Monday 5 May 2014

3 Poems by Robert Wexelblatt

Pacific Poem

Homer was right: there’s only one Ocean.
Yet it isn’t wrong to name its parts, to make
the limitless less vast, more intimate,
our own.  In one sense, to feel the Aegean
is to touch the Coral, to gawk at the
Barents is to gape at the Banda.  As
a child I waded into the Atlantic
unafraid, clacking syllables that scanned
like three safe waves, swathed in the Arctic
and the Celebes too. Yet, in another
sense, in all these years, I’ve never once touched,
been touched by, the most boundless sea of all.

My private sea is gouged by its own trench,
broad basins, several sunken volcanoes.
I navigate its straits, ply gulfs christened with
my own name.  So I easily forget
the way deep flows into deep, Andaman
to Indian, Tasman into our measureless,
unanimous, known, unknown Pacific.


A woman is not a cello
nor a peacock a Frenchman;
nevertheless, faces may be infinite
and ribbons solacing to scratch.

One apple orchard Sunday began
saturated in cadmium yellow air,
then dusk, a pillowy Prussian blue,
night like an iced blanc-de-blancs;
bouncy duckling children 
gathered waxen impressions
that were both theirs and not.

A woman is not a cello
nor life a penitentiary;
all the same, all the same,
hair falls down like Vesuvius cinders
jowls thicken like crab bisque
memory plays grifter tricks
musical chairs between synapses
whose bosons are next to nothing.

Still, I insist, one woman was like a cello.


The mayfly, alive less than two hours,
Frantic for a mate not flowers,
Must copulate before she dies.
Immortality = more mayflies.

Indite by day, revise by night. 
Ephemera are all I write,
Craft unseaworthy, bound to sink
Beneath black billows of spilt ink.


Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies.  He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play; his novel, Zublinka Among Women, won the Indie Book Awards First Prize for Fiction.  His most recent book is a short novel, Losses. <>

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