Robert Pinsky | |
Not a "window on the world"
But as we call you,
A box a tube
Terrarium of dreams and wonders.
Coffer of shades, ordained
Cotillion of phosphors
Or liquid crystal
Homey miracle, tub
Of acquiescence, vein of defiance.
Your patron in the pantheon would be Hermes
Quick one, little thief, escort
Of the dying and comfort of the sick,
In a blue glow my father and little sister sat
Snuggled in one chair watching you
Their wife and mother was sick in the head
I scorned you and them as I scorned so much
Now I like you best in a hotel room,
Before I have to face an audience: behind
The doors of the armoire, box
Within a box--Tom & Jerry, or also brilliant
And reassuring, Oprah Winfrey.
Thank you, for I watched, I watched
Sid Caesar speaking French and Japanese not
Through knowledge but imagination,
His quickness, and Thank You, I watched live
Jackie Robinson stealing
Home, the image--O strung shell--enduring
Fleeter than light like these words we
Remember in, they too winged
At the helmet and ankles.
Robert Pinsky | |
Some of us believe
We would have conceived romantic
Love out of our own passions
With no precedents,
Without songs and poetry--
Or have invented poetry and music
As a comb of cells for the honey.
Shaped by ignorance,
A succession of new worlds,
Congruities improvised by
Immigrants or children.
I once thought most people were Italian,
Jewish or Colored.
To be white and called
Something like Ed Ford
A rare distinction.
Possibly I believed only gentiles
And blonds could be left-handed.
After one year in the majors,
Whitey Ford was drafted by the Army
To play ball in the flannels
Of the Signal Corps, stationed
In Long Branch, New Jersey.
A night game, the silver potion
Of the lights, his pink skin
Shining like a burn.
Never a player
I liked or hated: a Yankee,
A mere success.
But white the chalked-off lines
In the grass, white and green
The immaculate uniform,
And white the unpigmented
Halo of his hair
When he shifted his cap:
So ordinary and distinct,
So close up, that I felt
As if I could have made him up,
Imagined him as I imagined
The ball, a scintilla
High in the black backdrop
Of the sky.
Tight red stitches.
Horsehide white: the color
Color of the past
And of the future, of the movie screen
At rest and of blank paper.
"I could have.
" The mind.
Backdrop, the white
Fly picked out by the towering
A few years later
On a blanket in the grass
By the same river
A girl and I came into
To the faint muttering
Troubadours and radios.
Theater, the night.
I devised a left-hander
Even more gifted
Than Whitey Ford: A Dodger.
People were amazed by him.
Once, when he was young,
He refused to pitch on Yom Kippur.
Robert Pinsky | |
A monosyllabic European called Sax
Invents a horn, walla whirledy wah, a kind of twisted
Brazen clarinet, but with its column of vibrating
Air shaped not in a cylinder but in a cone
Widening ever outward and bawaah spouting
Infinitely upward through an upturned
Swollen golden bell rimmed
Like a gloxinia flowering
In Sax's Belgian imagination
And in the unfathomable matrix
Of mothers and fathers as a genius graven
Humming into the cells of the body
Or cupped in the resonating grail
Of memory changed and exchanged
As in the trading of brasses,
Pearls and ivory, calicos and slaves,
Laborers and girls, two
Cousins in a royal family
Of Niger known as the Birds or Hawks.
In Christendom one cousin's child
Becomes a "favorite negro" ennobled
By decree of the Czar and founds
A great family, a line of generals,
Dandies and courtiers including the poet
Pushkin, killed in a duel concerning
His wife's honor, while the other cousin sails
In the belly of a slaveship to the port
Of Baltimore where she is raped
And dies in childbirth, but the infant
Will marry a Seminole and in the next
Chorus of time their child fathers
A great Hawk or Bird, with many followers
Among them this great-grandchild of the Jewish
Manager of a Pushkin estate, blowing
His American breath out into the wiggly
Tune uncurling its triplets and sixteenths--the Ginza
Samba of breath and brass, the reed
Vibrating as a valve, the aether, the unimaginable
Wires and circuits of an ingenious box
Here in my room in this house built
A hundred years ago while I was elsewhere:
It is like falling in love, the atavistic
Imperative of some one
Voice or face--the skill, the copper filament,
The golden bellful of notes twirling through
Their invisible element from
Rio to Tokyo and back again gathering
Speed in the variations as they tunnel
The twin haunted labyrinths of stirrup
And anvil echoing here in the hearkening
Instrument of my skull.
More great poems below...