Thanksgiving Day, and Lowell's Birthday

                       This is the day set aside
for public harvest’s
                       giving back of all the energies of devotion
for an instant equal
to the energies gathered
of earth’s sustenance given
                                                     or what was attended
watching the slow shift of season
knowledge    thankful for to have gathered
before the shift — not so slow and more like a
sudden awareness come on too late —
                                                                       before cold winter
for a day to play the ant for the grasshopper, all in each of us
and together
                            Today I would fast or at most
just eat what is in the house without going out:
brown rice and vegetables, wine
                            repealing the urge to stuffing
everywhere around me
                                               people for days in the markets
loading up their carts
to surfeit this day —
                                       keep not by thanks away
                                       but quantity of food
          cold?    our cold?    I do not know
what we eat and drink so much to keep away, or shift from
possession to possession to keep attendance from
but a feared vacuity
never filled
It is all sunlight today, and clarity
of air and leaf sound and the slightest movement
in the trees toward the bay —
                                                        an attitude of reaching out
to learn,
                 what for
to be thankful for
                                       a feeling in the words
that we are not lost to them
Reflections in reflections
red gingham curtains
at the windows next door show
my windows back
                                      my mirror in the corner of the pane
shows myself
                           (a photograph)
and David Sandberg
                                      on a postcard
along the wall
taste on top of taste
a natural residue of uneasiness in the mouth
a thickening in the mucous membrane
crackers and hard brown Mexican sugar
                                  cracked with a hammer
and red wine
                             Would I be thankful for
the thankfulness?
                                     it asks me now
I had thought earlier, sitting on the porch
before I began to write,
                                                what accumulations
of attentions I have as harvest today,
                                                                         swells of my bodily pulsings
I am aware of, enjoy, go past
awareness of, am frightened by
of a bursting of the arteries and veins
into the stars?
                           Kelly read once
circulatory problems from my natal chart
he cast —
In the book I am reading
Don Juan, the Yaqui
Man of Knowledge
says there are four natural enemies the man of knowledge
must challenge and defeat
to be a man of knowledge:
                                                    old age (which no one defeats
                                                                     but only drives away
                                                                                                           for a time
The smell of roast beef
swirls in from the backyard,
                                                    of Sunday afternoons as a child
and this autumn clarity
                                           not Thanksgiving’s cooking
And old thankfulness
and Ford Maddox Ford thought memory
was genius,
                        or said it was, in his own
elephantine luggage
I cannot predict
the moments of the shifts
playfulness, fear (that taste
in mouth, as if an ever edge
to counter on, speed up on, counter
clarity (have I ever had
long enough
                          — or power,
to fear?
                 but either take
only one moment of to know
(come again and again,
                                              dark and light
at the beat and rest of heart
and old age, a
                   in quickness and
                   in willingness
the leap up of the red red cactus spine
into the sunlight
                                 lit edge lines as of snake skin
                                 or the penis
all this trembling on the edge of expectation
all the imagined necessary qualifications
                            for whom?
reading the writing showing through from the other side of this page
black backwards into a purply dark against the green
                                       to stretch
                            or play along,
                                                     find them
                            no fear in that
                            feeling the weight
                            in the words
and the green of the wine bottle and of the reflection
from my shirt —
                                 carrying the weight of
all their differences
in a word, green?
puts me to the test to continue
and not rise up in irritation and anger with myself
“they’re not the same, how can you use one word for both!”
but I have, all the waves
knocking, lapping
as precisely of years
(not just remembered)
caught in the shell
rings (another cactus spine
                                                  at the edge of the light
“all the imagined necessary qualifications(”)
                           for whom?(”)
(where would I put the quotes, to show
                 if the question be put anew —
                                             just to show you!)
for that laughter at myself!    (the mark of  '
and  .   to change the question
to an affirmation —
                                            for, be fore it)
the kids next door are playing basketball
with an old, almost furry basketball, letting
a new one lie by unused except to
know down snagged baskets
                                                       I laughed at them
(they were laughing, too, in mock
disgust at the ball caught in the net)
out my arms in an embrace
to the walnut tree
                                  laughed at myself, feeling the joy
of going downstairs to pee
                                                  (off the porch, the color of leaves)
                        for the strength to endure
                        the uncertainties
This is a calm afternoon, so quiet
all the movements in the yard, and trees,
cars going past, and the music on the phonograph
can be heard
Berkeley, California, 1614½A Russell, 28 Nov 1968,
Thursday, 3:49 by my watch —
                                                           in which
the edges of the day would otherwise be
as nervous as the streets are
playing with them
hearing Mozart all afternoon playing
coming to a calm in the midst of
impending violence
                                      (unknown until the violence comes
which of the rises in me
will rise farthest
                                                        (or first, and then no other chance
                                                          to catch
And for Lowell’s birthday
                                                (thank fullness,
that there is more I have not said
(and that bothers me — what did I mean —
                disclosure or hiding?
                                                            for our own disclosure and hiding
with ourselves
                                  the different taste of saliva
never the same
All this poem
                            for your birthday
— 28 Nov 68 [Berkeley, CA]