“--light and sorrow and dream—“
from Metamorphosis, Into It
by Lawrence Joseph

You were my Wallace Stevens’
orange on a Sunday morning
with the Velvets playing --
or had they gone silent from your
juridical stare?

Smoky liquor floods to Ash Wednesday.
as you shoved me away from suicide &
threatened me with spirits
who haunt after death.

Simply put, a savior with a palm shrouding
my cut cornea in that flowered sublet.

Spiraling motion of a hand.
You whore, your halo’s falling.
Giselle’s a riddle of willies
on pointe shoes, smiling.


Lebanese and Italian, we crave
some Mediterranean
slant on life; meet at the Cloisters.
sensual smart – a red Maserati
passes your mind’s eye and you’re
off into it.

Into some magnificent conjury zone.

I wore lace leggings toward NYU
with the desert a piercing speck of beige
in the twilight of my poet’s eyes. Mirage
of me. Because you say, “Beauty must be
protected.” I always remember Devadatta,
the demon, and how he shot

the swan.

But you, you are a lapping owl at espresso
cups & slowly speed the vigilant lines
into pure lyric. More a Buddha than a devil-child.

“—light and sorrow and dream—“


On Easter 2002, I sent you a dozen white roses
with an ATM card from a temp gig in Boston.
Three years before you had issued a verdict:
“Don’t ever call me again.”

From a pizza parlor in Brooklyn, I soldiered
on, for a week or so, serving the pies.

Labor, it can save you. Your poem about
dancing with a factory girl till dawn in Detroit.
R&B Music redeemed America from its racist
zombie trance..There was hope and ecstasy
in “Jackie Wilson said…”

Van the Man.

I wonder about the girl who wins her life back,
singing that “the dead can dance but not very well”
in a rock tune. New age:
she edged me out too in a strange way, underscoring
how good it is not to care too much.

That I had a double infuriated you.
That I changed my name made you even madder.
That I would not sleep with you, beloved mentor,
because your wife shared my mother’s surname

was the final straw..

What am I left to wonder in this decade:of
cellphones and webcams?
Do you Google me once in awhile?
Remember my green eyes, like Duras --
danger, like love?

Is the swan, in her billowy sail, still
safe with you?

Did she, in fact, ever exist?



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