Mennonite Poetry Home | Leonard Neufeldt




it’s my assistant. He kept the manuscript
for more than an unmemorable year
after the promise of a speedy decision
that misspelled your name
twice: she’s charmed by any tree’s seasoned
come-hither even those in a zen meditation
or as longsome life force in city
or country graveyards or as margins
left and right in landscape paintings

Lower case leading the way, the unsaid
and punctuation implied

And he’s tired of it all, the bad as well
as the good. Time can do that, days
coursing through what the years beheld
with unattended weariness and, for that matter,
wayfaring through your manuscript:
the opening section may well leave readers
as lost as speakers in your monologues
except perhaps for the one
on your late father’s office mess

Each re-reading he fell asleep, awakening
somewhere in the main section,
the longest poems, all of them on trees
and you among them
some moments here and there but still
a parade of pretexts for private interests
to wit autobiography in disguise
and aimless travelogue as collateral

He doesn’t say damage

Regardless of how your name is really spelled,
the small space between any second
thoughts and a reply has been closed
like windows of a barely breathing room
because sustaining air is no more
of account. And not the boredom of doodles
in a book you won’t keep or of outsized
black marker ads in the window
of Aberna’s store. You are thinking
stage-four metastatic boredom

The fact drowsing, already settled in
the factor, not needing to be implied.
In the Mona Lisa the implied is in the smile,
for Schoenberg in the long-term memory
of the diatonic, in dendrology texts
habitual hints of ancient Greek.
And in the REM of lounge-chair sleep
it’s the eye movements refusing to follow
as the manuscript withdraws soundlessly
on its right-of-way from half-open hand
to thigh by degrees and onward with
barely breathing caesuras, glancing lightly
against the knees before disassembling,
the order unprotected, falling past
everything. Falling forever




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