Three Poems

Hayden Carruth

Small Ode

Ah, the spirea hedge in the new snow. Once
it was chic and suave, but now
I haven’t trimmed it for three years. The branches
are tall, spiky, tangled, white,
like the agëd maenad’s frightful coif or Lear’s
beard in the storm. Thus it tells
everyone who passes by that here lives the
crazy man who is too old.

Fanfare for the Common Man, No. 2
(Hommage à Aaron Copland)

And here he lies, here at our feet, as usual.
See his black brows still glowering. See
His maggots, his flies. See his tears still
Limpid in his paralyzed eyes. Oh, see, oh,
See how his blood issues slowly on the ground.
And now look up into the strange gray face
Bending to you on the screen, gray and peculiarly
Fractured, crackled and crazed, unidentifiable
As the progeny of any family of man—
Ah, look at the knowledge there of having
Seen this man and then signed the document
Which contrived this death that reverberates
Now in every day and hour across the world.
Let the muted trumpet sound, and let it
Die in the smoky air
Forevermore . . .

On Being Marginalized

That’s what the lady said. Said it right
Out, loud and clear. Said, “You’ve been mar-
Ginalized.” Well, thanks. “It’s too bad,”
She said. Oh, you bet your freakin’ elbow
It’s too bad. And what’s that I hear behind
My head? Palm fronds creaking? Is this
Friday’s footprint? A sad castaway is what
I am, looking everywhere for a bottle, not
The one with a message, but the one with a
Nice drink of cyanide. Here’s to you, lady.
So long. And may you choke on that martini.