Sunday, April 16, 2006

Stuart Greenhouse

My Lead Hat
after two masters

As if, could I keep thoughts from
                getting in,

I'd have any,
                I make it

thick and deaf.
                At its crest

I scratch
                the sentence "who am I?"

then flush the filings.
                Now I'm safe.

Afraid to take off my lead hat as if,
if I forgot myself,
I'd cease to be.

my lead hat is useless
yet everyone recognizes
me by it

people who are afraid
do more than they know.
I am lonely

it holds me tight
so when I dream
I do so of my body
not with my body

my lead hat
my lead hat
my lead hat
there. Now
that's heavy.

I heart my lead hat
soft and heavy enough
to seep in
yet unlined;
thus we are unbroken.


You mistake acquiescence for intimacy.
Me? I don't know, I mistake understanding,
I think. Goodbye.

It takes the shape
from whatever strikes it
so I don't have to

the sin of the lead hat
upon thee my three
and four generations

when I envision my heart
it is wearing
a little lead hat.
When I cry, my tears
are heavy with theirs.
The sun and the pine
close daily
with their offer
of strings-in-air. They are learning,
they are my friends,
they are lonely.

Please don't give up on me
my hands and my shoulders are free
almost always

You think it's funny?
Today, meditating, my head
so full of light
it felt like a helium balloon.
Without you, my closest friend,
I'd be gone.

Under you,
my own hemisphere,
I am fighting my life
for my life.

It is odd.
Nothing is stranger.

Help me be myself,
surmount it, though I cry.

Haven't you ever
mistaken a thing
for belief?

Neutrinos are my ideal.
They aren't anti matter, but
they are indifferent.

Hamlet. Job. Arjuna.
Bartelby. Prufrock. Eve.
Emily. (Your name here.)

My lunch hour, and
even if I weren't wearing it
he would have said
"Are you here to visit a grave?
Then get out!"

My parents crawl on me like fleas.
There are thousands of them.
Division, and company. Rank.

Look, at least I admit
it's an option.
I'd be afraid not to.
Or rhythmic.

Sometimes it tilts
to the left, and I circle,
or to the right, and I circle,
or back, and I wonder,
or forward, and I sleep.

I was in a restaurant
and all the people had spoons
they were trying to fit into their nostrils.
One crying begged me
to ease his pain,
so I grabbed his arm and held down
against his jerking,
aided of course by the weight
of my lead hat, though not
an impossible task without it.
Weeping he thanked me, and all
clamored for me to exert myself
in their service likewise;
and I, emboldened, instructed
them to lay their spoons
down themselves; and they looked up
from their red faces to mine
and they saw my lead hat
and they laughed me out.

It's just a little joke
between me and God.

Nearly all fundamentally
unstable materials
end in lead.

Stuart Greenhouse is the author of What Remains, a chapbook
published by the PSA in December of 2005. He lives in New Jersey with
his wife, son, and daughter.

"My Lead Hat" first appeared in What Remains, copyright (c) 2005 by
The Poetry Society of America.