Too Much One Thing, Not Enough Somewhat Else
O brother stay strongest
None but a no good woman tries to fool you
A good one understands it’s not her place to rule
You, as equals share
You know what sharing’s like:
She’ll wake up coughing
In the middle of the night
And ask if you’re all right
Stay strongest, brother.
Not even necessary to shed a tear;
Just the unstable moisture of confusion only
Trembling a strong voice
To catch or whimper
Is enough . . .
The first drop of the torrent and the flood
Not after ever to be denied
(Weakness in a man, brother)
Neither by myth, plain lie,
Historical necessity nor convoluted
No faith camouflage for weakness
Weathered board and even dumb stone speaks
Even to the most unsophisticated sensors
The high water mark is evidence enough
Visible in your structures of relations
The line that remains gauges weakness
Endurance perhaps, like a campaign scar
But strength is not the same thing as endurance
Which speaks to weakness first in private,
Confidently carrying its pleas to higher courts
As the flood rises where the rich folks live.
Each house its own nilometer,
The high water mark is what speaks
Relief for survival, not pride;
Thankfulness for endurance, not praise
Testament to struggle and shameful evidence of weaknesses
Covers every stone on the planet like graffiti
Darkly whistling boasts of terrified Senior Classes
Gone down the drain long ago.
The high water mark is etched in every rock
Humility of uncountable forgotten Pharaohs
Monuments to the weakness of man.
A bathtub ring coloring our new mutual cleanliness
Experience too clear to be denied
Floating about us, granulated
Dead moons of Saturn
Gleaming and telling. Oh brother!
No one, please,
Mishear me. No one
Must take their pleasure in offense
Of what I say to tell my brother
Brother, always stay strongest.
Unless the lamb must be called chauvinist
To fear the shepherd’s pie,
This is just an old ram’s bleating
Brother, stay strongest always
For even once you fight away the fever
Which comes like a gift with freight charges,
No strength of protest,
Strategy, disgust, or plan . . .
No plea ever will move
The soft cooling weight of her hand
Concerned until governing,
From your brow
You don’t need consultations with gypsies,
Bump-readers, or the Corps of Engineers
You just look for the high water sign and the old folks
They will tell you about it
As old Joseph did learn to tell dreams
And the scales at the grain elevator:
Too much one thing, too little somewhat else.
The lines across an old man’s forehead
Are lines from a young woman’s hand
Imprinted there. It’s only natural
She herself old, her palm shines (giving, golden, open)
Smooth as glass.