The One Night Stand : An Approach to the Bridge

by Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn

Migod, a picture window,
both of us sitting there
on the too-narrow couch
variously unclothed
watching sky lighten over the city

You compile your list of noes
it is incomplete
I add another
there is no anger
we keep it open
trying
shying
away, your all
too-solid body melts, revives, stif-
fens, clears and dis-
solves, an i-
dentity emerges, disappears, it is
like watching a film, the takes dis-
solving into other takes,
spliced suddenly to a closeup
The window tints pink
I wait
We sleep a bit . Your
identity goes and comes
it is never for me, it
is never sure of itself
I wait, you
ask too much of yourself, why
of the moment, why
is your fear of feeding off other people? Must
you always feed off yourself
and find it unreal food you eat, unreal
water you drink from the source of yourself, un-
real liquor you take from the hand of a friend, and
never grow gloriously drunk, but stay
eating yourself
finding the fare thin,
stay in a dark room holding
uneasily, in an unreal hand
a thin man's unreal cock who stays
and grows more unreal to himself?
We both sleep.

New day's sun
doubles itself in the river
A double string of blue lights
glares to mark the bridge, the
city huddles under a yellow light
the sodium flares
gleam under oblique
sun's double in the stream,
I wake
ready, make my move.
"You'll make me pregnant" you murmur
and barely audible, "I'll die"
neither will stop me .
your legs are open
I am there at the wet edge
of life, the moist living lips

It will not do
I have been at this life's edge
and hurt too many hours
It will be all me for a moment ,
then all you
Identities will dissolve
under this new act, or
six quick strokes .
you move once :
toward me, say
one word, even
moan, I will be finished
done
dissolved
become real, alone, no
it will not do
You are no victim and
I no rapist hero, I can
still, I
stop at the life's edge

Later
we are too real
separate, try
to recover
dully, our-
selves gone out
The coffee does not warm
there is an orange sun in the river
there are blue lights on the bridge
Animal tenderness and
sadness is all we salvage, is
all the picture window
mirrors and maintains

[1961/1962]




Paul Blackburn's picture

ABOUT THE POET ~
Paul Blackburn is best known as a Black Mountain Poet because of his role as contributing editor and distributor of the Black Mountain Review: and his subsequent inclusion with the group in Donald Allen’s influential New American Poetry anthology (1960). Many unaware writers and critics fail to discern the complex forms, the sly intelligence, and the reserved elegance of that lyrical gift.... Blackburn was as socially and literarily accessible as lesser poets, and yet he was cut from the fabric of genius.


Last updated December 25, 2014