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. My most recent book is Heiberg’s Twitch.
One Day with Mortality
The river in which we swam . . .
it coursed around us, bubbled, eddied, broke;
an earnest river, not in the slightest diverted,
not even a bit whimsical or skeptical, not interested
in us, nor in those molecules, stable,
indifferent, and imperishable, that made it wet.
Just like us swimmers, the river was a
convenient fiction more useful than
all the indivisible, insoluble facts
without which we are unfitted to live.
The grass on which we lay . . .
was beaten flat
like metal under a ball peen hammer
wielded by a loving hand that weighs the
value of both material and tool.
In it perdured the tiny cosmos over which
we hovered like gods, the Insect World.
We watched as tropisms bred knightly feats
of daring and sacrifice that shamed us
as we grew up and away, towering
above finite loves, astride broken faiths.
The day which we spent . . .
yet is not truly remembered. It has
lost itself and cannot be (any more
than that which once panted in a
squashed raccoon on a road you were driven
down by your grandpa who sought a field
he recollected but that wasn’t there)
recalled. We recall, but not the day,
nor what we did. Melancholy, to think
we recall only our recollections.
Our words . . .
are become less than the graffiti
of Petra, the curses diligently
carved at Carthage, the runes scraped coarsely
in Armagh; except that, uttered once,
our plosive, plotting language flies by
black magic, without shape or mass, like the
earthly state called colloidal suspension,
like smoke rings that bluely hover near,
then slowly swell to fill our solitary
rooms with insubstantial snakes.
Ourselves . . .
have been dozens of times
reiterated like those immemorial
jungles that in their tangled deaths stored energy.
Compressed like thick springs, our pasts tighten
inside us. We are warped and woven with the
rubber bands and bits of lint that time stashes
in a pocket’s bottom. Thrown over, our
old garments, reeking pitiably of comfort
and tobacco, will be forced from us
with our hair and with our biting teeth.
The maples began tumbling in October,
magnolias next; now, with the oaks, it’s done.
Happiness, say the Chinese, is when the
grandfather dies, the father, then the son.
“One Day With Mortality” first appeared in Poetry Northwest
©2016 Robert Wexelblatt
©2016 Robert Wexelblatt
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