Poetry at Sangam




First frost and the woodstove ticks and sighs.
Yesterday, walking out, I spooked
two meadowlarks. Spooked them again
on the walk back home. The whole day
around them grayed and brightened,
turned sooty again. But they had not
a single good idea of what to do. Like us, then.
New wives, new homes. Same old song.
Like a creaking gate or something electronic
wired briefly wrong before the breaker snaps.
The frost here gleams silver until ten
on the northside slopes. Stoking the woodstove,
I heard that old song crank up in my head—
Augie on the roller-rink Farfisa, Sir Doug
pleading, Please stay here with me
in Mendocino
. Nothing to it but pine and sigh,
yet there it was, honking in my brain. Same post.
Same song. Same flash of yellow when they fly.
This morning, hurricane toast on the hot plate.
Coffee from a bag, not the stoic cowboy kind.
And radio all the way from Boston on the laptop.
The tempo’s shifted since ’84. My new book’s
a page turner, but not how you think. Imagine
a man rummaging for a matched pair of socks
and you’ll have it. I’ve been that man.
And I’ve been the man stooped beside a cabin
near Bear Creek in the thirty degree morning
tapping a poem onto an iPhone. This poem.
You’re right to say that’s wrong. Imagine Keats
on an iPhone, chasing the wifi down
among dogs and cows in a frosty pasture.
Had he lived now, he’d have made 85
and we’d all be sunk. Rob, yesterday a coyote
bounced across the road, tongue hanging,
and slipped into the dark draw below me.
Rumor has it they don’t feel joy. But maybe
the joy was all mine. Maybe Rilke was wrong,
and we’re not here to name things but to feel them.
In that case, looking isn’t a prelude
to anything, this glass of Laphroaig neither
inspiration nor celebration. Cheers, old friend.
If I see the dust billow in your headlights,
hear the clatter of loose tappets, I’ll get the gate.