The big dumb tanks have all rolled away,
going over ravines and gangly voices of
remarkable underbrush that’ve told you
to postpone the art of the quattrocento.
I’m afraid what bears fruit remains silent,
is ignorant in these matters: elderberries
from Kiev, another sick uncle bowlegged
in the garden with exaggerated courtesy
all while there’s pliable barley to strip;
stooping thicket under a barrel-mouthed
sky as blunt-nosed goats go trotting by
occasionally, the fellow yellow flowers
sweetly sermonized to. This morning
was another crystal envelope. Blinking
attention to visitors on the bare beach,
swollen mountainous views that could
throttle the sea almost. And memories
that snake around the patch of a thing
like music wafting in from the marshes.
In a ventilated computer shop, we carry
yesterday’s orders, detour over to some
tourist’s stolen ear. Channels, meanwhile,
run through the rain’s rampart, transmit
a quite beseeching stare I recognize like
a Mongolian complex where kvetching
mothers squawk over key fundamentals.
A train sleeps badly. A fine drizzle sinks
into September’s uncontested paunch.
That’s really it. Often, passing the parlor,
remembering when the babushkas could
still knit daytime together, I’d feel a fire
at my back, like the sound of a cry being
radioed over fern-enclosed valleys. Dusky
couples. Peeling, lavender Metro hubs.
Yet here I am with you: in a broad quietish
boulevard, thinking what’s become a game-
show of loving under ordinary circumstances
now that the engineers say architecture’s
gone the way of the dilapidated chestnut
tree, if you can believe such things. Roses
become the past tense of someone else’s
gross happiness. The Big Idea makes sense;
though now I know I’ll find it hard. Vows,
reasons, joys, sorrows, even brick-lapis
on the lintel: there are too many affairs
waiting back on an unutterable shore. I
could just putz around, I think. Agitate
through love-born supermarkets acutely,
stewing myself, finishing other people’s
sentences without them or the next person
bothering to notice. I mean, why bother
these days when the translation of money
is crisp compared to morning’s epithets.
In his arms he’ll take you a song croons.
But there are differences I feel, between
dozing and sleeping, like how a big valve
bursts when no one’s looking, not even
you. Ongoing negotiations with the dead
are called for: a turf plot, hunkered down
in grass beside brassy, biceped turnstiles;
garbage mounds, wintry acorns, cliff-weeds
we’d rather not mention now nor ever again.
Streams crop across snow. Ruddy meadows
awake in the wrong season, roughhousing
today’s lilac-shaded spots without shame.
I could paint you these, half-a-dozen other
almost Sicilian pictures. But there’s no end
to the tender-footed satyr of commerce, his
Alpine politics, the Passion Plays that fester
in an arm-socket no bigger than a teacup.
This marble-gladed talk will reach its stop
soon, for just as it was naivety that rarely
laid behind the works I’ve sold, less was it
a thirst for landscapes or people free from
the too-usual blemish. I was after the relief
of a new home to die in, to erect puckishly,
built beside old pavilions. Abject, foregone,
the molding somehow improves what little’s
left of my bad memory, some manic sunroof
we squashed under. I remember once when
the solemn blossoms dropped, our bosses
called us to that strange conference room.
There were clever scatterings to name, mint
with starry lapels and adult videos we had to
arrange like rocks on the harbor’s underside.
Truly, time does cling to things. Waves weave
stupidly to one side, routinely, repetitively,
but what the terrible news can’t touch or
own exactly is this: I had trusted someone
busier than myself. Someone better than
perfection. Official bribes and folk balladry,
smacking of oily dungaree, struck us through
before we could even cross the next border.
ADAM FITZGERALD's debut collection of poetry, The Late Parade, will be published by W.W. Norton/Liveright in June 2013. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in A Public Space, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Fence, and elsewhere. He edits the poetry journal Maggy and teaches at Rutgers University and The New School. He lives in New York City.