Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Critique

Oh what we would do for a word,
What cruelty, feigned fealty,
What unrelentingly pretentious play
Pretending idiocy, professing to be 
Anything but tendentious for its own sake
To sling the subject to its last predicate,
The next best thing to being right.

Reducto ad absurdum takes everything,
Like the humidity takes Miami,
They call it impeccable logic, the rock
That crushes scissors but can't take
A blank paper sheet, so far is it
From the real, from the way we kill
To avoid going to jail.

There's a bounty, albeit secret, there somewhere,
Must be, as everybody seems 
To know they will be paid
By the amount of blood they draw
In praise of the living, whose smiles are
A call to war, across the centuries
Of smug insouciance to the threat.

The dagger drops as dictated
By the perpetual motion contraption
That's been running since the beginning of time,
To bring forward everything that's beautiful;
The all-encompassing frieze, the Davids 
Pulled from slabs, the spirits freed in wire ...
They call it cheese.

Monday, April 12, 2021

At the Releasing

Your insatiable thirst for knowledge 
Yet you forget you are all of us;

The volumes you can't quite consume 
Came, in the beginning, from you

-- And so much missing!
The Alexandria Library, for instance

The moments of your memory
Pulled away in pullullating sunlight

There are too many clues,
None lead to certainty

But veer instead to corners
Where the dark itself seems an answer 

So profound is the remembrance,
And so remote

Lifetimes feel the strain of this lifetime, 
They peel off from its photos and our eyes

Humming in a frequency
A dexi-quaver away

With the ogre gurus
And the time machines

Cordoning like wardens
What can be known of the past

For it is only past
As our minds conceive it

It's ongoing, for the turn there comes
From the turn here -- 

As the tree that blows to one side now
Extends the growth of all the trees before

And speaks to us always, in a way
That we can't -- must not -- hear

Except with its waving
That's telling us of something

We can make it anything we wish
And how could we ever be wrong?

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Complete Unknown: Shoesteps after the Movie

The sea breeze, the singing palms
Say you can be anything

Here there are lights in the mist,
Horns calling from alien ports

The blankness that engulfs
Doesn't own you

The way that people do
When they reduce you to their view

The gulls ask us questions,
The headlights on our faces answer

Identity, we don't like to say, is not a
Compass point, it is the sea.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Orange of the Poem

Passion is the Erigne of the tone,
     Works out the convalescence squirm
     To find the iridescence you've been given.
She breaks across the wooden realm of Joan
To masquerade as oneness in the furtive zone
     Of incandescent leisure worlds of men
     Who can't defend the messages they send,
The missives from a long-lost home ...

Miseries are for sunny days,
The whole thing is front-loaded,
Filled with disgust, ready to be shoveled
To the wishing pile, never mind the wash
Coming out in the intricate consanguinity
Of deep-seated pathos rung in the squeeze
Between laundromat proverbs and innocent suds.
The maker takes all diligent precautions
To ensure the figures are apt
For interpersonal disaster, transparent interplay.
The gnome of the world finds its own ordainment
In the calyx of long event sunsets,
The moaning cure of darkness and space,
The panoplies of infinite flux borne on a cheese 
Of excess, never mediate, ever-mudded,
Through any modalities necessary,
A route of discontent to fly through at distance
But the orb is a sly way to coagulate tears
In a crystalline salt shaking meter,
As an anchor on the boat, the beat moves
Too fast, the edges go frazzled in continuous churn,
In the pit of incommensurate salvage burn
Squawking for firecrack, the ends of a biscuit,
The age of Ptolemy covered in scars,
Rasputin too all done up in ivy,
Necessitous wormholes from volleys of spars
Under the cool blueing stars
As if, once more, the dollies will squeal
With delight, and make all dim shadings
Aright for the night of long knives and cold truth
And asterisk bluffing, the whole tub an onslaught
Of mud, sparking soap purple if only in air,
The tar is a river that's regnant there, commands
Elusive islands, sweeps them solemnly to the shore,
Blocking corporeal replies when the cloth comes 
To sanitize the sutures and lies, what wise ones 
Lay beside the boils of the tide in aerodynamic 
Slipstream ripped for complacent abjuring 
Of specificity, for it all inures to the sticky
Wet plastic strip that dangles for flies
And car keys, lobotomized trout.

You've been found out, circumscribed,
Ostracized, turned around inside;
What are the demure replies to the noise
That rise? It settles, the poem, wherever its words
Have fallen, what traipse of space mortals
Cannot enter, even with the slickest treads,
For there is only the steel of rails  
In the phosphorus heavens to glide by.
Memory is a funny strategy, Mnemosyne,
To take collapsing space like a hem or the weather
In, to make sense to the senseless, the dim,
The driven mad, the players on the butt-end
Of packs -- all that whispering is too much 
The sauce of waterfalls hinting, as the symbols 
Turn so perfectly into meaning
At an implausibly remote remove.

The plants are in rows, ID'ed and white-tagged.
The same sun descends on arboreal weeds,
Jungles where life is alive, and yearning
To let the Mother be, for there are many
Teachings out of her needle, that threads
The impossible to the seen.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Confessions of a Fantasy Addict

You can be anything
     when you are nothing
— Plugging volcanoes up
                        is a bore
When you only exist
                as others.

You can judge 
                        the flaws
Of the less-than-perfect
     perfection,
Make the fallen
                 angels small

Whose rosary beads
                 you handle
Intoning
      some prayer
To get you next to them
                          to feel

When the double play is turned,
     the note that no one expects is bent ...
The accomplishment 
     makes them figures of glass
And you
                 more than them.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Aging Light

The book of the truth
     never seems to be,
Although it may 
     break the skin
Of what before
     we couldn't say.

We may even
     choose again,
With new brands 
    of whims,
That we recognize ... 
    from somewhere.

There was a book before
     there was truth
We try to find once more; 
     it didn't answer, didn't explain.
It just had a being 
      that changed us.

But the change
      has long since passed
And we've forgotten 
      what it was
And we pick up every book
      to try to recall,

But it's only something new
      that isn't real and isn't true.
We're hardened like
      a piece of stone
Still waiting to be
      thrown.            

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Blues

Dionysus the Menace
     rummages through 
                         the wires,
Holding tight to the life force
     that wants to die --

It spills out the sad times
     from the numbness
                         and sanities
Beyond any victories
                         of vanity.

It lays out there for us to feel,
       as though we weren't 
                         permitted,
As though such pain,
               such beauty,

     was not allowed.
We look around as our
               jaws drop
To make sure we don't get 
                          caught.

The primal wail of why-o-me
      has only a thin professional 
                           veneer,
As if the whole facade
               will disappear

In a burning gyre of tears
      insatiable to escape,
Yet also to reach there
               once and for all,
      the place of expression 

Where the accounts 
               are settled
And the truth can 
                            just be said
Without the blinding shadow

Of the distant other instead,
     whose gaslight tortures
                 are innocent in the end.
The wail can't be stopped
      in the infinite need

To be understood, though one
                              never will be,
      only loved, in its way,
Which makes the spirit play 
                              to slay,

The body's strings
      in endless bend and sway
                 to shake and swing
The demons that were never there
                             away,

To be free, they say,
      but that's not what it is at all --
It's loneliness we cannot bear,
      we want to share the emptiness,
                  but it's not there.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Griefspring

Memorials everywhere,
     too many new flowers.
But who are they for?
     The known stick figures,
Stand-ins for convenient
                            diatribes?
Or are there those who died for us
     we never knew before?

In hives underground, battle lines
     of space, the places where codes
Were exchanged, who go unmourned,
     their cause unacknowledged, 
For part of freedom is to feel 
                              unobliged,
As part of service is to give
      without thought of return.

Still, there must be a merge, there must be
                              a balancing,
Something preserved as it is perceived,
      some gratitude accorded,
Even if the gift is for
      a future state;
A soul in need, no longer
                              victorious.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Night Beyond the Doors

It's a dark place
     the wind blows
          a-yay, a-ya-ya-ya-ya-yay,

The stars are placed
     in masonic configurations 
          climbing, climbing away

But there is laughter
    from the vast,
          long-suffering trees

And the eyes in the field
    are pleased
          to see

The things that we
     can never
           comprehend:

The wideness when each
     moment
           has an end.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Intimacy Translated

For more I can't be loved ...

Straw music plays like alms
     across the strip-tease valleys --
If I but knew knew how much
                         they loved me.

The urge to cease
     came through the mountain leaps
As it came in the golden blonde's 
                         arms of sleep;

The urge to live
      beyond each moment
Is the same as to know no moments
                         you are in.

The thought of closeness
      missed
Cannot but bring
                         the distance,

The thing that you regret
      and never lost,
Even in the fall to
                         oneness,

As if oblivion is not enough
                         to prove
It all resolves to nothing's
      sweets of love

Without someone to share it,
                          as a prop,
To find what's locked within oneself,
      the thing that never stopped

And never can
      stop ticking
On the clock that
                         doesn't exist,

Just dreams where we measure
      how far we're separated
And how many connections
                         await

-- We could not handle it otherwise,
      the confusion of the limitless,
The job much bigger than we know,
      to shed the skin of consciousness.

The bird voice that is far away
                         becomes our mystery
Until we speak from the other side
      to ears that can't perceive,

But in that there’s a call to that
       which moves us to our knees,
They call it faith, the open moment,
                         the golden memory,

And all we see is part of it, here,
      the distortion of eyes and ear,
The dirt of commerce that we share,
      what persists, in numinal air,

A call to service,
      to the invisible,
What holds us from a distance
                            in a shell

Still burgeoning and turning 
      in the swell,
To embrace what we barely know
      in the sadness of farewell.

The Tomb with Nothing in It

What do we know about God?
We are seizured into the unknown
With one syllable, not even a raft,
Tinctures of sandlewood notwithstanding.

The light yields a thousand tomes of dark
Scribbled as a form of control.
The Venetian Phoenix, the Phoenician phalanx
Twirls around a caduceus of death 

Like a walking stick with red eye
Taking, in the guise of enlightenment,
As if we are supposed to know,
Something wrong with us, a sin of error,

When there is no need to accommodate 
The prison with the skies.
It has gone on in the name of learning
A long time -- the antipode

To pull on our reactions. How silence
Never seems to be enough.
Rare earth, shared soil,
The plangencies of taking on a truth

Revealed in shadow frequencies,
The individuation of seems,
A not that turns to is,
As if it's meant to stay

Instead of breaching the code
And carrying away the resonance
Of the true to dead center, where it
Becomes, again, a realized possibility,

Congruent with light, but shaped by
A higher drive, to know, the role of Gods,
Nothing beyond desire. It permeates
The universe as the one true fire.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Holy Saturday

The Jesus and Elvis syndrome
           takes its hearts
With arrows dipped in 
                     acetylene 
To inflame the pilgrims
                             with longing
That they themselves
      can be set aside 
For the iconographies
                     of fashion,
What earned the rites of peace
      in surrender.

The purple robe flung over
      the shoulders of the frame
Constitutes an impermissible pearl
           hung with a name
That ravages the non-believers
                        in themselves,
A black that grows
                        with every motion,
For the song is never right,
           the suit too sourly tight,
The light too obscure for
                       illuminating nights

Left to our own devises 
                       without device.
The agency concocts the sunrise
           in our minds
Each year, day, season,
           for every discrete reason,
Careering as the cosmos
                                locks its gems.
You will not handle them today.
                 Your longing 
Must persist.

The Purposes of Distraction

Primordial encumbrances 
                     shoot the lark;
Can we bleed bloodless?
     Are the stages set
               for cherries
                     or for dark?
     The bold begat the blind,
The two-faced Janus mask
               overhangs like vines.

The mind is not what you think it is,
     It is watching -- no outlet
               for your thoughts, worth
                       only pennies.
The clutter fills like foam
               in a sock cushion.
The stories of your home,
      Compendiums of
               misplaced dust.

You've become, 
               in words and song,
                        a casualty,
      electromagnetic scrape,
The homings on you 
               where you are
      to keep you mired in place
               without recourse,
                          without pity,

The play of the
                 collapsing city
Squeezed
                 of any juice
      despite the café cream
                that brims over
                           as laughter
     bitter and 
                 hot like tears.

They have come now, the fae,
     ears perked, by the rosemary,
Surprised, in the season of bunnies,
     to not be seen,
                 though their toadstools
                             and ponds
     feed birds in every garden.
They are known
                                thus no longer real.

That is the way the teachings go,
     the bump in the night
                  merely disappears.
Unoccupied realms those beams
                  of heaven's light --
You can't decide what vision trick
                                to cure,
     blue or orange on your eyes?
The theories give so few clues what to do.

You could chase down deeper theories
     or go on, as is
                               your wont 
                   to something new.
    There is always 
                   something different 
That is always
      too the same
                               but it will do

For the purposes of distraction 
     amusement never fails
                    to block another moment
                               from the whole
(Like how douchetard is the new mot juste
     or the secret life of spirulina seeds)
-- All are equal
                    to fill the thoughts 
                               with possibilities

That will never pan out except as
                    momentary prayers
                               to nonexistent dreams.
The ones who veered away
      and smile behind a screen
All say to follow them
                                but they leave
                     no breadcrumbs 
                                        behind.

Friday, April 2, 2021

The Poet's Task

The timekeeper of the aeons,
Who brings from heaven words
Imperishable, a flower bloom
Made human, 

He brings thoughts past mind's extent,
Where the heart can't bear to go
And the spirit needs a dare
To hope for.

On the mesas of the pure,
Horn notes like the lord's command,
The place of silence,
Man alone

To contemplate the whole of the human,
As one who only sees, only hears, only knows
The things that can't be seen or heard or known
As if they are the colors of the senses.

The music of the spheres may bend some notes
To fold into the grasp of those frail fingers 
That know what it is to long for
What can't be found.

The tones can, through desire, turn to healing,
Through compassion things not understood gain meaning,
Through music thoughts can soften,
Reveal themselves as feelings

That will carry bravely a name
Through the nettles,
Gently kept from any contact 
With the thorns.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Consortium on April Poetry Month

“It’s a rat fuck.” – Phillip Levine

The children must never grow old,
    Lest the spurious rest with the dust.
They have lost all their taste for conquest
And are given to squeaks from the nest.

The prism dissolves into monochro-me-ism,
    With rainbows the aura of God.
The poets were too little read,
They fell for the slicks of their brethren:

Their books in the towers, their words on the lips
    Of the pure who pass through the vestibules.
How little they knew, in that manic time,
How unyielding the trauma of youth.

The curse passed to them, to make the broken world
    Salve-adage-able. There were not enough words
To silence the blind wisdom
Of everything wrong, irremediable,

Except the unconditional, which worked out to be
    One’s experience is authenticity!
The moth one chased age three,
The bender that one’s mother had 

In all its unresolved glory,
    The time one stops for tea – or coffee –
All roads lead to a deeper – sense of me,
What the great ones prescribed, they say, 

In the dog-eared remainders of old dead
    Anthologies beaded by mediocrities 
Who don’ need a 4 am memo to know which way
To butter their bread.

But children’s wisdom correlates with money
    Thrown down the drain;
They will survive this strange attempt on them
To enter-cage or en-train,

What of the stewards who look after them,
    Who once had some words of their own?
They still echo in the gaming rooms
Like a bright mechanical tune

Parlayed for a place at the table
    Where the blandest voices reign and sangwees
Are consumed. That’s all the inmates are able
To tolerate: no talk of feelings, the things that make you angry,

For victory comes to the one left standing
    Who had wagered the fewest shards,
And even the slightest howl from outside
Will bring down the house’s cards. 

All this is known – if nothing else of this dreary 
    Place called poetry today, which sends its rancid shoots
To every paper of record and alternative weekly
Trying to sell the frisson of its exclusion,

To peddle its irrelevance as if it wants to be put down
    And not keep acquiring more wanna-bee’s
To hang on to the would-be coattails 
Of an emperor’s threadbare clothes.

The poems, oh but what about the poems
    Soulless and toneless, they live on like ghosts
In an attic only visited by the brave or foolish enough
To know these gimcracks pose no threat,

No PhD theses will be harmed in their renderings
    Of mytho-historic events,
Their seconding with decades-old slang
Of the latest mass mind control lies

As if the work was to disguise
    Their own corr-opted perfume
Will barely register
Above the din of the doomed.

But here we are – what seems the final whimper,
      Death throes gone on so long
The people have gone to eat a hamburger,
Pick flowers, bury their dead

And have not – will not – return.
    That is the way they had planned it;
The Poet, no threat,
Is one to the Republic

As his ancestors bore the mark of Cain
    In seminar rooms and leading dissertations.
Don’t tell me you know my plight,
Who say you care, who hold the light,

For the sun shines on puppets and prophets
    And the muses, like Elvis, have left
The pantheon, to cry among the pigeons
A river of tears, for all we should’ve felt, but didn’t.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Department of Truth, Poetry Division

The cultivars of catastrophe
Are the closest we know, in the real,
To reality.

The notes go all over,
Along the outlines of some inner plain.

The meaning is hidden in a recess of brain
Far away, and charged with a particular way
Of thinking. 
                       The infinities of interpretation
Come from the same central eye 
That will push blind reflexive
Expression aside, like the wind
     Overrides a tumbleweed.

To serve the unknown
                                          In the guise of this town, 
                        This street, these people
Is the same thing as serving the truth,
   That thing only known in refusal,
In the emptiness of the invisible 
    Touched with gold.

How will we know, in multiplicity,
That we’ve lost the way, that wisdom’s dying
For what can’t be shared, but must be?

Each moment has become an eternal finality,
     Words beadstrings of jewelry
Released to be re-leashed again
             In a brittle concatenation

All equal as a soul
                                  In consensual freedom
From having to mean, open to any understanding.

Is that not the way of advance?
    To have each singular, each peculiar particular
                                Accepted
Into the blackness of the whole?

If only we could fight for truth 
    The way we fight to be right.
But the bifurcation is behind us,
     And we are jump cut, no longer recognized

          By ourselves, by the past 
That is happy for the most part to be erased.
          But it will say to me, if asked, 
                In the most forceful way:

“The worst of the worst is the good,
    For you have to look,
                Feel around,
                         Evaluate yourself,
Instead of turning the page with a devil’s cackle,
Feeling quite happy to be free.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Kleinzahler on Niedecker

The sparrow stays
       In breviary 
Despite the riffle raffle
       To her calls
As though she was an eagle
       Impossibly small.

One would think there would be
       Only a bio
              Left —
Yet she feeds on the green
       Moving calligraphies 
               Of grass
As if they could mean
       Even after
               The saying.

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Dark Porch

     I had to learn the simplest things last:
The intelligent are put where they can’t hurt anyone:
          The cages of academie, 
          The gaslight houses' jackets, 
          The cardboard towns along the street.

     Words may have meaning someday
But for now they are the playground of the damaged
      Given a platform to say:
          "There is no truth
                 Except my lie"
And if it's offensive enough to the holy
            It will be advertised
      In waves of saturation
                  For the cognescenti.

The informed are a bomb that has been defused.
     But history will soon enough be wiped smooth,
As it is periodically, when the deceit gets too thick
     And faith can no more be relied on to fool.

It's a black hole of knowledge
     For those too naive
          To believe,
Who stay within the life of the mind
     In the crypt of the truth,
           Waiting
     For someone to find them
                      But they never really do.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Wind Improvisations

Hot summer wind,
Palms stand in lonely opposition.
             A band comes in,
Merengue, as from the sea,
             Then sirens.

Some invisible anxiety 
Pervades the day
              From somewhere.
Everyone itches to move
              But none want to blow away.

The birds veer from their trajectories.
             The palms succumb finally,
Their blades run like centipedes, 
             Play furioso, 
Swaying to wave it away.

It's a place in between, 
               A place of balancing.
The squall gets all of the drape,
               It falls gently on a string.
Bonfires have already begun on the beach.

The palms turn golden, then red,
              Still holding to a tether.
Contentment is like death,
              But when you move
What moves with you?

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The View from Newport

Latinate mansions alone on a hill
Compete for a view: I raise your palms and
Call your pencil pines, and light an eternal
Torch at night because I can! Their cars run
On envy not on love, and from the vast
Desolate porticos, black windows hold
Savage children who can't tie their own shoes
And moan all day long.
                                            Something stays here
That doesn't distribute downstream,
Some vacancy of heroism
In the stone figurines, some terror
Of importance on the tennis courts
Where no one can play, some inescapable 
Irony, in this homage to uselessness,
Created from the dead end of the useful,
Use, 
         That thing offered for their approval,
Those so destitute they can only slake
An inconceivable pain by winning every game,
An abstract construction, unlike the lives
That turn with their wheel, too painful for them 
To bear, except as the place they never
Want to enter: human in the abstract,
When there are real cards and real dice
And secret techniques for cheating the unfeeling
Vaults.
              Yet the jungle feels nothing 
When the tiger strikes. For the one you know,
That everyone knows, isn't known, there is too
Much shame. Thus the face could be anyone,
Anyone could stake the claim.
                                                         But it's not
For everyone, to reduce the light of life
To a thumb and a button, for the brave ones 
Know that value is a void, what falls to them
A nullity to savor.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Vigil

No chance for grace
     With pets in the yard
That slip through every crevasse
     At any turned gaze.

They eat flowers too,
     But not calla lilies,
Turned into the ladies
     Who grew them.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Metaphora

As the palms whirr, a dog's bark
     Moves back and forth
           From meaning
                                       into music

           Unable to reconcile
                         its opposite.

In truth, it is those
     In the next yard
            Who give completion,
         Who give canceling out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Ballad of the Ladies from Bygone Times

From the French of François Villon

[Version 1]

Tell me where, in what place,
Is Flora, pleasing Roman,
Alcibiades or Thaïs,
Who was her kissing cousin;
Echo, who set noise to buzzin’
Over river and waterway
With a beauty more than human?
Where are the snows of yesterday!

Where is the learned Héloïse,
For whom Abelard let go of
The mundane world for Saint-Denis?
He became a eunuch for love.
Where’s she who ordered Buridan
— Queen Marguerite of Burgundy —
To be sewn in a sack in the Seine?
Where are the snows of yesterday!

Queen Blanche, white as fleur-de-lis
Who sang just like a siren;
Bertrada, Beatrice, Aélis,
And Erembourge who ruled the Maine
And Joan of Arc, Maid of Lorraine,
Martyred in Rouen at the stake;
Oh sovereign virgin, where are they?
Where are the snows of yesterday! 

Prince, for a week, can you restrain
Yourself from asking, “where are they?”
Lest I repeat this sad refrain:
Where are the snows of yesterday!

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

[Version 2]

Tell me where, in what place,
Are the temple prostitutes,
Envoys for the human race,
Who only remain in statues;
Who turned our clamor to music,
Made conscious the waterways,
Brought beauty more than human?
Where are the snows of yesterday!

Where are the scholastic nuns
So learnéd they said nothing,
For whom men became monks,
Turned to eunuchs out of love;
Where are their justly punished
By the righteousness in eyes
That defines the holy way?
Where are the snows of yesterday!

Where are the crowns behind the throne
Whose song and voice was known,
If not directly heard, except as love’s
Compassion when all hope is gone;
And mothers, who we first thought of,
Oh sovereign virgin, where now are they,
Who showed us how to die for love?
Where are the snows of yesterday! 

Sir, it is too late a time
To ask the question, “where are they?”
Except as I repeat this rhyme:
Where are the snows of yesterday!

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

Ballade des dames du temps jadis

Dictes moy où, n'en quel pays,
Est Flora, la belle Romaine ;
Archipiada, ne Thaïs,
Qui fut sa cousine germaine;
Echo, parlant quand bruyt on maine
Dessus rivière ou sus estan,
Qui beauté eut trop plus qu'humaine?
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan!

Où est la très sage Heloïs,
Pour qui fut chastré et puis moyne
Pierre Esbaillart à Sainct-Denys?
Pour son amour eut cest essoyne.
Semblablement, où est la royne
Qui commanda que Buridan
Fust jetté en ung sac en Seine?
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan!

La royne Blanche comme ung lys,
Qui chantoit à voix de sereine;
Berthe au grand pied, Bietris, Allys;
Harembourges qui tint le Mayne,
Et Jehanne, la bonne Lorraine,
Qu'Anglois bruslerent à Rouen;
Où sont-ilz, Vierge souveraine ?
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan!

Prince, n'enquerez de sepmaine
Où elles sont, ne de cest an,
Qu'à ce refrain ne vous remaine:
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

#5

From the Latin of Catullus 

Let us live, let us love, precious Lesbia,
Though those old severe men will make us a coin 
That’s rumored to be worth a copper penny!
The suns may pass away and rise up again;
For us, once the light of fugitive day fades
We will sleep through a night that will never end.
Kiss me a hundred times, kiss me a thousand, 
Then another hundred, another thousand,
Then, after many hundreds, many thousands,
When there are a million kisses we’ve contrived,
Then let us scatter them, and not understand,
Else the wicked may arrest us with their eyes,
And none will know how many kisses we tried.

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

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt;
nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum;
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Emmylou Sings "Michaelangelo" Live

I can only lead you
To what you may not ever feel,
The unexplainable pathos of the real
Peeled from its shell, delivered cold
Enough she won't go over
The threshold.

                            There is one moment tho
When he gathered up her tears in an old
                            bandanna 
That she could no longer hold a pro's
                                               distance
And lets how she was truly known
      and never realized it
Go out, in her abandoned hope
                                  of love and home,

While the gifts recalled are all around, 
Still glittering like landmines
For the strangers there, like me,
                   saved from the time
When heaven fell to earth
        as the ground gave way.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Stevens Park

Perfect trail, perfect day,
Mustard fields, lilac trees,
Oaks shadow the streams,
Yet it's moments, only,
Of escape from our being.
The dream of the blue Dane
Can't bear this brilliant scene —
The day becomes, itself, elusive.

Santa Barbara

Maybe here, in Santa Barbara,
Where air is clear, views are far,
Can we finally talk, in a garden bar
Or bistro, of things that matter,
As the eucalyptus sways
And the white walls hold the day.

But it is here, in Santa Barbara,
With all her memories, her scars,
Where winds are soothing, sights unmarred,
Our words stay pretty, hearts on guard,
As if to sea was the only way
And there was nothing else to say.

Yet she is kind, this Santa Barbara,
Monterey pines against the stars,
Her smoky docks, bright bobbing spars
That make the grieving not so very hard.
There's only room in the café 
For beauty, new blooms in soft array.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

A Lost Girl

Let us tell the truth at last, the past is dead;
    Sunrise is ahead, soon the doves will pine;
    We’ve run out of artful lines, out of wine;
You never let me say what must be said:
I loved you from the time our eyes connected,
    Yet you kept your lashes safe behind a line
    Part fear, part retribution, nothing mine,
Although I wore the fur of blame instead.

How easy you denied your right to be
   Divinity embodied, nature’s way
That you seemed meant to be, Beatrice
   To me, the rise and the fall of the day,
The poetry made out of violent sea,
   An ideal created from love as much as clay.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Lilac Age

Pursuing her was like wooing the moon:
     No matter how close, still the same distance.
     The place where she fled was an empty entrance.
My light became her, and she said, "Too soon."
Yet she hung on each soft word, every tune,
     As if such praise made all the difference,
     Though her eyes just pitied my persistence,
Resistant, as usual, to my charms immune.

Yet I think of that now as the lilac age,
     When words couldn't worm their way in between,
When grievances desire would soon assuage,
     And a bangle could shake the slate clean,
For feeling was all that was real at that stage,
     The field at the end of the street always green.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Inescapable Iron

So she’s a ruin, do you not have Rome
    In your local wisdom crypt, her touchstones?
    We’ve lost the aroma, of scholastic tones
From acrid halls where, all of them wrong, the tomes 
Hang down like gyves on open catacombs,
   Words of compulsion etched in powdered bones;
   She sooner returns to dust before atones.
The holy we’ve known, her decadent foam,
Still scars the hillside rubble-strewn tableau, 
    Succeeded all-too-well in her mission; 
Earth waits for us at a higher plateau
    While we watch her spin from recognition. 
Can we 'ere forget what we couldn’t know,
    The bodies charred with our erudition?  

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Spring’s Opening Move

Palm Canyon, Anza Borrego

The purr of desert lavender –
This spring will feature purple
In the permanence of blue.

The earth spits out its umbers,
As life that’s still,
And life that moves:

The rocks roll with the tongue
Of the wash, as water
Rushes them to sound,

Datura, desert daffodil,
Each one is a city, with a center
Deep inside a quarry of light

That pulses parts of stars
Like humans walk with minerals
Within their blood.

Tiny buds of grass are no more relevant
Than the thinned and brittle limbs
That seem forever gone

But like the iridescent stones
Are only resting
In the whole

With its circuits of flight, like the wind,
Spiraling around each contained
And uncontainable thing:

The thorns in intricate webs,
The twin flame brittle bushes,
The perfect circles where the chia has spread.

The patterns tend to be unique,
For beauty’s sake, perfection’s need,
But they are patterns nonetheless,

Like those lavender bees  
That traffic the freeways
Between exit blooms

And the angles of escape
From each shadow nest
Across crisp, inhospitable sand.

The grass buds are so large
Next to the ants,
As the outcroppings ahead are

Impossible for me to comprehend
Despite their blood-red stains
And knife-blade tips.

You’d think I’d recognize them,
As you’d think the thin red blossoms
On what appear to be dead sticks

Wouldn’t take me aback,
But there you have it,
Even the familiar is strange,

The way that change
Reveals itself
Like a play

In my own attention span
As in the movement
Of rocks and kingdoms.

So much has changed,
But nothing seems different
In the face of this year’s flowers.

The water has come to loosen
The mica shine and divination bricks
I must find knowing in.

The dirt itself is glazed
With universal light,
As I will localize

The non-local intelligence
Beyond my grasp
Or at least my grasping.

The lavender waves
To break the stillness,
The rock pile and its nerves

Are deep in thought,
Bees humming
A drone accompaniment,

Then the crackle back and forth
Of birds, sensing out the depths
That always ripple.

They escape from tree to tree
To demonstrate some freedom
To me, that feels like

A letting go
Of everything
I see and stupidly become:

The ironwood in the sun,
The potential front-yard stone,
Red as the leaves

Of the high plain ocotillo
In bloom, that a few
Drops of water have turned green …

Oh emptiness,
The promised land
That’s in between.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Song of the Slabbies

Welcome ...
     Keep Away

Found spoons put on carousels,
     Bicycle rims to crown weather vanes,
            Dreamcatchers woven in jungle gyms
Are all ways of saying "I matter."
     They all want to be seen
            Yet be invisible
When they fly their smiley flag
     Or pontificate beyond the fence
           Inscribed with 100 Gulf War Vet grievances,
1000 PRIVATE identities parading:
     The Fallout Shelter Ecozone,
          The "off-the-grid" hook-up for RVs.

There are no rules ...
     You must stay inside your car

They are clowns dancing 
     In the sand
          With hands out,
Yet another way to spin
     The homeless embankment
           As a realized dream.
A BBC documentary was made here once
     Of these implacable East Jesus folks,
          Their perpetual transience
Is part of history now (they announce),
     Something (one would think) only
           The sneaker tree could escape.

Mask Up or Fuck Off ...
     The Last Free Place

There's no water, electricity,
     The po-lice drag the streets
             Yet every winter thousands more 
Arrive from the shores of the fishbone sand
     And war-zoned beachfront property 
             Of an American dream 
That lies well beyond Bombay Beach,
     Looking for this, as something.
             There's a library here
Where you can read and drink, and forget
     You are a normie, by being reminded
             That is all you'll ever be. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Borrego Winter

Trees with green ice,
Low grey veils 
Shoulder the white
Mountain highlands.

Coyote red
Above the valley,
Brush like antlers 
In the sand.

But there’s a blue moon
Jacuzzi pool,
Stars large enough 
To believe.

The ceramic sun 
That's on the wall
The only reminder
One needs.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Unity

From the Spanish of César Vallejo

On this one night, my clock, next to the altar
Darkened in the temple, balks, as black spreads,
Like a flip of an apple revolver
Whose trigger below cannot locate the lead.

The moon, white coin, motionless, shows us tears,
And it is an eye that aims ... I am led
To how the great Mystery is coined, here,
As a hostile and ovoid idea, in red.

Ah, the hand that limits, that threatens us
Behind every door, and that calibrates
All the clocks — hand it over, shadow, pass!

On the grey spider of your frame it starts,
Another great Hand made of light bears the weight
Of a bullet in the blue shape of a heart.

----------------------------------------------------------------
UNIDAD (1918)

En esta noche mi reloj jadea
junto a la sien oscurecida, como
manzana de revólver que voltea
bajo el gatillo sin hallar el plomo.

La luna blanca, inmóvil, lagrimea,
y es un ojo que apunta… Y siento cómo
se acuña el gran Misterio en una idea
hostil y ovoidea, en un bermejo plomo.

¡Ah, mano que limita, que amenaza
tras de todas las puertas, y que abierta
en todos los relojes, cede y pasa!

Sobre la araña gris de tu armazón,
otra gran Mano hecha de luz sustenta
un plomo en forma azul de corazón.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Trees

Gravity … enlightenment … immortality
We’ve received so few secrets 
With our butts to the soil,
Where the nets of neural roots
Command a forest
Taller and more magnanimous than we are.
Most of the time my brain is in the wind;
I watch the leaves dance and make believe 
They could be mine. What I could do.
But even the stumps are kept alive with sugar
For the wisdom they remember;
Where, amid the antidotes, climate shifts
And most harmonious modes of order,
There is not one thought of the need
To forgive.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

The Black Trumpet

Who speaks of what lives in the dark?
The senses always fail.
At five o’clock, when the clouds sharpen,
Is there hope?

Today it’s a phone call that goes on and on
About cancer metastasized into bone
And giving up on a daughter
He’d disowned too many times already to total.

Every day is like this, with the same irresolution,
Though my wet sheets are piled this afternoon
Atop my dusty car! Still, I must let it go as usual 
Without mouthing verdict or complaint …

Yet, as always, the possibility of a Zeus-like 
Thunderbolt of consequence rears its theory. 
But I can’t even locate my favorite mug and can't 
Predict what next demand violence will accompany.

Another mountain of clothes will be delivered to our door
So we can trip to the floor at 3 o’clock in the morning.
More things will be stolen, despite the locks, and I will endure
More taunting how unhinged I get at mere borrowing.

All this I know. As that there are daughters folding clothes, 
Preparing meals, hearing the complaints of aching age,
But here, an eggshell cracking brings
The mirrors down to the floors,

And if one chooses to criticize this latest ruination
As a less-than-innocent, more-than-natural expression,
However one felt will no longer seem the same anger
In the face of a brand-new pain. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Timelines

In 5D, we've got our two suns.
We laugh at the puppet consensus reality
As the slaves do the gladiatorial entertainments
In the arenas and on TV.

In 3D, they stay at the surface.
Third eyes are merely tattoos.
They laugh at vril eyes and prisons on the moon
As the wacky entertainments of their friends.

There's so much laughter between them,
In an echo, a kind of limbo.
Only a few words touch on the shore:
"Conspiracy" ... "the sleeping."

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Lake Ramona from Potato Chip Rock

The boulders stretch out on these hills,
Resting momentarily.
They are not their brother's keepers,
But there they are,
In warm enough proximity to know
What the individual can't.

So much time to learn
The simplest things.
These meadows, these trees,
As close as home can be.

Friday, March 5, 2021

The Urge to Turn the Dial

The song bubbles like an egg
Its gnosis
Many are called but few
Are susceptible
Fewer still take anything 
Tangible from it
Some judgement
A door
So their squeaky hinge might
Sing with the dead

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Mother's Song

     Of course, hearts disagree,
Who wouldn't, knowing your every gesture
Is of love, perfectly understood
By the sun of others,

     To find you do not know
What love is, at all ... for you are told
Such love does violence to the way they feel,
What they know.

This place where you lay requires permission,
But from whom? The one who understands 
Has no need to speak. On the other hand,

The one whose sole possession is
Unyielding animosity, will whisper 
Absolution, so beautiful it burns.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Memoirs of the Party Child

Divine lack of self-esteem,
The good life,
All comforts laid out free of blame
So you can wallow in self-pity like a king.
It looked so much like everyone was blessed
With your infernal spout, the fault 
Lay too deep within the stars of your bones 
To be lifted in the glass for observance.

It's a hard thing being seen and known,
To bear the habits and the pride
Of some candescent fire
Sparkling from wire to wire,
To be part of what is always something else,
The oneness a taunt when it gets this close,
When the home the most familiar is remote

As your journey went deeper in the spirit world 
And pulled such demons from the brine,
With tongs nearly surgical, that sent entities 
Laughing through the creaking floors
Of boisterous bores and whore-eyed slatterns
Full of too much love and kindness
And impossible desires to be unbounded
In the pickling firmament.

In the morning, the glasses were sticky
With martini stones, novelty sex toys
Hung from the lamps. It was too quiet,
The riotous night, was there anything left
The next day but good feeling for another
Just like it, where the stakes would inch ever higher,
Like the seas on a fathom-bound ship.

What shores it will reach mere mortals never tell,
Just shared jokes where you had to be there
Even if you were. I hear your voice, more an oracle
From distant space than a voice itself, yet
No one else edges in. That's the way of the humble,
To be the loudest in the room, to ask for nothing
When it seems the world itself won't satisfy,
Like the attention I am paying is in gold.