Aesthetic Realism Looks at New York City: Poetry



Louis Dienes


Photography and the Actual World

Your interest is elicited by the scene.
The scene flashes on the screen.
A square of light. The black
Shadow of a cat's tail curving up the middle.
This is the scene.

This is the scene.
An apartment, shabby, dimly lit.
Low small rooms in a row,
One opening into another.
You are not alone;
A few characters who have
Nothing to do or say
Are in the background,
In the shadows.

A pile
Of crisp, freshly opened
New Year's greetings
On the low table there.
Does the mail
Come, then, at such an hour?

How do you know
The laconic speeches of this play
You never read?
Why is the audience watching,
Absorbed in this piece you perform
As if another in you moved you?

Working, it was long past the time
For you to have gone off the job and home.
You weren't expected to wait.
What delays you,
Makes you linger
While the minutes
And after-midnight hours drag?

Suddenly, now,
The entrepreneur
Is stepping up the stairs,
Not alone, a woman with him,
His wife or a friend.

He is tall and thin--
Black hair--white face--
(Blank screen--cat's tail)
Raised eyebrows--surprised--
Something condescending--
Superciliously notices
Evidence of services
(--By George, these are the things
You have been doing).
The scene vanishes.

It is lost in the boiling wake
Of the present that drives
On through the sea of circumstance
Like a mammoth liner with engines.

Copyright 2008 by Louis Dienes