"The Suns of Evening" (Lawrence Lazarus)
It is incredible to think of the sun
Rising in some local dominion,
Calling within its description an
Actual morning, someone walking
Through the eastern sector,
The people gathering at the pier,
The mounting light on the slow river--
The sun I would haul from the burning mind,
Where it dwells in a circle of memory,
Half-forgotten, seizing the horizon.
The room is open, casual windows
let onto the street, where no one can pass,
For the city is folded into the night--
The night made real by my waiting,
The dramatic visit to be paid the dawn,
The place, tipped, shining, correct
In the disconnected light. I cannot
Trace these power lines, this noise,
The slight chill upon the glass of water,
The soft rumbling of the furniture.
These are partial victories, absolute
Thoughts, producing action. I am quite awake
To isolated facts; I am standing here
Incomplete in the absolute night . . .
There is just this small galaxy, riding,
Shining, starting up from this bright
Necessity, the objects that are gleaming
In the white electric rays
Coldly touching everything,
The marble bodies and oval lampshades
In the yellow and green living room.
The man is standing there--who pauses,
As if to consider himself, thinking--
Who is all action, who is dressed
So formally in a harlequin apparel,
And provided with a vague history,
The checkered man, in the completed room,
By the table, the lamp and chair.
Regarding them, piously from the mantle
And the adjacent mirror, quite crowded
In the guarded interior . . .
The city cannot be described, again.
That I cannot do, now, without cause--
But only dwell here. There! he dwells
Behind the yellow windows, the opaque walls,
The show him off, so seemingly alone,
The windows open upon the infinite night.
Whose imagination tyrannizes the night?
While outside, in the city, which is denied,
A thousand eyes, unseen, staring in at him/
Who is so deftly looking out?
I have no other speech, no speech at all,
Just the scene itself brightly voiced,
No person, known, who can be placed,
Just the careful, complicated room,
Someone living . . . Who is living?
Who is he? He is no one. He is thinking.
Counting the realities before him.
The close setting, and its formal silence/
The chair ideally spaced, giving a long
Address to the spectacular darkness
The runaway sun has given him; he dwells
As on a planet, in a lost reality.
One needs only to walk, to the desk drawer
Of the instrument resting on the wall,
To assert a point in an accepted philosophy.
What content can be given, if given outright?
Of else could total comfort consist
Than this idea of happiness . . . ?
I will never be done preparing the setting,
Nor describing, every night, with precision
Every item’s doubted and exact history,
Prolonged by penetrating sight--
Effortlessly looking around at the room.
This is where the controversy lies,
Why there is a limit to the expression,
The obvious mean of things, held slightly--
With powerful thoughts
Within worlds of night,
Lent to the profound occasion
Of a stand of wax plants, a music stand,
The carved footrest, grey etchings on the wall;
The distance from the chair
In which he cannot sit without a purpose
To the tennis racket propped on the wall;
Paths on the carpet, which is green,
Defining small futures, apprehending
A lurid calm, like a sunset on the river.
There is where the controversy arises,
And the necessity of pity,
When he is, in his regalia, thinking
Earnestly, with the window at his back,
About moving within the tiny room,
Learning, crazy, hopelessly creative--
Cheering, wild, the rush of the wild
Ungrounded sun, thru dark skies,
Athwart the tremendous, unfinished city.
He becomes magnanimous toward the small
Concerns, the grey newspaper turned,
The bowl of shadows, the flowers raised
In paint, cold, in the stark ceramic;
And he turns--he is sacrificial--
Upon the attention of an inner public.
For he is no one. He is not alone.
There! The air is more conspiratorial,
The light in prepared . . . mere beginnings,
Stirrings, conferences of chairs,
Then nice balconies hanging in the
Open night air, in the quiet window.
"The Open Window" (Lawrence Lazarus)
Nothing, in fact, would prove excessive. He
Affects a dull pirouette, a half-spoken word
In the measured, faintly ecstatic gloom,
Among the multitude of props,
Performed, as if absurd, with stolen commands,
Whispers, a riotous vacillation
That is the commotion in the basement theater
Of a ceremony midway, (the dancers
Stunned, by a sudden lights, on their feet).
It is always this way, the night to
Reconcile, the day left unplanned
Beyond a dramatic appearance in the crowd
Of people streaming upon grey streets,
In a lavish dawn, in sudden weather,
With a ticket to the public hall,
In the balconies hung on a summer evening.
I take this central figure upon myself,
So not to worry the doubtful voices . . .
Where did he get these other scenes,
And how could he ever go anywhere,
When it is so difficult to draw a breath
In this cultivated recess, or to break
His enchantment with open question . . .
The grandiloquent pause of the man, alone,
Figured into the room,
Whose ambiguous attitude, whose horned words,
Draw up from the exercise of a style,
Forlorn from any thought, this excessive
Wish, which is just catching up,
To express the misgivings of the crowd
Assembled somewhere else
In a defiant plural heaven.
What is real must be accountable,
The whole city in the act of collapse.
He wants to assert, maintain, broadcast
A line of strict and gentle meaning,
Forceful and sad, half-moving with
His brilliant hand the papers, his plans.
He wants to say the thing not quite said,
In the damned texts of a difficult past,
Construct a body out of cursed gestures
(These are remembered, awkward deaths),
Something missed amidst all those
Hatcheted and wrought vignettes, black
Humors and ill-timed requests, the million
Dead references, and the several
Thousand leagues gone by, a
Quite large sum of his mental history
That swarmed in his great boar’s head
And now lies inert, when he begins to dwell
Upon some actual use or authorship;
Though the cause, in the delirium of truth,
Remain as real, as local, as sure
As a lamp, open on some scripture . . .
All his testimony needed, not quite exact,
Just stolid, historical, maybe sad,
A rundown graveyard (the mind is compared
To everything in its time);
Where it seems he can only stand
In his windbreaker and rubbers,
Very tall, much taller, too tall,
And strange to learn, even more sensitive
To certain realities, certain rheumatisms,
Wishing his invocations whirl and rail.
It is easy to progress this far
From the room
To which he always returns--
And why is he so alive to the fact?
He is going to say, lyricise, prevail--
There, in the vast, personal, unreal hall,
Here, in the decorated room,
Deep in the night, alive in the city,
Lingering here in the lighted arena--
With the sad, clear, credulous tone
Of a man speaking to whoever he can . . .
The whole effort, dear unknown friends,
The experience itself, such as is life
This thing I was thinking of, a line
As beautiful as--say, this thing
I was thinking of . . .
Standing here with the windows open,
Imperial, extending the motion,
A thought--it is incredible to think
Of the sun in some local dominion,
That the table, the chair, the lamp,
The distant mantle, the open window,
In the transient power of his mood,
Are so concrete, when fleeting, so real;
So misplaced, when claimed to such advantage.