Nineteen Thirty-Eight

That was the year the Nazis marched into Vienna,

Superman made his debut in Action Comics,

Stalin was killing off his fellow revolutionaries,

The first Dairy Queen opened in Kankakee, Ill.,

As I lay in my crib peeing in my diapers.

“You must have been a beautiful baby”, Bing Crosby sang.

A pilot the newspapers called Wrong Way Corrigan

Took off from New York heading for California

And landed instead in Ireland, as I watched my mother

Take a breast out of her blue robe and come closer.

There was a hurricane that September causing a movie theater

At Westhampton Beach to be lifted out to sea.

People worried the world was about to end.

A fish believed to have been extinct for seventy million years

Came up in a fishing net off the coast of South Africa.

I lay in my crib as the days got shorter and colder,

And the first heavy snow fell in the night.

Making everything very quiet in my room.

I believe I heard myself cry for a long, long time.


Our Salvation

What I hate are short winter days,

Cold and snowless afternoons,

The dark night in a hurry to fall

After the last school bus passes.

I dislike a woman who won’t light

But one lamp in the house,

Who keeps the heat way down

And wears three sweaters and a shawl.

What drives me to despair are meals

Eaten in silence with the TV on,

The recital of the day’s horrors

Followed by a grim weather report.

It breaks my heart to go to bed

Every night in a room without heat

With the one who stills has strength

To pray to God for our salvation.


Graveside Oration

Our late friend hated blue skies,

Bible-quoting preachers,

Politicians kissing babies,

Women who are all sweetness.

He liked drunks in church,

Nudists playing volleyball,

Stray dogs making friends,

Birds singing of fair weather as they crap.

The Paris Review, Issue 192, 2010

Pešč, 09.08.2010.