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