the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Andy Pawelczak

The Morning of the Poem

for Evan and Richard

Some poems when you read them
you immediately recognize them,
they have the weight of necessity,

filling up a space previously empty,
silent and desolate, and you know
they will stay there as long

as your mind will stay here
on the far side of doom,
they're like Beethoven's quartets,

music the world was waiting for
since the beginning of years and then
one miraculous morning they were here.


Sweet and Low

I get up at four in the morning
and buy a large coffee with milk
and two Sweet and Lows from the Arabs
next door. It might be a cultural
difference but they make me nervous,
they seem furtive, uninviting, but
what must they make of me, 4 AM,
my hat pulled down over my brow,
wearing bedroom slippers in winter,
my eyes grown owlish from too much study
and solitude and too little sleep,
I'm also secretive to a fault
though my room opens onto the world
and is full of music, Miles, Chet Baker,
playing sweet and low in the morning
as if the air itself is a stylus
and the world a spinning record.



Sitting on a bench
In the shadow of the whole year
Meditating on a pine cone
Like Hamlet with a skull.
He graduated a year or two ago.
Now he hangs about
Looking for someone to talk to.
I realize with a shudder he's mad,
Sovereign reason overthrown.
I'm enjoying the pine cone, he says,
And disappears north by northwest
Into the sun-blanched air
His long coat flapping
Like a kite's tail.



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