Text of the Poem

(Poetry for Students)

After the party ends another party begins
and the survivors of the first party climb
into the second one as if it were a lifeboat
to carry them away from their slowly sinking ship.

Behind me now my friend Richard
is getting a fresh drink, putting on more music
moving from group to group—smiles and
jokes, laughter, kissy-kiss—

It is not given to me to understand
the social pleasures of my species, but I think
what he gets from these affairs
is what bees get from flowers—a nudging of the

a sprinkle of pollen
about the head and shoulders—

whereas I prefer the feeling of going away, going

stretching out my distance from the voices and the

until the tether breaks and I

am in the wild sweet dark
where the sea breeze sizzles in the hedgetop
and the big weed heads whose names I never

lift and nod upon their stalks.

What I like about the trees is how
they do not talk about the failure of their parents
and what I like about the grasses is that
they are not grasses in recovery

and what I like about the flowers is
that they are not flowers in need of
empowerment or validation. They sway

upon their thorny stems
as if whatever was about to happen next tonight
was sure to be completely interesting—

the moon rising like an ivory tusk,
a few funky molecules of skunk
strolling through the air
to mingle with the aura of a honeysuckle bush,

and when they bump together in my nose,
I want to raise my head and sing,
I’m a child in paradise again
when you touch me like that, baby,

but instead, I stand still and listen
to the breeze departing from the upper story of a

and the hum of insects in the field,
letting everything else have a word, and then
another word,

because silence is always good manners
and often a clever thing to say
when you are at a party.