a suitable construction
of the world’s foul stinks, its smoking barrels,
its knives and rough hands and vagrant eyes,
its bombs, broiling skies, ice and twisting winds,
trees that club cars, pissing tramps, thieves and rapists
and big government noses into your space,
you want small light sources, triple-paned photo-sensitive arrow slits, high in the wall.
they will save you money on your power bills, but leave no opening for the outside to enter
and walk away with your laptop or the memory of your soul, naked.
its bricks had handprints; its stairs canted
down, and in, spiral in a rectangle; its heat
was excessive by day, shut off when any good
young woman was asleep under her blankets.
its windows were many and tall,
many and tall and low and wide, with screens
with simple black iron hooks. deep, open.
there, my chin on knees,
was a cosmoscope, a lens into the color
of sap returning to maple twigs and study
the magnitude of the bud of a tulip poplar.
from the bedroom, there’s steve’s house
from the kitchen, ted’s
nothing much to see out front but the street
it walks the odd dog,
pushes the occasional buggy,
slides some when there’s ice. by and large, the front of the house is a waste of windows.
and there are not enough in the back,
from the small bathroom window, I watch
rabbits and tufts of grass interchanging in the moonlight,
hummingbirds moths enormous dragonflies,
dog walkers down the alley, rosemary coming into flower,
the scalloped hearts of the multistemmed fig,
a reconstruction crew next door heating tortillas on a propane grill,
garbage men in chartreuse vests, arching roses, the cloud that spawned a tornado,
four story trees bowing toward the grass, orange street lights,
a contrail lit silver by the moon, crows and flying Kroger bags and a dozing hawk,
prospectors after treasure, can collectors, boys
who ought to be in school old men
with sticks, young mothers
and their sling-carried newborns,
feral cats, trotting tag jingling escaped pooches;
East Bronx by David Ignatow
In the street two children sharpen
knives against the curb
Parents leaning out the window
above gaze and think and smoke
and duck back into the house
to sit on the toilet seat
with locked door to read
of the happiness of two tortoises
on an island in the Pacific
always alone and always
the sun shining
In some households the only peace that can be found is in the smallest room in the house.I know a writer who set up a study in a cellar under his house to get peace and quiet. His children are grown now but I believe he is still buried there somewhere under mounds of mouldering old manuscripts. Unaccustomed to seeing him, his wife is always startled at his occasional appearance in the main house.