Ben Mazer

Two Poems


The wind in increments, ever so slowly,
pricks up its ears in the evaporate air,
and emanating round the ruined bricks
piled in the mud swirls of a winter's end,
makes its way homeward to the distant call
of walking spirits, waking with the spring.
A cornice topples, and the little life
of broken kings and the reviving earth
echoing rumours of the long extinct
and supple mountains, light streaks from the sky,
stretches and yawns, opening a prismatic eye.
The morning rustles, milkmen in their ken
allay the tossing of the sleeping town;
the flowered halls, and static telephone wires;
old magazines piled up against the hours.
The lime cliffs stand, belligerent pardoning gods,
judging the commerce, transactions of love,
that rise like mandates, textual, to heaven,
diffuse, particular in the coded clouds
dictating thoughts like myth before they happen.
Yet all pays homage to its clouded source
that moves the earth, and opens up the pits
in which shall sink the vivid, caustic lies
of nights of solitude out in stars' causeways,
troubling the sleepless with a life of dreams
that counters all the beaded instances
of earth life, cyclic anonymity;
the calendars of giants, dwarves of stations,
revive the absolute obscurity
of unrecorded, tempestuous intuition.
Darkness lies slain, the crippling winds and scarves,
curtaining watches, standing on the hours,
repel the expected visitor in his tracks,
with no assurance streaming from the panes
of the obliterated, iridescent
visages of rumours in reverse,
peopling silence with their less than voice.
The air stirs, puddles in the timbred ice
of obscure histories carried like a seed
to nothing at all, past all the junkered life
of codes and numbers, wearing a torn, tight smile,
to unlock the safe of many a kept girl,
raucous, complaining in her silk and pearls
of all the unfulfilled new promises,
biting a chocolate back into the box.
A car horn glares, and the stiff mustaches
of resolution fortify the day
with coolth of fractions of a shaded curb,
striving to be what is unknown and far
like savage natives in a caravan.
This is no land for works, heroic deeds
rampling raw regretful remonstrance
that twists and strains beneath a garden gate,
the ixions and sprouting grains of fate.
The pumps and sells and throngs
of national parkways stain the plecticon
of military absence, loved as radio;
green oxidized bronzes, meditating on
the auguries of anonymity,
lay awake in despair, to be so gently loved
by the great chorus of collegiate
dirges that rain in blues on annuals.
Each class acknowledges distinctions of
an older knowledge, savvy as the gods
who are exemplars of the now of love.
Their voices shake each episode above
the steps upon the stairs, the evening glove,
a closed car in the rain, perpetual mazes
that fill the autumns with their unbound lives.
These too alert the turrets to the tufts
of lifeless memory waning on the horizon,
turning to embrace the weightless shoves
of laughter at the desk of libraries
between the hours, in small communities.
There is no need to love again hereafter.
But where a stain reflects the wind of night
in shuttered gardens, by an ivory bench
on which are carved the names of mythic lovers,
stirring in silence, as if to not exist,
except as students fling in Honolulu
flowers in puddles, casting off a wish
that reemerges as a never met father,
in orphanages and in hospitals,
in fictional detectives, stumbling and flickering,
unspent and savory, idling vertiginous wives
predicting world trends, vapid upon the ocean,
where all is suckered in the colliding waves.
None who in windy october observe the stillness
of the village row of night's parked cars
is well exempted from the ghost marked factions
of other people, idolized prisoners
who visit houses, carrying relic shards
of regional culture but unconsciously,
and empty kitchens, boiling the aspirin
like asphalt to animate the masks of cars.


Heave like a walrus, scurry like a rat,—
How did I get here? Sheriff,
who are these good people?
I pick up this thread of electricity
even not even not notwithstanding the ubiquity
of shaven rock.
Your townspeople are uppermost on my mind.
Today we have two civics, crevices
and also faltering like evening among the trees
the amenities
of power and forblent illusion.
I add this smoke of talk to these old walls.
Another, nearly dead, I need not name—
thinking kindly of us this morning in Baltimore.
You are my old friends. Put your neck in there.
Timing is not everything, until it's time.
The spectral rose of my own gravity
inhabits but does not defeat the cavity
of fame. Time's halters are in place.
I sing not only the times but also the contingents of the disgrace
of the defeatist proclivity of the anti-cavities of place.
This is a matchbook, I have inscribed
"I look forward to your good breakfast" . . .
The curtains are tight with spring this time of year.
Pound them.

You know what it's like.
It starts on Monday when you see the barber—
I see the lyre of Williamsburg last year.
Forgive me, a humble intruder.
Until I've weighed in on the people's couch,
and cracked the leather of the landscape's weather,
peonied accents and news services,
or rung the bell of any one mother's breath . . .

I stand under the spider, in cold earth;
all we are asking is what there is to give.

Architecture appeals to me. Well met.
Simplicity is virtue. The cardinal of lime
is also what marks each year, forget-me-not
creasing this collar, outside my window this morning.
Do not let me forget to sign the register.

I run on a platform of tiresome tiredness.
Hello? Hello? How are you?
Rough torn pages, crayon-stained . . .
These too categorize a census.
I welcome suggestions. The castle is threadbare . . .
Conceived beneath a sign of sausages
and mountain milk. The old billygoat
has heard the ram of Europe.

Abbott and Costello were real people.
Yes is what you are thinking in your hearts.
I have also studied the secluded arts
of wimpole and steeple, and bargained with my eyes
to read the news and not exclude the sunrise.
Impoverished kettles of the Yucatan
brought me to service. One does not allude
to the matrix. Let Poe symbolize
the puzzling center. Tonight carouse
the ghosts of our first adolescent urges,
the primacy of ingenue excursis.
Lunch took away the sun.
I'll have me a suck-teat when the sun goes down,
for security purposes.
Cherries blossom on magnolia vines.
Gentlemen, rise.
It is not alarming to be so charming.
The railway depots flash with lemonade.
The porters are on smoke breaks in the shade.
Loosely there is merit that has stayed.
For wholesome gladness we have wept and prayed.
I do not magnify these album photos
to cast aspersions on a former clan,
nor measure them by standing in their armour.
Thank you so much. That will do nicely.
Throw off these bonds of tiresome tiredness.

BEN MAZER's new collection is New Poems (Pen & Anvil Press, 2013). Other recent collections include Poems (Pen & Anvil, 2010), and January 2008 (Dark Sky Books, 2010). He is the editor of Selected Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (Harvard University Press, 2010), Landis Everson's Everything Preserved: Poems 1955-2005 (Graywolf Press, 2006), and the forthcoming Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom (The Un-Gyve Press). He completed his doctoral degree under Christopher Ricks and Archie Burnett at the Editorial Institute at Boston University, after studies with Seamus Heaney and William Alfred at Harvard University. For ten years he was a contributing editor to Fulcrum: An Annual of Poetry and Aesthetics. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the Editor of the The Battersea Review.