Poetry Dispatch No.152 | January 17, 2007
2 Poems by Michael Blumenthal …writing on snow…warming the mouth. Norbert Blei
First Snow Cambridge Mass.
The trees cough up a plenitude of starlings
and the day, suddenly sheeted
with an almost-innocence of white
Calls out to you as if it were a bed
and you the minstrel who invented music.
You walk out into a symphony of bicycles,
(Wedded to parking meters by encyclicals of ice),
into the early slosh-work of first pedestrians,
and it is as if God’s pillow had burst during the night,
Bathing the world in a downdraft of feathers. What
to do with the day? So mortal you could weep
for the mere humanness of your celebrations.
You walk out toward the river, into a stillness
of no boats, a world suddenly without wars
or famine, without injustice. Pines bow
to the servitude of snow, people are donning
the old prosthetics of their legs, the good
intentions of bakers are leavening the air.
Everywhere you look, things are shagged
with the white veneer of the heavenly
peppered only by birds. But soon you know
A terrible seriousness will reclaim the day,
though for now it is merely a triumph
of good intentions, a clean slate with only you
And this tinsel of first snow to write on it,
as if such a plenitude could rule the world,
or snow could, or the starlings in earnest.
[Sent by Sue Peterson]
What can the mouth do that nothing else can do?
Birds frolic and sing in the trees.
Snakes hiss in the grass.
If a man’s mouth is not blessed,
he will never learn to sing, he will never
chant in a perfect breeze, in summer,
with someone with whom love is impossible
and, therefore, beautiful and tender.
What can the mouth do? What can it say?
Acrobatic in the afternoons, it grows speechless
and terrible, and doesn’t know its own home:
What shall we say of the mouth?
It travels brightly over the parks,
it dances and frets, it covers
the faces of those we might have loved
on wet, lustful afternoons, it sings
the happy-sad song of the tongue
and why shouldn’t it? Kisses, too,
fly from the mouth. Mine
have flown, eagerly, to you.
What can the mouth do? you ask
Let me tell you: the mouth
can deliver a kiss, the mouth
can learn to say good-bye.
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