When he fetched the morning paper, he read of the would-be bomber wrestled

down by fellow travelers.  A mile in the air, but nothing exploded,

the man merely scorched his own shins.  Here icicles fall and bleed on the ground,

his metal roof pings, day yawns.  He yawns at a crossword:  22 Down,

Ram’s Ma’am.  Tired clue for ewe, it baffled him once, which seems hard to imagine.

He feels as though the years since then, as soon as they get here, vanish.

An expert now, he needs no pencil, taps his pen on the puzzle,


gray grainy grid on the page.  Below the fold, Hollywood  Buzzes  —

with something or other.  He doesn’t buzz. If he used to have a life

beyond a hobby, a dog on his lap, is this one so vapid he craves

explosion?  No, and he knows it.  But as trees go grainy and gray as well

with something vague, neither rain nor snow, they iterate the world’s

flatness of feature.  19 Down:  ovum-to-be.   His children

are gone, his wife in the earth, who even in older age could be ardent.


And all around him a rampancy of things lukewarm and wizened.

Maybe terror is you, he puns, the you that’s not ram’s ma’am —  nor is he

ram anymore.  He sluggishly seeks a synonym for chat

in seven letters, 16 Across.  How he needs his wife to be back,

needing an ear for his desolate whispers, whimpers.

The dear deaf dachsund

breathes on him from cheek to chin.  It quickens him for a moment,

that heady, delusive mixture: animal heat and animal moisture.