My shade has holes through which the day
Reflects, its white light filtered from the grey

December sky through dots, like a pearl button
On a blown-up photo of a clouded sun,

A shirt front, or the laundered view,
Steamed and pressed to drops of dew.

My eyes, unfocused, astigmatic, weed
The lattice of its starry bead

Where bits and pieces of the views
Ignore the bodies for the clues.

My blurry early morning stare
Fleshes in the parts not there

To put together nature's lights
From punctures that the sun ignites:

Pinpoints linked into a maze
That feathers in the nights and days

The way pixels on a TV do,
When an image looks at you,

As circus barkers guess your age
By using crows' feet as a gauge,

So that the outside's rude debris
Springs from random filigree,

The planet's bones, the forest's limbs
Blinking from the window's whims,

Not from any glazier's feat,
But from the linen's damaged sheet,

The very height of crêpe de chine
Topped by dropouts in its screen,

But the vision's waking flaw
Is the clue we want to draw:

It's only human to have pores
In the skin of Levolors,

And through its twinkling constellations
Shine the planet's punctuations,

The cuneiform that lives
Behind the eyesight's picky sieves,

On a trellis where the line of sight
Is broken by the muntins of the night:

The great divide, the season's seam,
Shrunk to pixels on a screen;

The planet's bones, the light's debris
Sewn like diamonds in the sea,

Jewels in the necklace of the year,
Sun imprisoned in a lavaliere—

But no need to dream up reasons
For these monsters out of season's

Sleep, these colorless inversions of a scene
Where washing flutters on the village green

And ocean splashes on the gutter:
In between the crosshairs of the shutter

And the light, sandwiched in the shadow
Of these reticules of snow,

Lightning bright
On the curtain's black and white,

Is the one translucent, limpid clue
Of spring: a liquid coral speck of blue.


I suppose it's neither here nor there that the original version of this acquired a totally different character during its many rewrites and was then erased by one outraged computer program and held incommunicado by another. The despair attached to such arbitrary knife-wielding intrusions from Steve Jobs’s ghost pales in comparison with the revenge of the Psion, which deleted an entire novel, with all its flat Hudson Valley winters and real life–dappled Central Park victory jogs at the end of a fine fall, the virtual equivalent of leaving a Stradivarius in a taxi. Although I had to convert and retype the entire manuscript of this book from programs that were alive and well in 2005.
My poems live on borrowed time, in the eye of a digital Vichy régime, at the mercy of RAM and ROM, more personalized forms of Jungian race memory.
This is a closet financial poem, dealing with "market inefficiencies," wherein traders take advantage of disparities between conflicting visions of worth, as indeed poets profit from seeing darkly in well-lit rooms.
My declining visual acuities in 2004 made me a great fan of dimness, dark northern climates, anything Norwegian, the long light evenings of Bergman's Fårö, the scudding Gothic skies of the film Van Helsing, the thunder of solar eclipses and bright lights of grim weather. Later retinal and cataract operations brought me back to normal, but I know what visions are now closed to me.

August 14th, 1988

September 29th and 30th, 2005

Rue de Varenne
October 21st, 2005

January 30th, 2019