Tim Keane

Ars Poetica: No more politics with no more boys

in this exile, breathing days
we do our best to make our-
selves at home in the belly
of a creature not of our design.
we crouch low, as if the marble
ground might help us rise, brace
for the Penn Station walker
with a suicide strap after eternal American
Fridays as we walk into the infernal dream
of another God (only he knows). do as the sign
say: "if you see something, say something"

an angry teen, not cut out for action, I used to cut
Natural Science to read family-hell with Franz Kafka's
Samsa in a Catholic library; that reading inspired me
to mail vita nuova-style epistles from the Farley GPO,
to Wichita & Santa Fe & a former holiday nest in Puerto Plata.
today I do my part for the sacraments of seeing:
I note the blue head of the green
African parrot, perched at the end of a staff
which a man in the Panama hat takes into
Baby Watson Cheesecake one autumn Tuesday—

when it comes to teaching "rigorous" thinking
& protestant exegeses, no one stares down Beauty
& whips her so for her allurements like I do;
when my Brazilian co-sponsor, Bettina, made a butterfly wink at me,
just above her belt line, I chastised her for a disturbing lack of decorum
(& cranky Horace backed me up)—sex & murder, the Roman decreed
(like bowel movements) must happen offstage, so as to never offend
the humanity of those who've lived so weakly they hate they're human.

so locate the sublime in daily news of global accident, dateline unknown,
like when an Ecuadorian junta starts a nuclear war & I ask Bettina what
the fuck were her español Fuhrers thinking? she says she doesn't read
the papers but guesses 'radiation' is vicious,
from the mere syllabic star-punctured sound of the word itself.

outside, the world is the purest form of rage
quicksong angels are unemployed
poetry's a calm inside made of ribbon-tied chaos.
Bettina clacks her tongue & recites Lorca on leaving the day
with his possible concretions of impossible minutes
during a seminar-break an unhappy Lothario told me
he'd needed Bettina more than his own tongue
& he adored her eyes beyond the call of the Virgin
he'd tried to win her with Corona & dance
but she was too elliptical in her arguments
she'd picked apart the false premise of gooey sonnets
as if she were born measuring end-rhymes & dithyrambs—
(one final sidebar, if I may: why don't no one seem bothered
about the lethal winter that will soon blow in from Nicaragua? )

Go to back to sleep, senators, if you haven't already, sleep
peacefully on the courthouse steps of them judges who've had their way
with our privates: what we do behind the curtain does not, these days,
decide presidents: look, you wanna send a message, try Western Union,
you wanna write a "real poem," go dig up your ratty Norton
I'm here to pass this hello off as a disguised good-bye
Nueva York is all I wanted: the empty lot & old lights
along the Harlem River, take me home most directly
by passing under a precipice
I re-live the strain of immigrants
I've lived here nine hundred and seventy eight lives
Ireland ain't just a pock-marked cow pasture to me
the train-calm bubbles up the water surface
& even my sneakers are soothing:
the minutes lessen into names of stations
the goat song in Lothario's account of his rejection haunts me:
he told me he'd told her he'd give up sex
until the day of the altar came
but his Bettina-Beatrice said no such wedding would ever come
& she called him a jackass as she spun on her heels
claiming she don't want to talk no more politics with no more boys
& then she walked out of this form of life & vanished
into the choke hold of some mofo-Don Juan,
a charming punk from Rikers who The New York Times said
she'd never 'told a soul' was waiting, committed to wed her all along.