As drawing from a songbird’s
coloratura, I dreamt the secret to prosperity is being
Richard Siken | excerpt from ”A Primer for the Small Weird Loves” | Crush | Yale University Press, 2005
“It’s a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.”
—Naguib Mahfouz, from Sugar Street: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 3 (Anchor, 2011)
There is finitude in ice and icy finitude
in public realms. The of-a-pieceness of it. It
maddened me, I wanted life to shatter. Glitter
like jewely fragments so I might admire. Rude
governance was not for me. I loved rage.
Its edges caught the light.
—Richard Lamb, from ““Margaret Trudeau’s ‘Pied Beauty’”
Photography Credit Roy DeCarava
At the bus stop, a blind man sells colored pencils.
Ballpoint pens, too, at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Ten cents for a pencil, two bits for a pen.
Around the corner, a boy from the orphanage
gives a bookmark to anyone who drops money into his box—
no matter if it’s a nickel or a dollar.
A different boy every day, rotating by the month.
There are that many boys at the orphanage, I am told,
and I am grateful not to be one and fearful that I could be—
these boys in their coarse blue suits and thick-soled black
faces alternately fierce and frightened
and in their eyes the sad lights of distant ports
faintly flickering as they repeat the same refrain:
Alms for Saint Gregory,
the name of their orphanage,
the patron saint of shipwrecked sailors,
of lost travelers.
Slip is one
law of crash
There is also
to the left
the idle flip
to act, no
or triple lock
or brake stops
like a legal system
out of Dickens.