Uncle Dog and Other Poems by Robert Sward

Uncle Dog and Other Poems
By Robert Sward
PUTNAM & Company Limited
© Robert Sward 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1995

First published in Great Britain in 1962 by PUTNAM & COMPANY LIMITED 42 Great Russell Street, London, W.C.I and printed by Richard Clay and Company Ltd., Bungay, Suffolk
For permission to reprint, contact
Robert Sward
Address: P.O. Box 7062, Santa Cruz, CA 95061
Other books by Robert Sward:


Some of the poems in this book have appeared previously in the following magazines, newspapers, chapbooks and anthologies, to which grateful acknowledgment for permission to reprint is here given:

Antioch Review, Arts in Society, Beloit Poetry Journal, Best Articles and Stories, Carolina Quarterly, Carleton Miscellany, Chelsea Review, Chicago Review, Chicago Review Anthology (1959), Coastlines, Contact 3, December, Epoch, Galley Sail Review, Metronome (Jazz Yearbook, 1959), The Nation, New Campus Writing 3, New Orleans Poetry Journal, Odyssey Chapbook 1, The Outsider, New York Herald Tribune, Poetry Magazine (Chicago), Riverside Poetry 3, Satis, Saturday Review, Mt. Shasta Review (MSS), Transatlantic Review, Views, The Wormwood Review.

I have also to thank the Corporation of Yaddo and the MacDowell Association for affording me an opportunity to complete the book.


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. 
Independent like some leashless 

Toot. Honourable 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 
Travelling, and to himself--
And a bitch at every second can. 


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 was a hole, a levelled, paved, black, white hole, 
A green hole, a blue hole, grass, sky, bill-boards, 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
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. 


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 fire-flies. 
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 & 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--It is odd about the ghosts. 
They are here again. In fact, they are 
Here all the time--I _choose_ to see them. 
I mean I can try not to, and not 
See them. But they're _there_, and they're real. 
It's as if they were inside the air 
At night, in my bedroom. And about 
The size of a man. Worse than before: 
Before, at least, I'd know they were gone. 
I was pretty good about it, George 
When it was my father; and even 
When it was God--wasn't I? But now 
It's just something sort of blank, and there. 
I'm having a dream. Then suddenly 
There it is--complete. It's eerie, George. 
You wake up and there's your dream: alive. 
Not even in your head, but breathing, 
The way the air breathes, when it's alive. 
Only now it's always alive. And white 
In about the space of a man--_there_. 
But like I say, I choose to see it. 
It's hard. I can't even remember 
The way it was before. How was it, 
Before? And why are they here again? 
I don't want to see ghosts! they mean things. 
They're an obligation--aren't they, George? 
And it's almost one to see them. Well ... 


Not much else is new. Great grandma died; 
I shook hands with people, had some gin 
And slept with Blanche. My best love has come 
After funerals. It's the women--
What makes them like that, George? after death: 
After someone else's death ... or theirs. 
Remember Katz? he'd sleep with corpses. 
He must have sensed that in them, the thing 
In them perhaps that becomes a ghost. 
I asked Blanche. Only then the ghost came. 
Blanche wouldn't look at it. Goddamn you! 
She said.--It had been such a good lay. 
She hadn't minded before, when God 
Was there--though then of course I hadn't 
Mentioned it. What sort of ghosts are they?
Dad and God I know; but not women. 
What are they, George? What makes them like that? 



I am getting better with people. 
Like shaking hands at the funeral: 
I did it well, with restraint, smiling 
And enjoying it. Because we're all ghosts. 
I told them: great grandma's dead, but we 
Are too. Blanche saw the humour of it 
All the ghosts of it; but not the death. 
She laughed.  And then we slept together 
All afternoon--until the ghosts came. 
That's another thing; they come alone 
And yet you can't help but have the sense 
Of their being plural. And always 
I could go off with them. Honestly! 
But I'm afraid to die, George--and die. 



It is good that death lives
in old houses, best 
that lean or lean not, 
and are the colours of itself. 

One time, shape, smell, colours 
and all were the tellings 
and fire seemed the right 
killing most fast remove; 

... the house lent up itself 
risen in the flames, 
and smoked, offering 
its billions self; dust 
and the fire went through 
appearing in moments 
at the windows, chimney, 
doors, as a joke 
and finally the two 
that leave any tumbling 
left, and the ashes forestayed 
no part of the same coming new. 



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 colour 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 & God 
Once more, away, 
			into the sky. 
--And she, my mother, slept ... 
In her window, in her sky. 


It was in my sleep; I was awake
and watching the alarm clock. The baby, 
the belly of my wife, kicked me: 
eight months to nine. It was time 
to be born, to ring, to be awake. 
The night had been revisions; and the clock 
had been strange, being set at five 
and by its numbers' light. The belly kicked me, 
again; my dream poked back
at it (with an elbow). I rubbed it, sorry 
across the navel. My wife slept 
behind dreams ... behind her belly. 
And the baby was there, for the first time
in my life. 

		I was sleeping again 
poking damnit! with my elbow. And being bellied. 
There can be no putting in, with a wife ... 
the immaculate belly-maker swells 
in a baby's last six weeks. A boy 
should like that; he'd have me in his crib! 
'Morning dad'! carrying around her belly 
like his shield. I'd turn his nose 
down, into the night. And fall asleep... 

The sun was ready to begin us all. 
I was not yet ready to be begun: 
Damn the bellying thing! 
it was in the window, in my sleep-revising 
both the belly and my eyes. The day! 
The night had been awake to be an image, 
and it had become a question: 
neither of night, babies nor of the sun. 
			I tried to sense the navel 
with my elbow. The baby would seem 
to have appreciated this; he pushed to guide me 
to it. It was not his--his was but his own, 
and what it drew from her, within ... 
					To hell 
with sustenance!  This was something 
left to me, the navel 
I had married. It is true of course 
I have my own: but mine was done, fulfilled, closed 
and sensitive to touch. It had been, 
in its pressing to my wife's, a comma. 

It was time to be born, to ring. 
				Just then 
I'd like to have been her son, her daughter: 
or even some wholly wife-embodied navel. 
The night had yet to be revised; ­-my wife 
to be awakened: and the clock, to be observed 
and kicked, by day. 



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. 


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 & jewelled. 


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 & 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. 


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, hump, its bulge, perhaps
Of flightlessness, or sky--appears as speed; 
The stunted cause, the be feathered, 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 & roots . . . 
Now and then booming, with subsequent, 
And peculiarly hurried efforts, 
At breeding. 
		Extinct, in Tasmania 
On Kangaroo, King & Wing Islands, 
The bird is found, and in small numbers,
In South-Eastern 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; 
Cursëd, 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', 
Walguögel, 'the uncookable.' 
Its 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 Rodrigues 
Island) by hogs, certain sailors & monkeys:--
Didus ineptus.--A bird that aided 
Its own digestion, of seeds & 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. 




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: You are 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. 




Portrayed here is a special flesh, 
And a special brand 
Of cigarette. The luxurious white paper has, 
In fact, a sister in the woman. Her neck 
And arms are long, costly and white. 
Their skin supplants, for one's eyes--
For the moment of regard--her soft bones 
And mild, smoking veins. 

The filter-mouthpiece has, as well, its equal 
In the woman. She is recessed 
Into a customed world. Smoked fugues 
Drift across the background; and only the flavour, 
Classic in taste, may ever touch your lips, or eyes. 
She is herself a flavour. And lit, both she 
And her world recede, trailing a taste 
And only the finest smoke. 'Yorker & Hedges.' 

One must not follow--one may only gape 
And buy, and puff. The taste, however, 
Still lingers after; and the aura 
Of a restrained, and barely burning world. 
Can such a Yorkness ever be attained by one? 
This is not the question here; but rather, 
This woman, in a tobacco context: one involving 
Flesh, ashlessness and a filtered bit of fire. 



They had killed Momma's brother Johnny 
Nine-and-a-half times, in the war. There 
Wasn't hardly anything left, when 
He got home: of Johnny, or of Momma. 
I mean he came home without his arms, 
Without his ears, without his brains, or 
Hair; without his loving everyone, 
					and women 
That made Momma mad. He didn't like 
Love no more, or Momma, and he had 
Been married in between all the times 
He was killed. Nine-and-a-half times! 
And Momma had cried and cried and said 
It was like his being killed. The Army, 
And President Roosevelt, General 
Eisenhower. . . . 

		They were all sorry, 
And Momma ate the letters, and the envelopes; 
The telegrams, and then Johnny; the Purple 
Heart, the White Heart, the gold 
Star, Daddy & all of Johnny's wives. 
And Momma was all that there was left. 


Hello wife, hello world, hello God, 
I love you; hello certain monsters, 
Ghosts, office buildings, I love you. Dog, 
Dog-dogs, cat, cat-cats, I love you. 
Hello Things-in-Themselves, Things Not Quite 
In Themselves (but trying), I love you. 
River-rivers, flower-flowers, clouds 
And sky; 
		the Trolley Museum in Maine, 
(With real trolleys); airplanes taking 
Off; airplanes not taking off; airplanes 
		I love you.  
				The IRT, 
BMT; the London subway 
(Yes, yes, pedants, the Underground) 
System; the Moscow subway system, 
All subway systems except the 
Chicago subway system. Ah, yes, 
I love you, the Chicago El-
Evated. Sexual intercourse, 
Hello, hello. 

		Love, I love you; Death, 
I love you; 
		and some other things, as well, 
I love you. Like what? Walt Whitman 
Wagner, Henry Miller; 
				a really 
Extraordinary, one-legged 
Tijuana whore; I love you, loved 
		The Reader's Digest (their splendid, 
Monthly vocabulary tests), Life 
And Look ... 
			handball, volleyball, tennis;
Croquet, basketball, football, Sixty-
	draft beer for a nickel; Women 
Who will lend you money, Women 
Who will not; 
			Women, pregnant women; 
Women who I am making pregnant; 
Women who I am not making pregnant. 
Women. Trees, gold fish, silverfish, 
Coral fish, coral; 
			I love you, I
Love you. 



It is a jét-delight 
for me, today 
to stand
flown to you, friends 
over the body 
of this... 
a wellknown 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 hoIes. 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. 


This is a church, and it is a church. 
The Lord's house, God's house. His. 
					I worship 
Here, in this church. 
			In this God's church. 
I pray. More than this however, 
Than this, I look. Not, not at the God, 
The God I pray to; no, the church, 
The church I pray in. 

			I squeeze my eyes 
Into a juice to feel with. And smear 
The walls. I run my hands 
				all across 
The God-cross windows (stained yellow, 
						blue . . .) 
I pray. I pray now to see the church, 
To see it all, & with all my face. 
I see the church. With my eyes. My eyes 
Back now in my head. 
				I see the church. 
I see the church in my head. It is moist. 
It is moist and oozes eyes. My eyes. 
I look at it. It will not stand still. 
The steeple sways. A bell tolls softly 
In the distance. This, this 
	I blow my nose, hard, and listen,
	Then God falls down on me, on my 
Head, on my eyes--
			and I burst 
			who? what?
Out of my eyes... 
		into God. Into God. 


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 re-cast, 
(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? 


Rockabye dust 
in the mourning cradle, 
rockabye soul 
in the lowered box, 
rockabye stone 
on them all, and flowers; 
rockabye, rockabye, rock! 


For David Rubin




The sand seems clouds, and the ship's sail, _her_ 
There against an empty sky. The blue 
That it is not, is me; and the sea 
That is not there, and the sun ... are me. 

And she is here, beside me; and we 
Lie in one another's arms upon 
The couch;--and I am all about her. 


It is a perfectly ordinary day. 
The sun, unseen, is obviously shining. 
Things are dark; things are light; and there are people. 
There are people in the water. Though one must 
Try to imagine the water.--A beach, a day, 
A sail, the sun. 
		--We are nowhere to be seen.

It is evening, it is raining. Lightning. 
"The day, the sun ..." 
We strip then, and sleep; 
Sleep, and swim inside one another. 




And I lie there, watching her 
Through it, like some sick Adam 
with a Kodak--afraid, 
Wanting to be alone, dead,
Wanting to make a stranger 
Of Eve. I scratch myself, and keep 
On watching her. And it is 
Like a photograph. It is 
But it does not 
Occur to me to take--or 
To throw away the Kodak. 
I hold it there between us, 
Laugh, & try to recognize her. 
Bitch! She's turned the other way; 
She isn't looking at me! 
Smiles without looking at me. 
If I loved her, 
It wouldn't be so bad. 
Or if she didn't think I did. 
	I close my eyes on her, 
And love her, click the shutter. 
--I take her photograph ... 
I take six. ŒIt is a kind 
Of love,¹ I say. ŒIt doesn't 
Move me, not one bit,¹ she says. 
ŒYou're invisible,¹ she says. 
ŒThe invisible lover. 
--But I love you anyway. 
And your mind,--I mean, like I 
Love life. And, at the same time, 
Hate it. The way it stands there, 
Or seems to stand there, like you: 
With a Kodak for a hard-on. 
(Not personal at all, ever 
But changing, always changing 
And somehow invisible. 
"... no more intimate than death.²) 
I don't know. Maybe it's me.¹



'Let me of you ...' she says. And I scratch. 
'Where do the dead go, when the dead die?' 
'They go into photographs. Albums. 
Only they go without their Kodaks.' 
She snaps me. 
		'What are you thinking!' she says. 
'Of albums. Of photographs. Kodaks.' 

She snaps me, and then lies down, and cries. 
I lie down beside her. And cry. 
She kisses me. And she stands, naked 
And takes one more of me. And cries. 
I stand, and take one more of her.-- 'Yes!' 
She screams, she feels it happening, 'Yes!' 
'No!' I say, 'I'm afraid. Please! not yet ... 
'Besides, you know how much I hate you.' 
--She rolls the negative around me, 
Like a Trojan. And draws me to her. 
'Oh,' she says, 'Oh.'--But nothing happens. 



The moon.--It is taking my photo. 
From the back of my head. Through my head. 
--Of her; of my face; of the sea . . . 
Of her in my face,--of her, nothing. 
BITCH! I click the shutter sixty times. 
My 'flash' makes a moon of her. She screams! 
She is in my face, in my eyes ... 
And I throw the camera at her. 
It goes right through her head. Out across 
The sea. Into the sky. And the face 
Of the moon.--It is just waiting there, 
(With its own, its huge, fast Rolloflex!), 
Small, dead. Just enough of it to be 
A moon.--Neither more, nor less. Nor moon. 
--For an instant, the moon seems her. 
I aim my 'flash' at it, illuminate, 
Without my Kodak, and I have it! 



And she is nothing. She puts on sand...
She looks like clouds. 
			Stands, and is a sail. 
There against an empty sky.
				I stand, 
And am not there at all. 
Nothing of myself, of her, of love. 
Though, in death, I am all about her. 
(It is like life, only easy. Still.) 
And, at last then, I am God. 
				'Sea, the sky ...'  
--She is here beside me. 
				I love her.


It is there. And we are there. In it. 
Walking in it, talking, holding hands. 
The nickel post-card,--the glossy trees; 
The water falls, 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 & inoffensive trees. 



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, not 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. 


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 & 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. 

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