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Fredric Koeppel


Too Much Chopin

Unfashionable twilight, burden of thieves.
The malady of swiftness born. With her
white hands she opens the eclipse in the
stone. Little do we understand the physiology
of detachment. Talk is not cheap if lack of it
costs and costs; no tear is idle, foolish poet,
in the velvet ventriloquism of heartbreak. The
word 'desire.' Inquiry into what the emotions
are. You must be tired; exhausted, more like it.
No art without disappointment; no threshold to
the gravity of the moon's apricot tithings, but
for you and you alone, no democratic lament
will scour this darkness. Take from me, he said,
my golden wand, my shoes of wind, the soul
of which I was too fond.


`Nor yet O you in this night blest'

Who will pardon the virgins and write
their names in cursive gold if I stumble
at the threshold? Who will exact the
empty threats and dubious testimony
of coincidence if my hand falters at the
poem's lofty edge? When angels read
their books it takes a thousand years to
turn a page. Funny how the eons fall
away from the burning secret of every
utterance, leaving you like a star that
needs the night so badly there's a hint of
hopelessness about its light. So tell me
Jesus and all you saints, something
important for a change, such as where
this peach, unearthly ripe, directs its rich
and ruthless Pieta gaze. Please make it
a bit more difficult to be great, somewhat
easier to be kind. If love in dreams is pure
and aching, then matchless hearts and
you to beauty born, be not real, but true.


 A Million Things to Do

The black dog likes this brittle brown leaf
he found on the sidewalk and carries it
between his new grown-up teeth as delicately
as if it were a lost page from the handbook
of honor. Every end lies loose for your tying,
O nimble-fingered wind as simple as a wooden
shoe. Knights and galleons, and sentries gazing
at sunrise from the forward towers; an Ice Age
of lunar masquerade in blue forests; the
appropriateness of the teller to the tale: no
one should be unoccupied whose heart has not
been hardened by disdain or immodesty. The
wheelwright of the upper air flourishes his
kettles and staves, and the roses that survived
the heat so well at last succumb to a rusty
ramshackle slumber, though still borne aloft
ludicrously by the humorless grenadiers of
their stems. Clouds put on their sleeves of
water; a fallen locust mimes the husks of
pharaohs. It's a beautiful afternoon, but sorrow's
mayhem is overgenerous today. We work within
an idiom. No music is incidental, nor the sound
of sparrows walking on gravel.

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