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Ends In Themselves

by Richard Stern

Antioch Review
In our ancient sea
Nothing's new.
Only the wind varies.
I don't think
I've missed anything.
I take an oath of loyalty to the table
Coated with white Formica, a cup full of pens, the ashtray.
I dreamed that the state had passed out of existence
And with our children we'd settled down in the three volumes of the dictionary.
My house will stand beside the word mix, on the way to morals.
I'll risk my life for the sake of a single rectangle alone-
The bed that belongs to Tanya and me--two meters by a meter-and-a-half...
I saw the pictures of the prime minister and minister of defense
in the morning paper, smeared with a reddish lacquer, like a prostitute's nails.
I drive my thoughts far away from them now-
to a can of baked beans, to two sausages and Chinese parsley.