The hedges are trimmed and the grass
mown; all is green and flat around
the concrete pedestal; myrtle
and violets flourish beneath
the magnolia and pines. The bathroom
tiles gleam; the desk is dust-free,
the kitchen counters spotless as the
bamboo floor, the Shiraz rug, your
lungs and conscience. You’ve exercised,
sweated, showered, and nobody’s
phoned to raise alarms. Well-being
suffuses the summer afternoon
which is silent, blue. You’re half through
Conrad’s Rover; Les Enfants du
Paradis waits for nightfall on
a silver disk. You recall Brahms’s
Second Serenade in your ears
as you biked beside a pasture,
three horses, how she used to smile.
Regret’s been crammed into a drawer.
Sparrows and butterflies rejoice.
Your work’s gone well; one hour after
dinner should suffice to finish.
Because nothing is wrong, time stops.
Credit Default Swaps: A Ditty
People’s eyes look different;
knees and chins aren’t quite the same.
On the subway there’s the scent
of brutality, lust, and blame.
Out-of work engineers eat
hard cheese, stale peanut butter.
Staggered by the price of meat
the pink-slipped teachers mutter.
The young deny all that they can,
dancing in a din gone manic.
Their souls are bright, their skins are tan,
but their frenzy betrays panic.
The vacant house, a dream in lath,
the dandelion lawn grown rank,
boarded windows and the birdbath—
All are owned by a shaky bank.
In July, cinder-blocks swelter
beneath a hot, insolvent sun.
There’s coughing in the crammed shelter
where children sprawl and nothing’s fun.
Complexity got drunk with greed;
their revels lasted days and days.
But champagne bubbles aren’t seed,
And the piper never minds who pays.
You still can drown though you’re a fish;
ambition gasps when hopes are curbed.
Yet the respiration of the rich
proceeds, enviably undisturbed.
Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play; his recent novel, Zublinka Among Women, won the Indie Book Awards First Prize for Fiction.