We've Decided (Homophonic Series)
[The poem "We've decided" was published in Nervous Songs, 1986. Fifteen years later I wrote four homophonic translations of the work; likewise, of two other poems in the book.] Photo by Philip Hoover.
I can be myself today, tall space ape
in a garden where other space apes play.
What a nice time this will be! and I
can roll on the sides of my balled feet
like a hairy barrel loaded, swinging arms
that scratch the ground like leaves. I’m
an ape today, headed for my pulpit of joy
in sunshine by the window. Daughter laughs.
That’s good. We can hear her mother dressing:
conspicuous absent rustle, dry nylon and hair.
Oh, lord of the spinal cord, what stone
repose do I feel when high heels spike
the spilled roast beef? I do not play
no rock and roll. I am an ape today.
Spies can be themselves and pray, space shapes
like wardens where other space shapes pray.
What bright signs lists can be! and I
can play goalie on gliding robo-feet
like an aery feral gnosis, thinking of alms
that match the sound of waves. I'm
a shape that prays, shedding all culpable joys
in an undying window. Laughter laughs.
That’s new. We can fear its other lessons:
continuous absent hustle, tight nylons and tears.
Ode bored with final form, what bone
composure do I feel when ideals strike
the still moist leaf? I do not spray
no phlox with oil. I am a shape today.
I can see the shelf OK, call space a grape
in jargon since tender fresh grapes change.
What a crime scene this will be! and I
can roll on my bowling ball feet
like a scary bear exploded, singing of charms
that catch the sound of the sea. I’m
a grape, OK, headed for my gulp of joy
in an unshining window. Laughter gasps.
What’s food? We can bear our brother fressing:
despicable absent bustle, cry of lions and bears.
Oh, lord of the penal code, what stoned
exposure do I feel when the spine feels like
chilled ice tea? Nor do I ever say
no lox and bagels. I am a grape, OK?
The eye can be itself today, space tape
in a garden where other space tapes play.
What a fine slime this will be! An eye
call roll on the side of its raw seeing
like a tarrying arrow slowing, singing words
that flinch like ounce and please. The eye is
itself today, shedding all its Tupelo joy
in gun-shine at the window. Daughter’s black
in mood. She can fear the other mission:
continuous ashen tussle of high pylons and air.
Restored like the final chord, what tonal
closure do I feel when spiked tea kills
a thrilled ghost cleanly? The eye won’t pay
the landscape’s toll. The eye is space today.
The shy can be themselves today—pace and gape
in a dungeon where others gape and pace.
What a fine shyness this will be! and shyness
can stroll the length of its long street
like a hairy chairman bloated, singing harms
that smash the proud like fleas. The shy
have faith today, headed for their populist joy
in the blind sign of a window. Father brags,
“I'm stewed.” He can hear grandmother’s lessons:
ubiquitous passion, dust, fine dye jobs, and prayer.
Torn like the final word, what prone
disposal do I seek when high steel strikes
a West Coast priest? The shy don’t play
with no damned fool. The shy are afraid today.