BY JIM MCCURRY
Neighboring countries gaze at each other,
Hear their roosters crow and their dogs bark;
The people reach old age and die
Without coming or going.
Lao Tzu (tr. Samuel Moon)
FROM THE SEMANTIC QUIBBLES
red like shrimp
I took in mine--
who walked and walked along
beside in jade
Just the evening light,
And now in your gown of green satin
as you stare up at the sapphire stars
as night fades from prussian
to that perfect horizonal limpid shade of blue--
Who holds aloft those warm lamps in the distance?
No one. And yet behold.
First the high treble trills,
happier even than the cardinal
who shall chime later--
a song whose warbler I cannot name
begins the session.
Then the one far distant, and her peers
(First Twig Thrush, Second Twig Thrush,
and so on) whose job appears
to contribute a sense of
space. Crisp dimension.
Then the cardinal, spritely
as he'll be even later,
in noon tide heat.
And last, almost at last,
the long and longed for
low notes, the cooling,
Even the raucous crows
can be called a contribution.
19 SEPTEMBER 2001
This morning, driving through a stretch of pavement where water had
gathered, I noted two or three crows, feathers fluffed, taking what appeared
to be both a drink and a brief bath. And I slowed and steered to avoid them,
holding a brief eye contact with one, who did not fly off with his fellows
but merely moved aside and looked back at me. I thought of my preference
for doves. And what did that crow's eye tell me? Well, I drove through
that puddle of water and went to breakfast, and (God help me) I took my
usual eight or nine pills.
Take your choice
Be in these mountains
or see the mountains
The first time I saw
the city had not spread
the shimmering distance
the air in Albuquerque
warm & dry
hot and dry
train or car
Five and a half years from now
Xenical having purged
this dross, goat
in urban canyons
negotiating Zacatecas by
AMONG THE TOOTH FAIRIES
By putting balloons down gullets,
Inflating them at set intervals
Then interrogating the subjects,
Some torture artist or other has proved,
A full gut does not dispel hunger.
Incense of sanctity. Tokyo mojo,
There is a vacation: And the reason
Our little xenolith collector
Hangs out by the curios counter
Of Papa's rainmaking shop?
Half koala, half mountain puma--
The little tlaco miztli
Won't be able to say so till fall,
But he wants that 2012 picante model
With the hoodlamp lids glassed orange
Offset by a chassis of shimmery light
Worth how many quetzals? cactus & sage
[perhaps I shouldn't say
tlaco miztli. It's Nahuatl for "cacomistle": having grayish or
brownish fur and a black-banded tail.
tlaco = half
miztli = mountain lion]
up & down
in the prajna-
or, call it,
--would they not--
even if they
could not hear
on my radio?
THE BARON AXEL ANGST BURGER
Place in blender: chopped tomatoes, tomato catsup,
small amount of honey, Laurie's colleague's homemade
sweet pickled cucumbers & onions.
Fry burgers with egg whites in extra virgin olive oil.
Toast the buns.
Now you are set for nonpareil, though simple,
burgers, without mustard.
Anyhow, I have invented Eli Yale Hamburger Sauce.
I call it that because it is close to the taste
achieved by a New Haven restaurant, a popular
hangout near the Yale Hall of Graduate Studies
DEAR ELI YALE
I am in a school where, to graduate, you have to
swim the backstroke in the nude.
I have a problem. It is night and I go and
place my pajamas by one of the bunks and practice
alone in the tank, and suddenly I feel
no fear of drowning, and (hump be damned!) can
even swim on my backwards. But only
underwater. Have I grown gills?
Returning to the group, I ask the Japanese girl
to go for a walk afterward. She smiles.
Not understanding this for a yes, I say, "At least
forgive me for placing my pj's on your cot.
I didn't know it would be yours."
Some frat jocks accost me for seeking a doctor's
excuse, and the mother of my special friend
calls me un-American. Yes?
I compose a rejoinder to which no one will listen,
all about how I have been moonlighting
in a meat packing plant to make money for her
last ditch operation, and then (I stammer)
I should listen to this abuse? Everyone laughs,
except for my wide-eyed girlfriend, who
takes my hand. My back stiffens, suddenly,
poor but proud I walk to the strange vat,
place one hand on its canvassed edge, leap like a
pole vault artist up and over, ready for the test--