the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Mervyn Taylor

What poets wish for

What poets wish for,
more than metaphors,
more than milk to feed
their cats, more than

a reprieve, is a trough
for horses that runs the
length of the town, a
gown for the serving

girl who brings a meal.
They live, these accused
perpetual liars of
whatever ages, behind

the bars of the brain,
within the turrets of
their hearts. And whoever
calls to them from the

outside must know, the
silence is not the sound
of the claxon asleep at
his post, but an army of

clouds going by, sheep,
dragons wreathed in
smoke, a man on fire
leaping from the blaze.


Time Comes

Time comes when on TV there's
Nothing but apples in every ad, boots
Lining the hall and a snowy silence
Hanging late in the evening.

We are one of families
Gathered round the dining table,
Present in speech and appreciation
While our minds run like wolves

In woods not far from here,
Hunting more from habit than
Hunger. That girl, that boy, what
Were their names again, whom

We got separated from years ago,
Who now take the late ferry to
Out-islands with craggy cliffs and
Dark fern hangings. Or did they

Further subdivide, one finding
A city with mesas and dry riverbeds,
Building rock fences to keep
From going off again,

The other coming to the window
Of the house where we are holding
Forks dangerously up and still as we
Swear we saw something move

Out there, where the wind,
Not finding resistance, takes the
Highest branch of the old maple
And flings it

Across the yard. That boy, that girl,
Escaping those wolves would have had
Children different from these in here,
Pouting and poking each other raw.


The Choice

There is the loud and public,
the rah, and the hiss. Then
there is dawn's smack of
loneliness, that awakens
with a shudder. Which

do you prefer, walking
between rows, dignity
preserved in ritual, jam
in cool cellars, the berm
that keeps out the flood,

or that which will not be
told or witnessed, that
has not been sanctioned,
that is remembered only
in one or two hearts.

I recall a dear girl in her
father's basement firing
clay, while others rushed
to the House of Lights,
where the corpse lay
in the coffin, smiling.



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