Monday, October 4, 2010

Poems by John Alter

Rainy weather

Crowded with wet trees

each wearing as many badges & tags

as the suitcase of

a vagabond and

with a soaking rain

the path makes its way

through a junkyard. We

take so much for granted. The rain—the company

of trees—the wrecked automobiles.

And I

am here in this tree

house longing to be

long as the trees like

refugees for a moment in the early

afternoon pause and

I with them catching

our breath. O leafy

cousins I want to

call out to them and

to believe that the intricate display

of branches is some

how intended to

tell me a story.

October 4

Beyond this horizon of bare branches

today is coming off the press, scandalous


offering its good news to anybody

I can turn its pages

read, in my own tongue

the lyrical ballad

Let the high priests—

let the captains of industry—

do what they will


I ride my toy donkey out under

a sky cluttered with satellites


there was only one, do you

remember, and it spoke Russian


Anne Sexton—

you wrapped your bones up

in that old mink coat—took a last

long swallow of whatever drink you

could find—

and drove yourself to where death

always the gentleman, waited

stylish cigarette in one hand,

your life work in the other

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