Philip Dacey




The Bar of Chocolate

    

I allow myself to break off

a little piece each day.

My friends ask, "Isn't that

chocolate bar finished yet?"

More than a week later, I'm proud to say

I've still not consumed it all,

joking that if each day I break off

only half of what's left,

it'll last forever.

But now I see what I hold in my hands

is not a chocolate bar at all

but my life,

which I break off each day

in such small pieces

I can hardly taste it.



Reading the Sunday New York Times Together in Bed


Their love has as many sections

as the paper,

some throwaway.

But so much love remains

even after the discards,

they think they'll never

finish reading it.  Their history

covers the comforter.

Despite the jokes about

such mass and weight,

they stay committed

to the burden.

How much of a tree

went into this armful of love?

Do their arguments

serve to make pulp?

The newsprint on their fingers

reminds them

love can never be

a white-glove affair.

When one leg

rubs against another,

they drop the paper

to make tomorrow's news.


 

Piano

         

"Walt objected to the piano."

                            Horace Traubel


I think he would have loved it

if he'd known my mother,

who played an upright at the heart

of all the parties she and my father threw

when I was growing up, the many guests

crowded in a semi-circle around her,

the spirit no doubt like that of Whitman's

Pfaff's, his Broadway hangout—the camaraderie,

the free-flowing talk and drink and food and song.

Whitman thought the sounds the piano made

were not fit for great music,

the instrument's timbre not hefty enough

for his beloved opera.

Writing his own sweeping lines, he could hear

behind and beneath him, in support,

orchestral music, never piano music.

How could he, who loved mothers,

not have loved her, and therefore loved

what came to life under her fingers,

her playing by ear perhaps a cousin to his free verse,

her rendering of pop tunes, Broadway favorites,

and sentimental Irish ballads surely an example

of America singing?  And he'd have heard, amazed

at how wrong he'd been about the piano.

I want them to meet: Walt, Teresa; Teresa, Walt.

For is he not in his nurturing

as much a mother as a father?

Oh, but I think now I am already too late,

and they have met as ghosts visiting St. Louis,

where she lived and he visited his brother,

and he has taken her hands into his

and noticed her long, slender fingers,

what she called her "piano fingers."

When he wrote, "Your mother . . . is she living?. . .

Have you been much with her? and has she been

much with you?" surely he was talking to me,

and for a brief moment my name

rises between them like a note

struck from a piano.

 

 



Philip Dacey is the author of eleven books of poetry, including entire collections about Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Eakins, and New York City; his latest is Mosquito Operas: New and Selected Short Poems
(Rain Mountain Press, 2010).  His awards include three Pushcart Prizes, a Discovery Award from the New York YM-YWHA's Poetry Center, and various fellowships (among them a Fulbright to Yugoslavia, a Woodrow Wilson to Stanford, and two in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts).  With David Jauss, he co-edited Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (Harper & Row, 1986).








                                    

 

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