Slept late after going to Philadelphia and back for a Drive-by Truckers show. My friend thinks Our Beautiful Cooley looks a little ragged, but he'll always look good to me. Nothing quite as nice as a skinny man with a big guitar. Lunch with DD, and over a bowl of restorative cheese grits, this popped into my mind at seeing the handsome face of James Merrill looking out from a three-column photo in the Times book review.
Caught in the Act
Like hell the photographer surprised you.
I'll accept the authenticity
of the cluttered bookcase, even
the arabesque upholstery, though I suspect
Your partner picked it out.
I did the math, too: Mid-fifties,
It's cold to have your shirt unbuttoned
So very far, isn't it? I see the sisters
To your forearms in my mirror,
The ropy muscles and the veins alike,
And that pleasing, elegant precision
Of the cheekbones; I imagine, like you,
I earned these without ever appearing to--
The artifice of the daily strain against sag,
The philter and the poultice. Yet
This noon light's revealed again that nothing
Has stopped the conqueror worm
From taking up residence in my very skin
And eating me up from within.
On top of my own cluttered bookcase
Perches my Ouija board, for decorative
And entertainment purposes only.
You dead might give me pages and pages
But I'm not hearing it, not today.
Surely, you can do better than that. Enter the poetry contest, and I'll stop calling you Shirley.
Oh, well, haul your tired caboose back onto the Hope train, girl: Here's something else beautiful.