I retired from the SUNY Buffalo English Department in 2004. Have published a dozen or so collections of poems. Such my addiction to the sport of squash racquets my headstone is to read: "ONE MORE GAME?" See more of my poems HERE.
Not the god, though it might have been,
savoring some notion of me
and exciting the cloud where he was hidden
with impetuous thunderstrokes of summoning
—it was merely you who recognized me,
speaking my name in such a tone
I knew you had been thinking it
a long, long time, and now revealed yourself
in this way. Because of this, suddenly
who I was was precious to me.
"It was love at first sight—at first seeing!
That instant in the street our eyes met
we knew, and saw we knew, and foresaw what we
shall never understand—the dark oneness
whose shape whose grandeur only our months,
our years and years together would reveal.
Our passion, pining, our pain, our ecstasy,
the wonder of our feelings, of feeling,
the wonder we told each other: everything
two people possibly could live we lived.
Our final parting was like death. We died.
And neither was himself, herself, or whole, again."
So she said, so he said, to herself, to himself,
in the street while their relinquished gaze
was severing itself into two glances
they followed past each other, two strangers,
though moved alike, satisfied alike, renewed
alike, each having for one instant lived
as wholly as he could, as she could.
Their thrashing in one another’s clutches
sends out all kinds of vibes, makes more mess
the longer it goes on. Tooth-to-bone squeals
and mutters like quick crushings of something
— this thrill of animal alarm gives them all,
after initial shock, a sense of life quickened,
transcendent vigor: the friends, odd confidants,
new lovers, “ex”es, summoned professionals
— the extended family of disaster —
busy now about the place of damaging,
comforting, clearing debris, cleaning up.
After it’s over, the half-dead agonists
and their seconds and helpers can’t much stand
each other. Their revulsion’s impersonal,
as if the rupture can’t not go on tearing.
They flee the accursèd spot, woe-sown, barren
— though others will marry and, to warn evil off,
make the wedding party loud with clanging pots.
They Say and They Repeat
“For now.” “For the time being.” “While this lasts.”
Invoking time’s passages (decaying, crumbling
under the lightest, the instant footfall),
they say and they repeat such halfhearted phrases
against the Absolute, which rises newborn
in vows, in devotion, and already has
overwhelmed them and refreshes everything
— even their unbelieving protestations --
with the new life’s firstness without end:
for now forever, for the time being
forever, while this lasts forever.
Where Thetis, bustling about, had gripped
her struggling baby’s chubby, helpless foot:
the dimple only her downcast eyes could see.
It was then great Achilles, hero, man-
slaughterer, touched his captive’s heart.
For where mother went a woman may follow.
And she could see her work cut out for her
— had better be getting busy; in fact,
she had to hurry, if the poor gentleman
ever was going to be made immortal.
©2016 Irving Feldman