Wispy, wintry, willowy limbs,
stockings, skirt, and heels.
I should order in Chinese tonight,
General Tso’s or something.
It’s too late, too cold to go out now,
Be sure to tip him well.
I order the food,
then lie down on the couch.
A car alarm goes off.
I start to nod off slowly,
then comes a cloying memory of love,
her body above me,
her face smiling, joyfully.
The cost of love
is sometimes awful solitude.
This small apartment,
is crammed with books and bowls and vases,
and everywhere surrounding me,
are the stalwart bricks of old Brooklyn.
I’m not too far at all, from
where great Whitman worked and wrote,
and others since him.
He loved it here, and
it seems this place I live remembers him,
as if it were somehow a conscious mind,
each brick a cell
containing some odd old recollection,
not only of Whitman, but of all those
who came before or since:
the men who built the bridge, the wives
and children playing in the street
on summer afternoons,
the bartenders and firemen,
the accountants, school teachers,
the old and lonely invalids,
the happy bright young couples.
And just now, tonight, it also seems
that I can sense these memories,
like dim light and ancient heat,
beneath the words and surfaces.
the nighttime jets roar quietly,
going from where to where?
Trucks rumble, sirens wail.
I wake up, barely, and see
orange light glowing dimly through the ***** windows,
Over the rusty iron grill, and
making patterned Xs on the wall.
And I listen to the radiator
knock and hiss and whine.
This womblike warmth inside,
alone. Is it really all there is to life?
Is this all there is to keep me from
the decline I know is real -
the coldness of the night outside,
as long and slow as loneliness -
the true, the absolute
of when we say goodbye.
What else is there out there?
The buzzer rings, the food shows up,
and I sit down for dinner.
The Chinese food is good tonight:
hot and sweet and greasy.
I finish, and I feel full.
I brush my teeth and go to bed,
not knowing anything, really,
but that it all goes on.