Though I Have Not Written



                        for Johnathan Harvey                       


The tops of the city buildings are braced in fog,

the night sky cow-poked for blocks and the plains

distilled from Des Moines to Chicago.

Rooted in concrete, the poplar’s wind-heartened

leaves whip at the windowand the white gravel

path, littered with goose leavings, blanched

and retreating—well, we have seen this before.

The dregs of aluminum and fishing wire

an overturnedshopping cart

left in the riverbed when the river cut 

a new channel, the beach and its bones 

the shoulder and its husk of car.  

We have seen it in the mad rocking

of the clay flood, the estuary

and the complexity of the living which

in the end is still like the rose family

or a fruit with one ovary, an apricot

growing in a notional season. In this climate

black stunted cherries dwarf lemon trees,  

Michigan dunes slough through time,

a glacial trace of a remnant world,

and rivers are reversed. Suppose the nominalism

of the carped lake and the stalked fields— 

what’s new under the atom? Have you killed

Isaac in those fields and refused

to bury him beneath a copse of stones

dusted with the ash of his belongings

ringed by a hedge of evergreens?

Do the inaccuracies of our mysteries matter?

The miraculous misunderstandings of distance

provide us with a compound vision? 

We have not sheathed our skin,

baseball is an argument for radio and the city

lights are a parting fire we mark and carry.

And though fire is a gasping fish grasped

with bare hands you said,

let’s not be so literal.  A young man

tight-roped in an ambulance

stretcher between a thrumming silence

breaths but not air. Where is there

an end to the city wailing?   

Politiea: the city’s norms are heroic.

Is the city nameless?

The registrar assigns dead numbers

             to the living. I am my grandfather

and my grandson. I stand photo-shopped

on steel girders, soap-boxed on street corners.

The rain-heavy trees shed their boneless weight

while wrapped buildings wear

black scaffolding. The salt air of the Gulf

tunnels up through Texas

warms our beaches. We were poets

and wanted to protest but lost in our words

the dead left the dead for dying.

Daniel Biegelson was born and raised in New Jersey. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Meridian and Denver Quarterly. He holds an M.F.A. from the University of Montana,  and currently lives and works in Easthampton, MA.