Edmund Berrigan

“Smith Going Backward” – Steve Carey

flame that glows in my pocket, where I go, I go.
to keep loving you, I grant this to myself, tiny little
something I suppose. Another door closed. I’m allowed
objects because I dig representation. I’ll keep
pageant methodically, a catalogue flow, sentimental
I float in my home, formerly ours, I lessen its
weight, be patient for the right bright thought
searched by the police. Into exile I go, & go nowhere
who cares, my pain, just pity, subject to random stance
though I chose a sulking existence, a choice,
I had one apparently, but did not know, I have to
let you go, but I don’t want to, not that I have.

A Simple Kindness

It’s easy to turn away, I do it multiple times
from wake to sleep, and 6 or 7 times in sleep
last night; this morning, curled on my little ledge,
spread myself across, then curled back. Someone
was freed today, a thee, in the news, many more
were imprisoned, unknown. This one was considered
harsh and cruel, while dreams decried the freedom
from chairs. Me, I worked today, swore at the public
in a playful way. I gave change to no one but the vending
machine & the nice man who served me coffee. “Thank you,”
he said. I sat and wrote this. “I like your socks,” said the lady
next to me. They are red with blue ends, covered with grey
images of sumo wrestlers. “I just got back from Tokyo,’ she said.


“One Unnatural Day”  -- Ted Berrigan

Because it takes a toll, but I am one who can
do this, and I have, and once you’ve done a thing, it can
diminish other’s belief in your ability to other. I can
understand that, I have felt it myself. but I have also
sworn to “other,” and to “old,” and to “be,” so I resist
the characterization, the clinging to pointed definition.
I painted walls and garage doors once, and at most
it was like an adverb sustaining for a small spider
landing on a page and blowing away. That’s why love
is so hard to feel, why you can’t see the tunnel
when you’re in it. Eaves of selves receding
and returning when you cut your hair, change your
clothes, or shock your life. I’d love it to be new,
but all I can do is return to old selves
at new times, and let rotation, age, clarity
and compassion make some combination
of the “me” that peers through these eyes feel
a tranquil ambition that makes me want to continue
even though the pain of that definition provides
such a diminishing role for the “you.”

Edmund Berrigan is the author of two books of poetry, Disarming Matter (Owl Press, 1999) and Glad Stone Children (Farfalla, 2008), and a memoir, Can It! (Letter Machine Editions, 2013). He is editor of the Selected Poems of Steve Carey (Sub Press, 2009), and is co-editor with Anselm Berrigan and Alice Notley of the Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan (University of California, 2005) and the Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan (University of California, 2010).  He records and performs music as I Feel Tractor, and lives in Brooklyn.