Poems and Texts

“Semi-Private” by Tony Towle


If you’re dressed in white and being importuned
by sick people, you might be a nurse
or other health-care professional. If you feel
you’ve been pierced with harpoons and are lying on a beach
listening to the sand but not hearing the ocean,
you could be mistaken. But if, in the middle of the forest
you come upon your arch-foe finishing a sandwich
and drinking from your skull, you will know with certainty:
you have taken a wrong turn in life.
Coming home from school that day
you should have gone left at the dry goods store,
followed Elm Street to the edge of town
and then set off on the dash through the proliferations of the moment
to the interim haven of the future. This must have been the work
of the sorceress in red, whose existence may have come to fruition
that very morning: you overheard whispers in the garden, there,
just outside your window, while enchanted flies buzzed in the heat.

Tony Towle

If there is such an entity as the New York School, Tony Towle has been involved in it since 1963, when he took poetry workshops at the New School with Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch. Noir Poems 2008-2017 is his 13th book of poems, and will be available at the reading.

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