Two Poems by Mordecai Marcus


Climbing into Autumn

A package of green smells
near the garbage cans
as I dump the gathered waste.
Out there, briefly alone in the night,
I’m afraid some vulgar purple air
will dim our touch,
will thin our love.

Inside, you never stop patching the house’s hope.
Not even when your sleep is broken
by memories of summer.
How I want to bring back the green.
How I regret the ways
in which the years forbid my touch
on the Beethoven and Mozart disc.

What do we have left
besides the touch of our cheeks?
Can we share dreams of Swiss slopes?
Will we ever visit
Shakespeare’s pantheon of flowers?
Will we reach Mont Blanc’s beckoning thrust?

Bit by bit I try to recall for you
the dizzying heights
of the great museums where I grew up.
I breathe hints of the seasonal changes
that brought only tiny touches of green or gold
between pavements and streets of a gray world.

I try to tell you
About the seasonless dust
I had to fight
so I wouldn’t trade my soul for vanity,
so books and talk
could open my heart
to things beyond me.

Maybe this helps you love me.
Maybe you forgive my cycling lapses
into trade of touch for thought
and helps you forgive all that grossness
that made old seasonal shifts
a blur you may not remember.

Smokey Thoughts

Jimmy and Billy
lift their glasses
of straight scotch
between their eyes and the fire.
They look just a little queerly
at Harry, who’s explained again
how his seventeen pills each day
mean that he can’t touch the booze.
Too bad for him, they sigh;
he doesn’t know what fiery health
the doctor cuts him from.
Harry lifts his glass
of Seven-up and shaved ice
for a polar look at the fire.
Little birds appear,
with their heads distinctly cocked
just like each girl
he ever touched or kissed.
What a comfort that he’s sure
he never wants to see
the real girls again!--
Until Robin appears in the fire,
stuffing worms into the tiny throats
of her squawking children.
Like him, she’s almost eighty
But still as beautiful as when
She made him a man.
Damn, he says to himself.
I should have stayed home with my wife,
she who perched me forever
in the tree of love,
she whose beauty
cups my heart from death.
Robin doesn’t notice him
and he can’t get clear
who gave her those chicks,
what it was that kept her young,
and why he wants to see
the real Robin again.

Mordecai Marcus