Fanny Howe: poems from Love and I

  Fanny Howe

  One Set from Love and I


The ruin we made of our garden
Is confusing even today.
Seven trees times three
Planted for the first children

Now dread
Is what.

Since bankers occupy that property.


My family cried when it lost
Its plot.

It died for me.
It died for us.

Gray apples, a rotten bone.
Love and time that sucked on them.


Water draws strength from stones
And tries to move them
And this way prevent erosion
Of something deeper down
That keeps them going.

We should have watered more.
Or bought more hydrangea
To decorate the groundswell
For the underworld.


The infant was like a dwarf-lover
Of the upper realms
Crouched in the nave
Of the Blessed Sacrament
Red-lighted to form a new element.

I would do anything for this infant
Even hide away from it
Where the color red
Is not admitted.
And it could live.


Hesitation on the hillock.
Hesitation behind a human face.
Hesitation is where a chair rests.
Hesitation is a lapse in belief.
Nothing substitutes for a second
Of hesitation suspended in a hole of air.
Watch the item toss the person.
Watch her drop. You have killed her
Just by seeing what you wanted.


We were the same person
Living at the same time
In the same cities
And cafes. We never met
At the Trieste, derelict
Blackened fists around
Those massive cups
That pre-dated mugs.
An English muffin
Drenched in margarine.

The things you forget
We forgot
Like how to make money
And pay the rent.
Cheap in my sleep, you
And yours
On the tenth floor
But couldn’t locate


Your person or mine.
Lost and lost again
To a poetics of
Learned from Baudelaire.


We never found each other
Our whole lives through.
Only the Dao and the Thou knew.


I know when the wild geese
Fly from Sepiessa every day
They herd the future
As it approaches the bench.

Night, the playground
At Town Hall is creaking
And tribal members
Now numbered

In the twos are too early for sun-up.

We almost sit together
But our feet of shadows
Are failed letters.
Steps lowered and slimy
On a slip into the lagoon.


Ghoulish are the ghosts
Of time past: ancestors
With our same names
Greening underground.


And I was out one afternoon
Taking a look at a fairy ring
And I fell asleep. Don’t wake me up.
There was a barn that was red.
Beautiful and full was this barn
Of air. Standing on
The fairy ring: alone along asleep at home.
Don’t wake me from my dream of Limerick.


A lot of boys were forced from home.
I am asleep and don’t wake me.
They were enslaved across the sea.
I am asleep and don’t wake me.
I wish I could see a day when they
Were picking cotton and pushing the plow
That I just gave them with my hands.
I am asleep so don’t wake me now.


I almost met you
On a Saturday
In Gloucester.
The wind blew easterly.
There was a jar of mums
On a table near the window.

Their yellows were calling
To each other.

Were put back
In the pencil drawer
Before I noticed that grace
Was unspeakable
Never to be written.


Those who unroll great sheets
Of paper for the streak of a razor
always begin with air.

Then decades later separated by yards
Of string they pick up the job again.

Each lost in guessing
Each hovering over a split
Before another needle
Cuts to the quick.


Some people do embroidery
The threads and red
Pin cushion, the snow
Falling like pepper
On the tar outside.
The letters in color
That have messages
Stuck to each other.
The hands on Friday afternoons
Listening to hip-hop
With their needles busy.

My son the tailor
Likes his shop shut but must
Open it for business
On the dot of the satellite.


Love escaped me but its heat
Might strike
Out of the blue on Sixth Avenue
And 43rd Street
A pressed face in a bus

Brought out pity in me.
The face was like a cuff
Of lace with eyes and a mouth,
Or one I saw
In a dream of a sacred cow.


Once manifest, now gone.
Dreams work without banks.
Immortal they have reached
The human ideal
Of harmony and disappearance.


Massachusetts Bay
At the hour the park
Creaks with teenage tramps
In the American nation.

If only my love could stop
Their growth with opiates
And carry them
Away from tarnation.


Atlantic edges
Ripple at night
Thick with fish
Unseen asleep
Under bridges
And St Patrick’s
The surface crushed
Into black currant jelly.
Brine and brambles
When they hit the Shannon.

US poet Fanny Howe
US poet Fanny Howe


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