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.
Eberheim, je pense à vous
--- or try to, though unable
to bring you into any field
of vision: in Vladivostok
buried as another, the narrator
having followed the wrong cortege
one hundred pages after
your first appearance in the novel:*
that "horrible groan" (they waited,
fruitlessly, for a second) from
an "adjoining room" --- in Petersburg
to bloody skirmishing in the streets,
you were beginning
to begin your dying.
Your "life" two brief notices
of two phantom events,
and your obituary
three glances meeting to agree
you were better off so.
No showing forth here --- even
an epiphany in a brown woolen suit
would have been brighter --- rather,
a hiding away, a vanishing.
What can resolve your image?
--- pity must blur the whole
in bloating the detail,
irony diminish all
for clarity's small sake.
"Elderly," "penniless," "exacting,"
shyest of all the entries in
the who's who in solitude
--- how is one to place
an exemplary irrelevance? ---
half-expunged, fugitive, yet familiar,
like the brother of a famous face,
and even less than ink on paper
--- Eberheim, I think of you!
* William Gerhardi’s Futility
Everyone talks here, nobody listens.
If you didn't talk to yourself, you'd forget
how to listen--going over in your mind
a week ago's bargain you got, murmuring
the story you've been telling the others,
how you're shopping for something else, honest,
when...and then...and, no, don't jump right in,
make like it's nothing special--"Seen better for less,"
your attitude says, "so where's the big deal?"--
then quick, you go for it, you snap it up.
You found that sale, then you took advantage.
Luck. Sharpness. Enterprise. The spice of life!
And now when you open your eyes, every morning
you're two sweet bucks ahead of the game
--two bucks, count 'em, that fate forked over.
Just think of it, your beautiful, clear edge,
your piece of sky guaranteed sunny!
At night in your silent rooms it sits with you,
and you remind it, "See, you'd have been spent,
lost in god knows whose pocket--if not for me."
"Yes, it's true," it answers, "I'm deeply grateful."
The two of you there, quiet, talking. Like that.
And it's a mystery how it's never used up,
and present in no matter what you buy with it
--which, three pairs socks, say, and epsom salts,
becomes something extra, something you needed, sure,
and yet a treat (no less!), a part of the wonder.
You feel blest you've lived long enough to see this.
A second ago, your life was no big bargain.
Some people thought it wasn't worth two cents.
Now you wouldn't sell for a million whatevers.
And every hour everywhere more prices are coming down!
(Of course you bought the giant size. You had to.
It's nagging on you. Suppose some's left over.
Maybe it wasn't such a bargain after all.
"Oh, what the heck!" That voice doesn't sound
like you--barking like that, desperate, like someone
who knows they're in over their head--for good.
Then you calm down, you think, They'll find it here.
Someone will take it, it won't be thrown away.
Happy? Angry? Sad? You don't know yourself.
Every time you look, the box is staring back.
You pour out exactly the right amount
into the bath, then give an extra shake or two,
and sometimes you put in a little bit less
--as if, in heaven's name, you've gotten into debt
with these epsom salts, and somehow it's up to you
to make things come out even, and end when you do.)
© 2017 Irving Feldman
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