You do not have to choose.
At least not in any ultimate way.
If I unpack the poisonous black seeds
humming in their tray in the dark
it has grown late.
If we are sitting at a kitchen table waiting, talking
our one life
deeper into evening.
If we broadcast it straight through the walls.
Whereas each day spring refracts
and stokes unrest
in Paterson’s communists and toxins.
Also deep in the heart
of industry, though to what extent only
the shop stewards know
and maybe not even the stewards
if we’re saying the same thing.
If the film projected all over these walls
has its perfect moment of time
catching the doomed traveling of the farmers into it
by wagon, an entire season
of dignity and struggle
one much stronger than I, I think.
I think of you, strong but bronchial, tossing in a squat
watched over by god knows what
dream in which we turn
together and disappear
into a great striking mass, channeled into history
where you say what you need to say to me.
Soon proper sleep at your mother’s house.
Soon the proper sleep of eternity
in which I am stuffed
and mounted in a foyer.
I look so lifelike, another angel.
I am trying to make our one thing come true
simple as that
load of gravel shoveled under-the-table
for months on end in a parking lot.
That master perfumer at work, in Vermont
surrounded by the fields and god.
Sunlight filters down through cloud
canopy to touch god’s workers
who are in turn entitled
to all of it.
Whereas in the museum we take what we need and leave
the rest, drifting in final long hallways
of anonymous masterwork,
feeling alien, stultified inside history.
Entry should be free.
Whereas the old stadium, since demolished
was filthy, loud, and cheap.
Whereas I saw the rich
behind their partition, right where you could put a hand
their motives, character
A union or a family, sanctimony can produce a crowd.
If it’s marching, more dancing.
When dancing, always demand more spins.
If spring stands in memory over all
If Easter stands in memory
over all other days
its bottle of Pepsi warm and flat
on the sideboard
beside a vase of lavender.
If grandpa tells his astonishing story
his brother goes to work as a scab
by canoe through the marshes for years
until the striking workers catch him
and “split his head wide open.”
If now, as then.
When or how this logic upends
no one knows.
If a love I take to be ours is not our own
is afflicted, affected with false duende
I haunt foggy tides at Monterey, soar over a field
with sheep. Merely air, I am.
The pack breaks up as I move over
as it’s forced
through a membrane and piped by capitalists
everywhere in the desert.
As the lighthouse keeper, run out of food, disappears
picking pears in a grove near the shore
and the members of his rescue party
die one by one, all alone
and in search of each other.
Boil the ackee, bust the seal on another pack.
Tell me what else is too good to be true
becomes three things at once
in a strike, in a strike
in another strike.
The heart needs bitterness
but do not wallow in it: It will hurt the heart.
The stomach needs sweetness,
but do not wolf too much sugar.
It curdles the stomach.
The lungs need spice, but do not wear out the lungs,
which oxygenate the blood’s red cells.
The kidneys need salt, but do not fall
to your knees and drink the sea in
a fit of romantic despair
which can ding the kidneys.
The liver needs acid, but do not go into the past
go into the future.
One, it will be better for the liver
which has suffered. Two, you’ve got no choice.
If history is an acid litany of atrocities
and debts, handed down to us by landlords.
If we don’t know where we’re going
and we’re getting there faster and faster, hurting all the time
like Keats or the Hulk.
Get up in the dark.
Stomp to the chamber in your frock.
Make your way to the enormous lot
where cloth piles fill slowly, swelling, with elegance.
People want to feel like that.
Every balloon has a crew on the street.
Every year someone dies hung up in the wires
landing someplace unsafe.
Whereas the pilots tie down and light up the gas.
Whereas the hiking masses still go up
if this band of weather stretches to Richmond.
If we are still connected.
I had the dream of the snakes again and was afraid
The good snake ate the bad one
I sailed through the valley
half-formed, in potential, but giving over everything, my entire life
which can end in only one of a few ways:
as the lower part of a cycle
as the end of a precedent
rendered unto us.