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.
IN TIME OF TROUBLES
In time of trouble, prophets
abound: excrement of stone,
rushing from hallways, ardent
and spastic in the spotlight of their auras.
Mumming children yowl on the street,
women in aprons follow after,
wailing, the dinner's turnip
and paring knife waved in their hands.
And the half-mad feel the key wince round,
released from their hutches, bolt out
into the street, direct the traffic.
Around the prophets all hunch, hushed
to hear the headline scale the sheer walls
of their throats: "Gr-r-eat-est!" It is the circus
of pestilence. Convulsed, gurgling,
the murderous martyrs drop
away to their holy pratfalls.
Void next: sudden of the street corner:
where machine guns connect
with a wicked wisecrack.
The crowd like cards fanned, flying.
On high bridges and high buildings
vague figures lean, leap out
over the treetops. The looters, however,
do not observe the holiday,
keep their wits,
from door to door ...
Fifty years and not a nickel to his name,
the fat lines of his credit expunged,
his heritage the milt-clouded muck,
he dreams he is a victim, dog-bitten,
flea-chancred --- The Disinherited One
he calls himself, plunking down three last words.
And so he runs with the runts and weird,
the world's culls and thwarts, a desert wrath
slavering for the succulent towns.
His cohort, his conquering dolts, crowds
an outlying village street. We have
come back! they shout, but their joyous
mutilated cries summon no faces
to the horrified windows, bring salt
foaming out of the broken roadways.
Dire under the stars, they know it now:
earth detests them. They buzz about
in confusion, dismay, terror, rubbing
their snub noses over long stupid cheeks
and turn their simple sullen faces
here and there, casting for a way back
into the wilderness --- the founding fathers
of the second republic.
for John Hollander
The language isn't saved by style
but by a tale worth telling.
Not, then, to purify the old words
but to bring new speech into
the lexicon of the tribe,
to tell, for example, how they
received their names--the gods--
who die in every generation
--the world ends--
and are revived under new vocables
as yet unknown to us
and in other, still unguessable shapes
--that must be the world renewed, the new world.
Or even to tell--if we can tell
no more than this--how they came to die
and lost their names and their allure, were husks
hardly able to hold our whispers,
even this allows us a kind
of communion, a beginning of sorts,
a way to keep feeling alive.
©2016 Irving Feldman
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