Issue 14

Poetry: Gerald Solomon

Looking Around

You said without the right words this useless thing
death is not to be considered.
Still, for a time anything helps — sunlight on grass, hard stones.
Loveliness has something to do with it, and being scared.
Yesterday down by the tennis courts:
small ball pushed to and fro, till some blunder
make it trickle away, lie still in a corner —
ball that is clear, mathematical, unusually true.
I don’t get things straight…
If my mind were a gun its moving target
would look much like a gun, pointing at me.
(We teachers say such things in school.)
This morning found myself watching a blackbird,
busy in our muddy garden after rain.
Jumped down from a wet shiny crooked branch —
springy legs, cocked its eye from side to side.

All the Time

We no longer see that man that crazed old misfit
wander up our house-proud street.
Camped all winter on the subway’s iron grates,
trusts in body-heat, a paper cup for coins.
Stutters to himself some repeated sorrows.
A mutt on a knotted string, always with him, bored.
Filled with his stuff, a borrowed market-cart.
Perhaps he planned to ignore these cold nights
just to get his normal sleep.
I’ve often passed him there.
The system doesn’t work for him.
Seems our all-too-human pity —
arms spread wider than savvy caritas
or bandaged justice will — likewise lets down
a guy in woman’s caftan, broken shoes.
I tell you I saw another one, in antique Rome,
under the plane-trees on crowded via Formio,
unlikely squalls of rain in June throwing down
whole bunches of young leaves on darkened stones.
I remember still.
Wouldn’t it be the same long ago?
I’ve read that hard on ninety, Sistine done with,
far from his giant boy-David — infirm, appalled,
sank down on those steps by the tourists’ burbling fountains,
in deaf tears for all the friends he used to know.

At the Met

This painter thrives on his own pressure.
Glares at all and sundry,
avid of what’s really here.
Lets us look over his shoulder
where all walk in — a public space
for what’s private like sex and fear.
This one: a woman, eyelids curve in sleep.
Young lovely roundnesses, complete.
She’s happy to be separate and alone.
He’s taken in all sides of her,
spreads them in full view —
can’t look enough to sate his will to know.
Paints her onto grass green and crude ?
white blatant daisies, too big,
expletives of earth that will not wait.
She’s gone absent from her body
that was born to continue.
Asleep, she dreams strangely to be herself….
Back home, on my work-table:
tulips I bought today cram a jug, living red.
Driven by water, lush tubes spread,
expressed by sexual flood.