Who would want to go
on a side-trip? And where?
Some dolmen-place or barrow,
static and gloomy? Some view
of or from a mountain—arduous;
and the sight of a stag might rouse
a sense of unvirility or the wish,
long precluded, to hunt?
Or to some other House—
introductions needed, drinks delayed
and wrong, ideas and different tastes
like sudden hedgehogs? Better to stay here—
where boredom and satiety
are shelved (as, elsewhere, worry
and need); where a glimpse
at certain hours of pajamas, bathrobe,
or less is as much a game
as the gown and tails of evening.
Where one sprawls at ease—
at secret moments not alone—
on sofas that seem to multiply
like the rooms, and laughter banishes
anything as rude
as age or cruelty or money.
Of course it’s just an image; I’m not one
to sleep on stones and plastic,
View with humor then
this pour of stars into a canyon;
despite low light pollution,
it’s barely half the ancient sky. Someone stirs
in the scrub (so intense
the solitude, I won’t say “something”);
someone else, who was probably hovering,
swoops. So even now—
no wind, no moon, 3 AM—
death goes on. Alarming eyes
reflected, once, my fire while it burned,
and on the crumbling rim
I saw the silhouette
of one again being hunted to extinction.
What remains is that those half-
seen stars, and you and wolves
and I are fragile, oversensitive,
undone by a laugh.
The Perfected One
Actually he said little;
most was implied but clear enough.
I, in contrast, rambled. He seemed old
but with no loss of strength or competence—
older than would be possible for me.
There were hard words. One
combined “faith” and “physics”; he used it—
with a facial expression!—when I described
armed fools believing anything convenient,
dying as they marched. And when I attacked
the poetry of emotion, he employed
one among several registers of silence.
The tea was from something grown on “his” land.
The cup was stone. The furniture
resembled, what else, Danish Modern,
encouraged more to platonize itself.
He breathed, I eventually noticed,
like someone grateful for air. Showed enthusiasm
discussing the “block universe”—time
like layers of mica, holding my death, his,
erased and crumpled manuscripts, in stasis;
it was how, he said, he remembered it all.
The house invited but didn’t compel
light. Except for his few plants,
the view was beige and bare all the way
to the hills. Some distant ruins;
I think he was quoting when
he said that stones, though past their time,
still seek to grow like plants, unite like men.
The view—what else to say?—had an austere beauty,
the only sort there now will ever be.
Frederick Pollack is author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness, both from Story Line Press, the former to be reissued by Red Hen Press. He also has two collections of shorter poems, A Poverty of Words(Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Pollack’s work has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review and others and online in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, Rat’s Ass Review, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, and others.