Academy of American Poets
View Cart | Log In 
Subscribe | More Info 
Find a Poet or Poem
Advanced Search >
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Timothy Donnelly
Timothy Donnelly
Donnelly's work has been widely praised. Jorie Graham has remarked that his poetry is "musically brilliant and articulate"...
More >
Want more poems?
Subscribe to our
Poem-A-Day emails.
FURTHER READING
Related Poems
Poem for the Wheat Penny (1909-1958)
by Judith Hall
Poem for Wisconsin
by Matthew Zapruder
The Everyday Enchantment of Music
by Mark Strand
Poem Entering the Apple Valley Target
by Lynn Melnick
Sponsor a Poet Page | Add to Notebook | Email to Friend | Print

Poem Interrupted by Whitesnake

 
by Timothy Donnelly

That agreeable feeling we haven't yet been able
   to convert into words to our satisfaction

despite several conscious attempts to do so
   might prove in the end to be nothing

more than satisfaction itself, an advanced
   new formula just sitting there waiting to be

marketed as such: Let my logo be the couch
   I can feel it pulse as the inconstant moon

to which I've come to feel attached continues to pull
   away from earth at a rate of 1.6 inches

every solar year: Let my logo be the couch
   where you merge into nights until you can't


up from the shadows of a factory warehouse
   in historic Secaucus built on top of old swamp-

land I can feel it: Let my logo be the couch
   where you merge into nights until you can't

even remember what you wanted to begin with.
   Let my slogan be the scrapes of an infinite

catalogue's pages turning over and over until you
   find it again
.

                     In the air above Secaucus

a goldfinch, state bird of New Jersey, stops dead
   midflight and falls to the asphalt of a final

parking lot. Where it lands is a sacred site
   and earth is covered in them. Each is like

the single seed from which an entire wheat field
   generates. This happens inside oneself

so one believes oneself to be the owner of it.
   From the perimeter of the field one watches

as its workers undertake their given tasks:
   some cut the wheat, some bundle it; others picnic

in the shade of a pear tree, itself a form of
   labor, too, when unfolding at the worksite.

A gentle pride engilds this last observation like
   sun in September. Because this happens

inside oneself one feels one must be its owner.
   But call out to the workers, even kindly,

and they won't call back, they won't even look up
   from their work.

                        There must be someplace

else where life takes place besides in front of
   merchandise, but at the moment I can't think of it.

In the clean white light of the market I am where
   I appertain, where everything exists

for me to purchase. If there's a place of not meaning
   what you feel but at the same time meaning

every word, or almost, I might have been taught
   better to avoid it, but

                                here I go again

on my own, going down the only road I've ever
   known, trusting Secaucus's first peoples

meant something specific and true when they fused
   the words seke, meaning black, and achgook,

meaning snake, together to make a compound
   variously translated as "place where the snake

hides," "place of black snakes," or, more simply,
   "salt marsh."

                   Going moon over the gone marsh

Secaucus used to be, I keep making the same
   mistake over and over, and so do you, slowly

speeding up your orbital velocity, and thereby
   increasing your orbital radius, just like Kepler

said you would, and though I keep trying not
   to take it to heart, I can't see where else there is

to go with it. In German, a Kepler makes caps
   like those the workers wear who now bundle

twigs for kindling under the irregular gloom. One looks
   to be making repairs to a skeletal umbrella

or to the thoughts a windmill entertains by means
   of a silver fish. Off in the distance, ships tilt

and hazard up the choppy inlet. Often when I look
   at an object, I feel it looking back, evaluating

my capacity to afford it.

                               Maybe not wanting
   anything in particular means mildly wanting

whatever, constantly, spreading like a wheat
   field inside you as far as the edge of the pine

forest where the real owners hunt fox. They keep you
   believing what you see and feel are actually

yours or yours to choose. And maybe it's this
   belief that keeps you from burning it all down.

In this economy, I am like the fox, my paws no good
   for fire-starting yet, and so I scamper back

to my deep den to fatten on whatever I can find.
   Sated, safe, disremembering what it's like

up there, meaning everywhere, I tuck nose under tail
   after I exhaust the catalogues, the cheap stuff

and sad talk to the moon, including some yelping but
   never howling at it, which is what a wolf does.







Copyright 2012 by Timothy Donnelly. Used with permission of the author.
Larger TypeLarger Type | Home | Help | Contact Us | Privacy Policy Copyright © 1997 - 2014 by Academy of American Poets.