You reap what you shuffle
And play the hand you're felt,
But the skies still stare at you
With all you cannot do
Yet so too does the lady next to you
Who only appears to dismiss all you say
Before she goes back to the sunset on her book.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Monday, January 30, 2017
brought light to the space without others,
who'd already taken the zero percentage of you.
It's a small step from killing a mosquito
to eating a cheeseburger;
the planet that provides becomes your own,
to collect darkness like rainwater
as the sunlight slides away.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Friday, January 27, 2017
Friday, January 13, 2017
Would live out his ambition
To listen to the trains
In his newsstand by the subway track
Instead of seeing all his dreams go unfulfilled
Like some incoherent poet
Who, having captured the world in a net,
Knows it can't be saved
Or thrown back.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
It's not soul-suckery but a yearning
That takes down all that's good
From the trees
Some say the almost true
Is the low-hanging fruit
But I know we only feel the love
With the world on fire
The homeless trumpeter
We never see
Plays "Millard Fillmore Days"
And I become the cormorant
Wary of the shot
The crimp across the pond
Between the man and song
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Brilliant mountain gold --
Moments when I'm clear
When it seems that there is nothing
With more power than that flower
That's surrendered to the fence,
When it seems that I can let
The all of myself you hold
Like rocks under water
And see it's you, not me
I've kept inside.
And the audience turns
Back round at me
Waiting for something authentic,
Though they don't understand the words
And the dance moves are never allowed;
Being real is somehow ... entertaining.
But the lights in the sky glisten
As I sense the power I have always had
To be wrong,
To make the world correct me.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
too vague to hold inside
Like the Christmas mums along the rows
of cubicles at night
a balloon that never ceases
Breathing 'til extinguished,
and with it me.
will say nothing in perpetuity
And pull emotions out
like honey draws out flies
forever, although they move
With expert caprice to the next
Clinging like bees to clover
and whizzing away
Nothing wastes a second
of its life
And all the colors gained
turn golden decomposing
The mind simply thinks
and the figurines reform
yet its shapings
rhythms of confusion
Spread confetti'ed feeling on the floor
For what has passed
maintains its glowing hold
The thing we tried to call real
like a cameo in amber
of the leaf that's left of the girl
and what we know as grieving
-- our own --
Glares back at us
but not close
The pointing at the moon is real
but not the moon itself
to be found
like storms from arctic streams
The image can't be modified
by even the all-seeing eye
They never move O restless one
they never move
Monday, December 19, 2016
alit on pod-red streets,
There's laughter in the Spanish, twitter from birds
on the golden state of blue.
A banner that is barely waving
is all that one can see
How, behind the curtain, so much is
What doesn't need to be here now
in these quiet, empty streets
Where the illusions one creates
are not even real.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
now deeded to its fourth lord,
don’t you feel some gesture of restitution
is in order?
except inside your memory
and still I don’t exist!”
and the blue notes collected
in the flames along your face.
You were crystal from the dells
who felt more than I gave
but was never able to say just what that was
except how you were hurt and needed help
and didn’t know, after all, what you knew.
to not speak for me
even though I have no voice?”
in the silence that stretches from here to Montauk,
and I have wanted to be what would haunt you
but the sketches I’ve drawn in the sand
form their own tableau vivant
frozen in the blue.
I almost believed you were real.”
when I would go to my bed
secure among some library books
while you turned up the heat in our marital suite
falling asleep with the pen to my story in your hand,
I’d tiptoe in, next morning, and lift it away
to return it secure to its box.
was empty. You had written it without me
Monday, December 12, 2016
I can't help but feel partly responsible.
What's in front of us chokes like kudzu,
Dreams too large now, mysteries too small.
Even I chase Prez Prado vinyl
In concentric circles down greater Redondo
As the reals reel in circles,
Plots and chords never resolved,
But the mind like a needle-threading fiddle
Overcomes the glare, by creating what is not
To bear light on the Fullertonians
Like haarpists fakewinter the sky.
They open their umbrellas on the bus
Like death and Texas, or Iceland poppies.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
The present is in the next room
filling pans and clanking pots;
it waits to make a phone call
with a glass of red wine and a knife...
The past looks at me from the wall
wondering if I've learned how large I am
and if I can share their largeness with them,
but all they can do is wait; I pretend
I've moved on.
The future calls like a bird from the window,
something about blue sky and the sound of a riddle
whose words are unknown,
to make the answer clearer.
It's the sound of water boiling,
the unlocking of cutlery,
the ice out of the tray
and nothing else but that.
The buddha that says
all the life in the dead world
must be imagined
in the road
to be killed.
Who has told
of what's inside the sense,
the alignment to angels
in the scent of black tea,
the gold beating heart
in the postcard of Kekemapa?
Pigeons move like sheets of rain
some landing on traffic poles
to scavenge drivers who don't taste
the french fries on their fingers
but wait for the magical moment to pass,
staring without seeing
the red arrow as a key;
they can't feel the line of birds
jostle their feathers
just for them.
Angel city faces
feel free to throw
what broke through their ice,
made them stronger,
but they don't like it
if I look back.
Sunday, December 4, 2016
That in the arc of breath
Into the holes not taken
From being dark and full
What might have been
-- what was
but never was...
The melody repeats
stark longings long deferred
While orchestral cushions
-- never more than auroral ghosts --
Are as voiceless as the sky
The fact of loss
like a gilded cage
Where sunset stays
ambrosia out of reach
As unresolved as what hands
make of time
The picayune weeds one threads through
From some dream that burned
For cold star certainties:
elegant denials, noble vindications
The final harmonious note
stolen by the red-tinged sky
Fading into dissonance
-- so rich and so alive...
A glow that holds the wizened hands
as they pass through lighted rooms
Unfolding and then putting back
things too small to see
Not memory or wisdom
but what must finally be
Some sacrament of love
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Too sleek to leave a scrape upon the pond,
All stories stay in the moment's motion
Like a juggler's knives.
But there's one who is still, savagely ranting
In black skullcap, white cane like an antler,
Trimmed beard, blue vest, white pants;
He stands at the crosswalk, bellowing the truth
That possesses him, one too big for words,
Almost too large for sound. He taps his cane
On the sidewalk and asks "where is reality, tell me,
And so, in the vast stillness of Los Angeles,
Where everyone's a mask, frozen into manikins,
Swells a frisson of fear, outward like toothpicks
From an unsealed jar.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
The memory of an orange shed
Where a homily in lacquered wood
Embodied a dream of a family
A natural mystic clan emerged from trees.
It suited the locust bean, at least,
And pidgin peas, the goat-crossed coral street
Where cats were leashed in church grass
And chickens foraged freely.
Now I sit in Hungry's Restaurant
With the mid-day Mt. Gay crowd
Burying an inarticulate prayer.
For what was
Except as I was told how to feel
The people wearing smiles like flowers
Were never revealed.
The first sight was all we got:
Overwhelming white with sky-blue sea.
The sudden suites and green estates
Will never take the hunger away
For an unfamiliar country
And so we forgot, not sanctified
By pebble roads, we had a purpose.
All the love you gave fell through
But a boy still waits in the sand for you
To carve a lizard king.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Now threadbare marble, the throat-breaking talk
Flows like a bottle of wine,
As if monks have broken a vow of silence
And the harsh judgments of delicious truth
Spin away like yarn.
We walk all day long for what doesn't need us
But everywhere eyes require our large sense of wrong,
Redemption to the March of the Valrykies
To recover what was never theirs,
What would pain them so to lose,
As if they once had gained it
From your sharp, inquiring eyes ...
That now withhold whatever empathy
Was once the one not wrong they had,
For it became part of a larger wrong,
Implicated in the crime it witnessed.
It joined its heart to what could only grow until it burst,
And then withdrew, the final act, where everyone
Is powerless, and always has been.
Who once lived upon those hills,
Now gone inexplicably, forever.
Monday, November 21, 2016
Night watchmen at bars,
Lights on patios
Where wine bottles glow
As parents wane before their children's demands,
Reach for glasses.
The magic the day refused to bestow
Is piled up on the hillsides,
Organized as stars
Near ocean blackness.
No blame or irritation any more
Just the langour inside windows,
Unhappy stares and cackling slurs.
The road curves in circles
All the way around the island
But the cars keep following some longing
For a love that isn't here, at least
But may be there
A boulangerie where they speak Francais,
Or a high-end beachfront mall,
But there they beg with missing teeth
For cigarettes and love,
And there the third floor's always closed
It comes back in your face
Like the merciless sun:
You do not know
What you're given,
How a vault of gold
Has been laid before your feet
So you can observe
The imperfections of the coins.
And someone must pay dearly
For the ointment's shining fly
-- Fingers point and eyes collide
Til sunset masses phantasm armies
And we are left the rich savor
Which feels our compassion,
Knows how hard we try,
Sees how we make the most
Of every shining token
Slung on a string,
And sometimes, in a
Certain blue light,
It might lead you out
On a pier wet with lamplight
To see the circling below
Of giant shining fishes,
A gift you've finally walked
For long enough
To stand in awe of.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
to the coffin for a body light as air.
Dogs lapped their tears like they were anti-freeze
and cowered under abject slaps transferred.
The phones lit up with vitriol, in hopes the clouds would stay,
the spell could not be broken today like bread
As if they could be fed. For it was not, to them, love,
something that fell within their purview,
It was other, it was hate, it was worthy of the raw
discontent they'd tried with parasols to hide
For millennia it seemed: their papery smiles
betrayed a fear that all was as it appeared,
That the man had no redeeming acts, the earth
no cause for grace, no heaven save the rending,
Where all that lived must die, the easier to sweep away;
creation's in the clean-up, that same old tell-tale story
As the one that murderers say, at bedtime to their grandkids
when they stamp a kiss of dreams on warm foreheads.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Monday, October 31, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
Returned in an even more terrible transformation,
To clean, since it was necessary,
So it gaped and grew and surged from year to year
To restlessly inundate the distressed land
In egregious battle, so well veiled
And so dark and pale was the head of man.
The heroic forces flew, like waves, onward
And dwindling away, reduced you, avenger!
It was often the servant's quick work
O you, the relentless and undefeated
Before the cowardly and too powerful,
Strike until the last rank is down and
His impoverished clan trembles from the blow,
The secret that you in spike and bridle hold
To suppress and to further, O Nemesis,
You still punish the dead, that now sleep
Under laurel in Italy’s gardens,
The old conquerors otherwise undisturbed.
And if you don't spare the idle shepherd too,
Finally having taken well enough
Who started it? Who brought the curse? It is not
Measure’s lost, our fathers did not know,
Too long, too long already have mortals stepped
With pleasure on each other’s heads, man battled
Over who would rule, feared his neighbor,
And found no mercy upon his own ground.
In ferment and froth across generations
The sorrowful lives of the ever poor.
But you wander quietly on your sure path,
O Mother Earth, in the light. Your springtime blooms
Vary the melodies as ages
Accumulate, that’s your journey through life!
Come now, thou holiest of all the Muses,
Beloved of the stars, revive and renew
This peace we have longed for, give us one
Remain of life, one heart for us again.
And like the other spectators, the judge looks
With an earnest smile upon the race-tracked young,
Drifting their chariots through dusty clouds,
Thus Helios stands, and smiles all around us,
And lonely are the divine, never happy,
Because they live forever, aethers
Wie wenn die alten Wasser, die in andern Zorn,
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Mesquite and sajuaro are as elusive as you want them to be,
Kind enough to exist or not, as we please.
Punctured like a scalpel and left to fester and boil,
The red flesh stretched in stripes over exposed muscle,
Volcanic shoulders draped before the lace of the sea,
While bony trees on pocked plateaus were swept up in the wind,
Catholic, incessant, life-affirming ...
With scattered haciendas on the highlands, severe pueblos near shore.
They are useless except as beauty, a pose of nothing left to lose,
But still holding a place in the implicate order, universal
As they stand alone, unwanted, unknown, but no less hermetic
Than the cities, only more resolute in their resistance, their infinite
That touch up the hillsides with columns and fountains
And the textures and colors of heaven, filled in by the imagination
While the sun-burnt damianas hold the real safe from us,
Who would only sleep in its comforts without dreaming,
That thing that we do best.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The merchandise round and about.
Sei froh! Du hast das gute Los erkoren,
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Wearying how everything breaks
Like waves the same ways as one ages,
Disappointment locks in like a cool breeze
With the luxury accommodation.
I hold you and you disappear
Except for your spirit.
Am I alone when I'm with you
Less than when you're not there?
Monday, October 24, 2016
Friday, October 21, 2016
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Blind mind feels its way through the grooves of the hole
Like they are accidents of design ...
That's the way it lives,
All sense and reaction, whatever is out there a black prompt
Which may or may not know, how tongues are predictable,
Draw limited conclusions, and how whatever crack is sensed
Can be re-sealed with ease ...
Is the perishable food, in a trap that sets it free.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
For everything of earth and sky must move,
For karma flows like clouds across the blue.
And pain too much the same to feel yours too.
You still believe in one almighty: light
Glorifying like your sight the tired afternoon.
Only love, aswirl in constant orbit, and too entwined to touch.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Friday, October 14, 2016
The dreamer wakes up, however, in the last stanza, with a man beside her that she can’t turn into a phantasy (a lighter and more willful form of imagination, where a loved one for example can be turned into a fancied hero rather than perceived into being). “Him for whom no phantasy moves” enigmatically describes someone who could be implacable, impossible to fantasize about, completely unimaginative, or dead.
The prevailing sense, however, is that when the curtains of the imagination are lifted, there is nothing behind it that is real. We construct love affairs out of pheromones and moonbeams, never thinking that is all there is to it, a trick to facilitate a shared delusion of separate minds. OK, maybe we do, but it is not a good feeling when we do, for it is like, as Stevens so aptly puts it, being “pierced by a death.” The inconsolable weeper truly cannot be consoled, because she is in a different realm.
Thus the grief of the first stanza is, in contemporary parlance, “paid off” by the death in the last. This leads many readers to conclude that the woman is weeping over her dead husband (or son). The widow trope, however, is only a metaphor for the real action, which is the death of a relationship (or the illusion of a relationship) through the awareness that it was imagined into (and out of) existence. Why else would she be crying before the death?
Still, the context remains ambiguous after many readings, in large part because the poem intentionally obscures the relationship between the speaker and the weeping woman. Do they know each other? Is the speaker the subject of her tears? Is it a veiled reference, heaven forfend, to Stevens himself and his wife? The poem exists in a nether world between an uncomfortably close personal – but undisclosed – conflict, and a rigorously strict abstraction about how all relationships are false. I guess that’s what we all do, poets or not, generalize our petty sufferings into universal truths.
Another great American poet, Emily Dickinson, was, in my view, the undisputed master of painting over uncomfortable life events with a luminous veneer of hermeneutic transcendence. Here is a poem* of hers that covers, I think, much the same emotional ground as “Another Weeping Woman.” It has it all – scientific materialism vs. religion, religion vs. occult spiritualism, fate vs. free will, skepticism vs. faith (and that’s just in the first 21 words!) – but in true Dickinsonian fashion, these concepts are conflated and problematized at lightning speed into something eerie and otherworldly: one only has faith because one already has doubt, our perception of memory and all the personal stuff it contains limits our notion of heaven, people are interchangeable and wholly indistinct at the soul level. But underlying all the metaphysical ground that’s covered – what makes the poem so powerful – is some unspoken personal dispute that creates a backdrop of tragic distance: The way “Sister” is repeated wearily, insistently, as the arguments are reconfigured, the way “Sue” and “Emily” are one, although Susan can’t acknowledge such a fact. That, my friends, is poetry.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
You're free of any dialogue,
That coupling thing's been safely put to bed,
No questions ring the hollows of your heart.
You've been redeemed again in water,
Returned to tempering fire,
Your memory is immortal.
You've burned through heaven once again
A gift you gave yourself to learn
What you have done, but will you?
My gift is not to know.
The infinite I gave must equal zero.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
At the indigenous resistance
The drummers are not putative,
They beat the drops of water stolen
And the law comes to enforce
Their submission into silence
The feathers on their heads
Came from copters that descended
At midnight on the pens
For the specialists with gloves
Who shoved the chickens into crates.
And their warpaint isn't blood
But communion petrolatum
Still the fracking thunder comes
Like nuclear Kippur
Upon the burning man inevitable
That the organs of the well-informed
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The bad black sheep seed
Trying to be good
By naming all the evil,
And the good scapegoat heart
Corrupted by belief
In its own goodness.
It's time for the posing of the problems
That can't be fixed by jumping off a cliff,
Time for posting some placard solutions
Pulled from the short-attention-span heavens
And shattered like china on the ground.
Despite all the snake-eyed lies
We still can't believe our lying-ass eyes
That the pain that begs among us is ours
Masquerading as another hand
Outstretched to our ruinous food,
And that the secrets of the few
Are still locked inside our hearts
Poisoned by the shackles once again.
We are the people who ring other's necks
And feel other's deaths as our own,
Who don't care about what's going on
(Much less whether it's right or wrong)
But who know the cost in our bones
Of believing in what we don't know.
Why not have faith in what cannot exist?
In dragons slain and starlets won,
In justice arriving on time,
In truth as an answer to the sickness inside,
In a voice we can feel as our own.
Monday, October 10, 2016
Through the green leaves of the woods, to the spring soon,
To the rock, where roses are in bloom,
To view the land from the hill, though nowhere,
And into the air all the words disappear;
Devout, I have only been with you
Yes, I’ve been far from you, face of an angel,
And in the fading melody of your life
No more is overheard of me; O where
Did the magical heartsongs go, that calmed
Me once with the stillness of the heavenly?
How long has it been? O how long! The youth has
Aged, even the earth, which gave me back
Always good! The soul separates and returns
To you each day, and it cries to you the eye,
That it is bright again, where you go,
Where you stay, wherever you gaze across.
Friday, October 7, 2016
As the lavender smoke of breathing clouds
Roosts in shadow for the night.
The palm fronds edged with rust
Were worthy of our imaginings,
The thick-fingered grasses
Have never stopped waving gold.
The fur-draped mountains
With moving silver crowns
Stayed fiercely protective
Like arrowheads poised in the sky
As the spirits were unveiled inside of me
On their flight to Polihale.
But there's a limit to the generosity
The stars so pure and piercing
In galaxies woven in webs
Are overwhelmed by blots of cloud
Like figures of a dreamed earth,
But the stars burn through
And the centurions appear again.
The homeland channel throbs.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Rooster rainbows in the dreadlocks of the waves,
Tumescent moss directs the dripping off the caves,
The bees are making love like surgeons to hibiscus
As couples narrow distances to share the pounding swells
In white release across the folding lace of opening shells.
They take photos of each other in their complementary chairs
Before the endless thrust of surf that vents what it bears
And just as endlessly receeds along the curves
Of long-suffering sand, its bite -- not preserved.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Who'd fled to Nihoa
And the faces on the cave
But they are still here
And I am still here
And the black rocks have their art
And still speak in a voice
Heard by ancient fishermen
That promised secret knowledge
If one could wear the crown
Of knowing form was only masking light.
The conscious color won't
Collapse like other facts
Into theories of mind
But is pitched at zero point,
Knowledge not for learning
But for action.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Every pore of her skin,
Moss on his rock like rouge,
Lipstick flowers on the limbs
That tremble with rain.
Giant leaves run their fingers up
Her tree trunks,
Every fern frond is arranged
To be admired,
Her rivers are alive
With quickened pulse.
Even the fallen green
Doesn't bear the color of grief,
But of held memories,
The dark rich lacquer:
Deep orange, rotten gold.
She lets the mist caress
Her every curve
And leaves a welcome mat of red
On all her shores
With cocks that crow
And offered palms.
The caves he left for her
Swirl with water,
The sound is hollow
But it's enough
For the green stars reaching
From his crags to heaven
To bloom as beauty's virgin.
Monday, October 3, 2016
Is the final sign, to those who'd know,
That the death of the world is near.
There's not even that here;
They communicate over distances by telepathy or mail.
Once a week the boat arrives, with food stamp rations
And propane, and a chance, Christ willing, for some shopping
In Kauai on the Robinson family dime.
Left on this infertile island, spearing fish
In canoes they whittled, spending weeks
Gathering shells for the right shade of prickly pear pink
To braid a necklace for some mainland queen,
Finding water holes to grow breadfruit or taro,
Knowing every stone God by name, and all the grasses
By voice, in day-long prayers to the spirit of the flowers
No time, no money, no power & light, as inconceivable
To us as God delivering our food from our prayers.
But this can't compete with the Sunbeam hair dryer,
The guava cocktail and dashboard hula dolls
Of the needy people trying to help, be of use, be of service.
In pity, they fancy themselves the same,
Collecting shells before they're pulverized to dust.
Holding them together with unbreakable force of love.
The amniotic fire changes form, changes nature,
But is changeless just the same...
Hits the mountains here, and in its sweetness of smoke
The spiriteye sees rainbows across to the island
Always soaking in an indigo cloud, like an illusion
That like everything else important
Can suddenly disappear
Unless there's no more magic,
The sun rising in late afternoon
Can no longer be seen, and an island
Can no longer escape from its shroud
Into something we can learn from.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Families in sandals.
Must pain these creamy domes
How all the bloodshed was for naught.
The palm holds in its limp fingers
The history of the empire
The hands can’t write those lines.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
We disagree sometimes, fight like cats
And I get flummoxed by its hauteur.
But it's like a better mousetrap in the end;
Whacking pest ideas with a mechanical lie:
Some God to go before all else, like Kings back in the day.
Nothing it ever says is wrong, though everything is false,
Out-of-context, screaming, massacring elves and gnomes
And what is left of an open dialogue.
But I love the cleanness of its line, its springy step,
The way it conveys civility in a world insane.
I root for the truth, but it loses the game again and again.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
moving lines of force
In paper-thin intersections,
slow across glass,
as the lavender surf rolls in,
Rainbows in its wake,
the curtains loosen and tighten,
that exist for us only as beauty,
As purposeless as we believe
our lives to be ...
The last spike of peach holds on
against the human mind.
Everything else has been denied,
by being understood.
How could we ever be explained
by the mechanics?
Our lusts, our thirsts, our drives?
The wall called
Understanding has been placed
here between us
As the mystery still
You want to know
because you already knew
And were waiting for the moment
But now you are disputed.
The slut, the whore,
How could she
want me anymore?