Saturday, April 5, 2014


         for John Rabczak

I met La Vendler once,
Seven years ago in Sligo.
It happened totally by chance, even
Though word had come down that she was the bestest living critic on the face of the  

I had been sent back to my father-land
For the rough-headed kern’s grand forelock tug,
Or maybe to learn the trade.
Certainly not because I had been well-form’d
from toe to top.
Some scraps of poems I had sent along.
What were they?
The metamorphoses psychoses or
Something like that.
Or was it the Book of CancEL(l)ATION?

I had won an award drawn from Leithaus-
er’s MacArthur Fellowship, almost two-
thousand dollars towards the trip.  “T(h)anks a mill-
ion,” as they say.  There’s no tipping, there.

So there I was in Sligo, my first and
Only Time across the Pond.
Dublin had been in(ten)ded, but I stayed
in the West, Shannon to Doolin to Gal-
way further north, eventually to Sli-

And eventually to Drumcliff, to see
That quaint ancestral bone-house of the lord.
Holidayers with northern accents streamed
Through all day. 
Casting a cold eye of observation
On the grave for hours, from afar,
but not too far.
A father bribes his daughter—(or was it
his son?)—with a euro: to memorize
the epitaph, which puzzles me. Very
young, s/he was.

But anyways, to get back to the good
Dame. There was some type of Yeats conference
A(foot), unbeknownst to me, and I took
it as a good omen, planned at(ten)dance. 

Leaving the flyer in the center of
The square, I went to consult “Wild Turkey”
just a few times, prior to the appointed hour.

Now, it turns out, one had to pay a good
Deal to hear the good Dame’s discourse on Yeats.
There was some confusion when my turn came
in the roll.  It turns out you had to pay. 

I wasn’t on the list, but I said, “I
Am the Leithouse-Laureate!” And she
said: “But I'm sure you are.” And that ended
More or less.  Made as graceful an exit
as I could . . . No, had someone photograph
Me with the Dame, as if the evidence
Could be used as some type of currency.

That night, after trying to let myself
be affected by Jorie Graham’s prose,
(They must have been moving as a unit),
For which I was slightly ridiculed on
After the reading, back in the Turkey
Coop, I knew that my Pépère
   was gone.

The writing had been on the wall before
I left.  Standing on a chair, tried to get
His fifty-year-old Down-Syndromed daughter’s
Toothbrush down from above, he falls and breaks
His hip.  He had fought at “the Bulge,” hunted
Hitler’s Panzers with a hand-gun, and now,
And now he was crowned with despicable
medical care, tubes or syringe caps left
in the throat. 

A “V.A.” that has committed even greater betrayals to our younger men, now.

The emphysema he’d generated
Since receiving his army rations in
’44—now trebled by the immobility.
Days of drowning.  This was a bloody fluke
Whose splashing even you could not abate,
Walt Whitman: couldn’t grab onto your beard.

So, as I said, the writing was on the
But I knew before I “knew,” formally.

How much, t(h)en,
How much of itself does the mind create? 
Where is the horn that was blowing under
The sunset, forestalling night in the West?
Revive our floating singers from the depths,
And let us see.


We’ll raise up Hy-Brazil before our eyes!

Ho!  The Hy-Brazilians breathe again!

I AM the Atlantis and the Zion


And come back

To you now,

At the turn

Of the tide.


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