Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Missing Thirteen

I plant red flowering Bee Balm to attract hummingbirds
then hummingbirds loiter & dart in my garden.

I make love to my wife & immaculately she is pregnant!
I'm continually surprised when the diagram is actualized.

I've been reading the jazzy unrevised final poems
of the John Berryman who microscoped his encored

humiliations in the Pre-Betty-Ford booze treatment
factory, surrendering an isolated tear of an unpronounceable

sedative into a sequences of liquid syllables so suspended
they could not be scanned. Mr. Berryman, I tip my invisible

cap to your tottering music, recognize your unshaved mug
in the hung-over bees in my garden, & I stop

for the collective Summer stare of a family
on the highway's soft shoulder beside their station wagon,

the hood open & steaming, a rear tire flat. They unload
their suitcases & vacation loot from the trunk just to get

at the jack & spare, which, as you guess sir, is also deflated.
In the last thirty minutes the wife has started to show.

The father of this mess hot-foots it to the nearest Texaco.
I'm never surprised by the never-coming-back, the unexpected

cloudburst. Mr. Berryman, kids still goose-step in the center
of puddles, unmarried women, dolled up, delicately avoid them,

& everyone, splashed by a joy ridden car of newly licensed
teens, has an affair with evaporation. Don't you love

how water is a chameleon? How its presence or absence influences
the inky newsprint of our dailiness: a baseball rain delay,

famine in Zaire, the discovery of rivers on Mars?
If I believed in God, she would be exclusively water,

not like us, only 87 percent. Because of the missing 13,
we discreetly attach ourselves to our desires

like a girl at a party who places her hooks
in an older boy with a car. Mr. Berryman, bad news:

the traditional notion of reincarnation is obsolete.
You ain't comin' back. Other news is also not good.

Since your exodus, most have converted to the metamorphosis
of water: Liquid entices Gas to a party but leaves with Solid.

You know the words to that song. You hum & tap your feet.
A great-great somebody dies & during the holiday

from human form, his spirit multiplies. This explains
why we think we know someone just introduced, how sometimes

we absolutely trust strangers: we once were the same
person. As when you saw your staggering reflection

in the river below the bridge & were surprised
by the watery diagram of your face, your face hovering

like a hummingbird before darting off to its mysterious
infidelities. That water must keep you distant from God.

--Bruce Cohen, Disloyal Yo-Yo

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