Sunday, October 22, 2017

Vers Gnostique

What misdirects us is our need to know,
The only thing concealed by the glaring sun,
The blind paths illumined like blue runways

For in the "not for us to know"
Lies the thing the whole grieves over,
What was lost on our way to here

And is not recoverable
Unless it was never real at all;
That's the way most grieving is.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Blackpatch Implications

I would deliver autumn's grapes to you
But fall is somewhere else
And so the force I would assume,
Your source for transformation,
Exists as perverse myth alone,
That's how quickly I turn
From steward into threat:
A sky that is not spoken for
Must not exist.

I was not content to have touched the garment
That glowed with how the greatest shame
Came with the greatest ecstasy;
I saw the weave as in fragrant sun
And found the words that stepped into others
But it was the thing not what it captured
I couldn't bear not to have,
The voice from another realm
Was not enough to merely hear.

A child, they said, can't think immortal thoughts,
The Gods are to be worshiped not adored,
And finally they stood apart, like toys too high
Holding back their joy as we rode the dirt
And became in coldness of distance a flame
Nursing the veils of our feeling
And all I could do was to turn to the light
With everyone else, and see in the faces
The thing that they lacked, the memory
Of what was lost.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Waking Up In Catalina

When I see myself in the Avalon Ballroom
It’s always 1936
And I am gloriously pearled,
On a champagne baron’s arm –
That’s the way it always is,
The present light is stolen
Like the tickets of dead invitees
For more detail in the tapestry
Where eyes become one gaze,
Worthy,

Not unlike these murals
Restored against the forgetting salt
With garish colors and distended forms,
What was never celebrated,
As if that’s all there was.
The real lies buried, never recoverable
Even in the moment it was alive,
And the light is only in the other

So we conjure a glow around the shadow
To madly reflect an outline in abstentia,
For shadows always hang on the goldenest fruit
And what they told us of this striving world
Was never true,
The impoverished were really holy
As the famous were cursed

But there were no lies to yearning eyes, we believed
In a purpose, in a value to life,
As cold and uncertain as that role made us feel
We were hungry to share a dispensation
That labors partook of the Gods
And not just the lots of the fallen
Bequeathed so we could learn together
The horrors we were capable of

As well as the wisdom
So far away
That deigns sometimes to buzz through our bones.
That is the diamond we want to steal,
The firefly in the Skippy jar,
It exists here and here – moving from body
To body – let’s give it a name and a plot,
As if what disappears
Could conquer, at least in mortal hearts,
The structures where the damned reside,

What we call heaven, in the moments
When the present melts
And ghosts assume a nostalgic glow
And there’s nothing outside the window but shapes
Of what we allowed ourselves not to be.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fire Dirt Suite

I. Island With People
Without the earth’s dropped tears, where would we be?
Banana leaves know how to dream, catching the one like rain.
The guardian faces with their stillness hold the flow intact,

Keep the water like saber-toothed stalactites before it falls again
Like a serpent across the sand, where vines offer flowers
Like lines of communication from the forest.

The sound is joyful, the constant deafening chime of what is
And always will be, a truth that’s so elusive it must be
Said, and heard, equally: What living seems like to the alive.

The rain draws blood from the bark. The water they call clouds
Moves in non-linear ways, south, then east, as in a dream,
Before it stops and pulls back, for a mad dash west.

Nene and ant don’t exactly wait for the rain to decide
When to come. It’s in the voice of the sky that speaks
Through their tongues, to share with the clouds as they pass.

And we, who sit in beach chairs, feel it’s a conspiracy,
What goes on without us knowing, this assurance of dove,
Machination of crab, quivers of lizards on boughs;

It’s all destined to make us look bad: red, fat and bad,
The denizens of Haoleland, who drive 4-wheel trucks into the sand
Because we can, but do not understand

What the aura round the leaves is saying,
Or why the birds go quiet at certain times,
Or how the driftwood finds the perfect spot to be,

Without a reason we can see, how it seems to be
Smiling at all this, what we are supposed to know
And voice, but don’t, so silent are the loud ones

As skies move across the surface of things,
Counting the breaths of the ocean as if it’s not
Our breath, as if it’s not a breath at all,

But a pattern built into time,
An equation required to balance the random,
One that denies the birds a mind and the rocks a will,

Just forces colliding at some distance from us,
Sparking coincidence thunderbolts
Across a dead and desolate space

Where the bodies huddle on the beach in the rain
Not obeying these dictates even, as they chase
Imaginary vistas, converse with impossible voices

And sit in an uncompromising dream
Where rock is not domesticated
And birds come ‘cos they ask them to

As if they never were
The promised blocks of granite
To fill the horizon with forms.


II. Beyond the Roosters

What words are in the spruce,
So articulate in sun, who even fallen
Leaves quills and redolent cones?

Still the bird at the top struggles to convey
What its waverings might say
— A spray of orange needles on the clay,
The berries turned so blue beneath its shade.



III. In Honeysuckle Season

Rainbow weather
The wind across the canyon
Like cast-adrift light



IV. Behind the Oil Refinery

At the old Buddhist cemetery
On the trash heap by the sea’s edge
The stones are knocked around,
Tombs broken off like trees.
The migrant families who survived have moved on.
Seventy feet below, trash continues to ooze out
To eventually become things of beauty:
Radiator rocks, rubber stones, uranium glass.
The green lichen on all the graves, too,
At the moment of sunset
Glows above the red, as evergreens swerve.



V. Rain Forest Politics

The trees that give the jungle life
Bow before the stream
That rushes ahead
Refusing to be more
Than alien
It throws off a reflection
The forest sees itself in



VI. In Nohomalu Valley

There are no Hawaiians beyond Kekeha,
Only the Department of Defense
To guard us from Polihale’s ghosts.

They float across the Mana Plains
And rest in these grey bushes, gaining
From black boulders whatever comfort they possess.

They have stayed so long beyond corporeal
There is no form, even, to their cry, only
The buzzing of a thousand flies near spectral carcasses.

They want me to sit there in a vague way
And in a vague way want me to stay.
The newer ones hide in the straw like cats.

The only other man out there at the end of the line
Knows nothing of the spirit world
But he knows drainage ditches,

How the fallow sugar fields have served
Their purpose, and how the water must
Now be preserved for endangered birds.

Faces rise above the crackling grasses.
Every town has disappeared without a story
— There was never any hope 

“Just leave us here, ye lovers of
Desolation and waste,
There’s no salve that you can render

“As you wander round in circles
And try to form the words we might have said.
What life was, you know less than us.

“The wind knows more, and will speak if nothing
Resists it. Maybe our voice will one day,
When our work is done, be in that sound.”



VII. Goodbye Kauai

As the first earphones have been lifted into place,
The first motivational speech put on the blank sheets

Of creation, the books, the games, the disputations,
What you called a bloom seems already non-existent,

A tacky kitschy tchotchke at best, what was only
In the dreams we carried in with us, an innocence.

The waves murmur forever, like the moonlit lips of lovers,
And the cane sways as if nothing has to happen anyway 

Such an Elysium sleep for the hardened immortals,
To float on a raft of endless peace in safety.

The woman led him to the cave inside the jungle
Of waterfalls and parrots and passion fruit raptures

It seemed so much a part of them, a laurel for their oneness.
What rides with their mind is something different:

An objection to what is, a nod to what can’t be,
A myth that can be framed or dealt like cards.

The island, whatever presence it once had,
Becomes the strumming of a tune on a summer afternoon

And all the blues gets in there too — how the sunlit palms
Still wave so far away, unfathomable, with the lilt of

How easily the real became illusion, because it had to be,
A sacrifice to the jealous gods of surveillance and portability,

As the most precious were once given to volcanoes,
An act of faith, somehow necessary.

Friday, September 29, 2017

99% Business, the Rest How the 1% Lives

"No crazies today," she cheerfully reported
and vowed to continue to upscale disruption
across the whole Carmen Miranda enchilada hat,
but she practically begged to deliver on a platter
as many diabolical show biz accounts as we could handle
though we were full already with images of oil drills
in people's yards and how the British gunpowder was stolen,
and then Oscar Wilde was waved over the proceedings
like a thimble of commie rum with burlesque bitters
to look down with benevolent animosity, like any good Victorian,
and I knew the velocities of change would find the right ecosystem
after all.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Lover's Journey

Love has a past,
It cross-references other stories,
Revises certain facts

But the original book,
Where characters and plot twists match,
Was committed to flame a long time ago

As if the lovers who are doomed
Will have no future, only that endless past
To rectify their acts

So when the new love comes,
Clear as a spring,
It could never have happened before.

Monday, September 25, 2017

End-of-Summer Bonfire in Los Alamitos

The bamboo has learned to be still
without learning the reason that it wasn't.
The grass where there once was a river
Lets rabbits pass through without bristling.

All that's allowed on the leaf-colored floor
is equally unknowable:
the why the squirrel bounds,
the how the alder bends,
dependencies are as hidden as faces.

Only the immovable sun could change
when creatures wake or dream;
what new perspective do we seek
in rustling the papers,
in breaking off the branches of the trees,
in knowing time to stop,
in willing space to yield
to check the outrage of perfection
that we think too much to comprehend?

The noise elongates to silence
in some unforeseen way, like the view
one can only see when rounding a cliff-side curve:
how it ends when it doesn't have to.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Lucidity of Phenomena

The birds feed
                           on the higher
                                                     octave of the river,
the ripples above the flowing line,
                                                               where paradigms 
form and dissolve
                                  as the clouds fall
                                                                  in a rich broth
for freedom's creation.

The water turns violet
                                         and so do our minds
                                                                               as we look,
as the lock of
                        seed and ovum achieves
                                                                     the greater sight
where all that's left is
                                        a blessing to give,
                                                                        a warble in the stillness,
where all that is
                             is so far
                                            out of reaching
but lives to have its existence
                                                      given life

— forgiveness to all
                                    that grew out of a deeper
                                                                                  need to be real,
but jettisoned from that
                                            like a breath, not to
                                                                                 journey back,
but to be perceived,
                                     loved into being,
what form only
                             contains.

This was desire once,
                                       these trees, these stones, these people,
but the lover can't
                                 remember,
                                                     it only marvels at how close
they can come to its hidden,
                                                    unknowable heart.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Everything That's Happening All the Time

The mind is thinking
I am moving
But magnificent currents push against
Like equinox winds:
What cannot be resolved
Only experienced

I finally let my hair stand on end

Monday, September 18, 2017

Live Moon Cam Images

Everyone is here
To experience that ppfft
As worlds turn around
The self

Who plugs in like amplifiers
To glow with the knowledge
That once was holy
Worthy of libraries

But now we know as no more
Worthy of being saved
Than a dandelion seed
In the background of sky

The quarry we will call the self
Seems to grow more elusive
When in fact it's the shackles
Have become so small

We don't know they're even there

The Eccentrics

Everything speaks
But the people today
Who try to keep away
What they're dying to say

No constraints
On the rest of the tree
For growing from the mind
Is the need to say "I am"

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Canadian Girlfriend

Every guy, it seems, has had a fake Canadian girlfriend,
As bragging rights fantasy, at some point in time.

Mine, for example, just served me vegan poutine.
I felt that I could meet an Inuit without the need of a pelt.

But then the shared experience crystals hit,
The null set of the other

And it dawned on me:
They are all Canadian girlfriends,

That's the true true, without the shucking
On the irritable facts altar

(Maple leaf flag waved
In surrender).

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Technical Presentation

The scope of the sadness
Vast as it is invisible
Comes through in miniscule pauses,
Miniature gestures.
It is all that we can see.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Observation

With enough light on the leaves
They are no longer leaves.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Songs of Avila

The sea must go somewhere;
It snarls in these caves
Blackened by its foam —
All that's left of a reaction.

The sound of water on rock
Is not the voice of the sea
Nor the mouth of the stone,
But it will have to do —

Wasted violence turned back and smoothed
Must be the answer to every question.

Eclipse at Aptos

A coastline of driftwood
Skeleton stacked
As if to support
The pier that's collapsed

Where the fish still believe
In marionette poles
And the pigeons still pray
At lovers' bare toes

But the pelicans roost
Past vanity's end
On a haunted guano island
Built from broken pilings
Where the slight return of
Light begins

Monday, July 24, 2017

Variations on a Theme by Ammons

Desert flowers, voiced by the wind, their spiked heads
and open blooms lean my way, ever so gently, as if afraid
but the wind pulls them away like a father
wrests wandering eyes from a rough-figured stranger.

The grasses, on the other hand, tune to much subtler
perturbations, above the fears and desires in closeness,
afraid only of missing it, the hidden inculcation.

The wind itself is left with the dead stalks
to state its case, for shivering and coming close,
how hard it is to flow, it stiffly asserts,
and the yellow flowers at the root of these dead
merely watch, in a kind of awe, though
all the wind can say to the living is "Don't be so lazy,
move!" (to the eucalyptus), and "Shake your pretty
tambourine in our choir" (to the bougainvillea).

The grasses feel it all but cannot say,
relying on the pink bloom nested in their bed
to offer a flicker at meaning.
And we, we go through their turnstiles,
twirling their ravishing plumage in the light
as their brothers and sisters whisper in the distant field.
They turn their weary fingers with such hard-earned purpose,
for they can hold so still, for as long as it takes
Herr Wind to summon its presence,

Which sends the mustard to pray, its bobbing bonnets
oscillating at the sky, and makes the ivy
fan the trees, throbbing with honoring, tells the new
oak shoots to reach beyond the who, what, where
they are in the soft persuasions of its breeze,

Yet the honeysuckle struggles, against the reminder
that summer's fat stillness will not be long, it
flails and gesticulates, thinking the recoil is who he is,
but calm returns soon enough, and quiet nodding, the lightest
breeze caresses it like a bee hugs a strand of blossom,

And the cool current flows like a mountain stream,
effortless as the day, and silent except for the sighs
up and down the hillsides, of those who wait for it,
as for a cloud to lift from the sea over a distant golden island.

"This distinction," the wind says, motioning all around, "has no
relevance, except as the parts are forced into a mouth to sing
what they are, that is, not what I am, who attempts to be their
king. A king? As if the symphony I orchestrate is in my name,
as if my nurturing, invisible, has a result that redounds to my
credit — no, my power is in the withholding, creating time
the curse in the waiting."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Another Temporary Identity

Silence is the only truth
        as it sifts between the queries
                of what should or
                       might not be,
Proposing an ever-expanding
        question wide enough
                to swallow the room
                       full of doubt.
Silence is the best
        medicine
               or at least the best
                                  policy
Why then, is it like
        the earth will implode
               if you don't
                                  speak?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

By the Glaciers

The hanging rain forest strands
       And moss-mound floor:
Everything has shivered off its white
       And is squeaking color:
Life supplants life, as if there is
       No living thing, no form
To ascribe a good or bad condition
       Through circuitries of blame,
There's only quality of light,
        The way the truth, in being
Articulated, takes the essence with it
         On its endlessly rising wave,
Leaving the salty snow melt grass
         In frosted radiance
With the bullseye lichen
         And the pink wintergreen,
Even the late afternoon, as if they
          Are alive
Like the look of the fireweed,
          The sound of the stones.

Friday, July 21, 2017

In Victoria

Float homes, glass madhouses,
A folk duo in red caps who hop
At the end of every song,
Canadian geese, finally at peace,
Gliding through galvanized ripples
As the wind turns the maple leaves
To Theatre Alley, Orchids for Uma,
The Lee's Benevolent Association,
The Flying Otter's drunken a capella.
Seagulls take over the sky
When the moon goes under.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Some Inner Passage Views

It's how peacefully white folds into black,
The abundance of lack
As the sun scatters living light over the waves
And the many dimensions arrive
And leave just as mysteriously,
Like mountains that offer glimpses of eternity
Before assuming the shapelessness of cloud.

It's an invitation to what never seems to come,
Just ice shrouds on pine islands, crystalline tree lines,
Fishing boats with hooks in pink half-light
That passes for sunrise here.
The mist sweeps by like powder to reveal what isn't there.
The smoke of a deeper war
Explodes in the cold distance.

Because we are curious, we can see
Until how we want the story to end
Leaves fingerprints on our eyes
And we go blind to possibility,
Tapping the stick of our will on the hard mystery
Of whether the illusion can be kind enough to be real
Or we ungracious enough to mind if it can't.

Snow negotiates the crags like a jagged, eternal smile
To snag whatever life it has left
From the sudden, inextricable fall
Off the hanging vapor that hugs the hills
Carved and torqued into divine curves that like the falls
Find new life, in the inner eye, the iridescent purples
Of what needs to exist but cannot.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Two Alaska Towns

Catch as Ketchikan Can
The prison nestled in the glacial cliffs
Where the hemlocks swallow the houses
And the mountains are swallowed by cloud.
They were so kind — their rounded eyes —
And glad as we were we were going.
Now the party begins.
You can hear the screaming from the harbor.

Skagway as a Destination
The Arctic Brotherhood and Red Man's Improvement Association,
Plum storefronts and red bumblebees,
All to celebrate the tragedy
Of gold panners flowing upstream
Like silver salmon to die.
Now the lure of tourist ore
Brings these pale green streams once more to life.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

City Afternoon, With Shadows

It was weird out, even for LA, no one talked,
For example, or if they did, it was drowned out
By traffic lights, air brakes, the omnipresent spycams,
And the laughter of ghost bums like fountains
That they could still taunt us for withholding coin.

And the people were as interchangeable as birds,
Hair, wardrobe, accessories cataloged, even the blue-haired
Pewter dolls, the birthday suits red-ribboned with tribal
Angel headdress wings, the hot mess messengers with orange pants
And pink suspenders and phosphorescent yellow dreads.

The new's no longer new, because it won't make one unique
In the homogeneity of diversity. Who sits cross-legged anymore
In the fountain, by the statue? Instead boys in circles spin a soccer ball
In its currents, while girls pose for pictures with their ice-cream cones
As if the fear of others is a holy obligation.

We have become those things that advertising shows up, we don't have
The colors, the spices, the life of pecuniary discontent, we want nothing
But to be part of that. The band of homeless brothers, in olive-drab
Tents, know what we can only surmise; that other people are crazy,
That's why you trust them with your lives.

There's no trust on the other side, with no belief in oneself to rely on,
That a penny in the cold would be more than enough. Instead the usual
Endless line at the modern art museum, never thinning it's cultivation
Of ennui, and the guy she's with is just a prop,
So she can unscrew wandering eyes

Like mine, who hopes for some relief from the inundation
Of humiliating information obsolescing all I seek, who hopes
Someone walks these streets knowing its Hallucination Beach,
Who knows there's nothing but sighs for sale
At the Ghost of Old Mexico Tile and Stone,

Who looks with love in his heart at the heartless, sees the purpose
In grace of every wannabe, as if it all turns real in his light, but no,
There's no room outside the dream anymore,
No one who can rescue the no one to save,
There's only an imagined alternative, me.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Odes by Hölderlin: Résumé

You too wanted something greater, but love forces
    All of us down, bent by a more powerful grief,
       But it does not straighten back
          In vain, our bow, from where it came.

Above or below! Holding sway in holy night,
    While the nascent day mute in its nature muses,
       Does justice still one level
          Rule of the crippled underworld?

This I discovered. For never would I know of
    The heavenly things, the all-abiding support
       That mortal masters possess,
          So steered the straight path warily.

Man verifies everything, say the celestials,
    That he, nourished powerfully, would be thankful
       For the learning, and know he’s
          Free, to go where he wants, to break.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lebenslauf

Größers wolltest auch du, aber die Liebe zwingt
   All uns nieder, das Leid beuget gewaltiger,
      Doch es kehret umsonst nicht
         Unser Bogen, woher er kommt.

Aufwärts oder hinab! herrschet in heilger Nacht,
   Wo die stumme Natur werdende Tage sinnt,
      Herrscht im schiefesten Orkus
         Nicht ein Grades, ein Recht noch auch?

Dies erfuhr ich. Denn nie, sterblichen Meistern gleich,
   Habt ihr Himmlischen, ihr Alleserhaltenden,
      Daß ich wüßte, mit Vorsicht
         Mich des ebenen Pfads geführt.

Alles prüfe der Mensch, sagen die Himmlischen,
   Daß er, kräftig genährt, danken für Alles lern',
      Und verstehe die Freiheit,
         Aufzubrechen, wohin er will.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Faith’s Food

The streets can send off sparks
from their limited compartments:
too much love —
one doesn’t know what to do with
the songbirds in the sculpture
of airplane parts
or the fountains that won’t stop gushing
or the blue dame with the cigarette
standing raptly in a book,
for these things step out of the boots
of immutable appearance
as something purer,
and grow with the wind
to guide one, riding it to a larger
sun, a sky less defined,
until it’s powerful enough
one can withstand at last
the notice
of the tortures of the mind,
how its invisible bile spills
like steam out of stacks
to waiting air —
the prison is everywhere,
it is what cannot give,
it is there to take on
all the gradations of fear
like a vampiric connoisseur
because fear is, after all,
what we create out of nothing,
not like this,
what is already there,
what offers me, as I stare
at the gleam in the palm tree,
what is still unknown: being,
how the cardboard cutouts of our lives
won’t be redeemed. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Odes by Hölderlin: Love

If you forget all your friends, if you revile
   All your own, O you grateful ones, all your poets,
      God forgives it, but honors
         Only the soul of the lovers.

For, tell me, where does human life live otherwise,
   Since all that we serve now is coaxed out of worry?
      That’s why God has walked carefree
         Over our heads for a long time.

Still, however cold and songless the year may be,
   At the appointed time, from out of a white field
      Green stalks ascend out of sprouts,
         Often a lonelier bird sings,

As the woods gradually stretch, as the river stirs,
   Already the milder midday air gently blows
      At the exquisite hour,
         Sign of a more beautiful time,

Which we still believe will arise, alone, humble
   Rising nobly and devoutly above the bronze,
      Over the untamed soil of
         Love, God's daughter, from it alone.

Be blessed, O be, heavenly plant, neatly kept
   For me in song, when you are nourished by the force
      Of ethereal nectar,
         And ripened in creation’s ray.

Rise and become the forest! A more enlivened,
   Full-flowered world! May the language of the lovers
      Be the language of the land,
         Its soul the sound of the people!

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Die Liebe

Wenn ihr Freunde vergeßt, wenn ihr die Euern all,
   O ihr Dankbaren, sie, euere Dichter schmäht,
      Gott vergeb' es, doch ehret
         Nur die Seele der Liebenden.

Denn o saget, wo lebt menschliches Leben sonst,
   Da die knechtische jetzt alles, die Sorge, zwingt?
      Darum wandelt der Gott auch
         Sorglos über dem Haupt uns längst.

Doch, wie immer das Jahr kalt und gesanglos ist
   Zur beschiedenen Zeit, aber aus weißem Feld
      Grüne Halme doch sprossen,
         Oft ein einsamer Vogel singt,

Wenn sich mählich der Wald dehnet, der Strom sich regt,
   Schon die mildere Luft leise von Mittag weht
      Zur erlesenen Stunde,
         So ein Zeichen der schönern Zeit,

Die wir glauben, erwächst einziggenügsam noch,
   Einzig edel und fromm über dem ehernen,
      Wilden Boden die Liebe,
         Gottes Tochter, von ihm allein.

Sei gesegnet, o sei, himmlische Pflanze, mir
   Mit Gesange gepflegt, wenn des ätherischen
      Nektars Kräfte dich nähren,
         Und der schöpfrische Strahl dich reift.

Wachs und werde zum Wald! eine beseeltere,
   Vollentblühende Welt! Sprache der Liebenden
      Sei die Sprache des Landes,
         Ihre Seele der Laut des Volks!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Odes by Hölderlin: Home

Cross the silent river the mariner sweeps,
   Glad to be home, with his haul, from far islands;
      If I were to return to my home,
         Heartbreak would be the bulk of my cargo.

You beloved shore, who raised me once, could you
   Slake all love’s sufferings, could you promise me,
      Forests of my youth, if I return,
         Serenity again, as once before?

At the cool brook, where I gamboled in the waves,
   On the riverbank, where I saw the ships glide,
      You familiar mountains; I am there,
         Home I adored, who looked after me once

Safe in the confines of my mother’s hearth, where
   Affectionate brothers and sisters embraced;
      I’d welcome you and you’d surround me,
         And in that bond, my heart would be mended,

You ever-faithful ones! But I know, I know,
   Love’s sufferings don’t heal for me so soon, no
      Bosom can console with lullabies,
         For they are only the songs mortals sing.

For the gods who lend us the heavenly fire,
   Bestow on us holy suffering as well,
      Thus this residence. I seem a son
         Of the earth; made to love, made to suffer.

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Die Heimat

Froh kehrt der Schiffer heim an den stillen Strom,
   Von Inseln fernher, wenn er geerntet hat;
      So käm' auch ich zur Heimat, hätt ich
         Güter so viele, wie Leid, geerntet.

Ihr teuern Ufer, die mich erzogen einst,
   Stillt ihr der Liebe Leiden, versprecht ihr mir,
      Ihr Wälder meiner Jugend, wenn ich
         Komme, die Ruhe noch einmal wieder?

Am kühlen Bache, wo ich der Wellen Spiel,
   Am Strome, wo ich gleiten die Schiffe sah,
      Dort bin ich bald; euch traute Berge,
         Die mich behüteten einst, der Heimat

Verehrte sichre Grenzen, der Mutter Haus
   Und liebender Geschwister Umarmungen
      Begrüß' ich bald und ihr umschließt mich,
         Daß, wie in Banden, das Herz mir heile,

Ihr treugebliebnen! aber ich weiß, ich weiß,
   Der Liebe Leid, dies heilet so bald mir nicht,
      Dies singt kein Wiegensang, den tröstend
         Sterbliche singen, mir aus dem Busen.

Denn sie, die uns das himmlische Feuer leihn,
   Die Götter schenken heiliges Leid uns auch,
      Drum bleibe dies. Ein Sohn der Erde
         Schein' ich; zu lieben gemacht, zu leiden.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Path

Birds should be heard and not seen
— Their voices become then so pure —
The sound of the trees
Breaking through
Walls that the sun just inflames:

Snail shine on the leaves,
Mesquite beans hanging down to be taken,
Cactus hide that seems to dissolve
And the ice plant that seems to glow from within.

It’s that time of the day when
Brown grasses are the emperors of the world,
When the boughs display angelic realms,
When the lowest are the most filled with light

And the dirt holds a promise
In the silence of the dust
Floating to meet
Our pith and vapor,
We stars.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Outside the Passport Office

You'd never know from looking at the line
What's in those many faces,
Words, of course, in many languages,
But the import is the same whether one
       understands them or not:

They are lost, as they fidget and tighten
       their clothes for effect.
They sit immobile, stranded inside their minds,
As if there's nothing they can do,
As if the wait is worse than dying.

And nothing comes out to speak
Of what this is, or who they are,
And what they wait for doesn't save them.

The palo verde trees nearby, however,
Ruffle their yellow leaves,
The branches sway like a plea to the Lord —
A consecrating voice reverberates
That no one seems to notice.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Odes by Hölderlin: The Neckar

In your valleys my heart awakened to life,
   Your waves they surrounded me swirling in play,
      All the lovely hills awoke to you
         Pilgrim, there’s not one that’s foreign to me.

On their peaks, where the airs of heaven released
   The pain of enslavement I felt; and the waves
      Poured happiness as if from a cup,
         Silver glittering blue along the vale.

The springs of the mountain hurried down to you,
   Along with my heart as you took us with you,
      To the silent lord the Rhine, to his
         Towns downstream and his frolicsome islands.

I still consider the world beautiful, and
   The eye flees, yearning for the lures of the earth,
      For golden Paktolos, for Smyrna’s
         Shore, for Ilion's forest. I want to

Land along the mute path at Sunium too,
   And ask for your pillars, O Olympian!
      There’s only the winds and the ages
         In the rubble of the Athenians

And your gods bury you too in these temples,
   For you have stood lonely for so long, O pride
      Of the world, that is no more. O fair
         Ionian islands, where the sea air

Cools the hot shores and whispers through the forests
   Of laurel, where the sun brings warmth to the vines,
      Oh, where in golden autumn the sighs
         Of the poor metamorphose into song,

When the pomegranate ripens, in green night
   The bitter orange glints, the resin drips from
      The mastic tree, and timpani and
         Cymbal sound out the labyrinthine dance.

That islands you might one day bring me to my
   Guardian god; but I must give faith to sense
      For even my Neckar was not there 
         With its lovely pastures and grassy shores.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Der Neckar

In deinen Tälern wachte mein Herz mir auf
   Zum Leben, deine Wellen umspielten mich,
      Und all der holden Hügel, die dich
         Wanderer! kennen, ist keiner fremd mir.

Auf ihren Gipfeln löste des Himmels Luft
   Mir oft der Knechtschaft Schmerzen; und aus dem Tal,
      Wie Leben aus dem Freudebecher,
         Glänzte die bläuliche Silberwelle.

Der Berge Quellen eilten hinab zu dir,
   Mit ihnen auch mein Herz und du nahmst uns mit,
      Zum stillerhabnen Rhein, zu seinen
         Städten hinunter und lustgen Inseln.

Noch dünkt die Welt mir schön, und das Aug entflieht
   Verlangend nach den Reizen der Erde mir,
      Zum goldenen Paktol, zu Smyrnas
         Ufer, zu Ilions Wald. Auch möcht ich

Bei Sunium oft landen, den stummen Pfad
   Nach deinen Säulen fragen, Olympion!
      Noch eh der Sturmwind und das Alter
         Hin in den Schutt der Athenertempel

Und ihrer Gottesbilder auch dich begräbt,
   Denn lang schon einsam stehst du, o Stolz der Welt,
      Die nicht mehr ist. Und o ihr schönen
         Inseln Ioniens! wo die Meerluft

Die heißen Ufer kühlt und den Lorbeerwald
   Durchsäuselt, wenn die Sonne den Weinstock wärmt,
      Ach! wo ein goldner Herbst dem armen
         Volk in Gesänge die Seufzer wandelt,

Wenn sein Granatbaum reift, wenn aus grüner Nacht
   Die Pomeranze blinkt, und der Mastixbaum
      Von Harze träuft und Pauk und Cymbel
         Zum labyrinthischen Tanze klingen.

Zu euch, ihr Inseln! bringt mich vielleicht, zu euch
   Mein Schutzgott einst; doch weicht mir aus treuem Sinn
      Auch da mein Neckar nicht mit seinen
         Lieblichen Wiesen und Uferweiden.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Odes by Hölderlin: The Gods

Secret ethereal: You stay beautiful!
    The soul to me is in pain, and ennobled
       By its bravery before your rays,
          Helios! Chest often puffed in disgust,

You good gods! He who does not know you is poor.
    The strife never rests in him with the rough breast,
       And night is his world, where no joy thrives
          And there’s never any singing to him.

Only you, with your eternal youth, nourish,
    In the hearts that love you, the children’s spirit,
       And never let in the distress and
          Madness the genius spends his days nursing.

------------------------------------------------------------------
Die Götter

Du stiller Aether! immer bewahrst du schön
   Die Seele mir im Schmerz, und es adelt sich
      Zur Tapferkeit vor deinen Strahlen,
         Helios! oft die empörte Brust mir.

Ihr guten Götter! arm ist, wer euch nicht kennt,
   Im rohen Busen ruhet der Zwist ihm nie,
      Und Nacht ist ihm die Welt und keine
         Freude gedeihet und kein Gesang ihm.

Nur ihr, mit eurer ewigen Jugend, nährt
   In Herzen, die euch lieben, den Kindersinn,
      Und laßt in Sorgen und in Irren
         Nimmer den Genius sich vertrauern.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fathersday Poem

Fathers suffer for the impossible,
What can't be heard or said,
What can't be learned or taught,
What won't be held or held back ...

Just a straight line to be walked
With all that stuff on the side of the road
Given only a nod,

The truth reduced to direction
After all the advice has been allowed
To be a lie

For the sake of harmony,
In the cause of learning,
From the hope that all suffering in silence
Will never be revealed,
As the pain must end with someone

Although that end,
Like the stain left on the shore after
The pebbles have skittered away,
Like the notes that echo after
The music has stopped playing,
Like the summer light after
The giant sun has set,
Stays.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Odes by Hölderlin: Heidelberg

I’ve loved you for a long time, and would desire now
   To call you mother, and offer an artless song,
      Most beautiful town in the
         Fatherland, as far as I see,

As the bird of the forest flies over the peaks
   And swings across the glittering river past you.
     The bridge is strong and simple.
         The people and carriages whirr.

While I paused on the bridge, as if sent by the gods,
   The enchantment enthralled, because I passed over;
      All the way to the mountains
         The distance seemed to tantalize,

And the young man, the river, flowed to the lowlands,
   Sadly, like the heart, if too beautiful itself,
      Will disappear lovingly,
         Throw itself to the floods of time.

Wellsprings you had for him, had the evanescent
   Entrusted, the cool shadows and the creamy shores,
      All for him, and her figure
         Came trembling out of the ripples.

But heavy in the valley hung the gigantic
   Castle, well-versed in destiny, on the low ground
      And ground down by the weather;
         But the ever-present sun cast

Her rejuvenating light over this ancient
    Monument, and the ivy greened more vividly;
       And friendly forests whispered
         Past the ghost of its condition.

The shrubs stayed low, blooming peaceful in the valley
   Where, reclining over the hill, or along the
      Shore, your roads go lighthearted 
          Below the gardens redolent.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Heidelberg

Lange lieb' ich dich schon, möchte dich, mir zur Lust,
   Mutter nennen, und dir schenken ein kunstlos Lied,
      Du, der Vaterlandsstädte
         Ländlichschönste, so viel ich sah.

Wie der Vogel des Walds über die Gipfel fliegt,
   Schwingt sich über den Strom, wo er vorbei dir glänzt,
      Leicht und kräftig die Brücke,
         Die von Wagen und Menschen tönt.

Wie von Göttern gesandt, fesselt' ein Zauber einst
   Auf die Brücke mich an, da ich vorüber ging,
      Und herein in die Berge
         Mir die reizende Ferne schien,

Und der Jüngling, der Strom, fort in die Ebne zog,
   Traurigfroh, wie das Herz, wenn es, sich selbst zu schön,
      Liebend unterzugehen,
         In die Fluten der Zeit sich wirft.

Quellen hattest du ihm, hattest dem Flüchtigen
   Kühle Schatten geschenkt, und die Gestade sahn
      All' ihm nach, und es bebte
         Aus den Wellen ihr lieblich Bild.

Aber schwer in das Tal hing die gigantische,
   Schicksalskundige Burg nieder bis auf den Grund,
      Von den Wettern zerrissen;
         Doch die ewige Sonne goß

Ihr verjüngendes Licht über das alternde
   Riesenbild, und umher grünte lebendiger
      Efeu; freundliche Wälder
         Rauschten über die Burg herab.

Sträuche blühten herab, bis wo im heitern Tal,
   An den Hügel gelehnt, oder dem Ufer hold,
      Deine fröhlichen Gassen
        Unter duftenden Gärten ruhn.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

That Rare In-the-World Feeling

All this time I wanted to connect, but
       There was no connection, except
              What was already inside: silent.

I worked so hard to bolt myself on,
       But the threads kept on popping
               And I never seemed to notice.

Perhaps there should be a reckoning, for good intentions,
       For wanting what others appeared to have,
               For the gesture of trying to care,

But there was too much real in all that illusion,
       Falsity holds so little pull,
               Not like the eyes finding all I am

And making me feel, for the moment, loved,
       Even as the hollows of my own eyes, shining out,
               Have taken what love I'd had from my sight

As if it was something stolen, what I
       Failed to give, and could never know,
               The thing I desire the most.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Odes by Hölderlin: Rousseau

How finite it is, the day in which we live.
   You came and were astonished, and it’s evening
      Already, so sleep, where the distant
         Infinite drifts across the peoples' years.

And many men can oversee their own time,
   A god shows them to the open, but you stand
      Longingly on the shore, annoying,
         A shadow, never able to love them,

And that, that which you called for, what you promised,
   Where are the new ones, now you’re in a friend’s hand,
      Where are they, that you once heard approach
         And made, in a clear and lonely voice, be?

It is toneless, poor man, in that hall of yours,
   And you wander incoherently, like the
      Unentombed, and seek peace and no one
         Knows how to point out the way to the wise.

Be still, now, be satisfied! The tree grows out
   Of the local soil, but the branches will drop
      The loving ones, all the youthful ones,
         And he will hang in a vast grief his head.

The abundance of life, the infinite that
   Dawns around him, and he never takes hold of
      Warms in him, works in him, lives in him
         Until the fruit of him now is swollen.

You have lived! And also you, and also you.
   The distant sun delights your head, and as it
      Radiates from the more beautiful
         Age, the messengers will locate your heart.

Have you perceived them, understood the language
   Of the strangers, assayed her soul? To the one
       Who yearns, a sign is enough, and signs   
         Are from ancient times the language of gods.

And wonderful, as if from the beginning,
   The human spirit becoming and working,
      Having already learned the way of life,

He knows at the first sign, already finished,
   And flies, the keen spirit, like a thundering
      Eagle, prophesying his gods
         Coming forth up ahead,

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Rousseau

Wie eng begrenzt ist unsere Tageszeit.
   Du warst und sahst und stauntest, schon Abend ists,
      Nun schlafe, wo unendlich ferne
         Ziehen vorüber der Völker Jahre.

Und mancher siehet über die eigne Zeit,
   Ihm zeigt ein Gott ins Freie, doch sehnend stehst
      Am Ufer du, ein Ärgernis den
         Deinen, ein Schatten, und liebst sie nimmer,

Und jene, die du nennst, die Verheißenen,
   Wo sind die Neuen, daß du an Freundeshand
      Erwarmst, wo nahn sie, daß du einmal,
         Einsame Rede, vernehmlich seiest?

Klanglos ists, armer Mann, in der Halle dir,
   Und gleich den Unbegrabenen, irrest du
      Unstät und suchest Ruh und niemand
         Weiß den beschiedenen Weg zu weisen.

Sei denn zufrieden! der Baum entwächst
   Dem heimatlichen Boden, aber es sinken ihm
      Die liebenden, die jugendlichen
         Arme, und trauernd neigt er sein Haupt.

Des Lebens Überfluß, das Unendliche,
   Das um ihn und dämmert, er faßt es nie.
      Doch lebts in ihm und gegenwärtig,
         Wärmend und wirkend, die Frucht entquillt ihm.

Du hast gelebt! auch dir, auch dir
   Erfreuet die ferne Sonne dein Haupt,
      Und Strahlen aus der schönern Zeit. Es
         Haben die Boten dein Herz gefunden.

Vernommen hast du sie, verstanden die Sprache der Fremdlinge,
   Gedeutet ihre Seele! Dem Sehnenden war
      Der Wink genug, und Winke sind
         Von alters her die Sprache der Götter.

Und wunderbar, als hätte von Anbeginn
   Des Menschen Geist das Werden und Wirken all,
      Des Lebens Weise schon erfahren,

Kennt er im ersten Zeichen Vollendetes schon,
   Und fliegt, der kühne Geist, wie Adler den
      Gewittern, weissagend seinen
         Kommenden Göttern voraus,