Poetry » Athar C. Pavis »

The Power to Revoke

I have two woks to savor all the world.
When I bought them, I remember, you said
Now we can do great vegetable meals. You
Meant me, but I didn’t mind. I made one,
A passage to exotica, served with tea,
Never again. You never ask me why.
Something about making a meal demands
Complicity. The last time I cut onions
“Because I never cry”, you didn’t see
I lied. I was already weeping then.

The kitchen is the image of our pain,
Unfinished now for years. A cardboard box
Reeks from beneath a half-built countertop,
A bare bulb glares. Nothing’s as it should be,
Even the Baccarat is thick with grease.
There are no cabinets yet. So I read
Marcus Aurelius every day:
To be distressed by anything external
Is due not to the thing itself, but me,
My estimate of it, and this I have

The power to revoke at any moment.
The woks stand empty, all the brimming world
Hangs on a breath of who I choose to be.

Beggars of Montparnasse

Maybe I should give to men
Standing on street corners, whose hair, unkempt,
Brushes my face as I pass by:
I know how heavy it is on their shoulders.
“Un petit sou, un petit sou,” they say
Softly. I keep walking with a hard face.
Maybe I should. They hold their cups out
Their mouths wavering, their eyes blurred,
Their bodies bent. They hear it too ?

Something inaudible I’ve just heard
Under the morning splendor of these skies ?
And plumb like me unfillable space
Within themselves. They know today
Will be exactly the same as last night,
And every day the imprint of their pain
Lies on them like blankets. But they smile,
Whether or not I drop them a coin
Because the money makes absolutely no difference.

French Windows

It’s early morning when she sees it best
Clearly outlined, three shadows on the wall,
Windows that were like doors, now half-reduced,
High in their casements, the shadow of a cell

She’ll have to leave. How did the sash become
A bar to hold her in, a beam, a weight,
And the French windows in her sunlit home
Unopenable? Even if she gets out

Mornings will always be like Montparnasse,
Horizons vast as her Parisian sky
Imprisoned here. In photo albums
She’s put her house in order, expertly

Slipping in their black pockets, one by one
Luminous days, for someone else to see.