A Journal of Contemporary Arts 





       (for David)

I look around your house with gratitude:
The five foot red and blue basketball hoop,
The closed cabinet of cars with chalkboard
Covers on the front,
The easel with magnitized butterflies,
The small garage with four levels
A small car slips down,
A plastic bumblebee
Which comes apart like a Russian doll,
A long wooden console for a TV
With two sliding doors -- spaces for hiding,
A green and white stove with plastic fruit,
Franks, corn on the cob,
Alexander in a red polo
With Beethoven's face in the front
And Ode To Joy on the back,
Luke in a gray polo
A rocket in the front,
NASA in the back.
For the first time since adolescence
I believe in God.




You never meant to lead the life you led.
You speak of your wife so disparagingly:
"I never meant to occupy her silly bed."
How eloquent you are, not with her, with me.

I never meant to lead the life I led,
Dealing with show business for fifty years
-- A way of not creating but of going dead.
Now my head is filled with anger and with fears.

So here we are at your coffee table
With little to say, with anguished looks.
"I tried to do what I was able
To do, and aren't you pleased you've written books?"




In Memory Of Ifeanyi Menkiti

I wrote romantic and dramatic poems,
Uncaring about ordinary life,
Feeling we were hiding in our homes.
Now I fear my death and the death of my wife.

How can we be both anxious and brave?
How can we feel it's safe to stay at home?
How can we store time, how can we save
Money like we save similes for a poem?

Summer blots the city from our windows.
Why does Spring quickly disappear?
Why are there so many widowers and widows?
Why am I writing to dissipate fear

Of death -- I was so close to it
I couldn't catch my breath, intubated in that room,
Trying to write, talk just a little bit
Trying to prevent my sliding to my doom.

Snow piled up on the ledge of my window.
Now I'm on oxygen for half a year.
This recovery is so damn slow.
But I thank God I'm still here.

Every few months another friend has died,
The latest ready to publish an anniversary edition
Of my best known work -- he raised the money, he tried
Fighting a stroke --- we were still full of ambition

But we both were approaching eighty,
Me and Ifeanyi -- impoverished now of years
Ahead, dead now, but not grieving me
Contented with my courage and my fears.

Bless you my readers -- three or four or five
Appreciating meter and alternate rhyme,
My drumming it is wondrous to be alive
Saving, spending parameters of Time.