Two Poems


Benjamin Ivry

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 102 in 1999.

Epiphany on a Bus in Chinatown

Beef stomachs honeycomb
in ivory effulgence
through plate-glass
as we await the
maculate, miraculous "C"
that turns ANAL STREET
into CANAL. That corner turned,
we arrive at a time when life
raises its ponderous thighs
from the beaded seat
(the better to avoid piles)
and lumbers to the
exitway, where a wheelchair is
waiting with an incontinent beggar,
beside him a shopping bag
from a spiffy emporium
on which a hydrocephalic
Dickens pines.
To bless the fruit of
our maternal viscera, a driver
must unlock the hips
and scorn caesarians,
if not Caesar himself.
His stroll is resigned, with
a knowlege that flesh is grass,
and all who walk will
roll or drop one day.
The striped blue thigh's solidity
that brushes us by,
mere maya not harder than the fare box,
or even the chair that rises
to our circle. He grunts and
returns in triumph ; he is the
"operator", according to the MTA ;
he makes no change ;
nor may we speak to him,
though he excises our way.


A Portrait of Henry James,
The Century Association

What obscure wound would you qualify
it, dear Master, to be limned by John LaFarge
and hung at a station of Mexican busboys
amid lares and offertoria,
tutelary gods as golden bowls of chips and
nuts and yes, trail mix?
At these snacks you fix your
beestung lips, as Hispanic waiters cry
joyous hymns across a trap to
satisfy bell-ringing Quasimodos who are rich.
Clamoring for more, former spies outvy
each other in deadly dull hobbies.
Mommies long dead, they wash
their own mouths out with boy’s room Listerine.
Survey the scene, young Henry in profile,
balding like Courbet’s Baudelaire,
your cheeks blood-red from
circulation that does not yet beat
for an Icelandic stud.
Here sages chow down
in a library, ignoring passion between
the pages. What is needful in their careers
is the privilege of ingested dross,
overseen by misty frigidaires
stuffed with novels by Auchincloss.