Sean Singer

Poem with Groucho Marx Refrains

If you have been transformed by the fire,
you have been like many; yet there are more traps.
There are women in linen skirts, filled with blossoms
or parts of blossoms, in enlarging gardens.
A man is only as young as the woman he feels.


An owl, yellow as a ladder, is hinged to the night.
Where is the place he carried from Paris
like artificial fruit? Seeing through maple dark
he dives into a fieldmouse, just poised in sweet opera.
Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.


So powerful was her presence I understood the meaning of forms.
A form only listens to the bed, or to the light-green saucer.
I give grief away; far too many belong to that.
And I will make sacrifices to feel that again,
soft as Vermont in the throat of a bird.
Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.


O you tender wood platform, with a microphone
strange as the figurehead on a ship.
Or some chairs unfolded and enjoying peoples’ legs.
Although empty now, these seats have observed much.
People hold tightly to habits, and their buckets collect the sap.
I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.



“Poem with Groucho Marx Refrains” first appeared in La Petite Zine, Fall 2000, No. 4.