With Mercy For The Greedy

For my friend, Ruth, who urges me to make an appointment for the Sacrament of Confession Concerning your letter in which you ask me to call a priest and in which you ask me to wear The Cross that you enclose small and wooden, no thorns, this rose I pray to its shadow, that gray place where it lies on your letter deep, deep. I detest my sins and I try to believe in The Cross. I touch its tender hips, its dark jawed face, its solid neck, its brown sleep. He is frozen to his bones like a chunk of...

The Kite

West Harwich, Massachusetts, 1954-1959 Here, in front of the summer hotel the beach waits like an altar. We are lying on a cloth of sand while the Atlantic noon stains the world in light. It was much the same five years ago. I remember how Ezio Pinza was flying a kite for the children. None of us noticed it then. The pleated lady was still a nest of her knitting. Four pouchy fellows kept their policy of gin and tonic while trading some money. The parasol girls slept, sun-sitting their lovely...

The Division Of Parts

Mother, my Mary Gray, once resident of Gloucester and Essex County, a photostat of your will arrived in the mail today. This is the division of money. I am one third of your daughters counting my bounty A week ago, while the hard March gales Like some unseasoned Christmas, its scales rigged and reset, I bundled out with gifts I did not choose. Now the hours of The Cross rewind. In Boston, the devout and Easter will take its ragged son. on your death and Jesus, my stranger my Christian home,...

Song For A Red Nightgown

Not really red, but the color of a rose when it bleeds. It's a lost flamingo, called somewhere Schiaparelli Pink but not meaning pink, but blood and those candy store cinnamon hearts. It moves like capes in the unflawed villages in Spain. Meaning a fire layer and underneath, like a petal, a sheath of pink, clean as a stone. So I mean a nightgown of two colors and of two layers that float from the shoulders across every zone. For years the moth has longed for them but these colors are...

Figurative Language In Ann Sexton Poem Young

A thousand doors ago when I was a lonely kid in a big house with four garages and it was summer as long as I could remember, I lay on the lawn at night, clover wrinkling under me, the wise stars bedding over me, my mother's window a funnel of yellow heat running out, my father's window, half shut, an eye where sleepers pass, and the boards of the house were smooth and white as wax and probably a million leaves sailed on their strange stalks as the crickets ticked together and I, in my brand new...

Little Girl My String Bean My Lovely Woman

My daughter, at eleven (almost twelve), is like a garden. Oh, darling Born in that sweet birthday suit and having owned it and known it for so long, now you must watch high noon enter noon, that ghost hour. Oh, funny little girl this one under a blueberry sky, this one How can I say that I've known just what you know and just where you are It's not a strange place, this odd home as when, last month in Amalfi, I saw lemons as large as your desk-side globe Or I think even of the orchard next...

Protestant Easter eight years old

No wonder that he grew up to be such a big shot Later on he rose when no one else was looking. Maybe he was only hiding Maybe he could fly Yesterday I found a purple crocus blowing its way out of the snow. Maybe Jesus was only getting his work done and letting God blow him off the Cross and maybe he was afraid for a minute He was smart to go to sleep up there and crawled right through to the river Don't tell me that he went up in smoke with the Cross they built like a capital T. The ceiling is...

And One For My Dame

By selling wool to Fieldcrest, Woolrich and Faribo. he could sell one hundred wet-down bales of that white stuff. He could clock the miles and sales At home each sentence he would utter had first pleased the buyer who'd paid him off in butter. had been tried over and over, at any rate, on the man who was sold by the man who filled my plate. over the Yorkshire pudding and the beef a peddler, a hawker, a merchant and an Indian chief. Roosevelt Willkie and war How suddenly gauche I was with my...

In The Beach House

They are not afraid of God's displeasure. They will have no truck with the angel and throws the ocean into the rocks outside. My little cot listens in all night long even with the ocean turned up high, even with every door boarded up, they are allowed the lifting of the object, the placing themselves upon the swing. Inside my prison of pine and bedspring, over my window sill, under my knob, it is plain that they are at the royal strapping. and then delivering them with unspeakable sounds while...

Self In 1958

What is reality I am a plaster doll I pose with eyes that cut open without landfall or nightfall upon some shellacked and grinning person, eyes that open, blue, steel, and close. Am I approximately an I. Magnin transplant I live in a doll's house with four chairs, a counterfeit table, a flat roof and a big front door. Many have come to such a small crossroad. There is an iron bed, (Life enlarges, life takes aim) a cardboard floor, windows that flash open on someone's city, and little more....

For The Year Of The Insane

The black rosary with its silver Christ Each bead is round and hard between my fingers, a small black angel. 0 Mary, permit me this grace, this crossing over, although I am ugly, submerged in my own past and my own madness. Although there are chairs A beginner, I feel your mouth touch mine. is my only listener, my awkward being. exhaling her wide lung like an enormous fish. grow undeveloped and straight-haired. In the mind there is a thin alley called death It lies, curled like a dog on the...

The Papa And Mama Dance

Taking into consideration all your loveliness why can't you burn your bootsoles and your draft card How can you sit there saying yes to war You'll be a pauper when you die, sore boy. Dead, while I still live at our address. Oh my brother, why do you keep making plans when I am at seizures of hearts and hands Come dance the dance, the Papa-Mama dance bring costumes from the suitcase pasted lie de France, the S.S. Gripsholm. Papa's London Harness case he took abroad and kept in our attic laced...

Woman With Girdle

Your midriff sags toward your knees down, over the surgeon's careful mark, over crisp hairs, that amazing field that hides your genius from your patron the same family of orange and pink faces who wait for their jaws to open and shut. They've rationed the gas for all three cars. The Lincoln Continental breathes in its stall, a hopped up greyhound waiting to be sprung. (lace curtain Irish, her mother said) urges her through the lead-colored garages Kisses that stick in the mouth like the vinegar...

The Death Notebooks 1974

Death Who Stands with His Door Open Faustus and I 353 The Death Baby 354 Rats Live on No Evil Star 359 Grandfather, Your Wound 361 Baby Picture 362 The Furies 363 The Fury of Beautiful Bones 363 The Fury of Hating Eyes 364 The Fury of Guitars and Sopranos 365 The Fury of Earth 366 The Fury of Jewels and Coal 367 The Fury of Cooks 367 The Fury of Cocks 369 The Fury of Abandonment 370 The Fury of Overshoes 371 The Fury of Rain Storms 372 The Fury of Flowers and Worms 373 The Fury of God's...

Somewhere In Africa

Must you leave, John Holmes, with the prayers and psalms you never said, said over you Death with no rage to weigh you down Praised by the mild God, his arm over the pulpit, leaving you timid, with no real age, whitewashed by belief, as dull as the windy preacher Dead of a dark thing, John Holmes, you've been lost in the college chapel, mourned as father and teacher, mourned with piety and grace under the University Cross. Your last book unsung, your last hard words unknown, abandoned by...