Edwin Honig: After Love, After Marriage

After Love, After Marriage


We grew the miraculous flower:
five corpse-white spokes
sunk in pubic hair
with that radial penumbra
just hovering
over the flimsy purple core --
and sat there gloating, ah,
the triumph after such care!

How long did it last?
till a painter sat down
and put it all into a sketch
before it could wilt from view.
Then from his painting
came so many feasts
for we can't count
how many eyes.

But no trace at all
of our passionate growth.
A bush of dark mint,
too vigorous, bunches up there,
assailing the air,
and now in that corner
where two fences met
flaps the painter's folding chair.


Next morning my brain slid back
into the whole slimy mess
picturing your shiny mouth
open for screaming
meaning you'd had it
with your big left toe crushed
after kicking back
meaning you found not me
but the same door shut

Then the small smile
coming on
meaning you're sorry
because the whole world
rackets around in your head
meaning only
I can't take it any more
but will forgive you me
if you forgive me you


Let me tell you again
where I must go
Back to the farm
without you without them
without you or them

I must go without wife
without sons
and live on the farm alone
feed every animal
draw all the milk myself

I must hear myself breathe
so the song will come
of the wheat I grow
and the power to work
and master the ground

To bury the past in darkness
and wake every day
in the smell of the cold
off the hay and the smart
burn of the wood stove fire

Home will be bearing the tale
of the farm I work
without you without them
while sun smashes down
and rain bears away my life


Beyond home where the world unsettles
a try for love fell through
a try for a different
love fell through

The ancient voice of lovers was
a ghost in a tree
that sang "Here's where
love fell through"

In a tree substantial love's voice
took one morning
the whole great eye
as it shot through

Love with all leaves growing
and the red bird singing
in the roundest tree
the sun shot through

The voice that sang out mourning
from the ancient tree
was a ghost of song that morning
love fell through

When we awoke that morning
the world was settled in
the torn tree where
my love fell through


You say, "Don't say a word.
To think of your mouth,
that will rot underground,
spouting now, is absurd."

Not hearing me -- sure,
it's a treat you can bear:
with everyone screaming,
my quiet's not there.

You say, " Let it out,
all that you know,
in one word. Enough!
Now don't breathe."

I scream, "Do you hear?"
You say, "It's wind
from a mouth
no longer here."

Wind whirling over
this house the words
you never heard
before I died.


Believe me, as you go dead I'm all set
to be your elegist,
making of my bungling hands in love
these separating claws.

Hunched into that half-life you led until
the minute we clapped eyes,
then rousing only as I made you come
alive enough to love me:

Notice this time how distance breeds itself.
Where we were we weren't
and, though breathing close enough to touch,
aren't even there.

Past-me past-you were strands we looped into
a last embracing noose,
hangman-woman fondling each other's neck
we patiently would break.

How much, how long did glances jab and flay
until we found the vein,
then furious with bodies to be lugged away,
saw each other dead.

I wait. Can you resist that you-before
patched up and hunched again,
and only that way willing to be loved,
uncrowded by a hand?


Whole eras of men & women in countries beaten
& bearing their mad tyrannical rulers
with armies marched to the sea & drowned
bombed houses swallowed wet in the dirt

sons & daughters of mothers & fathers counting
for something to someone flushed out
& stilled in their endless everyday blood
& the rulers themselves snuffed out in time

hanged upside down in a hate-all poetry
or burned with the dry crusts of the poor
their sorrows' gold eyes wept & shat out

so we can dance through their mirror's crack
glide by the discard & dreck of their days
into the light of our fresh & dying tomorrows


In bed hearing the wind
round the house
like a getaway car
bend after bend

I think of my plans
how they don't belong
I think of my motives
they aren't mine

Things click themselves
off so fast I ask
Is it me
or someone passing
the window outside
that takes this all in
in a flash

I can't sleep
though of course
I will try
telling the shadowless walls
I've climbed all night
I'm the wind and
how many empties like me
are there left to pick up
before I die


What the two windows want:
the bridge and the cycle
and the tree cut down,

the foghorn mounting
the cold milky ground,
the tombstone missing a name.

What the whitewash wants:
on the grubby facade,
sunlight rousing a smile.

What the cracked roof wants,
watching the farmer
float with his iron into the sky:

the squirrel stuck stiff to the floor,
the lovers in bed long dead
unmaking the child

already grown to a man
groping past loving, past light,
roped to the end of his life.


Distant light
from fields
where you live
comes to me here

the air
I breathe
for a spell

by this touch
of what we started
which because it was
more than we knew

seeps through me now
a drop
or two
from a plenitude


Morning gapes.
The spirit spreads,
touching what touches me.

A living overflow
can't be too much
for itself.

The source my body
is the flow that knows
the overflow.

Only sick night
brought me to
her imminence.

One day they paged
Miss Murphy

Next day it was
Miss Mary

Recovering today
I heard Miss Major


Like & let & again
towards one another each time
the tender & rough fulfillment

where it should be
an approaching of warmths expectant
the touch to relieve & to join

the tipping of fire to fire
letting blood brightness
into coagulant dirt

the waking to each like a rebirth
of small lights grown into
the larger through air

pouring & gathering streams
Vesuvian & Himalayan
through bodies the same

mixtures of tongues
spoken & dead
of babblers to listeners rigid

uncaring & caring alike with
always the difference insistent
it matters so much nothing matters

I fly to you needy
while only pacing this room
& finding you always missing

or just about to appear
or equally soon to vanish
I hold to you fast changing

myself in you edging away
you in me passing off
in my hands the fire turned ashes

yet we who were there once as one
shot out of the dark
still burn toward the light

I prepare for tenderly roughly
letting this summer sing still
in which we keep turning & dying


Back to your room
after my weekend visit,
you play underseas war
using the closet & windowseat bay
for submarine lairs,
your mouth devising
flesh & gun disintegrations
coughing fast-flashing sallies up
out of mind

I see your dark pupils
figure the damage --
Is it worth shoveling up
just to get on with now?

There's a blind man under the bed
wanting to show you where to hide
when the homework stacked
like tank-flattened GIs
gets punishingly high.

"Daddy I'm frightened --
or maybe just bored,"
you want to cry
as my car miles off
turns screeching back.

I pound & pound
on the big front door.


The house killed by your word
withstood much deeper wounds
before it let go.
Those were years we lived
wrangling inside
without daring to ask
should we patch it or part.

Those absentee summers
neighbors by moonlight
were statues
climbing the trees,
training their mirrors of air
at the windows,
were we dead or merely asleep?

Night snowfalls in winter
imprisoned bulls
charged beeches and pines
hunched in the driveway
till eased off
by ploughs next morning,
the bright air a diamond.

Those were years the lawn
thickened and spread,
having no care
but the weathers run wild,
small vandal gangs
assaulting and dying,
child by child.

Dogging all-night refusals
day-calms and word-gusts
pretended relief.
At breakfast some mornings
we sat like vacationers
facing the bay
already polluted.

Now a gold-fisted flagpole
thrust from the lawn
against vengeance
and vandals
that crept up regardless
stands flagless,
detached from the house.

Last summer new lights
riddled the waters,
night planes hurtling
through air
cleared the heat of neighbors
still churring
and scorching the grasses.

Exclude, exclude, echoes the house.
Dead rattan rockers nod
in a desert of sunlight
as we leave, separate,
and the new owners' eyes
smilingly rise
from the lawn.


Awake, as to flickers
and whispers in grass,
hot summer reflecting a time
almost stiller than time,
a sea-bleached rope
asleep in a basket,
my groveling heart
touches a thing
not yet dead
in your staring.
What can it be?

What is it now?
Me released in a flutter
of withholding sight --
that excluding
perfection of glass?
Am I all disappeared there
but for an eye-
shuttering tic returned
by a memory probe?

Am I the mote
in your self-
riveting eye
or the crimp there
my being alive
and once loved
sometimes betrays
in its hectic
surface-devouring glance?

Before letting go to let you
be whole without me,
let me recall,
as through whispers
and flickers of summer
pausing adrift,
this once loving voice
dissolved in an eye
about to be stilled
in its own
nearly perfect reflection.


gray lips

this hour's
hourless light
turns wooly morning
not yet rising
light finger touching
wind falls
hard footsteps
on pavement
soften in grass

we loved

we who are
no longer for each other living
though arms
still arrns hug
as though we ourselves are others
gray lips


morning labors
wet mouthed
on pig iron gates
a woman
who cannot rise
there lies



The lacquered brown wall reddens

Like our own wishes
we are carved out of air

touched by the afternoon sun

The part of us feeding a wish empowers
then lives past it

warming and worming its way

While the wish exists it lives
apart from the empowering part

deep through the windows

Because to exist a wish needs
detachment from what feeds it

as if to engrave its light

The possibility to continue detached
is probably almost infinite

in the sleeping house forever

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