Kissing the Dancer by Robert Sward

Sward, Robert,
Kissing the Dancer & Other Poems
Introduction by William Meredith

Originally published by Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York
First published 1964
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 63-23368

Copyright (C) 1963, 1964, 1995 by Robert Sward

For permission to reprint, contact:



These poems are unusual and excellent in a number of ways, but what strikes me first about them is that they are the only book of poems I know about-well, maybe one of two I know about-that has been turned down by a lot of publishers over a good many years because they are so original as to be unrecognizable as poetry by a conventional eye. They have gone off to respectable pub- lishers with praise from Stanley Kunitz, Louise Bogan, even Robert Lowell, and come back with the embarrassed confession that they simply escaped the respectable edi- tors. I submit that this is very rare today, when so many books of poems are printed every month and the squarest publishers are looking for poetry with the dogged altruism of philanthropists.

Randall Jarrell recently described a school of prosperous, mild-talented poets as seeming to have come out of the lining of Richard Wilbur's overcoat. The poets of another school, who appear to get into print pretty easily, strike me as having their home at the bottom of William Carlos Williams' laundry hamper. You cannot recognize Robert Sward's poems by any such affinity. They come out of original experience and they exist in language that the experience discovered. And if that is the least that can be said of any book of real poems, it means more when a book presents experience as odd as this one does. I was tempted to the impertinence of this introduction because I was curious to see if I could say why these poems have delighted and puzzled me for six years.

From reading Robert Frost I have learned to look for giveaway lines in poems, hidden lines that tell the sly reader some of the secrets by which a poet works. "The bird would cease and be as other birds / But that he knows in singing not to sing," in "The Oven Bird" are two such lines. With Sward these secret lines are not only hidden but often apparently in the negative, recounting apparent creative errors. "My examples are all myself," he says, implying that that's wrong. But the poem "For Charlie," where the line occurs, shows that in fact it's right: that once you get a good fierce look at the example of self-- the only example any of us will ever have--you can see the world in it. I think Sward believes that.

And he writes (in "All for a Day"):

	All day I have written words;
	My subject has been that. Words. 
	And I am wrong. And the words. 
But there are a hundred lines in this book which seem to have found their sweet, eccentric selves in this very preoccupation. Certain entire poems like " In Cities" (and perhaps "All for a Day" itself) take life from a fierce intensity of verbal attention.

And here is a stanza that can probably be taken at its face value as poetics, although I'm not saying it will make the problem of writing poems a whole lot easier for any of us:

			I am fond of death-and/or 
	The self-contained. This poem may not be said to be 
	About souls. But of things. Feathers and leaves. 
	Leafless trees and the featherless bodies of crows. 
	Finally, let us say, I have been asked to write simply.

As nearly as we can ever know these things about one another, I know that Robert Sward works long and hard on his poems. I have asked myself, What does he work on about them? I mean, they don't rhyme or scan, like some of my glossy works, and they don't allude to American History. I have come to the conclusion that when he works on them he is paying perfect, slightly mystical attention to the things he's tipped us off to above: (l) him-self as an example of a man; (2) his vocabulary as a but-terfly net to catch the experiences the man has; and (3) a passion for simplicity. His simplicity is not that of Zen (now there's a gamy laundry hamper to breed poets in) or of Thoreau, but something more like that of Blake or Emily Dickinson. If you look at things long enough with this kind of attention they sometimes resolve themselves into pure creation: you find yourself using italics, and they're not yours‹ they're created italics. Here is a section of a poem called "Scenes from a Text," which has the fairly hair-raising epigraph "'Several actual, potentially and/or really traumatic situations are depicted on these pages.' -_"Transient Personality Reactions to Acute or Special Stress (Chapter 5) ."_

      The house is burning. The furniture
       Is scattered on the lawn (tables, chairs
       TV, refrigerator). Momma--
      There is a small, superimposed white
       Arrow pointed at her-is busy
      Tearing out her eyes. The mute husband
       (Named, arrowed) stands idly by, his hands
      Upon his hips, eyes already out.
      _The smoke blankets the sky. _ And the scene,
       Apart from Momma, Poppa, the flames . . .
      Could be an auction. Friends, relatives
       Neighbors, all stand by, reaching, fighting
       For the mirrors, TV, sunglasses;
       The children, the cats and speechless dogs.

Like other good works of art, these poems have the air of having been made for people rather than for other artists. They contain high-toned gossip rather than aesthetics, or the aesthetics are hidden and acted out like charades. A lot of the poems are unpleasant in places, like life itself, but none of them contains any fashionable despair. No claim is advanced that our time is more terrible or hopeless than another or, on the other hand, that you and I don't have experience as the poet has experience. There is that humility about them that comes from paying a blasphemous attention, God's own attention, to oneself. I myself couldn't work that way, and I couldn't have written this book, but I think I will soon be in good company when I say I much admire it.


I did not want to be old Mr. 
Garbage man , but uncle dog
Who rode sitting beside him.

Uncle dog had always looked
To me to be truck-strong
Wise-eyed, a cur-like Ford

Of a dog. I did not want
To be Mr. Garbage man because
All he had was cans to do.

Uncle dog sat there me-beside-him
Emptying nothing. Barely even
Looking from garbage side to side:

Like rich people in the backseats
Of chauffeur-cars, only shaggy
In an unwagging tall-scrawny way.

Uncle dog belonged any just where
He sat, but old Mr. Garbage man
Had to stop at everysingle can.

I thought. I did not want to be Mr. 
Everybody calls them that first. 
A dog is said, Dog!  Or by name.

I would rather be called Rover
Than Mr. And sit like a tough
Smart mongrel beside a garbage man.

Uncle dog always went to places
Unconcerned, without no hurry.
lndependent like some leashless

Toot. Honorable among scavenger 
Can-picking dogs. And with a bitch 
At every other can. And meat:

His for the barking. Oh, I wanted
To be uncle dog-sharp, high fox-
Eared, cur-Ford truck-faced

With his pick of the bones.
A doing, truckman s dog
And not a simple child-dog

Nor friend to man, but an uncle 
Traveling, and to himself- 
And a bitch at every second can.


I still heard Auntie Blue
After she did not want to come down
Again: she was skypaper, way up
Too high to pull down. The wind
Liked her a lot and she was lots of noise
And sky on the end of the string:
And the string jumped hard all of a sudden,
And the sky never even breathed,
But was like it always was, slow and close
Far-away blue, like poor dead Uncle Blue.

Auntie Blue was gone, and I could not
Think of her face; and the string fell down
Slowly for a long time. I was afraid to pull it
Down. Auntie Blue was in the sky,
Just like God. It was not my birthday
Anymore: and everybody knew, and dug
A hole, and put a stone on it
Next to Uncle Blue's stone and he died
Before I was even born; and it was too bad
It was so hard to pull her down; and flowers.


What it was, was this: the stars 
Had died for the night, 
		and shone; 
And God, God also shone, 
Up, straight up, at the very 
Top of the sky.
		The street
 Was one of the better suburbs 
Of the night, and was a leaf, 
Or the color of one in the 
Moonlit dark.
		She, my mother, 
Went to the window; it was 
As late as night could be 
To her.
		She looked at the wind,
Still the wind,
	. . . never having blown.

And in the morning now of sleep 
The stars, the moon and God 
Once more, away, into the sky. 
-And she, my mother, slept . . . 
In her window, in her sky.


It is there. And we are there. In it. 
Walking in it, talking, holding hands. 
The nickel postcard-the glossy trees; 
The waterfalls, the unsuspecting
Deer. A scene shot from a car window
A slowly moving car, with many 
Windows, and a good camera.
And we are walking in it. We tell
Ourselves, quietly, perhaps screaming,
. . . Quietly, _We are walking in it._
And our voices sound, somehow, as if
We were behind windows, or within.
We embrace, and are in love. The deer
That we are watching at the same time
(Through cameras, binoculars, eyes . . . )
Are so perfectly wild, and concerned
-With the scene they are, their glossy fate
Silence, Nature, their rotogravure pose-
That they remain, not watching; rather,
Staring away from us, into the
Earnest, green and inoffensive trees.


I lie down in darkness beside her, 
This earth in a wedding gown;
		Who, what . _ she is, I do not know. 
Nor is it a question the Night 
Would ask. I have listened- 
		The woman 
Beside me breathes. I kiss that, 
A breath or so of her, and glow. 
Hush now, my shadow, let us 
_Day breaks- _
		Yes, and so we have.


She enters a room exuding displeasure
strewing bits of string, grievances
	bottle caps
	law books
like largess
to all corners.

From the seams of her change purse
	Travelers Cheques,
Photos of used-car salesmen
       (dear brothers-in-law),
	ragged old horoscopes
And gifts of broken glass.

Daughter to the planet Saturn
Mother to my wife-

Her courtiers, we direct her,
Mix martinis for her
Find causes for her, lost umbrellas
	 and carkeys
Even at the gates of hell.


There are many underground things
 in cities, things like sewers, 
that run for miles, lengths 
and widths, across cities 
under all. Then there are 
the basements of large stores 
houses and hotels, and often 
these basements run for twenty feet
and more out, around the buildings;
 and coal, garbage and all kinds 
of food are sent up and down into 
the basements, or out, from the side-
walks and the alleys and streets, 
by chutes, corrugated elevator-
stands, iron platforms, sewertops
. . . round, rectangular or square.

And these metal things in the sidewalks, 
streets, are always rather warm; 
and in the winter, to comfort 
and unbitter their sittings, 
haunches and tails, and to avoid 
the asphalt ice and cold, cats 
and dogs, stray squirrels 
and so forth, come at night 
and from miles around, rest 
and together partake.
				And from some 
distances, they and their live optic 
green, brown congregations of eyes 
appear as islands, still yellow 
large, oval, gray or opalesque.

And no dog bites no cat, nor squirrel,
and all is quiet, idle, until the sun
comes up and chases them
out of the night, off the warmth
and good of the sewers to their parts
and tails. Then without a look
at the sun, itself, they run, trot
walking, no, no business into the snow.




_British Guiana, thirty-seven 
Hundred pygrny aborigines, 
A group shot._ Faces, the New England 
Autumnal, Kipling-Kodachrome shade 
Of nipples. They gape and seem about 
To drop: like leaves.
	Stare. Faces. The faces 
Stare. And breathe, breathe.

		Their breasts (the tribe
Is composed wholly of women) stand 
Out like twigs, gnarled, like rotten, thick 
Knotted bra-wire. Monkey-teeth are embedded
 In the tips and glisten, they glisten 
In the white, eye-dot "flash," like jewels; 
_In the  flash, in what makes the flash . . . _
Faces. The faces are intent, still, 
And gape. They are leaves, miraculous, 
Savage, maple leaves. Sentient. Like coal, 
Like death, like both; like leaves.
		The faces
Grin for an instant, grin and then fall,
In an instant
		-thirty-seven hundred leaves.



Spitted, twelve hundred Yaka-Yaka villagers,
Men, women and children, constitute
The evening meal. ( The Yaka-Yaka,
Pygmy-pygmies are as chicken
           to the Wai-Wai. )
The author and his wife, Mrs. Flash,
In Yaka-Yaka moccasins, share
A leg, while the thirty-seven hundred Wai-Wai
Pass among themselves ribs, entrails . . .
With fingers (and toes) for the chief.


_Queen's Monkey-teeth:_
      Eat, we eat, little people;
      Mmm. Eat, eat little people.
      Fingers, toes; eyes and hair;
      Good to eat and bones to wear.

      Eat, we eat, little people;
      Mmm. Eat eat little people.
      Neck and brains, sugared tongues;
      Good to eat, as good as lungs.

_Mrs. F.'s Flash Bulbs:_
      Eat, we eat, little people;
      Mmm. Eat, eat little people.
      Juicy, tender, pygmy boys;
      Mothers, fathers, spitted toys.

Eat, we eat, !little people;
Mmm. Eat, eat little people.
Eat their mouths, eat their faces;
Eat their skin, eat the traces.

Yaka-Yaka, Yaka-Yaka; 
Yaka-Yaka, Yaka-Yaka.



The little Wai-Wai chieftain,
Forty-one pounds, three-foot nine 
Stands upon a bathroom scale, 
A nude, encircled silhouette 
In the great, white island moon. 
Her monkey-tooth gleams, as if 
It were the moon, behind her, 
Within her, shining through her. 
And she stands there, a small, black 
_National Geographic _
Anthropological queen . . . 
Still. She stares. "A leaf-like face; 
A driftwood piece of trunk, 
With limbs, twigs- 
		upon the scale, 
In the embracing, fluorescent 
Newly BRILLlANT! inched, notched 
Calibrated moon. She sways . . .



_The moon goes out, melts and is absorbed 
Into the air; 
	becomes a heat, Night, 
Coolness, a humid stillness, 
		a breeze _.. .

It breaks, gray- 
		the wind becomes a gale; 
Palm trees, coconut fronds, pink parakeets, 
Splash across the sand. Yaka-Yaka, 
Wai-Wai, Mr. and Mrs. Flash. _Teeth. _
Night, the night opens, and is darker 
Than before,
		Night, the night lightnings black 
And is a sea, falling from the sky. 
Calm. The authors bind together trees, 
Buoyant Wai-Wai, coconuts, 
		flash bulbs; 
Life preservers, parakeet feathers . . . 
The sprightly, befeathered raft sets out, 
Mr. and Mrs., Yaka-Yaka; 
Leica, new bulbs and film; 
Wai-Wai breasts and leaves,
 Vaguely fluorescent, bubbly, still. Stone. 
It sinks. Like stone, stone 
		into the sea.

	*	*	*

Wai-Wai, thirty-six hundred
Ninety Wai-Wai, 
	huddle together,
Shuddering, glancing at, nibbling
_National Geographic _
	leaves, leaves
The photos, the faces of themselves.


The inflected apteryx (or kiwi) would appear 
To be a rudimentary, an essentially 
Webster-bird. The apteryx (from the Greek a + 
_Pteryx) _does not fly and, in fact, 
Lacks all regard (and need) for flight.

Flat-breastboned, hen-sized and scratchy 
The apteryx stands on two declining 
And unlikely chicken-legs. It ooou's for food 
Through a long, thin reed-like beak: 
Insects, snails crippled fleas and berries.

The nostrils of the apteryx 
Are at the last half-inch of its beak. 
And the bird-not quite extinct-survives 
Under government protection. It reproduces
Slowly, and in public, burrow-hiding.

If its hairs were feathers, ocellated
Aphrodisiacal, the sleepy marginal, asterisk-eyed
Apteryx could (conceivably) strut, cock
And play the peacock; however, with its one hint
Of a tail, and grayish, short shag-brown hair

The apteryx would seem content to ooou. And, 
Its beak alone, apt and straight, endears one 
To it; but when it curls itself, extinct 
Within its sleeping back (by day), 
Enwhiskering its ooou, the apteryx returns
Upon the government and Webster of it all.


Let us suppose the truth:
I am an owl by virtue
Of my belief in owls.

The owl swoops, like a hawk; 
Is still, like a rock; shrieks, 
Meditates, like God, 
		like air.

I believe in owls. And,
What is more, what is in fact
The exact same thing, as you
Will by now have guessed,
		I am

Hawk, rock, rodent, wail 
		and God. 
Which troubles me, which makes 
Of me, myself. An owl.


	_For Diane, who dances_

Song is not singing, 
		the snow

Dance is dancing, 
	my love

On my knees, with voice 
	I kiss her knees

And dance; my words are song, 
	for her

I dance; I give up my words, 
	learn wings instead

We fly like trees 
	when they fly

To the moon, which 
	on occasion

They do; there, there are 
	some now

The clouds opening, as you, as we 
	are there

				Come in!

I love you, kiss your knees 
	with words,

Enter you, your eyes
	 your lips, like

Of us all,

	words sweet words, 
		learn wings instead.


Down hill, the elm trees 
In the sunlight,
Their trunks darkish 
Under branches, under leaves. 
Higher up the hill 
In this woman's arms 
I see through to the other side 
As into another season, 
The sun suddenly all 
On one side of the leaves.


By the swimming 
The sand was wetter 
The farther down you dug; I dug: 
My head and ear on top 
Of the sand, my hand felt water . . . 
And the lake was blue not watching. 
The water was just waiting there 
In the sand, like a private lake. 
And no one could kick sand 
Into my digging, and the water 
Kept going through my fingers slow 
Like the sand, and the sand was water too. 
And then the wind was blowing everyplace, 
And the sand smelled like the lake, 
Only wetter. It was raining then: 
Everybody was making waxpaper noises, 
And sandwiches, kicking sand 
And running with newspapers on their heads; 
Baldmen and bathinghat-ladies, and nakedpeople. 
And all the sand turned brown and stuck together 
Hard: and the sky was lightning, and the sun 
Looked down sometimes to see how dark it was 
And to make sure the moon wasn't there. 
And then we were running: and everybody was under 
The hotdog-tent eating things, spitting very mad 
And waiting for the sky, and to go home.


	_Exercise: EEC_

Mert was a moron . . . plainly
 decently, kindly, honestly
 and with his whole heart, 
Mert was a moron, and a good one.

Mert did just what he did, 
often forgot, it's true 
but did 
as long as he did 
and remembered 
to do.

Mert smiled 
without a thought, 
without a muscle 
dumbed down in his face;

Mert laughed 
with his entire tongue, 
entire throat, and every one 
of his teeth: 
and with his hands as happy as a million hundred seals.

Mert did in a minute! 
more than a fox 
more than a bear 
more than a maybe (-r);

Mert met a girl, a mother 
kind of girl. 
And the girl said, Mert- 
and Mert said, Yeah?

and the girl said 
and said and said and said

And Mert smiled 
without a muscle, without 
a thought; and went away 
with a 
with a 
with a 
without a did 
without a do.


We fight. I am clubbed from behind. They pin me
And take turns, forearm feet fists to face
Forefinger and thumb opening eyelids, press
Graze with the nail, touch with the palps
Squash, the Jew's eyes seeing eye, sand
Sprinkle, candlewax, cigarette ash,
Cigar smoke. It is necessary to see this
Against a backdrop of _
For four miles west of it one can smell
The lake; further, it being July, the water
Tastes of chlorine stale fish breath snail-dew

Even at nine or ten o'clock, the buildings 
Give off an unexpected heat; it has rained 
This day, and the night before. I have spent them 
At the movies, watching Bud Abbott and Lou Costello 
Weary stark flat slapstick, but offering conditions 
Questions, occasions for grieved analyses. 
Do you not laugh, do you not cry? 
What is real? cried the oyster, glob of spit 
In a pane of glass.


We are in Chicago's Waldheim cemetery. 
I am walking with my father. 
My nose, my eyes,
	 left pink wrinkled oversize 
My whole face is in my armpit.

We are at the stone beneath which lies 
My father's mother; 
There is embedded in it a pearl-shaped portrait. 
I do not know this woman. 
	I never saw her. 
I am suddenly enraged, indignant. 
I clench my fists; I would like to strike her. 
My father weeps. 
He is Russian; he weeps with 
	conviction, sincerity, enthusiasm. 
I am attentive. 
I stand there listening beside him. 
After a while, a little bored, 
		but moved, 
I decide myself to make the effort; 
I have paid strict attention; 
I have listened carefully. 
Now, I too will attempt tears; 
		they are like song. 
		they are like flight. 
I fail.


The trees bend, the colors run- 
Reds into yellow, greens, 
Into white. 
	The bark, birch-bark, 
Slips from its tree;
(Wet leaves, the sun falling still, 
		the hush of things burning, 
	birdsong . . . )

			pine trees 
	white, white night light 
Steaming, all cool in a mist.


I walk by the used river
Each day 
	past an old attic
(No house, the attic only
Beech trees growing through it)
In a field. The river smells
Of barges, rotting timbers 
	waterskiers' boats, lovers
The very sun upon it.
Rivers age in Connecticut,
Grow feeble, irritable
And complain like old women.
The charred attic, too, 
Bears ill-will toward people, 
And cries, and talks aloud
On certain evenings to the sea.


John liked ceilings; 
he liked them very high 
in the morning, 
and then low at night.

At dawn he liked 
a distance to rise to; 
and in the evening 
a closeness to sleep to.

John was indifferent 
to floors, walls 
		dazed even 
in his walking 
gazing, upon them.

In the afternoon he liked 
a quiet ceiling, damp 
and darkening 
later, as the sky.

John passed from ceiling to ceiling; 
and when it was very dark, 
he'd turn on the light, open 
the window and look at the night.


DEAR GEORGE-There was this sound. It was leaves.
It was outside the windows, outside
The house I live in, the house that is
Inside two other houses. And leaves.
It was just leaves. And the wind was leaves.
And there was the sound
				. . . someplace in it
There was silence. Something that can kill you.
Worse than kill you. Make you into leaves.
Leaves in the leaves. Wind. Or the thing _fear_
Must always want, when there is nothing.
-I kept hearing it, the leaves against
Themselves. And the houses empty. Myself
And the sound. And my gun.-I went out,
Then, and shot the leaves. The trees. The wind.
I shot the wind, it was almost flesh,
It was leaves. It fell down on the lawn,
The uncut lawn. I shot it again.
And put it in my pocket. And walked
In the trees. And shot moths. And fireflies.
And my shadow, in the moonlight. Leaves . . .

*	*	*

And then my wife was there, George. Calling. 
Talking to me. Begging. But her voice- 
It was not her at all. It was sound, 
The sound of death in the sound of life. 
Yet the voice, there was a voice. The leaves. 
The night moths. It was _her _ voice. Only, 
As one must hear it, from the ghosts, the thing-ghosts 
She felt she would become. Leaves. Of sound, 
Of darkness, fire; of leaves, gnats and stones.

      A voice like the single sound of death
      Rapt, nun-toned, voiceless; and without sound . . .
      Mindless. Incredible. Selfless. Fixed.
      And she claimed she loved me. And loved me.
      But as a ghost. As a _thing. _ A thing
      That must say, that must sound, all things
      Alike, in the one way. And that must
      Be heard as it is, by all the death
      That is within one. That listens, speaks
      Without surprise. And that is the ghost
      That was one's flesh. Divorced into death.


DEAR GEORGE-George, I have just bought a house,
An eighty-seven-room house. Also,
A twenty-one-room house. And many
Little houses. And eighteen trailers,
And nineteen cars (six with beds in them);
And wives for all the rooms, the trailers
The little houses, and the six cars
With beds in them,
. . . and they all love me,
All my wives love me. They do, George. They
Write to me. Every day. They write
To me. And they are perfect, concise
And beautiful letters. They say-
Yes and they say it eighty-seven times.
And then sign their names. I taught them how,
Myself. How to read and write. How to _ 
In houses. How to love, and how to 
Write perfect, concise and beautiful 
Letters. Yes, and how never to die; 
How to live forever, for me, for 
Me, even though I will die. And how 
To make me feel as if I won't, even
Though I will, will feel as if I will. 
And they are very good at it.
They are all pregnant, George, 
		all my wives 
Are pregnant. Even the parakeets. 
Because some of them are parakeets. 
And some are goldfish, 
			silverfish, ants

Rats, goats, skunks . . . 
	and all have borne me children, 
Parakeet, silverfish, ant, rat 
	And I'm happy, George. I like 
Marriage, really like it; wives, 
And getting mail every day. 
And I feel I have a place to go. 
It feels good.
			The only trouble is 
I don't have any money, or even 
Any silverfish or rats or bed sheets 
A newspaper, or a place to go.
 I mean, why don't I, George?
					I live alone 
In an old upright typewriter, 
			with but 
One dog and two cats to work 
To cook, to drink beer with me. 
It's sad, George. We cry ourselves 
To sleep. We are so alone. 
Now and then Dog sings to us-

		Woof, woof; 
			pale cats, pale man 
			    you shall have houses, 
			        you shall have wives; 
			_night falls_

		Woof, woof; 
		    beer for you, milk for you;
		        sleep for you, dreams for you;

		Sleep my children 
		  sleep my children 
		    sleep. Woof, woof.

It is a lovely song, George,
And Dog sings it well.
We sleep.

Nightmares big as houses, wives
Warts, mushrooms, 
		they are all there is.
Night-things. Things- 
			pressing all the keys
Around us. Wanting what? To kill us;
To put us into jail.

Dog barks, he barks songs at them.
They type _Death _ onto his back,
Onto his tail, his ears, his tongue. 
			Fleas and lice!
We dance to avoid
The keys; we do not dance well.
We are typed into dreams, into wives;
Into mansions and swans; 
	old bed sheets, Death-sheets; 
		pushcarts and poems.


All the mornings, always pennies
Of my life
Nickels, dimes 
	shafts of light, clouds
Have begun 
	over things-an alley,
Bushes, pawnshops, 

It is a part of fish, rent-
Curtain smells, 
to be three, four
Five flights above the street,
Over what in the good years
Of a good war one falls on 
	now and then, 
		dreams on, dies, a park.

All the evenings, always 
Buildings, trees 
	sculptured out of stone 
Nickels, dimes
	I'm falling, 
Quite slowly, now, down
Into the shafts of light.


After it was quiet, 
the dust reflected 
on the dust.

There was an end to doubt.

The stars were shown 
		in the stars,

	  in the brackish, white, bleeding 
		  of light.

There was an end to doubt.

And all things, 
	men and the moon, 
	   men and the remainders 
			of men,

		Cried out

And the stubbly, 
now overgrown sea-

All, all things 
	a part of the dust, 
	   not dead.


People glow. At certain times 
They all come into themselves 
And glow. It can be beheld. 
It is a glorious thing; 
To see it even 
	is to glow. 
And to speak of it well, that is 
To cherish it, and glow.

Two still people in a still room. 
It is of them that they have wings; 
It is the thing of them that glows. 
It is of us that we love 
And dream, and are 
	of stone. 
I believe in stones, and am 
And have ever been in love.


More and more one is aware in one's friends 
Of an affection for stones. 
Indeed, there are, of late, serious shortages, 
A run on stones. And some persons, it is said, 
Have formed "attachments" to them. By special decree, 
Several have been executed. 
Others are due soon to suffer that same fate. 
Such measures are necessary. Who would deny it? 
Things being what they are, the enemy 
Approaching, the penalty foretold. 
Surrender your stones. Lend us your support!


The clock. Bonging away at midnight.
The moon a still, white, bent second hand,
	-at the peak of the spire.
The sky. The face of a black, stopped clock.


There is no reason why not to look at death. 
A good poem, also, is also death-contained. 
I once pulled out all the business feathers 
Of a crow; he became better: godcomplete: black.

Nothing makes barely looking haste to put away
The dead: except the "dead" involved: in business.
The earth, the seasons, the poets, before they become
Poets, make no haste to put away the dead. Nor God

The Lord giveth, and He taketh away-by and large 
Slowly. And without haste. Crow-bombs are here 
Not my concern, nor ordinary bombs. But plain decay 
(The proper autumnal process subsequent to life).

Emphasis need not be placed upon the soul. My point
Involves the leaf (as an example), and the unplumaged
Crow. Nor is my point one with flesh, and no blood . . .
But one of death. I am fond of death-and/or

The self-contained. This poem may not be said to be 
About souls. But of things. Feathers and leaves.
Leafless trees and the featherless bodies of crows. 
Finally, let us say, I have been asked to write simply.


"Several _actual, _ potentially and/or really traumatic situations are depicted on these pages."

_Transient Personality Reactions to Acute or Special Stress 
        (Chapter 5)._


The car, a '39 Ford, 
Lies on its side, windshield smashed 
Doors off, bodies strewn, blood, brains 
And tow-truck. A boy, perhaps 
A girl, rushes about on fire, 
And appears to have been so, 
Now, for several moments.-Small, 
Hairless, and with a face like 
Sleep. In his bare, smoking arms 
He carries a woman's head. 
She is smiling, and her hair 
Is all on fire. She too 
Appears to be asleep. And the boy 
Suddenly presses his head 
			down, _hard _ 
Into her neck, 
		twists, and wears the head backwards.


The house is burning. The furniture
Is scattered on the lawn (tables, chairs
TV, refrigerator). Momma-
There is a small, superimposed white
Arrow pointing at her-is busy
Tearing out her eyes. The mute husband

(Named, arrowed) stands idly by, his hands 
Upon his hips, eyes already out. 
_The smoke blankets the sky. _ And the scene, 
Apart from Momma, Poppa, the flames . . . 
Could be an auction. Friends, relatives 
Neighbors, all stand by, reaching, fighting 
For the mirrors, TV, sunglasses; 
The children, the cats and speechless dogs.


The scene is an illuminated
Hole. Soldiers, firemen, are descending
(With axes, helmets) the nine ladders.
The moon watches over the shoulders
Of the crowd. Menninger, Murrow, wear earphones.
Unseen, asleep, awake, eighteen hundred feet
Down (where she has fallen, descended to
Willingly, confusing "up" and "down"),
With an NBC tape recorder,
-Instantly, specially lowered to her-
And companionable microphone,
The woman is rhythmically, for the
Moment, cursing, annihilating
Us all
	. . . the thick, dream-, lost, echoing voice
That one hears as one would hear one's own
(Oneself in a pit, cursing, pleading
Asleep, one's mind become as the earth,
Raging, damning, still, still, still, still, still,
An hysterical stone upon one)
-With indifference, interest, wonder
Or death
	. . . the scene stills, and is a photo.


Three men in a canoe, in a flood; 
Houses floating upsidedown, children, 
Dogs, car-roofs, visible just beneath 
The surface of the water. The men 
Are dressed in raincoats, hats, faces, eyes: 
All of which are composed of water. 
_Shadows. Water. Black and white water. _
The sky, the floating, clapboard houses, 
Are also composed of water. A scream! 
The man's mouth is the sound of water; 
The silence, swirling, the look of it. 
It disappears, merges with his face. 
And the leaden, still, almost churning 
Wake, separate, identical with the flood, 
Extends from the canoe back, ten, 
Twenty, a thousand yards, to a house 
Floating, still, in the distance. Shingled, 
White, wooden water, a house of water. 
(Like no, like all other houses, _death.)_
 -A man, the one man with a paddle, 
Begins drinking the scene, the water . . . 
The other men, their raincoats, hats and eyes. 
He becomes them, and the entire scene. 
And all there is, is water, shadows 
Water-or what might appear to be 
Sleep, water, the inside of one's head.


Black November 	   holy valley trees,
Spires,     churchstones

		-It is
I am hanging, upside 
Flaking, slowly 
		the snow 
	having watched, having watched


All day I have written words; 
My subject has been that. Words. 
And I am wrong. And the words.
			I burn 
Three pages of them. Words. 
And the moon moonlight, that too 
I burn.-A poem remains. 
But in the words, in the _words _
In the fire that is now words. 
I eat the words that remain, 
And am eaten. By nothing, 
By all that I have not made.


It is after midnight. Another noon 
And I'll be back in class, teaching midnight. 
All the lunched-up faces. And me, a moon 
Without a tie. They leave my class looking 
For death. My examples are all myself. 
The fluorescent lights are ghouls, I tell them. 
Never smile beneath them. They eat teeth. 
And last week I brought a body into class, 
And nailed it to the blackboard-with three-inch 
Lengths of chalk. Standing, then, in front of it, 
I managed to murder their attention. 
It was like the first time I called the roll: 
And the dead all came to life. My zombies. 
Without attention.-I put them to death. 
Yes, you were right, Charlie: I'll never stand 
Before them, and let them see themselves: taught, 
By me.


It is them. I jump up and down hard 
Very glad to see them. Jesus Christ. 
They whistle, hoot, applaud, proud of me. 
Then for hours, days, semesters, weeks 
I do not say anything. It happens 
Early in September. I break off 
In the middle of something. And I stop. 
I have nothing more to say to them. 
They accept the fact. And are patient. 
Meanwhile, I allow them to smoke. 
At any time I may start in again. I sense 
Their faith in me. And the Word is not yet, 
Will not take hold, is not upon me.



"The Greek islands,
		Tinos, Siros, 
			yes, yes," 
said the blowfish, conferring momentarily 
	with a stone,
	    with an octopus 
	         and a whale,
"natural things 
	come from the world!"

*	*	*

_They are composed, in the north, 
	of limestone, gneiss, schist and marble; 
in the south, of eruptive rock, lava, basalt 
		and trachyte . . ._


Lying awake 
	after billiards
	   (pocket billiards), 
	        having lost, 
	            having lost 
I attempt again the "break";

I neither make, 
	nor see it made
	    (nor try) 
	but hear it, 
	and lie entranced

moving, coming 
	off the cushions, 
	never dropping, 
	the balls await, 
	       in motion 
	some miracle of will.


Pink cat, 
   skin only 
     in the white street, 
        lizard bones 
       mule slop, 
          church bells
Mobil (and olive) oil 
	cans, rusting; 
	  it lives, 
	(gnats and flies)
umbrella frames 
    licking like life 
	the earth.


Two old men, brothers 
     the oldest in Piraeus, 
         part-time thieves,
     and uncles to my wife, 
   one upon the shoulders 
	of the other, 
	at a daughter's _Taverna _
	          O gloriously drunk 
	    upon the family mule.

Introductions completed, 
       we observe the mule
(an enormous fish, perhaps 
	an elephant, 
      two other uncles 
or a unicorn) 
sipping beer.


	in sunlight 
    on dusty duty rock, 
	  the red ant 
     sand grain 
_that _ thin
     (the blades)
   all around him.

The time:
9: 30 A.M.
*       *       *

I observe this on my way
   (squinting, bemused 
mildly dysenteric), 
        on a guided tour
through Delos.


_Statue _
Front view, tall 
     very thin 
   marble, white 
    a sort of pillar 
       only glowing, 
	rigid, arms 
	            and straight down; 
the Cycladic Mother Goddess
	One, stylized 
nose only, Big, wedge-shaped 
     and those, 
         her gigantic feet- 
no eyes or mouth or hair.


 "Chryssoula Koramidou, 45, yesterday. 
gave birth to twins in a Xanthi-Melissa bus 
without being noticed by any of the twenty passengers."
-The Athens News, Saturday, August 5, 1961


Twelve years later,
     on a fig tree
         near Sounion,
we observe
three hundred and eighty-four 
     edible white baby bonnets; 
	and the bruised, 
      plum-colored fruit.

*	*	*

	Black Greek goat
	  ("time is memory"), 


Death this time in the uniform 
	of an American naval officer, 
	     black armband 
			pilot's wings 
      and a live rose (white) in each hand;

Death in mourning for whom? 
for what? and why?


	. . . before firing 
machine-gun practice, 
we hesitated 
for the butterfly 
who came . . .

I fed a Browning-burst 
of fifties 
and he who squeezed 
and I who fed 
looked at sparkles 
	             silent air.


It is a jet-delight
for me, today
to stand
flown to you, friends,
over the body
of this . . .
a well-known soldier.

Firing a volley (FIRE!)
through the flag,
and into his death
we note
just how little
this boy
has passed beyond us.

_The body spurts, black
against the flag; and all
peer down
into its holes. _ Notice
how little blood he sheds:
this is one of the finer restraints
of soldierhood.

It is for us to stand
and to applaud
over this well- (FIRE!)
volleyed corpse
            -and now, plunging
our tongues
into the flag, let us delight
in his presence here today.


DEAR GEORGE-Seven of your years to one
Of ours. You were six, less than a year, 
And I was five, when that Buick got you. 
I threw snowballs at every one 
I saw, that winter. They'd stop sometimes 
And I'd run, screaming for you, I don't 
Know why. It was twenty years ago. 
My mother said you'd gone to heaven. 
St. George.
		And you were a good saint, George. 
Only you never answered when I 
Wrote to you. Only prayers. You were good 
About prayers. The other George we got, 
And George the third, George the fourth (the cat) 
And George the fifth. By then I'd married 
And that was the end, I thought, of saints 
And dogs, and praying to dogs, to get dogs.
 But now I have to write you, George, again.

The thing is this, I'm in a madhouse. 
Not like ours. The other kind, like where 
We used to hunt for rabbits, where you 
Made the spaniel pregnant, and ate snakes. 
And I've been telling them about you. 
And they said to write you. No one 
Would say what, or how. Just "Write to him . . ." 
So how are you, George? I'm well, but sick. 
It's snowing here today, black and white: 
When it doesn't melt, it's white. It's hard 
To tell what it's going to do, falling. 
People bet on black, and white 
				by flakes.

And when they've fallen, things fall on them. 
What is God like? My nurse says he's green 
Like she is, and that he's a dog. Is it 
You, George? Is that why you're so good on prayers?

Does what the weather is make any 
Difference to you? And why, George, why? 
Or the times l've written you? George, 
Who are you, George? Do I disappoint 
You? Why do they want me to write you? 
Are you them? or are you me? or God? 
Do you mind about the other dogs? 
I've asked. No one here seems to think so. 
That you wouldn't have let me have them 
Otherwise. I love you, George. You're good. 
You don't say anything, even when 
I'm not like I was before. I change. 
I can't help it. And I think you've changed 
Too. Though I have no way of knowing. 
I can only guess. And eat snakes, 
				and pray.


The oblique, who look at you 
The direct, who look away. 
In all cases one senses 
The eye at some right distance 
To mind, to self-to nothing. 
And it is this sense perhaps 
(Along with some "flash" of fright) 
That helps make the faces one, 
One, in an anthology 
Of faces. Moments, extremes 
Occur rarely. At least for me. 
And yet I have watched, have gazed 
At all these faces, not drunk 
Not sick, not dreaming, writing 
Or even bored, and thought, thought 
Them poems: and embarrassed 
Turned to the faces, themselves.


The hundred dollar cats, the sixty 
Dollar dogs; the lions, the tigers;
The six miniature, white, snake-eating
Fish; the snakes, the monkeys (with grins like
Gelded poodles); the parakeets; owls
Flamingos, pink pigeons and the small, headless
Proprietor, silky, creeping and jeweled.


She began to blow away, and put her soft 
Kernel lace starch of a palm to her hat; 
It was soon against a cloud, and she 
Blew beyond the highest stalks, beyond it.

The wind was as if it were the sky, wanting 
To get blue back about itself, up up 
Up, and away . . . d'Iowaed she went, higher 
Than the highest tassels ever reached.

How-dee'do? bowed God, as the harmonicas 
Were polkachomp-reeded forth, together 
With an old gee-tar (chaw! Oops!!), 
In the sweetcorn-tune . . . softstrummed silk.


It was a hole, a leveled, paved, black, white hole 
A green hole, a blue hole, grass, sky, billboards, air 
And we were in the hole-into the air, trees 
Grass . . . into what were the trees, the sky, in us. 
And we were in the air, the hole that went through 

	All around us there was what we were 
Passing through, inside, inside, inside ourselves. 
And the hole was humming, clear, laned, green and paved 
With black stripes. And there was nothing, the minutes 
Miles when you thought of them, when they made you them, 
The Buick, the speed, the dead skunks at the skunk-
Crossing, the deer _-I pressed down on the horn, 
My hand became a fist, became a sound, a hole ,
At the end of my wrist, _ braked _and the thing was dead._

*	*	*

_So, _ said Death, the deer, sitting there, between us, 
With the great, white butterfly-and we were off, 
Riding through air, through trees, through grass 
		. . . and we were 
In the hole, and over the hole, and the hole 
Went on forever, into the trees, grass, the sky 
That was there, within us, paved, black, white, a rock 
A ghost, a Buick-thing, turnpike . . . a token.


The journey is forever inward,
Through marriages, past divorce suits
Diabetes, dentures, horny toenails.
Outside I see elm trees and think aloud
Of elm trees. To hell with poetry,
I have given up on it. Becalmed,
Preoccupied, I am moving inward.


Married twice now, I've had two 
Mothers-in-law. One visited us 
And required, upon departure, 
The services of three gentlemen 
	with shoehorns 
To get her back into her large black 

	The other, Momma-law the Present, 
Is (with the exclusion neither 
	of that other, 
	     my wives 
         nor the fathers-in-law 
	of either marriage), 
    that Studebaker.


Where do people go when they go to sleep? 
I envy them. I want to go there too. 
I am outside of them, married to them. 
Nightgown, wife's gown, women that you look at, 
Beside them-I knock on their shoulder blades 
Ask to be let in. It is forbidden. 
But you're my wife, I say. There is no reply. 
Arms around her, I caress her wings.


The darkness, night, that that all encloses 
Air, who what where then is not the sun? 
Jesus on his knees. Can that be right? No, 
Reader, I enjoin you to forget this. 
One does not come out where one intended. 
Enters in. I am mistaken. Exits 



For adoption. Regretfully offer dog. 
Dog. Black, tan markings. One quarter cat. 
Apartment-size, mature, spayed, a good watcher. 
Barks (woof!). Healthy, vegetarian.



Immediately . . . 
With an exotic 
Imported rosewood 
Recorder. Perfect 
Intonation. Not 
A toy!  Tuned to the 
Spheres. Free telescope, 
And attachments . . . 
_See them twinkle! _
Audience, instruction 
(Why not you . . . ?) 
Aspires to the state 
Of music, mellow 
Rosewood. Listen! Mmm. 
PANPIPES. Box 139.


She lies upon a tawny mat 
of effluence-and leopard spots.

And he _(he's hers 
and she knows it!)_

Can but barely be seen, crouched 
and to the left of her.

One ear, an eyebrow, and a bit of cheek 
are all that show of him.

The caption (again) suggests that it is fun 
_(fabulous fun)_  being female

_At a time like this! _  And, indeed, 
it looks like fun.

Her eyes are huge and subtly closed 
as leopard spots; and her lips are spread.

She is, in fact, a deodored leopardess 
about to take the male.

But again, the caption: _Youare the very air _
_he breathes _ (the male is hard upon her).

She appears to be undisturbed by this; 
and with both shaved armpits bared, she arches

For him.  One is inclined to think of her 
as being altogether without fear; she smiles,

And takes the male. Neither deodorant, 
nor effluence, could do more.

					She smiles, 
and she lies there, the very air 
he breathed.


Of Love, my friends (after such sophistry
And praise as yours), may one presume? Well, then,
Let me begin by begging Agathon:
Good sir, is not your love a love for me?
And not a love for those who disagree?
_Yes, true!_ And what is it that Love, again,
Is the love of?  Speak! _It is the love again_
_Of "Socrates."_  Love, then, and the Good, are me.

_Explain!_  Is Love the love of something, or
The love of nothing? _Something!_   Very true.
And Love desires the thing it loves.  _Right._
Is it, then, really me whom you adore?
Or is it nothing? _O Socrates, it's you!_
Then I am Good, and I am yours. _Agreed!_


Three-toed, one-headed, its wings the size 
Of chicken-feet-and largest (next to 
The ostrich) of all existing birds . . . 
The emu stands, colossal, ratite 
Six feet high 
	its god enplumaged, dark 
Hidden in the dismal, drooping, soft 
Brown hair.
		_Its hips, hunp, its bulge, perhaps 
Of flightlessness, or sky-appear as speed; 
The stunted cause, the befeathered, round 
Sloping, still embodiment of speed._

The emu runs, swoop-skims, a two-shanked 
One-humped, egg-hatched camel: the bird most
Like a camel.
			Avoiding deserts 
However, the emu inhabits
Open fields and forests where, keeping 
In small companies, it feeds on fruit 
(Of the emu tree), herbage and roots . . . 
Now and then booming, with subsequent, 
And peculiarly hurried efforts, 
At breeding.
		Extinct, in Tasmania 
On Kangaroo, King and Wing Islands, 
The bird is found, and in small numbers, 
In Southeastern Australia.


Its nest, as if it had been rolled in
And humped (in reverse), is a shallow

Sandy, green-egg-filled pit, the eggs of which, all
Nine (to thirteen), are incubated
By the cock, an earnest familial
Type of ostrich.
                                  The young, at birth, bear thin
Length-striped down, are wattleless, and walk;
Cursed, crane-necked, blank, dull adult-eyed 
_Baby, camel, ostrich-ducks _. . . in file 
Swift, point-beaked, 
		_mothered, three-toed, one-headed _
-an image, but for the stripes (and down), 
Of itself, in age.
		Its booming note, god
And size, are at rest in it, in its
Conspicuous state of egglessness.
_It screams, booms, bounds_

Extinct, shaggy, stripeless (in age)

Its head in the camel clouds, the hump 
The bulge, the sandlessness that is God.


The dodo is two feet high, and laughs. 
A parrot, swan-sized, pig-, scale-legged 
Bird. Neither parrot, nor pig, nor swan. 
Its beak is the beak of a parrot, 
A bare-cheeked, wholly beaked and speechless 
Parrot. A bird incapable of 
Anything-but laughter. And silence: 
A silence that is laughter, and fact, 
And a denial of fact (and bird). 
It is a sort of turkey, only 
Not a turkey; not anything.-Not
Able to sing, not able to dance 
Not able to fly, not able to . . . 
Cook. The Dutch called it the "nauseous bird," 
_Walguogel, _ "the uncookable." 
lts existence (extinct as it is) 
Is from the Portuguese: _Doudo, _"dumb," 
"Stupid," "silly." And the story of its 
Having been eaten, in the genus 
Of the solitaire (on Rodriguez 
Island), by hogs, certain sailors and monkeys: 
_Didus ineptus. _ A bird that aided 
Its own digestion, of seeds and leaves, 
By swallowing large stones. It has been called, 
Though with birds (extinct or otherwise) 
Crosses are a lie, a cross between 
A turkey and a pigeon. The first, 
It is claimed, won out; and, having won, 
Took flight from flight (its wings but tails, gray-
Yellow tufted white). And for reasons 
As yet unknown.
	          Its beak is laughter
And shines, in indifference, and size.
It has the meaning, for some, of wings:
Wings that have become a face: embodied
In a beak . . . and half the dodo's head . . .
_It laughs-silence, its mind, extends from its ears;
Its laugh, from wings, like wrists, to bill, to ears._


The snow began to fall and, pleased
With its falling, and the thick
Light effect of itself, blackwhite
Against the summer, frozen
Town, it gathered in momentum
Independent of the wind
And let itself tumble, with a
Quick, sensual uncontrol . . .

Like some unmiraculous _white_
Of a woman, stripped and gathered
Into the lightest freezings
Of herself
		-pleased by her being
And the thick of herself, as such,
Upon the dead spread of streets, steeples
And the noon hour of the night.


     "We are about to overtake our gods."

What will the gods do? There is 
No place to hide. And how are 
We to bear them? After all 
The photographs are taken, All the images recast 
(Into rather more useful forms),
The ancient saints, priests, choir-
Boys (and girls) destroyed (organs, 
The formerly holy stars, 
The musical spheres . . . ), 
Who will care for them, cleanse them, 
Feed them?
		_What will the gods do?_


           -For W.D.


They were spraying 7-up and moth juice
On the fire. The mosquitoes, lawn-flies
And moths dove, flashed and were painlessly
Consumed. There was applause
		. . . we entered.
And while my wife was kissed, they clapped
Me on the back. They wanted to know
That I was there; and then I kissed them
Down their throats, choked and knew that they were there.

And after I had kissed those who had
Kissed my wife, and after they kissed me,
We sprayed one another, scratched and dove
After the moths. We flashed, painlessly,
And emerged to munch the ashes, coals
To sip moth juice, 7-up and gin.
And again we clapped one another
Laughed, kissed, sipped, puffed and swallowed cigarettes.


When the Ginns arrived, they were pounded
On their backs. Our fists came out their mouths
(We all took turns laughing hands that way,
And toasting with one another.)
Wrist-throated Mrs. G.! She was mad.
Her breasts were ferocious olives. She
Wouldn't smile, or sip-and we all
Took turns mixing drinks through her (and Mr. G.)


The cat-girl would not believe in it
And crouched there pained, purring with the pups;
(Their tails were remarkably alike
And neither pronounced upon events
With them.) From time to time they'd lick one
Another, or the cream-dip, but otherwise
Were still
		. . . though one of the pups had tried 
The fire, and the cat-girl 
			sleekly swallowed gin.


Someone found Lil, the wife of no one, 
Buried beside the spit.  She wanted 
A martini; we obliged, and then 
Reburied her.
		Fran nibbled at the 
Charcoal in Bernie's fingernails.
Expelled her from Home Economics.

And Bernie dove in after the moths 
Only to be buried, topped, beside the spit.


The sky was rainbow strips of chrome, clouds 
And the sun, the great, archetypal 
Ford: pork-sauced and on the suburban 
Spit of heaven.
			And Lil's angel waved 
Free, fulfilled and married now, to chrome
 . . . sipping gin and tonic.

		We all stared,
Climbed upon our spit, and then dove
In after the moths.
		-The fire attained to Lil.

Unfortunately, the rest of us
Did not. And we had to try to tell
Again whether or not we were there.
_The fire was a Ford, without chrome, pure
As gin, as cream-dip, rnoths or spray, death_
And we sang to it: its attaining
To heaven, to Lil, to space, ourselves
And the archetypal Ford.
				The Ford honked, then

Backed off its spit, and began to set.
In the other distance, in the space
The consuming that is east, the night
Beyond where the moths take form, beyond
What we flash for when we die,
	     we sense
The white-walled dawn, time and tomorrow's
	The cat-girl vomited, and there was Mars,
The suburban star of barbecue.


The party had somehow failed. The cards- 
And there was Rummy, large as Lil, four'd 
The evening star. It was time for gin
And time for light!
			No one would admit
That he was there; we hid in front of
One another's wife. The women hid

Beside the flames-the way they flickered
Through their eyes. I kept trying to put my tongue

Into their cards, into their eyes, ears 
Throats, between their teeth; but theirs were there 
Between mine. I bit them. And they cried 
With half their tongues 
			munching diamonds and spades.

And the bushes had begun the moon,
Ending "gin," martinis and marriage.
Suddenly the women screamed. The moon
Burst through, revealing their husbands, the pup-girl 

Themselves. The bushes became the lawn; 
The night, the earth; and the moths, the sun.

The men became their wives; and the wives
Became the men, for the most part re-

Marrying themselves. The men were asleep
Beside their wives, smiling, spitted, still

Illicit.-Morning. My wife and I 
Sipped gin; I was Bernie, and she the moths.


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