Life Without Principle
    David Sherman
I walk on the street at dusk. A man stutters behind me, slowly describing
the unorthodox
quality of light
that collects like sand along water in his favorite minor landscape.
There is no consequence of beauty, he says, but that we endure.
I walk north
out of habit.
Others pass, north and south, obscure, briefly forgetting the habits
that brought them, and that habits have histories which precede them.
Dusk is the habitual
decay of light
into livid amnesia, giving endurance to those who forget themselves,
or to those among us who, unable to forget, refuse themselves.
I have refused
so little,
and now resemble myself without consolation. He follows me
for hours, choking slowly on syllables about the lengthening
shadows, spectra
that refuse clarity
for the interrogative of darkness, those uncertain wavelengths that pose
a question without asking one, like Thoreau's one-sentence paragraph,
the one with no answer
but embarrassed silence,
"Let us consider the ways in which we spend our lives."

Sex in Four Phases

    David Sherman

I used to worry about the pleasure
I was missing, which was puberty,
the long indigestion
of the soul.


I realize, as the dry years continue,
that it circulates as paper currency
for the values we learn only in true ignorance.

I strive for true ignorance
in the deserts and mountains,
but find it in public libraries.


Like the finest arts, it helps me confuse chaos for order.


Time passes, no longer
an epilepsy of friction.
My body cancels some debts,
incurs others. Then she emerges
in the sparrow's
nimble light. I help her claim
the mysteries of flesh
as flesh.
She makes me tremble
in the six ways of joy.

David Sherman has lived in New York City for five years. He studies and teaches literature at New York University.


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