White-Throated Sparrow


Augustine may of course be right

    (As in so many things) to state

That we know principally through sight,

    Which sense the others emulate.


And yet this rash autumnal glow

    That so inflames the city trees

Might seem at most a facile show

    Put on by Public Works to please,


And not a sign the year makes haste

    To spend itself into the void

By way of mere display of waste

    In foliage prodigally deployed.


It might seem so—had I not heard,

    Walking to work, first one clear tone,

Then three tones, up a minor third.

    I knew that voice as if my own:


That statement made with little stir,

    That miniature heroic air,

So redolent of balsam fir

    It seemed the very North was there.

               July in the City

At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.”


Lost in a pavement maze,

An unfamiliar street:

Behind the steering wheel

Grown slippery with sweat,


Beneath the luminous heat

Of Somerville at night,

Where not a single star

Impinges on the haze,


I navigate by sight

Of lunar rising, feel

The arc of angle through

That distant disk of light


And glimpses of a blue

Fair-weather beacon, far

Across the city, set

               Atop a tower of steel.

Another Dream-Pang

In sleep I cycled down

A narrow graveled road

An easy couple of miles

Out from the nearest town

To where a farmer’s stand

On laid-out trestles showed

The season’s fruit in piles.

I stopped to purchase some

And hefted in my hand

One specimen of each—

One darkly shining plum,

One fragrant russet pear,

One tender velvet peach.

I gave the girl a ten—

She couldn’t break the bill,

And so she promptly went

To resupply the till.

She never reappeared,

But left me standing there

Holding the fruit that then

Was only mine in part.

Prey to a waxing, weird,

Uncanny bafflement,

I waited thus until

The clock’s insistent buzz

Wakened me with a start—

Awake enough to see

How little hope there was

That I would taste that fruit,

But not enough to be

Unburdened of the strange

Vexation that, to boot,

I’d never get my change.