April is much too
late in March for snow
but I feel much more like I do
now than I did a while ago
for I’ve just seen a great movie–
don’t miss it if you possibly can–
it was like a flash in the dark
or a shot in the pan
and in three dimensions:
black and white and color,
you know, a casual affair
between a donut and a cruller?
The theme, I think, was LIFE
(but you really had to be there)
starring Beatrice Somebody
& Art Guesswho. (I wonder
who does her hair…and why).
Anyway, these two were like
twins, though one looked
more alike, and listen to this:
“they read no more that day.”
And if that doesn’t take your
day and make your cake,
right there I gave myself
to Art, just for art’s sake.
(I wrote this 35 years ago and take it out for an airing
now in honor of April Fool’s Day. The snowbanks
along the sides of my street are still five dirty feet high.)
The Christmas Fake Book
slumps a little, limp
beneath the piano light,
looking a bit leftover
this december twenty-sixth–
as if it could not hark
to one more herald angel,
little town of Bethlehem or
It has served well
the eye, the ear,
the memory in the fingers
dancing on the keys.
It has sustained the loud,
who gathered here to sing
those half-remembered verses
come to haunt again this year.
Now it’s done,
like christmas day itself–
all noise and wonder
packed in a small space.
It will go back
to live among the sheaves
of music on a shelf, there
at the very bottom of the stack,
to take its usual place.
. THE CHRISTMAS FAKE BOOK
Choosing among apples at the supermarket
just the other day I heard
Bing Crosby singing “Jingle Bells.”
Background music so I’m told
can motivate a buyer in a store.
But Bing? Bing Crosby? This must be
the day marked shopping day for us
I say to a green pyramid of Granny Smiths.
And sure enough here comes a busload
slowly from the home for seasoned citizens.
I doubt the muzak moves them any faster
though most likely they’ll remember Bing.
Bing Crosby, ah, Bing Crosby,
how you crooned and nanna swooned
how you spun inside the gramophone
seventy-eight revolutions per minute
dreaming of a White Christmas just like
the ones you used to know. Was that how
I came to think of Christmas mostly as a longing?
Strange and difficult to satisfy. I try
to re-create the pleasures of the past
(and leave the woundings out), but it’s a task
unfestive, one I’m loathe to be about.
All I hear are someone’s memories.
All I see grows gaudier, each year
more desperate to enforce the thing.
All I want is willingness to let the night be dark
(except for stars), dear friends, these apples
red and green, and (maybe) just a bit of Bing.
From the trusty crock you teach
how cold a winter’s morning
or how warm a summer’s day might be.
Oh not in thermometric numbers by degree
but by your suave substantial answer
to the knife tip’s touch,
by your complexion and your spreadability.
At your most noble, taken new
from finest milk and churned
to a consistency all of your own,
epitome of softness and a cache
of flavor—you’re unsalted, sweet,
delicately of the pasture: dandelion,
clover or alfalfa, onion grass…
I love yourself
by any means conveyed—
a raft of toast, a lobster tail,
an artichoke sauteed—even my cat
demands a tiny pat of you each day.
But best of all, piece de resistance,
those days when I bake bread
I break a hunk
warm, before the loaf is sliced,
and slather you all over it.
Then you are paradise.