THAT FIRST YEAR - Don Marquis Poems


Poems » don marquis » that first year


i wrote poems mainly that first year,
picking garbage, doing dishes, humbling
myself among men who doubted me for having gotten
the world's publicity; what did i want with them, anyway?
but after a year they saw my touch and needed an arm
around them; men without women can use an italian
now and again to laugh christ off the cross and make him dance;
make the devil look a bit foolish.
it was my mission, cheering them after i saw that they had not
god in every blessed fork and spoon, and signs weren't everywhere.
so i got down to the business of living,
of taking one to the zoo, another to a store, a coffeeshop; but
always they couldn't wait to get home; after awhile,
thrilled as they were to get out, they got
fatigued in the world, like inmates, like loonies.

i too get tired now, going downtown, the noise and ruckus of
portuguese youths blasting and cruising, the correct and
their brandies, the traffic money-making rush of decent
moms and dads in their illusion of house
and car, and literature taking itself seriously and anyone
taking something serious to get away from pointlessness --

i want to go  back, like a loonie. not made for this.
i want to stack chairs with grigoire in
the church and go to sleep and stare at the blank
wall of the chapel and see christ's face. i want to sing
like st. john rieti who became a saint just for singing
to birds ...

i want to see everything as a sign: something dropped, a cloud going the
wrong way; and not in a town where there
are signs everywhere, and no signs.

stillness is what i crave, like those loonies, who did nothing
but look for signs 'cause everything is a sign when you do
i want grigoire's bees, anthony's galoshes galumphing
past my cell window, the scrape of chairs at breakfast
and walking down corridors with space between each
other in case the saints wanted to get through.

silly things. i want to go home.
i wait for everything but god
now; like all the others i make use of
his creation and forget --
to wait for him ... just wait for him,
worry that he'll take me, just to get attention;
that's what the world is, a sleep-waiting;
once i was awake and nothing-doing
and when he asked me to get us a coffee, i would --
otherwise we would just sit together, god and i
with eyes that penetrated.

behind trees and things, i feel that world that's ours,
and loonie brothers playing hide-and-seek with
my madmen, my crazies; like you
i can't be away for far too long; wherever you are, waiting,
in death or hayfields,
call me "in-free" before dusk.