And Spring Again

February 19, 2008

Such things I remember now it is spring and you are gone!

Daily…unnoticed-till-absent things,

like air or heart’s beating –

words that would pass neither for wit nor wisdom… or acts for grace,

pebbles underfoot the polishing of years makes jewels of.

You might as well be here.

After the sterile loneliness of winter

he sunned earth has flowered out with dark Paleozoic fertility.

Remember the longstemmed tiger

and lemon lilies in the regenerated stripmined backyards of Joplin,

the ever wilting daisies and violets we vowed never to pick,

the barbed lavender thistles you loved … but I had to carry –

the dew the blossoms and the leaves

imparted to your arms, emphasizing their pubescent softness?

You were wary of bees, mostly…I, of ivy and sumac,

as we trespassed, field to field, until you tired and grew gently

will-less –

glad of my arms each time a fence or an excavation challenged us.

Then I was strong… and always held you longer than it took

to help you over.

O it was good feeling you mine completely… certain that all was yes

and no was inarticulate in your lips and limbs.


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
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.