I have a table.
I can write I have a table.
I have a chair.
I can write I have a chair.
I have ink and paper.
I can write with the ink and on the paper.
But poetry tells me
it isn’t in the things I already have.
Poetry tells me
it’s in the things I’m missing.
The word snake slips across my page.
It’s a word, not a snake.
If I write cobra, serpent,
an image slithers toward the reader,
the feeling slides.
If I write viper,
or add a rattle,
it’s not a rattlesnake that crawls across the page;
it’s my writing slipping through the silence.
The rattle shakes,
the danger nears,
the viper draws closer:
I fear it might afflict me with its poison;
I fear those fangs could halt my breath.
But if I turn the page, the danger’s gone.
Even if I knew
would explode tonight,
I would kiss you today
“See you tomorrow.”
The Others in the Photo
she feared the love she had for me
was greater than the love i had for her
and chose to stop giving love to the love she had for me
today she has someone to give the love she had for me
the love she didn’t want to give me when she had
my love that was greater than the love she had for me
The white miller
crossed Lake Michigan
in icy winter
with nothing more than the strength of his arms
and the force of his rhythmic kick.
As a boy he was drenched
in the bold water of his fantasies,
dreaming in Holland
that he’d been swallowed by the sea.
We know the ocean bore him on its back
and dropped him on the American continent
without him knowing, yet,
that he would come to occupy a sacred place in the jungle.
He wasn’t yet the Tarzan with his yodels and his simian walk
who would later swim through life.
The young swimmer
had come from Rotterdam
on a ship of the same name.
Each wife would cross the pool beside him,
each pool a different depth:
Johnny slowly learned to live accompanied
and lasted longer underwater
Many years later, in Acapulco,
sick and senile,
Johnny gazed out at his pool, at home,
and longed to go in one last time.
Jane’s reflection shimmered on the water, naked;
old Tarzan held his breath.
Why can’t a man in his eighth decade of existence
float in the waters of the end?
If we are born in liquid, we ought to die in that same water.
Tarzan stares intently at the pool.
Why don’t we all allow
Johnny Weissmuller, white miller,
to slip into his pool at home,
which glimmers like a kindly lake,
and drift down to the bottom toward his well-earned peace?
Translated by Robin Myer