Poems from/for An Infrequent Friendship

Gustav Klimt, Apfelbaum I (1912, oil on canvas)
You Have to Be Careful

Naomi Shihab Nye (reprint. 1995)

You have to be careful telling things.
Some ears are tunnels.
Your words will go in and get lost in the dark.
Some ears are flat pans like the miners used
looking for gold.
What you say will be washed out with the stones.

You look a long time till you find the right ears.
Till then, there are birds and lamps to be spoken to,
a patient cloth rubbing shine in circles,
and the slow, gradually growing possibility
that when you find such ears,
they already know.

F. Delamotte, Ornamental alphabet (c. 16th century)

— Robert Pinsky (1999)

Any body can die, evidently. Few
Go happily, irradiating joy,

Knowledge, love. Many
Need oblivion, painkillers,
Quickest respite.

Sweet time unafflicted,
Various world:

X=your zenith.

Egon Schiele, Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vorstadt II) (1914, oil on canvas)

— Ben Aguilar (2016)

You are looking for errors,
—–and this is what you find: our names
———-are the basis of nothing. Even the streets here
call themselves something else—

like myths or trees. The other side of the lake
—–has been lost to the fire,
———-and all you can do
is ask for directions. Which way to the ground

—–where the priests stood.
—–Which way to the god of
—–your village.

Which way to your god. Show them
—–the picture of what we are looking for then
———-show me why we must look for it.
The lightless windows tell us that

here they do not allow idle speculation;
—–they have had too much of it.
The people have already gone to get their torches.
—–Tell me the name of

———-this street is familiar to you, too.
—–You are looking for errors:
———-that is all you will find.

Here, on the map, should not be in red.
—–There’s nothing there.

you were right, except for the water.
—–Beside it, a tower with something inside, something
against all the stones in the walls. A myth or a tree

begging to be let out.

—–There is no front door.
Go ahead, ask it for directions.