26 Dec 2010

Infidelity -- Philip White


“Talking only makes me feel more alone,”
you said once in the car outside the clinic.
Two years later, you spoke the same sentence
word for word one night after friends had gone.
Within a month, you’d erased yourself    . . .
Erased? “To absent oneself,” I found scribbled on
a wrapper a year later...

        Now sunlight and tree
shadow rush over the windshield of  the car:
I’m talking with my new wife – then gone, absented.
“Sometimes I feel almost too much joy,”
you wrote from the balcony of  your cheap
hotel in Paris. “What are you thinking?” she asks.
Light shutters across us. Wherever you are
in me I’m there, though it’s not what you wanted.

Source: White, P 2008, Poetry Magazine (May 2008),

Gas Station Rest Room -- Alan Shapiro

[1952–current, American]

The present tense
is the body’s past tense
here; hence
the ghost sludge of hands
on the now gray strip
of towel hanging limp
from the jammed dispenser;
hence the mirror
squinting through grime
at grime, and the worn-
to-a-sliver of soiled soap
on the soiled sink.
The streaked bowl,
the sticky toilet seat, air
claustral with stink –
all residues and traces
of the ancestral
spirit of body free
of spirit – hence,
behind the station,
at the back end of the store,
hidden away
and dimly lit
this cramped and
solitary carnival
inversion – Paul
becoming Saul
becoming scents
and animal; hence,
over the insides
of the lockless stall
the cave-like
scribblings and glyphs
declaring unto all
who come to it
in time: “heaven
is here at hand
and dark, and hell
is odorless; hell
is bright and clean.”

Source: Shapiro, A 2008, Poetry Magazine (September 2008),