japonisme: 9/25/11 - 10/2/11

30 September 2011

will you still love me?


The loop of rusty cable incises
its shadow on the stucco wall.
My father smiles shyly and takes
one of my cigarettes, holding it

awkwardly at first,
as if it were
a dart, while the yard slowly
swings across the wide sill
of daylight.
Then it is a young man’s
quick hand

that rises to his lips, he leans against the wall,
his white shirt open at the throat,
where the skin is weathered, and
he chats and
something he never does.
Smoking his cigarette,
he is even
younger than I am,
a brother who
begins to guess,
amazed, that what
he will do will turn out
to be this.

He recalls the house
he had
when I was born, leaning against it
now after work, the pale stucco
of memory, 1947.

Baby bottles stand near the sink inside.
The new wire of the telephone, dozing
in a coil, waits for the first call.

The years are smoke.

Reginald Gibbons (also born 1947
“Luckies” from The Ruined Motel. Copyright © 1981 by
Reginald Gibbons. All rights reserved.

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27 September 2011

what is hidden; what is shown


1. Peony silks,
in wax-light:
that petal-sheen,

gold or apricot or rose
candled into-
what to call it,

lumina, aurora, aureole?
About gowns,
the Old Masters,

were they ever wrong?
This penitent Magdalen's
wrapped in a yellow

so voluptuous
she seems to wear
all she's renounced;

this boy angel
isn't touching the ground,
but his billow

of yardage refers
not to heaven
but to pleasure's

textures, the tactile
sheers and voiles
and tulles

which weren't made
to adorn the soul.
Eternity's plainly nude;

the naked here and now
longs for a little
dressing up. And though

they seem to prefer
the invisible, every saint
in the gallery

flaunts an improbable
tumble of drapery,
a nearly audible liquidity

(bright brass embroidery,
satin's violin-sheen)
raveled around the body's

plain prose; exquisite
(dis?)guises; poetry,
music, clothes.

2. Nothing needs to be this lavish.
Even the words I'd choose
for these leaves;

intricate, stippled, foxed, tortoise, mottled, splotched -jeweled adjectives

for a forest by Fabergé,
all cloisonné and enamel,
a yellow grove golden

in its gleaming couture,
brass buttons tumbling to the floor.

Who's it for?
Who's the audience
for this bravura?

Maybe the world's
just trompe l'oeil,
appearances laid out

to dazzle the eye;
who could see through this
to any world beyond forms?

Maybe the costume's
the whole show,
all of revelation

we'll be offered.
So? Show me what's not
a world of appearances.

Autumn's a grand old drag
in torched and
tumbled chiffon
striking her weary pose.

Talk about your mellow
fruitfulness! Smoky alto,
thou hast thy music,

too; unforgettable,
those October damasks,
the dazzling kimono

worn, dishabille,
uncountable curtain calls
in these footlights'

dusky, flattering rose.
The world's made fabulous
by fabulous clothes.

Mark Doty

From Atlantis by Mark Doty, published by Harper Perennial.
Copyright © 1995 by Mark Doty.

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25 September 2011

why i don't believe in hell

my father kinda looked like a mixture of mayor bloomberg and alexander nikolaevich yakovlev (photo composit). today would have been his 99th birthday, if he had not died in 1980.

he smoked a pipe, sometimes cigarettes, he had a manhattan every night when he got home from the office. with a cherry. and he played 'fur elise' on the piano. he bought himself an eames chair, and was always the second son, the one least favored.

as a pup, he had done some disc jockeying on the radio, and he was the best dancer i ever met.

when i came home from dates, he would be sitting at the dining room table eating corn flakes and reading the paper.

as i thought about him, new of his talents kept popping into my mind. singing 'scarlet ribbons.' acting in musicals at the jewish center -- 'captain sammy's showboat' (directed by my mother). he could draw middling good, and had wanted to go to art school, but ended up following in his older brother's footsteps to go to medical school at the university of chicago.

a month before he died, my mother's mother died. in the car on the way to the funeral he cracked jokes the whole time.

when i look at him in the tangle of my memory, i can only seem to find a mangled creature, partially melted into himself, some darkened parts that look like they might be from burns.

no, i don't think i'm seeing him now. i thinking i'm finally seeing him with clarity, he who will always be in my memory. how can one believe in hell? a man may spend some kind smiles in his lifetime but if he also places his own pain & fear & terrors onto his children with a scream and the back of a hand, he is being rightly tortured at that time.

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