David M. Katz

David M. Katz
David M. Katz's poems have appeared in The New Criterion, Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, Notre Dame Review, The Raintown Review, and Podium, the online publication of the 92nd Street Y. His first book of poems, The Warrior in the Forest, was published by House of Keys in 1982. He lives in New York City and is New York Bureau Chief of CFO Publications.

Stanzas On Oz

Inside this stanza, barely seen, there squats
A man—or so he wants you to believe.
Come and see this leopard shed his spots;
Come and see the leopardesses grieve.
In Oz, the naked jaybird dips and floats;
The man's got magic up his sleeve.
Inside that stanza, just below the surface,
He hopes you will detect a larger purpose.

That life and love are fleeting, we all know.
Outside of Oz the lessons still abound:
We love but cheat, we go on with the flow
And die behind a curtain, without sound.
Some scenes are more dramatic: row on row
The crosses flaunt the losses underground.
Inside that stanza, closer to the surface,
You may detect the darkness of his purpose.

"This be the verse," as Philip Larkin said,
Begging a question: This is the verse,
Isn't it? The one in which you lose your head,
Abandon your red shoes, your tiny purse?
The one in which you dream that you are dead?
Are thrust onstage, completely unrehearsed?
On that slick stanza, level with the surface,
You slip upon his dizziness of purpose.

Let's take the plunge and meet the magic man.
Let's take the plunge into delirium
Below the waves, down to a chambered garden,
Where all the bubbles rise into oblivion.
His show proceeds according to a plan
Of stripping down, unlayering the onion.
Inside this stanza, deep below the surface,
We hold our breath—but find no larger purpose.

In Kansas now, we think about the trip.
There's no one home, you say, and I agree:
No captain lurks inside that sunken ship,
No god or gold awaits discovery.
The magic man abhors relationship.
He hides his rabbits in the privacy
Of a stanza. We look below the surface
And find a wizard fooling us, on purpose.