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January 30th, Calendar Square

Snow is falling hard on Calendar Square.
It’s nearly February; phoebes sing
At embarrassing distances among
The whitened trees of dusk, reminding March
It’s got its work to do. The buildings cast
Dull blue shadows across white yawning spaces.
Now that winter’s had its way with time, time
Deletes the solace of annus novus,
While evidence lingers, central conceits
Of presence ravel out the absences
That wrinkle parking lots and alleyways
With tire tracks; that spill the rock salt that’s mixed
In bitter mercy with birdfeed on a stoop;
That winnow storefront windows down and out
To their basics; that make the needful things
Become madly dependent on luxuries
To help restore their meaning. People move
Among their footprints, shadows among shades,
With hungry looks, grinning cold misereres
And scouring the ground before them for some
Reconstructed comfort. No other face
Or posture touches on what’s wanted most –
What’s least at hand. The entire city sounds
An anthology of reveries, morose
In muffled cadence, bruised as ruptured bassoons,
A rich quavering sadness wildly refrained
From deep beneath the river’s strain and flow:
It groans with ice and curves its banks around
The city, lover held by elbow’s crook –
Its daily traffic is measured and cramps
Each fitful instance. After twilight pulled
The stray ribbons and stays of sunlight loose,
The evening’s flowing locks tumbled free
With snow. (The weather’s been asking for it
For days.) Each flake an inculcation of
The equinox, the storm compiles in facts
And whispered dividends; its quiet smoothes
Sepulchral parks into ashen fields; it haunts
The solstice, dreaming phoebes into spring.

Comments

  1. Terrible poem, with one or two good lines.

    Nice photo.

  2. Relentless.

    • Churchill,

      You or me?

      But thanks. I need to stay on earth anyway.

      All that clanging one’s head against the stars stuff is for the voids….

      JOB

  3. Jonathan Webb says:

    Excellent poem with two or three brilliant lines.

    My nine-year-old son told me that a recent date was the 100th anniversary of the world’s biggest snowflake. It made me hope that he always cares about the world’s biggest snowflake.

  4. Churchill says:

    I met a man tonight who spoke of dogs and cattle.

  5. Matthew Lickona says:

    But I hadn’t any time to listen to his prattle.
    For I had heard Death coming near, his finger-bones a-rattle.
    And leaned He in and whispered close – no, I swore I wouldn’t tattle.
    What warms the ears that once heard Death? I guess this hat’ll.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

      Now you know… and knowing is half the battle!

      Nice variations on a Churchill theme. Superfluity is the other mother of invention!

  6. This is quite lovely.

  7. Churchill says:

    Don’t say Churchill please.

  8. Jonathan Potter says:

    A fine one, Joseph. There are plenty of great lines, but I enjoyed most parsing out the list of “that”s referring back to … absences

    That wrinkle parking lots and alleyways
    With tire tracks; that spill the rock salt that’s mixed
    In bitter mercy with birdfeed on a stoop;
    That winnow storefront windows down and out
    To their basics; that make the needful things
    Become madly dependent on luxuries
    To help restore their meaning.

    I like misereres, too, but stumble on annus novus. I want the new year there.

  9. I don’t know why I thought it was bad. It looks good now. February’s my favourite month, but it’s almost passed, and I miss those February evenings on the 4th Floor.

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