Proverbs; The Song of Songs

1. There is a man weeping as he sits by a roulette table, in Atlantic City: he has lost everything, he is ruined.

2. Another weeps as, yet again, the mailman drives by without stopping.

3. In a suburb outside Middletown tears of despair moisten a long-unlaundered pillowcase at 3 a.m.

4. These men are fortune’s fools who baselessly believed luck would favor them always because they had been lucky once.

5. They shall turn to their comforters and find no comfort. Their dinners are take-out, their wives live in distant cities.

6. I say to them: stop bellyaching. Mow your lawns. Rejoice in the music of Beethoven, and brush your teeth.

7. Behold a procession of women approaches. They are old but their faces are bright with makeup. They do not complain of arthritis or their children’s neglect.

8. Here is a widow who paints landscapes and clowns. How chipper she is, how full of wisdom.

9. Here is her sister Judith. Four hours every day she speaks with strangers on the phone about their asphalt driveways, and never repines.

10. This woman’s house is spotless. She breakfasts on her own preserves. Her hands are always busy.

11. How long the days are in July, how much there is still be done.

12. Do not grieve, therefore, for resorts that stand empty in the Catskills, where once were multitudes; nor for the rivers where no bass strike; nor yet for the small town’s only five-and-dime, burned to the ground.

13. What though there is not money for a wider drive: do not, each spring, the irises return?

14. The deer and the crow delight beneath the apple tree; the wise man sits by his TV and drowses, and the mouse is warm in the crawlspace.

15. Why, therefore, sorrow? A millennium draws to an end, but shall not another replace it?

16. Look on this book, a bestseller long ago, and just today purchased for two dollars at the Methodists’ Book Bazaar.

17. There is no death but only continuance; if not for those who have passed away, at least for all the rest of us.

18. The nonagenarian in the nursing home has heard the Nightly News, but her sleep is undisturbed.

19. The downsized trucker drinks his fill, and the chronically depressed waitress grows fat.

20. Above them all are the stars, beyond summary or comprehension; beyond all sorrow equally: unthinkable their distance from us.

21. And yet, how wonderful to think, it is those stars, so far away, that are the source of all our luck.

22. Let the wise heed these counsels, and let the ignorant live in their ignorance still. Selah.
The Song of Songs

1. Do the roots of the rose understand the hungers bee? Will its petals, remembering, blush?

2. The virgin violated in her dreams, the dying Diaghilev, ardent seminarian, the D.I. naked in her tent: Can any understand the madness of desire?

3. In the steam bath of summer, beside winter’s hearth, has the flesh any wish but some further warmth?

4. Come, beloved, let our tongues engage. Let them announce our secret names. 5. Here Egypt lies, and all her crocodiles; the Nile, its slime—and Isis smiles.

5. In the brothel of the circus, the haven of the church, who is there who can resist? The hands of the acrobat grasp ankles of the priest, and they kiss.

6. Someone awaits me in destiny’s dark motel. I come, beloved, for I have no choice.

7. As the mantis lavishes his life, as the ocean spends itself upon the cliffs, just so, beloved, so helplessly, this bliss.

8. We two are everywhere we look. We are multiplied. We are sown and reaped.

9. Is there escape in sleep? None; for when we awake, desire awakens with us.

10. Love is a burning fire. We are Ixions, fixed. The spinning never ceases; or, if it stops a little while, there, in the morning, is the Nile.

11. Rest! rest! But she may not. The sun has grasped her wrists. How splendidly she somersaults toward the aerialist.

12. We are that duo in the air, beloved: all metaphors that ever linked, all elements, all bonds, all broken boundaries.

13. I know you now: you are a goddess. Possess me! caress me: I am Adonis, ready to die at thy decree. Kiss me. Kill me. Set me free.