“Good Morning,” a poem by Robert Farrell.

Suburban rivalries.

Cicada shedding old skin. Photo by Chad Hunt.

Good Morning


The snow has fallen for what seems like weeks and still

we wait for the car exhaust, the piss of countless dogs,

but for now the trash is hidden and you know how it

gets in winter when too much time goes by. The list

grows exponentially until there are far too many people

to call or text or write, but it’s like we’ve always said,

Hello, how have we never been to Montauk together?

It’s the perfect time of year, now and late October, when

the fishermen haven’t yet arrived and the bankers still prefer

to weekend in warmer climes, like Turks and Caicos or

Barbuda, say, leaving us the whole horizon and an epoch’s

worth of sand. And, happily, we don’t need a soul

to water plants or feed our cats because what we have

are books, the little golden ones our favorites, and of course

each other. Let’s go right now and forget that we can’t

keep a succulent alive, no, not even a small jade, which takes

real skill to kill. But, look. On just two shelves we have our

own menagerie: a couple of pigs, one realistically portrayed

except it’s made of rubber, the other but a play on pig, a

beautiful plastic smiling thing, two hippopotami, a porcupine,

a blue-footed booby, and a mountain you once climbed

that now stands between a laughing Buddha and Glenn

Gould. Yes, home is what we illocute as such, a speech

act like this thing we call a marriage even if it’s mostly

laughter. It’s how here it is, our common work of art,

both in the Bronx and of the city that never lets us sleep.

I don’t find it sad (do you?) that we can’t identify

the flowers and birds we see in parks. Isn’t it enough

to hear their names and love them and declare ourselves

heliotropes when we wake on Sunday and find that all

we want are waffles, the pleasures of late capitalism,

and bellinis all of which are best enjoyed away from

war zones? And just what is vermiculite anyway? It

reminds me of Francis Bacon, the philosopher not the

painter, Baron of Verulam, Viscount of St. Albans,

even though it’s only a hydrated laminar mineral that’s

sometimes added to soil. Or could it be the winter that

jogs the memory, for wasn’t it a frozen chicken that

did him in? Or was it snow? Experiments in refrigeration

can be dangerous, but that’s no excuse for why I haven’t

had the ice-maker repaired. I’d say I could almost hear him

speak to us from out the horn of this Victrola, amazed

by our technologies, but looking down his nose a bit at

all these bibelots that serve no purpose. But that’s

nobility for you. It’s always five o’clock in the Cedar

Tavern, which is gone, thank god, and so no longer calls

for yet another metacritique of our sixteen-year-old

selves or the poets we loved so much at that age. For they,

like us, witnessed casualties, too, watched the Fat Man work

his wonders and grew up in the shadow of depressions. Who

could blame them if they forced a joi de vivreas others might

force bulbs? Perhaps it takes a farmer’s son to cultivate a

field within a town that only offers windows on the world

through which you almost at times expect to see the Spruce

Goose float down upon the Hudson, slow and with the

pendulous grace of something serious said in passing.


Robert Farrell’s chapbook, Meditations on the Body, was published by Ghostbird Press in 2017, and his poems have appeared in Magma, Posit, The Brooklyn Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, Poetry South, and elsewhere.