I waited years today…one year for every hour,

all day– though I knew you could not come till night

I waited … and nothing else in this God’s hell meant anything.

I had everything you love — shellfish and saltsticks … watercress,

black olives. Wine (for the watch I pawned), real cream

for our coffee. Smoked cheese, currants in port, preserved wild cherries.

I bought purple asters from a pushcart florist and placed them where

they would be between us —

imagining your lovely face among them…

But you did not come … you did not come.

You did not come. And I left the table lit and your glass filled —

and my glass empty … and I went into the night, looking for you.

The glittering pile, Manhattan, swarmed like an uncovered dung heap.

Along the waterfront

manlike shapes all shoulders and collar walked stiffly like shadow figures.

Later, the half moon rose.

Everywhere the windows falling dark.

By St. Mark’s church, under the iron fence, a girl was crying. And the old

steeple was mouldy with moonlight, and I was tired … and very lonely.

 

by Walter Benton

February 13, 2008

Day to Day

Now that your intemperance has canceled mine …fully,
act for act and word for bitter word,
achieving reciprocity in scorn and balance in betrayal —

with yes and no for every no and yes … and a dead draw
in grievances (fancied or experienced),
only this residue remains:
drab, chronic, hangover days… lonely, sterile nights.

And we self-caught in this equation of zeros, pass time
passively–
our nerve-wiring insulated against pleasure and pain alike.

Sometimes we may seek each other in substitute arms–
use love,
wear its mask to please a habit or to incarnate a memory.

Sometimes you may half-waken, perhaps…and dream-beguiled
reach out to find —
not me … or finding someone, call him by my name.

Sometimes … I may walk Eight Street or Fifty-seventh,
Madison or Fifth,
window-shopping florists and Chinese shops … pricing old silver —

or stop at the corner tavern by the East River … where
one war-weekend evening
we stopped … and the stevedores bought us drinks.

We may even wonder furtively, remaining steadfast, however,
against insinuating irresolutions.
Confide in bartenders, instead … or talk to ourselves, agreeing
that all is for the best, that we are right —
that no better way exists than strangling what is left of love.