The Sensible Present Has Duration

The Sensible Present Has Duration

The Sensible Present Has Duration

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Dec. 15 1999 3:30 AM

The Sensible Present Has Duration

O blistering cabinet

*

O mahogany, O birch pipes,
pipe rack, hardcover

books--The Last Convertible, Trinity,
The Royal Wedding,

Biography of Patton.
Railroad spike inscribed

On your thirtieth year
as a soldier, from the 73rd
.

Mail-order crest, name etched
in "runic" script.

O photograph

*

swollen
by false cures,

my uncle, age nine, no more
appointments, strawberry-sized

tumors dotting his spine,
O icicle, formed for dissolution,

"pride" or portent. Military olive.
Tuque, wool surrogate.

Lilac, every tree alike,
What name but alabaster.

O window

*

outside, my grandfather wheeling
a pesticide tank

from tree to tree, spraying everything
with thick, white foam,

bark, leaf, apple flesh,
salting the garden

with handfuls of red sand, dissolving
aphid, Japanese beetle, horned tomato worm

as thick as rope. Gone in an instant,
emerging

from his fiberglass outbuilding shed, helving
an axe, bright blade, pine handle,

to eliminate a dwarf orange weakened
by nesting beetles.

O ordinary axe

*

lilac, uncle, window, cabinet,
lost, not lost, mere home

I merely left, look away
made elegy: a book's

fifth edition, its
yellow cover, not the available red--

instruction manual
for an old-world,

Beta VCR, The Way
split by a nylon dividing ribbon.

*

An out-of-print book.

A remainder.

Dan Chiasson's poems appear in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Threepenny Review, and elsewhere.