Poems of chance, contingency, gambling, likelihoods, long shots, odds, prospects, and wagers for Lady and Mister Luck.
"The dice of the intellect are loaded." —W. B. Yeats
Poems of chance, contingency, gambling, likelihoods, long shots, odds, prospects, and wagers for Lady and Mister Luck.
"The dice of the intellect are loaded." —W. B. Yeats
Luck is not chance— It's Toil— Fortune's expensive smile Is earned— The Father of the Mine Is that old-fashioned Coin We spurned—
may favor obscure brainy aptitudes in you and a love of the past so blind you would venture, always securing permission, into the back library stacks, without food or water because you have a mission: to find yourself, in the regulated light, holding a volume in your hands as you yourself might like to be held. Mostly your life will be voices and images. Information. You may go a long way alone, and travel much to open a book to renew your touch.
Now when I walk around at lunchtime I have only two charms in my pocket an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case when I was in Madrid the others never brought me too much luck though they did help keep me in New York against coercion but now I'm happy for a time and interested I walk through the luminous humidity passing the House of Seagram with its wet and its loungers and the construction to the left that closed the sidewalk if I ever get to be a construction worker I'd like to have a silver hat please and get to Moriarty's where I wait for LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and shaker the last five years my batting average is .016 that's that, and LeRoi comes in and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12 times last night outside BIRDLAND by a cop a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible disease but we don't give her one we don't like terrible diseases, then we go eat some fish and some ale it's cool but crowded we don't like Lionel Trilling we decide, we like Don Allen we don't like Henry James so much we like Herman Melville we don't want to be in the poets' walk in San Francisco even we just want to be rich and walk on girders in our silver hats I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go back to work happy at the thought possibly so
oh lucky me I am of some use I am of some inspiration to the two men across the lunchcounter I remind them of the last Chinese restaurant they took their family to did you know that Chinese food was delicious?
Only chance made me come and find my hen, stepping from her hidden nest, in our kitchen garden. In her clever secret place, her tenth egg, still warm, had just been dropped. Not sure of what to do, I picked up every egg, counting them, then put them down again. All were mine. All swept me away and back. I blinked, I saw: a whole hand of ripe bananas, nesting. I blinked, I saw: a basketful of ripe oranges, nesting. I blinked, I saw: a trayful of ripe naseberries, nesting. I blinked, I saw: an open bagful of ripe mangoes, nesting. I blinked, I saw: a mighty nest full of stars.
naseberry: sapodilla plum with sweet brown flesh
Plow-piled snow shrouded in shadow from the abbreviating sun, snow frosted with the exhaust of tour buses. Pigeons shift in congress. Sun glints windshields & chrome like cotton blooms in the monitors. Surveillance here is catholic. From cornices cameras oscillate like raven-heads nestled along palisades. Cameras mind entrances, pedestrians, traffic, the landscape from land's end to Baccarat Boulevard. I tend the security station, notice briefly among these half-dozen screens, a phantom looping through the busy breeze-way & out of view. Unseasonable sparrows mating? Something clutched like a gambler's fist, keening a halo from daylight folded across the corridor like gift-wrap. Little tumbleweed, if you are sparrows, you are bishops of risk wrestling toward pain's bursaries. Jake and angel I believe I could have conjured that woman now entering the asphalt current to protect you. Mira! she might be saying. But she'd be speaking to me. Waving her cashier's apron against traffic, through the street like a banner out to where her good deed is witnessed. Out to where I interpret her behavior as censure. As if the pixels of light depicting the world she is framed in were impastoed by me to the monitor's glass canvass (to be arranged according to the obligation of my anonymous nobility), what good could I do to alter the facts of the world as it hustles around her? What odds do those birds stand to chance anyway? Prevention is akin to greed. Say recovery and a sermon salts the air. Consider the postcards here on the counter beside me. They'll do no more than carry the word of their senders, speak pictures: Jersey's domed capital looks like a junkyard of church bells, a reliquary of Sundays wracked and laid to rest. Noble martyr, Trenton fears no law of diminishing returns, says it "makes, the world takes:" Another prays the next wet pebble be the one that makes a beach. Paydirt. We should be so lucky.
Pale gold of the walls, gold of the centers of daisies, yellow roses pressing from a clear bowl. All day we lay on the bed, my hand stroking the deep gold of your thighs and your back. We slept and woke entering the golden room together, lay down in it breathing quickly, then slowly again, caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily touching my hair now. We made in those days tiny identical rooms inside our bodies which the men who uncover our graves will find in a thousand years, shining and whole.
If I could see nothing but the smoke From the tip of his cigar, I would know everything About the years before the war. If his face were halved by shadow I would know This was a street where an EATS sign trembled And a Greek served coffee black as a dog's eye. If I could see nothing but his wrist I would know About the slot machine and I could reconstruct The weak chin and ruin of his youth, the summer My father was a gypsy with oiled hair sleeping In a Murphy bed and practicing clairvoyance. I could fill his vast Packard with showgirls And keep him forever among the difficult buttons Of the bodice, among the rustling of their names, Miss Christina, Miss Lorraine. I could put his money in my pocket and wearing memory's black fedora With the condoms hidden in the hatband The damp cigar between my teeth, I could become the young man who always got sentimental About London especially in Las Vegas with its single bridge- So ridiculously tender--leaning across the river To watch the starlight's soft explosions. If I could trace the two veins that crossed His temple, I would know what drove him To this godforsaken place, I would keep him forever Remote from war--like the come-hither tip of his lit cigar Or the harvest moon, that gold planet, remote and pure American.
As I was walking I came upon chance walking the same road upon. As I sat down by chance to move later if and as I might, light the wood was, light and green, and what I saw before I had not seen. It was a lady accompanied by goat men leading her. Her hair held earth. Her eyes were dark. A double flute made her move. "O love, where are you leading me now?"
If you are lucky in this life, you will get to help your enemy the way I got to help my mother when she was weakened past the point of saying no. Into the big enamel tub half-filled with water which I had made just right, I lowered the childish skeleton she had become. Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed her belly and her chest, the sorry ruin of her flanks and the frayed gray cloud between her legs. Some nights, sitting by her bed book open in my lap while I listened to the air move thickly in and out of her dark lungs, my mind filled up with praise as lush as music, amazed at the symmetry and luck that would offer me the chance to pay my heavy debt of punishment and love with love and punishment. And once I held her dripping wet in the uncomfortable air between the wheelchair and the tub, until she begged me like a child to stop, an act of cruelty which we both understood was the ancient irresistible rejoicing of power over weakness. If you are lucky in this life, you will get to raise the spoon of pristine, frosty ice cream to the trusting creature mouth of your old enemy because the tastebuds at least are not broken because there is a bond between you and sweet is sweet in any language.
Only my mouth taking you in, the greenery splayed deep green. Within my mouth, your arm inserted, a stem of gestures, breaking gracefully. Into each other we root arbitrarily, like bushes, silken, and guttural. Palaver, we open for the thrill of closing, for the thrill of it: opening. The night was so humid when I knelt on the steps, wet and cold, of prewar stone. A charm bracelet of sorts we budded, handmade but brazen, as if organic. I cannot imagine the end of my fascination, emblazoned but feather-white too. The gold closure of this like a gold coin is, of course, ancient. Why can't experience disseminate itself, be silken and brazen yet underwater? A miniature Eiffel Tower, an enameled shamrock, a charm owned by its bracelet.
A large box is handily made of what is necessary to replace any substance. Suppose an example is necessary, the plainer it is made the more reason there is for some outward recognition that there is a result.
A box is made sometimes and them to see to see to it neatly and to have the holes stopped up makes it necessary to use paper.
A custom which is necessary when a box is used and taken is that a large part of the time there are three which have different connections. The one is on the table. The two are on the table. The three are on the table. The one, one is the same length as is shown by the cover being longer. The other is different there is more cover that shows it. The other is different and that makes the corners have the same shade the eight are in singular arrangement to make four necessary.
Lax, to have corners, to be lighter than some weight, to indicate a wedding journey, to last brown and not curious, to be wealthy, cigarettes are established by length and by doubling.
Left open, to be left pounded, to be left closed, to be circulating in summer and winter, and sick color that is grey that is not dusty and red shows, to be sure cigarettes do measure an empty length sooner than a choice in color.
Winged, to be winged means that white is yellow and pieces pieces that are brown are dust color if dust is washed off, then it is choice that is to say it is fitting cigarettes sooner than paper.
An increase why is an increase idle, why is silver cloister, why is the spark brighter, if it is brighter is there any result, hardly more than ever.
Tonopah's the only place contour lines appear to rise between there and Goldfield the first Joshua trees beer at the Mozart Club from then on it's all downhill between Mercury and Indian Springs the light begins to change you wonder what you'll do when you reach the edge of the map out there on the horizon all that neon beckoning you in from the dark
Hotel-casino: lights flash, crowds tread
patterned carpets hoping for a turn
in fortune. Despite the ardent wishes
of the women you have left you are not dead.
You’re good at lively passing things
that happen here: at restaurants, in bed,
at tables tossing dice and cards. That smudge
at bottom right stands in for me, as you plunge
breathless into chance as into women, risk
like drink obliterating everything.
Studio: smells of linseed oil and turpentine. Brushes,
palette knives, mixing-sticks; bottles, jars, tubes. Paint
in daubs and gobs and smears and dots and slashes.
You left the window open and everything stained.
Greenhouse. Beneath little panes pocked
by time and dotted with mold and lichen, rot,
a riot of tropical effulgence, small framed portion
of the endlessness. Spiky plants blossom
like ideas; light glances off the glass and gleams
on the permanent hunger, steams. Everything
blooms or is green. You shrug into your coat.
In Things of moment, on thy self depend,
Nor trust too far thy Servant or thy Friend:
With private Views, thy Friend may promise fair,
And Servants very seldom prove sincere.
What can be done, with Care perform to Day,
Dangers unthought-of will attend Delay;
Your distant Prospects all precarious are,
And Fortune is as fickle as she's fair.
Nor trivial Loss, nor trivial Gain despise;
Molehills, if often heap'd, to Mountains rise:
Weigh every small Expence, and nothing waste,
Farthings long sav'd, amount to Pounds at last.
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself and curse my fate, wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee--and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven's gate; For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
1. O Karma, Dharma, pudding & pie, gimme a break before I die: grant me wisdom, will, & wit, purity, probity, pluck, & grit. Trustworthy, helpful, friendly, kind, gimme great abs and a steel-trap mind. And forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice - these little blessings would suffice to beget an earthly paradise: make the bad people good and the good people nice, and before our world goes over the brink, teach the believers how to think. 2. O Venus, Cupid, Aphrodite, teach us Thy horsepower lingam, Thy firecracker yoni. Show us Thy hundreds of sacred & tingling positions, each orifice panting for every groping tumescence. O lead us into the back rooms of silky temptation and deliver us over to midnights of trembling desire. But before all the nectar & honey leak out of this planet, give us our passion in marble, commitment in granite. 3. O Shiva, relentless Spirit of Outrage: in this vale of tearful True Believers, teach us to repeat again and again: No, your Reverences, we will not serve your Gross National Voodoo, your Church Militant – we will not flatter the double faces of those who pray in the Temple of Incendiary Salvation. Gentle Preserver, preserve the pure irreverence of our stubborn minds. Target the priests, Implacable Destroyer – and hire a lawyer. 4. O Mammon, Thou who art daily dissed by everyone, yet boast more true disciples than all other gods together, Thou whose eerie sheen gleameth from Corporate Headquarters and Vatican Treasury alike, Thou whose glittering eye impales us in the X-ray vision of plastic surgeons, the golden leer of televangelists, the star-spangled gloat of politicos – O Mammon, come down to us in the form of Treasuries, Annuities, & High-Grade Bonds, yield unto us those Benedict Arnold Funds, those Quicksand Convertible Securities, even the wet Judas Kiss of Futures Contracts – for unto the least of these Thy supplicants art Thou welcome in all Thy many forms. But when Thou comest to say we’re finally in the gentry – use the service entry. 5. O flaky Goddess of Fortune, we beseech Thee: in the random thrust of Thy fluky favor, vector the luminous lasers of Thy shifty eyes down upon these, Thy needy & oh-so-deserving petitioners. Bend down to us the sexy curve of Thine indifferent ear, and hear our passionate invocation: let Thy lovely, lying lips murmur to us the news of all our true-false guesses A-OK, our firm & final offers come up rainbows, our hangnails & hang-ups & hangovers suddenly zapped, and then, O Goddess, give us your slippery word that the faithless Lady Luck will hang around in our faithful love, friendships less fickle than youth, and a steady view of our world in its barefoot truth.
The manner in which we are present at this time to and fro appears, we come to point of view before us The matter is here Can we share its kind of existence? "I" moving about unrolled barking at blue clouds devoted—to each other? to hasten to the point? to evade anxiety? to picture? Having awkward heaviness "I" never moves freely about unless passing and happening accompanied Our pleasure is perplexed beyond that If we thrill to low hills because they are not composed they are "composed to our liking" They say there is no defining that but to say that is defining that, living in context One would think of all the social forces traveling with a show of indifference over a crowd or sound brought to a sound A good person would be starred ill and well in a life he or she couldn’t know how to refuse Every day we may never happen on the object hung on a mere chance When and where one happens it will surprise us not in itself but in its coming to our attention not as something suddenly present but as something that’s been near for a long time and which we have only just noticed When we might ask did we begin to share that existence What have we overlooked Nostalgia is another name for one’s sense of loss at the thought that one has sadly gone along happily overlooking something, who knows what Perhaps there were three things, no one of which made sense of the other two A sandwich, a wallet, and a giraffe Logic tends to force similarities but that’s not what we mean by "sharing existence" The matter is incapable of being caused, incapable of not being so, condensed into a cause—a bean, captive forever Perhaps Because this object is so tiny A store of intellect, a certain ethical potential, something that will hold good Like ants swarming into pattern we get to the middle of the day many distinct sensations that must be it Music checks the relaxation the contrasting aspects constantly changing set going The ceaseless onset cuts this recognized sensation hurrying after it alive It seems we’ve committed ourselves That something exists at all is its nakedness we could term fate and rising curves fate That it should succeed already has been determined And we have only to add on to it everything and everyone associated with it from beginning to end sustaining familiar acts One is stung by a bee and it is noticeable that the whole body is involved Why isolate part of the field? Say we look on a mountain scene changing colors, the walls of a room vividly experienced from inside it Why speak as if there were some incompatibility Of what would it consist Even after the closeness of the room which is now vacant I rise at the thought of the future of all the positions of things and re-enter the room What is the Greek word for that, the big chance for each event—kairos? Normally we don’t notice that things we use in being accessible are being set aside while the extra, superfluous ones remain material one can disturb Once one’s caught in it one can make a face which nothing delimits from you, from me, from us The face facing—how succinct! There the never resting emphasis rests splitting all the probabilities converge Do they have witnesses? Tsvetaeva warns us: it can happen that "income tragically exceeds expenditure," she says or rather it will happen that one can’t find a way to spend as much life as accumulates to one We care in time, scatter acts in accord with time supporting action Does death sever us from all that is happening finitude Yes, swim it does I the wall saw it We the wall I’m often ambivalent, the artistic will being weak as well as strong about being seen heard understood Whatever I see in thought as life I come to coming to me in history At first glance? What could we, mind wandering but never ‘free,’ do with the word ‘galactic’ Events are unscrolling, they cover my eyes, all familiarity naked Launched, I need either clothes or a bed and a blanket to protect my nature from nature’s pranks A dream unless you saw it too, which would throw the stop and start of sleep into question and deprive us of the knowledge of the comfort of the knowledge that we can sleep troubling us together side by side Ever beginners until all is margin, warm and flat How the near becomes far and the far becomes near we may try to discover but we shouldn’t take the question too seriously Stop and start doubtless is the very same as stop and start doubtful In a downpour we don’t count drops as no harm is done to the causal chain we’re close to the ground to see each other clearly One can’t say that being human is voluntary but it does tell a story that to another human won’t seem pointless To another human one acts one intervenes In the dream one is shivering, already shivering before the first glimpse of the dream, shivering at the reality of the dream A headache could happen to anyone, disappearance to anything This is that kind of life, that kind of world, and this is the kind of place in which one can easily spend a dollar but not easily on hay and not so easily see a toad, cod in the woods in a dream we talk more to hear You laugh? I was going to speak of doom eager to resume consecutive events plowing through the space surrounding them to something now, no ellipsis, just mouth open in astonishment or closed to suck quid and quod, that and what Not proving but pointing not disappointed boldly taking aim obliged to acknowledge I admit to being sometimes afraid of the effort required for judgment, afraid of the judgment required That can happen only after that it has happened is ascertained, if you can keep up, time can’t be banished, being real In the world we see things together, the judgments have been made, takes the chalk, draws the milky line To say that the music pleases me is impersonal, also the great skua, a dozen things singly through different mental states, mental states here and there as if unknown to each other things happen to them differently They can’t anticipate each other but they aren’t innocent of each other, the dead then alive knowing glances Future detail of experience the same thing ours for nothing more than noting that living harbors the half-desire for anonymity self-consciousness diminishes within Take fences—the mechanism of clocks harbors birds it provides a narrow escape A story requires resemblance and the results are bound to include recognizable sounds in their totality as horns and windmills and the story is ‘ours’ It turns over to today the body it contains, something alone in whatever time across, being this of that, tenderly trying to dispel the anxiety impeding pleasurable run-on regeneration Imagining ourselves under a gray sky shining so brightly our eyes can’t establish any connections, a sky so bright that the option of connection isn’t open, this puts us in mind of beginnings that reason can motivate but not end Searching out streets which allow for faster movement through this impression of something short-lived we can’t retreat, can’t know where we are We fret as if demented by different events in the dissatisfied chaos that make incompatible claims We go no more than a few feet before we come upon the obstacle punctually Happiness is independent of us bound to its own incompleteness sharply The day has come with both rational and irrational aiming at it the future fork and set of feathers There is activity in a life, i.e. conduct asserts the power of deliberating without knowing how a state of being is brought into existence every so often often The specific accident to specify something never allowed to settle completely Then the shout "I" and the response "me, too," the curiosity grows I can know you without yardstick or sleep, without analysis and from near or far, but I can’t know you without myself What were the chances I would land on a ladder is the question at which I’m laughing to experience the reality of what I myself am not The closer expression comes to thought fearlessly to be face-to-face would be to have almost no subject or the subject would be almost invisible And more is left than usefulness It’s this that happiness achieves The riddle happening hitherto before What is not is now possible, a ponderable You muse on musing on—so much now but you do You can rearrange what the day gets from accidents but you can’t derive its reality from them The dot just now adrift on the paper is not the product of the paper dark Nearly negative but finite it springs from its own shadow and cannot be denied the undeniable world once it is launched—once it’s launched it’s derived Tonight sounding roughly it isn’t quite that only words can reason beyond what’s reasonable that I drop my eyes to Something comes The experiences generated by sense perception come by the happenstance that is with them Experiences resulting from things impinging on us There is continuity in moving our understanding of them as they appear Some which are games bring with them their own rules for action which is a play we play which we may play with an end we value not winning The dilemmas in sentences form tables of discovery of things created to create the ever better dilemma which is to make sense to others