Letter to L. Cohen, 2009
I skulked out of poetry’s house at thirty-three.
At sixty-three I returned like a sneak-thief.
Because time terrified me to staring silence.
And one April Shabat night you,
you seventy-five-year-old mensch, you,
you blissed out 7,000 people for three hours, you
with a nothing voice, a so-so growl,
and a soul’s true voice isn’t always or often pretty,
wearing a narrow-brimmed, slouched fedora and a gangster’s suit and
words that showed me that time is no more than a limp dick,
words that stiffen my arms and legs with bones of pitted chrome and teach me
that what I thought I knew of hours and days is nothing
to one word following another, certain as a path finding its way through
a stubbled field,
as a night stream carving rock under a winter moon and gas-blue snow,
knowing now that years are rocks knotted on a rope dangling in a still pool.
I pull them out one by one, each one another benediction.
The rope disappears in the pool, is slimy with algae, may slip away with
the stones’ weight, may fray and part
but I heave the heft and haul of years into my palms, hold each one
in hand for its moment, sing to each cold rock, cradle it until it warms
In a Season of Winter
(For Denise Sebesta Lanier)
Sooner or later
slackens and stills.
The air becomes
wet and cold.
shatter the sun
to shards and blades.
Dirt takes on
The squirrel knows
to dig a deeper burrow
for the dark time.
as she is, her-
where she bends
and frets the sun.
you got it right.
A body’s weight
it is all
David Kann teaches English and now creative writing in the Cal State University System. His daughter is a superb poet. Attending her readings, Kann found a lot of the other poets’ poetry not very good and said so. A poet friend of his dared him to do better, so Kann returned to poetry after a long hiatus and found that he felt more like himself when writing than he did most other times. Kann got an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts so he could get better at poetry, which was one of the finest experiences of his life.