This house shall be called a house of prayer for all people
                              and it shall face west on the dumb side of the street
                              across from the Cosmos Diner and there will be
                              out-of-date notices posted with rusted thumb tacks
                              inside makeshift windows made of plywood
                              to keep the light out and also to keep the eyes
                              from too much watching and too much gathering,
                              and also to keep the glass what there is of glass
                              from too much crumbling, and there shall be two dogs
                              and too much sniffing and they shall run to the back
                              and back to the front and one of them will be water
                              and one of them land and it is their teeth and nails
                              and it is their chests and it is their bloodshot eyes
                              that make you jump, but as for the dogs in I.
                              who also was here on Second Avenue watching,
                              whenever he speaks of dogs they are as shepherds
                              or they are shepherds and they are almost blind—
                              and dumb—imagine a shepherd that hardly can bark,
                              and loves to sleep—drowse he calls it—and they are
                              the worst of shepherds—and eat meat—


                                                                                                The building
                              is flat at the front and side, there are no seraphim
                              carved in or plastered on, there are no wise men
                              as frieze, there are no wise words added, except
                              the one thing I. in a moment of love in the midst
                              of his anger whispered, or he just thought it, he thought it
                              when he was eating bread and salted fish, or
                              he was rinsing the dirt from his feet, his ankles,
                              between his toes, he thought it while bending down
                              and he was dizzy from the bending or he was
                              overwhelmed by the thought and blood rushed through
                              the capillaries inside his eyes and he was
                              blind for a second for you go blind when vision
                              turns inward, or it was shock, though it was insight,
                              albeit nothing happened to cause it except the
                              fish maybe or the rag in his hand, so
                              thin the threads were visible, the purple of
                              kings, the red of priests, the dirty white
                              of sheep, he always thought of sheep,


                                                                                              and he was
                              full of joy for a minute, he could go
                              from sad to happy in only one fell swoop,
                              in one swell foop, or less, or versa visa
                              and it was the sun, or the wind, or it was a chemical
                              inside his heart or one of his brains or it was
                              seeing a river, in this case East, though seeing the
                              ocean, oh my, you know what death is? you know
                              what walking barefoot in the cold wet sand is,
                              you know what walking into the water is, now
                              think of salt, now think of riding a wave
                              and falling down at the end and holding your arms
                              in front of your head or scraping your elbows, and seeing
                              the plaster hotels, the minarets and palm trees
                              upside down, or sideways, finally turning them
                              right side up, the flags where they go, the flapping oh
                              as it should be, now think of two pelicans
                              thirty feet over your head, his head, now see
                              how graceful they are, and huge and strong and swift,  
                              and you will never again say “pelican,
                              his beak holds more than his belly can” and I. said
                              “swift,” he never said “swift” before—


                                                                                                The building
                              also has a flag—it has a flagpole,
                              and could have had a flag, it could have been
                              Americano, could it have been Cubisto?
                              or Cubanisto? could it have been Norweego?
                              why was there just one flag when after all
                              it was a house for every nation it was
                              a house of prayer for every people—or all, it
                              measured 90 feet by 30 feet, a
                              perfect rectangle although it was small,
                              (we should say is) a better size for a house
                              than for a house of prayer.


                                                                                     He thinks he likes
                              the flat white stones the best, it stands out from
                              its neighbors, soft red bricks and fire escapes
                              and nothing for the imagination, he stands
                              on the sidewalk outside, in front of the East End Temple—
                              that is what it’s called but there’s no inside,
                              it’s boarded up, he reads the notices, he
                              reads the work permit, Department of Buildings
                              expires 6–29–04, approved
                              12–31–03, issued 1–
                              08–04, work permit no. 1
                              03677 610,
                              remove the area of damaged brick
                              on north wall and replace, provide structural
                              support, install steel posts and channels, attach
                              steel plates and ties; but now he thinks the work
                              will never be done, the building next door is for sale,
                              the high priest lived there, now the corner is doomed,
                              a derrick is moving up 23rd—


                                                                                                 He walks
                              across the street to the Cosmos Diner, he puts
                              a third a packet of Splenda in his coffee
                              and leans on the counter to eat his arm, he starts
                              just below the shoulder, then goes to the wrist,
                              then back again, and it is the blood they mind,
                              though he is sucking it up or draining it
                              into some cups, those diner cups, an off-white
                              with a strip of blue a quarter inch from
                              the rim, it seems to hold much less than its thickness
                              and weight would suggest and there is a saucer to match
                              though there is no stripe of blue in the saucer, he knows
                              you don’t drink blood, oh God, you don’t drink blood,
                              you drain the flesh, you salt the flesh, you pound it
                              on marble till it’s dry, you wrap it up in a
                              cotton dish towel, then you burn it or boil it,
                              and that’s for Mom, remember, Mom? I. cooked it
                              through and through, he cooked the potatoes, he peeled
                              and boiled the carrots and then parboiled the carrots
                              and then par, par—


                                                                                   And in the Cosmos, at the
                              counter, in front of the salt and pepper and sitting
                              on one of those heavenly wobbly stools the color
                              it turns out of blood, it matches the ripped open veins,
                              he whipped up his rage and yelled, he pounded his fist
                              and shook the shakers, he spilled his coffee, he spilled
                              a cupful of blood, he pulled a handful of patterned
                              paper napkins out of the streamlined holder
                              to sop up the liquids and in the midst since he
                              was thoughtful as well as berserk, he watched the brown
                              which is the color of coffee with milk spread forth
                              as water on sand spreads forth, he was awakened
                              and walked, so to speak, at the edge so his toes wouldn’t turn
                              too cold too soon, or walked on his hands, he once
                              could do that, and at a certain point in
                              space as well as time, the brown on the white just
                              stopped forever, then he took his sword,
                              which was a fork as light as tin and cut
                              two heads off—shaker heads—and he was sapient
                              enough to know that he was not only I.
Cervantes              but C. as well, at least a little, C. from
                              Spain, that maimed and stricken Lanzman who
                              saw everything at once—I’d call it a curse—
                              and tilted at shakers, and so on, then he charged
                              at enemies and he was alone in the field
                              and probably had a talking horse or an unarmed
                              jeep with a canvas top, and fuck the trees,
                              he wouldn’t stand behind a tree, and fuck the
                              holes, he wouldn’t dig one if his life
                              depended on it, and surely it did,


                                                                                                and what he
                              said to the waitress is “I have kept still too long,
                              now I will scream like a woman; I will squat
                              as they used to, I will lock my legs in
                              one of their harnesses, I will break their
                              loving needles, I will labor, I will piss on
                              their centimeters, I will sweat and gasp,”


                              he holds the shakers as if he were squeezing the red
                              and black wires attached to the car’s battery
                              and if there were something wooden, he’d put it between
                              his teeth and then he could scream to himself, then let them
                              cut his leg off, let them cut a tit off,
                              let them bend, as they do, above his mouth
                              and share their literary lives with him
                              or, worse yet, tell him jokes, “have you heard the one
                              about Auschwitz, there was a barbed wire fence
                              and there was a German colonel with an eye patch
                              and riding crop,” the while they’re pouring hot gold
                              into his empty teeth, the while he answers
                              with his mouth open and on his back, making a
                              sound like a seal in distress or a walrus hungry
                              for halibut and flapping his fins and singing,
                              for he was a walrus most of all and at the
                              cash register he made a walrus sound
                              which sounded most of all like someone coming,
                              maybe coming unexpectantly the way
                              it grabs you, nor can you say “oops,” nor can you
                              apologize, oh never that, oh never,
                              never apologize, not for that, apologize
                              for lies, apologize to the Filipinos,
                              apologize to the Africans, to the Jews,
                              to the Cherokee, the Japanese, the Mexicans—
                              “We’re sorry, we thought you were dogs.”


                                                                                                Imagine now
                              what he has to do, if he walks, say, one block east
                              or one block south, what does it matter? that is,
                              what he has to say, not do, the most he can do
                              is take his clothes off like his great-granddaddy,
                              did, or sit down featherless and drink
                              a chai a la mode, except in America
                              there is no freedom to sit or walk naked
                              in public and anyhow the chill wind bloweth
                              and what about paunches and hanging breasts and flat
                              unfattened buttocks, and what about Everyday Zen
                              and Mu and Early Capitalism and Breath and
                              Eye to Eye and Erich Fromm and Wittgenstein—
                              and Comedy and Tragedy—was I. a                              


Emily Dickinson                                                         Wait awhile, E., are her
                              poems comic? white and purple, E.?
                              Take one word in one poem—take “hazel”  
Franklin                  in no. 739, “hazel” witnesses,
                              nor “blue” would have done, nor “brown” and it is shocking
                              when it comes, it is an affront, a heavenly
                              affront, to speak of eyes like that, or take
no. 903                  the lark, and cut him open to find his song,
                              that’s the literal option, sorting through the
                              guts, or call it the stubborn, a clown say
                              cutting open a crow and looking up at
                              the bleachers and scratching his head with a crimson knife,
                              rubber, of course, and asking for help, maybe finally
Moses                    playing a tune on his baby fiddle, then M.
God, Abraham        talking to G., or A. to G., a worm
                              and a robin, talking in Worm, of course, “oh, robin,
                              how could I look at your beak and live?” how you do
                              shake the ground with wonder, but I. is furious
                              at his own thoughts for he is not that which eats him
                              and G. is not that which eats the eater, nor will he
                              degrade himself that way.


                                                                                             And what is language
                              anyhow, if Worm, or Polish, or Upper
                              Chinese, or Lower Nebraska, and if A. talks
                              to G. it is that only he is enflamed and
                              is made a lower equal and lifted up,
                              so to speak into the upper registers
                              and not a worm, for God’s sake, not a worm.


(A.)                        And if he is delusional it is that
                              he knows not what it is he talks to, he talks to
                              wind, to bushes maybe, to water when there is
                              water to talk to, though he mostly talks to
                              Sky and he calls it Lord, and it is dust and
                              ashes that plead for he is moved by Sky,
                              though M. talked to thick darkness, to a cloud
Cecil B. DeMille      of sorts, with trumpets to match for Cecil B.
                              was not so bad after all when you consider.


                              Though what redeemed it were the words, the words,
King James            whether James or not-James—they consoled the mountains
                              they relieved the baby Christians though they
                              hardly understood why, they didn’t know
                              that much about words, they knew about pictures, they knew
                              about M. and his itchy beard and G. the trombone,
                              they loved the golden trombone, all seven positions
                              sliding and sliding—but there are two voices even if
                              one is nervous with apologies and
                              somehow voices are by their nature equal
                              at least I. thought that as he practiced voices
                              looking in the diamond mirrors and studying
                              the pies and cakes, and ate his cold broccoli,
                              preparatory to his short walk to
                              Madison Square and his meditation
Exodus                  on M. and G. in 19 and 20 and so on,
                              and how it was a voice, and voices, two voices,
                              both together and one at a time, and so on,
                              for pictures spoil and one of the voices even
Ex.                         said that and I.’s own favorite was 33,
Ex.                         only the back displayed, and 34,
                              a veil over his face, and I. himself
                              was a voice though he was sometimes occupied
                              and he was the other voice, for poetry
                              is like that.


                                                                             And while he ate a bird he moved
                              one dish to the left, one spoon to the right, for he was
                              also compulsive and counted steps for starters
                              and with his mind and its fingers he moved the shakers to
                              each side of the dish for they were now cherubim
                              and underneath the chicken was the mercy-seat
King James            which James in its wisdom calls the Ark’s cover
                              and it was made of gold which I.’s dish wasn’t
                              and there was a length and a width described, for G.
                              he also was compulsive as well as pure.


                              And I. had a mother who washed her hands three times
                              before she did the dishes and used in her wisdom,
                              only Ivory soap though she did kosher
                              when her mother lived with her but it was
(G.)                        all about a home for the lonely one
                              he called a refuge that they carried from
                              place to place by the staves which were inside
                              the golden rings and they couldn’t be removed
                              and so on, and as for the shakers they both had wings
                              and looked at each other’s faces and even more
                              compulsive were the tables and candlesticks
                              on which they put the bread.


                                                                                             And I. re-read
Ex.                         26 through 31 although when he left
                              the Cosmos—just as they were molding the calf—
                              he felt ashamed for he had ridiculed history,
                              although he had two hearts, Red Emma, for example,
                              one of them, Voltaire, par exemple, the other,
                              and when he faced the music walking east
                              at 5 a.m., wasn’t it Kipling? wasn’t Brooklyn
                              “China ’cross the bay” ? weren’t the colors
                              the same colors, didn’t he love the rose
                              most of all? and didn’t he bow from the waist
                              and hit himself with the knuckle of his thumb
                              against his forehead just ten minutes before
                              and bend his knees and kind of spring and soar
                              above the others with that newfound tenor
                              voice of his?


                                                                            He sprang forth from the Cosmos,
                              he didn’t just leave, he sprang forth most of the time
                              but this time he was Mozart and Oswald Spengler,
                              and Samuel Coleridge, for he had something over the
                              First, Second, and Third I.s whose Spenglers and
                              Mozarts were already buried, or digested,
                              or they were absorbed and they were accommodated,
                              the way it happens, and he was springing forth
                              unto the river and one thing was on his mind,
                              or he could have divided it in two although
                              to I. it seemed like one continual thing
                              and he couldn’t wait till he got back to his books
                              and only he wished he had his books while he stood
                              above the water, though he knew other waters
                              and he was never without a river. 


                                                                                             And spring
                              is what he did as he walked down 23rd
                              and it was spring two thousand seven and G.
                              already forgave him now for each of his ears
                              were open for every roar but also his eyes
                              as he passed first the foundry then the derrick
                              and had the moment where he saw the long robe
                              and the roomful of wings, one of which touched his lips
                              as a moth does with a coal unbearable
                              reminiscent of the other hot touches
                              and the dreams he had of coal when he shook the lever
                              and dropped the red-hot ashes into the bucket
                              he wrote about a half century ago
                              and how his mouth was ruined then giving him
                              his sight at last he called his birth for he traveled
                              all over again through the passage with steel walls
                              surrounding him.


                                                                                    And there are many ways to
                              get down to the water, either by steps
                              or knee-deep through the mud or over the
                              rocks, my love, and what they say is the water
                              broke but it was not the water, it was
                              a kind of skin—though something broke and the fluid
                              poured down—should he delight you with his stories,
                              child after child, RR tracks, windows, bags,
                              sandwiches, taxicabs, snow, and water supreme
                              the subject, where cherses are made, and this is the street,
                              the corner supreme, and he has got to deflate,
                              (ah world deflated), and he has got to make
                              one of his cherses, look at him postulating,
                              look at him posturing.


                                                                                   He hates to think
                              of poesis negativa, he hates the Possum
                              more than he does the Pound, he longs for a thing
                              he only has a thought for, he regrets now
                              more than ever the language he used for that thought,
                              the stubbornness, and lack of knowledge, how he
                              struggled, how he just couldn’t focus, how
                              the words and the feelings took such a long time to come
                              and that is why in his eighties he does as he does
                              and it is blood now he thinks about for blood
                              is just underneath the skin and just prick it
                              with one of his needles and look at the meter and what
                              stands for meanness and what for stupidity
                              for which he closes his eyes to wait for the number, for
                              he has squeezed the skin already and watched the
                              drop of blood appear.


                                                                                              And as he walks
                              along the river, half a mile from the Cosmos
                              or 15,000 steps if he counts the left one
                              and does the every other or the one in
                              three sometimes he does on his other river,
                              and as the sun sets and the foghorns blare
                              he watches the bodies swimming back to Brooklyn
                              for he is near the V. A. Medical Center
                              near the New York Skyport where the cormorants
                              dive for your amusement and to fill
                              their empty bellies with the oil-drenched fish
                              where, if your eyesight is good, across the river
                              against a wall and certainly in Greenpoint
                              you can see the large sign “Huxley Envelopes,”
                              which gives you so much peace, nor are there giant
                              frogs nor are there glutinous nor muscular
                              sucking eels nor for the moment, even
                              suckholes nor, for the moment are there motors
                              threshing the water, only swimmers and waders,
                              and he could swear they had on wool bathing suits
                              and men and even boys had tops and women had
                              skirts of a sort and most of the costumes were black
                              with a stripe or a little star both here and there
                              and some walked into the river for they never
                              learned to swim and some held heavy suitcases
                              over their heads as long as they were able to,
                              and they broke into song, both Jimmy Durante
                              and Fats Waller and everyone imitated
                              radio voices and I.’s dog’s heart was broken
                              for they were mayflies and they were fluttering seedpods
                              though who was a widow and who was an orphan and so on
                              it was hard to tell in the bathing suits,
                              though you could say that even wearing swimwear
                              was a privilege for there is a style in swimming
                              just as there is in dying.


                                                                                              And at the gas station
                              where you’d expect a hundred Uzis were ten
                              or twenty sharpshooters and they had air guns
                              and shot the 22s for they believed in
                              giving everyone a chance and you could
                              hear the pumps clicking as they reloaded
                              and most of them were fat for it was too much
                              meat and cheese ruined them and I. remembered
                             that twelve full ounces was a lot when he was
                              in his teens though nothing compared to the giant
                              sweet bottles they drank


                                                                                    And it was in that Greenpoint
                              one or two landed who called themselves by the weird name
                              of remnant for they were at most just rugs that you could
                              flatten and pile them up on a table and sell them
                              cheapo, though the ones who arrived preferred
                              by and large “you people” as in the phrase
                              “you people, for sale, cheapo” and some felt they
                              were on the road back, since it was Brooklyn and some
                              felt they were going forward for east was east
                              one way or another though maybe they were
                              getting it backwards, given the phrase “go west,
                              you people,” sunrise, sunset, you people had
                              it all, for quickly go the years, and I.,
                              he knew the words, and he could sing and it could
                              be in Poland, and there’s an oil spill underground
                              and you should hear the Mobil/Exxon people
                              deny, deny; and I loved most the moss that
                              covered the rocks and the waves coming in and the rats.


                              And there he was, he parked his car beside
                              Huxley Envelopes and he could see the
                              Williamsburg Bridge from where he stood, and the squad
                              of shooters, most of them had glasses, and they couldn’t
                              see the bridge from the west-side side especially
                              standing in front of the row of pumps and in back of
                              the low iron fence and I.’s bad memory tells him
                              the gas was three ninety six a gallon for regular
                              and it was the end of May, two thousand and seven
                              though he was prophesying when it came to the squad,
                              and one had a T-shirt that said on it Nebuchadnezzar
                              and one said Stalin and one said Shitty Cheney
                              and it was hot for the end of May, the temperature
                              was over ninety, maybe close to a hundred,
                              especially in Poland by the river where
                              there were only empty factories, weeds,
                              barbed wire fences, and dead-end streets and one
                              had a pink that was much too tight and the suitcase
                              was maybe a baby for her arms were waving
                              or maybe a watermelon and the remnants
                              could float all by themselves and that’s how they reached
                              Brooklyn without the aid of branches.


                                                                                               Though no one
                              can make you cry anymore unless like I.
                              you have the heart of a dog for dogs still cry
                              and lick your mouth and eyes and those in the costumes
                              who turned into rags and remnants their hearts were still open
                              nor had the hardness entered for they were poor—
                              although that wasn’t the word—I got it from Stevens,
                              of all people, you get a free creamsicle
                              if you know the poem, though he meant more than money
                              or other than money, imagine Stevens like Amos,
                              imagine him like Jesus, the opposite,
                              what is it? What is a rich man, stubborn, blind?
                              callous, corrupt, cruel, brutal, haughty?
                              Or arrogant, or just indifferent? Or
                              most of all, entitled, as in the phrase,
Xerxes                    “X. feels entitled.” But is it money? Sometimes
                              it’s money, sometimes it’s partly.


                              he should talk, he’s rolling in dough, and feels
                              compromised—and abandoned—he should change
                              places with the one in the dirty red T-shirt,
                              the one who asked him for four dollars to buy
                              a Metro card, then he could live with the fleas
                              and smell the river forever—maybe it’s hardness,
                              hardness is the word—that’s better, he thinks
                              than just “indifference” but he still likes “entitled,”
                              as W. is entitled, he sneers when he talks,
                              and he can’t bear opposition or disagreement
                              and scolds with a quivering voice; as there are skunks
                              in chairs who dip their tails in ink or their assholes
                              and spread their stink—though no one can make you cry
                              again for you are dry and what is the use of
                              going through that again; but I. can’t help
                              interfering for that is what he does, he
                              intervenes, he is insulting, he lost
                              jobs, he was shunned, he embarrassed his
                              wives, he was emotional, wasn’t G.
                              himself emotional? Didn’t M. make him cry?


                              I. studied the afternoon sky, for 6 o’clock,
                              June seventh, two-0-0-7, the color
                              was vaguely lavender, I.’s favorite, and Greenpoint,
                              because of the light, was all but illuminated
                              and he looked up, as if for instruction, but there
                              wasn’t even one cloud to distract him nor were there
                              pigs lying down with porcupines nor had
                              Grumman and Lockheed started making kiddie-kars
                              under the aegis of the Free Methodists or
                              in Cheltenham north of Broad Street the Reconstructionists.


                              And as for dawn, for he got up at four
                              o’clock the next morning there wasn’t one color
                              to speak of although the sun made a kind of highway
                              and you would say it went southeast although
                              that’s only describing the course of the river which though
                              it was East it wasn’t exactly east
                              and it was a brilliant highway, you’d have to say sparkling
                              and be forgiven, and it was delineated,
                              at least from where I stood, and there were watery
                              unlit shoulders, miles of shoulder, and I.
                              loved burning like that, it was the moment, he wanted to
                              shout something, when he got back he’d sit
                              with both his bibles but first he’d stop at the Cosmos
                              for eggs are eggs and if the sky was bland and
                              cloudless, it also was creamy and he would say
                              the highway that morning was a beam of light
                              and if it wasn’t “sparkling” at least it was glinting
                              and he couldn’t get over the freshness, in spite of the paper
                              and bottles and piled-up garbage and what had to be
                              hot subways and stinking buses and noise too
                              much to bear, then it started again, you’d call it
                              “pellucid distinctness of objects” and it has to
                              do with wind and water and light though I. was
                              tempted to call it by its other names.


                                                                                                And you have
                              seen a lot, but I. was almost exhausted,
                              sitting in state over his uncooked bacon
                              and shook the waiter up for he was from Naxos
                              and understood guts, but he was more used to fish
                              and it was walls I. talked about for he was
                              already ruined by walls and he said walls
                              destroy you and asked the waiter to think of walls
                              in his own life and it was Mexico too and
                              Palestine, for he didn’t mind the literal
                              and even he loved them too, and he himself
                              built one once without cement and spent
                              months on the puzzle and stood thirty feet away
                              with his right hand over his eyes, more like the hat’s
                              green peak than anything else and planned the table
                              next to the stone and thought of the path to the kitchen
                              and how the herbs would be at eye level
                              though sometimes it was abstruse and sometimes even
Cosmos Diner        too confusing for both of them at the booth
                              third from the door looking out Twenty-third.


                              But he was angry—that wasn’t even the question
                              and there were words enough; and let’s agree,
                              I. barked in one of his New York City voices,
                              that you are alone when you take off your clothes
                              and slip into the water, and it’s too late to
                              learn another language, and what they should have
                              done is breathe quietly in the small space
                              below the shoulder to the right of the neck,
                              and maybe the Hummer can lie down with the Hoover
                              and birds of a feather, and let’s just see who gets
                              to live longer, and so much for straw.


                                                                                              And there were
                              motor boats in the offing and wind-up keys
                              in all the metal rabbits and real flowers
James Joyce           in all their paws and naked and barefoot she came
                              into the living room, and I. remembered
                              the dead-man’s float, the body goes this way and that
                              and you’d be surprised how long you can hold your breath,
                              and there will be chickens cooking in every trash can
                              and you should hear the toothless sing and given
                              how sycamores get so fat you shouldn’t be surprised
                              at wood coming back, the demented eyes staring
                              at you.


                                                                      And he predicts the sale of body parts
                              behind the barbed wire fences, and there’s one thing
                              he’s sure of, if there’s money enough and the barbs
                              are rusty enough the ones outside will live
                              till fifty maybe and the ones on top of the
golf                        little knolls and fiber holes till maybe
                              a hundred and twenty, that’s the toast in the red-brick
                              glass-bound dining room the end table
                              by the unused fireplace, a bottle of schnapps
                              and three or four of them left for they are greedy,
                              and that was the toast they made before swimming over,
                              and there will be a difference between the chickens,
                              not to mention the corn and the creamed spinach,
                              not to mention the cushions they use and how
                              they look at one another and what they flee from.


                              And one thing more, there was some room for affection
                              and I. brought a flower with him, mostly he hid it
                              but on the bus he held it in front of him
                              as if it were a cup of wine or a candle
                              and he was going to proffer it—oh Lord—
                              eleven years ago—and when he walked
                              down the two great steps onto the curb he
                              raised it up, it was his own pitiful
                              candelabrum—one poor wick—and more for
                              balance than anything else and he was anxious
                              to put it in water so it could bloom again
                              and all for an older poet who was herself
                              younger than him, though she is dead now and I.
                              never talks to the dead for they have nothing to say
                              about their world but only yours, such as
                              does the apothecary still have ice cream,
                              or is it the Crescent that goes to New Orleans,
                              or how much do you weigh now—never never
                              what it is like or if there is consciousness
                              or where the others are—and she has written
                              one book I. loved and she adored the flower,
                              it was before she died; he used to give quarters
                              on this street, one day he chased someone for
                              two or three blocks to give him more money, it was
                              his dog, a black Labrador, who wore the
                              sign of suffering more than his master, I. felt
                              they were all helpless together though his quarters entitled him
                              and now he hates the quarters nor can he be free
                              for even a minute, you might say he’s on duty,
                              and he spends half his days studying ineptitude
                              and lying—you call it false witnessing?
                              You call it a crooked mouth part? You go to college
                              to study advertising? You lie in stink
                              for half a dollar? You fuck the language? You rape
                              nouns, verbs, adjectives? You like raping
                              adverbs? You like eating rye bread
                              at city dumps? You like creamsicles?


                              I. has eaten at the Cosmos veal
                              and chicken two hundred ways and he has studied
                              out-of-date notices posted with rusted thumb tacks
                              inside makeshift windows made of plywood
                              to keep the light out and also to keep the eyes
                              from too much watching and too much gathering,
                              and also to keep the glass what there is of glass
                              from too much crumbling, and I. can smell a rat
                              for he has lived with dirty nests in his cellar
                              and he sings love songs now among the spiders
                              for he hasn’t lasted for eighty-two years for nothing.


When I came back to visit the East End Temple after an absence of six months or so I saw what I had predicted (prophesied)—the building was gone, the house next door was torn down and the cranes and hard hats were busy at work—a 16-story apartment building—said my favorite waitress at the Cosmos, but it was too obvious, even too banal for too much attention, let alone sadness. I am no prophet, but I suppose the wise and bearded ones also dealt in such banality. I was chagrined, bored, angry and I had it with both the lords and their critics. The building will be ugly, the ceiling will be low, the walls will be thin and it will start wearing out even as they nail on the sheetrock and make holes for their wires. Welcome, shitheads! Be sure to try the Greek specials across the street before they start serving Belize coffee at three dollars a swig—and good swimming in the East River.  end