Blue Two-Lobed Peanut M & M
You’ve come out all awry, wee thing--
Head nesting-doll-like, podding from
Your body, half askew. How come?
How is it that you couldn’t bring
Yourself to see the light—to see
Things whole—and so be wholly formed
To see things through? How could it be
Your sweet thin shell of sugar, warmed
By hand and promised not to melt,
Melts me? Peanut, you’ve been made blue
By nothing I have done, who felt
Your shell that failed to close up whole,
And left its chocolate to gape
A bit, to show the tender soul
Inside. That you’re mis-shaped, it’s true,
Small harmless monster, but you’ll do.
And think of what you shall escape:
You shall be served by not being served.
I cradle you. You are preserved.
Blossoms for Ruth
Dappling the deck, the brown mulch, and the lawn,
White blossoms everywhere had fallen down,
With blood-bright lines of scarlet threaded on
Each petal of each flower’s fallen crown.
What autumn sight was this, now late in May,
When blooms descend like leaves and not like blooms?
Strewn randomly yet evenly, they lay,
As if to mark a multitude of tombs--
Pale, uniform arrangements for the souls
We know that we shall follow, by and by,
Changing our pleasant places for such holes
As earth shall fill and in which we shall lie.
But there’ll be time for thoughts like these come fall.
For now, I only know enough to count
Myself a lucky man who can’t count all
These blossoms settling as their losses mount.
Rather, I mean to work with fitting speed,
Gathering this early blessing in disguise,
A crystal bowl of water all I’ll need--
And Ruth, to see it brimming with surprise.
Boston Subway Ramp, 6 A.M.
Discalced, the slipper—hunched and bare and grey--
Took its dominion of the corridor
Deserted but for me. A foot or more
Across, it held its own; it claimed the floor
Of stone. It was the one and only one.
Slip-stepping on, I recognized a nose,
And froze, six feet from where this footwear froze.
Buried beneath the city’s public park,
Tail questioning, it crouched down on its mark,
Dead set and ready for some starter’s gun.
Why should it want to lap the shoddy day
Up with a bloated tongue where it had lain?
I gave the thing a wide berth, passed the bane
That it had not. There was a race to run.
Len Krisak's most recent book is Virgil's Eclogues (U. of Pennsylvania Press). His complete Odes of Horace was published by Carcanet, and his Even as We Speak (U. of Evansville Press) won the Richard Wilbur Prize. His work appears in the Antioch, Hudson, Sewanee, and PN Reviews, and he is a four-time champion on Jeopardy!