The Other Country

 There are no doors
 no windows here
 you enter from the wings
 where living hurts
 you drag yourself to the center
 you crouch
 under a grey canvas sky
 and you wait
 near a dead tree
 until they come to beat you blue
 to stone you half-dead
 then you crawl inside a wooden box
 to sleep it off
 your bones dry of marrow
 dust in your mouth
 sometimes you hear voices in your head
 or the croaking of frogs
 in the morning before the pale sun
 you perform the gymnastics of the mind
 doubled-up like a centaur
 and you wait
 you wait for the shy moon
 to roll into a ball before you
 movement a heresy
 but one day another man comes
 who carries his life in his hands
 he too must perform
 so the day can be saved
 even if the moon never returns
 and laughing is a painful process

Notes for Sam
The Funanbulistic Stagger
(for Donald Barthelme)

June 1989 Barthelme (I read some but not all),
cynical, white, bearded, hawk-eyed, attacked
by a throat cancer, changed tense.
He once said:

I have been meaning to speak to you
I have many pages of notes
instructions quarrels.

Now all we have are the notes
and the instructions, but no more quarrels.

It was good to quarrel with Barthelme.
I know it's ridiculous to say that
when you consider I had, personally,
nothing to gain, either way,
whichever way the argument went . . .


I am writing this 
to get your attention 
and tell you 
of the sweet pain 
of that mad man 
lost amidst the flowers 
an artist to whom no one 
ever said:
That's nice 
what you're doing there 
I want one of those 
for my mother 

Summer Wind
Short Circuit
Daily Conjugation
The Gesture
The Beauty of Loneliness
Facing the Horizon
Temporary Landscape

it is no easy aim

to jump to one's death

and not miss the target

most of us would rather

delay than fail our end

his was a perfect death

not only did he impale

himself on the flag-pole

but he brought the flag

down to half-mast

Letter to a Friend
Shared Familiarity
The Yellow Chair
Picking up Pebbles To write to write one's life is to take a road that leads nowhere and yet parallels the totality of one's existence To write one's life is to evoke a silhouette that of the writer rushing through his past One cannot tell where he is going as he detours diverges deviates but that is why we want to follow him Along the way like a lost traveler he picks up pebbles from the ground and stuffs them in his pockets As he gropes backward he loses himself  but we are willing to be disoriented with him willing to be lulled by his vain repetitions Stranded in time with him we lose ourselves in space with him and yet everything holds in place underneath as if pulled by a magnet All that was absent forgotten from his life is now suddenly present again