Poems June 1984
On motel walls
Beyond the foot of the bed: a seascape whose ocean,
Under the pummelling of a moon the shape and shade
Of a wrecking ball, is breaking into slabs
Against a concrete coast. Next to the closet:
A landscape of pasty mountains no one could climb
Or fall from, beyond whose sugary grandeur
Lies Flatland, a blankness plastered on plasterboard.
And over the bed: a garden in the glare
Of shadowless noon where flowerheads burst more briefly
And emptily and finally than fireworks.
For hours, I’ve been a castaway on that shore
By that fake water where nothing was ever born,
Where the goddess of beauty sank. I’ve flopped on those slopes
Where no one on earth could catch a breath worth breathing,
And I’ve been caught in that garden
Where the light is neither waves nor particles
But an inorganic splatter without a source.
Tonight, what’s in the eye of this beholder
Is less and less and all the ways I can go
Wrong myself through the quick passing
Of sentences: tomorrow, I may be staring
Straight in the face of the hanging judge of my future
Who'll read me with the deadpan of a jailer
Before a search, a lock-down, and lights out.
I'll do hard time all night inside these walls
In my mind’s eye, a transient facing a door
That says, Have you forgotten anything
Of value? Have you left anything behind?
New to The New Criterion?
Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.Subscribe
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 2 Number 10, on page 51
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com