A Separate Logic

A Separate Logic

A Separate Logic

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Aug. 21 1996 3:30 AM

A Separate Logic

To hear A Separate Logic read by the poet, click or on the title.

All he had to know was that the rails

went one way and the highway went another

and that there was a separate logic, something

he didn't have to understand; the lakes

anyhow kept him busy and straining to hear

the French in front of him. General Motors,

he tried to explain, destroyed the beds, but they

were only interested in the foliage. One thing

he learned about the Swiss, they ate all morning

and talked without a letup, and they liked

our lakes as much as theirs. Sometimes the rails

followed the road, or vice-versa, horses

versus horses; where he sat the sun

shone behind the trees, he caught the trunks

and most of the branches; he was at peace because

he could hate the corporations and still

adore the leaves; he learned to do that in Pittsburgh,

studying Frick then walking through the woods

and loving the hills and looking down, nothing

gave him greater pleasure, finding a marble

hoof, for example, or a sea shell, in some

remote Pennsylvania park, or in a factory

given over to profit to see a doorknob

made, as it were, in Crete, or China. He crushed

his cup in the netting as they moved over

water, "he was at sea," he said to the Swiss

and he explained how "money talked" just as they

climbed through another woods. He was hoping

a small leaf would stick to the window, something

red, with a pear to match, a Bartlett; pears

and apples made him sleep. There was one bridge

diagonally under another, they were flying

into and through each other; there were two leaves,

one on top of the other and it was raining.

Gerald Stern's latest collection of poems is called Odd Mercy.