1.

This ought to be in Russian
Cyrillic and emotional!
Like “The Poems of Yuri Zhivago”
Almost (I confess) incomprehensible
In translation—or perhaps
I lack a certain indispensable
Simplicity?

It must be symptomatic of my malaise
That right away I see fit to
Mention an anxiety, as though chagrined
At not really feeling one...

O Optimism, American Jupiter‚ I
Have sinned against you
Incessantly!

I don’t suppose (here I go again!) that in
This life, in this world, these times.
It is really possible
To be free of false feelings
Or not to feel indebted to them
For their miracles of Politics
And the Movies

Is that clear?
All I mean is that being
Here, in the mess of my own and
Everybody else’s contradictions.
Is almost unbearable!

2.

One must maintain one’s “natural reticence”
To avoid feeling terrible later

But then one always does feel terrible later
Even after doing something terribly
Noble one never knows it until years afterwards!
And by then, well, “I am not that person”

One is in fact continuously ceasing to be "that person"
In favor of something anterior
That might be, but never is finally,
Primordial and real

Look at Young America, these bereft
Generations, you can’t say they haven’t “lost something”
Something their parents failed to make use of, perhaps.
Which one day people will try to deny existed

All it’s going to take is one cataclysm, one really big war
Or Revolution, to show just who is deserving—
Nobody, that’s who    And I don’t except myself
I go before only the general revulsion

Unless there is none, in which case I’m outsmarted
And there is, after all, some hope for the future

3.

I suspect my father of having overcome
A native slovenliness partly
By leaving it to me
And letting me carry the shame for the both of us
But who am I to indict, finally?
We are the life-spans of our finicks
And panky manias; no one has asked us
To like them, but we really must forgive them

Occasionally, or else go down to our several
Nervous breakdowns, which await us
Hungrily

However, nobody asked me to write this, either
I do so mainly because it is fine
Now and then to feel
That one has a vocation

And fine, too, to give one’s dissatisfaction
A little leverage, if one is ever
To fight one’s way up toward clarity
Through this stew of the modern personality
Everything perfectly human and fetid

My head is in a state of embarrassment
But I am here

And I think I am steadily zeroing in
On my “audience,” just as steadily hoping
It turns out to be someone
And not another abstraction!
And that you can survive without me