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Page 180

Some poets insist one must write
in the heat of passion, but if attention is buttery,
heat is risky, since the world of distractions
is porous toast -- or perhaps a hot cornmeal muffin --
and will gladly absorb all the melted butter
you can exude. So be cool, poet, be cool,

but not so frigid that attempts to shape your rapt attention
on the page (cutting and slashing) leave it as gouged and torn
as bread by hard butter. (O, this simile, I can't
do ANYthing with it!)

A goat is a hard butter and could butt one
in one's butter-fat butt, but the hardest butter
is one who says, "I love you, truly, but..." or
"I think your poem is wonderful, but..." or
"We have enough water to hold out for weeks,

I prefer to abut you (said the Abbot to the Abbess)
and softly butt you, my more-than-merely-a-piece-of
butt, pelvis to pelvis, interlocking, two become one,
almost one, all but...but...but... (it's like churning
butter out of sweet cream)...Ah, God!

Now we are buttered all over each other, absorbed
in one another. And yet I am I, you are you.
We claim each other: No buts! Cool in our warmth,
no one is the goat. I love you truly, AND...

Note: Most of the plays on "but" in this poem I trust you to have grasped (a word that goes better with butt than with but), Dear Reader, but some of you may not recall when "No buts" was the way a child claimed sole ownership of something, as in "I get the cherry popsicle and no buts", meaning, no one else gets a taste or share of it. You were supposed to say "No buts" before someone else said "buts" (meaning they'd get a taste). That's how I remember the usage (St. Paul, MN, circa late 1940s). Perhaps we were saying "Butts" and "No butts". Hard to say: We were cautious in those days; we put nothing in writing.

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