Tombaugh’s Discovery

This poem pays tribute to Eugene T. Maleska, the crossword puzzle editor
of The New York Times from 1977 – 1993

for Nikki Langer

The train rattles west of New Haven past eglantine
(sweetbrier), deerberry, calla lily, larkspur
to the city I love, amo, amas, hadj destination,
Mecca for I.M. Pei, commedia dell’arte—
the sunken rooms of elegant apartments, Goyas,
Gauguins on permanent loan—Eero Saarinen’s tulip!

We’re here, we’re happy, so clear, clean, saber
of intelligent air: simpatico, Sacra Romana,
sabra, stark symmetry of darkened windows,
three stairs, then hitch your wagon to a star—
Trish Van Devere, Piper Laurie, Annie Potts,
Teri Garr, and the night has a thousand eyes.

Here they speak our language, vox populi,
adagio, slow ballet of inferred inclusion—
they may be red, they may be liberal. When
we arrive, peer through to the oda, harem room,
diaphanous veil of Olivia de Havilland: to be
in Brest, the soft roll of, the mere heave is

majestic as she laughs—it’s nothing to her, all
part of a song, “Love’s Old Sweet . . . all love is sweet.”
Hosannas, glad tidings, light from water and simple
events: each day a tabula rasa, a kind of a graph, looking
for a word, a world east of the Caspian Sea,
where Bremen’s river, Weser, can empty into Erne.

We measure in decimeters, tackle Hamelin’s problem.
The others are deceived, defrauded, defrocked, dreading
arson or arrow poison, a heckler’s missile, larceny,
a fissure, a crack, a rift, a fissure, a parting,
a cleft, a fissure, a break, lesion, a fissure which
we embrace, a division which we treasure.

Somewhere in a pleasant world where Pedro thirsts,
where Pierre protects his noggin, dada, agua, tete,
we sip a perfect martini, find a crème brulee better
than in any arrondissement in Paris. Pekoe tea is
served, Malacca cane, dates, cakes and ale, a nip
at the bar and English cheese, a gin addition.

A North African weight falls in units of acceleration:
gals—Ella, Edna, Edie in Cassini suits dazzle
the assembled: Youth is a gift of nature, age is
a work of art.” “I could a tale unfold whose
lightest word . . .” Paul Anka in a tribute to Alan Jay
Lerner. Is that Avita or Clara, Fernando or Lorenzo?

Solano through the transoms and slate entrances—
Eris, Goddess of Discord, Irene, Goddess of Peace,
worshipping at the astronomical altar, ara, angel arms,
levels of sacred anagrams—Ino, mystical princess,
Aeneas, son of Aphrodite, by Jove, Juno’s husband,
Jupiter, outermost orb, Pluto, Tombaugh’s discovery.

The sky is like a city at night, the city like a museum,
museum like a party, an opening where Arlo and Oona
show . . . among the impresarios, protagonists, chums,
companions, pals and partners, a boy in Barcelona:
Magic moves across the lane and pulls down a rebound.
We print to fit base hits on the scorecard—Yastrzemski

with two outs in the ninth, pops to third, Graig Nettles,
and we all go home. Home to arias by the soprano,
Erna Berger, the tenor, Leo Slezak, home to the novel
we’re writing mentioning Debussy’s La Mer, Mimi
in La Boheme, writing for the marketplace, agora,
first impression to fourth dimension, ending with a line

from T.S. Eliot, or Maya Angelou, Countee Cullen,
or Pablo Neruda, Andean breezes for the poets:
“I lived on air . . .” Frost. Yes Shubert used Rilke,
but how does anything like Ulysses get written?
And who is more alluring, Actress Ekberg
or Hardy’s Tess, Emma Thompson or Halle Berry?

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    Tombaugh’s Discovery « John Maloney Poems

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