J.W. Burleson photo / Boquillas del Carmen, Coah.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Homage to Mary Hamilton

Thanks to Tom Sleigh for contributing his poem, originally published in The New Yorker, December 20, 2010. http://www.bu.edu/agni/interviews/online/2003/sleigh-wong.html

Homage to Mary Hamilton

I’m driving past discarded tires,
            the all night carwash dreams
near Green-wood Cemetery where
            the otherworld of Queens

puts out trash—trash of Murder, Inc.,
            trash of heartbeat
in recycled newspapers where
            Romeo and Juliet meet.

So much thorny underbrush,
            so much ice overgrowing
my windshield until frost shields a buck
            behind a billboard forest

selling someone’s half-dressed daughter.
            She melts into the defroster
roaring like the rich guys’ helicopters
            at the Wall Street heliport,

rotoring down through skyscrapers
            where torchsong lipstick smears
onto a handkerchief and starched collar.
            But in my face snow blizzards 

up from sixteen wheelers and
            three crows clot against limbs
downswooping, omen of the augurs
            that steers the desperate lovers

to a crossroads, right here. And where mobsters
            and suicides lie buried
and the radio breaks into a ballad 
            of Mary Hamilton’s fair body,

but who’s tied it in her apron
            and thrown it in the sea,
I’m the quake and shortlived quiver,
            the laughter and fractured tale

of her night in the laigh cellar
            with the hichest Stewart of a’.
Oh, she’s washed the Queen’s feet
            and gently laid her down

but a’ the thanks she’s gotten this night’s
            to be hanged in Edinbro’ town.
I’m sitting behind the wheel
            of our mutual desire

when the heel comes off her shoe
            on the Parliament stair
and lang or she cam down again
            she was condemned to dee:

but the instant the news comes on
            and drones spy down
on our compulsions, her hands
            under my hands wrestle

on the wheel as my foot taps
            the brakes, her foot the gas
when out of the gliding dark
            I spot his velvet rack.

Last night there were four Toms,
            today they’ll be but three:
there was Tom Fool, Sweet Tooth Tom,
            Tom the Bomb, and me. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting. Shared it from your site rather than The New Yorker. A remarkable poem!


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