Boswell in New Haven

                    I have protracted my work till most of those whom
                    I wished to please, have sunk into the grave, and
                    success and miscarriage are empty sounds. —Johnson


He has seen cinemas, and he wonders:
Are those grey flitting clouds the time-lapsed shots
Of some great camera lensed with rain, projected
On a sky-screen which hangs loose
From its moorings, swinging on the wind?
He has eaten Chinese food, and wonders:
Is this longing for something warm, and tea,
To feast on, sole, behind apartment walls
Which, though solid, buckle in hurricanes
And pop out the shower-curtain rod, a sincere longing?
Or a ghost of melancholy dreams
Of cherished antique friend, departed wife?
“I have been held together by paper clips too long.”
Dreaming of a reunion with his work,
Held against its will in rain-stained rooms,
And fearing how his words drip off the page.

He knows now that this city,
Which waters its streets in the rain
And borrows from the thin to feed the fat,
Provides the students all they want or need.
Not this new bumper crop of clever dolls
But an older breed, tear-marked and water-stained,
Which has no needs or wants, right now, besides
A bowl of soup and something hot to drink.
Impoverished in passion, coin, resolve,
In all but love, too tired now to love,
Too damp and cold to study anything
But umbrella-making books—to this brave bunch
Consign the author of the deathless Life!
Huddled in a bubble of fall rain.

Like them, he knows the movie theater’s warm.
And if you have no wherewithal to eat
You drink the smell of coffee from the streets.

1991