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from Couplets




The fruit is gorged with sweetness past all reason

And the flies come in their hundreds.


Doors opening and closing all night long

But never the right one.


And I used to envy Solomon all those women—

If he was wise, he left them to their own devices.


Nectar rises to the nostril frothy and tingling

And thus the bee is trapped.


I know her better than she knows herself—

Love has conferred on me this trivial privilege.


All night I have lain awake pleading with my heart please

Don't do this to me again.


You never stopped to think why it smelled so good

And you never will.




After the snow melts, the snow man stands a long time,

Then the snow man melts.


And they that have power to hurt do it.

They do not do the thing they most do show.


You have a fancy name for your state of mind—

It's just a kettle banging in the wind.


The heart wants instruction in the realities

And pain is expert.


If you're lost in the woods, you move in circles.

If you're done with the fire you started, put it out.




She thinks if she puts out, her sainthood will be recognized.

He figures his wit and pathos entitle him to love.


She laughs and cries, showing her small teeth;

He lifts her dress and buries his face in her bush.


She loves somebody else, who doesn't give a shit.

He does too, but that's different.


It was all good clean fun that had no future

And now it doesn't even have a past.


Neither of them is even alive at this point—

There's just me, and you, I suppose, wherever you are.


What a mess, the meat burnt, the sink overflowing,

The kid won't stop crying, he wants his milk.




From a thousand Chinese dinners, one cookie:

Good fortune in love, also a better position.


So much for both.  Too many humorless people

Who can't believe that God could have made the cunt.


Maybe he didn't make it.  Maybe hydrogen

Made nitrogen and one thing led to another.


Some hold that early man stumbled upon it

While dreaming of the perfect end to a long day's hunt.


But I say only Italians, with their flair for drama,

Could have invented this fragrant envelope.


Let's drink to the Italians, especially Catullus,

Who knew it was no joke but couldn't help laughing.




A tear falls wordlessly into darkness.

Slivers of gold light faint on the threads of her bodice.


And terrible longings that can't name themselves

Burrow down through the soul and end up digging into wood.


Seven numbers want to be sucked off;

A guy named Susan is dying alone in her bed.


And look, foam is drying into webs in the beer glass,

It wants to rejoin the air and be free of all this.


You can't die from it but you wish you could.

And even at this moment, you smell your fingers.




A woman gazes after a man, a man after a woman

But their eyes don't meet.  They're looking somewhere else.


Stopping on a deserted street, the shock of seeing

Your half-moon face in the black window.


I see the adjective and the noun entwined,

The verb reaching out its hands to them all.


A line of verse advances into whiteness

With long feelers, like a blind man's cane.


It sings about snow, how warm it is in the snow,

But the next line has something entirely different in mind.


It has the man and the woman, or two men,

And it can scarcely bear to say what it sees.


What did you see in those eyes that made you feel shame

And you wouldn't look but turned your face away?




Don't be afraid of dying.  The glass of water

Is quickly poured into the waiting goblet.


Your face that will be of no further use to mirrors

Grows more and more transparent, nothing is hidden.


It's night in the remotest provinces of the brain.

Seeing falls back into the great sea of light.


How strange to see that glittering green fly

Walk onto the eyeball, rubbing its hands and praying.


Don't be afraid, you're going to where you were

Before birth pushed you into this cold light.


Lie down here, next to Empedocles;

Be joined to the small grains of the brotherhood.




The needle veers back and forth in the last groove.

The faint sound of that fire consumes the whole night.


Spectral rings on the table, the mother's rings,

Whose young body once flashed in the firelight.


Not a breath stirs the mound of cold ashes

That still feathers the curve of the Beloved's face.


Nothing beholds itself in the gilded mirror.

The silence is imaginary with no one there to hear it.


To be that no one, disappeared forever,

Already dancing in the golden chambers of the hive!




In a field of mustard and grasses, blowing light,

A house, almost beyond the light.  Who lives in it?


Mother is resting.  On Sunday it is so.

The cat's eyes half close.  The mice go by unmolested.


Alighting to sip dew from the cool ruffles

The butterfly bows slightly, folding her wings.


There in a stripe of sunlight yellow as her blood,

Spilled wine, and a thimble lying on its side.


Glimpses given even to those in torment.

Yes.  Even in this world.


Robert Mezey



From Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of Arkansas
Press, © 2000.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

by Grapholina

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