Export: Writing the Midwest
I love you & these empty branches & those wet
roofs over there coming close to our window while I
lie in bed sipping Coca-Cola are nothing. They
are nothing. And I very much enjoy being busy
in a very unbusy kind of way but this again is nothing.
It is nothing. Here is a map of our country hanging
above my dresser & there where I gaze the state
of Maryland where we lived shaded pink & nestled
within it a diamond D.C. This was something.
Where we lived & Blake & Mike & Diane & some
others & we loved them & they loved what they loved
& we loved loved & the cherry blossoms bloomed
for us & for them & for everyone else & the
Beltway strangled traffic for miles & Dupont Circle
spun with dark excitement while spattered statues
of statesmen saluted the stars & stripes & the
Potomac eased along with its reflection of sky &
Kennedy Center & the Lincoln Memorial &
Hirshhorn housed dumbstruck moments on free
display for you & us & everyone else.
This was something.
Morning traffic tinseled by streaming sunlight
long overdue shuttles along & December wind continues
to buffet the vinyl siding on the west side of our
house & my collages continue to hang
on the wall at Todd Mackís gallery after a fabulous
reception but all of this is nothing. It is nothing.
The paper thudding against the door is
nothing. A catís paw on the stair is nothing.
A dripping faucet is nothing.
It is nothing. And here on the nightstand
beneath the clock radio a postcard from San Diego. This
was something. Where we lounged like seals
on Mission Beach while Steve & Sheri worked &
the immensity of the Pacific made it impossible to write
poetry for weeks & the cable cars swayed above
Balboa Park for us & for them & for
everyone else & the scrubby hills multiplying
upwards into morning haze became valleys hording
galaxies of stars at night for us & them
& everyone else & the desert
tattooed us with the colors of heat & the waves on
the shore at Coronado took absolutely no notice
determined as two bodies quietly lapping together
between pastel sheets in a Mission style
home in Del Mar while our children
napped on the floor. This was
And now the empty branches & wet roofs dissolve
into a theater of sunlight & the windowís a film from which I tear
my eyes to read ďHaving A Coke With YouĒ even though
you arenít here because itís you itís not OíHaraís ďyouĒ
when I read his poem & itís D.C. or San Diego or Chicago
instead of San Sebastian or Barcelona
when I open this poem
& itís your love of ice cream instead of yoghurt
& itís the warm East Side of Lansing 4 oíclock light & neither
one of us has been to the Frick yet
& itís you the Impressionists never got to stand near the tree
when the sun sank no I donít think Frank OíHara would mind
if this morning itís you when I read ďHaving A CokeĒ
instead of him with somebody else some place
Iíve never been.
But places, like days,
are nothing if not imbued with your love.
And a day spent working for money is wasted
while a day spent writing poetry is wasted but more
honest. And all of my collages are only so many
scraps of paper if not imbued with your love. And all of my cans of Coke
are not full if not imbued with your love.
I saw you I was drinking a Coke I was driving through downtown I was riding in a coffin I was drinking a Coke You were wrapped like a mummy I could barely see your eyes You were standing on the corner You were watching a procession I was riding in a coffin I could barely see your eyes But I saw you You were standing on the corner The traffic stood still You were in a magazine The buildings closed in You were making a video The sky turned to ice You were dancing at a concert I was drinking a Coke You were wrapped like a mummy I could barely see your eyes You were watching a procession I was riding in a coffin Your eyes were like quarters O, Massachusetts! O, Pennsylvania! The winter light shattered above us Your eyes blazed
like suns Your hair, tousled & sassy Your hair, like Marilyn Monroe I was spinning on a record The record was death I was riding in a coffin Your hands were on your hips Your hips defied death You were wrapped like a mummy I could barely see your eyes You were grabbing your crotch Your crotch defied death I was searching for May But I found you instead You were crossing the street You were grinding against a man
You were red & yellow tulips A murder of crows flapped overhead The winter light shattered like a mirror Beyond the mirror was death I could barely see your eyes I was listening to Miles I was drinking a Coke Did Miles bring you back? Your eyes
blazed like suns The dull winter light like a pyramid of refrigerators & stoves
The light the dull ring in a tub, the dull exhaust of a truck, a muddy shoe, a dusty record, the turntable fucked, the arm refusing to budge Newspaper ink on my fingers Oh, how the tiniest irritating details get magnified in December! I was listening to Miles I was drinking a can of Coke I was trying to hang on I was searching for June But I found you instead Did Miles bring you back? You were crossing the street
The buildings closed in Your eyes blazed
like suns O, Madonna, of the thigh, of the fishnet stockings & the grace! O, Madonna, of the sexual liberation of the 80s! O, Madonna, of the combat boots & the pointed breasts, the white corset & the pin-striped suit! O, Madonna, born into this dreary January light! I saw you You were in Lansing I was drinking a Coke I was driving through downtown I was looking for May But I found you instead The buildings closed in The sky turned to mud You were wrapped like a mummy I could barely see your
face You were incognito You were home, ha, ha
O, Grace Kelly, come back from the screen! O, Diane Wakoski, write us a poem!
O, mysterious woman arriving on this corner at the same time
I drive by in a coffin drinking a can of Coke, listening to Miles,
sing a song for us that will drive this black sludge away!
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