The Burglar who visited Nate Chinen Laments his own Misfortune.

It was too easy taking the VCR:
a roof, a window, a crowbar.
I left my fingerprints on all his things:
sheafs of poems, books, drums, strings
of notes, and they left imprints on me--
I became him for a time, I became N.C.
and lugged the VCR like a sacred stone
into the darkening world, into my own.

That night I had a haunting dream: I heard
a whispering as from Edgarpoe's strange bird
from beyond my bedroom door, again and again--
Chinen evermore, and evermore Chinen.  

What was this wild desire in my blood
that suddenly had whelmed me, this flood
of longing for poetry, jazz, a vast Orion
of scintillance, and everything Hawaiian?  

I wanted more: the stereo next, I thought,
at Writers House, and maybe some song
caught in the player, Miles or Mingus, or better yet,
the unheard melodies of some quintet
rising like a Boticellian virgin
above the gong-tormented sea. Or like a sturgeon.  

Did I not see it coming, this addiction
stranger than in poetry or fiction:
the more I've stolen, the more there is to steal
and the more I sense my brain unhinge and reel.  

I thieve a word, and twenty poems fall
out of his pockets. I burgle E-flat, scrawl
the note on a clef, and a rainbow of chords arcs down
from his open window. I snatch a poster and the world
is suddenly papered and by his hand unfurled.
I appropriate a verse; it becomes a hub.
My mind leaks slowly like a broken cup.  

Talent must leave such excess in its wake
that it seems unaware of what I take.
Salieri to his Mozart, that is I,
tied to his coattails as he skims the sky.
And soon he'll make a heaven of Bucknell
and I must follow, though I myself am hell
dragging the tired ends of my day.  

O terrible
star around which like a moon I circle,
how many of your profusions must I feel
like sunbursts, before there's nothing left to steal?
Too many, too many, too many, too many and again:  

Chinen evermore, and evermore Chinen!  

O inexhaustible source, O mystical hum,
how can one steal the drumming from the drum?
O cursed spite, O misbegotten fate
that I was ever born to steal from Nate.  

Greg Djanikian