity; nourishment
picked up on the sly from some
colossal black barge
passing out to sea,
full of rotting garbage.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Roman Portrait

Who is this young man
with dark and curly hair
found buried in Egypt?
Is he still aware

how handsome he is?
How senusous his lips?
How, looking at him now,
his picture quietly slips

into another one:
another pair of eyes
buried in my brain.
Both still so alive.

August 2nd, 2013

A man with glasses reads about
The battle of El Alamein
In A Brief History of the World
Stuck on the lucky 7-train.