Time and Distance

This morning I was caught
singing Carol King in the shower.
My voice is not too good.
It sounds better on the way down

when I lean over to wash conditioner
off the nape of my neck. In one way,
it was wonderful to have the ocean
between us. I remember walking
through Stephen’s Green to deliver
small water color pictures I had drawn
in the post. So far away. I always thought

the words were you’re just time away
but I think they are actually something
different and more straightforward.

So it is like the Homeric battlefield
where there are always impediments
and obstructed paths to the loved

or maybe it is these which make up
the felt vastness of desire. In my notes
reading Frank O’Hara it says
“poetry is always part epistolary?
—in a fight with itself.”

My friend wants to visit a woman
who lives in Mexico City
but maintains the normal fears
and awareness of danger.
She is the only one I can speak to
about my spirit
he says, If only she were
anywhere else in the world.

Some days it is enough
just for the self to glimpse that Scylla
and Charybdis lie on the horizon.

And then there are those things
that cannot be seen coming.
Even though Frank O’Hara
said he hoped to die for love,

it was a dune buggy that hit him
on fire island, a place so remote
traffic is thought not to exist.
Oh, those visible and invisible worlds.
So much desire and to be taken away
all at once. They are similar enough
so that it is perfectly understandable
to use word, world, and wound
interchangeably. Not knowing how to begin

the elegy goes on, repeating its tired verse.
Like Odysseus, we turn back from the river
and return home. No one is seduced.
No one becomes the sea.


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