(From Dante's La Vita Nuova)
This sonnet is for all my brothers who do not
stand a chance in love and hate to think about
the woman but still do. In Eros I greet you.
By return mail send advice. I really want it.
Last night I had this dream that will not make
sense. With first REM sleep stars shone bright
as cocky Signor Amore, the man himself, laughed
while he squeezed my bruised heart in his fist.
He fondled my love, asleep in her black negligee,
saying, “Wake up, sweetie, have a treat.”
Scared half to death, she pecked a nibble, a bite,
then a crammed mouthful, all the time trembling
as she gagged it all down. Then he left us sobbing
as if he himself were the one devoured and debased.
Song for a Daughter
Tonight or tomorrow night or a night very soon
you dream of snakes. Thick as fists they writhe
and pulse up your tensed skin and damp satin.
You lie on wet grass, your gown
spread out open from your dry throat down
and as the thick yellow speckled shaft
wraps you in its long, flexing nerve you feel that
gold rope of venom, coil of fluid poison
from your thighs to nascent breasts
to small shoulders and you pulse stiff
as a constellation. The Mozart you like least,
the Queen of Night's aria from Die Zauberflöte
will stir you strangely, and that morning by the
way you sing I will know what you had dreamt.
and the zodiac dream, this is how it started,
when I knew the sails were black. Waking you said
God, I had this dream about a wedding and the zodiac
and then shook the dream out of your head, then drowsily
added God, how awful. A morning for some Wagner, Leitmotiv
tragic, so we took the subway to the site of the World
Trade Center (stared at the dirt, the few steel bones left,
the photographs of the dead) you said some things you know
you can never write about (this is how: parenthetically)
then walked to the memorial to the Famine, and you, a wraith,
said But I'm afraid now. Now I just vomit automatically.
On Curry Hill you ate a hot doasa, burnt my kisses off
from your lips. Later in the Village in a café I asked
you to marry me and you did not say yes.