Strange Gatherings

Strange Gathering [5]

            after John Berryman

When this is over, I’ll want 

to take my cat with me to the bar. Wouldn’t 

that be such a wild time? They’ve got wine for cats now 

& I bet she could keep up. She’s an old gal, or 

middle-aged, anyway. Someone called her 

mature the other day and I damn near cried 



considering she might one day die. When you’re riding 

the train, everyone’s gay. I don’t make the rules, 

it just happens. Up on that mountain, the light 

always makes me cry, but the dirt looks like rust, stirs 

up some lust. All these hands in pockets. Wild. Some babies 

are born with teeth & Patrick was. A newborn 



with teeth is like a cat. All cute and dangerous-looking, all 

helpless & tender. Climbing bales of hay 

in an old barn & we get up to the ceiling, the light 

through the cracks. Romantic, in a Tom Sawyer 

kinda way. Romantic, in that 

we were too young to know about economics. 


Strange Gathering [6 & 7] 

            after John Berryman

Vermont’s always calling & 

asking me why I left. I try to explain 

it’s just an issue of timing, but 

I still drink her syrup & harden 

in the winter. Dreams where there’s death 

are always the hardest to understand 



at the time & afterwards. I’m just here wishing 

I could squirm under your gaze 

or graze in your green, green mtns, et cetera. I 

hear the curtains rustle and prickle. I hear 

the landlord shouting 

at her children, really nasty stuff. But I’d rather think 



about the library and having sex in its basement. That’s nicer 

& doesn’t cost a dime. The library here still charges 

fines & you’ve gotta buy a membership if you live outside 

the city. The richest city in the state won’t let you borrow 

a book for free. It’s such a racket. This 

is why we need social medicine. 


Strange Gathering [8 & 9] 

            after John Berryman

The weather’s fine, thanks 

for asking. We don’t ask that often 

enough anymore & I love your green 

hair. There’s nothing to see 

around here, is what they’d like you to think. But 

we know about windows open & 



sheets sticking to skin. Contrapposto, rococo 

et cetera, YOU. Standing in the doorway & 

it’s like a tornado in here. You’re about 

to be blown. They call it 

the high wood 

& we know what that’s about



in the morning. We’re at a standstill 

too hot to get dressed & too hot 

when we’re naked. Stuck 

in our own crocheted 

web, all strung up 

& spidery. 


Strange Gathering [14] 

            after John Berryman

The world is too amazing for us to take it in 

so we find it boring instead. We look at electricity 

jumping between clouds and worry 

that we might be struck: 

dumb. The sun, too, is easy 

to complain about. We don’t like it in our eyes 



but we’d be shit out of luck if it left 

us. Let’s stop 

pretending to be cool & just let ourselves be 

unrepentant dorks. You can’t be cool 

when you’re in awe of everything 

around you, is my theory. Pontification 



gets a bad rap, and so does rap. It’s all 

the same, my dude. We’re just talking about things 

we love and shit that’s happening to us. You’ve gotta complain 

because if you don’t 

there’s no contrast. We’ve got to choose 

to not choose. 

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