Riding with the dogs
In the ruff curl as it rips
And the twilight surfers
Taste Catalina embers
And people sit on beach chairs
In irridescent shadow
As walls of burly wave thrash
And the dashing full moon glow falls
On a pink bikini tossing a frisbee
And night anglers tieing flies in front of a tiny TV
The dogs and gulls and children squealing
"This is a day to be happy."
Friday, August 28, 2015
Riding with the dogs
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
There is no man on a walker asking me if there's anything's wrong,
No wheelchair panhandlers
Or bums for hire with dog.
No luxury excavations beside the shopping cart clan
Or jewelry stores where Navajo security guards stand.
Or John Fante Square.
There is only a feeling that won't go away
When I looked in that one man's eyes.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Sees crabs perambulate to test the world
Moving in front of their claws,
Insects that use every pinion
On every leg to stay on leaves,
Steel-eyed rabbits that glisten in camouflage,
Schools of fish in furious slalom run
Whose silver scales shine in the sun.
It is enough, this choice, to make a bird
Feel humble, to gather its wings
In will and prayer
For the holiness of being worthy.
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
They seem so real, so fully formed,
as if I know their stories and their smells,
have lived their lives for them already,
eager to learn what illusions to believe,
what losses to sense, what fragments to call whole,
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Its fuel blurs into purples
Inside the turning fires
Which consume what’s recognized:
All that the dream says is true.
When light breaks through this prism
The monster in the middle
Will glisten instead of roar;
The forms it sought to merge in
Can’t clothe the invisible
Any more. It’s now too raw
For the world and its people
— Grid of junk calligraphy —,
And everything kept at bay
Becomes a God who’d acted
As acolyte in bow down
To saints from miracle clay.
What have we to show this God
So patient and forbearing?
Only prayers it finally can
Reveal itself without us.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Passed around by bums in cups like wine spod-ee-odie,
The way that cigarettes are currency in the pen,
The pits like butts scraped away to the hard end,
So close that those who haven't bitten
Can't really say they've lived.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Saturday, July 11, 2015
And everything they are doing -- from eating sushi to tying balloons--
is just the amused moving of the universal mind,
And out of that forms vast conceptual structures to explain
existence through all of its facets,
A sea of patterns we can always love into coherence but as models
they collapse because they only refer back to me
Who doesn't exist.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Monday, July 6, 2015
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
In this place without sanction,
Where discomfort's like breathing
And conflict is as common as rain.
Still we persist in smiling,
In trying to be admired
Or, failing that, appearing admirable.
So sometimes it is hard to raise our hands and say
And even the smallest pleasure has an itchy catch.
Of recognition of us in its eyes. It seems to flicker
If only we were better, righter, more sure,
So our new gears spin, more reasons applied to unreason,
To salve with savage comfort a sense, at least, that we
Created this morass of ill will and sickness
Try to be patient as the place explodes with rage and stupidity,
Write out our hopes for a peace we have lost already.
What else can we do?
Of an empty ball bouncing through it:
Things to do, tempers to manage, thoughts to suppress.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
I have no memories of reality
But of dreams the backlot set's intact,
still kodak lit:
A second-story rare Elysium Books,
Cocktails in neon at the Tic Toc Club,
Ballroom Dancing at the Empire Hotel,
Then a closet-sized candy store where happiness and meaning are unwrapped from jars --
This is where the thunder hits
And the stormcloud sunsets go to die.
Paradise Island, Bahamas
The Atlanteans return
On summer break
For the blue lights
And the white sand
And the palms still unconstrained
Like ancient breasts
The blacks of many colors
Keepers of its keys
Who stayed in the wake
Of their apocalypse
Point their rhyming fingers
At the illuminated towers
And tell of Judgment for the lack
Of any morality
The world is not just
This imagined diorama
Of the once and future empire
It is here in the living shadows
Of the palm leaves on stone
And in the cloudwoman's tears
That bring new life for the failures
Of free will made every moment
And in the notes
Of the breeze
Afraid to say
What it knows
Saturday, June 27, 2015
There's no getting around this wall,
With its glittering codes
That lock out all souls from its sea-bed cities.
I strain and I cry, only to find
That I am the city, breathing.
The only way through: the blue liquid of truth
Drifting like ink to something alive.
The more airtight the explanation,
The more unassailable the fact,
The more wrong it is,
Because there's a power in it then
To be right, to sweep away
The pain and the wrong on this dark side
Of the world
With a clean beam
People turn to stone like coral too
Their faces remembered
And forms preserved,
But the force that was their living
Is still elusive,
The poison of the anemone, still,
Is seen as less than its ambrosia.
We are in pain.
We can't let go.
There must be something separate
To hold onto.
the poetfish glisten in such a way
One thinks that they are mirrors
Or something seen right through
But they are only large and thin
And swim with a certain sway.
Their inscrutable faces -- star eyes,
Rarefied frowns -- come alive in contempt,
Because they are seen
And because they are not.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Unfolding to a meadow
Where every farm girl walks at dusk
White petals billowing
The air of gothic melodrama
Where crows wings turn blood red
And only seem alive in light.
To signify the ending of this world.
Sight cannot contain the seen
Like the crow's croak there's so much hidden
That we carefully agreed not to see:
This thing we feel,
What we call nothing.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
To let me create them
As if I, not they, were real.
Still they became
Dim shapes at altar lights
Not things to be seen in themselves
—Too much pain in between,
That gift of a further ghost
Who claims it is all in my head,
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Saturday, May 16, 2015
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, again,
quivering faithless naked,
drugging themselves through the strep throat streets at early light
dawn for a Muhlys peach cobbler fix,
wearing hipster doofus clown shoes burning at the sole
for the starry Domino Sugar sign in the confection of night,
who excessive with poverty and speech sat in slavemaster chairs
smoking second-hand shake in ghost apartments fed by
stolen electricity contemplating bad poems until they vomited,
who fried their minds in the library and saw the look of sanity
in the security guard angel who escorted them back to the street,
who passed by Poe's grave and the birthplace of the Babe on the way
to law school every day with a retainer of cool and a backpack
who were expelled from the academies for the sanity of shooting
hoops with urban youth instead of calling out in class
the professor's fouls,
who souffléd in high dives to give their sloe-eyed artist girlfriends
reprieve from windowless dayjobs in Calvert office towers,
whose connections got busted by the sound of their inhalers
in a farm house in Westminster holding a half a ton of weed,
who smoked formaldehyde with Hell-Beings in old skipper's quarters
or drank the devil's holy waters in St. Casimir's Catholic Church
where the High Polish accents were like Latin,
who looked for dreams and drugs and nightmares and fucks in every
lamppost from Lovegrove to Howard Street,
incomparable alleys of cobblestone and wrought iron the mind leaping
toward poles of barber and vine, the motionless world
where time stopped like a Delta 88 in a soda jerk
store fountain with a Sarsparilla Jubilee
so the vampires could taste the lips on the straw, and the spirits
hum in amplifiers across tarbaby roofs guitars
of graveyard Indians unstrung through strung-out fingers
every mad and merry melody ever not allowed to be played
so the ears of those imprisoned could still escape,
who couldn't fantasize away the cinnamon bun epoxy haze
of afternoon except by thinking they were mad
as the translucent light in lun-atic Moonie eyes
or the bum who sang like the Bee Gees going
uh-huh-huh uh-huh-huh at an octave heard by dogs,
who watched the rise and set of neon Chinese restaurant lights
while smoking Old Golds, Chesterfields and other defunct brands
and spent burnt-out afternoons chewed out by Abe Sherman
for reading literature in a newsstand reserved for war,
who talked continuously about the reality of their fantasies,
to save the world or make the film or get the girl or find
the job was all the same as good as done,
a lost platoon of kept and lonely men too good to bathe or change
but not too proud to brag or beg for a nocturnal dope transmission
or an early morning light,
coughing up demon mothers and absent fathers and all the tortures
of growing up spoiled and rotten in a late and god-forsaken
empire of ennui,
remembering every detail of every record, film or TV show
of the last 100 years and what it meant not just to them
but to the world at large that never knew its tragic beauty,
who vanished in day trips of copious Gunpowder bonghits
only to reappear at a barn town pizzeria
slumming like a Long Island celebrity,
who wandered downtown midnights desolate except for the mkultra
bankers preparing the final margin call on the world
by squeezing squeegie kids which nobody saw coming,
who swam with the tortoises in the pools of old estates
to protect the breasts of their Elysium mermaid girlfriends
from the moon,
who fished with the locals at the chromium stacks, and shrieked
with glee as their guinea pigs roamed through their hair,
who walked the cocaine streets where Reagan the great black father
dealt children china white and told us there was no pokey he was
sorry to say only gumby,
who knew the doom would be invisible to even rastafari
revolutionaries trying to get a fix on snowy UHF antennas
for the white preacher special sauce that gave them hope
they'd someday lose a chess game with the world and gain
a quarter for a cup of joe in lieu of a soul,
who heard Baltimore breathe in all its supernatural being
and knew that they were only bearings turning
without a care in the swirl,
who played with nymphs and sprites in the ancient castle ruins
along the Jones Falls Expressway: Chessie, London Fog,
Kirk & Stieff, the Drydock Company,
who gave up promising careers to wear a monocle and cape
and applied for a job as a chimney sweep,
who saw My Fair Lady replayed with Baldymer accents on the
hearse trucks of Arabber horses where Negros all in black
who shot croquet in row house lawns saying "more Parks sausages
mom" hoping some tabs of acid would make them as mad
as the average lunchpail stiff, who was never mad at all
only angry as hell that the Colts had left town and with them
where they first fell in love with pig-iron reality,
who eyed their girlfriends in every Fells Point bar from the Wharf Rat
to Bertha's Mussels, praying they wouldn't be picked up again
by the next loser to claim Jimmy Buffett stole his songs,
on shore leave while the real ones said "you're so beautiful"
to all the black girls on Light Street,
in doves blood ink from Grandma's Candle Shop,
who fed the dead in the form of seagulls still like Jesus on a hill
in the sky, wrote graffiti as purdy and purple as the sunrise,
and hitched a ride from a trucker named Grizzly
in the middle of the Fort McHenry tunnel,
who sent out their poems, songs, paintings, photos and prayers
in little paper boats to light up in the toxic phosphorescent night,
who embarrassed the Communist Party by playing the blues too loud
in their HQ on Farmer's Quilting Bee Day,
to the half-empty galleries uptown but ended up giving it away
to homeless families they met in lieu of food,
this actually happened and walked away still unknown
and forgotten into the winter ghosts of Bolton Hill not even
one night free from spanging,
who populated civilization's sunsets complete with ashen
gargoyle pigeons, perfect London storefronts with only
antique lead inside, fountains where they talked up their lust
for heroin guitar and called it love, gay laundromats
where lovers worked things out pale porcelain mornings,
who talked about the Rolling Stones in tones once used for Olympians
while eating egg fu yung in an all-night, all-black front
for organized crime in Pen Lucy,
who talked of Shelley to dope dealers, Blake to homeless vets,
and Kierkegaard to crack whores one last dick away from death,
who had to twist the facts to match the truth, and punch up their
anecdotes of shame with doom,
who knew the answer to any confusion is sharing fluids,
who cut through the niggerthick night like a knife on a ripened slab
of cheese at a rat-trap rent party casing every form-
stoned block of the city oblivious to the looks or bricks or shots
or scams that bloomed past every light,
in Mondawmen, not a one of them left with windows or doors
just tags from ancient lifetimes in a roaring sunset hearth,
declared total war on all art that didn't come from the streets,
touring from Cross Keys to Sandtown with a singular sincerity
of purpose, to catalog the great and neglected countries of the
globe, like Pigtown, Gay Street, Otterbein, Loch Raven, Broening
Manor, Barre Circle, Montebello, Ridgeley's Delight,
who broke bread with the in-bred illbillies of Dickeyville and shared
Thunderbird in the Cherry Hill projects for kicks,
that minute by minute year by year distends and releases borne
like a skipjack ceaselessly back to the red, red clay,
chimeras from West Virginia down the bad wolf streets
of Highlandtown, dream of being still, in hell, on a white-
washed stoop before a screen of the most primitive America
imaginable, something commensurate with our desire to
escape the impossible, the impregnable holder of our seed,"
who knew every sailor who ever breezed through the rotting
Ferry Bar ports, from the mermaid-striken, siren-deafened
slave merchant to the boilerman ink-scarred with celluloid
ghosts on tankers dealing in death by chemicals,
pharmaceuticals and chrome,
who worked at a factory that made white,
months at a time,
voices made them insane, where the mad diagnosed the mad
while the real mad ran always free, where the lithium dispensed
wouldn't turn her into a man or make his father come back home,
where they escaped from after finally learning that life itself
was a dream but they couldn't wake up anyway,
who were lobotomized by cocktail talk, electroshocked by party
girls, made comatose waiting for a bus on Greenmount Avenue,
concussed by relentless Baltimore logic from Mosher to
Overlea, and it was all a small price to pay to not have to see
newspapers, magazines, movies or TV,
who despite that wrote unpublishable 200-page letters to the editor
that were more real than a decade's worth of investigative
thought piece editorials in the New York Times,
who gave thanks as they were handed keys to executive rubber
rooms by fairies and told the secrets of post-Einsteinian
physics by trolls,
who lived in an alternative reality where they jammed at CBGBs,
The Blue Note, Leeds, all the finest Vicksburg chicken shacks,
Vienna parlors (on the weekends), only to face the horrors
of having to leave the apartment and go to 7-11
for cigarettes and be exposed to Kenny G,
who drove until the tires blew in El Diablo Texas
when a lonely waif and her siren call beckoned the exiles
of the artificial soul to soap operas on other shores,
who, in pursuit of that girl, moved to Bejing to sell pharmaceuticals,
Venice to learn how a gentleman panhandles, the Deep South
to find a guru, Colorado to get some sunshine honestly,
only to return to the weirdness like a prodigal son, as earlier they'd
come from Boston or Buffalo, DC or the Eastern Shore,
for the peace made here with hopelessness, for the purity
of the squalor, for how divinely indifferent a city of victims
could be, and how comforting it was to embrace the void
with spirits who kept the lights on in what would have
otherwise been cold and unfurnished rooms,
and, now, Rusty, with the last girl escaped from her cage, the last dime
bag handed to the wind in exchange for a glitter-tailed ball,
the last three-days-to-quit notice nailed like all your theses
on your brownstone door, the last makeshift attempt to keep
some old machine in your apartment running like another
coat-hanger dropped to the floor, the last faked painting finally
turned to the wall, and even Bob Marley says he's too old
to play golf witch you no more —
ah, Rusty, as long as you were real, I could believe the ghosts were
angels, munificent with you as their pimp, and the past as our
hope, but the dirt turns to crime as night burns off to grey, and
the real spits you out when you no more believe in it, when
unworthiness stops your dream dead in mid-gleam,
black seed of not-me worn like a diamond to be adored,
and eventually every two-bit Whitman thinks his sampler is immortal,
that the future always knows just how the dissonance will
resolve, but kind hindsight wonders instead why so much energy
was expended, why such need for learning, why could an entire
generation not be children, just now taught how to plant a fig tree
or play an accordion.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
With great cobalt beauty from a distance
The roads ring bravely with promise:
Yacht Club Drive, Riviera Road, Sea Elf Way
But post-apocalyptic road rage warrior hulks lie smoking
Across the saltflat ruins to the beach
Where thermometer-necked chicken locals
Have turned their collective backs on the shore
Like the millions of desiccated fish lying there
With frying pan hands. One looked like Sonny Bono
As it lifted its head up slightly, looked at me menacingly
And croaked 'I got you babe' in a raspy whisper as I passed by.
Exploded meth lab houses - dozens of them - down every road,
Every single one twisted and mangled with fury,
Seethe malevolence towards one's person, life, limb, psyche
In layers upon layers of lurid satanic graffiti
Like 'property is robbery' and 'poetry is dead',
Leavened only by a bombed-out, stand-alone chimney
Painted into a red demon with horns.
A man makes his living here encasing scorpions in amber
As if the alluvium that washes this land clean
Has room at the end for the free.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Of balustrades and train delays
Just makes the distance more acute.
The wring of rubbing hands.
No solace for the man who lost his time
And pride, for though he's always wrong
He still can see a woman deeply
So still she feels compassion for him.
Even a gentle breeze would jar the quantum field
Like a library where the homelessness can sleep.
And then it's Spanish warm
And intergalactic with mystery
As if there's still some place
The past will be allowed to exist.
Friday, May 1, 2015
sanctiphonious acrimoneys or summary elocutions,
each word a regular Rorschach blur
of hip-hop call-to-action subliminals
tested for your protection at an all-nite diner focus group
where they brought in the King's airtight coffee alibi
just before a breakthrough
can destroy, Prospero, what's already lost
or make the ghost limbs of Sandtown grow back.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
All balance collapses: the green fields,
where doves shriek, and hyacinths seethe
and gaunt, tended trees ring with voices that call
Across the street, to stiff and brown grass
bushy like the sea, occasional cricket richochet,
some stray fast-food paper and gray plastic cups
Alive with the wind, and the dirt drinking up
impossible levels of decay. The earth now is human
while we've moved on, to crystal lines drawn
As far as horizons, electric blue, go
between earth and sky, reduced to pure charge
spreading one mind, like lights coming on in the night.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
The wind is strong 'cause the sky can't keep up with the earth
For the furnace underground has just enough power
To dance with the sun, itself a mirror
Of crystaline darkness sparkling with love
So when you talk with a bird
Do it in your own words
So she'll know you through what you've learned
Not what you've heard
Just as you can understand this poem
Even though it won't yield to sense
Monday, April 6, 2015
Saturday, April 4, 2015
And the branches are free of imposed design
So can move in the air where no one is looking
And be more than art, more than light, more than mind
Only there can the past be at peace, be at rest
No longer thinking that it's still in the present
For the way things appear has no hold on the future
The sun rubs the detail and no one's afraid
Friday, April 3, 2015
knuckles in the dirt
Knows every peaceless word
repeated by the fountain
Yet offers itself like a 12-year-old boy
holds a butterfly for a girl
the concrete and the shadow
Those are what is real
with real flames trapped inside
You know that this is true
by how strong and strange they are"
to break through the illusion
As David was discovered
by Michaelangelo in a stone
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Each blossom says “love me” to the sky and to the bees
And wave hello to we who don’t know
How our smiles come in sunglow to please.
These orange hairs may in themselves well be something
But the way they shake, along the spearmint tree
Says “What powers you, dear sun, powers me.”
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015
In the deep contoured armchair
In the strawberry fields
In the moist grey twilight
In the tractor shed
In the shrill drain pipe
In the chromium pool
In the corrupted way kids have of pronouncing things
In the fairy-tale world of Mary Poppins and these United States
In the lantern-lit world of nodding Mandarins hung over the curtain
rod to dry
In the shadow of the lives of others
In the rainy space of an hour
In the ladies room of the Eastern Yacht Club
In the classified section of the Christian Science Monitor
In the gorgeous errors of flesh
In the stage props of alleyways
In the arms of a blind optimism with breasts full of champagne
nipples and breasts made of caviar
In the terror of her slow sorrow
In the blanched light of wrongness
In the world of orange lepers and shin beef
In the iced drinkable air
In the tongues of those we patronize
In the stillness of waiting for guests
In the Sargasso of my imagination
In the steel-toothed jaws of my schedule
In the world to be afraid of
In the snow-smashed funicular railway
In the condemned house next door
In the jargon of decorum
In the shower forcing herself to enjoy the hot water on her body
because she hated his guts
In the grave he barely paid for
In the turquoise-painted deck chairs along the Promenade des
In the temporary sun of his ruthless force
In the measure of our self-surrender
In the wet, black Sunday streets of Camden Town
In the city sunk in predawn slumber
In the cold mean spring
Friday, January 30, 2015
Both children had fathers who should be put away
They drove the kid's mother off the wits-end cliff
One sparked up with laughter and one lit up a spliff
And just as the logic of slitting their throats
Hit me I saw from the fog like a boat
It was a wishing boot
Like a Mexican faux-leather suit
A wishing boot
It was a wishing boot
I buckled it down to not do'it
On a fat old dream they said would beat in my chest
But the duke kept on coming with no washing it down
A month of no rain and they put me down
To beg on the street like every Hollywood clown
When one day it shone from the lost and the found
A wishing boot
My dream as a new recruit
A wishing boot
It was a wishing boot
Got me a job and a suit
As long as we don't hold to what we have got
A corn-cob pipe full of rainbow party favors
As long as you're not hooked on one of the 33 and a half flavors
The wishing boot
It gave me the girl and the loot
The wishing boot
Great magic boot
Sunset gold hillsides of fruit...
But one by one they got out flew away and gone
Until just one chicken, who was called by Chickadee
Was left in the barn for me to feed
A bigger place for us I could not steal or beg
Until that chicken started laying them golden eggs
A wishing bird
The whole darn time the bird had been the word
A wishing bird
Was there to serve
And finally our dream house occurred
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
My translation of Los suenos dialogados by Antonio Machado.
How in the high plains your figure
To me appears! ... My word evokes
Green meadow and barren plateau,
The brush in bloom, Cinderella Rock.
And with obedient memory, black oak
Springs to the hill, poplars grow down river,
The shepherd moves slowly up the slope;
A balcony shines in town: my own,
The teacher. See? Toward Aragon, distant,
The Moncayo range, pink and white ...
Watch the fire of that scarlet cloud,
And the star in the blue, wife.
Beyond the Duero, Santana Hill
Turns lavender in the evening silence.
Why, tell me, does my heart flee
To the high plains from this shore,
And in this land of mariners and farmers
I sigh for Castillian wastes?
Nobody chooses his love. Destiny brought me
One day to these grey clay spaces
Which drive away the cold snow falling
On the shadows of the dead oak trees.
From that one piece of Spain, high and rocky,
I bring you today, Guadalquivar flower,
A branch of rough rosemary.
My heart is where it was born
-- not to life, to love -- near the Duero...
The white wall and cypress erect!
The embers of a sunset, lady,
Broken off the brown thundercloud
Were painted on Cinderella Rock
Of Luene Hill resplendent at dawn.
A dawn that curdles ice-cold rock
Is astonishing and terrible to the traveler
But never to the lion fierce in clear day
Or the giant bear down the mountain gorge.
With the incense of love, I lit
The murky dream of hope and fear,
I go to the sea, to oblivion
--and not like how rock-soft night
Spins a shade round the planet.
Do not call me, because I cannot turn.
O solitude, my sole companion,
Oh muse of wonder, who gave my voice
The word I never asked for,
Answer my question: with whom am I speaking?
Away from the noisy masquerade
I enjoy my friendless sadness
With you, lady of the veiled face,
Always veiled to share words with me.
Today I think: this who is what I am
Is no longer my grave mystery, this face
Recreated in this intimate mirror
But the loving enigma of your voice.
Uncover your face, for I see your eye
Fixed on me like a diamond.
I'm dreaming paths
in the afternoon.
gold, green pines,
Where does this road go?
I'm singing, traveler
along the way ...
— the afternoon's collapsing.
"At the heart there is
a cactus spike of passion;
One day I managed to pull it out:
Now I don't feel the heart."
And all the land a moment
stays, mute and gloomy,
meditating. Wind sounds
in poplars by the river.
The afternoon is mostly dark;
and the serpentine path
blurs and disappears.
My singing returns to lament:
"Sharp golden spike,
who you might feel
in a heart breached."
Monday, December 22, 2014
Leave the mind like a home that can't contain you
and the deepest meaning permeates the room
like an opening in heaven for a buddha
to hang a red watch off of your nose
that points you to your origins — to be restored
you have heavenly hands
and the void.
Take the whistling tea of the complaining heart
off the heat. Others are mirrors, you must let them go
beyond your karma, to freedom. We are already human
and becoming inconceivable, learning to be calm
before the grace where there is no gain,
beyond the subtle forms
to essences unfathomable.
We kicked them through the door with dusty words
— they forgot their body was on fire, and remembered,
through the effort of forgetting, their dew.
Friday, December 12, 2014
The metaphors that lurk in its fields
Wait also inside the words that describe,
As inaccessible part of the real.
Than a chaser of painterly fancies
Fantasized from explainable facades
I play, as purveyor of broken clouds,
Want privileged views of their deeper currents.
So much is asked in this pathos glow.
It's on the leaves, in the breeze, in the light
As if I must make a home for it, I,
Who can't take myself in, except in sleep
And rare nights of pity, when I'm hungry.
Friday, December 5, 2014
if those sad eyes
yield such sympathy?
Her world seems so like mine
I can barely tell she's thrown
her life away,
And I can feel we're victims both
of a cold, unlistening void
that offers no compassion for mistakes,
just the same nightmare over and over,
the one about the bear under the bed
that never did go away.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Down these deep ravines of jungle smoke
there's the green river where John Huston swam,
contemplating how the bananas bend with the water.
He sunbathed on these white slab rocks
in a white robe like the hierophant he was,
giving permission for the stories
to scream themselves out of the jungle.
This is where he ate, on a verandah with burnt-orange walls
eating lion souffle made by R-r-r-r-amon,
Jalisco's greatest chef, who he won in a poker bet,
or so he'd regale his guests, who'd endured horseflies and humidity,
with his avuncular tales of savagery,
of killing prostitutes with Ben Hecht back in the day,
of putting leeches on Humphrey Bogart while he slept;
all for the part, he'd imply in his aw-shucks mien,
for the artist's tricks are no good unless inscrutable.
This is where he worked, in a hard-backed mission chair
on an ancient Royal typewriter, where he turned
Heraclitus into garish pictures, and garish pictures back to art
while smoking a cigar, his one concession to shame,
channelling this jungle energy, of animal spirits
beyond all human comfort and control,
to create a kingdom he presided over
where there was nothing left but the will to live
in a world full of terror,
and whether he was courageous or weak or cruel doesn't matter,
for there was always a deeper terror, that we'd become so numb
to pain our lives would cease to matter.
This is the porch where Night of the Iguana was filmed,
where the air of Tennessee Williams still clings to the eaves,
and there's the bridge Liz crossed to get to Dick.
He walked along this beach, weighing each insanity
in the cool wind softly turning.
And this is where he slept, the bugs and sun for once shut out
by real palm blinds on windowless slats.
I lean in to hear the snoring,
and what would be but a tropical backdrop
becomes an actual place,
full of the lies he told, of Moulin Rouge and Judge Roy Bean,
Crazy Davy and Brigid O'Shaunessey.
The complete lack of sense
connects this unfathomable place
to his unaccountable art.
Buenas Noches Puerto Vallarta, born beautiful and corrupt,
as if resorts no longer need historical innocence.
His home is long demolished, the only access is by boat
to even an imagined river, no iguanas are left
who remember him, only a few confused cineastes
and some drunken locals who know he put them on the map
so they put up a statue, not along the pier
like the naked cowboy on the seahorse
or the mermaids chasing deer, but it is somewhere
down some shady avenue by the old river.
Monday, December 1, 2014
reach into Long Beach
and the Queen Mary marooned
while seagulls gloat
Pre-Raphaelites before swine,
the Mad Hatter, Gatsby and Atlas
who holds rococo grapes to column tops
as the floating buffet escapes from time
on the strictest of clocks
A happy song about revenge killing
in the late afternoon sun over tea
on the high seas
A blue rubber flower bathing cap
makes the infant wearing it smile
like there's joy in growing out of the earth as separate
The women stare over the rails
like Roman mermaids with implied swords,
stretching bikini'd torsos
while a ginger girl holds a black and white ice cream cone
for all girls
The houses fall up the hills in Mexico,
where they distill themselves into colors to sell
but you cannot see the moustache in the mirrors by the beaches
or hear the shiny trumpets in the Latin of the parrots
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Morning comes like tiger stripes
to flap upon the swells like gulls
in agate clouds below the deck
atop a seething sea,
Where phantom fins in weedy skeins
rope through the tinsel sheen
as if on mystery feeding.
The sea protects its fishes,
makes every gleam of sun seem jumping life
to shimmer in mid-air like rising stars
as if this heaven isn't really there.
Then the ocean lightens
from cloud openings of blue, to express,
without meaning to, something of the secret
Of these restless peaks, that drive
like ordered armies, how they
send out tribal lines as one
long irritation of current
Across the deep blue monochrome
forever torn by white and wrinkled black
like slackened fabric pulled forever tight.
The waves smooth out by afternoon
from sunlight's white steam iron,
wool brushed to burnished pearl
that swirls with impossibility,
That the water never stops its churn
in honor of our mind
listing in the golden light, side to side.
But the blue sky lets the blue sea
darken back to mystery:
it's but the play on water brows of light
that makes us speculate there's something there;
It could be veins of coal,
obsidian sun sharpened
for all we know, as we move along alone.
From our pirate masque we call the clouds
macabre across the Baja,
and in between the thing we call the void,
a kind of mirror on the unseen.
All the ocean has of us
is that light shining back
as a momentary hope.
The blue grows bolder as it slips
across the dying sun, become a dome,
a dish, a hovering saucer
before her last light twinkles above water
And sky spreads hues of purple-rose
and peach-skin lavender
while the sea below stays blue and undisturbed
Save its endless agitation
as it drifts to neither yield nor connect
just persist, overcoming
what no longer has a bearing
Or a path. We cross what has no voice
or face, just sound and sight bereft
just like our longing.
Man-made lamp on inky whirl,
fish scales rise against the spiral,
all we want imposed on ocean
All the implications are a circle
banging round our brains
as all we have.
The morning shows compassion
as the sea serves pewter kindness
like runny eggs and grapefruit
with a joyous cherry top.
The blue is calm, like sails pulled on
by a flock of invisible wings
to what we'd consider a port-of-call,
A form for plastic ocean
in the yoke strap of the human
seeking purpose, finding meaning
in emotion instant come
Like beads of sun off of the swells
that, though impossible to know, we intone
a kind of prayer to, of actual accord,
Of hidden lace to make a gift
we can't unwrap, imprisoned
by the self that scintillates
in an undulating garbage bag...
But kindness comes, somehow, again,
when a dolphin breaks the plane
to children squealing.
No succor, just transcendence;
brain strands pulse in milky plumes,
Just shears of sea expressing,
as the weight bears languidly away,
rainbow spray from white-capped frosting.
A rolling boil of blue, adjusting,
sends would-be shapes back to the void,
all the unborn shores and fields and mountains
for us, it seems, to know
In the moment they are gone:
the blue translucent dunes,
the bolts of sapphire sun.
Smoke appears along the sea
like a Portuguese Man-of-war
and the waves dissolve in nebulous mist
that hits the deck like tea-kettle steam
Releasing every vision back to white,
which clears to fresh nothingness, born-again sea
as if to ask how long now can we stay free?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
the stupid dead,
hanging for dear life,
all one long mistake,
they almost speak
in weaknesses of hinges.
but dressed, for all intents, to impress, one must guess, Satan.
They tortured every lie out,
corrected every truth (save their complaint)
to blacken their tracks,
hide themselves in these shadows.
those who died to be right,
who traipsed that line between pride and authenticity,
saw only how they'd stilled a beating heart,
their own, of the one, with ice
that turned to gentle ashes
to nurture all that's called the name of life
beneath the shadows growing large
in bare and brittle afternoons
where teacups still are filled.
when others always were all that you are,
no matter all the sips you stole to call them yours.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Restingwind in teacher's robes
So Heaven doesn't have to
At the lost ones' holy shapes
As they learn what needs release
Through the Western gates
Like a roses' scent
The wisdom eye
In a dualistic spiral
Asking "how can we ever lose the past?"
As it detaches
To a mist that seems as emptiness
The whipping tail of rain
Almost like words
The six dusts glisten
In the changing light
As if they never move
As if they do exist
Lifted from the fallen
Who left as sifted imprints
The mistakes at the beginning
Reformings of the formless
Like invisible knots untied
To feel the pain of no pain
So we know how suffering's bliss
Thursday, October 23, 2014
still has claims on me. But there's no room any more
for even coffee and blue agave, when love, swept in like a storm
moves the broom.
Re-moon-eration of a moth-eaten flame.
The butterflies, at least, seem happy to be born,
— no longer in pain at what is lost — no fear there's
no path, just flight. Incandescent they lift
limitations with ease and grace, evade time and space,
seeking something not seen.
The brown leaves turning purple now.
Maybe someday I'll stop fearing these things,
and reserve my terror for myself alone,
who makes a giant dissolve in his boots.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
to hear the waves of grief
waiting on the outside
to be healed
like a pure slack-key guitar
to the lava people: lush black rocks
made love to by forever's new white
breakers, that honors every singular
with a flower
in the moment of merger
swaying in no direction but their own.
The grasses stretch their arms.
Long roots hang down like earth's raw nerves
from giant empty heads above
in the koa, in the stone,
in emerald gold, blue cloud.
They seem to want a voice
not the red dirt river of life that takes
from place to place;
this endless wave of beauty wants to hear ... us,
just as endless
but blessed with the curse:
a sense for
as the children are washed away.
The white hibiscus like a sniffing bee.