Dark Terrace I by Josette Urso
"Dark Terrace I" by Josette Urso
The Red Chevrolet

"Falling apart like thawing ice,"
not that you could blame him,
"so he could be worn and yet newly made."

He was hedging his bets.
At that paradoxical point
when "old" is older than "older"

("an older man, not old yet").
he was culminating and doubtless,
a serious poet.

What had once passed for passion
had passed into a passion for observation,
he was not without his resources:

a fine stock of memories,
a respectable knowledge of mythology and plant life,
a practiced ear and a sharp eye.

He had grown more authentic with age.
It couldn't be helped,
wisdom had set in.

At home where homeless ones and thieves
were exiled for their restlessness,
his heroes' deeds unnamed
in their history of forgetfulness,
with heroes' names which rang
like the sound of accusation,

in a judgment
that he rendered
on a nation of exiles,

his poems,
passed down
as sheer

among a drunken brutal people,

he resentenced them.
It couldn't be helped.
He had revised his opinion

and read the appropriate documents
while trying to keep his pants down
over his socks.

and his pipe lit,
and the room half filled
with qualified witnesses,

serious students,
most of them poets:
his people;

who were chased,
and called themselves "estranged,"
and who, estranged, were exiled,

and called their exile

savage with every sickness,
fought free of history, with ignorance
and left the old world at the end of time.

His people:
so stupid that they think his ancient names are new,
whose memory slips away from them like rain.

unbanished, with banishment forgotten,
unbounded, without distinction,

walk out from a house
filled with strangers,
to pass among strangers in the street.

So much depends upon
a red Chevrolet
with the top down,

and its beat is the sweet synchronicity,
the sliding between other cars
with the radio on,

and the girl and the boy in the front seat
ecstatic with sky and with speed
are the only American poets

without culture,
and belief.

Marc Penka 2002

previous      home      next