Still learning the word 
“home”    or what it could mean 
                                            say, to relinquish 

    a backdrop of japanese maples turning 
    color of rusted wheelbarrow bottom 

    where the dahlia tubers were thrown 

You must go live in the city now 
over the subway though not on 
                                            its grating 

must endure the foreign music 
of the block party 

finger in useless anger 
the dangling cords of the windowblind 


In a vast dystopic space the small things 

when all the pills run out the pain 
grows more general 

flies find the many eyes 
quarrels thicken then 

tiny mandibles of rumor open and close 
blame has a name that will not be spoken 

you grasp or share a clot of food 
according to your nature 
                                            or your strength 

love’s ferocity snarls 
from under the drenched blanket’s hood 


City and world: this infection drinks like a drinker 
whatever it can 

casual salutations first 
little rivulets of thought 

then wanting stronger stuff 
sucks at the marrow of selves 

the nurse’s long knowledge of wounds 
the rabbi’s scroll of ethics 
the young worker’s defiance 

only the solipsist seems intact 
in her prewar building 


For recalcitrancy of attitude 
the surgeon is transferred 
to the V.A. hospital     where poverty 
is the administrator 
of necessity and her 
orders don’t necessarily 
get obeyed 
the government 
is paying 
and the 
used to be 
are patients 


Faces in the mesh: defiance or disdain 
      remember Paul Nizan? 
          You thought you were innocent if you said 

“I love this woman and I want to live 
      in accordance with my love.” 
          but you were beginning the revolution

maybe so, maybe not 
      look at her now 
            pale lips papery flesh 

at your creased belly    wrinkled sac: 
      look at the scars 
            reality’s autographs 

along your ribs across her haunches 
look at the collarbone’s reverberant line 

      how in a body can defiance 
            still embrace its likeness 


Not to get up and go back to the drafting table 
where failure crouches accusing 
like the math test you bluffed and flunked 
so early on 
not to drag into the window’s 
cruel and truthful light   your blunder 
not to start over 

but to turn your back, saying 
all anyway is compromise 
impotence and collusion 
from here on I will be no part of it 

is one way you could afford it 


Tonight someone will sleep in a stripped apartment 
the last domestic traces, cup and towel 
awaiting final disposal 

—has ironed his shirt for travel 
left an envelope for the cleaning woman 
on the counter under the iron 

internationalist turning toward home 
three continents to cross    documents declarations 
searches queues 

and home no simple matter 
of hearth or harbor 
bleeding from internal wounds 

he diagnosed    physician 
without frontiers