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Poets of the Monterey Bay

Four Poems by Ken Weisner

The Accompanist
           For Kit

She’s right with you in any time;
you feel her give
at the moment you come in,
or pull back when she knows you’ll take it slow,

or phrase-in an echo of your line. And always—
like soft foliage beneath the bloom,
or the birds that fly in, fly out before
the storm, or the ticking and creaking

of the house where you were born,
or the rain that settles in and soothes you
with its sound—the hands that work
your tired back—a place that surrounds you loves you today,

and is determined to grace
the swell of your song,
and you thank her for her shoulders and her arms
that dip and sway, and her eye that flashes touch…

and her fingers that are so
brilliant, each itself an earnest musician,
running like a sprite to charm the wood where
you run, the branch where you sing.

I Recently Slept for Eighteen Hours

I recently slept for eighteen of the past twenty-four hours. It felt good! Oh, it felt better than good. How important our dreams are! How important it is to sleep!

First, I went to bed at seven a.m. I was tired! I had been awake all night. At two in the afternoon, I awoke.

After breakfast (it was four o’clock) I felt wonderful. I relaxed for a while, and read from a novel. I read so slowly! I read twenty pages an hour. At that rate it will take me thirty-five hours to read the book! five working days! I used to think it would be good to read faster. But, I have changed my mind! I remember things from that book, meaningless details, that others certainly passed over. Another victory!

At seven, I became thirsty and went to the icebox. It was full of bread and beer. I had beer, which made me satisfied. But also tired! Quite tired! I strolled from the easy chair to the bedroom. This took a short time.

And without removing my clothes, within moments, I was asleep! Asleep, dreaming, dreaming, unconscious, lying in my bed beneath the quilts warm and asleep. This is an important feeling. This is certainly a marvelous feeling.

At eleven o’clock, when the phone rang, I stumbled to the phone, foolishly, out of reflex. It was a boring friend! It was one of my boring friends calling to bother me! I held the telephone down at my side and dozed while he spoke. It was nice to doze! It felt marvelous. It was a good moment of “twilight sleep,” one I’ll never forget. And when I heard the buzz of his voice die off in the distance, I thought of my bed, my beautiful bed with its warm quilts, and this time removing my clothes, I went to it, went to it to sleep some more, to sleep until tomorrow, through the morning, to sleep until afternoon!



It’s sad to work at night
in the office with the light burning
but looking out at the dark,

each paper another path
into a wild country
where there are no companions;

if I pick mangos, I pick them alone
for someone else and am usually left
with not even a photocopied

mango, just the memory or description
of mangos, an entry on tropical fruit.
“Comments,” we call them, we readers

of the graveyard shift.
This obscurest of graffitis,
these loving epitaphs,

this encouragement
longing like the Tibetan Book of the Dead
to liven things up—you know,

there really is no decent background music
for reading papers—
This one in front of me,

thirtieth in a stack of thirty-six,
suggests Chopin’s funeral march,
or something dreadful by Delius.

Look. I really don’t mean it.
There’s a wonderful voice
somewhere in this jungle,

this Brazil of prose….
Marginalia! my machete,
my princess,

samba me into the dark heart,
show me the skill and patience
of monks

who copied Bibles,
decorated, gilded painstakingly
in the dim light

of monasteries
the Word, while Gregorian chant
floated up to them

where they stood, hunched over tomes….
Yes, we are privileged
in our work.

I know—Miles.
If those monks had had “Sketches of Spain”
they couldn’t have helped but to enjoy

the change of pace. This is fine
for awhile. But it ends,
as it always will,

with just you, my love,
and I, scratching away earnestly…
while the cat preens, then dozes

at the kitchen table
through the lovely quiet
of the dead of night.

Vivaldi’s Sposa son disprezzata
           “il mio sposo, il mio amor, la mia speranza.”

In this song about a faithful wife
betrayed (che feci mai—what did I do),
I was astonished at how
the spare single verse and brief refrain
made one particular word
take flight within its vowel: sper-ahhhh-nza.

It flew!
In a six minute song, on the warm
current of grief, the soprano
soared again and again
a full thirty seconds
just on the updraft
of that one vowel,

as if the meaning of the song weren’t grief at all,
but rather the possibility of
hope—in a vowel!
as if singing
were making—naming
her grief.

She was too good for him.
How freely and completely
she flew! Over and over,
veiled, yet soaring—
Bartoli, the interpreter,
for as long as her breath would hold.

Copyright 2002