III. Palm Beach, Florida, 1987
Some Buicks still genuflect to the idea of motion. This one does.
Some Buicks are blue. Some Buicks are deists, like Thomas Jefferson,
and some Buicks owned slaves. Some Buicks have freed them.
Some Buicks have classified the petals
of the orchard peach, the hybrids and the demes,
some Buicks maintain private shrines to William Bartram.
This is all very natural.
Currently I am looking at everyone else's hands to guess
(who is an angel.) (who moves among us.)
Some Buicks rest on fresh asphalt, within the lines, some Buicks
views these lines as commands, some rebel, this is in the nature of some Buicks.
Not like the stretch limos hoarding their brass buttons & bits of foil.
Not like the gabby Hondas.
Some Buicks have not yet entered this conversation. Some Buicks are marked on maps.
Some Buicks are vertical but not these. Some Buicks shine.
IV. Santa Monica, California, 1988
Therefore rest (the idea of). When one reaches an opposite coast
it's either sink or swim or else stake out one's God
on the illuminate sand. Turning back is not an option,
one can never hope to turn one's back,
the text is in the turning, this is the logic of the boustrephedon,
every text turns from next to next. Call this narrative.
I think it is crucial to know who, precisely, is being excluded from the garden.
A respite from the text, a respite from the next,
any Buick could serve as the vehicle for a Sunday nap,
any le Corbusier cube. And the sea waits like a small rickety chair
in its musty room, almost forgotten.
Note to the architects of languor:
The dead do not approach the camera with the hesitation we suppose.
Rest, too, is a concept realized consistently in one direction.
Rest is the common currency of a charming detail.
XXII. Snow Hill, Maryland, 1989
Art about buildings & food is always really about music.
Say you're driving along the Eastern Shore with the radio blaring
and suddenly you're hungry and it's summer and ahead of you
at the edge of the four-lane heat-rising mirage
you spy a drive-in—
THICK SHAKES! GOOD FOOD!—and being American
you try very hard not to think of words like architecture and edifice
so as to concentrate more completely on the hunger, on the Buick you drive
and on the speed at which you are going, which is to say
on the distance between gratification & performance, between form & content.
Being American you accomplish this with relative ease
but really it's the music you hear
and it's the music you keep hearing when at last you pull off the macadam
only to discover the place is closed and looks as if it has been
for what passes in these parts as a long time.
XXIII. Charleston, South Carolina, 1989
It is not difficult to confuse beauty with intelligence.
A crate, a bucket. A mural, some local color. The loss of an apostrophe
pleasing to the eye. David Hockney is what makes this country great.
These pastel hues. Softshell crabs and beer.
The pads on most modern touch-tones still recapitulate the alphabet
three letters at a time, but no one cares. Nobody dials that way any more,
ELMwood-2167. If you want crabs you're on your own.
If you want God you'll have to use the King James.
If you want love the apostrophes have this trailer out on the edge of town,
they don't charge much but neither do they get pretty
for some transient walk-in john.
XLI. Isle of Palms, South Carolina, 1989
Two beige stripes in a white field. What is postmodern about color
is the way American artists have stripped it from the flag. Properly treated
the chemical byproducts of this adventure
poison all the relentlessly banal small towns of America
but this is not new. No one cares. A modernist aesthetic would keep this space vacant.
A postmodern aesthetic would worship the vacancy
but Vermeer's Girl Writing a Letter will have none of that, she has achieved
an ontologically independent position.
Meanwhile this poem has crossed the Cooper River bridge.
This poem knows the Cooper River bridge should be avoided
but also that any aerial vantage lends a charming omnipotency to God.
None of this poem's photographs were taken from the air.
This was an act of faith, affirmation of the divine.
This photograph answers two beige stripes in a white field
with one rose stripe in a blue. This photograph is pleased with the correspondence.
Every poem is still searching for the human. This poem has arrived.