Siebenundvierzig. What’s that to me.
Tabor for sackbut and panic for joy.
When that I was and a tiny little boy,—
Spare me your sparrow’s tears.
Siebenundvierzig. Reel in the years.
The floor, the ceiling, the window, the wall.
The relatives willingly promise you all
That the cat leaves in the malt heap.
Siebenundvierzig. Losing some sleep.
Sisal and this’ll suffice for a rope.
Osprey drops into Seattle, comes up
With a fish in its fish-hook feet.
Siebenundvierzig. Here’s your receipt,
Mediocrity, self-satisfaction, and vehemence.
This is that mind-reading, I’m-sicking-demons-
On-my-enemies style of Buddhism.
Siebenundvierzig. Me and the moon,
We’re gonna patch up our differences soon.
A Voice from the Unfathomable said with a boom:
Agree, for the law is costly.
Siebenundvierzig. Eagle and osprey.
Foot on an infant is soft as an eyelid.
Never been walked on, just like the Island
Of Strawberry Happiness Buddhism.
Siebenundvierzig. Not in the mood.
Rolling the canvas and cracking the frame.
Each of us earning her portion of shame,
So we can all lie awake in our graves.
Siebenundvierzig. Riding the waves.
My co-pay is fifty fadom deep.
I wish it were true that the best is best cheap,
But the best is better expensive.
Siebenundvierzig. Labor intensive.
Parts and labor and places to put.
Long were the days when we misunderstood
The hollow authority of the hot.
Siebenundvierzig. Ready or not,
The back is bad but the brain is good.
Many’s the thing that we misunderstood,
Respecting beauty’s prerogatives.
Siebenundvierzig. Cognitive dissonance.
Nearer the church is the farther from God.
The interns and residents all thought it odd,
So they stood in a circle and gaped.
Siebenundvierzig. Scissors and tape.
The wings on a box will abut on a nerve.
It’s something you somehow don’t have to deserve:
Home—where sorry isn’t good enough.
Siebenundvierzig. Sergei Rachmaninov.
Osprey’s nest is the size of a car.
These artists can always be trusted to carve
Large thongs of another man’s leather.
Siebenundvierzig. They don’t know whether
To punish, admonish, or poke with a prong.
Protagonists never do anything wrong:
They can only ever be thwarted.
Siebenundvierzig. Mission aborted.
Like lacing a boot with a heavy-gauge wire.
Wishy, good-deed-doing Buddhism, prior
To the second half of the Tang Dynasty.
Siebenundvierzig. Canceled autonomy.
Sculpsit and pinxit and mashed into metal.
Not for your nose is the velvety petal
That’s left when you pop a balloon.
Siebenundvierzig. Fifty years old!
And the lines of perspective are due to close up.
The Buddha receding and, time enough,
The lines close on your neck.
Anthony Madrid lives in Victoria, Texas. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2013, Boston Review, Fence, Harvard Review, Lana Turner, LIT, and Poetry. His new book, just out this month, is called Try Never (Canarium Books, 2017).
Photo by Geoff McHugh