In My Appointment Book

In my appointment book, in my own handwriting,
the obligatory medical illegible scrawl, a notation,
for 1:30 PM October 10, 2011, Columbus Day, only
I can not read it. I discern something like M__id___,
but can not attach a name to this awkward rune

At 1:30 PM October 10, 2011, Columbus Day, I wait
eagerly for help in deciphering my own scrawl
to arrive in the form of a particular patient, solution
in the flesh to the mystery I have made for myself,
but no one, no one at all comes and mystery deepens

It is an unknown no one who comes, who fails me
in unraveling the knot I have tied for myself, the “not”
with which I have filled this particular time slot.
In more than a quarter century of practice I’ve not
done the like, never invented such a loose end.

Old Maps

When I was six, open air book stalls along the banks
of the gray green Seine, sold old maps, exotic, all fake,
that fascinated me for whom they were the genuine
doorways to an imaginary geography, the presence
of other places much more interesting than here

My father tolerated the spell I was under with mixed
indulgence and disdain, he let me look and look
and look and ask questions – “What language is this?”
“Do ships still sail here?” Does this island still exist?
“Why not?” he would ask, puffing out white smoke

Despite many trips, despite my yearning for these
talismans of voyages, despite hours spent looking,
spent comparing, spent investigating, we never
bought one of these maps, which made them ever
more precious, lodged as they were deep in my mind

Not only much older now than I was then, but much
older now than my father was then, I hold it all
as something ordinary, imperfect, yet magical,
the way we were together then along the banks
of the gray green Seine, as I imagined myself

Your Mother

Your mother
whom you hardly knew

whether she withdrew just after your birth
or died before you were two or twenty

or forty or fifty-four or even sixty or more
she gave you so much of you

but was the origin of riddles
even if you know yourself as a riddle

your fingers can’t reach out and brush
who she was, what she meant, what she held

I know there are vast rivers of sentiment
that run in the other direction

celebrating unions however imperfect,
exalting mother and child together

I can’t help that I stand for the truth
of a lonelier life, one full of destinations

we never reach whether by the sea
or in the vast unsettling interior

Beyond Dreaming

I want to dream beyond dreaming,
to be convinced by worlds that exist only
inside me like pearl planets inside oysters of sleep
tethered to the flickering electrical reefs
that invent me both when I’m snoring and when I’m awake

who can dive for these pearl planets, bring oysters
back to the surface for examination, for interrogation,
so that they can be asked to state what they might know
about their circumstances, about my own circumstances,
how we’re all accidental, even if round and smooth?

the border of dream is not waking,
not a line of fence posts and barbed wire
or even wishing with all its exotic barbs,
the border of dream is hard to reach because
dream keeps springing up under all feet, five toed, poetic

nor is there any going back to the beginning,
when I dreamt I had arrived at origin, suddenly
a wild buffalo appeared and I had to run for my life,
humiliated that what I thought was an idyll was
instead something so other and in sleep that was mine

I want to get in my dreams beyond seeking approval,
beyond asking acceptance, even my own, beyond trying
to amount to someone, but just to float and glow like
tiny phosphorescent plankton awaiting the whale’s maw,
but without knowing that they are awaiting…

In my thinking about my dreaming, how it is satisfactory
and unsatisfactory, there is more than a hint of jazz,
of improvisation, of never putting my tongue in the same
stream of mind twice, even when I want to and when I try,
it’s no dream I’m always finding and losing myself, all ways

House Of Habit

I live in the house of habit,

rarely venturing out the front door
or the back door,

I stare out the windows and dream.
I keep myself from going too far.

I live in the house of habit

I can’t resist dreaming but I worry
ravishing dreams will be the end of me.

This dreaming beckons to me
without any sense of measure

I live in the house of habit

which I have built slowly over
all my years, even surreptitiously.

Experience comes out of peril, but
habit softly muffles everything.

I live in the house of habit

and can’t tell you how to find me,
because I no longer know my address

where I am alone without myself,
luxury approaching death itself

I live in the house of habit,

a place I never intended to be
that just grew up around me,

with a desk of polished bone
I compose a memoir of nonentity

I live in the house of habit

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