A giant Lutheran wearing lenses thick
enough to magnify the centipedes and stars
and black orthopedic shoes the weight
of divers’ boots performs his yard work
in the gray vest of his business suit
with white shirtsleeves rolled. Twice
a week he takes the train into the city
carrying a cased viola and portfolios
of nude sketches done in charcoal.
The decorated scout next door encumbered
in the Lutheran’s rhododendron by his sash
of badges hopes to view the artist’s model
after she undoes the belt of her kimono
and strikes nude poses she is made to hold.
This allows his fertile imagination to dress her
in the clothes he has admired in Vogue.
The night burglar crouched behind
the rain barrel, glass-cutter at the ready,
has long envisioned, while pressing
license plates in prison, the layout
of some giant tow-head’s house rumored
to contain a valuable collection of revolvers
taken from the lifeless hands of anarchists.
Both these witnesses will swear in court
they saw the Lutheran himself that evening,
the same harpist, mistaken for a flutist,
was stomped on and bludgeoned in an alley
with an artist’s easel that left bloody
splinters at the scene. He was at home
alone, they could see him in the window.
He wore a fez and smoked an oom paul pipe
while reading beneath the tasseled lamp
the Arabian Nights bound in red morocco.
On the eavesdrop they could hear the muted
agonies of Shostakovich playing on the hi-fi.
The chaos of the battlefront, the smoking
rubble, the deadly sniping, the collapsing
buildings, the starvation and the slaughter,
the insistence of the snare drums defending
Leningrad with rockets and machine guns.