Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beyond the Electrical Lines

The weeds are talking, symphonic in the breeze
Each blossom says to “love me” to the sky and to the bees
The wave hello so poignant ‘cos we don’t know
How our smiles come back 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're as cool as Abraham
Lincoln drinking
Mountain Dew.

Thursday, March 5, 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.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Ballad of Bill and Cheryl

My life poeticized via a spoof on a spoof, in this case last week's SNL country song video The Wishing Boot.

Was an unchill winter in Cali-forn-i-ay
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 the wishing boot
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

I had ditched my belongings and hitched to the west
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

It was a wishing boot
A wishing boot
My dream as a new recruit
A wishing boot
It was a wishing boot
Got me a job and a suit

The wishing boot will tell us what's real from not
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

Trust the wishing boot
The wishing boot
It gave me the girl and the loot
The wishing boot
Great magic boot
Sunset gold hillsides of fruit...

I used to feed the animals hungry at dawn
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

Was a wishing bird
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 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dreams in Dialogue

My translation of Los suenos dialogados by Antonio Machado.

I.
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.

II.
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!

III.
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.

IV.
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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I'm dreaming paths

My translation of "Yo voy soñando caminos" by Antonio Machado

I'm dreaming paths
in the afternoon. The hills
gold, green pines,
dust-pulsing oak...
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
weakly whitens,
blurs and disappears.

My singing returns to lament:
"Sharp golden spike,
who you might feel
in a heart breached."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lisa in Arcadia

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 Prompt for Poetry

As the wet desert drips with December pinks,
The metaphors lurking in its fields
Wait also inside the words that describe,
As inaccessible part of the real.

It seems like a dare, to know I am more
Than a chaser of painterly fancies
Fantasized out of explained facades
Conveniently dumb, alien modern.

How frightened I am they're on the inside,
That I'm older, far wiser than the role
I play, a purveyor of broken clouds,
That I move as the blues into darkness,

That these wet tumbleweeds and silt curves of earth
Want privileged views of their deeper currents.
So much is asked in this glow of pathos.
It's on the leaves, on the breeze, in the light

Like something vast, forever escaping,
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

Another Hospital Visit

How happy can I be
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 our 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

Mexican Romance

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

Cruise Crackers


I.
Desert lips
reach into Long Beach
and the Queen Mary marooned
while seagulls gloat

II.
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

III.
A happy song about revenge killing
in the late afternoon sun over tea
on the high seas

IV.
A blue rubber flower bathing cap
makes the infant wearing it smile
like there's joy in growing out of the earth as separate

V.
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

VI.
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

Impressions of Decadent Sea

I.
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.


II.
The waves smooth out by afternoon
     from sunlight's white steam iron,
          wool brushed to burnished pearl
               to make the impossible swirl with possibility,
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 of light on water brows
               that makes us think that anything is there;
It could be veins of coal,
     obsidian, sharpened by the sun,
          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 of the unseen.
All the ocean has of us
     is that light shining back
          as a momentary hope.


III.
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
          but the sea below stays blue and undisturbed

Save its endless agitation
     as it drifts neither yielding nor connecting
          just persistent, overcoming
               what no longer has a bearing
Or a path. We cross what has no voice
     or face, just sound and sight bereft
          like our longing.

Man-made light on inky whirl,
     fish scales move against the spiral,
          all we want imposed on ocean
               as imposture;
All the implications are a circle
     banging round our brains
          as all we ever had.


IV.
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 that seems to come
Like beads of sun off of the swells
     that, though impossible to know, we intone
          a kind of prayer to, for some actual accord,

Of hidden lace to make a gift
     we can't unwrap, imprisoned
          by scintillations of the self
               in an undulating garbage bag...
But kindness comes, somehow, again,
     when a dolphin breaks the plane
          to children squealing.


V.
No succor, just transcendence;
     brain strands pulse in milky plumes
          continually colliding
               without consequence,
Just shears of sea expressing,
     as the weight bears languidly, thoughtfully away,
          rainbow spray from white-capped frosting.

A rolling boil of blue, adjusting,
     sending 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

On Thrift Shop Row

The woe-betided dead,
the stupid dead,
hanging for dear life,
all one long mistake,
they almost speak
in weaknesses of hinges.

They didn't care what God once thought of them
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.

And when the push back beckoned
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

still whole, not subdivided like the flames
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.

What kind of life is this that gives no thought for any others
when others always were all that you are,
no matter all the sips you stole to call them yours.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Professor Robert

Restingwind in teacher's robes
So Heaven doesn't have to
Even whistle
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
To fill
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

Restoration crosses
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

No Lions in Sweden

My identity, though shrink-wrapped in the garage
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.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Poet in Kau'ai

One must not leave the island
to hear the waves of grief
waiting on the outside
to be healed

                    — so the rainbow rooster cries
                    like a pure slack-key guitar
to the lava people: lush black rocks
made love to by forever's new white
ocean, that honors every singular
                    with a flower
in the moment of merger,
the breakers touching home
                    then, just as insistent, receding,
                    desiring no desire

— so the awkward palms might say,
swaying in no direction but their own.
                    The grasses stretch their arms.
Long roots hang down like earth's raw nerves
from the giant empty heads above
                     in the koa, in the stone,
                     in emerald gold, blue cloud.
They seem to want a voice
from something that is lost,
                     forever outside
                     paradise,
not the red dirt river of life that takes
                     nothingness
                     from place to place;
this endless wave of beauty wants to hear ... us,
                     just as endless
                     but blessed with the curse:
                                            a sense for
                                            finality.

The sound of rain on the page
as the children are washed away.
The white hibiscus like a sniffing bee.

At Anahola

Hawai'ian kids sway
       in the waves
                            laughing in Hawai'ian
while their mothers
       like mothers in every land
                            say
                stay away from strangers,
       white strangers,
us.

The littlest one
       laughing with me on her yellow noodle
                 says
                             "you're a noodle."

Late Afternoon Beach

A paddleboarder is the only thing on the horizon.
A boy, too sober, carries his wood surfboard to the waves.
A naked French baby runs away from his parents to the surf.

But all of that is lost, in the light
of the clouds so close you can dream of touching them
and the mist upon the green
like no one can fit in.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Plane to Vancouver

A succession of thin red curtains
         and we pass
from American
                          Spanish to English to French
as if we have too few faces to assume.
I leaf through bi-lingual restaurant reviews
         five pages of hipster bistros
                           in Dublin alone!
Serving:
         long-necked barnacles
                           chayote horchatas
                                              macha shakes
         "like a glass of water for your skin."
Is this what it takes
         to help us forget
                           there is no time?
That all of history lingers
         like this sunset
                           and nothing is at stake
                                               beyond this moment
         crackling high above the clouds
                            like a suspended chord
                                               as rich as chocolate lava
                            you don't care how the choir
                                               will resolve
         for the end in sight is not
                            where you are heading.
The orange cannot tell you of the night
                            you have to break it open
but you want some hands to tear you first
         and pull out your insides
                                                 so much
         you trade hands with the future
                             as if you'll be redeemed
                             in every crafted taste
         as if it lives above you
                                              unassailable
                             not apples merely beautiful
like a fashion model fools
         the woman by the perfume counter
                             and by fooling
                                                     steals her beauty
         as she sits there smiling
                                                while gloss is applied
                            the model came to sell.
Where is the meaning
         in the dreams of Patagonia
                              served on a platter of snails
                              by prostitutes of commerce
                                                  in eccentric orbits
                              tossed by brutal gales,
meanings made by you
         from someone else's menu?
From such incomparable distance
         comes your consciousness
                              to feel what's not expressed
         but shared in interstitial
                              flatterings from nothing's tail.
The landscape of the Yukon
        almost simplifies to meaning
                              but the hills of mottled green
                              recall too much a something
                                                   never known,
        too bright against the eye,
                        
the mind is darkened,
                               sees only God.

Vancouver in Signage































Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Totem

By blue Vancouver's living clouds
A junky sleeps in brown wool shrouds

The city of hydraulic lifts
Holds up a falling sky

The poles connecting life now mark the grey
For love has found its way

And everyone's an Inuit
On this Autumn Equinox

With gem eyes looking
Inside

That is to say
Beyond

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Another Sunset on the Bluffs

We mine smoke crystals
        on Dinosaur Hill
As the deformed sun
        slips pepto-dismal
Like an ill-omened eel
        into purple

What doesn't glow in dirt?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Entertainment

You can go to the hottest block
on the hippest street
to the coolest flat
and the dankest beat
where the microwave dishes
of the world's eyes stare
at the glitterati
as they share
cogniscent
and intelligensiate
all they know and adore
and be colossally
bored

Or you can go to any desert
some meagre collection
of half-alive plants
watch the catclaw
and brittlebush tangle
the mojave asters
poke through flannel bush
as dune primrose joins
with desert marigold
wire lettuce
with wooly daisy
smell the white sage
fill the sand plateaus
with a blaze of scent
sense the structure of love
as every limb connects with others
of harmonious colors
in immaculate design

It is too much for the senses
this feast that never ends
as insatiable to give
as our souls
to receive

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Resting Under Sycamore

Dry rain of sticks
      on brown summer grass
             cool wind
puts the mind in its place
      with the stones and acorns
             a keepsake
more still than the grass
       and nervous branches
              without the dry leaf's tongue

It waits
       like every other thing
              for an unnatural connection
that will work so seamlessly
       who knows it isn't real?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Drought

The ants are working but the people of the park
       are sleeping. It's mid-day.
Michael lost the keys again. So his last mechanic job
       ended, on his anniversary.
Lynn's bike chain broke, and her dead-end job
       was far too far away. And Clete had to take care first
of the cigarette and affection needs of his woman,
       so he won't be welcomed back at that fast-food gig.

And these are the lucky ones, who have some work
       to look back on, not just bouncing balls
       or toxic jive, or rich-man's hip-hop hanging fire.

Cast out like purest angels from the best establishments,
       they leave their cardboard homes and plastic chairs
to squat with all the spent life on the forest floor
       safely under a red-corned pepper tree,
       away from the shame of women and children.
Still they leave in the sun their bent Modelo cans
       like all the best tales of decay.

Tree roots like exposed nerves hang down their dead riverbed,
butterflies on droughtgrass, spiderwebs on dry-leafed trees
       like their cobwebbed film-noir nightmare
       in a kaleidoscopic breeze,
mesquite bean shells emptied of what food was once
       inside them,
ice plants grey and lifeless, holes poked full of leaves.

Here I run from past and future, breathe in dirt like any bum,
pulled in to the same gusts of nothingness,
       the whisper they call silence,
but I find a shaded log — and fight so hard to believe in it;
       its perfection's too elusive,
       that I should be free, receiving
not some semi-sheltered creature watching leaves fall
       from the eaves
       like a shuffling of cards.

The butterfly glides away. The trees go silent.
A hawk swoops close by, glares at me, at least enough
      to say: "You think you've got a problem, friend?
      I'm a hawk!"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Desert Evening with Scorpions

A wasp hangs over the bougainvillea
        like an unrelenting consciousness
               with nothing to hold on to

O why could I never say the things to you
        that should never have been said?

The coastal sagebrush growing in the sand trough
       throws a million tiny buds against the sky
               how many inchworms disguised as branches?

O why was it your dark happiness I chased
       and never your fair sadness?

Fuzz forms on the strand like a gift to the wind
       while a man runs his cars along the dunes by hand
                dirt blazing as the wheels move

O why is there no memory of you
      only a me I still can't understand?

The birds are all moving toward the sunset
      where the orange ball takes the sky along with it
                and the pond current stills to receive its color

O why is moving on so slow I must pause
      to give tribute to the moment for your rage?

Birds walk in peach water
       the rust buds glow with a knowledge not my own
                but bequeathed in fragile gold

O why was your gift so cruel
       that I never will forget it?

A sidewinder call the Gods to his magic winding tail
      and slips too slow and perfect to the brush
                just as the moon takes control of the night

O why, when the love you gave, my own, was real, there's none left,
       from what you stole, for you — are you and I both ... invisible?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Self-Portrait with Trees

I am no different
      than that tree

— but I can see

the waves of feeling
flow in timeless beat,
the sound of clapping
leaf turn
      gold relief
while roothands hold to loverearth
as if there are no
                           others
                                   
But these I also see
                           Catalina Cherry
                           Lemonade Berry
                           Dana Point Buckwheat
       so I am
       incomplete again
       salad tossed by wind
not in one
       alone
       like them,
keening.

The crows descend
       like an equation
and I fly without thinking
       to solve them
       dissolving once again.

The world
                          so alien
runs from the strangeness
                          I am.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Miss Mary

There's something comforting about a mosquito bite
to be shared by a creature so light
she seems to float instead of fly through the air

and so wise
race-car precise she knows where to find
the inner red, the warm rich substance
that is nectar for the young

and when she bites ah
there's a pain I can finally get to
not hidden in the mind's denials
but itchable

like Copernicus was addicted
to a circle
and had to scratch

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Wind Outside

The mind quivers
more than any leaf
for there's no circumference
to claim

the belt can be rolled
into a spiral
the bedspread pulled back
to a point

but even the salt lamp's damp pink depths
are too much
like the wind
to bear

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Domestic Sonnet

The chickens are angry, the rabbits are sad,
The cat says "God help me", the dog says "I'm mad".
No woman alive will really back away
From even the steepest, iciest crevasse
Though that is one of the things you can not say
If you want to stay sane, or value your ass.

The rabbits are happy, the chickens are sweet,
The dog rests in fleece, cat perched in high seat.
No man ever works when there's play to be done
Though that too seems another conspiracy
When the world and its Lord regard having fun
The same as or better than drudgery.

So we disagree. The frog needs more crickets.
Love is only love 'cos we can't resolve it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sunset Near San Diego

The smell of charred, rancid flesh,
The sound of laughter, blood red glasses rung,

And voices of unthinking cruelty (humor),
One gotcha and we're through.
If you're wounded you will have to play the fool.

The Jacuzzi steam is like a war zone
As the infinity pool dribbles like a machine gun
To water the Mandarin lime trees down
The hillside pomegranate red.

They're stealing the view from the sacred mountain
On the terraced marble of their great mausoleums
That would give the town's homeless a place to live.

All it would take is some real gratitude.

But despite the laughter and the perfect weather
Only sorrow echoes on the cold stone.

At a Winery Wedding

I tried to be mortal, really I did
But "the end" was never a reliable answer to any of my questions.

Love was just too endless, grief too immense.
When we held on to life we were clinging to much more:
A one-minute egg, the smell of fresh timothy,
Old magazines left on streets for the junk dealer,
Compassion for one's lover -- besides, death was always
What happened to others, like a Little League trophy
That changed not a thing but remained in the basement
For owner after owner, 'til when the house was torn down finally
It seemed something timeless, a variant of mercy,
With a persistent and meaningless glow all around it.

Friday Afternoon in the Green Room

The door hit me on the way out
Like cactus at sunset as the sandbox turned to dust
And the puppeteer laughed,
Prickly-pear, once-mighty,
At the thought of another fool
Like yours truly, as disposable as razors
But never nearly as sharp,
To grimace under her fingers
And call it a dance.

While the players writhe in pathos
At my poor, unfathomable fate,
The take back of the golden handshake,
My emotion is not hate, but crazy love,
That she thought enough of me to cut me off
Like an alkey at three lime-green gin philosophies
Before the madness set like concrete,
And she was sweet to kill the light
So I didn't have to see leftover faces nursing miseries
Their soft, unfeeling hands
Rehearsing their own ghost limb shake.

And I wish that she and I could meet
In a nicer place, where time has healed
Enough that together we could laugh
At the gift we concocted in limitless love
Instead of this head let loose from the bag at parting,
This waiting for the black hole our legs will soon fall into
As if we are illusion, not the trap doors each steps through.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today's Movie Makes Me Want to Buk

I only live for others
When I'm by myself.

When the waltz light comes through
The most despairing yellow sun

Across the Virginia Avenue bungalows
In late lilac afternoon,

Clothes stacked outside,
Chickens eating crabgrass,

My joy seems then so miserable,
As I think of all I'm missing in their smiles

With the gun not pointed to my head
By the strangest hand of all: my own.

For once the horror seems resplendent,
Mendelsohn conducting Santa Ana you bitch to move along.

Tomorrow we go to Santa Anita
To see the dawn before it fades,

Watch horses fresh as dew
With friends made new in hats

And ancient bleachers, holding racing
Sheets, stale donuts and coffee.

We have waited far too long 
For cheap amusement,

Spraying with bullets the possums and raccoons
As if that makes them go away.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pacific Spray

Yesterday the sea
       was louder than my mind,
Its madness of no words
       in pearl clefts' stillness surging
To land's grey ends, the seeds of sand,
       mounds gathered for veiled burials.
The overwhelming sound, that strips out
       raucous children, the masticating gulls,
A man on fire with summer's rough desire...
       all tossed like shells in madcapped froth
Brought in by the blue stranger, who churns to
       other chimes than these we knock around,
The gourds we have collected, from a giving
       spendthrift tide.
                               
                                   Today
The furnace spits. This thing too small to be,
       the mind, rises like a reddened thumb,
Engorges on our brutal flaws, too much to bless
       when we must do the blessing for ourselves,
The way we are, imbued with all the dust
       of pilgrimage, the waiting water
For our healing too indifferent, too like God,
       for what's left when we clean the grit
And watch it go like hats of defunct sports teams,
       mirrored glasses, lucky stones?

How much that we could lose that isn't there.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

At Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

No one is as pure as California light
And the cool become old in this wind

That carries the egret like a gaunt moth
On the venting of dry phantom tides.

The red cactus came here a long way to die
Where the half-alive stalks cry in unison

To leave this last russet of earth alone.
But what else can we touch when heaven's this close?

We're squeamish as the estuarine mud,
Silently making each day from clay

Til the pictures are framed and stories playacted
Like a fish that leaps without need of a bug.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fishing

In a white boat, white people
With white clothes and white hats
Watch a white fish flexed
On a white line
To a white deck

Then a haemorrhage of red 
Is wristed by what seems like holy water
To the ocean below
As if heaven can be fooled
By cleanliness.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Night

The devil is only as evil as we are,
As wounded, as cursed -- his coyote chuckle
Echoes through the night a kind of kindness --
After the blows have landed, on what remains of our flesh,
All pretense of dreaming torn clean, all reasons
Not to love.
                      The clamoring herd moves like clouds past the stage
And an eerie quiet of light resumes
                                                               so meaningful
The candle now
                             still bearing light after war.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Evening

Sunset, and the screaming begins
And there's a short violet light
To determine
If the sound came from outside
Or within.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Morning Arrival

We are our mothers' aphorisms,
Our fathers' pearls of sweat,
But the hens emerge fresh from their hutch
Forgetting their new eggs.
The bunnies every move is unannounced.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Spot on the Ocean

Beyond Catalina's crowds
A garland of kelp
In a desolate churn
Birds skirt never touching.
I can hear their wings beat.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In Pink Balboa

Boys will smear chocolate on their shirts
Pose like pelicans on storm drains
Walk into the harbor in their clothes

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Skater Rests

In the sun they glide
Still they try to learn to fly,

The present moment flow
Not alone enough for mind

In eccentric orbit glow
Thinking of the Icarus boy

Emblazoned on the sun,
An afterimage mote

That makes the hot earth come alive
In perfect sequence -- as if it is now dead

In vain sense clinging, finding something
Because nothing still is too much to endure.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Yolks Darker Than Tomatoes

Egg laying music
Beautiful if we all join in
Even the dog next door bares his instrument.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Working Lunch

The gray area
Beyond the building
Before the sun divides all into one.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Hen Will Not Stop Crying

Every moment is a new life
Yet every fragment of the past
Lingers
To be corrected, not destroyed.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Potions

Progress is measured
One disappointment at a time,
In hopes it may be less
Disappointing some day;

To maybe crush the berries
He didn't eat
For the potion he decided
Not to make in the end -

A little bit less of a mess
To clean, after all.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cabo Communicado

1.
Mouthwash-blue sea,
Iconic rocks seen from an infinity pool
Warm as the ocean is cool.
I play volleyball with Mexican children
While my love in a bikini water-stomps to country tunes.
There's nothing to prevent heaven,
Not even a cloud beneath the kind sun,
The mission light, the palms saying something
You have to be slow enough to hear --
All you can eat papaya.
 
2.
In sprouting palms a yellow wren
Poses for a snap,
Purple balloons float across the pool
Like there could ever be too much fun.
The cactus shines in the sun.
There is no sense to anything anyone does
But the birds speak the impeccable logic of the palms.
 
3.
Trouble in paradise -- a blue drink --
"What's in it?" -- "It's delicious!" --
The fix was in on the poolside trivia game --
All relaxation stopped and the faces
Became those who can't win.
 
4.
Annabelle sells bracelets by the seashore
In a white robe and straw fedora,
Patiently waiting behind the rope
For tourists to cross, the few
Who are unafraid
To negotiate her down to pennies for her day.
She faces away from the sea,
Toward listless luxury
On a beach that's burning.
 
5.
The joker laughs -- ruido --
The cards always tell a joke --
But the tablecloth is neat
And the breeze from the veranda fans
Will make you forget
Whatever it was you willed yourself
In hopelessness
To remember.
 
6.
The streets of no mind;
Corazon,
Where all is sensation
Regaled
As a king is kissed by a fool.
They wait all night and day
For the birds Americanos
To light again their dream corners
And fall in the sinote
Where they play.
 
7.
At the pink hotel
St. Michael slays a lizard
While the Spanish virgin looks on in wood
And a blind parakeet named Adolpho
Sings at every opened door.
 
8.
Schools of fish spawned from the chum thrown on the bay;
The death boats drop from the landing;
The Mexican Navy plays drum reveille less than crisply;
Dolphins are kept in a concrete house as therapists for children;
You can pose with a marlin as the captor or the captive;
The big fishing boats (owned by Microsoft, Walmart, Exxon Mobil)
Eat the little fishing boats (owned by Juan)
And the tiniest vie for scraps
As grey pelicans wait grimly for food.
The worlds are so far apart they don't even collide,
The well-rounded views of wealth
And the half-completed skeletons
Pass like ghosts exchanging pesos --
All they know of each other is the sea.
 
9.
The rhythm of the waves,
Desert clouds, palm fronds,
The shadows on the rocks --
The only things that stay.
 
10.
The mission garden
Date night
Restaurant,
Hard feelings softened
By the yellow tulip lights
Until a few sobs drop to the tiles
From the skies
To baptize the lovers
Before the monsoon starts
And fills the water glasses,
Clears the tables, sends the still
Smiling hostess on a mission of mercy
To gather all the cushions
Before they float away.
The customers have given up
On Campari umbrellas
And detach to the oak room
And its orange light to sip
Incandescent green drinks
And watch the streets turn to beaches
In sheets of surf-glow black.
At the top of the tower
A blue light beckons
As if what happened before the rains
Was just a pretty picture,
A backdrop to a game with rules more ancient
Than even the masterchef here understands,
At the end of which is ruination,
Mysterious and hopeful and beautiful
But ruination nevertheless.
 
11.
There never was an empire here
But they make it seem so noble
To be so broken and ashamed,
As happy as the dead, to heal
Those orphaned of their Gods
With nothing but hand-painted skulls.
Such visions of what never was
Can take the place of heaven
Everpresent, never ending,
Giggling in the breeze.
 
12.
Trained we are like seals
In ways to see the sky and sea;
Blue means one thing, grey another,
Some valence on our lives gone flickering by,
Sealed as good or bad. But what if
The water, churning in, is as green
As Senor Frog's lime-green philosophy
And as black as Yucatan Chocolate
At the same time? If blue is fractured
By beveled grades of slate?
Heaven is as real as what's let go,
The need for blue, the attitude toward grey,
Letting the green moments stay impossible.
The rocks on the other side are full of spray,
Just now. You may have the food
Here, but that's where the fish are.
 
13.
Angry in paradise
Two black swans,
The people caged outside,
Are overseen by naked Neptune
At the Roman fountain end
Where busts of the Caesars reside.
They pick at their food,
Pick at each other,
Snort and snarl at humans,
These two of a kind
Flown in from Namibia
For reasons the toucans don't understand.
They pace savagely behind their well-appointed wire --
No amount of blue sky and surf frosting
For waverunners, parasails, hangliders will do --
No quantity of happy hour Margarita's and Texas Slammers
In the the deep bass pulse disco light show
On fluourescent Mexican folk art while an 80's cover band
Drives people back like cattle to their youth
To reclaim what they never obtained in the first place
Will keep them from craning their long black necks
Like plumber's snakes looking for a clog
In their sandy demense -- no --
There aren't enough endless pools of bikini'd beauties
And white-washed houses with blue miniarettes
And cliffside drives at night along the Pacific
Past immense haciendas lit with golden light.
No tradewinds breezes will ever soothe the irritations
They feel. Do they know they are black
In this white swan world of beauty?
Is there some onyx and malachite pool somewhere
To call home? Neptune doesn't say, he only
Looks on with the contempt of the ocean,
His curls, trident and impossibly small penis unconcerned
With the problems of two ornery birds.
They are some half-baked symbol, one supposes,
Of nothingness, how black is white and good is bad
And rareness is unexceptional - a gag whose humor
Has long since turned to bile, for no one had the curiosity
To ask for the punch line -- maybe these birds resent that,
How the joke their lives were made into
Was never even laughed at --
Maybe they are laughing
In their squealing swan tongue
To show that they are funny, really,
Despite everything.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Canaan Morning

The men in blackest suits
Emerge from dim white mansions
To walk the pre-dawn highway
With grim eyes fixed ahead
Suitcases sway in rhythm
To the Talmadge Hill Train Station
Where their crosses await.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Goodbye Mamaroneck

The peacefulness of flowering weeds
        Draped along the waterline
The green that reaches through all grime
        In summertime

I see they're all not there now
        To be seen
They're paintings of the train
        That stays on rails

Its cargo is too fragile
        To look within -
And Willow Auto Sales
        Will do for now