Monday, January 25, 2016

January Rattle

What the bean locust tree says
is everything we can't hear otherwise
from the aching outside to be heard
by the aching inside to hear,
what we call "imaginary."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Inkblot Sky

LA noir at its most serene,
Mr. Groom saying "the emperor has no chain,"
And her reminding him "It's a fwee countwee"
As if he ever could forget.
So the day pulled away the vested handkerchief of grey
To find that smudge of lipstick evening pink.

At Sunset Beach

Thought is no different than other viruses;
It propagates itself to survive.
The oil's mixed with plastic jetsam from the eddies.
The gulls fly bamboo sticks over the tide;
Why we can only surmise.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sunrise Blues

Pink snow mountains,
Palm trees still asleep,
Sun on a white stone wall...

The world is too beautiful to see.

The Well-Read Boy on the Train

Poets and intellectuals
work the data mines
for hopelessness seems
close to the solution
in a world that's hope-bereft

Students still read Paradise Lost -
it gets simpler
with each passing year -
we, sinners all
still shake our fear crosses

Still people build their houses
outside of corruption
albeit they're aglow
with all the reports of it
from some central dispensation

And even the clouds
cannot obey,
and the bodies sometimes
take the poison
sometimes don't

It's enough to call it
chaos, but that's a word
that they use
for something else, a thing
that gives them power

But are we not controlled,
who shift so numbly to
the side of all we see?
Is the thought of freedom
the illusion we are free?

Do we listen to a Satan
omnipresent and eternal,
or is the voice just too
damn inaudible?
Yes the symbols are embedded

in every program that we see
but we thumb our noses
at all that, riffling the dial,
blinking as our heroes
genuflect before it,

That's their deal, see,
not mine, you know,
I still can dig an orgy
but not if there's too much
blood

The yearning's secret
in every heart
for something
beyond that power,
something one can actually hear

in the wind and the birds
and the streams, life is real
and death is a rumor,
and anyone with half a mind
can read that gossip rag

with names like Milton,
Blake and Shelley,
who still work
in Satan's mills,
as if they haven't changed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Purpose of Piezoelectric Barium Strontium Titanate Crystals

And all of this
To watch us glow,
To track our
Enlightenment
Though we're deathly afraid
That they keep us
Asleep
By dimming the sun,
Ending the world,
None of which counts
In the instant of life;
All their smart dust
Just a button we push.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Eyes

A cold sea
Goes as far as
The white sand
Still numb
At day's end
To touch.
At a distance are some houses.
Their windows are on fire.

Histoire

They looked through Ronsard's forms
As we, far from any Geneva of the mind,
Look in the folds of cloud
For what is false,
What is real.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Last Gift

Christmas crows in orange trees;
they know that ribbon's coming.

But now they shriek as we make frowns
behind the scheduled miracle.

That little patch of morning light
too pure for us to contemplate.

We must ignore all slights and wounds
to fight what is.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In the Red Light of December

The poet speaks
The world recedes
There is no sound
Left of his breathing

He draws the void
We might believe
If there could be
An end to reading

The words erase
Each tiny thing
But there is never
Really nothing

As the theory
Would have it be
Meaning glows like glass
Cannot empty

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Light Inside the World

The sun behind Catalina
Makes all Surf City pink
Except for the eastern mountains
Violet already.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Gift of Seeing Purple

City of joy
in a broken world,
like a smile on a busted toy.
God shines whole through every
weathered Camel pack
strewn in depot pebbles.
Still we make of Art our God
to salve a wound
too deep for even knowing,
take such comfort from the false
because it can only condemn
with opinion.

The earth has been more patient
than the sunset ever shows,
it waits with solace for our
quivering minds
when we recognize there is no
roof above us, there are no
stones inside, the concepts that we
trade like food are vapor
in the void.

The voices in the wind,
the faces in the shade,
speak always of the one
— the alone is the only thing —
it is all.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Haiku

For once costumes fit
Little Tokyo Halloween
Bats watch from windows

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Thought Freed from Context

You don't understand unless you misunderstand.
What else can we learn from except our mistakes?
What else is there to life?

Friday, August 28, 2015

On Dog Beach

Riding with the dogs
In the ruff curl as it rips
And the twilight surfers
Pearled blue
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
To agree:
"This is a day to be happy."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Five O'Clock Voices

The fountain burbling
does more, says more
than the campus full
of fretful smiles

but we only understand
the ones that go: "don't
do that, don't say that
ever again. Don't scare me
ever again like that."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Filters

There are no ghosts screaming from the memory hole,
No black glass towers shuffling money on the hill
Or the smell of weed and urine along the string of bare hotels.
There is no man on a walker asking me if there's anything's wrong,
No wheelchair panhandlers
Or bums for hire with dog.
There are no cops on segues bantering Batman-clad ladies,
No luxury excavations beside the shopping cart clan
Or jewelry stores where Navajo security guards stand.
There are no "free smells" of coffee,
No Hollywood wannabes still red-haired and half-naked
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

The Osprey in the Bare Tree

The osprey in the bare tree sees:
Crabs perambulate to keep the world
In front of their testing claws;
Insects that use every joint and leg
To circumnavigate quivering leaves;
Steel-eyed rabbits glisten in camouflage
Waiting for cover of walking humans to move;
Schools of fish in furious slalom run
Silver scale 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

Lotus

A squalor beyond the Music Center:
papers wrapped 'round weeds
with all that value's let skirt free;
beauty's richest soil.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The All-Seeing Lie

Everyone is an adult but me.
They seem so real, so fully formed,
as if I know their stories and their smells,
have lived their lives for them already, 
as if I know the eccentricity where they will fail.

Still I look in longing like the child I am,
eager to learn what illusions to believe,
what losses to sense, what fragments to call whole, 
as if, in every word I know before they speak it,
there is something not yet me.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Day and Night in Corona Del Mar

Rocks like penuche fudge,
Sunset's white surf
Below a slow burning sky
That fights the night.

But soon the moon calls the rocks from the sea,
Dances mercury along the waves
To open up what is to what could be.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Light Within the Window

The refraction grows abstract,
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

In Seattle

A sweetness brief, the days of sun and cherries
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

As the Water Moves In

As the water moves in
Fish race over canyons
On tracks that spontaneously appear
From an intelligence like ripples and bubbles.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

We Cannot Believe the Pyramids Were Built

We cannot believe the pyramids were built
By man, mere man
Yet volcanos of ants do the same thing
Every day.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bunker Hill Lunch

It's the kind of a day where everyone in the city looks like someone
       I know
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

Furioso He Claimed

Furioso he claimed
But the old man's elbow of a tree limb
Barely nodded.
The snails stuck to its underarms
Had listened to his crap all along.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Crane Walks on Water

Crane walks on water
Stands buddha still
Flies like an angel
Purer than sound.
To her the drones and trash do not exist.
To us that's all there is.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

White-Eyed Pigeons Fluff Each Other Up

White-eyed pigeons fluff each other up,
Fastidiously scouring feathers
Like a priest wets a newborn face;
They must be very clean
To beg in this town.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In the Air All Discontent

In the air all discontent
Dancing invisible words
The butterfly settles on a branch
And becomes a leaf.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Although the Squirrel

Although the squirrel
Eats with both hands
His black eyes are fixed
On the call of the leaves
From another world.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happiness and a Broken Arm

Everyone takes what they need
In this place without sanction,
Where discomfort's like breathing
And conflict is as common as rain.

Nothing works and nothing fits,
Still we persist in smiling,
In trying to be admired
Or, failing that, appearing admirable.

Joy comes from the sun, love's free in our veins,
So sometimes it is hard to raise our hands and say
There is no meaning here, we are alone in this crowd,
And even the smallest pleasure has an itchy catch.

We try so hard to make this thing bear a light
Of recognition of us in its eyes. It seems to flicker
Only to tumble back like gears that would move
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
As something for us sinners to savor.

So we struggle til we get some mechanical task right,
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? 

The heaven of nothing needs the echo
Of an empty ball bouncing through it:
Things to do, tempers to manage, thoughts to suppress.
It's called believing in oneself.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Post-Apocalypse Storm

Orlando, Florida

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.

Plato's Retreating Shadows

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
(Laughing anyway)

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
Too clearly

Saturday, June 27, 2015

In the Ancient Kingdom of Exuma

I.
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.

II.
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
Of light.

III.
People turn to stone like coral too
Their faces remembered
And forms preserved,
But the force that was their living
Is still elusive,
Unforgiven.

IV.
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.

V.
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

Why Plants in Nature Always Resemble Old Horror Movies

Life amid the dead
Both delicate
Purple
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.

Then sunset flares its spectral aura
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

Delmore

The ghosts were so kind
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,
This madness.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sunset in Commerce

Lady Liquor stiffs and tagged Til Death Tattoos
Then back to Slauson and the pits of hell

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Howl. Again.

For Rusty Simpson

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
         of rocks,
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 souffl├ęd 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
         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
        sold flowers,
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
        the jobs,
who cartwheeled the hills of Patterson Park and drank shots of scotch 
        at the Full Moon Saloon where the gloved piano player 
        accepted gratefully their half-eaten hoagie,
who found their carnival fun in the Sparrows Pointe of the Mind,
        where they first fell in love with pig-iron reality,
who knocked down fears at Butts & Bettie's with the Butcher's Hill 
        knitting widow Lumbee Indian hosts,
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,
who shared stolen tequila in styrofoam cups with British artists
        on shore leave while the real ones said "you're so beautiful"
        to all the black girls on Light Street,
who inspired imprisoned dogs to escape by writing instructions
        in doves blood ink from Grandma's Candle Shop,
who fed the dead in the form of seagulls still like Jesus 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, 
who tried to move some of the art from the catacombs underground
        to the half-empty galleries uptown but ended up giving it away
        to homeless families they met in lieu of food,
who climbed atop the arches over the Maryland Avenue Bridge
        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, byzantine fountains where they talked up
        their lust for heroin guitar and called it love,
who consumed baseball statistics in 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,
who counted the red black blue white pink orange grey row homes
       in Mondawmen, not a one of them left with windows or doors
       just tags from ancient lifetimes in a roaring sunset hearth,
who squatted in Lauraville and robbed abandoned armories and
       declared total war on all art that didn't come from the streets,
who visited the lopsided people of Druid Heights and Locust Point,
       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,
who believed like Gatsby in the Domino Sugar light, the orgiastic void
       that minute by minute year by year distends and releases borne
       like a skipjack ceaselessly back to the red, red clay,
who said "tomorrow we will wear new disguises, chase new skirted
       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,
who kept frogs legs as the only thing in their refrigerators for
       months at a time,
who wove baskets at Sheppard Pratt, where the hushing of their
       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,
but that's just the cold fusion of life formed in reaction, with the
       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

Robert's Trip to Hell

The Armageddon countdown has begun in Salton Sea City.
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

Desolation at the Santa Ana Station

The helper bees and their quiet talk
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

Masque of the Sandtown Death

No silver platitudinal bromo-seltzer bromide bullets,
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

The Arc of the Sky

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 Fool for Forms Tries Again

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

The Look of the Invisible

All we get of the real
Is this cornyellow field
Wild mustard become its own world
A world rich enough to help us forget
All the other worlds here in this spot
More beautiful than we can perceive
What the yellow we see grieves

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Walk in the Park After a Movie

At the point in the reeds where the crows stop complaining
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

Los Angeles Image

A graffiti-scarred tree
          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

Saying "I am not alive
          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"

I wish it was as easy
          to break through the illusion
As David was discovered
          by Michaelangelo in a stone

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beyond the Electrical Lines

The weeds are talking, symphonic in the breeze
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

Hot Day

Wind blew the limp, illiterate hair
But we are as cool as Abraham
Lincoln drinking
Mountain Dew.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Afternoon Smoke

Norwalk, where time goes to die,
Is an empty train station

Something the goldencool light,
If not the mind, understands.

What is actual
Is not what is real

The void fills with meaning
And is bent to my will.