Stanley Moss

S
Stanley Moss
Beachcomber
I know something about godforsaken places.
Walking on the beach alone, far from the Dead Sea,
I thought I saw a horseshoe crab crawling slowly—
it was a Gideon Society, black Bible cover.
Another time, washed up on a Montauk dune,
I found a Chianti wine bottle
with a letter in it. I read to myself
a child’s handwriting: “Hello,
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Chaos
There are places for chaos on the page,
meaningful, apparent
confusion — temps en temps on the continent
does not mean “time to time” in Kent,
or Greenwich. From stone through weeds and parchment,
through bad times, words made their way to the printed page.
Bibles now not just for those who go to worship by carriage,
but for those who pray with bare feet,
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Silences
Good morning, electorate.
We are on good speaking terms
but do not speak, which means
we must be self-reliant,
there are many matters at hand.
We’re not close enough to know each other’s
good news, bad news, private matters.

There are silent streets off public gardens
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Idling
There’s wondering, idle thoughts,
thinking over what was last said,
some poetry in my head
like traffic outside the window.
In my forgetful marrow, I consider
often lying words, like everything and all.
Nothing is another matter.
Nothing comes of everything and all.
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New Born
The first thing I did against my will is see light.
Older, in my mother’s belly with a good mind,
I sometimes dreamed different kinds of darkness.
I kicked, had sweet dreams and nightmares
something like death, unborn happiness,
blind hallucinations, memories I can’t name
that still push me to act with unborn hands,
all before breathing.
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A Poem Called Day
Day is carved in marble, a man reclining,
a naked giant suffering.
Preoccupied Day faces Night, who is a woman,
huge, naked, Herculean, both pillowed
on their uncarved rough marble bed.
They need light to be seen, neither
has anything to do with the sun or moon.
Art is not astronomy,
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The Thing Written
The thing written is a sexual thing,
may bite, tell a truth some have died for,
even the most casual initialing
is a touch of love and what love goes for.
A sometime thing, it smiles or has an ugly grin,
on the page or wall may be holy and a sin.
Writing wants, must have, must know,
is flesh, blood, and bone,
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Winter Flowers
In fresh snow that fell on old snow
I see wild roses in bloom, springtime,
an orchard of apple and peach trees in bloom,
lovers of different preferences
walking naked in new snow, not shivering,
no illusion, no delusion, no bluebells.
Why should I live by reality that murders?
I wear a coat of hope and desire.
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A Blind Fisherman
I teach my friend, a fisherman gone blind, to cast
true left, right or center and how far
between lily pads and the fallen cedar.
Darkness is precious, how long will darkness last?
Our bait, worms, have no professors, they live
in darkness, can be taught fear of light.
Cut into threes even sixes they live
separate lives, recoil from light.
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Bright Day
I sing this morning: Hello, hello.
I proclaim the bright day of the soul.
The sun is a good fellow,
the devil is a good guy, no deaths today I know.
I live because I live. I do not die because I cannot die.
In Tuscan sunlight Masaccio
painted his belief that St. Peter’s shadow
cured a cripple, gave him back his sight.
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Poets at Lunch
to W.S. Merwin I said, “Nothing for the last time.”
You said, “Everything for the last time.”
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Allegory of Evil in Italy
The Visconti put you on their flag: a snake
devouring a child, or are you throwing up a man
feet first? Some snakes hunt frogs, some freedom of will.
There’s good in you: a man can count years on your skin.
Generously, you mother and father a stolen boy,
to the chosen you offer your cake of figs.
A goiter on my neck, you lick my ear with lies,
yet I must listen, smile and kiss your cheek
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An Argument
When you said that you wanted to be useful
as the days of the week, I said, “God bless you.”
Then you said you would not trade our Mondays,
useful for two thousand years,
for the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
I said, “Endless are the wonders
to which I can only say ‘ah,’ that our ‘Ah’
who art in heaven can easily become the
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The Inheritance
In Canada, on a dark afternoon,
from a cabin beside Lake Purgatory
I saw your two clenched fists in a tree—
your most recent rage—until I came to my senses,
and saw two small lighted glass lamps reflected
through a window onto the maple leaves.
Was it simply that I had stolen away
in the wilderness to go fishing on your birthday,
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Praise
for Yehuda Amichai 1.

Snow clouds shadow the bay, on the ice the odd fallen gull.
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Return to Rome
Today in Rome, heading down
Michelangelo’s Spanish Steps,
under an unchanging moon,
I held on to the balustrade,
grateful for his giving me a hand.
All for love, I stumbled over the past
as if it were my own feet. Here, in my twenties,
I was lost in love and poetry. Along the Tiber,
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Squall
I have not used my darkness well,
nor the Baroque arm that hangs from my shoulder,
nor the Baroque arm of my chair.
The rain moves out in a dark schedule.
Let the wind marry. I know the creation
continues through love. The rain’s a wife.
I cannot sleep or lie awake. Looking
at the dead I turn back, fling
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Stowaway
1.

Aging, I am a stowaway in the hold of my being.
Even memory is a finger to my lips.
Once I entered down the center aisle
at the Comédie Française, the Artemis of Ephesus
on my arm, all eyes on her rows of breasts and me.
“Who is this master of her ninety nipples?”
the public whispered.
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War Ballad
(after the Russian) The piano has crawled into the quarry. Hauled
In last night for firewood, sprawled
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You and I
You are Jehovah, and I am a wanderer.
Who should have mercy on a wanderer
if not Jehovah? You create and I decay.
Who should have mercy on the decayed
if not the creator? You are the Judge
and I the guilty Who should have mercy
on the guilty if not the Judge? You are All
and I am a particle. Who should have mercy
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