For our own private reasons

We live in each other for an hour.

Stranger, I take your body and its seasons,

Aware the moon has gone a little sour


For us. The moon hangs up there like a stone

Shaken out of its proper setting.

We lie down in each other. We lie down alone

and watch the moon’s flawed marble getting


Out of hand. What are the dead doing tonight?

The padlocks of their tongues embrace the black,

Each syllable locked in place, tucked out of sight.

Even this moon could never pull them back,


Even if it held them in its arms

And weighed them down with stones,

Took them entirely on their own terms

And piled the orchard’s blossom on their bones.


I am aware of your body and its dangers.

I spread my cloak for you in leafy weather

Where other fugitives and other strangers

Will put their mouths together.


"Reasons" - William Blake" 

The Singers


They are not angels

though they have the hollow look

         of beings bred on ether. There’s an air

of cool removal from your life, the hawk’s

         indifference to the hare’s terror.

You see it in their palms, raised casually

         against the fresco’s surface, as to glass

of submarine or spacecraft, and you see

         it in their eyes, oracular, that let you pass

alone to unknown agony. The song

         they sing is merely time.


"The Singers" - Todd Hearon

I Only Am Escaped Alone To Tell Thee


I tell you that I see her still

At the dark entrance of the hall.

One gas lamp burning near her shoulder   

Shone also from her other side   

Where hung the long inaccurate glass   

Whose pictures were as troubled water.   

An immense shadow had its hand   

Between us on the floor, and seemed   

To hump the knuckles nervously,   

A giant crab readying to walk,   

Or a blanket moving in its sleep.


You will remember, with a smile   

Instructed by movies to reminisce,   

How strict her corsets must have been,   

How the huge arrangements of her hair   

Would certainly betray the least   

Impassionate displacement there.   

It was no rig for dallying,

And maybe only marriage could   

Derange that queenly scaffolding—

As when a great ship, coming home,   

Coasts in the harbor, dropping sail

And loosing all the tackle that had laced

Her in the long lanes ....

                                       I know

We need not draw this figure out.

But all that whalebone came from whales.   

And all the whales lived in the sea,   

In calm beneath the troubled glass,   

Until the needle drew their blood.


I see her standing in the hall,

Where the mirror’s lashed to blood and foam,   

And the black flukes of agony

Beat at the air till the light blows out.


"I Only Am Escaped Alone To Tell Thee" - Howard Nemerov

"The Sons of Our Sons"

The sons of our sons will marvel,
Paging the textbook:
“1914 … 1917 … 1919 …
How did they live? The poor devils!”
Children of a new age will read of battles,
Will learn the names of orators and generals,
The numbers of the killed,
And the dates.

They will not know how sweetly roses smelled above the trenches,
How martins chirped blithely between the cannon salvos,
How beautiful in those years was

Never, never did the sun laugh so brightly
As above a sacked town,
When people, crawling out of their cellars,
Wondered: is there still a sun?
Violent speeches thundered,
Strong armies perished,

But the soldiers learned what the scent of snowdrops is like
An hour before the attack.
People were led at dawn to be shot …
But they alone learned what an April morning can be.
The cupolas gleamed in the slanting rays,
And the wind pleaded: Wait! A minute! Another minute!
Kissing, they could not tear themselves from the mournful mouth,
And they could not unclasp the hands so tightly joined.
Love meant: I shall die! I shall die!
Love meant: Burn, fire, in the wind!
Love meant: O where are you, where?

They love as people can love only here, upon this rebellious and
tender star.

In those years there were no orchards golden with fruit,
But only fleeting bloom, only a doomed May.
In those years there was no calling: “So long!”
But only a brief, reverberant “Farewell!”
Read about us and marvel!
You did not live in our time — be sorry!
We were guests of the earth for one evening only.
We loved, we destroyed, we lived in the hour of our death.
But overhead stood the eternal stars,
And under them we begot you.

In your eyes our longing still burns,
In your words our revolt reverberates yet
Far into the night, and into the ages, the ages, we have scattered
The sparks of our extinguished life.


"The Sons of Our Sons" - Ilya Ehrenburg


At first you didn’t know me.

I was a shape moving rapidly, nervous


at the edge of your vision. A flat, high voice,

dark slash of hair across my cheekbone.


I made myself present, though never distinct.

Things I said that he repeated, a tone


you could hear, but never trace, in his voice.

Silence—followed by talk of other things.


When you would sit at your desk, I would creep

near you like a question. A thought would scurry


across the front of your mind. I’d be there,

ducking out of sight. You must have felt me


watching you, my small eyes fixed on your face,

the smile you wondered at, on the lips only.


The voice on the phone, quick and full of business.

All that you saw and heard and could not find


the center of, those days growing into years,

growing inside of you, out of reach, now with you


forever, in your house, in your garden, in corridors

of dream where I finally tell you my name.


"Ghost" - Cynthia Huntington

A Reminiscence

Held in a late season

At a shifting of worlds,

In the golden balance of autumn,

Out of love and reason


We made our peace;

Stood still in October

In the failing light and sought,

Each in the other, ease


And release from silence,

From the slow damnation

Of speech that is weak

And falls from silence.


In the October sun

By the green river we spoke,

Late in October, the leaves

Of the water maples had fallen.


But whatever we said

In the bright leaves was lost,

Quick as the leaf-fall,

Brittle and blood red.    


"A Reminiscence" - Richard O. Moore

Low Barometer

The south-wind strengthens to a gale,

Across the moon the clouds fly fast,

The house is smitten as with a flail,

The chimney shudders to the blast.


On such a night, when Air has loosed

Its guardian grasp on blood and brain,

Old terrors then of god or ghost

Creep from their caves to life again;


And Reason kens he herits in

A haunted house. Tenants unknown

Assert their squalid lease of sin

With earlier title than his own.


Unbodied presences, the pack’d

Pollution and remorse of Time,

Slipp’d from oblivion reënact

The horrors of unhouseld crime.


Some men would quell the thing with prayer

Whose sightless footsteps pad the floor,

Whose fearful trespass mounts the stair

Or burts the lock’d forbidden door.


Some have seen corpses long interr'd

Escape from hallowing control,

Pale charnel forms—nay ev’n have heard

The shrilling of a troubled soul,


That wanders till the dawn hath cross’d

The dolorous dark, or Earth hath wound

Closer her storm-spredd cloke, and thrust

The baleful phantoms underground.


"Low Barometer" - Robert Bridges

Nuit Blanche

I want no horns to rouse me up to-night,   

And trumpets make too clamorous a ring   

To fit my mood, it is so weary white   

I have no wish for doing any thing.


A music coaxed from humming strings would please;   

Not plucked, but drawn in creeping cadences   

Across a sunset wall where some Marquise

Picks a pale rose amid strange silences.


Ghostly and vaporous her gown sweeps by   

The twilight dusking wall, I hear her feet   

Delaying on the gravel, and a sigh,

Briefly permitted, touches the air like sleet


And it is dark, I hear her feet no more.   

A red moon leers beyond the lily-tank.   

A drunken moon ogling a sycamore,   

Running long fingers down its shining flank.


A lurching moon, as nimble as a clown,

Cuddling the flowers and trees which burn like glass.

Red, kissing lips, I feel you on my gown—

Kiss me, red lips, and then pass—pass.


Music, you are pitiless to-night.

And I so old, so cold, so languorously white.


"Nuit Blanche" - Amy Lowell