Frederick Pollack


The sun is a great neurotic.

It regrets that, when its time comes,

it will be unable to go nova

and rise for months in someone else’s day.

It could not, however, abide

a white dwarf

companion sucking its substance, which novas require;

and is reconciled, barely, to becoming

a red giant, absorbing

at least some inner planets.  Then what?

The option of being a black hole –

that spectacular collapse;

outliving everyone, though negatively –

attracts, yet is barred to it.  So, a white dwarf

itself; in the fullness of time,

perhaps, a black one –

still envious (of neutron stars, etc.),

until the final chill.

The spots, the flares, the magnetic storms are signs

of the sun’s petulance,

like the amber borders of the leaves,

the khaki grass this summer, the sense

of a wordless demand for love, evaded, mocked.

The Liberal

They settle in.  Testosterone

and an obvious need for decision

as to who gets top bunk, top spot

in rapes, main share of the food, etc.,

reciprocally cause each other.  Plus

ideology: Aryan Christian types,

more common-or-garden

bigots, and other believers contend

for corporate spokesmanship.  The few

real corporate figures who weren’t

sufficiently faceless to escape

my dragnet try to act

like regular, prayerful, duckhunting guys,

but learn that distance is the price of love.

(In another block, the women

find their own ways to hierarchalize.)

The room, initially clean enough,

soon smells the way these places do.

When I allow a meeting,

manifesting myself

on an indestructible screen high in the wall

as a rigid golden figure like an Oscar,

they get it together, proving

the ultimate necessity of reason.

They elect a charismatic or Opus Dei

Father to follow my directions through

the wall, to my universe.  When his

anathemas, prayers, impotent

violence are exhausted he remarks

that I’m as much a prisoner as they;

that unless perfect love casts out fear

there is no end short of eternity.

I tell him to preach this to his flock.

Predictably he won’t accept the point;

sees only power and a loathsome pity

sculpted into a stylized golden man.

So through that monitor the inside

of the mind like a warden watches

the outside pace and hate;

and cannot look away, and broadcasts

Tolerance and Rights and Science,

the whole dispirited reflex rosary,

to no avail.  I think my charges, clients,

(masters perhaps?) are worthless

because they doubt these things;

they know I think this of them

and therefore despise me and will never

listen to anything I say, and are therefore

worthless.  The mind holds them

the way a captive is held

one doesn’t know what to do with

but can’t allow to roam unsupervised

(which is why anyone is kept in hell

or, really, any of the nearer places).

Frederick Pollack © 2012

The Forest

It often happens that the parents

of schizophrenics, when they have been robbed

too often, or (as it happens) terrorized

in their own house for hours, beaten

(or at least weakly, almost absently

punched), and the words

the schizophrenic says about them, desperate, heated,

yet banal and capricious, have drawn tears

too often, change.  Change locks, obtain

a restraining order, tell the schizophrenic

they cannot help him any more,

not to come by, they love him; then change

their phone number.  And the schizophrenic

comes by, pounds on the door, is arrested

and spends perhaps three nights, before

he’s released, in a verminous

uncrowded place where many schizophrenics

once lived, then were released

to beautiful clean halfway houses

that were never built but existed

integrally in dreams.  And the parents,

as previously noted, change:

their faces become still, their affect flat,

empirical when they describe

the treatment they received and the schizophrenic

received, or didn’t.  The death of a child

often separates parents, but this

overarching, effectively nameless

stratum of things, which aspires

to the ubiquity and necessity

of death, creates a defensive bond.  And one

or both of them will think

(as if to stay in touch) of the schizophrenic

out there somewhere, lousy, hurt

or dead (which is a way of being

hurt), and may still wonder what

he perceives.  In Sarban’s novel,

at the trees’ edge a Chief Forester smiles

terribly as his guards attach

fur to the bound limbs, horns

to the head of a prisoner.  Hunters

watch, but tonight will only carouse.  And the Chief Forester

strikes off the bonds and cries,

Thy lust is to be free?  So shalt thou be!

Free of the Forest!

Frederick Pollack © 2012