Steve Kowit is the author of several collections of poetry and In The Palm Of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop. He has translated Pablo Neruda’s Incitement To Nixoncide and Praise for the Chilean Revolution, edited The Maverick Poets, is the recipient of an NEA, and other awards, and teaches in the graduate writing program at San Diego State University. He is poetry editor of the online magazine Serving House Journal and has a weekly poetry column in The San Diego Reader.
Now that I’ve unplugged the phone
no one can reach me—
At least for this one afternoon
they will have to get by without my advice or opinion.
Now nobody else is going to call
& ask in a tentative voice
if I haven’t yet heard that she’s dead,
that woman I once loved—
nothing but ashes scattered over a city
that barely itself any longer exists.
Yes, thank you, I’ve heard.
It had been too lovely a morning.
That in itself should have warned me.
The sun lit up the tangerines
& the blazing poinsettias
like so many candles.
For one afternoon they will have to forgive me.
I am busy watching things happen again
that happened a long time ago,
as I lean back in Josephine’s lawn chair
under a sky of incredible blue,
broken—if that is the word for it—
by a few billowing clouds,
all white & unspeakably lovely,
drifting out of one nothingness into another.