The labours I endured were no longer to be alleviated by the bright sun or gentle breezes of spring; all joy was but a mockery which insulted my desolate state, and made me feel more painfully that I was not made for the enjoyment of pleasure.
It all began in the American West, where a few pioneering robber barons embarked on a real-estate spree. But it takes more than money and privilege and cronies in all the right places to ransack Nature’s bounty for the private pleasure of the demanding few, to obliterate what has always existed and make out of it what never existed before, and then to flank it with “No Trespassing” signs. It takes a vision. It is a vision that sees molehills made into mountains — and to hell with the moles.
And it is possible that he lost his head, and that he was carried away by his ideas. This was because he was no mere dreamer but one of those dreamer-doers, a guy with a program. And when I say that he lost his head, what I mean is not that his judgement abandoned him but that his enthusiasms and visions swept him far out.
Henderson the Rain King
Varieties of Cool
A friend had a friend who winked us past rope lines,
we were enskyed for one night in hipness
it was boring
the champagne tasted no better than wonderful
the music was the same lobotomy of thump
that had been playing for years as dissent
from our Puritan roots
then we freed ourselves in a cab, something yellow
that wasn’t a flower but wanted to be, sang
“Homeward Bound” passably to be happy about melancholy
and teach the driver from Sri Lanka a thing or two
about the American wistfulness for home
all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge
and walked across the night and water
that I got down on my belly and said hello to
through the wooden slats
in Brooklyn Heights we ate grapes and waved
at all the effort by the various Carnegies
and Seagrams to live forever, my friend had a cough
that became an acronym, I sat beside his missing
a man with my missing a woman in front of homes
we knew from movies but appeared less famous
than cozy at four in the morning as we tried
to decide which house wanted to adopt us
I couldn’t get over the grapes
he said, That’s New York, you can get anything
as long as it’s not what you really need
he didn’t say that
I’m confusing him with Mick Jagger and this poem
with a novel, he said something and I did
back and forth, it was quiet and that’s how
conversation works, the grapes were good
and the night air had no idea how bad
his cough would get, I am grateful
that, on balance, the absence of stars
in Manhattan is offset by the number of lights
there’s no reason to leave on but people do
To the Reader: Twilight
Whenever I look
out at the snowy
mountains at this hour
and speak directly
into the ear of the sky,
it’s you I’m thinking of.
You’re like the spirits
the children invent
to inhabit the stuffed horse
and the doll.
I don’t know who hears me.
I don’t know who speaks
when the horse speaks.