Does the café table bear the fingerprints
Of Victor, his transmuted fires gone,
And one more vodka on the waiter’s tray?
The trees here smell of zinc. The setting sun
Is dragging its copyright down the sky—
I’m at the bay where nothing ever happens.

And nothing brings back Sally. Nothing can.
Her second marriage doomed, that Indian giver,
Hope, took back the few small crumbs he gave her.
Dissolving Nembutal in gin, she swilled
The whole concoction down from a cocktail shaker….
Even forms of suicide go out of fashion.

Nikos? Who knows where former Greek gods go.
Into a pantheon out in the Hamptons?
When last seen, he was cadging drinks
At a tourist joint in Maine, then moved from there,
Became a bartender, and then a bar,
Drinking his way from harbor to harbor.

Leslie, if you should rise up from the deep,
Like a diver reversed in a sped-up movie,
Tell me, why did you leave us all for M.
And die beside him in a leaky cruiser
In foul-weather gear in Great South Bay
With a storm coming up, you the best sailor

The boatyard and the Coast Guard ever knew?
Maybe some wise bird passing over
In instinct’s annual fall migration
Can fill in all the stories, give them meaning,
Send us a clue or sign we’ll understand,
Fall in the leaves, the sky cold blue.

This Issue

April 14, 1983