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.
Last Wednesday's blizzard leaves streaks of
sooty slush as though the year flared
once with hopefulness then collapsed
into a strip of ash you poke
at with resignation. Everything
moves, says Galileo. Solomon
retorts, Yet nothing changes. You
know what lasts only if it
lasts, what alters only when you
sniff out a change. Two drums to beat
expectancy's sticks upon:
mutability of misery,
exquisite permanence of ice.
“In February” first appeared in Sou’wester
One year I named the thing
Mensa Scriptoria. According to
the Lexicon that’s feminine,
as if it were a thing I ought to kiss
or a sloop shaped for exotic seas.
She was hacked to be hung,
intended to be a door that
might shyly disclose secrets
or firmly lock out I can’t
say whom or why or what.
She’s long, stained dark,
polished by elbows. Four
filing cabinets support
her, bellying up paper,
books, lamp, ashtray, dust.
Easels dashed with oils
partake in their abuse,
exude artistic dignity;
not so Mensa Scriptoria,
my dear, unstable Muse.
Where News is Never Made the Life of All is More Mysterious Still
The rocks are cracked by rivers
noisily riven and between pebbles grass
waxes silently then soundlessly wanes
while insects metamorphose into
more and more insects and fast water
swerves around thick clods eroded
by ice floes mounting and melting,
swelling oceans rich in salt and gold
washing beaches while grey fish school
in sinuous slow planes above reticulated
coral fans as the white sediments
sift down in perpetual snowfalls
plankton thickening the blizzard
with their lacelike bodies as undersea
volcanoes spew and fracture the
wet plains raising islands like
black puddles as red granite abrades
smooth shale while yet deeper down
fires roil hot enough to boil basalt
and on high vast weightless clouds
gather and disperse making shadows that
the exploding sun spatters dappled
and unseen over every thing.
My life is long; this room is short.
Stressed panels of the cheapest sort
hide thin walls; the mattress is ripped.
Things have the air of being whipped.
There’s not much heat, no view at all,
just boots that scrape out in the hall.
They bring me food, a kind of gruel
no worse than what I got at school;
and every year on Christmas Day
a uniform, brand-new, dull gray.
Two lamps set six feet apart
light up my lair. As to my heart,
discouragement weaves through its rug;
despair fills up its plastic mug;
memory mixes up the noise
of giggling girls and sullen boys.
One day a thousand years ago
it was ordained this should be so.
For some unreckonable wrong
my life’s too short, this room’s too long.
©2015 Robert Wexelblatt