The Title Poem from Figured Dark
I’m walking the iron bridge,
ascending through pitch pines and loblollies,
my right arm counting the beat
in a half-forgotten poem,
a man marking time on a summer night.
My stars are the many stars.
My song is “Moon and Sand,” the moment
Chet Baker finally pulls the trumpet from his lips
and begs, in that sweet morphined drone,
“Oh, when shall we meet again?”
I think of Whistler's Nocturne in Black and Gold ––
the shiny black of it,
the cobalt green and indigo blue,
the fireworks pop-popping over the river
and sputtering down across Cremorne Gardens.
The silvery white must be a bit of skyline
caught in the rockets' flash.
I come to the great field, fireflies
rising from the black grass. I say to no one:
The sway of her breasts as she crossed the room,
as if to decipher a small archaeology––
glass beads, a needle carved out of bone.
I know that Whistler sold his easel
to cover his debts.
And Chet Baker––I saw the film––
did he jump, or was he thrown
from that open window?
Even he was puzzled as he fell.
I am alone in the great field,
accounting for loss under the many,
many stars; I am amazed by fireflies.
I could round this down to a million tiny bodies,
blazing the midnight trees.