I live near Boston and teach philosophy at Boston University. Besides academic pieces, I write fiction (when I’m up to it) and poems (when I can’t help it). I use a fountain pen—my link to tradition—and write to music. I’ve published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals. A new story collection, Heiberg’s Twitch, is forthcoming.
On the first day back after their
chrysalis summer freshly hatched
adolescents check each other out,
saucer-eyed as they apprehend why.
Some fold their innocence up because it’s
precious, more from shame. In annealing
souls irresistible nature rubs up
against immovable culture
and thus the art of secrecy is born.
Empire turned the seventh into the ninth
month, but among us Anglophones
hardly anyone can remember--
without invoking November’s thirty--
how many days there are in September.
Some will smell the banished brume of burning leaves,
the skinned-pig aromas of a Sixties afternoon.
Classrooms, parking lots, stadiums and news
are vacant no more. When it’s finished even
the longest, lightest summer dims like a dream.
What could be more bracing than hearing the last
heat wave break on the far shore of October?
Reality reasserts itself
as the body cedes sway hesitantly
to the mind. Hope hugs anxiety
while late-bloomers patiently
spruce up their business plan.
The gravity of mid-February
deliquesced in the fug of late July.
Will this be the year when I’m found out at last?
Sobrieties of the season:
Inconsequence takes a turn to earnestness.
Plein-air farce darkens to bedroom tragedy.
Serious wool displaces insouciant twill.
With the chopped-off butts of children’s drawn-out
holidays some adults condole, recollecting
even what they cannot remember, how
it feels for time to stretch out like a
cat for a protracted nap, then, savagely
roused, the shocked yowls and sudden claws.
The Gentiles won’t respect you if you don’t
go. No school today, explained my entirely
unmetaphysical mother. It always
seemed to be over ninety, humid as
a peddler’s underarm, the synagogue
braising High-Holy-Day Jews jammed into
boughten seats. Days of Awe, there’s a
phrase even an agnostic can’t outbrave.
The pious were there too, serene, not
deigning to observe that of days the
most high and holy is any Sabbath.
Take heart from renewal though cringing at
the strain; don’t weigh the burden, only lift.
It can be a good month, as Trilling says,
before aspiration collides with effort,
a honeymoon of tentativeness,
a congeries of inchoate faces,
of muscles settling under a load,
a fumbling among chrysanthemums,
new footwear, old faces,
early classes and late leaves.
“In September” first appeared in Folly Magazine.
Lighten Up Sonnet
The pleasure life insists on, its gladness
and frenzied fumbling, might almost provoke
anyone to crack a smile, even you,
so willfully cross while drizzle dapples
forsythia and the privets glisten
like palisades. It’s perverse to give up not
just hope but hope for yourself below
two brace of stout suburban oaks bowed
like a quartet of chthonic-footed crones
wiggling toes under this dance floor of lawn.
Aren’t you a wee bit tempted to boogie
past the cool stone birdbath, beneath those trees
that look so wise, to sniff the lavender
ceding its blue scent to the bumblebees?
©2015 Robert Wexelblatt