Tag Archives: ATOTC


Stanley Kunitz, one time
Poet Laureate of the United States,

born and bred in Worcester, MA,
once said this city provoked him to poetry.

I met him only once
and then only for a moment,

would never say I think
we might have gotten along, yet

I will lay odds that on this point
we would have agreed

and from there something like respect and
affable conversation 

might have developed, as I am
easily irked to poetry in the Parkway diner here

over strong coffee, provoked
into meter by watching the rhythm

of a short-order cook working hash
and eggs into perfect harmony, lured to verse

on Harding Street, that paved over secret canal;
into forms by the voices of those

who live here and work here
whether they want the town to be

itself or some other town, whether they
love its worn, durable face

or want to cover it by spending
Boston level money on a Boston mask.

Not too far from my house is the home
where Stanley Kunitz grew up, in a city

called Worcester that had
an honest if rough face. I know that face

well. It’s my face, it’s the face
of my next door neighbor from Ghana,

the face of Angel on the third floor
whose mother is staying with him till they rebuild

her storm wrecked home in Puerto Rico,
the face of the old Polish man

across the street who talks to no one, the faces
of all the street people and all the rich ones too.

Worcester’s face is not a face you’d forget,
or want to forget.  Even if it’s covered

one day by a fraud,
a shroud of silk and gold,

it will not die. It will do what Worcester does.
It will say what it means

even if only with its eyes —
pleading, quoting Stanley:

touch me,
remind me who I am.

Tree Mystery

There are fresh footprints in the pasture
disappearing under this new burst of snow.
Two people walked out there
to stand by two trees, apparently not long ago.
They may have stood there, may have
walked around the trunks — two
looking at two as if drawn together by
the power of pairs — and then they apparently
walked back here to the fence and back out
to the road where they parked, probably
where my car is parked now. That’s all
I can say from looking at this.

Ten minutes more and the prints will be buried
and no one will know
any of this happened. We already don’t know
why it happened.
I could walk out there myself and ask
those two dark sentinels
what happened but I do not think
they would tell,
and then I would walk back puzzled
and go on my way
and another set of prints would disappear
in that pasture where the trees
stand as they have for years,
not telling anyone what they know.

Cat TV

Suet cakes hang in cages outside the living room windows.
The cats hang out on their perches to see
what will take the bait.

The regulars come right on time: sparrows
in bunches and clusters chased away en masse by 
blue jays and bully starlings

who then fuss each other off and on again;
later, the pair of woodpeckers, male and
female, each upon their own feeder, 

and always nuthatches on the ground
taking the seeds dropped
from all that racket above.

When the squirrel comes and dangles upside down
from the cage, dragging out
bits and pieces of fat and corn,

I get up and bang on the glass to no avail.
The cats watch all this without apparent emotion;
I call it Cat TV.

Later I hit the couch and turn on Tony TV
with the evening news of famine and feast,
of crumbs falling from the racket above,

where the bullies take and take
with little care for the noise from those
who seek to drive them off.

I like birds better. At least when they’re satisfied
they fly away. I like squirrels better.
They get what they need and go. 

I dig cats the most. They get bored
with the struggle and find better
things to do somewhere else

while I sit here going mad watching the world go mad
for fat and scraps, and though I know
I could do more, I don’t, and I can’t look away.