[from Jay Hopler's Green Squall, winner of the 2005 Yale Younger Poets Prize, judged by Louise Gluck]
And the Sunflower Weeps for the Sun, Its Flower
There is a hole in the garden. It is empty. I envy it.
Emptiness: the only freedom there is
In a fallen world.
Father Sunflower, forgive me — . I have been so preoccupied with
my backaches and my headaches,
With my sore back and my headaches and my beat-skipping heart,
I have ignored the subtle huzzah of the date palms and daisies, of
the blue daze and the date palms —
Or don’t forgive me, what do I care?
I am tired of asking for forgiveness; I am tired of being frightened
all the time.
I want to run down the street with a vicious erection,
Impaling everything, screaming obscenities
And flapping my arms; fuck the date palms,
Fuck the daisies —
As a man, I am a disappointment, I know that.
Is it my fault I was born in shadow? Through the banyan trees,
An entourage of slovenly blondes
Comes naked and begging —
My days fly from me as though from a murderer.
Can you blame them?
Behind us, the house is empty and quiet as light.
What have I done, Mother,
That I should spend my life
Self-Portrait with Whiskey and Pistol
Of all the things this day turned out to be, a celebration of me
was not one of them.
Maybe if I surrounded myself with prostitutes and strippers, my
celibacy would feel less like a lack and more like an act
Of heroic self-denial.
My life and I live in the trees and share a tail.
Our stomach turns its peach pit to the moon!
Even if it’s true, what they say, that love is never a waste of time
no matter how impossible the object,
You wouldn’t know it from living.
On this street.
How disappointing it all is!
The lemon trees, the banyan trees, the sky —
How disappointing it all is.
Look, the Great Poet of Solitude is pruning his roses!
(Even the way he does nothing is monstrous.)
O birds! O birds! Be not stingy with thy feathers white, I am
washing my hands!
Cloudy or not, here I come —