Life, friends, is so much chump-change,

          dreamy fantasy, mirage.

A boy sings (I sang)

          at the Polish-American Club

and the whole Polish Army (because I say so)

          broke in

with outrageous applause.



Eater of Darkness


In this dream, a lovely woman 

asked if I weren't tired of darkness.


'God yes, but I serve as a darkness eater,

nourished by meals I never requested,


offered the same sort of bitter bread

that God served to rabbis Judas and Peter.'


Or so I confessed, vowing not to conceal

my sorry, persistent turn toward the dark,


not claiming I dined on peaches and cream,

or faking the fate of a luckier man


soaring toward heaven like Shakespeare's lark,

dreaming a diamond's dream.





Let's admire the home-settlers,

how they floss twice daily,

live happily ever after.


And speaking of those to admire,

there's this one dazzled guy in my poetry class

amid 13 high-hearted maidens.


Okay to love the ardent young?

(girl with missing fur cuff on one sleeve,

may I glance at her with a gaze of awe?)


Roshi's answer: 

'Do no harm.

In fact, do good.' How foolish it seems,


much of life,

scatter-brained, coarse and brainless.

How precious, acts of sweetness.


Barry Spacks has taught writing and literature for many years at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara). He’s published individual poems widely, plus stories, two novels, eleven poetry collections, and three CDs of selected work. His first novel The Sophomore has just been brought back into print in the Faber and Faber Finds series. His most recent poetry collection (Cherry Grove, 2012) presents a selection from ten years of e-mail exchanges with his friend Lawrence E Leone. It's called A Bounty Of 84s (the 84 being a stanza limited exactly to 84 characters, echoing the traditional notion that the Buddha left us 84,000 different teachings because humans have so many different needs, are all of them so differently the same).

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