Winter 2013 - THE POTOMAC

Three Wallace Stevens Poems

   Alan Catlin

Wallace Stevens in Mexico

Watching the sun set between the lips
of the volcano, ordering a Texas Prairie Fire
on the veranda of the Hotel Camino Real,
sipping Juan Hernandez over ice: "El
Norteamericano loco, crazy," the service
people say, observing the poet, lost in time,
scribbling hieroglyphs for hours, letters
on the backs of post card packets he unfolds
accordion style on the table, building a
maze of images and words, a complete enclosed
universe of his own the waitress penetrates,
delivering a prairie fire; he meditates,
watching as the Tabasco sauce descends
through the textured layers of tequila like
an eye droplet of blood in a saline solution,
considering the next move, the final step,
the fate of the mental nomads trapped within
the maze.


Wallace Stevens in Nueva York

Reciting Howl from Central Park benches,
after dark, watching the shopping bag ladies
kneel down in the bushes to pee, metal
carts laden with burlap bags containing
a lifetime of saving used clothing, tin
cans, cracked compact mirrors, nicotine
stained filters; watching the humped back
men in the Park clinging to cast iron
shadows dreaming of standing upright
in a bar chasing straight gin with vermouth,
disregarding hansom cabs outside A Tavern on the Green;
watching slow dancing ladies meeting their
necessary Man, skate board acrobats transforming
the night into uptown express trains beyond
the Bronx, milk train rides that end inside
stone cold, closed forever, tenement walls.


Wallace Stevens in Brazil

Incognito, tracing seven sand pillars
of wisdom in his mind, watching sea
birds circling the beach regarding the
white sails of the four masted ship,
composing endless variations of a baroque
theme by Bach: old New England ladies, hair
tied back inside black nets, knitting scarves
and mittens for the unborn children, whispering
of the dead that have invaded New Haven,
rising from the sea, removing snorkel masks,
holding mechanically triggered spear guns,
wet black rubber webbed feet floundering
on the sand; the dozing poet's eyes closing
behind silver lenses, sunglasses, nodding
over verse: “Dancing on the Grave of a Son of
a Bitch”, feeling the point of a spear
in his spine as he falls forward, his eyes
pressed against glass.

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