Monday, January 27, 2020

5150 Under the Freeway

Matters of life and death
Stand in for more important things;

The barbeque sauce with my fries 
Feels like strychnine,

For all the real wounds are covered and salved,
None ever find articulation,

Just a lancet to distribute
The broken bread of pain

That comes in this ringing phone
To remind me how much I want to feel alone

-- Your voice -- again -- to echo the poet
Her avocational hazard of Hamlet's madness 

For understanding what can never be
And getting lost before what is---

Your clarification is plain how I am wrong
But an army of innuendo comes dancing along

Like wine unstopped after a hundred years,
The stuffed down juice become a stark

Acerbic bitterness your tongue can judge to a distance
With the other things that never needed to exist,

Whose diapers I change and mollify cries
Nursing nightmares that I have abandoned them

When they made me feel abandoned
As another rode in on a dead stare.

I apologize, now, to the air.
Knowledge has spread into every cell

But the things we've never talked about
Still aren't discussed;

It's cruel to call out cruelty, wrong to point out wrong,
To bend the direction of what needs to long that way...

But there's a chord your words recall
That suspends with a gasp in my craw

To a quivering silence, where the truth would 
Reach out in reply

To words leaping like inebriating rockets
For a moment's disposable ash

All to drown out the hiss of the fuse
That continues its inexorable course

Coldly and as calm
As planets turn and galaxies explode.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Violet Capillaries on the Way Down

Reality disappears
On the shifting plateaus of trail
As moss turns
So amiably
Into clover.
The sensuousness of the illusion
Is all that matters.
It keeps improving
And perfecting itself
In the dark,
So we will fling ourselves
Into its eye
Of conjugate froth and novelty,
With the dimmest of links
To the silent absconding
From our souls,
What our enlarged feelings
Can barely inflect,
But it is
Enough.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

For Dr. You, My Eye Surgeon

Why is it, when I am hopelessly dependent,
I can finally be alone?
I watched my pathology take a wicked turn.
Cards were passed, condolences confirmed.
The out-of-date decor of every waiting room
Filled with nothingness, like my eyeball
Up with gas, and the chedda chedda walkers
Of the ambulatory visitors
Came shrunken, with engorged eyes.

I have officially seen too much.
The shapes of letters have worn away
As the mind has grown to encompass larger breathings.
The shadows have become presences,
Vibrant as they quaver along the inexplicable
Rhythms of distant galaxies. And the visions
That have commenced are merely memories
Of the dolphin star, the flowers from
Other electricities, scintilla
Of the coral-conscious sea, as pinholes
In the fully alive stone disclose
An alternate reality of light.

Such joy in the journey, through the darkness,
Such discovery, and love in things taken for granted:
The feel of the sheets, the warmth of the morning,
The smell of pansies and wintergreen oil.
And there's pleasure in doing things never
Done before, that were too easy to risk,
Like sensing where on the bed I laid my socks,
Which sofa crevasse the remote slipped inside,
And how the piano's too out-of-tune to play.

The jumping spider has moved to greener webs.
I measure my life in eyedrops and Tiger Balm rubs.
But now I know what the crows, deep inside the mystery,
Say, as I shake the jar of peanuts on the driveway.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Song of Evening

These clouds overwhelm,
Transport us in their way,
To the peace we so rarely
Achieve here on land.

We've become them in our dream,
Tangled in shapes and color,
Tangible but vapor,
The vista we are not but long to be.

They won't carry us.
We can only stare
As the sun shares its hues
When they pass.

There are songs for us too,
A dollop here of melody,
Compassion there for others,
But our separate figures are black and tiny

As the carousel of music winds by
Under the vast immaterial stretch of sky,
And the one earth moans her chosen chords
To the sudden concordance of color.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Song by Nicolette Larsen

George Clooney, in the movies, always winds up,
No matter how textbook his hero's journey has been,
In the exact same place, sadder but wiser,
Awaiting some pointless finality ...

Whereas I'm not even the same person I was
A decade ago -- not just all the cells in my body
But my spirit too -- when I talk of my experience
It's like I'm quoting from a book I didn't write

And what I say slips in and out from infinity
That erases it from my memory instantly, like dreams,
Though it echoes in some ever-spinning record ...

Just today, for example, the radio played a song
By Nicolette Larsen and I sang along -- all the words --
Though I never have heard it before.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Joys of West OC

The golden sun has become the mist
Lying in the nest of the valley --
Such possibility exists for those
Inside the mission arches splashed with light.

They're free of definition here,
When the slate is shaken clean
And there's nothing to fear from a costume room
That stretches this infinity of coast.

Heavenly scenes in clearest light
Unfold to be transformed
In this miraculous void
By more instant manifestation.

A warm wind blows, even as cool lights glow.
There is always time enough to talk
And for the pleasures of the harvest.
The palm trees wave as if there's nothing to say

When everything glistens beneath the moon
And innocence is always assumed,
For hands are made to hold out alms
As voices are for listening.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Words at Sunset

The sun sets whenever it wants
And sends whatever rays it chooses
To most officiously end the day
On the one of 10 million earths
You have chosen, this moment, to be on.

Just as spring refuses to yield
To the bullying airs of the cold front --
It doesn't care about the pictures
Winter likes to present
Of something not yet achieved
And in need of a benign tyrant,
Blithely indifferent that you
Still have that memory
Of so many blossoms
You didn't know what to do.

... You, in your turn, have always opted for fear
-- The end in darkness everpresently near --
More beautiful that way (you now say),
To grieve in the moment
And then be told you were wrong
When new light comes to awaken the sleepers,
The ones whose enlightenment you thought was your job;

Even now you go with the angel you can see,
The known buddha, who lifts up his arm
In the sacred geometry of a martial arts pose,
So you can take the shoe pebble of a gift from his hand
To teach him the lesson that you yourself learn.

It may seem so futile,
With such burly clouds
Brazenly loitering the skies,
But there is no one where you are going
Who will show you such things.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

View from the Patio

The dragons play at love
But not at the expense of the sun

That washes all will into a common
Want of warmth. They're still, then sway

To an instinct that blackens their beards
And makes their arms beckon stay.

So they roll across the lawn beyond time,
Ancient rituals made new with fresh desire,

Only the binary feel of what's good
And not kind to guide them through.

It's all that the creatures need to survive,
From a massive heart of love that pumps

Like the breeze. It's an easy course to follow
When the light transforms all to illumination.

There is food, there is grace,
There is rest along the way,

The individual is prized, although hidden
In hives and inside labyrinthine canyons.

They have ceded to the mind of the earth
Without losing the least of their soul.

Oh, we are so far gone from this, it seems so small
To minds at odds with the sun

Yet trying to see, through the glare on the leaves
What God looks like, how to grow it.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Seagulls Facing Sunset

Pairs and groups, of birds and humans,
Everyone locked in their own perceptions,
Answering to singular hungers.

There are common sounds,
An expanse of sand, drifting swells,
The milk of the white sun foaming

To make us think we're one
As the wind gives its customary cold
Shoulder to all of our questions.

You perch here on the bluff with me,
Proposing your own solutions
Before you walk out toward the sun.

My spirit bends to hear your voice
As it licks to absorb, but there's
Something I am not that won't dissolve,

Still my spirit walks away with you
But a part stays back, conflicted,
Surprised you are no closer from a distance.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Disappearance of the Leaves

The first light of owls
Holds the afternoon
In spindly shadow
And iridescent distance

Why are there so many
When there is only one?
Even a glance at the glare is
An affront to the universe you nurture

But still there's the warmth of the forms
Love has settled into
In lieu of the touch
You resisted

Conditions of fear
You could call them:
The trees, the patterns,
The road

The comforts of limitation
Hold you like a glove
For possibility must be
Parsed sparingly

When we're made to evade the truth,
Ever-grateful we are always caught wrong
Instead of nursing our own
Private destiny

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Grief as a Naif

The cathedrals of stone are flame
The craters on the moon are sound
Every desert contour has eyes
Of nebular size

When all that is goes missing
Truth is that sunset hue that isn't there
A luna lacuna
All roads lead to an infinite loop

Friday, December 27, 2019

Afternoon Conversation

The physicists have been talking all day,
The varieties of mushrooms dissected over coffee
As the pervasive pewter outside
Doesn't yield to periwinkle blue
But the subtler pewter,
The less softened stones,
The days that flash late peach across the grays,
Of empty buoy cities fixed in white.

The seaweed swirls, the seagulls squeal,
A cauldron of possibility for barking geese.

Nothing's kept the witches from their walking.

After-Dinner Conversation

There won't be any more meaning
In this house, on these shelves;
Why are you surprised there is such beauty,
Why misery lingers?

Whatever it is they are trying to say
Has turned into why they say it,
Which no one will say;
It is as if unallowed
By begrudged and miserly souls ...

This one wants to please,
That one to be forgiven,
And this one to remember what she was
Before she became bored at how ordinary her life seemed.

A fog of fact comes tactlessly out of that,
Like a hand from a deck that allows some truths
To be played, some hidden, some impossible to risk.

It is a game of snatches and murmurs
Of endless surprise, unrelenting confusion,
That forms into stories as others join in
Their own inability to fathom experience,
Their awkwardness at recounting what they've heard.

And the stories turn, in time, to something more,
Some form of belief that becomes something firm,
It seems, enough to keep talking, at least,
Of things they'd forgotten they'd said,
And ideas they discarded with too little fanfare
Too many years before.

There's something they need to learn
In all of these others, their endlessly dissolving
Faces and voices, about themselves,
How fragments appear something whole,
And a whole is only an egg to be cracked.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Return of the Prodigal

I haven't been home for Christmas
In 12 years.
I had to take care of an Aikido
Who would eat through the walls
If we left.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Song

I kinda like it when you say what's wrong
I kinda like it when you're lonely
I stand up when you orchestrate
Still standing in the morning

A lack of love has put its spell on you
A lack of love has had its way
But lack of love is all alone right now
And nothing it can say

Your clock is set to play the blues
There's only room here for the trues
For anything two lovers can cut through
For every kind of disagreement two can do

There is no sound from high above
There are no lovers only love

Friday, December 20, 2019

"From beyond the mountaintop..." (Pessoa)

From beyond the mountaintop,
Beyond the moonlight glow,
The strangeness of shapes drops.
They are thoughts of the twin
That is only the wind.
You hear their entrails flop
To hear them go.

From beyond, the parade
Brings your itinerary
With laughter serenade,
And the stars keep their veil
And the pale windows flail,
Like a voice that persuades
As branches parry.

But the sound slipped away
All at once from the air,
Halting the access way,
What withdrew to the bough
Like a soul from a brow.
And all it would convey
Was a whisper.

And the window unbars
To my mind, barely seeing,
In the moonlight a star
So vague, in the clearing,
And almost disappearing,
Who knows if that far
Spirit tremble hides,
How much went to the side
In this ride
That happened without being?

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

De além das montanhas,
De além do luar,
Vêm formas estranhas.
São gémeas do vento,
São só pensamento.
Mudam as entranhas
De as ouvir passar.

Cavalgada rindo
Seu curso do além,
Vem vindo, vem vindo,
E tremem janelas,
Velam-se as estrelas,
(E) os ramos, rugindo,
Falam como alguém.

Mas, súbito, aragem
Que perdeu o som,
Cessou a passagem
Do que tirou calma
Aos ramos e à alma.
Só se ouve a folhagem
Num sussurro bom.

E, abrindo a janela,
Contemplo, a mal ver,
Ao luar uma estrela
Tão vaga, tão vaga,
Que quase se apaga
Quem sabe se ela
Vai também levada,
Qual tanta faltada,
Nessa cavalgada
Que passou sem ser?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Decembers in Connecticut

My same self
     On those 3 o'clock floors
                                 Recalled:
The wheeze of the vents,
     The secret romp of paws ...

The large house with Other
               In other room
-- We may find ourselves
                                 Together
     As shadows in the dim
                        Blue glow,
               Protrudingly
     Not of the one.

Some nights,
     With all that dark
                          To scale
     There seemed no place
                To hide
But I tried to anyway
     Behind the cellar door

That was closer to the seed
     That grew in the waste
                  And the death
To a precise
      And rarefied
                  Frequency
Indistinguishable
      From the all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Black Dress

Nanshi wears black
For the "sombre" proceeding,
Like she's back selling "flares"
From an Arabber truck.

You've come a long way babee
To a place in history,
Not exactly Fort McHenry
But a cut above Pigtown at least.

Does the road ahead
Look like Liberty Heights,
A way out of time and of space?
Or it is just another labyrinth
In hopeless Locust Point?

It's hard for you -- or us -- to know ...

Except that they'll still be standing
In line for fried chicken
In Halethorpe no matter
What goes down,
They'll still complain
As if nothing has ever been done.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Spray of Boundaries

This artificial sky
          Is there for others to see
     It's not, I think, for me

It is too much to take it on
          Alone,
     To take it in at all

The outside world
          Can be left sometimes
     On the porch, like boots

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Everything's a Sin in this New World Too

Everything's a sin in this new world too,
Where the material, non-judgmental 
God who smooths our toil, makes us more useful
And lets us do whatever we want to

Nonetheless takes offense when we question
Theories of the divinity of tricks
And the short-term need for slavery, the fix
That is always just ahead, the engine

Inevitable, for it's who we are,
What we need, the common dominator,
The body freed from pain, the mind from care,

That there's nothing we were put on earth for
No matter how much meaning our prayer
Charges our hands, there's just door after door.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Down Spring Street in Jim's Car

On Pinata Row
At the border of
The Sequin
And Fabric districts,
There's an unholy mixing:
Blue Penguin Textiles,
The Broken Mouth Cafe,
Tipsy on the corner
Of Hemlock Street ...

But we laugh
That we're not crazy,
Or at least that when together
We can giggle madly,
To have seen the same sights
And lived the same discursive
Movies, of molls and gunsels,
Drive-by ripostes,
To their ends.

There's a film crew here now,
At the Garfield Hotel,
Waiting around on cell phones
For the action.
At times like these
Our stories seem real,
The storefronts genuine,
The pedestrians regnant
With meaning.

We talk some more,
Learning fresh what each of us
Remembers, until a casual detail
Drops as from the skies:
A kinetic display
Of naked children
Consumed by Baal
In an elevator of the Standard
Hotel.

It made the real
Something actual,
That is, retained
For more than an instant.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Sleep (Fernando Pessoa)

Sleep! Where there are no hopes or needs,
Where only the floating white cloud goes
And in the quiescent blue repose
The goddess of nonbeing weaves both braids.

Malignant breath of strenuous stillness,
Perennial forehead and feverish eyes,
And a dream forest of cries
Shadows the lids dead of goodness.

Ah, to be consciously nothing!
Pleasure or pain? The torpor brings it along,
And the complicit shadow prolongs
At its inner nadir the life of thinking.

I do not know myself. Embrace me, future,
In the cheerless paths where I dream.
And in the leisure with which I seem
To find myself wandering, slow and obscure.

My life closes like a fan.
My thoughts desiccate
Like a vague summer lake.
Life readies flowers to dry in my hands.

So the misunderstood ardor for the void
Is absorbed … into redundant
Alienation from the life of the moment ...

---------------------------------------------------------------
Dormir! Não ter desejos nem esperanças
Flutua branca a única nuvem lenta
E na azul quiescência sonolenta
A deusa do não-ser tece ambas as tranças.

Maligno sopro de árdua quietude
Perene a fronte e os olhos aquecidos,
E uma floresta-sonho de ruídos
Ensombra os olhos mortos de virtude.

Ah, não ser nada conscientemente!
Prazer ou dor? Torpor o traz e alonga,
E a sombra conivente se prolonga
No chão interior, que à vida mente.

Desconheço-me. Embrenha-me, futuro,
Nas veredas sombrias do que sonho.
E no ócio em que diverso me suponho,
Vejo-me errante, demorado e obscuro.

Minha vida fecha-se como um leque.
Meu pensamento seca como um vago
Ribeiro no Verão. Regresso, e trago
Nas mãos flores que a vida prontas seque.

Incompreendida vontade absorta
Em nada querer... Prolixo afastamento
Do escrúpulo e da vida do momento...

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Mist in the Morning as it Lifts

The fog along the ground, the shapes of trees,
The breaking of white into violet,
Diffusions of sunrise in particulate skies,
White smoke blows across the road, lights are vapor,

Then the familiar soon enough burns through
As something invisible, a clear blur,
The strange always billowing away, as day
Holds an arbor of light for unexpected

Frissons, the sense that one remembers what
One has learned. It's relentless in turning
What would rest in flesh and yearning for peace
Into a light machine, to drop God-like

Dollops on the boulevard of what it
Touches. Still, the cat who always crosses
At 7:12 each morning isn't there
-- Even that becomes an invitation

To gaze into the darkness once again
Of being orphaned by this caring world
For no reason other than I needed it
To be that way -- but did I bless this gift?

No, I cursed a fate that slowly replaced me
As I disappeared gifting my power
Away. The person I was denied
Became so much larger in absence than

The person I was. The lost in the fog.
Oh that I could have seen it as light,
The disengagement and the betrayal,
How it was not what they told me was true,

That it was joyous to be freed -- not moping
For the bars to be securely locked again,
That the world that would lift into vision
Would be mine, not somebody else's, not to

Be kept in trust through silent instructions.
There are no rules, the sky doesn't have to
Be blue, the truth of it doesn't have to be told
-- How limiting that would be to what it is!

But with the sun comes shadows, and with them
Places to hide, existence is other
Always, no matter how home-sent the light.
And not to own -- anything -- is the gift

Greatest of all, for it lets us forget
That all of it -- the pyramids, the hierarchy,
The hierophants from serpent stars that make
Us dependent on the divine -- it's all

For us -- the lies that we will into truth,
The shape of the world inside of our minds,
To make it hard to escape from, to make
It comforting, almost neccessary,

How heaven may not compete with that, though
It is never enough, here, no matter
How long we stay, the words of somewhere else
Always call, to be rescued, not mere escape.

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.