Two January Poems

what lesson

are you playing truant from now?
she asks—with your ever-present air
of intense superiority—

not truancy—he says—but in contemplating
the exquisite atmosphere in your tale
I am defeated for want of a key—

across my vision (there it is again)
silhouetted against the blue
of the sparkling sea    a warm caress…

but I am without its definite layout
or even name; my precious hours
that were always full of content

now peer out of musty windows
and after our idle exchange of glances
I stare with mouth wide open

my big chair is empty and I shall not
go now into the forest—you said that here
all the inmates came from noble families…

but what when we talk of Hell—the complete
& final loss of reality and know
there are still plenty of fish in the river?





there’s one way

and another way
and a third way
of doing things; but it’s useful
to think of doing things

otherwise as the Master said in line with
what (gazing at the bridge of his nose)
his grandmother told him:
in life never do as others do;

either do nothing—
just go to school—or do something
nobody else does
and promptly died…

this my children
and children’s children
is what I would have you
take inside your uttermost being:

never go along with the herd;
never copy others; let your uprush
of learning be your very own
never dependent on others

One thought on “Two January Poems

  1. what lesson:

    There are these interesting shifts going on in this poem. The lens seems to move from intimacy to observer, and then things get blurry, “now peer out of musty windows.” The speaker seems to give up his dominion (not sure) “my big chair is empty and I shall not/ go now into the forest – you said that here/all the inmates came from noble families…” The exchange between the man and woman in the poem, the missing “key,” the ‘I am defeated” suggests an incomplete lesson, or a focus that is too tightly wound. The word “Hell” accentuates our obsessions, our blind search for a definition of things. The poem’s rhetorical opening sets the tone for what follows, and what follows is a disruption of comfort and “superiority.”


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