On. On. Stop. Stop., by Saskia Hamilton

In the old recording of the birthday party,
the voices of the living and the dead
instruct twelve absent friends
on the reliable luxury of gratitude.
The celebrated one hands out presents.
The dead dog barks once. We
take one another’s hands and follow their lead,
past the garden wall, out to the land
still stripped by winter. Those gone
do not usurp those here. We keep
the warning close, the timbre of their voices
mingling with the sounds of traffic
going much faster to its destinations.
Is it the size or the scale of the past
on the small reels of the cassette?
Someone gives her a new pot, which,
she exclaims, is too great a luxury for her.
Someone’s missing who can convert
the currencies. The old treasure
was dropped in the furrows
to await spring, with rings and pennies
and florins and other denominations
from those pockets and fingers.

Pyrotechnics, by Amy Lowell

I

Our meeting was like the upward swish of a rocket
In the blue night.
I do not know when it burst;
But now I stand gaping,
In a glory of falling stars.

II

Hola! Hola! shouts the crowd, as the catherine-wheels sputter and turn.
Hola! They cheer the flower-pots and set pieces.
And nobody heeds the cries of a young man in shirt-sleeves,
Who has burnt his fingers setting them off.

III

A King and Queen, and a couple of Generals,
Flame in colored lights;
Putting out the stars,
And making a great glare over the people wandering among the booths.
They are very beautiful and impressive,
And all the people say “Ah!”
By and by they begin to go out,
Little by little.
The King’s crown goes first,
Then his eyes,
Then his nose and chin.
The Queen goes out from the bottom up,
Until only the topmost jewel of her tiara is left.
Then that, too, goes;
And there is nothing but a frame of twisted wires,
With the stars twinkling through it.