Every day there was a little less of himself, A moon of diminishing hues, Less and less, as he strode from the balustrade To the roses, each night a different leaf fallen, Each day a new ambivalence in the sun's assertions, Proverbial gold in a stale world Where the water tasted tinny and the tap spat Erratic chuffs of water in an empty cup And something or other had died a day earlier, Had died and had its poor death recorded, Less and less itself, or its wintery twin, Pacing from the terrace to the garden.
Calmed lightnings in the evening sky Shuttle, like warm humans, from sty to sty. If ever there were an evening readiest For comparisons, gilded in flashes, half real, It is this evening, blotched by light, Spumed with cloudy figures of our imagining. And so the erratic discharges of our thoughts Are themselves significant, Indicative perhaps of the circuits that we make Circling one disaster and another catastrophe, Symptoms of a discord so profound, Malevolent fragrances of black, pitted things, That long-fruited hopes have withered, and everlasting airs Crimp their silvery middles tiredly And the brazen horizon awes us a little less With its simmering magnificence Dull a little, and a little cold even in summer, Shunted to one side a little, and old and used. Wormy lightnings, restore the discords of your colorings; These are the makings of our end.
Is it a death of the self, or of the self's One projection, fatal ray, deadliest beam Unfolding from out of a stillness the self contains Like scissors, or a dove's placid wings, abruptly flown From brooded palms, this quiet that returns To the stone house, empty and white In a whiter air? Something deeply tired Has taken the place of the cows, Still morose, filling the entire structure With placid breaths, but what is it? Is there, in this fix of airs, an extinguishing anguish That broods from the barn, the tired reds Falling in the air under a Dutch hex And a soggy roof buckled by the weather, Something that ticks in the empty hayrick Or yawns from the creosote timbers Leaning together a little in the space left By the solemn breathing of the cows?
The pines in their shadows are distinguishing themselves Detached in a softly shaking emptiness Separate from themselves and their riveting greens, Voraciously vivid, beyond coughed words, Beyond a last leaf stretched in a last silence Like Hamlet at the vacant end of the meadow, Dying in summer, breathing a last breath In the final rye and grasses, seeing the trees loud sway At the rim of the yellow field, shaken Softly, softly, following a blue track through the pines.
Does the moon sail in its sumptuous heaven Disfigured by pity, Blindly tearful in an icy lair? To walk in the moonlight, to trod The verdant ambers, and to think of nothing, What sort of matter for a poem is that? Is it a matter of having nothing In the mind, icy sequester Of nothing, of nothingness layered in its own absence? Or is it a matter, rather Of nothingness icily conceived, icily meant? It is a matter of sinister consequence. To walk in the violet moonlight Discussing the moon from which it flares Disfiguring the roses Is a kind of nothing, a suave Hollowness that we may hold near Or suspend between us as we walk. O savage celestial, misty moon, Snarling in your lair, speak, If speak you must, in dismal syllables Some more blatant human meaning.
Picaresque birds cry hi-yi-hi From the lustered branch Festooned with ants. Crocodiles mustered in the bayou Flutter melodious tails Under oaks. Captains of the stratosphere march high, march high Stepping the squalid dews Of gaudiest clouds. When the marshal of the swamp cries hi-yi-hi It is his essences' valence Neatly strummed.
Standing a long time before the pond, in November Standing and looking at nothing Or looking and forgetting it is oneself that looks One begins to think That the sinewy residue at the bottom of the pond And the pond, and one's consciousness of the pond Moving over it like an enigmatic cloud Are one, that the famous watery veils are no longer Waiting to be torn, or that, torn already, They have left only these sinewy shreds, Gluey blacks thinly dispersed in the space Between the self, astutely observing, And the brown pane of water that lifts the clouds And the bottom of the pond.
When the house stands empty, the rooms disgorged Of all the crumpled laundry daily life imposes How conditional our maundering sorrows seem, Another routine, like sleep and death, Engaging our restless spirits As soccer in Brazil, the overnight weather, The uninhabited chair, weighted with fringes, That stares in the leaning mirror morbidly Or the dirty shovel that leans in the garage, A little old and uselessly, by a mended fishnet.
One has lived long enough Among rusted hills, and the solemn sunlight Spinning its steel shadows out of itself Over those hills, thickly gathered at the arbor Where matted vines still move on the latticework, Purple embrasures, seeming almost to speak In a light that is constantly fading, Shifting its emphasis, a sliding center That creeps over partial hills, Real where revealed, invisible elsewhere Full of hidden masses and interior kisses The way a sliver of grass is an entire field of grass, The way a man represents a man, Without feeling, in the inhuman landscape.