Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Edge, Revisited

There is no break from misery,
The light of heaven's always there
To keep you free from sleep,
For it's the worst things that you do
That make you great,
To have to carry that much weight ...
How much wisdom must be gained
To let that go.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Wyatt, West Virginia

Bootleg corn and dulcimers
Pennies flattened on the coal train tracks

Cranberry bogs and fetish sanitariums
Rusted gas pumps and Strawberry Crush

Club feet and pig iron nurseries
Flavor factories and the smell of defeat

Sackcloth and soot
Slurry and suet

Whelps and petticoats and hoops
Turnip greens and creosote

Outlandish hats and tragic shoes
Fringes and blue smoke

Black and combustible and elusive as coal
Where canaries sit on the hot tin plate

Ruddy limbs and blotchy faces
Bloody taverns from earlier centuries

Wildflower lunacies
Childhood tragedies

Emaciated alpha dogs
Never speaking to strangers at all

The Ancient Metaphysics

They came down
     Through the hole
To solve the riddle
     Of their existence

Fluffing up the place
Where nothingness is
      Embraced

A lower-themed
     Fist drops
Holes fill all
     The cracks

Friday, December 6, 2019

"In the winter pale ..." (Fernando Pessoa)

In the winter pale morning light
        Along the pier
Reason gives no hope, no hope of any pity
        For my tears.
        What has to be
Will be, whatever I believe to be right.

In the rustle of the quay, the bustling stream,
        The street as it actuates
There is no more quiet, nothing even empty,
        To accompany my wait.
        What doesn't have to be
Somewhere will be, if I believe; everything else is a dream.

----------------------------------------------------------------

A  pálida luz da manhã de Inverno,
        O cais e a razão
Não dão mais esperança, nem uma esperança sequer,
        Ao meu coração.
        O que tem que ser
Será, quer eu queira que seja ou que não.

No rumor do cais, no bulício do rio
        Na rua a acordar
Não há mais sossego, nem um vazio sequer,
        Para o meu esperar.
        O que tem que não ser
Algures será, se o pensei; tudo mais é sonhar.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Encroachment of Clarity

Echo Park is white with fog
Still the urge for sight persists
Some hills emerge from smoke
Then houses, cities clear
From out of a cloud chrysalis
Only to disappear in frequencies of grey
When the grass seemed wet
The buildings lit from hidden sky

You can't remove the universe
It is swallowed in you whole
Albeit hidden in the stillness of the fountain
And pagoda gold

When evening bronze arrives again
The houses turn to cards
In a sleight of hand allurement
Sharp and effervescent
The easier to deceive

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Bouquet for Kimberley

The square cliff sheers of Cumberland
Could never hold a girl with hair so unnaturally red,
The family funeral home could never take the place
Of the dolls that looked like bears,
Something she could play put up for sale,
As she would later pretend to get out of there.

It was a few marriages and bankruptcies later that she did,
To find the universe still gave favors:
Dye and a smile, a sister who trained dogs,
Nor far from where we used to live,
Where my daughter lives now,
Where some women I could have fallen for came from.

How did it get to this? She was not at the wedding,
Which makes us brother and sister of a kind,
Though if I embraced her once, it was only in passing
At other ceremonies, where I undoubtedly
Listened to a single guitar instead of her foregrounded dreams,
Opinions, complaints presented as her charismatic personality.

There was too much we could have shared in a glance,
Two confident steamrollers rolling,
Children scattered to not-unkind winds.
One we shared in patronage like a doll for a time,
This was the one who got married -- so young, so late,
So finally in love despite the wrecks all around her

She pretended not to see -- though she shuddered
At slamming doors, kept her hands busy
While the cruelty flowed freely.
She didn't have much of a father,
Instead she had me, for he was states away
Repeating the lesson of how to be a dad

For those who didn't have much of a mother.
And now all the children are together
Like a perpetual family captured in time,
With the ex'es in between, throttling old resentments
For the sake of the picture, the same grey photograph
Where the father of the groom, in an actual embrace

Seems to hold the mother up in her grief and ecstasy.
He has a look that can't be explained by the situation,
Or the pose, or the timing of the photographer.
It is a stare into the void, at all he doesn't know,
The people trapped in webs of love who couldn't make it
To the show, a sharp glare at what can never be made right.

He is looking at me.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

“Ah, the first minutes …” (Álvaro de Campos)

Ah, the first minutes in the cafes of new cities!
The arrival in the morning on a pier or a platform
Filled with that quiet and clear silence!
The first bystanders on the streets of the cities you reach ...
And the special sound the passing of time has in travels ...

Buses or trams or cars ...
The new look of avenues in new lands ...
The peace they seem to have for our pain
The buoyant commotion for our sorrow
Dearth of boredom for exhausted hearts! ...
The squares extraordinarily square,
The streets that terminate in houses,
The points of interest along the thoroughfares,
And through it all, like a flood that never overflows,
The movement, quick and vibrant,
The human thing that passes and lingers ...

Ports with motionless boats.
Strangely motionless boats,
With little boats standing by waiting ...

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ah, os primeiros minutos nos cafés de novas cidades!
A chegada pela manhã a cais ou a gares
Cheios de um silêncio repousado e claro!
Os primeiros passantes nas ruas das cidades a que se chega...
E o som especial que o correr das horas tem nas viagens...

Os ónibus ou os eléctricos ou os automóveis...
O novo aspecto das ruas de novas terras...
A paz que parecem ter para a nossa dor
O bulício alegre para a nossa tristeza
A falta de monotonia para o nosso coração cansado!...
As praças nitidamente quadradas e grandes,
As ruas com as casas que se aproximam ao fim,
As ruas transversais revelando súbitos interesses,
E através disto tudo, como uma coisa que inunda e nunca transborda,
O movimento, o movimento
Rápida coisa colorida e humana que passa e fica...

Os portos com navios parados.
Excessivamente navios parados,
Com barcos pequenos ao pé esperando...

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Evening with Reuben

It comes up with a bow for judgment
But one mustn't judge!
By a quirk it turns out there is no side
In the direct opposition, dark v light,
That powers the very machine.

It is futile, the most important thing, to think.
We quarry for light
And each nighttime fills the hole
With a sheen of crystal black
So we may dig again.

Slowly we learn to trust the darkness
To keep the truth safe from folding in on itself
Without the freedom of the void. We trust
This circuit before we trust ourselves,
What's between extremes, unrecognized.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Native Residues

Perhaps the face I haven't seen
          is my own—
                              unfamiliar
                    terms
                              have meanings
                    because there's still a chance
they'll reach
          what I already know,
                               which never goes
like ancestral DNA
                               away,
          though the bones have turned to powder,
                     the stories rearranged
on the way
to fit the needs of everyone for
          dissonance
                               and cultivation—
                     the reason for our inefficient
births.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

"Ah how vast" (Pessoa)

Ah how vast my melancholy!
How vast, how lonely!
My heart feels so boreal,
Worthless and unworkable,
My soul feels so empty!

What a desperate anguish!
What a sorrow, to languish
Abandoned like a ship in the end!
To let everything descend
And, like I’m blind, vanish.

There’s no peace, no moment is clear,
Whatever the career
Of my soul’s toils conclude —
The blind man dies on the road,
The ship disappears.
---------------------------------------

Ah quanta melancolia!
Quanta, quanta solidão!
Aquela alma, que vazia,
Que sinto inútil e fria
Dentro do meu coração!

Que angústia desesperada!
Que mágoa que sabe a fim!
Se a nau foi abandonada,
E o cego caiu na estrada —
Deixai-os, que é tudo assim.

Sem sossego, sem sossego,
Nenhum momento de meu
Onde for que a alma emprego —
Na estrada morreu o cego
A nau desapareceu.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Urges at the Threshold

I am finally equal to the trees!
The human caravan passes
In another realm -- calls its toll of pain
And still I ache, though the wind here is

Ethereal -- nothing to forgive --
The evil and the good are twins, equal
As means to reach the endlessness.   
But the weight that would be upon my foot

By way of walking would render a verdict,
Not trusting any motives but my own.
A mere degree above is a field, free
Of everything but light. All I've wanted.

But the longing eyes seen from this distance
Seem more real than these images of heaven.
I dip my toe but the membrane doesn't move.
It's all I know to want the world to change.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Sunset Vignettes

Another sunset ruined by a wedding
People getting divorced
Just to get married again ...

Fish skeletons haunt the sky
Fill up with blood
Jaws open wide ...

The wheel of the sun turns the water pearl blue
The distant sailboats move into place
For the director ...

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Clivo

Light in the foam
     And capillary sluices
And the seaweed fur colors
     The ridged extrusions
          Like waves
                  Caught
          Frozen

Even the snails are restless
     Pulling lines of force
          Through shining pools
                   Like checkers

Rocks like cracked eggs
     Mottled with barnacles
Hermit crabs scurry like Atlas
     Bearing translucent spirals

The froth is a white never seen before,
     A new bubbling from the black hole,
As the pockmarked rocks that fill us with data
     Like the breakers that fill the caves
Are instants old, not pulling back
     Like the bolts of current
           In the tide,
But here where what they have
           To say
     Is learned
           In whatever way
     It needs to be
           Re-absorbed

By its maker,
     Invisible and far away,
Whose contours of thought
     Would not be followed
Without this jagged promontory
      Waiting to snuff out the sun
And living in a moving world
      Of shadows.

The crabs wait for the waterfall,
      The blast of passionate expression,
Reactive to something,
      Speaking of somewhere,
Sharing without yielding itself,
      Its prompt --
It simply reiterates,
     As if that is enough,
For us to feel some sense
           Of its urgency,
     Its recasting of some beauty,
How fractures cannot quite recall
           The unity

Temporary
          Like a giant lake
     In a ripped-away valley
          Below the granite whorls
     So dense with implication
          They crush in on themselves
Tide pools
          Fish flickering
     To create a perception of emptiness
          And depth,
What we can do whatever we need with,
     Which is not really our need at all.


Farther up the cliffs, where the water
     Begins its descent into community,
There's a last fringe
     Of individual glamour,
A sounding leap of itself
     Against the stone
          Remembrance

As the consummate fluff
     That seems to devour the bush
With accumulated wisdom of itself
     And waits for the wind to send it to seed
          To lie dormant as death
Until it rises again
           Fully formed
     Learning again what seems new,
Through different filterations,
     Like the cries of the dogs at new strangers,
     The bleating of frogs through new mouths,

Though it is crisp and nascent fall,
     When scents pervade
          The beige ganglia,
And one white flower
     Stands in for life itself,
For even then is remembered
     What is yet to be discovered
           Only moments away,

The water doesn't move
     As much as fold over,
Calling attention to the sunlight
     That has punctured its veil
With inquisitive musings
     Trembling the trees
In mirror upon mirror
     Upon mirror

As the current gurgles down in joy
     Like a marimba concert,
Tones to hold the light,
     Tones to go from thought to thought
          In harmonious alignment
With the supple nebular glow
     Of all that is valued
          In our vault of heart
For no other reason than it is what is there,
     What we are made of,
Though it shines here only in infintesimals
     Of the dark stream flow.

But everything is listening,
     Tuning to what isn't in the sound,
The same thing that is trapped
     In the hillside glare
          Of gold,
     Inexpressible.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Spider by Fernando Pessoa

The spider of my destiny
Spins webs out of my vacancy.
I didn't know what it was as a boy,
And grown, there’s been no discovery.
What ever-spreading tangles
Trap me by my wishing to twist ...
My life is one that dangles
In awareness it exists.
Weaving from hold to hold
The spider of my fate ...
Prey to my scaffold.
___________________________________

A aranha do meu destino
Faz teias de eu não pensar.
Não soube o que era em menino,
Sou adulto sem o achar.
É que a teia, de espalhada
Apanhou-me o querer ir...
Sou uma vida baloiçada
Na consciência de existir
A aranha da minha sorte
Faz teia de muro a muro...
Sou presa do meu suporte.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Purpose of Prayer

You cannot help yourself
     In that arena down below
With the fruits and the crystals
     Grasped like gears.

It's a pleasant enough stay
     And you can linger there for aeons
But not if you want to know
     How it feels.

Your head must tilt upward then
     To call the light as source of joy,
For then you'll be absorbed
     In who you are

And can know this fractal stretch
     Of experience which,
By being known, can be absorbed
     In larger knowings,

Which become who you are,
     Down here, blinking aware,
An agent of the state
     Of higher consciousness.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Fluidity of Environments

As long as the earth
     Spins without you knowing
          You are learning.

As long as you can’t see
     The air that you are breathing
           You are learning.

Every moment is a catch in the fabric
     To find one’s own
            Secret objective reality

That invokes different Gods,
     Parents, experiences, sets
            Of consensual perceptions,

And separate screams of truth
     That can’t be heard,
            Not even by dogs.

It’s not what can be written in a book.
     The laws of each moment are far too mutable
            To be condensed into truths.

It’s too important for the individual
     To be anything more
            Than individual,

To play in some akashic saga
      Where the heroes always prevail
            Against the most uncertain of odds,

Telling their stories along the way,
      Every unexpected detail,
            Against a common enemy of boredom.

A master of sorts, silent and invisible,
     Takes in the unruly entertainment en toto
            And disappears without a nod.

You can sense the presence
     The next time you say what it is,
           Still whatever you believe in ends

And there’s always something new on the same road,
     The blaze in every head
           Of lampstrings to be tugged.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Love, the remembered song by Fernando Pessoa

Love, the remembered song,
Return it to me now.
At night, my eyes closed, it has only grown,
Your voice makes my heart long
For all that you vow.
You sing next to me, and I am alone.

The voice is not yours, I know,
That rises and wakes in me
Murmurs of longing and resistance,
The moon doesn't make this moonglow,
It comes from my sympathy
To myth, hurt, absence and distance.

No, it's not for your song
That a background star
From the limitless night of my heart burns,
Calls in vain, calls out so strong ...
Who am I? ... Why is the world so far? ...
Love, may the old and vain singing return.

For more than yourself do you sing,
Your voice spans the abyss
To reveal the secret ineluctably,
Of which I've received nothing -
A twilight murmurous,
Water in the night, death that comes early.

So you sing without them.
At the end of the moon's illuminations
There are better dreams than these illusions.

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------
A lembrada canção

A lembrada canção,
Amor, renova agora.
Na noite, olhos fechados, tua voz
Dói-me no coração
Por tudo quanto chora.
Cantas ao pé de mim, e eu estou a sós.

Não, a voz não é tua
Que se ergue e acorda em mim
Murmúrios de saudade e de inconstância,
O luar não vem da lua
Mas do meu ser afim
Ao mito, à mágoa, à ausência e à distância.

Não, não é teu o canto
Que como um astro ao fundo
Da noite imensa do meu coração
Chama em vão, chama tanto...
Quem sou não sei... e o mundo?...
Renova, amor, a antiga e vã canção.

Cantas mais que por ti,
Tua voz é uma ponte
Por onde passa, inúmero, um segredo
Que nunca recebi —
Murmúrio do horizonte,
Água na noite, morte que vem cedo.

Assim, cantas sem que existas.
Ao fim do luar pressinto
Melhores sonhos que estes da ilusão.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Intrigues in the Deep Void

How fungible this is
The solid world
And how perverse the play
The troops brought in to quell a fire
That wasn't there yesterday

The more unalterable and impervious it seems
The better as simulation
What else to believe?
Flickering dreams
So inviting and discrete?
What is there to give our beings away?

Too easy
Not like this puzzle of density
The mathematical plot
Where we wake to such slight adjustments in the weights
We cannot perceive it is fantasy

A morality saga
Of incomprehensible provenance
Amusing for us as an audience
The more humiliating it is as props
Or maybe characters
When we feel a decision being made

And can stand against the horror of our fate
For a moment
Wide-eyed and not quite compliant
The consequence disclosed
But never the cause

That is left open
After all the steel bars
Lock in implacably precise permutations
It's a trick of the mind
That keeps us inside nevertheless
Grey cells

How could it not be what it appears?
Such shame to even contemplate!
The dump truck toy that suddenly becomes a plane
Embarrased it has wings!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Railyard Blues

All these boxcars move away
It feels so free when they pull ahead
With the promise of some enigmatic home
At the end of all the tossing and the rolling

It's like the pause that we call silence
Between the breathing in and out
Where what wasn't right has left
And what will never fit has yet to arrive

The garish parade of hope announcing it
Is so believable
You'd almost start to think
That something else besides the hope was real

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ah, what remains to be read by Fernando Pessoa

Ah, what remains to be read
Has been read already! 
Dream, before I go to bed,
What will be your melody?

The one I hear doesn't exist,
But what I don't hear in the moon's cream,
A voice that is mist,
Comes into my dream.

And this is the voice that is singing
When I can't hear ...
I am taken into everything
And forget my ear.

What the voice sings to me
Flees to the eternal.
If the soul ignores me
Then I stay in the soul.

I feel, I want, I know ...
Only the lost is here -
And where I dreamed, the echo,
Forgets about my ear.

----------------------------------------
Ah, já está tudo lido,

Ah, já está tudo lido,
Mesmo o que falta ler!
Sonho, e ao meu ouvido
Que música vem ter?

Se escuto, nenhuma.
Se não ouço ao luar
Uma voz que é bruma
Entra em meu sonhar.

E esta é a voz que canta
Se não sei ouvir...
Tudo em mim se encanta
E esquece sentir.

O que a voz canta
Para sempre agora
Na alma me fica
Se a alma me ignora.

Sinto, quero, sei-me
Só há ter perdido —
E o eco onde sonhei-me
Esquece do meu ouvido.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Song: Island Life

The way we go
The lines are all breaking
We reach the shore like broken glass
That washes up
Still free

Our island life
Runs around in circles
We read the gold in the horizon
That crosses us
Each day

Breakers come to take you
Takers come to break you down
Clashing with the walls
Like you're in it
As if that is my goal
Some magic that will never fail
On you

Riding on the waves
Raging as they fall
Wherever the wind and we sashay
All alone along the coast
We brave

Friday, November 15, 2019

Death comes prematurely by Fernando Pessoa

Death comes prematurely,
For all of life is brief,
The instant is the apery
Of a thing that’s lost to grief.

It has begun, desire,
It never ended, what’s idealized,
And you who have aspired
Do not know what you have realized.

And all of this is struck
By death for not being right
In the fortuitous notebook
God left open in the night.

 ---------------------------------------------------
A morte chega cedo

A morte chega cedo,
Pois breve é toda vida
O instante é o arremedo
De uma coisa perdida.

O amor foi começado,
O ideal não acabou,
E quem tenha alcançado
Não sabe o que alcançou.

E a tudo isto a morte
Risca por não estar certo
No caderno da sorte
Que Deus deixou aberto.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Lines based on “A morte chega cedo” by Pessoa

A home that is elusive,
Pain that should have been let go,
The urge to save the world you can’t forgive,
For it is you, as tragic show

When it could be comedy,
A king who rings with golden bells
Reporting things impossibly
Wrong, from all the possible hells

What is nothing but a joke
To expose your blushing flesh
Only to hide inside of the smoke
That churns the story out afresh.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Sonnet of the Happy Slaves

Put a clown ball on each of their noses,
Hear the universal crackle of popcorn applause,
Play the scofflaw this time instead of the necktie of the law--
Until you try on all the colorful poses

Your fate won't fit, and you'll wander from void to void
Noting the tones of the collapsing simulations.
The swallow a foot away turns into a lion,
Transforming the steeliest of Dan to the pinkest Floyd ...

So your reactions manufacture what is real,
Heaven is created out of thin airs--
How destined we are to forget that. We feel

Our overwhelming longing as the thing we desire
In an endless subdivision into pairs,
To adore the newfound glow in our jar, the gift of our fire.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Full Moon

No one has time to look at the sky
                                   so no one notices
The same higher beings there as inside
That no one notices—instead it's an empty,
Immovable vessel, built for surveillance
      and war, that pulses and roars
In the sky that everyone sees;
                    the moon is only our hearts
                    telling us what
                                 we've forgotten:
     the face of youth, the mirror of love,
     the imperfect pearls of what we believe
To be right, to be true,
                    the sweetness of dreams
      allowed to be real, in the muted tones of
                     incomprehensible poems.

We have been there, every one of us,
      although we don't remember.
What do we know of it? Of how it got its scars?
                    We only know we stand apart
      in our fingerprints of pain,
We  who do not know ourselves
                                     except as reflected,
Refusing to believe that we are there in the sky,
      as far away as how we feel.

Monday, November 11, 2019

At Night by Fernando Pessoa

Silence is your twin in infinity.
Who finds you, knows not to search.
Death made visible, you quench the thirst
Of the vague world, the narrow and afflicted sea.

If I stare at your abysmal constellations
I won't see who I am or know the scheme
Of such pain, such craving for the dream,
In my endless and uncertain meditations.

What secret glimpse of the highest days
Or hours would match your sweep?
Bridal veil of the end of endings and pain.

I don't even know the comfort of fright.
Let me end, let me sleep, 
May I never be awakened by the light!

‐----------------------------------------------------------------
À Noite

O silêncio é teu gémeo no Infinito.
Quem te conhece, sabe não buscar.
Morte visível, vens dessedentar
O vago mundo, o mundo estreito e aflito.

Se os teus abismos constelados fito,
Não sei quem sou ou qual o fim a dar
A tanta dor, a tanta ânsia par
Do sonho, e a tanto incerto em que medito.

Que vislumbre escondido de melhores
Dias ou horas no teu campo cabe?
Véu nupcial do fim de fins e dores.

Nem sei a angústia que vens consolar-me.
Deixa que eu durma, deixa que eu acabe
E que a luz nunca venha despertar-me!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Slow Clouds by Fernando Pessoa

The slow clouds make you sleepy,
The blue sky makes it good to sleep.
I float, in intimate abandonment,
At the surface of not feeling.

And it's smooth, like water running,
To feel that I'm not someone.
I am not capable of weight or hurt.
My soul is that which does not have.

It's good, to be by the brook
Knowing that it is going ...
And only in sleep will I go first,
And only in dreams follow.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

After Pessoa

Words came to keep us apart
And to share our glimmers of the one
That doesn't need them, except to say:

I am taking you back, without your mouths,
Though I created these twins
To let you get lost in them

For the sake of the song, the sad one of longing,
Where the voicelessness of the voice
Can be sung,

For the tongue can't articulate the heart!
It screams and breathes, screams and breathes
But all it can say of the air

Is the same thing it says when
Some gratitude finally comes,
"It is nothing."

Friday, November 8, 2019

Morning White

The year whirs by
Then November comes in like a rock.
The illuminating fog spills over the fields.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Curse of the Expanding Man

You want more abundance?
How could that be?
To go further away from who you are
And deeper to the world of service?
As much as the couch calls for you,
You will still feel alone.
As fast and as far as you can drive
You will still raise your arms to the sky
And implore: "more absence!"

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Sweep of November Evenings

Night comes down in red,
Like a memory that swallows hard;

There's something they are trying to tell you
As they lean upon your heart and ear,

Something that you haven't learned for yourself
Although you sympathize from memories only.

The night is filled with lights,
Though every one of them feels so lonely,

There is something that is waiting
For what won't return, or that never came--

It's impossible to know, just that something's missing
That you need to find. The particular toy

Has passed with age, but not the longing
For things revealed on unencumbered mornings

As real and as lost as any dream,
Like a ghost in the machine of daily living

Swinging open the claws of its doors
Like an empty, well-lit bus.

I've had so many friends
Who've listened and have shared--

The details we've exchanged have changed me,
Yet I can't recall a voice or face

As much as a feeling, the same one
That looks out at this darkness,

Tries to see itself at last.

Monday, November 4, 2019

A Cross from the Riverbed

Down in the Gospel Swamp
The Lord had Blessed the lima beans
And Given to the faithful
Holy Writ to squat
In “the Egypt of America,”
The snaky banks of the Santa Ana,
Where on the bluffs and islands
Of overflowing shores
Was offered Salvation free of charge
To any soul in need
Amid the Tule weeds
And broom corn
To Sweep the trespass away.

The swamp angels put up the tent
Wherever the water would allow,
And the Pumpkin Rollers stayed
To minister as they were ministered
The bursting celery fields;
They built a community
Among the black sage and arroyo willow
On peat
Where the Lord’s Word was Law
And the barley, potato marbles, sugar beet
Grew in the drained soil like a miracle
All along the Bolsa Chica.
The Right Rev. Isaac Hickey
From the fiery bellows of Tennessee
Had evaded the letter of the Homestead Act
From Rincon on to Phoenix,
Bringing only what he possessed,
The overpowering power of faith
Through the dense night fogs
And the constant flooding …

Such Trust in the Lord
Was not to be rewarded,
For the Rancheros inevitably
Shooed the flock away
Like so many lambs
(A small price to pay
For an Eternal Home),
And the Property stayed
Under the Charter
Of the Irvine Company,
Which holds it to this day,
No matter how many
Billionaire Chinese
Plant their Flags into its Sand
And share a sunset
Seemingly holy.

This Golden Land
Was always a passing place,
A likeness on the outer ring
Of heaven.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Instead of Model Planes

50 shades of beige dismality,
Grey branches the only counterweight to the sky
For miles of wondering how and why ...

Then the buzz of flies, a lift of ducks,
A moss-ridden pool, thick and still,
Nestled in the dessicated reeds

Where mallards skate in V's,
Communing with the larvae in their beaks.
In cotton fluff I inquire of the muck

Slopped to the chartreuse oasis side
And three ducks, startled, raise their wings and fly
Just close enough to be too far away.

The pond shines white as tails swim off
Clucking their strange, ineluctable tongue.
Then: a splash of goldenrod. I look up: a broken-heart cloud.

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Art of Fiction

Sometimes
     Only lies can be the truth,
And people made of words
     More 3-dimensional.

I’m waiting for the plot just like
     I’m waiting for the train,
With no knowledge of what’s known
     To someone else,

How the fat ex-wife will only sing
     When she deems I’ve had enough.
What truths unspool in homage
     To the false.

They were all unwept pages
     To pry out private tears,
So real tears could be saved
      For holidays.

The lines that people
      Will never say,
Only real in how it feels,
      Are revealed here,

The place we met
      A different coast now,
And all the mistakes the unexpected
      Painted on the scene

Created not only the actual seeds of tragedy
      But an alternate hero’s journey
Where we are written out of each other’s plot
      To be freed,

But the worst remains, for the sake of the conveyance,
       As if it is all,
The shameful urge,
       The unexamined fall …

The tells remain like skulls
       Painted with colorful locales,
Dead but ever-present, buried
       But without a corpse to exhume.

You’re terrified
       To be captured in the prose
And so afraid
       You’re not;

How could you know, not seeing
       How you’re seen,
Lacking hope
        Of being redeemed?

Your words appear
        In courtesan’s speech,
From that time you pontificated
        On war.

You wanted to be a star, to shine the way
        You never did to me,
To find your actions are the plot,
         Your self-portrait only background,

And all the things you stole from others
        Lost by them, just the same, in the end.
“There were words,” you exclaim,
      “That held us together,

How could they go missing?"
      When what everyone does
—Love each other—
      Didn’t need to be explained.

The heart is a thing
       For mathematicians,
Truth and suffering
       Mere grist for balancing

The competing claims
       Of pro- and anti- agonists.
The heroine’s me, no matter what happens,
      The hero is you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Commuter Light

It's just a moment between stillness
And the rivers filling to the roofs with cars.

The faces are like stones
Holding unreleasable heat.

They march to fill the undiscovered country,
The one they didn't notice yesterday.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Pause to Wait

The code goes through the code,
Each phone finds a singular soul
To rustle the great unremembered.

The walls powered too by the current of thought
That glows in the lamps, more than alive,
Holding what's been seen, the feel of history.

We endure these cold illuminations,
Shape them to desires,
Sense the distant harbingers of home.

And the birds converse about the same enthralling sky,
The loudspeaker announces what does not exist,
The train rides fire to a point of complete stillness.

Monday, October 28, 2019

View from the Canyon

A falling leaf has the intelligence of the universe.
The bodies that pass in the sun are ghosts.
The visible world glimmers in a mirror.
The light is raining sparks. It's quiet
As the black bird's white wings wave across the grass.

The eucalyptus is draped with the memory
Of every predecessor tree
Peeling from the veil as it dissolves.
The leaves have assumed such age in such a short season.
The seeds have turned so red with hidden beaming.

The tangled vines are the arc of thought
Turning in on itself,
Yet the sun makes a pattern
Through the canopy of branches
That the wind turns into a story.

The olive trees shiver in an uncanny portrayal of pain.
But seeing into things does not reveal their meaning
Only how far off the shadows are
As they move ever closer.
It's silence you're inside, a thought thinking.

Oh we don't know what has happened!
We only know that, when it came time
To predict the future
We were wrong,
As we always are.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Sky Overcast with Nostalgia

The eras of error enter like breath
And retreat, not wholly themselves any more
But some lost spiritual thing, that glows
In the present like a crystal display

Holding all the light of the present sun.
It is not what it was, nor what we want
It to be, but something caught in between,
Like what is understood among two people,

The past that has not yet been absorbed and
The future that has not yet been conjured,
The only sounds that the present hears now,
They echo like the barterings of crows,

What we long to hold of what has long since
Slipped away, like words of dictionaries
That have taken their meanings away with them.
It is a hope, for a feeling, of a

Thought of the sublime. Some ember stirs there
Brightening our eyes, accustomed to dark,
So we can recognize ourselves in its
Dim light, the blue that remains for the blue.

But is there more? Of what is that old glow
Composed? And why was it chosen to lead us
Forward? The doors are opening to
Paneled woodies, Lucky Strikes signs, Nehi

Handbills, Mao jackets, quadraphonic LPs,
And the soundtracks and moviescapes that went with,
Mementos that are left of what has lived,
As if the fantasy that outlived them

Still has more victims to claim, the hyper-hip
Still longing for what has never to come,
Like a koan that never will be understood
No matter how long someone stands before it

Because it refuses to accept its form.
It whistles in the air as something else
Yet to be discovered, but safely gone,
Commensurate with the eyes that want it.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Some People Talking on the Beach

From the immensity of ocean
All of our words roll in
Like shells to impress us
And amuse our friends

Tufts of kelp apostrophize
As tiny stones glimmer with secret meaning
And the gulls hang down
On golden currents

No one writes about the sea anymore
The fingers are formed into hearts to catch the sun
In a photo caught like the wind
In two-dimensional display

As the glaze that suffices for time passes away
And the words the waves say
Each whisper a sacred truth
Return as a constant hum

The collective white noise
The drops of water in the ocean
—It extends always beyond
Like the sun as it falls

Unapprehended another day
And the soldiers of foam still landing
But not for the conquests we imagine
In our endless quests for onenness

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Soccer Games

My ambition is to disappear.
There's too much sun, too much grace.

If it wasn't for these dreams
In the middle of the day
Of who I want to fill this empty space
I wouldn't know anything at all.

The ball would move like an ant along the grass,
I'd never see those I'm supposed to notice,
Who wander my cranium like welcome ghosts
Offering their signature riffs.

It only matters if they're heroes
And their dreary residues are of the golden,
To be followed from afar,
The only way to be them,

Those who've taken a turn in the world,
Became a part of it that's worthy ...
Not these spreadsheets filled for no one,
These words that no one hears.

It's only me, there is no other side,
So small against everyone I've become.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Call of Home

The sunset obliterates the day
—Whatever it was, whatever was said—
It is all now exposed as naked hope ...

For the children to find the light,
Ideas to reach a home,
The bright jagged laughter that's shared
To be held in reserve
For the long stretch of loneliness ahead

Lifetimes bear such darkness
With a soft compassionate lamp
Patient as life fades away
To a deepening black

The light unobscured
How it waits for them
Without so much as a sound

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Opening Sparks

The headlights multiply
As the blue hills rise
In the pale gold sky

Too long, too long
The never visible day

We've waited long enough
To see the sheen on quonset huts
The eerie glare of what is real along the streets

But the shadows too will grow too large
And speak of too many things

The dead lights comfort will not suffice
For the faces worn away by waiting
For the train that never came

The last illumination will go out
So it may begin again

The first scows of morning
Will plow through the night
To the same remembered daybreak

Where the hint became an urge
And they moved upon a miracle of silence

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Triangle in Three Parts

1.
We are born in agreement
     but somehow diverge.
The truth furrows naturally
     from its opposing side
That, being ever equal, grows
     us further apart
Until the two are joined as one
     by a third line,
Where all the energy of perpetual
     disagreement can go,
A base that is no more
     than a connector
Of the places where we have fallen the farthest
      from the tip of primordial unity,
Joined in the hope of joining.
      As spirals expand, triangles lock.

2.
I want truth and I want love
     but I can never choose,
For they seem to me the same thing,
     no matter how many times
The wind has laughed, the sun has explained,
     the earth has swallowed its dead.
There is something on the other side
     that always moves away.
And always this thing
     that says we are the same
Without explaining what it is
     we are
Or how we'll ever find a common ground
     except in the unknown,
What can only be a theory —
     the way we reach some form of agreement.

3.
The heart comes, a circle, and
     fails to understand,
The whole elaborate play a toy
     for a child to command,
The urge to awaken all the others
     to show off what you've made
Says you are more important than sleep,
     you long forgotten one,
Waiting in the stony silence
     for a familiar voice.
You started dying away like a leaf at birth
     to meet that distant call
That holds you still, though you move
     ever further beyond ...
Love must be impossibly distant;
     it's far too close.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Walk from the Beach

The howl from the Humane Society:
You must give some form of offering—
What the heart can only know,
Stretched as far as it will go anyway.

Song: Gone

When the wind came in
     you stayed
Told of all there was
     to change
And smiled
Called it a small thing
     to place your face
          into the frame
     and make it sing

So the world we knew
     was lost
To a road we'd never
     crossed
The beach
Where every battle
     came to an end
           you waved your hand

It's the same song
     from the babies' room
That our mothers sang
     for ancient moons
It's the same rose
     grows beside the lawn
Oh but how then
     why now are you gone?

And because we can't
     forget
Our home is a room
     for rent
The chance
We saw didn't take
     the karma too distant
           to break
     though eyes said yes

For something to
     remember
In desolate
     Septembers ...

Friday, October 18, 2019

A Movement Somewhere Off

A primitive assonance
     turns into a song
Like eucalyptus leaves
     start to wave with longing.

Most of us,
     never having learned the techniques
Of turning words
     out of dumb earth
And deeds
     from spellbound people,
Just go about feeling the loss,
     the continuous absence,
Of what, somehow, should be,

Until some rabbit comes along
     from underneath the hedges
To symbolize what's larger
     than we dimly realize;
We credit our eyes,
     for what we carry
To someone, from somewhere.

After a time it will make sense,
The world will seem three-dimensional,
That is, we will submit
     to the polity of its logic,
As if it exists,
     as if existence is
Sufficient
     to count as true.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

At the Grocery Store

Love -- it has no end
Except for the hand
That reaches for one
And then another
Until there's a bag
Of gold persimmons
Ready to ripen.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Sons of Hypnos

It's empty everywhere but in the dream.

The voices always speak of something else.
They are not what they seem,
That tell such unintended parables.

It's silent everywhere but in the dream.

The hills are clothed in smoke like ancient spells
But still they hold a gleam
And still all life streams through their blinding shell.

It's hidden everywhere but in the dream.

Who said it, she or me, we could not tell
In laughter's knowing scheme,
Nor in the slow subsiding of the swells.

It's lonely everywhere but in the dream.

And eyes that cried my guidance to compel
Would never be redeemed.
The only tears they shared came with farewell.

It's still there, everywhere but in the dream.

Yet heaven crowds beside me. All is well.
A world that is unseen
Illuminates the walls of the hotel.

I cannot say I've never heard the bell
Reverberate a theme
That wasn't there -- something universal ...

No echo anywhere but in the dream.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ohi'a's Quest

Paradise is only the setting
     For chasing the elusive
          Menehune to the sea

The beauty is that of humanity
     Breeding its fiery heart
          With Pele the veiled one

Who will only disclose
     A tease of spray
          A shadow of stone

We will never get more
     And it is always enough
          To keep searching

For what God
     Could ever be real
          When revealed?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Slack Key Coda

Thoughts take shape
          And flow away
     Yet an echo
          Strings on
As an elusive undertow
           Of the magic
      That comes and goes
           To those
      Too hungry for it

To be anything other than
            A gust of wind;
      You're blown to a location
            Where the stones
      Have turned to gems
And the trees
            Speak secret tongues
       And birds live
            Inside your mind
       Before they sing.

Then the inevitable
       Cracks on the ground,
             The leaves brown
       As if they turned that way,
And you have been blown
             To a wasteland
       That resembles your own:
Nothing given
       But earned,
              Nothing earned
       Everything given.