ACT TWO - Guy Kettelhack - Poetry & Ephemera

A Public Attempt to Convey a Private Life

I write a poem a day (sometimes two). So far, just for the eyes of a hand-picked long-suffering group of friends and acquaintances who've expressed an interest in seeing them. Now I'm going to experiment, day by day, by posting what I write here as well. Probably all you need to know about me you'll find by googling on "Guy Kettelhack."

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=%22Guy+Kettelhack%22&btnG=Google+Search

Otherwise, check in, as you'd like, to see whatever it is I do. Might provide the occasional entertaining distraction.

cheers,

Guy Kettelhack

GuyBlakeKett@gmail.com

GuyBlakeKett@aol.com

 

December 31, 2006

 

I Won't Take No for an Answer

 

I won't take no for an answer. But nor will I trust yes.

What will I take for an answer – an educated

guess? Not unless what feeds the blind surmise has

 

some relation to what human eyes have seen

peripherally – on the sly. I'll listen to the lone reply

which, passing, nods to the overt but readily cavorts

 

with the covert: whose sense is dense, and never

offers recompense to expectation: tinted with 

a hint but otherwise is full of wanton cry. I'll heed

 

the banshee wail whose note is hard to tell from

wind in sail: the herald who proclaims an arbitrary list

of names as if each had precisely equal meaning:

 

leaning towards whatever momentary spurt of motion’s

just occurred: is spurred no less by void than it

avoids a cancer. That’s what I'll take for an answer.

 

 

December 30, 2006

 

When We're Done, We'll Clean It Up

 

Filigree and folderol of fantasy!

One wonders why one’s brain

appears synaptically inclined

 

to conjure up such dollops of

unnecessary goo. Put it on my

knee and wallop it is what I'd like

 

to do: kick its fat behind. But it would

just spray out like bits of gelatin or mercury

or tangle up like fishing line and nothing would be left

 

but ex post facto slime: fantasies occlude, and block: they

seek an ideology of shock: rude system to insure a thrill

no matter what must be endured: that we can make

 

the face of anything sublime if we would only,

for example, just imagine ourselves free

of space and time. They fester like

 

the promise of a meltdown:

dangerous in prospect

but benignant

 

in effect –

at least until

 

we help them splay into

the wreck of actuality. Maybe radio-

 

activity is what it’s all about: to twist and shout

and act our toxic natures out. If so, please understand it’s

 

for your good as well as mine to take my hand and do exactly what

I want. You be the queen, I'll ask wassup. When we're done, we'll clean it up.

 

 

December 29, 2006

 

My Evolving Fate

 

If it’s true that we too regularly misconstrue

one circumstance, event or situation as

more crucial than another, then it follows

that we ought to pay attention more than

virtually any of us do to everything: become

a lidless eye: no matter if we’re skidding off

a surface or spelunking into an unfathomable

deep: awake, asleep: there’s nothing up

or down or in or out that doesn’t warrant

the persistent clout of one’s rapt curiosity:

 

and so in the availing maelstrom of my local deli,

I just tossed an onion – sweet and red – into

a basket with two packages of fancy crackers

(garlic/salt): a kind Korean cashier rang it up,

and as if onions had aligned in Vegas slot

machines, the total was precisely five and

zero, zero: handed him a bill and it’s as if

the world stood still: “Imagine that, no change!”

said I, and he looked back at me as if he

knew we both aspired to the range of

 

receptivity afforded by that lidless eye. Well,

maybe not: he smiled, at least: and I released

into the day and found my way upstairs to my

refrigerator from which I retrieved a block

of cheese and went about the ministrations

(with a knife) that would result in onion, cheddar,

salt-and-garlic crackers in coordinated presence

on a plate: rife with probabilities, not least

of which is that I’d eat. And so I ate. And met

one meshed iota more of my evolving fate.

 

 

December 28, 2006

 

My Work

 

My day is odd and right: it’s full of stain

and covert light – obliquely angling

into corners I could never have foreseen:

sometimes voluptuously rolling onto satin –

dazzling sheen! - at others, tumbling

 

on a humbler surface, forest-green and

matte as felt: I am the billiard ball; my

day’s the stick: and I get regularly belted:

hit – careen and squall – then fall into

an untoward hole or two: I sort out red

 

from blue and choose the yellow –

for a while (yellow’s really not my style):

seek a stringency – and sex!: yes – let’s

investigate the body – look at all that meat! –

audacious gift! – tumescent pleasure! –

 

onward to the treasure! – which we find

by jumping off a cliff into the brine we’ve

left in sweat from humping backs and

butts and thighs: one way to move past

a surmise into a certainty is to employ

 

a craft – which I now build from fore to aft –

to take off into our effluvially fluent sea!:

without an anchor, fear of drowning, or

a rudder or an oar. You implore me: why

do I grind so much life and mind to quirk?

 

It is my work.

 

 

December 27, 2006

 

The Way I Think Things Are

 

Drunk leans on the chain link fence,

fingers clutching wire: stares into

the empty lot – as dense, expired

 

as heavy winter sky and town:

all sodden grayish brown.

He leers out at two plumped-up

 

pigeons squatting on the ground:

“Yo! Pretty mamas! Lookin’ fine!”

Pigeons blink – don't seem to mind.

 

I suspect that any Christ, who’s

asked to prove he’s God, would

look around him once or twice –

 

then throw his hands up: “Odd

you'd ask!” – then turn and sigh

and disappear –  and leave it

 

up to us to figure out that

neither there nor here is any

cosmological inconsequence.

 

Nothing – from a pigeon,

drunk, or chain-link fence, up

to the brightest star – is not

 

a peerless avatar. As I squint

at the near and far, that’s

the way I think things are.

 

 

December 26, 2006

 

You Could Be Next

 

By now this neighborhood’s my home: its 1840s,

1880s, 1920s contours on McDougall, Sullivan

and Prince Streets – thick reflexive ornament

affixed according to their fashions’ mixed

assumptions and assertions: ramrod sniffy upper-

class to get-your-ass-here come-on crassness –

 

all have long outlived their first coercions: gently

settle in the gray December day as if they've

never cared much that they looked this way:

frowsy and complacent: older than whoever’s

walking by will ever be. I don't much care how

I look either as I take a breather from the holiday

 

and cross the highway of West Houston Street

en route to Greenwich Village: out to loot

and pillage for a poem: feel the urge but no

particularly vivid surge has yet occurred.

Then suddenly, I see what I have come to find:

a young man walking his white poodle passes by:

 

a dog who every sixth or seventh step leaps

straight up – on and off all fours – as if he were

a helicopter trying to take off – repeats the jump

again, again, and I cannot think when I've

seen a creature more transfixed by possibilities

of flight. I watch them walk and leap away

 

until they are completely out of sight. But

this just whets my appetite. I plan to pirate

something else from this unwitting city unaware:

Be careful lady! – I'm more daring than I look.

I'm out for something even stranger than

a leaping dog with no pretext. You could be next.

 

 

December 25, 2006

 

The Deal

 

I guess one thing I get about the deal

is its voluptuousness: layers, velvet

thicknesses, and lace: it wants to weave

 

complexity – encumber space – and more

than not succeeds: perhaps it answers

needs we don't address in the U.S. except

 

for now: today we'll milk a brocade cow

and get crème fraiche, we'll kneel to ornate

painted figures in a crèche: like Henry James,

 

we cannot have too much. I guess one

thing I get about the deal is its propensity

to steel against the emptiness – and hoard –

 

and treat the solstice like the dangerous

phenomenon it is: the proof that darkness

can and will prevail, against which we

 

must raise a gilded cup and sing “Wassail!”

Right now, we know there is a banshee

wail deep in the heart of everything.

 

We guard against the dark, strike sparks,

and seek relief from night. One day we

know we'll lose: today we'll win, or might.

 

 

December 24, 2006

 

My Winter Blood

 

I've fostered an encounter

with an out-of-date mosquito:

thing has buzzed me every

night: I feel for that poor lonely

creature: wouldn't mind

surrendering my winter blood

to it: but so far he has not alit.

I wonder if one ever does –

 

alight, that is – I wonder what

he lives on: hope? Christmas

is the oddest time: like moping

through the marshland, leaky

hip-boots, through the reeds

among mosquitoes, bees:

paranoid that rabid otters will

attack: feeling out of whack.

 

Everybody seems to want

something. Low-grade chronic

expectations of disaster while

pretending to be happy: prone

to tears at manufactured memories:

constipatedly attempting to adore

oh-come-let-us-adore-him:

venerating sappy. I'm slogging

 

through the marshland, naked

now, determined to take on

whatever varmint wants a piece

of me: my fists are up, I will

not duck. The afternoon grows

long – and soon the night

will come and slumber on.

I can't recall what’s wrong.

 

 

December 23, 2006

 

I Suppose I Know

 

I'm really good at saying no, but I suppose I know

I will succumb – although the caverns I hide out

in until right before the things I've mightily resisted

once again have won are inaccessible to you:

don't try to tell me what to do. But oh! – the day

I've had. It’s Christmas – so the damned entirety

 

of everything insists – and I crept up from my dark

cave as if someone had stuck a sharp point of

a holly leaf into a voodoo doll that looked like me:

I zombied to the store and bought a dozen things

or more and made up little Christmas bags

of silly stuff to give to people I invited in a dazed

 

involuntary state to venture out with me into

the Christmas night. But worse: I scrubbed

the kitchen floor – and more: the bathroom sink

and tub and tiles and all the while the little artificial

tree I told myself this year I definitely wouldn't

drag out, put back on a bookcase, had escaped:

 

now there it is, its tiny lights a goading bit of evidence

I have not conquered anything. I draw the line:

I will not think about the holidays that used to make

some sense: the ones for which my mother was

the recompense: no carols will be sung. But probably

that’s dumb. I suppose I know I will succumb.

 

 

December 22, 2006

 

Just After Solstice

 

She says she can't abide it:

if only he would treat her like

the brilliant woman she would

 

like to think she is – and is,

or would be, if he'd only stop

harassing her poor psyche

 

for a moment – she'd foment

a very different order – be a very

different being: seeing would

 

be glorious as soon as she felt

loved. Instead she’s shoved

herself into a pit about as lovely

 

as the word I'm thinking of

that rhymes with it: all brown:

diseased. A shutter won't release:

 

she’s wedged into a crease

of suppurating dread inside

her head. She thinks she might

 

be better dead. As she aches

into the phone into my ear,

I look out at December noon

 

just after Solstice: twenty-second

of the month: a tiny bit more

day today than yesterday.

 

The light’s a sweet dove-gray.

I wonder it takes to learn

to love a day this way.

 

 

December 21, 2006

 

A Virus Pens a Poem

 

The time has come to write

an executed document –

corral it out of sight

until it has the shock you want:

 

the proper distribution

of aches – unkempt desires –

the ink a dark ablution

of body fluids: fires

 

of fever burn an even

slash across the page:

black hole you can believe in –

dimensions that will rage

 

you brutally into the new –

pro-rated over afternoons

of feeling sodden: screw

the consequences: moons

 

are all that matter now.

The time has come to write

and sign the thing: avow

your substance is the night.

 

 

December 20, 2006

 

Left it to Beaver

 

Every day, religiously, I come to leave it to old

“Beaver” reruns to inoculate, intoxicate like heroin:

with endless cool annulments of the worried mind:

just try to find a finer tailored calm example of this

medicine than June, the heroine, the mom! –

American aplomb without a limit or a barrier, low

voice like a deliberate repression of some bluesy

 

tune: blown to slightly smoky crystal kept from ever

shattering: a smattering of sleepiness without

one hint of sex. Each episode she murders Oedipus,

as son and rex: in every form of man who comes

to feed from her accomplished ruthless hand:

pious husband Ward – her boys: the ripening and

thwarted Wally and the cipher Beaver, talentless

 

and plain. Watching this is opening your toddler

mouth to a suburban rain whose density condenses

to a syrup: lick your fear up: drown it in this drugged

incarcerating wine! I lapped it up like policy and

prophesy when I was nine. Now it glazes me like

Mrs. Cleaver’s ham into an eerie, not unpleasant

stupefaction: baked and stunned and pink: supine.

 

 

December 19, 2006

 

Life Without a Mate

 

Cruel senile delinquent! That’s who

you will be. We'll find you naked in

the streets engaged in various untoward

activities involving marmosets, uncooked

spaghetti and a paper toweling tube.

You won't use lube. You'll be audacity.

But as you tabulate what specificity of

insight you can claim from the vicissitudes

of even your most ordinary interludes,

 

you feel constrained from obligation

to report: sex is not a finally availing sport,

and love’s a glimmer on the brain:

sustained precisely for as long as you

don't notice it: like air you'd choke on

if you realized you breathed. Alas – one

realizes that one breathes, and loves,

and though the air’s still there, the love,

once labeled, scares itself into a mist:

 

despite how ardently you may by anybody

have been kissed: gone – lost its dawn.

Look for play at this point in your dissolution

and the only kind that interests you’s

against the law. Like throwing random

punches at a stranger’s jaw. Husband?

Wife? Not your fate. Life without a mate?

One long blind date. Don't be sad. Given

most alternatives you know, it ain’t half bad.

 

 

December 18, 2006

 

Can't do Kant

 

He tells me I should pick up Kant.

I tell him, not right now, I can't.

Although I know Immanuel would boost

me - so would Plato, Seuss and Proust -

and other numberless smart cattle.

But I know I must pick each battle

and decide quite carefully myself

what next to take off from the shelf.

At some loss? Sure: but let's say I'm

too sure there's too damned little time.

 

-----------

 

Anyway

 

December cloudbank – moving

like a giant Chekhov stage-set over

unseen space: this great eruptive

and translucent mass – all pearl and

milk glass – with the sting of something

 

sour, darker, wilder streaking through it

more like hiss than lightning, but with

no less zap: all falls through semi-blinded

windows in my lap. Someone knocks:

who’s that? Christmas is a-comin’:

 

vacuousness getting fat: wide open –

and as gray as the impressive ambiguity

of this fine New York day. I look at

any mote of it, and say: let’s stay –

and play – anyway. Go to blazes, holiday.

 

 

December 17, 2006

 

To the Bone

 

The world will not obey.

He cannot get his way.

It seems to me he doesn't

notice that ‘his way’ was never

really his, and that his only

profitable business is to find

a way that is. But who knows

 

if I'm right – and so what if I am.

“How to have a happy life?”

he asks. “Find the real –

ditch the sham?” As if I knew

the secret to reducing this

to tasks: could isolate the wings

and thorax of contentment like

 

a lepidopterist. I wish I were

an optimist – knew how to make

him laugh and sing – but I don't

know a half-a-thing. Scraped

down to the bone: "I love you,

honey – but like everybody

else, you're on your own."

 

 

December 16, 2006

 

Hush, little baby

don't you cry –

you know your mama's

bound to die –

 

 (Bahamian lullaby - source for “All My Trials”)

 

Last Straw

 

She receded due to climate change. Each

life must ride a range of weather – undergo

its chronic revolution: strange precipitation,

involuted storms and seasons, winds and

drought – within, without: no pause. The end –

 

eroded: she could only drink through straws,

and with the morphine, sometimes barely

then. I think it’s fair to venture to suggest that

I was there as much as anyone who wasn't

sleeping could have been: although at night,

 

when I had gone to bed, I wonder what went

on inside her head – if she worried whether

there'd be light where she was going next.

No text for this, but there was Sprite, which –

long as it was icy – she quite liked. I bought

 

a plastic bag of straws, the kind that bend:

a hundred of them. She sipped through six.

More than three years later now, I just

discovered that I've evidently gone through

all the rest but one. Maybe it’s all nearly done.

 

 

December 15, 2006

 

Sort of Man I Am

 

Some say we are the Net of Indra –

diamonds linked in strands – all infinite

reflections of each other; or we are

a hologram – illusory projections

of the Super-real (in every atom of

 

the micro find the macro): or we’re both.

One of my favorite lunches when

I was a kid was Spam my mother slid

out from its can and sliced and fried

and put on toast – all salty, bland,

 

transmogrified: it glistened like an Indra’s

net of meat, a hologram of ham. Today

we zap spam to a cyber purgatory where,

perhaps, it waits to be imagined as

an Internet of jewels to serve to fool

 

the eye by mirroring a sourceless light.

I bet if you transmogri-fried me up

a portion of the Indra-netted night,

it wouldn’t taste unlike a hologram

of my mom’s Spam. (Sort of man I am.)

 

 

December 14, 2006

 

All the Many Middle Distances

 

Loosely coiled lengths – gently tangled stretches:

warm as the idea of mothers: light as breath

and bothersome as tinsel – always just a little

tang of sex: skeins of dream and memory and

 

expectation from which you might weave a season:

tied to too much in the past; you’d like, you think,

to cut yourself completely from their grasp

but that would sever you from any life you know.

 

Always the extremist, you are drawn to glows of

other Universes physicists inform you are suggested

by the particles they study: why do you hate

Christmas so? You wish the particles you saw

 

at least were snow: but they’re the motes that float

in all the many middle distances that you’ve

investigated, from your bed, since you were very

small. They don’t suggest another Universe at all.

 

 

December 13, 2006

 

My Quarks and Leptons

 

Deviously powerful, unfathomably small –

my quarks and leptons stage revolts –

effecting showerfuls of rude unlikely

transformations, they defy the rules that

 

govern large and lumpen me: I am to them

as several billion miles of sky would be

to one pore on your skinny knee. And while

they’re playing wild and free – far from

 

the unimaginably huge environs of my

human potpourri – in all their weightless

idiosyncrasy (where they’ve the luxury to be,

and sometimes not to be) – I suffer

 

from Newtonian gravity that pulls from

every nasal cavity a substance not unlike

slime mold. My leptons, quarks could give

a flying you-know-what I’ve got a cold.

 

 

December 12, 2006

 

Happiness

 

My ears were full of pressure, Sunday,

off the plane at Kennedy – ‘til one by one,

in a cascade, their tiny packets popped

and riffled – just a block away from where

 

I live. At first the ripples seemed external:

as if keys I’d taken from my pocket had

cartoonishly and audibly awakened – were

reporting on their happiness at coming

 

home: I didn’t understand that quarters

of the many-chambered dome that holds

my brain had just, on my behalf, contrived

to clear my otic path of aural foam: implicitly

 

suggesting that they wouldn’t, for the moment,

let me down: they’d keep this sensory

appurtenance in check – since I had kept

my bargain to return to our beloved town.

 

 

December 11, 2006

 

Life, Sliced

 

Today my slice of life is buttered with a cold –

and lower back ache: not a bad cold, not a bad

ache, but enough to let me know today’s

repast won't be a piece of cake. There’s texture,

though, in tiny crags and crannies of my thick

and thin perceptions – little pockets of distress

fill up, let go, fill up, let go – seltzer bubbles

 

popping in my head. Abundant grays – like

unsuspected planes in 1940s film noir faces –

paint my space. It’s not a feeling you could label

good or bad – though has a certain grace. I take

some Ibuprofen, lie down: listen to the radio play

rounds of Brandenburg concerti, then bestir myself

to leave to take the subway to the upper west side

 

cat I tend. Entrained, everybody else’s slice

of life seems plain. A frowning Buddhist monk,

enrobed in brown – does he have hemorrhoids?

(he squirms so in his seat!) – two Mexicans sit

next to him with thick black glossy hair in peaks –

like Mayan icons loosed from a relief: the pews

are filled in subway church today: and everyone

 

appears to be preoccupied with his or her particular

and separate array, display and curds and whey.

I get off at my stop, and see the cat, who howls

with loneliness – I feed him, hug him, leave him –

then, while walking back, up West End Avenue,

I see a man whose slice of life is clearly far more

complicated than my own: like a Dürer etching,

 

he is thick with line and shadow, matted beard

and shiny balding pate, and pushes an amazing

shopping cart filled to the brim like Santa’s

sleigh with bulging bags of stuff, which wobbles

this way, that way: cornucopia of desolation.

He nods politely to me as he wheels and teeters

by – and each of us gets closer to a destination.

 

 

December 10, 2006

 

This is a Test

 

Four-twenty-five p.m. –

eleventh of December. Vermont’s

Green Mountains – to the left,

 

and just ahead. Invest in

the gradations of their muted

ash-blue silhouettes. Note

 

the wash of conch-shell

blush insinuating into nameless

flaming as it spreads out to

 

the west. Take a breath. Make

yourself believe that all this puts

the lie to death. Do your best.

 

 

December 9, 2006

 

Frail Outpost

 

In the notebook that I kept in Rome

more than a year ago; and now, as I look 

out a window over Otter Creek in Middlebury

(cold Vermont - with snow); while eating lunch -

lamb kurma and paratha - at "The Taste of India" -

 

surreal frail outpost here!; surveying granite

arches of an 1890s bridge - gunmetal-rushing

water underneath en route to memories of mills,

my own amalgam private recollections spill

through similarly strange, unlikely channels: 

 

to the ambient peculiarities of place - a taste

of cardamom - clear maple syrup - scented

with my first presentiments of sex - and

D.H. Lawrence, Keats and Wordsworth -

overlay of ghostly chatter, chatter, chatter -

 

adolescent pecking-order - theme: who am I

in this scheme? I was twenty, here, at college; 

now I'm fifty-five, and in the intervening while, 

I've gained no greater knowledge of

the meaning of "alive" - except to say that

 

I suspect it's odder than I knew. But I'll do

what I know: walk (carefully, in New York City

loafers, on the icy slick) into this crystal gray

conundrum-day to see what else awaits

me in its thick and softly obfuscating snow.

 

Middlebury, Vermont 12/10/06

 

 

December 8, 2006

 

“How could one moment be better than any other?

There's only ever one moment.”  (email to a friend.)

 

Annoying Questions

 

Offered everything I wanted on a platter,

I wonder: what would matter?

 

Is it a wise idea

to query why one cleaves to one especial fear

 

in some respects

and re-directs

 

insouciantly with regard to others?

Can one determine what derives from mothers,

 

brothers, fathers, sisters, lovers – how it sticks – and why?

Is there an answer to an “I”?

 

The more I look into what I have labeled soul

the less I’m able to account for how or why it’s whole.

 

I can’t stop tabulating and assessing heads and hearts.

I don’t believe that we are more than the summation of our parts.

 

But how to square our facts with love and death and history?

Silly mystery.

 

Sometimes I wish that I believed all was façade.

Instead of God.

 

 

December 7, 2006

 

Handsome Chatter

 

My lack of handsome chatter was the matter!

How ardently I dreamed that I might one day

effortlessly, elegantly deliquesce into an eloquence:

a suave array of words – as fleet and sweet as

birds: replete with casually cultivated pith and style –

like Mrs. Parker, Mr. Wilde. But my diphthongs

 

couldn't get a fix: I sounded like a riled barker

spitting bits of broken bricks – no butter in a stutter.

I played the violin to compensate – then drank

and drugged to medicate – placate the savages

among the sissies in my tongue that razzed me

mercilessly – as they'd done since I was very young.

 

I lionized whoever could pronounce and pounce:

I cowered, praying that one ounce of what they

had might fall my way. ‘Til one day I forgot, and

something fell like coins into a slot, and suddenly

I found that I had all the wherewithal that they had:

I could dare. Where this came from, I don't know –

 

and what a joy to notice that I don't much care.

 

 

December 6, 2006

 

How are you?

 

You mean: how have I come to be? –

to manifest this momentary me?

What a brilliant suggestion implied

in the question! – to proffer a ‘how’ to

an ‘are’ and a ‘you’ – conjugate a ‘to be’

 

into that which would seek to illuminate ‘me’

not through ‘why,’ ‘what’ or ‘where’

but in surely that most efficacious, pragmatic

of queries: the one with the best chance

of meeting and then superseding one’s

 

most existentially troublesome worries,

and truly arriving at now: a ‘how!’ Best word

in the world! My spirit ingests it and spins:

having swirled, it and I ache to offer

a whole lovely wow of an answer to you.

 

But we haven’t a clue.

 

 

December 5, 2006

 

Left-Handed and Ironic

 

 “…– locked behind mirrors in his study, his secret heroes

ragging round the fire, Death swots ungraceful, keen on his

career; notes in his journal ‘I have never lived – left-handed

and ironic, but have loved.’   W.H. Auden, p. 49, The Orators

 

 

Consummation – devoutly to be wished – this

slippery evasion: to let the yearning be its own

reward – less grasping-after than a moving-toward –

the slick of skin wet with its own effusive sweat –

available and so remote: to have the cherry

blossom at its moment of perfection – halved as

 

silky-bit-of-thing and nonexistent float: to know that

it’s right there, in front of you – and doubt down

to your mitochondria that it was here at all: a recipe

for Satan’s fall: right-of-passage torture: spice has

staled, no zap: no stirring in your lap; without

direction, soul seeks only insurrection. Little’s left

 

in sex or touch, and Art succeeds about as much.

Certainty’s gone through the sieve. “Left-handed

and ironic”: have you loved or lived? Push comes

to shove; you couldn’t say. You wonder if there’s

half a silky-bit-of-thing and half a nonexistent

float – in whose way you might drift one day.

 

 

December 4, 2006

 

A Necessary Mess

 

An anguish and an injury

repeated like a drumbeat

in the head and in the heart:

 

but how do you decide what

part to put the scalpel to?

What makes you know you're

 

home, and what would turn

you out into the cold? Slice

this slender tendon, cut that

 

wriggling bit of flesh, and

you risk mangling the best.

You are a necessary mess.

 

 

December 3, 2006

 

A Place for Tenderness

 

You tear and eat

my clean white flesh.

This is no place

for tenderness.

 

You do it to me

every day:

and I come back

for more. The way

 

I grovel at

your knees delights,

disgusts.

A feral feline fights

 

the way you do –

or would if it

were not enamored

of that gristled bit

 

of heart you seem

to have to chew

each morning like

a rodent: you

 

once drained my root

each weekend

like a breast: now

I’m the weak end

 

of the bargain: left

with consequences.

I’m the flipside of

a luminescence –

 

disciplined –

resigned: I park

my flesh each day

back in the dark

 

of our remembered

lust, undressed. I guess

it never was

a place for tenderness.

 

 

December 2, 2006

 

Father Bob

 

What was it about God that got him?

Me, I'm like an insect: popping,

skittish, bug-eyed – start at every

flash and blip and bop: “no not that!

no not that! no not that!” – he, well,

maybe he required capitals - a He

to make him think that it was possible

to see without revolting. I don't know:

 

maybe God’s a jolt he needed like

a drug: as hot and sexual as some

big-dicked rapacious thug who keeps

surprising with his tenderness: a potent

father without fatal Oedipal percussive

bother. My brother was a priest:

he took to it like bacon takes to grease.

He’s dead now – died of AIDS:

 

whom did he meet when he fell

off the page? My life’s a cookbook –

I'm an insect seeking dinner: can't

wield salad spinners very well: you try

to cook an omelet with these tiny legs!

I am an insect: done with eating:

waiting to evolve. I pop and blast and

blither: envious of corks and other

 

floating things. What brings my

brother back to me right now? Kyrie

Eleison – Christe Eleison – Kyrie Eleison:

doggies bay beneath the moon: bring

my great divine big brother back: too

soon the mercy stops. I am an insect:

popping, skittish, bug-eyed – start

at every flash and blip and bop.

 

 

December 1. 2006

 

Heavy Sledding

 

Bear the weight. Make sense of the accruing fat

immensity. Almost all the energy goes up, gets

trapped, then spent, within the cul-de-sac of cranium:

 

the brainy underworld. Thick as porridge, preternaturally

wrong – like these November and December days

that shouldn’t be, sixty-six degrees but doesn’t feel

 

like spring – unpalatably warmed potato salad –

gunk – too late for any picnic: funked – dispiriting –

a thickness – wrongly left; bereft of strident and incisive

 

and relieving cold. ‘Shouldn’t be’ is ‘be,’ it’s only

we who can’t align discomfort with what we’d prefer.

So I defer, again – when don’t I? – to the grind of mud’s

 

undoing; stewing in the wrongful ‘til it starts appearing

right – ‘til ‘lose’ takes on the vagaries of ‘find.’ It’s

what I have to do to slide behind the guiding mind.

 

 

November 30, 2006

 

Give it to Him Whole

 

Depict it! Thunder with significance – you nervous

sparrow on a picket fence – you fifty-minute silence

in a glacial psychoanalytic session: justify that

facial tic – that tiny twitter of expression: what’s that

 

half-lit smile, that artificial glossy guile – part stiff,

part sad: you get that from your dad? Nail that

damning rhyme that plagues you all the time: kick it

in the assonance. Don't take sass from your first

 

memory of crying, diapered, in the grass: pass

it on like Kleenex to that crazed black man who’s

cursing his synapses – spitting his Tourettes out in

the subway – leather cabbie cap on backwards:

 

looks good, doesn't he? Wasn't he the scary fucker

coming after you in last night’s dream – the one at

whom you tried to scream but couldn't? Wouldn't he

look fine reclining next to you in bed, about to nuzzle

 

sleepily into your armpit with his sweet warm head?

You'd watch him take a sip – lick your needless

nipple, feel the ripple through what one might just

as well call “soul.” You would give it to him whole.

 

 

November 29, 2006

 

Lunch Break from Court

 

Grim giant buildings house the New York City

courts – not much in their gray-brown downtown

interment to disport with: “God,” alleges every

chamber in stripped barren font, is “whom we

trust,” but where, I wonder, have they hidden God?

Can't find much bright divinity in all that plod.

 

And so, on break, we wander off to get a little fat –

to the periphery of Chinatown – hors de combat

for dim sum lunch: a bunch of goldfish – maybe

forty – swim and spread behind my head in

an aquarium that first I do not see: until I'm told

by my companion that they've banked up to

 

the angle of their tank that’s nearest me – a corner

that abuts my skull – as close to where I'm sitting

as they possibly can get and still be wet – in hope,

it would appear, that I might start remitting

fish food from my ear. I turn around to see their

goggle eyes, surprised and stupid, in the frank

 

surmise that I am there for them. I'd like to be, but

I'm as bleak and far as Neptune – or a New York

City court: can't feed or make them free. Poor

bug-eyed carp: like us, they want far more than

hollow justice. Swallowed bubbles pop like

empty promises – not sweet arpeggiating harp.

 

 

November 28, 2006

 

Oh!

 

I dreamed I slashed across this world –

a bold exasperation: made all evanescent

subtleties configure into slapstick: was

as brutal as a punch, a kick, as cunning

as a hunch, and picked my way through

 

rubble to persist as more than anybody

ought to be: oh, you’d have fought to see

me in my glory, wondered what on Earth

could be my story – then succumbed to age

content in having spent your wages on my

 

show – to watch me fly and flame beyond

all sense and shame – in hope that one day

other human beings might transcend their

tawdry state as humming beans – achieve

a half-percent of what I managed to leave

 

trembling on the beach: a live detritus of

rhymed tiny creatures dancing in the lapping

surf: oh, you’d have kissed each spot of turf

my golden feet left prints on – cherished

all the glints on tears shed in remembrance

 

of astonishingly dreamed-up me. A scheme

for which you might admonish me, now,

here, awake, half-baked. But oh! – it’s nice

to feel a psychic quake and see it through.

Go to sleep and see if you can do it, too.

 

 

November 27, 2006

 

I have only one object in writing books: to demonstrate that there could not be anyone to do it.

 

"The Tenth Man"  Wei Wu Wei

 

 

Strictly Speaking

 

Everything’s impossible –

that’s the end of that.

Every proof’s a spoof

of proof. We think we're

 

sure we know how two

limbs link, bear weight,

perambulate. But their

availing joints defeat

 

arriving at an even

slightly satisfactory

explanatory point. Go

beyond your monkey brain

 

to ponder why a limb exists

at all – or how on Earth

or elsewhere it acquired

its kinetic call. Easy

 

to predict an end within

parameters you've set:

clever, tight and formal.

But ask a gluon, quark

 

or graviton what’s

normal. Might make

one thing clear. You are

not inarguably here.

 

 

November 26, 2006

 

Family Fare

 

On a guilt-ridden couch in

a Long Island living room, sins

can obliquely replenish the soul:

this is family fare so I don't

dare detail all the uplift and drain –

all the prizes and losses

 

I stole and I gained in pursuit

of the glory of loving the Male –

all the dark stealthy care,

and suburban despair: these

audacious, salacious and

risible facts I shall render here

 

flatly – cold – in the abstract:

every stab that betrayed – each

caress that arrayed yet more

flesh into taboo allure and

appeal – makes me sure that

the body is wed to itself in a pure

 

state of knowing and dealing

and possibly healing – beyond

what my mother, alive, ever would

have revealed. After she died,

I had sex ‘til I cried: this is family

fare – but you can guess where.

 

 

November 25, 2006

 

Nightly Knitting Party

 

Perhaps to knit a raveled sleeve of dream

I woke up speaking: might have screamed,

I guess, had I been in a nightmare, but

my sleep has cosseted me for a while

and nightmares don't appear to be my style.

I can't remember what I said; but it was odd

to hear my vocal cords make contact with

 

my dream self as I came to in my bed. It now

occurs to me to think, and say, that what

sinks in each night must always carry into

day – I'm just not usually aware what way.

I entertain the interesting alluring notion that

the conscious air that lies above my sleeping

ocean may be made exactly of the same

 

component stuff. The psyche never doesn't

have enough – the problem’s not too little or

too much. The weave in my imagination’s

where I sometimes lose my touch. I now take

this as manifesto: make the night a festival

of dream and speech – encourage each

to flirt with what’s beyond the other’s reach.

 

 

November 24, 2006

 

 “…you the quicksand and sand and grass

as I wave toward you freely

the ego-ridden sea

there is a light there that neither

of us will obscure….”    

 

Frank O’Hara –

from Ode to Michael Goldberg(‘s Birth and Other Births)

 

 

Ballad of Invisibility

 

I sing to you: suggest that we

pretend we don’t exist –

push past the ego-ridden sea –

then, fully, not resist –

 

give in ‘til we can tolerate

the possibility

that if we’re here, we’re ready bait –

a pure utility

 

for others to slip on a hook –

an aid to catching fish –

not worth more than the briefest look –

a means to some new dish

 

which we won’t ever get to taste:

a purpose so arcane

so free of time and glow and space

it stumps the human brain –

 

to grasp that though we’re barely seen

or felt – less than a breeze –

so modest and demure of mien

we neither peeve nor please –

 

within this free soft floating state

we may gain mind to find

the lowdown on Existence’ fate –

and God’s, and ours – combined.

 

 

November 23, 2006

 

Truth is

 

Truth is, you've ruined me for

other men. Zoos of masculinity,

testosteroned to fare-thee-well’s

and howdy-do’s, could not induce

 

me to abuse myself one whit on their

behalf: you are the only fatted calf

I want. You bear the brunt of,

then surpass, whatever fantasies

 

I may contrive: you are too bountifully

alive for me to turn from you –

addictive stew of stuff! – you are, alas,

enough: too much. I've lost my touch

 

because of you, you glue, you

tunnel view. If only I could say adieu

to you. But I am stuck in all your

fragrant muck, and must make do.

 

 

November 22, 2006

 

Pillow Dreams

 

I have ten pillows on my bed: two are thin

and flat; two are wide and fat: two – small

feathered plumps I plop and lump into soft

clotted clumps beneath my head like stiff-whipped

cream: three are ‘throw,’ faux-velvet green:

one is small and oblong – satin-sheened,

and burgundy. Spread beside and under me in

various configurations, they're like parts of speech,

 

I've come to think, for which my dreaming

lingual spirit reaches to concoct its picaresque

inventions: green verbs, red nouns, midnight

blue conjunctions, taken from a slew of dictionary

mixtures: harvested from vaster lexicons than

mine. They seem to know I've figured out their

kind, and practices: each night, now, when I settle

into them, before I start to fracture into mist,

 

I proffer my night’s wish list: ask my pillows

to provide me with a certain length of reverie:

and dare suggest the sorts of stories I like best.

Custom-tailored hells and heavens now regale me

through my sleep in two- to three-hour segments

so – between my pillows’ angels, devils and

their deep blue sea – I might get up to pee.

This is as close as I can get to dreaming lucidly.

 

 

November 21, 2006

 

Here’s how I’d define the thing:

 

it doesn't have to entertain or sing,

although it mustn't bore. It mustn't

not suffice, and mustn't not deposit

you into a state of wanting more.

It mustn't not delight and mustn't not

 

unnerve, and if it serves up double-

negatives, it mustn't not confuse

a little. Mustn't not be visceral as

spittle; mustn't not be fully mouthed;

mustn't not allow the possibility of

 

getting lost and feeling found. Mustn't

not amend an error; mustn't not be this:

the only way, today, that you can find

to say exactly everything you know

about your terror and your bliss.

 

 

November 20, 2006

 

And yet

 

Volatile ejaculates – tears rising from

erections of the heart, stiff refusals to

take part. No fashionable rationale avails:

no easy mantra cuts the wail. It isn’t

even really about him – it isn’t even really

 

about death – although it also is, it also

is about him and his death – and Death

in whose cold rotting orifice your face has

more than once been thrust. No pretty

way to say it. No words to say. And yet.

 

 

November 19, 2006

 

Prospects of Enlightenment

 

Just now I caught some gold:

soft orange kitten’s fur: I found her

nestling in the folds of blanket

on my bed: she was as tiny as

a mole, and cried profusely to be

fed three heart-shaped chocolate-

covered jam-infused small cookies

 

made of gingerbread: I broke them

up and felt her needle teeth,

sandpaper tongue eat crumbs of

them off both my thumbs: her purr

grew faint as she decreased to

the minute dimensions of a fuzzy

burr: some spiky little thing off scrub-

 

brush in New Mexico: my mattress –

tawny mesa – burr’s a burro, whom

I beg to drag a blanket towards

my nakedness – but won’t.

Is this enough? So full of stuff.

Prospects of enlightenment seem

shot. But dreams are all I’ve got.

 

November 18, 2006

 

Boredom

 

How is

it possible?

 

Twenty-one and bored.

 

It must be this: life's smorgasbord

of provocations is a hierarchy: one-upmanship

of stimuli: no, need a higher high! Gold

 

is never good enough.

The Universe is

 

made of stuff.

Need more.

 

Now that's

a bore.

 

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

Struck

 

Surging up from some appalling

well – bursting from a cell –

like some horrific liquid crystal

skull – awful dome of psychic sea,

 

pellucidly emergent – nightmare gray –

yet glassy-clear as day, mid-November

day – sickeningly-warm-at-core

November day: has its viral way

 

with everything it lurches toward,

and through: you never were

depressed before; you didn’t know

the meaning of the word; but now

 

in this resurgent swell, this upwelling

from somewhere next to hell,

you taste an acrid salt – the sea

assaults your temple: presses – simple,

 

fatal, terrible and clear: a friend, once

here, is gone: once near, is now

unfathomably far. Killed in a car.

Struck: stark: impenetrable dark.

 

 http://www.wnyt.com/x10808.xml?ag=x995&sb=x183

 

November 17, 2006

 

"VENICE

It is a great pleasure to write the word; but I am not sure
there is not a certain impudence in pretending to add

anything to it...."  Henry James, Italian Hours

 

A Certain Impudence

 

All’s fair in the pursuit of profit. Aggrandize souls,

or bank accounts: we hunger for unthinkable

amounts: we’re profligately bound to excess:

lungs would have infinities of air – some hearts

 

won’t thrive without tsunamis of despair –

or joy – or cold indifference. Henry James ate

smorgasbords of these – and more: he bet

his wits that flesh from word was an inevitable

 

alchemy. He knew soft portals through to, out of,

and back into mortal life. Venice held no menace:

all her endless meshing twisting capillaries found

reflection in his kind and cruel inscrutabilities.

 

Maestro: how, with your prodigious appetite

for all our indecipherable bits, could you let death

erase your breath? Why should you have ceased

to speak? If ever anyone might be expected to

 

report from Purgatory’s point-of-view, it would be

you. Perhaps you do. Heed these cool November

whispers – bursting, soft beyond a curtain:

simpered: dense. They have a certain impudence.

 

 

November 16, 2006

 

Anxiety of Influence

 

You flip through poems, wonder why

so many seem so wussy. Frank

O’Hara was no pussy: whipped up

 

scripts at lunch and left a bunch to

woo you, maybe: didn't matter if they

did. Fun was in the pump and dump.

 

You ache, you think, for finer cake: for

brand new batter: baked from scratch.

But you're more like a boxing match

 

than cook. Look: fingers jab on keys:

each a punch that either misses

or relieves some Notion of its wits.

 

Syllables-in-spasm: hit them hard enough,

they'll chase you off the mat, jump

pit and chasm ‘til they get you back.

 

Every poem is a record of precisely

what you lack. Locked – full of doubt:

knocked out. You search your mother’s

 

cloudy paintings for a clue: but they

withhold: more false than true. Senses

bog. Won't settle for her pretty fog.

 

November 15, 2006

 

Salted Fish

 

Today you’ve tried to net

a tide of syllables and set

each one aside out flat

to dry like salted fish:

 

hope to keep them in

the baking sun until they

finally succumb, stop stinking,

you stop thinking, and

 

the Universe starts winking

at you as if you were

closer than you’ll ever be

to understanding anything.

 

November 14, 2006

 

Reflecting on My Mother

 

My life made her spin –

hers left me in doubt:

 

she saw me in,

I saw her out.

--------- 

Today

 

Drafty corridors, familiar streets of mind:

you think you’ve seen them all before:

you’re drawn back to the contours you

 

have known: a comfort in their feel; as if

you’ve grown them, own them, can with no

particular distress or effort conjure up

 

the ‘real’ – its smell and taste and song:

and yes, you can: and yes, the man

assembled from these quantities and

 

qualities does not acutely long for anything:

the many things that constitute identity

at times like these appease the merest tug:

 

look in the mirror at your mug; appreciate

through this amenity a firm and sweet

serenity: acceptance past the need to

 

analyze: perhaps a life of sighs, not quite

contented, but preventing much surmise

beyond the comfortable cage. Dry tinder

 

for an unsuspected rage. Today desire

will hit you like a fire, and all will burn to ash.

Don’t worry: something will be left, and last.

 

November 13, 2006

 

You-probably-would-rather-not-know-what

 

It’s gotten strange. I far prefer the range of what my mind

provides each night when waking consciousness subsides:

you think I rhyme too much in poetry? – ha! – see and hear

the flow-and-whee of all my stream-of-dreaming plots and

scheming; not a lot to measure sense with: more what one

 

might well decide in waking minutes to dispense with: sluicing

outtakes from the mad sad ghost of Dr. Seuss: a kind of noose,

one surely ought to think, for anything worthwhile: a wily pile

of patchwork swatches jerk and latch to choo-choo trains

of loose associations: solos in a phalanx through a tunnel of

 

connecting colons mass into a chorus singing songs of sophistry,

apocalypse, with drugged fat parting lips awaiting entry

of you-probably-would-rather-not-know-what. Just the sort

of scene, deliciously, though absently, that you imagine might

erupt into the confines of a funeral or turkey dinner or political

 

convention: belittling pretension in abrupt hard celebration

of precisely nothing. Then, of course, I wake, these lovely

prospects flake: I’m back in cool and rude vicissitudes I’d left

so willingly the night before. I look for all my effortlessly

thrilling heffernüsses, but: they’ve all snuck out the door.

 

November 12, 2006

 

Ode to ‘Coffee-mate’

 

This silken gloss of Coffee-mate:

who knew? The sort of additive

a finer temperament than mine would

probably eschew – but I derive such

pleasure from its ersatz powdered

 

cream: its cloudy softness sings:

suggests that coffee and the world

might be a potable and habitable dream:

as sweet and blithe as marshmallow

and sap: no more that snide and awful

 

trap – the harsh and shallow ledge –

of living in ‘reality’: as I sit swallowing

my Coffee-mated caffeinated treat –

Perception’s edge seems more

like privilege: a royal gift deployed

 

to make sure I enjoy the lift of life:

an antidote to strife. Non-dairy creamer,

you resolve resistance: slide. With you,

all aspects of Existence seem to

want to dream, dissolve and glide.

 

November 11, 2006

 

… Interruptus

 

Mindful of objections from the megalopolis,

I climb and creep out from the top back

window of my basement, tiptoe through

the predawn chill and tip my Ego-cup to spill

a precious essence into cracks and crannies

of the edifices and contrivances in Superego's 

 

twisted cobbled streets – until Id seeps into

the ground to found a tiny dynasty of phallic

roots and hungry mouths that lick and nibble

hidden sweets, gain strength and swivel south

down into heavy soil whose weight compresses

them to oil; I feel their thickened slickness

 

lose to gravity all former traces of a city

quickness, suavity – and heat up, slow and

far beneath the cup from which they poured,

to garner force progressing to atrocity:

ferocity: my slag has turned to magma, rising

through the gorge: about to forge a Universe,

 

split rock and turn it into dream, create

a palpable Eternity from pornographic steam,

I'm just about to scream when – I awake, quake
turns to sigh, and I experience again the full

humiliating dumb travail of being male – and

taste the void of all those words by Freud.

 

November 10, 2006

 

Just One Word for You

 

Some days you wake up

loud. As if the crowd

of creatures that you call

a self decides collectively

it must come tumbling

off the shelf – right now

to stomp and kick and

 

rumble: bumbling, hooting,

shooting off their mouths –

growling, prowling like

a bunch of soused and horny

fratboys: hit the mat boys,

fight it out amongst yourselves:

and so they do, but there’s

 

a toll on you: your social

graces all get black and blue:

your couth has gone

the way that hardballs

went when batted by

George Herman Ruth:

whomped beyond civility into

 

hostility: you’re stumped.

You’d best repair to somewhere

locked and isolated ‘til you’ve

found a way to creep on top

and over this untidy hump.

Til then? There’s just

one word for you. Taboo.

 

November 9, 2006

  

Covert Sex in Sacred Places

 

It’s

easy

to be middle-

class and Buddhist.

 

If you've got stuff you can

luxuriate in the fantasy of letting it

go. Harder to love the monkey god! –

jumping out of shadow-corners, beating

 

time and stroking body parts.

Spunky hunk: you know

feelings have lives

of their own,

 

and you

don't

give

a funk.

 

The love

I'm thinking of

is not like you, though

 

Lord knows you

occasion

it.

 

November 8, 2006

 

What I Call Guy

 

One wonders if one’s wonderment is never

not drawn to familiar themes: if all we know

to write and play is music that evaluates

 

recurring dreams: to turn the prism endlessly

on one known shaft of light: to ferret out

new angles of one’s sight in hopes of cobbling

 

together some unprecedented peace –

some outcome to the fight of understanding:

underhandedly I sneak back up to fleece

 

my private yearnings – see what I can steal

from them – catch them unaware – but they

all always know I’m there. Lurid, purple and

 

inexorable swells: you are the jungle and

the garden of my heavens and my hells. You’ll

be with me when I die. You’re what I call Guy.

 

November 7, 2006

 

Election Day on West 73rd Street

 

Thin sour milky clouds beset and shift,

enshroud the elegantly twisted columns,

cornices and battlements and concrete

cornucopias: the block entices – tricks –

 

the eye up – down – around – these heavy

ornate bodies – 1880s upper west side

New York City homes – like giant domes

of horseshoe crabs upended for a Neolithic

 

ball – weighted down in troglodytic evening

gowns – barnacled with granite ormolus,

medieval armored suits, and fruits –

brownstone bodices and hems – dark

 

gem-ridden bulbous Mayan and Egyptian

skulls: empty hulls, defensive shields. Not

unlike what human worry wields when

an anxiety ignites – and terrifies: congeals.

 

November 6, 2006

 

Dashed

 

Shocking as a poltergeist –

quicker than a punch –

slower than a sloth descending –

towards a lazy lunch –

 

pinker than a paradigm –

longer than a kiss –

hotter than a steaming clam –

deep as the abyss –

 

all that I would have you see –

melds into a dream –

consciously approach the thing –

carve a “be” from “seem” –

 

use a dash to draw a line –

sweeping as the wind –

ride it right out from your heart –

‘til you can rescind –

 

every lie you’ve ever told –

every gasp you breathe –

at your fear of being here –

at what makes you seethe –

 

not believing you’ve a soul –

buying a façade –

all to dash away, away from –

knowing you are God.

 

November 5, 2006

 

Wanna-be’s

 

They swarm all over me – these rotund little wanna-be’s

coming out in armies when I try to conjure poetry or

play the violin: they like to see me battle my resistance

to creating – rooting for me to give up: they love it when

I lose: they giggle and they schmooze while tumbling

 

gleefully in pudgy pac-man bodies – heartily agreeing

with me when I think I can't do squat: swatting at my angsts

and pangs to make them redder, hotter, fatter, worse –

full of goading curses, pranks – setting off their firecracker

bangs each time I think I have achieved a little peace:

 

“wanna-be, you wanna-be, you wanna-be, you wanna-be!”

each squeaks at me as if each were a mouse – cuter

than a cockroach or a louse, but just as virulent and itchy.

Makes me bitchy. There’s only one way I can shut them

up – and cut them down by half. They hate it when I laugh.

 

November 4, 2006

 

My Boy

 

Signaling he knows that he’s about to get a treat

by ceasing caterwauling and assorting his Egyptian

limbs demurely – elegant, erect – before my feet –

darting his pink tongue up, once, to nose – to let me

know again what he supposes will occur – my

feline ward allows me, for a moment, to demur

by reaching out to scratch his chin: but then expects

me to produce the goods: I do. Situation is win/win.

 

Our dance seems so familiar – odd, as if I’d dreamed it –

crosses species lines: bewitches faintly – like a hex –

I think of all the sex I’ve had with others of my gender,

and the bending of our roles: gay men appropriate each

other in familial ways: fathers, sons and brothers,

sisters, mothers, pets and lovers: all provide implicit

categories – covers – for the human heart’s affections:

predilections bred, down in the DNA, to order found

 

relationships into an intimate array: and to eroticize them

at the damnedest and most blessed junctures, puncturing

through every last taboo. My kitty doesn’t care if I am

naked or wear clothing when I come in and make love

to him by snuggling his flank and kissing fur, and

reassuring him that he’s the best cat in the world: we

blur our differences, become whatever each of us

would have the other be. I saw a man today I’ve seen

 

sporadically for years – with whom I’ve played varieties

of parts. How sweet to brush his lips and touch each

other’s hearts: to feel him as my son and brother, lover –

cat. Nothing has to come of that: it’s merely offering

affection – and a tenderness – acceptance – as precisely

what they are: expressions of implicit and irruptive joy.

Although I know him almost not at all, he is and

always will remain – just like the cat I tend – my boy.

 

November 3, 2006

 

Today I Envy Trees

 

Today I envy trees – that is, I wish

I had their simple aims – oblivious to

superficial influence: a steady confluence

of sun and rain and soil is surely all

 

arboreal life requires – and can quite

plausibly expect: tree soul has, surely,

very few desires: but oh! – then, next

come hatchets, bees, and tree diseases,

 

aphids, fungus, caterpillars, hurricane

and drought: the things we think we

cannot do without would turn out not

to be enough: bark is not so tough. Worm-

 

eaten, bent and split by lightning and bad

luck – and less naïve – we'd drop our

leaves. And yet perhaps the hatchets

wouldn't cut all life, nor would all sickness

 

thicken us beyond repair: the grief,

despair encoded in a dying leaf would

always sweeten colors in the fall: tree

yearnings may not be so simple after all.

 

Pecked and bothered, stricken, then –

relieved: perhaps constriction grows –

constructs – a better, wiser and more

supple me. Or would do if I were a tree.

 

November 2, 2006

 

“Consciousness is staccato, not fluent. We perceive in tiny packets

of information. Our attention is easily perforated. But we need the

world to seem fluent and intact, otherwise it would be unbearable…” 

 

Diane Ackerman, An Alchemy of Mind, p. 216

 

(Change the Metaphor)

 

Familiar cliff: stay and twiddle

through the moss and weeds? –

or take a deep whiff, exhale, jump?

I'm a chump: my sentient mind 

 

defeats me when (switch tropes)

I get into the ring – against the ropes –

unable to avoid the sting and

whomp of jabs and bludgeoning

 

of stimuli (try new conceit) for

which I have precisely as much

thirst as deserts have for rain

when they are driest; that’s to say

 

(in simile, surreally) I'm like

a hungry hummingbird who’s

just found tzimmes at a seder

whose sweet syrup he can sip –

 

makes nice with grandma –

plans to raid her pantry for the rest:

largesse and amplitude! –

what to sample, dude? Got my

 

invitation to the orgy! But I'm

already logy, stupid, ass-down

on the floor. Advice, guru?

(Change the metaphor.)

 

November 1, 2006

 

Sex and Violins

 

Sound byte – epigram – punch-line – quip – tactics

to distract me from a necessary trip – each poem

that I've written in the past few days is full of nervous

party tricks: attempts to waylay me from listening

 

to one damned note that plays inside my head

relentlessly: bowed open G string – oh, the violin’s

audacity! – Pandora’s box to me: every time I touch it

something odd and terrifying wriggles up and out

 

of my unconscious sea: jolts of memory compete,

contrast – shame and ego – summon up my past.

No accounting for the reasons – though they're surely

legion: took it up when I was nine – still developing

 

a spine – stumbled on vibrato onanistically at puberty –

promulgating uses of my left hand surely not expected

by a music faculty: chiefly pretext for my terror at

the opening of doors to some unfathomable realm

 

to which I couldn't grasp that I had access: what

‘success’ means, I don't know – in or out of playing

fiddle. My bow would like to diddle – lengthen,

stiffen – me: my violin wants sex. Music is complex.

 

October 31, 2006

 

A Poet Considers House-Cleaning

 

Nothing isn't interesting. That I select from PBS

a show on Freud instead of diving into the apparent

void of rhinestone jewelry on “Home Shopping”

doesn't mean the brassy lady holding gewgaws up

 

for someone’s delectation isn't just as full of miracle

as an empirical investigation of the purposes of dreams.

Neither is less human than the other: each is mother

to imagination: both schemes gleam. Blink at bling

 

or heavy thinking – notice you're alive – and you've

partaken of the most phenomenal phenomenon that

Being can contrive. So surely it should be no problem

to derive ecstatic metaphor from having now to scrub

 

my kitchen floor. Or is that going rather far? One stain

looks like a jack-o-lantern, one looks like an aging

whore, and one looks like a close-up of the Evening

Star. Perhaps I’d better leave them as they are.

 

October 30, 2006

 

Had it Up to Here

 

I feel like wrecking things.

Ripping pictures off the wall

and kicking out the windows.

 

Screaming down the hall

that everyone’s an asshole

and should fuck himself

 

and die. I’m not sure why.

One tends to want to

decimate externals when

 

what’s kicking butt are

the infernally internal prisons

of the mind. To look is to

 

create precisely what you see.

Today I’ve had it up to here

with being what I see in me.

 

October 29, 2006

 

Taste of Fate

 

I barely notice that I’m past the actuarial midpoint of 

my existence until – as happened yesterday – my knee

 

begins to ache. Surmise: the body bakes and one day

burns? (It almost always worsens in the middle of 

 

indulging my most thoughtless quirks, reflexive turns.) 

Perhaps less bakes than clabbers – thickening

 

en route to cheese. The milk and whey of everything

are rendered, clotted, rotted, dried in incarnation's

 

slow relentless squeeze. At times like these I see

my own demise as clearly as I might perceive a leaf

 

drift sweetly down the River Lethe. Then: today –

quick shift in course – as if discovering some new

 

resource – an unexpected dawn – or having had a taste

of its inevitable fate, my ache is spooked! – and gone.

 

October 28, 2006

 

All Wet

 

When I was small I put together everything I felt and saw

and heard into a magic box – my marionettes, my father’s

singing voice, cold afternoons in fall, my brother’s love

of ocean liners, next-door-neighbor Laura’s golden pony

tail, my mother’s black seal coat, my lust for Tony Dow,

my fear of saying anything aloud, my craving to eat roasted

 

turkey skin, my thrill at having stolen things from stores,

my absent pleasure sitting on the front porch bench describing

arabesques with fingers in the air – a motley mess of

here and there that made my days into a daisy chain of

retroactively acquired sense. Now that I’m large, I’ve gotten

dense: the box has turned into a warehouse – packed,

 

perversely spilling, introjecting fillings into fillings so that

nothing is the same, and memory’s a loopy game, recycled

to a faretheewell, new random permutations of a self

from threads and props condensed to shreds and drops –

magnetized by breath and sight into the simulacrum of

a being with a brain. I find myself identifying utterly with rain.

 

October 27, 2006

 

To Hell and Back with Bach

 

Loose the yearning from the fear –

get this Bach shebang in gear –

 

align the fugues so that they play

like muscles in a heart: waylay

 

the ego and invite the whole

musician to lift barriers to soul

 

by executing craft –

clinging to it like a raft

 

in rapids so that he or she

might find a passage to the sea –

 

engender innocence again:

you’ll know you’ve done it when

 

you can’t remember who you are

precisely as you’ve gone as far

 

as possible into the specificity

of every meshed unstable multiplicity

 

you’ve ever been: bestow like Nike

with a wreath a victory to psyche

 

over grief and gloom and insecurity:

Bach wants a savage purity

 

before he’ll let you cast his spell –

derived from traveling through hell.

 

October 26, 2006

 

Freedom’s Tight Kathunk

 

"I don't know how to explain this, but I was th)nking, yesterday,

 (from an email to a friend)

 

What do I feel?

Who can tell?

Is it real

or just a spell

 

a brain will make

in search of icing

for its cake –

tired of spicing

 

things it’s spiked

the senses with before.

I think I liked

life for a moment: bore-

 

dom then recurred –

as fear, disguised:

ennui’s a word

that kisses, lies –

 

pretends it wants

diversion when

it really pants

for nine or ten

 

ahas!: proof that you

are still alive.

Meanwhile I shoo

away the jive

 

synaptically

and fight my funk

and wait for free-

dom’s tight kathunk.

 

October 25, 2006

 

Report From the Vicinity of David’s Nipple

 

Michelangelo played three-part fugues of muscle,

bone and skin: I locate models of colossal frank

expenditures of flesh and spirit roiling in him – sleeping

in his boots, between his bouts of wielding chisels

to chip David’s veins in rains of marble dust: after

rupturing the mass into its salient detail: brusquely 

 

shaping surface closer to its ideal form, rasping it to

burnished slickness – warm Ferrara public sex. I come

alive, like all the rest of David, in a hundred thousand

perfectly directed blows – soft and hard: starting from

a block two times as large as what we tremble into

at the end: clay and terra cotta models blasted, strewn

 

throughout the den of Michelangelo’s libido – and his

studio: poetry unveiled from rudeness: worth all crude

unsightliness, detritus and travail: energized – and

muscular – relaxed, and poised: music synthesized

from noise. I am ineffably content to ride a ripple

on the pectoral surrounding David’s leftward nipple.

 

October 24, 2006

 

Brain Drain

 

Gaping: banging like

a barn door in a storm –

 

muscularly shut –

crepuscular – abrupt

 

and bright as noon

constricted as a womb –

 

empty as a cave –

its particles –

 

its waves:

no wonder

 

I can’t make

my mind behave.

 

October 23, 2006

 

Fussy Babies!

 

Black marks diddle across the white like killer ants:

battling prospects of my ever fiddling to their

requirements: I should put my violin away, sink into

retirement: let some other sucker play. But no:

today I have to armor up and clunk into the war again:

 

orchestra rehearsal for a concert in a week: my

brain is only fractally aware: as soon as I approach

the ant-hill of Mussorgsky, legions of cerebral cells

and hormones swear they won’t obey: all they want

to do is make me go to sleep so they can stray into

 

fantasias unconducted by the likes of mortal human

beings: oh! – the dance my head will dance to conjure

up persuasive rationales – instead of pushing me

to act by picking up my bow and undergoing all

the throes of agony I probably won’t ever feel: see,

 

that’s the deal: this swarmy build-up of resistance

is, I guess, a part of what must bring me to the music.

Fussy babies! – the concoctions that comprise my

grumpy self don’t understand that mama’s got her hand

on what will be their favorite candy: here – she drags it

 

off the shelf – for all my baby grumbling me’s who cry

as if they’re not about to get exactly what they want

and need: tasty dollops to relieve their deepest hunger.

They act as if they have to suck on cactus. This

is what I go through every time I have to practice.

 

October 22, 2006

 

Damned and Unrepentant on the Amtrak

 

Spotless t-shirt – lanky

surfer body: perfect blankness:

doesn’t know that when he

checks a mole disinterestedly –

gazes at his skin and rubs

a muscled upper arm – he’s

 

all the dangerous seduction –

charm – of riding trains:

brainless plenty, mammal

cunning, precociously abutting

godhood, all sweet shutness:

golden buck. Damned,

 

I glimpse a speeding maple

through a window –

raging yellow swatch –

like spotting crotch in high

school gym. Unrepentant,

I sing silent hymns to him.

 

October 21, 2006

 

Concord Lullabye

 

A settled and determined sense America was born

right here: established through white churches, picket

fences and a panoply of other proper and meticulously

painted sorts of 1830s politesse; elaborately simple

 

houses dressed in memory - though not the troubled ripe

mentality - of Emerson, Thoreau bestow a scent of stringent

grandeur in the autumn air, careful and covert: abruptly

figured in the blazing glamour of the gold and red October

 

oak and maple staples of the landscape: sunset colored 

grape against an apricot- and azure-pastured sky: odd

interesting concocted lie, and place: three-hundred-fifty

years of incrementally acquired 'face' - a living mask,

 

now left to stand for something that it hopes might once

have harbored grace: hungry for an image of itself it would

do anything to think it was. Concord, Massachusetts is

a lullabye America must sing to soothe itself - and does.

 
 

October 20, 2006

 

Mangy Dog in Boston

 

Soft odd motley crowd, October mist in Copley Square -

I don't know what is here or there: I'm lost in Boston -

slinking as if courting a castrophe - disaster surely

lurks around each corner: turn into a street and find

 

unnerving amiability: everybody wants to help. (Mangy

dog inside me wants to yelp.) I figure out the Green Line,

take the T to a museum: wander through the Fine Arts

in a fog (still that frightened dog): miasmic wariness

 

befuddles air: I'm not aware beyond some distant

whiff of all this painted, marbled stuff: I think I've had

enough when suddenly I'm walloped. Never seen this

Jackson Pollock: horizontal strip of canvas, swashed with

 

black and gold and green, drunken Japanese in rut:

a sweep of kick-ass assonance - and Boston isn't lost

on me - and though I seemed to have to meet it with

a fight - now the blanket softness of the mist seems right.

 

October 19, 2006

 

The Thing That Wanted to Hop Up

 

Peek-a-boo, I won’t see you – unless the time is right –

and what determines that has more to do with what

appear to me to be the random firings of a random

scattered portion of my hundred trillion synapses:

somewhere, daddy, you’re in there. You weren’t

in your own too much – when you lost touch and died

six years ago, insensate, void of memory and self:

memory is self, of course – discarded on the shelf,

 

for you, dad, long before you took your final breath:

I do not know what I can possibly expect from death,

and cannot know what you found when you crept

toward yours in the increasing blankness of Alzheimered

fog: but I remembered more of you today than that:

and find within my memories a simulacrum of your style:

your smile was childlike even when you had your wits:

you longed, I think (I may be wrong), for something

 

to hop up and kiss you – tell you that you hadn’t missed

a thing – that you were loved: it came out when you

chose to sing – when didn’t melody come out of you? –

well, once: when you attempted to ingest my news

that I was gay: that barred the way for song for just

about a week: then you began to speak and melody

came back because the thing that wanted to hop up

and kiss you, tell you that you hadn’t missed a thing,

 

that you were loved, turned out, in some way, to be me.

I merely speculate: the sea of synapses I swim in has

one aim: to truss up all my mishegoss so it feels

palatably free. I miss you, dad, and contemplate how

fully half the chromosomes that keep me swimming in

my idiosyncrasies were given to me – ardently –

by you. You taught me that the natural condition of

the Universe is ecstasy. Right now, you’re next to me.

 

October 18, 2006

 

The Erotics of Place

 

Finagling my way through foreign parts –

the auras, hearts and oddments in a space! –

it’s hard to miss the power of place: its funks

and flowering perfumes – the grace and

silliness and sex – the frilliness and whirls

of soft Pacific breezes and the hexed pursuit

of bodies that unfurls in Folsom Street in

 

San Francisco: dizzy as a maypole, I’m quite

literally beside myself – I watch as something

like myself traverses streets and dances

awkwardly with beasts to beats that no one

understands. I’m home for several days:

enough to take deep lungfuls of my glorious

indifferent gritty city – to prepare to make

 

another trek to somewhere else on Friday.

I spend my few Manhattan days replenishing
my courage – emptying my psychic luggage

so that nothing will be lost on me when I entrain

to Boston for the weekend. Forsaking and

unraveling all that is familiar here – below,

within, above: traveling is making love.

 

October 17, 2006

 

Blessings, Counted

 

I engineer my poor near-rhymes –

mild dissonance:

too jet-lagged to pen clearer kinds

of assonance.

 

Conjure sound and manage it?

Too hard.

But welcome any vantage point –

be glad.

 

(Consider the alternative –

and frown.

United’s Number 8 might have

gone down.)

 

Thick consciousness arises – and

it blankets.

Sometimes you despise it – then

you thank it.

 

October 16, 2006

 

Through Its Purple Flowers

 

Perching on its precipices - climbing and descending

through its purple flowers - flagrantly denying

certainties of an inevitable doom - a spirit flits here -

settles there - makes the requisite accommodation

 

and repair to its mercurially shifting bloom: a soul

must have a place and this soul's obstinate: insists

on grace. You see it in the faces of its supple

incarnations: honeyed children - gentle lovers -

 

heroin-addicted others swooning in the Mission

District - dancing to the underlying strictness of

a clock: a minuet of tick and tock which measures out

the nearness of an end. You feel a terrible finality

 

behind, beneath, within the San Franciscan light

and sweetness which suspend you. Yet you're sure

that nothing in its softly sifting, falling, slightly warm

and cool and humid dissolution couldn't mend you.

 

October 14, 2006

 

In the Dye Vat

 

I’m fabric soaking in the vat of San Francisco:

taking in the haunted tints of Noe Valley

and the Castro: flat-top ornamented houses

in inimitable waltzes with themselves contrive

the normal from untrammeled fantasy: a formal

 

politesse and gentleness amid the pastel

howling echoes of intrepid long-dead drag queens –

among a smiling ghostly welter of innumerable

others: pioneers who’ve stained this roiling

rolling hilly mass of possibility – steeping in attar

 

of poses squeezed from the extremities of soul –

gloriously sucker-punched with vistas of the Bay.

I cannot say how this is staining me: my warp

and weave are molten with a tie-dyed iridescence:

my tangled fibers only drink; they cannot think.

 

October 13, 2006

 

San Francisco Redux

 

Seven years since I was last in California:

this morning I return for several days – my

history seems biblical: throughout it addicts

fuck apocalyptically: deaths of icons intervene –

my father, mother, and two-thirds of what had

once been me: stories of an inner edifice

 

blow up in stages, towers of Babel babble

into flame and split and spit me into shreds

beyond the reach of shame: incinerated –

blasted into ash – ridiculous that I’m still here.

San Francisco, 1999, divided me in two: I went

to edit someone’s book proposal in the day;

 

and spent each night insensible – lasciviously

splayed into a heap with some bewildered man

named Zeke – in sunlight I would natter on;

at night I couldn't speak. Today I bought some

underwear and socks and sat in one of

New York City’s archetypal diners and ate

 

bad food while I mused on all my wonders:

this dry urban bungled burger was a miracle,

a thunderous revival of my certainty: a symbol

of unlikeliest survival: nothing like a mediocre

meal to make you feel you’re real – in Paradise.

I bet San Francisco, this time, will be nice.

 

October 12, 2006

 

Keeping Abreast

 

I don’t understand breasts.

Perhaps it’s because I’m male and gay.

 

But don’t they get in the way?

It must be strange to wake up every day

 

and think, “there they are again.”

But then I can’t think when

 

I haven’t wondered similarly

at pendula that hang from me.

 

I don’t understand breasts.

But neither do I understand the rest.

 

 

October 11, 2006

 

Fat Chance

 

If the war’s within me –

who are the foes?

Perhaps that isn’t how it goes.

It may not be that sort of fight.

 

Not might versus might –

but ‘might’ seeking ‘is.’

This biz of life defeats analysis.

The abstract cracks.

 

Damn this itch – that’s

the hitch – attracting like a magnet

scoops up iron filings all

of my defiling claws: I scrape

 

the question ‘til it breaks and

shred again the fragile scab

in search of pertinent eternal laws:

I seem to need to bleed.

 

I want to know, that’s all.

Tell and show me, won’t you?

Don’t you think I’ve had enough

of sorting through this stuff?

 

Give me the mechanics.

Don’t tell me that it’s “in God’s

hands.” I want to know

what’s in His pants.

 

October 10, 2006

 

That’s When I'll Make Love to You

 

Who, me? No – you entertain.

I've got a lazy brain. It likes to loll about.

And scowl and pout. Sing a song that ravishes.

 

Like New York City lavishes me 

with its mutant and incarnate dreams. Polish it

so I don't see the seams. Lyrics,

 

like the best inamoratas, pay their way

when they can sway to beats

and hum a catchy tune and cry on cue

 

and bark when they are done.

Love pedestrians: be the West Side

Highway when I push a button

 

on a sidewalk pole and make a hundred

autos stop to let me cross as if

I were a cow with right of way in Bombay

 

traffic – let your song be graphic –

toss me into the obscene.

Be a lark and gild the sun then turn it blue.

 

October 9, 2006

 

Pariah Poem

 

Had it been up to me

I wouldn't be

the thing you see.

 

(I escape

feeling like an ape

playing with my shape.)

 

It’s all a blur

so I'll transfer

the blame to her –

 

not because it’s fair,

not that you would care,

just because I dare.

 

Erato

made me swear and blow

in laryngitic tremolo.

 

I've withdrawn: hence

mind’s gone tense:

craves nonsense.

 

Scared away my audience.

 

October 8, 2006

 

Tiny Grapes

 

I eat them like an addict: tiny

grapes, and sticky, taste like

honey made to mix with wine,

translucent – fine – green –

red – still on a vine: like jewels

the Trojans might have hidden

 

from invading Greeks: like bees

or ants or flocks of birds or Greeks

or Trojans: that's what scores

of tiny grapes in clusters are: I eat

a city, maybe more: I'm like

Godzilla or the Whore of Babylon,

 

a jungle chimpanzee, trapped –

transferred to a zoo and caged –

placated with a string of treats:

the sort of thing a wounded

creature eats: the sort of thing a bee

would want to make or mate with:

 

that’s the sort of wonder of these

disappearing grapes: that they

would take my mind off him,

and give me something to abate

another hunger. Nothing stays:

this is what I learned today.

 

October 7, 2006

 

Wrestling the Angel

 

Sometimes I sense

I’ve felt all the intensities

I ever will: defense

against romantic densities –

 

old love, I guess (long gone).

Other men pursue –

through spot-lit brawn

and charm – a slew

 

of other men. A lover –

what would that be like?

Someone under cover? –

in the light? (Strike

 

three for me.) Segue

to October rain – I bop

along the street: reggae

beats regale and pop.

 

Angel dripping dreadlocks

offers me his paw –

Soon we’ve traded headlocks –

ending in a draw.

 

October 6, 2006

 

Drop the Art

 

Subtler feel:

brush the side

and softly steal

the thing with wide

 

sophistication... (no! Nerves

are shot: a man

is made of swerves –

you cannot scan

 

him like a painting –

sing him like a song –

the rawness tainting

everything – you're wrong:

 

you're not enough

to alter this.

You're made of stuff

that falters.) Kiss

 

it anyway.

Dare to - start.

Go astray.

Drop the art.

 

October 5, 2006

 

1000th Soho Poem

 

Yowsa! – for the thousandth in the series –

what’s been rousing me and housing me

since May Fifteenth, Two Thousand Four –

 

when I first shut this door behind me and

discovered I was home: began constructing,

one by one, these cubicles and corners

 

I’ve bedecked with psychic silly whatnots

and have lived in since: and now, within

ten-hundred chambers, disparately stained

 

in mist and blood and sweat: draped in burlap,

silk and chintz – with scents of sex and buttered

toast and slowly roasted memories of family

 

and other tragedies and joys – I employ

the luxury of taking stock: ephemeral and

shocking – rickety and full of holes – a hotel

 

full of mostly breathing me’s: this teasing

scansion of a mansion! Let there be more floors

and halls and closets, trapdoors, attics and

 

assortments of enclosures all unlocked and

each a poem – in at least some partial bloom.

I keep expanding every day: I need the room.

 

October 4, 2006

 

Like Opinions About His Penis

 

I don't much like books. They want too much sustained

perceptual obedience which my reptilian brain is not

disposed to yield. Mostly I would rather spend my time

in fantasies I guarantee you'd rather that I kept concealed.

 

But now and then I stumble onto something that I think

I ought to crack the spine and turn the pages of – take in.

Put some new idea onto the cookie sheet – shove it into my

hot cranium to bake it in. I thought I might read something

 

on the art of writing poesy. I picked a widely recommended

guide but – woe is me! – it didn't turn the tide. Maybe its

pronouncements were too superficial or too deep. All I know

is that before I'd finished reading half its jacket copy,

 

I was fast asleep. Funny how this stuff I do does not much

care about the ars poetica to which some think it ought

to be subjected. Whenever I attempt to importune my

poems to line up – behave – I am summarily rejected.

 

The dominions –

verbal genus –

a poem dares pursue:

 

like opinions

about his penis

a man won't share with you.

 

October 3, 2006

 

Soul  Soup

 

He sits across from me as full

of all the piety of hope as he has

ever been, sure that what was once

a heart of tin in him is flesh now,

 

ever-fresh now, and inviolably

past the mesh of fear and doubt –

insanity – that had consumed and

stamped him out just months ago:

 

now, surely, once the flow of life

had been resumed, as surely now

it had been, would be, will be –

he’d be fine and done and safe.

 

My darling boy - my vulnerably

wide-eyed waif! You think you’re clear

as consommé: but, like the rest

of us, you’re thick as bouillabaisse.

 

October 2, 2006

 

God, and Howard Stern

 

I just saw Helen Mirren play the English queen.

She did a more than creditable job of manifesting

through her craft whatever of Elizabeth the Second

could be gleaned and heard and seen – she kept

 

the movie moving: certainly was not a bore. And yet

I wonder what it all was for. The talent, energy

and smarts entrained thereto – why so few real

breakthroughs? Too many stay too far this side of

 

density: you wish they'd stray and hop the fence

to see the odder, deeper fits and starts of hearts.

One tires of power-mongers, politicians, public figures

rising, sinking – learning what celebrities and other

 

clods are sniffing, drinking. I want to know what God

is thinking. Unless I do. Maybe purpose lies right on

the surface – maybe God, like any other shock jock,

is (among his other tricks) the gossip and the crock.

 

October 1, 2006

 

Family Plot

 

That it’s so odd to let them go

does not mean I would have them back –

it’s more that in the cosmic flow

I cannot help but feel a lack

 

(the Universe is wholly kept,

of course, in symbols I devise).

It doesn’t matter how I’ve wept

or tried steadfastly to revise

 

the circumstances of the plot

so that they might more deeply please,

the fact remains: my family’s not

alive, but I still am: a tease –

 

bewilderment – a goading prod

to my blunt sense of what should be:

a seeming abnegation God

subjects me to, indifferently.

 

But while I look into the hole

and wonder what there is to save –

perhaps I miss just how my soul

has grown – beside the open grave.

 

September 30, 2006

 

Today’s Maxim

 

Despair sets an agenda –

so do rage and hope:

palliations meant to ease us into

thinking we’ve alternatives

to groping blind.

 

Let’s change this cast of mind.

Instead of cleaving to

a sunny outcome, moping into

the morose, or getting furious,

let’s be curious.

 

September 29, 2006

 

In Another Foreground

 

Monkey puppet – dates from 1939 –

isn’t looking fine – ratty brown –

once had shiny button eyes – chewed

off by me at two – got lost the way

things do. Other relics last: photos

 

from the past: the Macy’s Toy Pavilion

at the ’39 World’s Fair: my mother

worked (and got the monkey puppet)

there: she had a flair, at twenty-one,

for looking like a doll: adorable in

 

pinafore. She sometimes wore a picture

hat – I have another photo of her

dressed like that – the Trylon and

the Perisphere comprise the picture’s

blurry rear – my mother innocently near –

 

overshadowing all background. In

another foreground, back when I was

two, and chewing buttons off the monkey

into scar, I wonder if he had a clue

that we would end up where we are?

 

September 28, 2006

 

Quatrain Stop

 

I've always been able to count on epiphany:

give God a whiff of me and he explodes:

take a step out – I'm exposed. My soul feeds

on distraction: my life's an infraction of every 

 

conceivable rule: I am a deceivable fool for

the jokes and enigmas and folks who inhabit

Manhattan - exfoliate every assumption

and school me in mystery: history turns its

 

presumption of past to, and sutures the future

to, now: holy cow, I'm aflame with re-naming

whatever this scheme is – whatever the dream is –

whatever the reason tempestuous rhyme has

 

me spinning through something I used to call

time – disavowing it all, and careening with

surely unwarranted joy down the hall – when

it’s suddenly cropped: all the life in it’s stopped.

 

What had once been Fantasia afflicts me with

dullish aphasia: can’t speed through the hatch

and be free anymore: can’t locate the latch

and the key anymore. The flow is shut off;

 

the show is cut off: I’ve rammed to the end of

my cranial meat; must defer to a sense beyond

sense that entreats me to trust the grand slam.

Mammalian perceptions, revealed as a sham.

 

I am that I am.

 

September 27, 2006

 

City Boy

 

While my alchemic mind 

may design a supernal

Norwegian-Bolivian fusion

cuisine, or unlimited schemes

 

for replacement of genes

or vacating the present

in time machines, my bodily

limits are leaner. Shut me up

 

in a suburb and valiant attempts

to believe I am anywhere

else won't avail. Sufficiently

asphyxiated, lungs will fail.

 

 

September 26, 2006

 

Immaculate Conception

 

Cool intimated breath of winter – late

summer’s exhalation – early morning – 

crisp September drifts towards its familiar

 

ancient cliff – from which, as always,

it descends by increments: dawning into fall.

Seasons now no longer seem inexorable.

 

Odd, they used to: like vacation slides

they lived and lied within their frames –

as disparate as names on high school

 

absentee lists: ambiguity – the seasons

were not you. We stepped from sand to

pavement into snow and there was no

 

mistaking what would grow or what would

not. Leaves would fall or sprout; bathing

suits or parkas would be packed away,

 

hauled out. Four years ago when I was

spreading fertilizer on my mother’s side-lawn

grass – nine months of my safari through

 

the wilderness of the immaculate conception

of my childhood had passed – gestating

into seeing I'd revisited at fifty-one a boy

 

I hadn't been since twenty-one. And now

past unimaginable dying and rebirth, I've

lived four years beyond the tilling of that earth –

 

and seasons now no longer seem so very

here or gone. I cannot buy completely into

any season’s night – or any season’s dawn.

 

September 25, 2006

 

Not the Last Laugh

 

Sometimes what I hear you say

provides my day with all its air.

Strange that you are neither here

nor there. Or that I can recall

 

your wit at all – so very long

after the fall. Laughter shouldn't

be so rich or fresh this far past

death. But then I'll split in half

 

again with memories of when

you made me laugh so hard

I couldn't stop – and time up-

ends, suspends: kerplops into

 

shenanigans: a sleight-of-hand

beyond what I can understand.

How I miss you, sometimes,

honey. You sure were funny.

 

September 24, 2006

 

Rash

 

A rash on the reverse

of my left thigh

has bloomed into a bright

somatic patch

 

of raspberries – now ripe

and irresistible

to both my hungry hands:

I scratch around

 

them every night; my fingers

feed; the dermal

berries bleed. Poetry is like

this too: it itches

 

'til I scrape it to a mortal flow.

Benignity is what

non-poets think we sow.

Little do they know.

 

September 23, 2006

 

Why Nobody Asks Me Out Twice

 

The fundamentals baffle. All is sexually raffled – motion spins

and boils and blisters to a point beyond redemption –

passionately craves the controvertibility of energy and mass:

 

seeks all cheeky invitations: wants to blast. No wonder we're

turned on by ass. Whatever aim of love or sex or war you may

for varied moments claim, you seek to marry into union what

 

will bring its dissolution: revving up to break it down: a battle

to make ‘peace’ – decimate the whole into more docile pieces,

‘til all restlessness resolves: dissolves into a sea of entropy –

 

thence to another gravity which heats the slew into a roiling

ball again until new stuff explodes in its unconscionably

heated oven: and yet more bits and clumps of something

 

come to pass – including more sweet ass. Illusory though

promises of sexual salvation may turn out, they give our natures

something basic to reflect the Universe’s clout: to re-enact

 

the central drama – howl to mama we are coming home!

our silly and presumptuous stabs at winning freedom now

have lost their hold – and we will do exactly as we're told.

 

The fundamentals baffle. I keep suspecting some grand laugh

will end the whole charade. Meanwhile we're stuck in the parade.

At least there’s pleasure in its sass. And all that lovely ass.

 

September 22, 2006

 

Private Lives of Pigeons

 

Relentless squeaks – at first I thought it was a mouse –

then after looking everywhere inside the house I heard it louder

outside on the fire escape: what looked to be a teen-aged

pigeon fully feathered but with fuzz vestigially attached –

 

as if he'd just come from some sylvan patch of fluffy-flowered

garden hedge instead of spiky New York City’s edge –

pleaded with his sleeker chic-er mother to be fed: mama

pigeon kept in vision of her progeny but otherwise ignored

 

his nervous darting head and snorky birdy gasps – and in

a heartless flash descended gracefully onto a lower level of

the steps: squeaking turned to screeching as the panicked pigeon

neophyte grasped that he'd have to follow suit and wobble out

 

to fly – or die. Baby pigeons aren't cute: mother pigeons aren't

sweet. But somehow they entreat each other to finagle generations

of their species to arrive and fly – and come and go and

come and go. Quite a show to see them do it out one’s window.

 

September 21, 2006

 

Can’t Have Been…

 

Can’t have been the way you thought it was: you left

out gravity, and sound, and all the odd innumerable

nuances - forgotten ticks and tocks – appurtenances

of a moment: angsts, distractions, perturbations that

refract a sensibility: your lens is limited to now: and

even that can’t be relied upon: what do you know

of now? Can’t have been the way you thought he was

 

and yet in all the vast penumbral clouds of memory

there’s one enormous phallic shaft of light, within

which shoot your microscopic certainties: like faeries

in the night, ejaculating in a vortex all the elements

of your desire: all suggestions of its conquest, too:

he vanquished you by simple virtue of his body and

his presence and his scent: and now the sound returns

 

(that dark involuntary growl) – and gravity as well

(the weight and swell of muscled arm upon your chest) –

and all the odd appurtenances of his moment:

tenderness, testosterone, male skin so smooth it hurt.

He came to you in silence, yet you spoke, knew what

to say – nuzzling his private curls and fuzz. Can’t

have been the way you thought it was, and yet it was.

 

September 20, 2006

 

All Systems Willing

 

Today I'll mince my way to something simple:

be the sunlight glinting off a child's dimple:

tiptoe through the purest tulips in the lot:

achieve the lucent balance of a disciplined gavotte:

 

be fine and sure and sweet: the kind of creature

whom you'd rush intuitively to encounter on the street –

for guidelines and directions and suggestions and projections

of the Universe's likelihoods: when will you get married? –

 

will there be another war? – how long before you're shown

the door? Today I'll sidle into the becoming of

a someone in whom you would gladly place your trust.

Sweep the pavement clean of ambiguity and dust:

 

combust all the unjustness of complexity: achieve

the allegorical! Today, all systems willing,

and since no one else appears to want the job,

I'll be your Oracle.

 

September 19, 2006

 

My Mother’s Black Eye

 

Among the scraps wedged in the cross-hatched-wire scrim

of my desk’s latched and polished maple-bordered doors –

eye-level as I type: two photos of two hugs. One’s a battered pug

 

who's lost a fight – embracing in his boxing gloves the thug who’d

just completed his bespattered bloody demolition; the other is

my mother holding me when I was two, in August at the beach,

 

comparably consensual and virtually nude: two scenes of bare-

skinned beings in each other’s arms, withholding blows. Scrapings

of my psychic life – juxtaposed: framed and pinned like butterflies,

 

like breath. Not long before my mother’s death she fell and hit

her head against the wooden edges of the bed-frame: I found her –

curled, lame – on the floor: resourcefully, she’d pulled a pillow down

 

to cosset sore and broken skin. She grinned, which scrunched

a swollen eye to seal, and reassured me: “No big deal. I’m okay.”

I helped her up and wiped the mess and cradled her as she lay

 

back down on the bed until the horror in me bled away. Weeks later,

she was dead. The hardest task (the funeral director said) was

making up the cheek and eye. It didn’t matter: nothing of my mother

 

had survived – shredded past all woe: all, by now, dead show. I am

irrationally riveted to boxing – love to watch a fighter punch, get

punched – bleed and flinch – waiting for my favorite part: the clinch.

 

September 18, 2006

 

Awkward Tosses

 

Awkward tosses, all - though every now

and then you hoop the ball, or ball the hoop,

or otherwise - with luck and intuition - swoop

and score: basketball scoops net and

bounces in a triumph off the floor! (Try not 

to be bored.) Solutions are the problem:

 

(one) because you need them; (two) because

they tyrannize with rules and teamwork,

forcing you to commandeer the physics

necessary to keep balance, dribble, run and

throw: you can't do anything except in tow

to gravity - and human choices not your own.

 

Folly to want solitude for long: you've got to

leave the house, buy milk, discard your garbage, 

pay Utilities to juice your lights, Cable TV

to reduce your woes by airing their unending

repeats of old shows on PBS and Turner

Classic Movies. People press: you need them:

 

conversations, food and sex - and so on - 

so you'll go on, feeding, being fed - toss wadded

poems from your bed - and hope that one

of them will hit a hoop and if not win the game,

then (who cares) lose it. When your chance

to play comes - suppose you can't refuse it.

 

September 17, 2006

 

By the Time You've Counted 'One'

 

Shattering the new is what I do: adumbrating

every moment's soft continual deliverance. This

is past: nothing lasts. Today the sky is frighteningly

blue and doesn't hold a clue. I am here regarding

 

you as if you never were before, because it's true,

you never were. Look heavenward: the only forms

the white clouds take comprise a herd of bridal gowns

throughout a many-aisled azure church. All will marry

 

instantly: grooms won't tarry - rice will fly - spiced

with pastel-hatted sighs. I sit next to someone

whom I hadn't thought I cared for: find I was mistaken.

He gets up and I get up and go our separate ways.

 

Forsaken, now slips back to then - without a clue

again - the sky goes blue again - and clouds lay

down their bridal gowns for different fun. By the time

you've counted 'One,' everything's already done.

 

September 16, 2006

 

Your Very Own Eternity

 

What rough beast? Specious creature? But what

species? Pregnant with an incarnation glossed from

random slices of your psyche mixed with Friday - is it

on its way? - kaleidoscoping slowly into something 

 

you will once again attempt to see as soul? - you

cannot call what you do 'plan' - closer to psychotic

play. You've just read books by woman - man 

(Ezra Pound and Susan Sontag!) - far more agile

 

minds than yours - but cannot find one principle

that lures - or tells you anything about what's next. 

Hexed by Being into seeing only what allows itself

to be observed, you serve yourself your own creations:

 

subjectively relative! - objective correlatives! Which

or who are you today? Here's what sopping dripping

New York City has to say: make clay-mation of

the Universe’s surges and your own (albeit suspect) 

 

urges. Eyes will pop - explode - reload with all the same

infernal raw material they started with. Focus, find

a locus: here it is! No, gone. The grayness of four-

fourteen on a rainy afternoon is not at all like dawn.

 

Look out the window

and you will see

your very own

eternity.

 

September 15, 2006

 

Lotus Flower on #1 Train

 

At Fourteenth Street, a slender Asian man

got on the train and sat across from me -

investigating carefully each fold of his

small partly-open turquoise wet umbrella -

holding it as if it were a half-bloomed lotus 

 

flower - en route to shutting up its petals 

in a lake at night - but kept, by this man's

agile fingers' assiduity, awake in subway light.

The floor beneath the blossom seemed to spot

with dew as his precise soft ministrations

 

flicked drips off billows of the blue-green cloth.

Evidently satisfied, he furled the apparatus

closed, and let the tired lily doze, and exited

the train at Fifty-Ninth - gratified, I hoped,

for having sanctified this bit of daily life.

 

========== 

 

If We Can Call 'Him' 'He'

 

God is neither good nor bad

according to a thought I had:

 

'He's' (if we can call 'him' 'he') a Manifest Retreat

whom we entreat to make Experience complete:

 

God locks up 'his' avatars behind a Golden Gate so

we can find exactly where to query (such as) Plato

 

who expostulates quite nicely on how Godliness perfects.

Though even Socrates defects

 

from the Divine Ideal Extreme: wanna see a sinner? -

God will offer up the most exalted and defining winner

 

of the darkest galling and appalling prizes

to be got: want sex? ‘He'll’ proffer all the sizes,

 

tastes and twists and timbres of it you can name -

room-temperature or hot - with or without shame.

 

‘He’s’ not purveying Virtue’s feasts, Damnation’s roasts -

‘He' doles out our extracting Leasts - excessive Mosts.

 

September 14, 2006

 

Lava Pool

 

Pick your way towards the lava pool with care:

even firewalkers do not dare to tiptoe here:

suspecting far too much to lose for very little gain:

no point in causing oneself this degree of pain

 

and anguish: better languish in the known -

the cooler zone - well this side of terror. Strange,

though, how you're drawn back to what everybody

tells you is the error of your felt necessity: the edge

 

is where the interest is. With each step searing into

you, again you near the ledge - the bubbling crater:

maybe sooner, maybe later, this is what will

swallow you, but right now in obsessive rhyme

 

you make your apprehensions follow you, not lead.

Proceed as if to life, not death, or anyway to some

new notion that within this raging killing ocean

something will come clear. Where else but here? 

 

September 13, 2006

 

"Intellectual 'wanting' is like sexual wanting."  Susan Sontag, 1964

 

Thinking Well

 

Predilection for the 'intellectual' does not describe

some hunger for the dry, objectifiable and thick:

it's craving something sweeter - rich: deep purple

morning glories shot with crimson creeping tendrilly

up worn and creviced brick - abetted by the ashy green

 

of vine and leaf: in search of some quite different 

much more palpable relief: a meshing forward motion

of the mind: wary of the easy find - or slick and

quantifiable hypothesis - more interested in how

the sun achieves a photosynthesis: attracted not by 

 

arid granulated sand but drawn to something clumping 

wetter in the hand: roots deep in sod producing

energies in search of some inimitable God - assuaging

thirst not to be first but to alleviate unconscious hell.

Thinking well means drinking deeply from the well.

 

September 12, 2006

 

My Lot

 

Why have I always got it wrong? Whenever I perceive that

I belong to some immutability of thought, some absolutely

clear assumption, it turns out to be presumption. For instance:

Art and Life are Good and in the Pantheon of Saints must be

made room for Henry James and Leonard Bernstein, Judy

Garland, Wystan Auden, Frank Lloyd Wright, Miss Dickinson,

 

Johannes Brahms. Yet their embrace as often stultifies

as doesn't: held too long in each's arms I end up wishing

that I wasn't. Love is fickle: false is true. Art is silly and

pretentious: life's an endless and unpalatable stew. James?

A blowhard. Bernstein? Show-off. Garland? Drugged bathetic

mess. Auden? Caught up in Opinions like a monkey in a dress. 

 

Wright's an egomaniac and Dickinson's a wacko; Brahms

could use a laxative, and I have had it up to here with all their

passionate distress. And then: a stroke from one of them 

and I am back - adoring, stupid, dazed. Art and life are good

again and I accept that it's my lot to be continually flummoxed - 

shot and dumped - resuscitated - hauled back up amazed.

 

September 11, 2006

 

As Much as Love Can Ever Do

 

Does he store his pleasure in a kitty-bank?

I think not, but today I lavish sources of it

on him anyway - imagine that I'm filling something

up. He’s full of talk and squawking of the sort 

the Burmese make - but with inimitable ease -

 

and intonation surely his alone. I try to tell myself

it isn't loneliness and pain, but rather just a full

report of what he's done and ascertained since

yesterday when I last came to push my face into

his fifteen-year-old dark brown flank and feel

 

for any lumps or bumps in fur from which, through

fingers and my kissing lips, I might infer the kidney

illness that struck down his sister: happily I find

none now: though think of her while I inhale his purr -

which adds a tremolo to yet more feline speech. 

 

I love this cat and yet, I guess, can never hope

to breach the species chasm and decode his heart.

I leave him with his milk and cart away his excrement

and wonder if this isn't what my city does for me -

and with an equally completely absent language

 

to explain its odd accommodating kind proclivity.

New York's fluencies and mine, perhaps, at best run

parallel - and maybe briefly overlap. Between, among 

a cat, Manhattan and myself and you - I wonder

if this isn't quite as much as love can ever do.

 

September 10, 2006

 

Cosmic Bubble Gum

 

I have whole new reasons for enjoying sleep.

I've lately cultivated the capacity to notice

what the time is when I creep back 

intermittently from the eternity of dreams:

to relish the phenomenon of "is" via the entering

 

and exiting of "seems": enjoy the shock of 

my extraordinary arbitrary clock. Submerging

every night into my psychic sea, emerging

into dawning sky, I find that minutes, seconds,

hours sometimes fly and sometimes absolutely

 

halt: all part of an unfathomably unforeseen

gestalt. I think I even once awakened quite

before I went to bed (although that might have

been another dream instead). It isn't only time 

we can't depend on - it is place. Whatever

 

hologram we're in contrives to make us think

that we inhabit "space" - but I'm not sure we do.

I think I lie in wait continually for more evidence

that something else is true: that we are in some

unimaginable substance and are creatures of

 

a wholly different shape and aim than we had ever 

had a clue hitherto. I'm curious and try to be alert:

but I won't trouble over too much cosmologic 

thirst to know. If we are the bubble I suspect 

we might be, someday we'll just burst, and go.

 

September 9, 2006

 

Aftermath

 

You want to think Intensity's

its own reward. You want

to think: you got the stuff:

untethered to received

 

agenda - free of sentimental

romance - sexually fueled

to duel. Oh sure - you feel

the fool, and wonder about

 

aim and blame and shame

but flames don't care much,

really: there's the steely hot

indifference of incarnate

 

fantasy to ride the back of,

and you do. And then you

pick amid the rubble of desire,

experience the ebbing heat

 

of the extinguished fire and

wonder what availing words

its aftermath might bring. 

But you can't say a thing.

 

September 8, 2006

 

Do's and Don't's

 

Don't bite too much of it at once:

don't think that you're a dunce

because you don't particularly care

 

if Katy Couric has or doesn't have

a flair for Evening News. Don't

mind too much that you have never

 

knowingly identified a pair of Prada

shoes. Don't be discouraged that

it's more than likely true that

 

the Unconscious won't admit

a negative so every time you hear

a "don't" you register the word as "do."

 

September 7, 2006

 

All truths wait in all things
They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon.

 

Walt Whitman

 

Trampoline Baby

 

Who are you anyway? Sometimes I want to take

a magnifying glass and scrutinize your pores

and follicles for clues. Everything I meet in you is

news. Dreams don't tell me anything. Last night

you were a diffidently smiling guide in St. Tropez -

 

the Cote D'Azur - herding tourists (I was one)

with languidly indifferent ease this way and that

and leaving us to stand in blue-green water at

the shore, in shoes. You made a bet who'd get

the wettest, then vamoosed. I woke to wonder 

 

at my sanity, and yours, both of which have run

through countless conduits and doors and seeped

into the smallest cracks and crannies in our floors

and dripped from ceilings: small cognitions slip

like peelings of potatoes through my fingers: shreds

 

of soaked discarded shoe, dripping with a Riviera blue.

Suddenly you're "back" - but what is back? -  and

where've you been? At first I thought you had committed

some intolerable sin that quashed your mind: but

now in several billion pieces you have realigned

 

as if it wasn't much to lose your touch. I am a lousy

obstetrician. I stand here questioning my percepts, 

fumbling my forceps. Next time you render bouncing

birth to some new infant self, please let me know

just how and when or if I ought to intervene.

 

It's hard to catch a baby on a trampoline.

 

September 6, 2006

 

Like Balm From Gilead

 

Can you find prosodic peace in sonnets?

Do they offer ways to ease harsh candor

into gentleness - affixed like bonnets

to a posse of mad heads? Soft-fanned, or

 

lavished in fresh lavender, then sweetened

by a cool iamb, brute Amazons turn

into ladies, sometimes: chastened, neatened

and sedated to compliance - don't burn,

 

as they are wont to, in deranging flames

deep in their free-verse chests. I'll seek adroit

correlatives to stop the ambush - names

and metaphors and labels to exploit -

 

mildly. Soothe (scrap angry jeremiad!)

with sonnet calm - like balm from Gilead.

 

September 5, 2006

 

Something for the Boys

 

One parcels out one's pleasures differently at fifty-five,

I would surmise, than one had done at forty: more to do

with consciousness than with desire, I think: I still drink

milk right from the carton but it's no-fat now, not two

percent: I find that I do not resent the vast majority

of men more beautiful than I: I rather like the state

and stage of my recumbent thighs and - all the rest

of me: the test for me has not so much to do with any

 

prowess or accomplishment as rutting male or strutting

writer anymore: rife with my bewilderments, I think

I'm more like four than I had been when I was four:

I'm right back at Square One. Will I know I've had a life

when I am done? I am a toddler-monkey: blinking, rubbing

unbelieving eyes: bereft of guise and ogling the Universe

as if it were the grand bandanas and banana hats that

Ms. Miranda wore in 1944 in "Something for the Boys."

 

I've something for the boys, all right: I am the vast selection 

of a human catalogue of metaphysical erotic toys collected

over thirty years: you can come to me for stories that

won't help you out of one damned thing but probably

won't bore. I parcel out my dirty pleasures cleanly, now:

everything's a metaphor: each act a symbol meant to

sharpen chaos into some efficient meaning. Watch my keen

knife leaning into this new square of cheddar cheese

 

and how it slices, neatly, five precisely equal slender slabs

which I, against my doctor's orders, line up, salt and eat

with the meticulous concision of a cat: at fifty-five, I rarely

dare to eat a peach (most are unripe), but do contrive

to parcel out the pleasure of consuming salt and fat. I do

not eat too much: I've learned as well to parcel out my joys.

I've still some time before the winter comes: I cultivate

autumnal poise. One must have something for the boys.

 

September 4, 2006

 

Seeing What They've Got

 

Self-absorption has its uses: though it gooses

you into an urgent and addictive self-regarding stance -

which means you’ll more than likely stumble when

you dance - at least you notice what your feet are doing.

Of course, to itemize the hairs and bumps and lint

around and in-between your toes goes only so far

 

in allowing you to understand the mechanism of

the whole peculiar apparatus that permits you to stand

upright, hop or waltz or ski. Dead study of details is falsity.

Staring in a mirror has its limits, too: as much as you

may grin or grimace at the spectacle of you, you won’t

derive a latitude sufficient to engender anything

 

beyond reflexive self-attack or nervous gratitude.

But let's aim all this self-help jargon at a look at how we

bargain with the blessing and the curse of apprehending

verse. Dissect it like a body on a shelf - project

your feelings into it as if it were a simulacrum of yourself -

you surely won't have met the thing at all. Here's

the kicker and the trick: to throw your soul in the abyss

of knowing that you'll never know precisely how a human

being or a poem ticks - or even manages a flicker.

To tolerate the ways they sing and plot without

assuming we are they - or we are not. Then, perhaps,

we almost have a chance of seeing what they've got.

 

September 3, 2006

 

No Flies On Me

 

Got up again, and rediscovered my appurtenances:

love those dangling doody-kins that make my body

and my house a home! - my frames and naughty games

and fixtures, pictures - sleights-of-hand and haughty

 

flights of mandarin complexity: sneaking past perplexity,

I sit fat in the nexus to await the next reprieve: each

moment stolen - seized when Someone isn't looking - 

from a cupboard, drawer, crotch, refrigerator: Presto

 

Prestidigator! Punk who pocketed my wallet off my

butt in Rome last year can't get near my expertise. 

I'll tease your senses to abandonment! I'll flee - how

free I'll be! Put one over on Mortality! No flies on me.

 

September 2, 2006

 

Bye-Bye

 

Remarkably little will

happen today.

 

I've decided that stasis

will be the sole basis

 

for wending my lone

and particular way.

 

Oh, it's not that I'll cease

autonomically breathing

 

or actively block

hole or pore.

 

I will simply subsist on

existence as is,

 

and I will not

petition for more.

 

September 1, 2006

 

I wonder at whose loss

 

I'll corner it and bust it up -

devise ways to enslave

the creature 'til I've trussed it up -

coerced it to behave.

 

I'll whomp it senseless, kick it down

and do what must be done

to end its counsel to the Crown -

and let my cause be won.

 

It's adequately blasted me:

it's time to say who's boss.

My sorrow's had the last of me -

I wonder at whose loss.

 

August 31, 2006

 

This poem will not ache

 

This poem will not ache for that sweet man

of twenty-something who just ambled by -

too cockily to be described - too beautiful

 

to be endured: it is not lying fallow for some 

blindly self-assured and callow youth: this

poem will not wallow in the tears and space

 

created by old yearnings for one singularly

memorable face - now gone five years: it will

derive its meat from air, and subsequently

 

will entreat, with an insouciantly covered

care, whoever passes on the street - to dare.

This poem listens - glistens - baits - waits.

 

August 30, 2006

 

Rainy Rhyme

 

Today, again, it rains - each drop's a rhyme -

beating time - precipitating from

my brain onto a page in ways

that others gauge as formally "internal" –

 

 what's internal?

 

Seems to me infernal to suggest an outer

or an inner anything: a sort of mass

hypnotic cultural lobotomy results

in our imagining "dichotomy."

 

But argument's banal.

 

I'd rather walk out with a pail to capture pings

and plops from all the assonantly falling

drops and come back in and give them spin -

to banish any doubt that I could ever keep

 

a rainy rhyme from spilling out.

 

August 29, 2006

 

The Worst of One's Bewilderment

 

Standing lamp, small faded shade - with painted

roosters - red and green - cavorting ‘round

the cone of it: as if to mark the zone of it

as theirs - that is, to offset the considerable airs

of my stuffed monkey jester, slinky bounder clad

 

and hatted in sleek velvet - midnight blue and dark

cerise - whose malleable limbs cling to the frieze

of metal loops - from one of which additionally swings 

a stylishly be-glittered cardboard turquoise

peacock - loops and boughs that fix the lampshade

 

and its bulb onto a slender trunk of pole that shoots

down to the floor: a scaffolding that dates back

to whenever my step-grandmother obtained it - 1944,

I'll guess - although my monkey and my peacock 

timelessly and tirelessly refresh it every day - in their way. 

 

I cannot understand - much less affect - one speck

of motive in the dimmest being in the sentient Universe
but I create assemblages like these to make

me think I've got some sway. Roosters, monkeys,

peacocks keep the worst of one's bewilderment at bay.

 

August 28, 2006

 

The Thing To Pray To

 

Air shelters: spreads a silken mist - too mild 

to matter, save to cosset skin - a gossamer

gray drizzle shimmers and inhabits, freshens 

and encompasses the whole without - within -

today: as watercolor backdrop to a long red

 

barge that slowly makes its way upriver. Off

the pier, a Chinese immigrant casts bait to fish

for the unseen: no poison suds on this beguiling

opalescent Hudson anymore: it’s cleansed

of much that had been toxic not too long before.

 

I look back at Manhattan kneeling softly in

the fog and wonder about prayer. I think I used

to think it meant one had to supplicate some

Being not quite 'there' - or near. Today I know

the thing to pray to’s everywhere, and here.

 

August 27, 2006

 

Watering the Garden

 

She's been away for days and days and while

she's gone I fight the rays of brutal August sun

by daily hosing down six dozen plants and

bushes, flowerpots and trees and vines - behind

 

a stiff command of iron fence in front of one of

Greenwich Village's brick row houses: a scream

of thirsty roots and leaves, insatiably complaining 

like a bunch of alkies in a bar whom I have evidently

 

gone too far in keeping from the quantity of drink 

they need. I stand there dousing them and think

that as I scour the dirt with flood - attempt to satiate

each weed and bud - that I'm unequal to the task.

 

If only I could fix a flask to each's photosynthesizing

grasp! What do they want from me? I cannot pipe

Infinity - I am no endlessly replenishing divinity -

I have my limits, spinach! They do not sympathize.

 

But now - oh joy! - some god supplies! I rise

to hear the rain on window pane: oh, plants! -

if I were with you now, I'd raise a glass and slap

you on your happy wet collective waterholic ass.

 

August 26, 2006

 

Here, Gone

 

The brush on naked skin

of someone's lips and fingertips -

preternaturally tune and wield:

 

as if the lips and fingertips knew

more about the skin they brushed

than who the skin concealed. 

 

Someone else just riffled through 

you like a breeze - tickled,

teased you into weakness in

 

the knees. At times like these

you wonder if the wonders never

cease. Of course they don't - 

 

and this one won't, although already

it kaleidoscopes to memories. 

Touch, withdrawn: here, gone.

 

August 25, 2006

 

To Bear the Cross

 

Fond notion that I might appropriate

some portion of the whole and call it

mine: that I could ever cordon off

a piece of It - gate it into exclusivity:

confine "alone" and "own" - or entertain

 

the fiction that "vacation's" ever possible:

as if there ever were a moment you
could vacate. No escape: you have

to carry weight. I want to turn my back

on my friend's odd and broken state

 

of mind, in which I cannot find one

correlate to mine: his notes don't fit

my song. If I can't grasp his Universe,

I'm right and he is wrong - or so, on

grounds of vanity, I judge his sanity.

 

They say when Lincoln was depressed

about a battle being lost, he traveled to

the front to hear his soldiers talk and

mourn the cost. I suspect you have

to let it all come in to bear the cross.

 

August 24, 2006

 

The Greater Word

 

Lend an ear, bird:

hear me sing

the greater word -

stronger than your

 

Absolute and Must.

Think about surrendering

your claw and wing

to Trust.

 

August 23, 2006

 

Cornucopia

 

The cornucopia of August spills: to birth

and death: as imminent as bated breath

 

and pregnancy: an educated guess, a bet,

a fullness and an almost emptiness: a nest

 

from which the bird will always fall after

it cracks the egg and learns to fly. I caught

 

the old man's eye just now: he's ninety-three -

slowly navigating five long flights of steps

 

each day, each way, as he goes buying milk,

discarding garbage, taking part. His cornucopia

 

is one big quaking cart and breaking heart: 

a bursting point: the sum and the subtraction

 

of a life: no wait: despite the pain: no strife.

Incarnation is the husband, Eternity's the wife.

 

August 22, 2006

 

David Niven and My Father

 

People sometimes ask me who my father was

and I am stumped to offer explanation: it's as if

I wasn't granted half the ration of imagination

I would need to fill the blank he left when he

absconded with his life six years ago. Since

then varieties of tears have flowed at his and others'

provocation: everybody dies and if, by chance,

you find you're still alive you've got to deal with it,

and generally find you do. But now I'm faced with

 

looking at the calendar: it's August 21st, my father's

birthday - he'd be ninety-three today: and how

felicitously Turner Classic Movies has prepared to 

cater to him! Monday's cinematic menu is devoted 

to showcasing David Niven. Mr. Niven and my father,

Carl, had something of the same proclivities - both

could wear an ascot without seeming fey: both

had something of the same delicious sense of

the absurd: both made way through this confounding

 

Universe by dint of charm. But, much as I would

like to frame them arm in arm, my father, Carl, is

not so easily analogized as that. I round the shadow

by remembering how he would coo and croon to

bird and dog and cat: as if some animal beneath

the gentleman longed desperately to spring and be

and banish all the heavy apparatus of conditioning

and doubt. Perhaps that was the blessing in his

Alzheimers: in his last years, the animal came out.

 

August 21, 2006

 

Cooper Union Doesn't Care

 

Buildings breathe. Their stone and brick

and concrete sleeves suggest through

imperceptible soft trembling - glowing

in the moonlight, mirroring the sun -

that every one of them - each speck of

matter in them - seethes and buzzes

 

secretly: harboring their subatomic hives.

The deadest doornail is alive. I walk

through Soho and East Village streets -

attend to 1850's storefronts: they transcend

the cheap distractions of the living:

human noise and sham surround like flies 

 

around a ham: the meat and bone

of which cure privately as if for some

unprecedented future Deity's repast.

Human beings may have been the agency

through whom these creatures came to pass:

but they persist quite out of harmony with

 

what had been the time and mind of their

nativity and past. Lincoln spoke at Cooper

Union: yes - but Lincoln's gone and

Cooper Union is still there and Cooper

Union - gleaming and respiring in the city's 

ever-cooling, -warming air - doesn't care.

 

August 20, 2006

 

“Truly, life is just one damn thing after another. The writer’s business

is to find the shape in unruly life and to serve her story. Not, you may note,

to serve her family, or to serve the truth, but to serve the story.”  Dorothy Gallagher

 

 

 How You'll Be Paid

 

Excuse me, dear, but you belong to me.

It isn't anything particularly to fear - that

is, I don't especially expect to nail you to

 

a cross and have my way with you in some of the more

lurid senses in which "have my way with you" is meant:

let's just say that you make up my currency and I'll employ

you to provide me with precisely what I want until the last

 

of you is spent. Here's the good news: you won't know it 'til you read it.

Here's the bad: you haven't any choice in how you'll have been had. In

my hands you are the clay of some new Mayan flat-top pyramid on top

of which my sacrifices must be made. You will be the stuff and glory of

 

my lusts and fantasies: my golden calf, the raw meat of a calumny, the worst and best -

by half. You will be a figure of the sun seen through my shade. That's how you'll be paid.

 

August 19, 2006

 

Bach

 

I dream of skeins of sound drawn thinly from

a bow across a violin's Baroque high-acrobatic

gut string wire: Platonic right arm pull and lift

 

and wing and delicacy chastening desire: nothing

from the left hand but a cool and dry exactitude. 

I wake and try to play it: wet the thing with sweet

 

vibrato: fix it with my messy personality: all volupté

and lassitude - goosed here and there by fat

Romantic vigor: but no tighter rigor. Bach inhabits

 

silver: I live in the mud. Spirit battles flesh in him

and wins: in me the skin supplants the thought

and thuds and swims in sweat: I'm spent and wet

 

when I am done. Bach has just begun to have

his fun in his Chaconne: goes - solo - deep and

high into the ether - finds the heart and brings it

 

back and makes me start the whole shenanigan

again - spluttering and stuttering while bowing.

Bach sits watching like a Buddha, glowing.

 

August 18, 2006

 

Tonight I am not home

 

Tonight I am not home

to you. I'm barely home

to me. I just got back

 

from Washington D.C. 

and fell into the whomping

density of New York City -

 

oh! - I thought, one morning,

afternoon or night I'll die,

and it may make you cry, 

 

but I won't mind as long

as I abide voluptuously snug

between Manhattan's sultry

 

thighs when I say bye.

I told you I'd be home today: 

tomorrow I will say I lied.

 

August 17, 2006

 

On Seeing "The Marriage of Figaro" at Wolf Trap

 

Anarchic gall! To think we had

the right to build and play

on top of all this wilderness

 

and swamp - cut it down

and dry it up and romp all over it -

subject it to our whims and

 

passions, yearnings, art - erect

a giant wooden outdoor stage

and light it, wire it for sound,

 

endow it with a hundred sixty singers

and musicians, props and God-

knows-what to promulgate three hours

 

of Mozart! Just who on Earth do

we suspect we are? Living

miracles? Pieces of a fallen star?

 

August 16, 2006

 

Gloved

 
One wonders why they rise. I sit here in the plush
Victorian parlor of a B&B in Washington D.C.
amid a welter of obliquely angled streets named
R and Q and P: soft humid August night turned
 
pale blue morning; don't know where I am and neither
do my dreams, whose business it had been all
night to make my mother glimmer back to "is" from
"seems." I'd lost her in a shopping mall. She was
 
somewhere in the countless crowd below; I was on
a balcony above. I heard her call "Here! Meet me by
the Glove!" I woke and felt the presence now not
of my mother, but my brother, who, at death,
 
seemed just like fingers wrenching hard out from
constriction: grown-up hand caught in a baby
mitten: a final push and shove - his body suddenly:
vacated glove. I sit here in this red plush chair
 
and wonder that they dare to importune me now.
The post-dawn light grows bright amid the marble
mausoleums strewn throughout this Capitol's grand
broad Imperial design. I'll find a way to make it mine.

 

August 15, 2006

 

One Two Punch

 

The thing to do

is find the itch

by scratching it

in every last

 

imaginable way

until you get so

far down into it

that it will go away -

 

that is, reveal itself

as never having

been. The thing

to do is locate sin,

 

discover it is

nothing. The thing

to do is ransack

your compartments

 

and discard their

stuffing. The thing

to do is see the empty

space and find

 

its grace. Sing to -

woo the Universe.

That's the thing

to do - first.

 

(Just wait until

you're beckoned

by your soul

to do the second.)

 

August 14, 2006

 

Seeds

 

Which seed is he? One erupts into an ecstasy:

spewing color, fluff and thrill: another finds toxicity

necessity - whatever creature swallows it, it kills.

He seeks unending evidence of the miraculous: he will

 

do anything to find and follow it. In search, he took me

into church on New-York-City-August's bright Fifth

Avenue: all oak and walnut - soft acoustics, brown and

Presbyterian: quiet, cool and kind. He sat down in a pew: 

 

descended into his frenetic and - a shrink would surely

diagnose - bipolar mind. He sobbed. I tried to comfort

him: he lobbed me off his racket like an uninvited tennis

ball. "Only connect:" Forster was naive. Sometimes all

 

it's possible to do is grieve. But what should I believe?

To him, right now, the Universe is one baptismal font

and feast - and he is both the baby and the priest. To what

more availing well do I go? What the hell do I know?

 

August 13, 2006

 

Oddly Alive

 

Dreamed I couldn't get out, couldn't speak.

Stutter so bad that all words were a squeak

 

and a rasp. Handling anything - out of my grasp.

My mother dreamed something like this as she crept toward her last.

 

She was sitting alone on a bench at a bus-stop and couldn't get up.

No longer half-full or half-empty: no cup.

 

No bus would arrive.

Imprimatur of how at the end she felt oddly alive.

 

August 12, 2006

 

The Next Part

 

There was a time when I could rhyme myself

with sweat, audacity and flesh and make the very

notion of what sex was fresh - for lucky me and you.

Like sea bass soaring towards a bouillabaisse:

 

I had the stuff to make a memorably funky stew.

But now - some central part of me forgets.

The body parts get wet and rev up to an old familiar

heat when suddenly my heart develops uninvited

 

beats that grind me down and leave me - slowly

breathing - on my back. It's not a heart attack, it's

more the murmur of some wind-borne notion that

reminds me I don't really want this thick hormonal

 

ocean anymore: I've seen too many sea creatures,

sung too many hymns to Him and now don't want

to swim. I'd rather seek the sand and dry, and look up

at the sky and figure out the next part: how to fly.

 

August 11, 2006

 

The Opposite of No

 

It's an eternal tidal wave -

it never stops - despite our

manufacturing illusions

of a rhythm

 

in which intermittent

calm oases let us cease -

adopt for moments just

a little peace: we

 

can't for long

pretend - we have to face

we never left the headlong

rush again: just

 

when it all began

or may at some point end

is not the point of surf:

if a tsunami had

 

a brain it could

sustain one thought alone -

the opposite of no:

which isn't "yes" but GO.

 

August 10, 2006

 

The Ordinariness of Flight

 

Colors - dusky red and turquoise - wrestled through a mortar

and a pestle into powder from chopped stone - turned

with water, gently poured from porcelain plates, to paste - 

thumbed and rubbed and honed and then diluted and diluted

once again until the hues resemble jade and pinkish blood - 

provide the hunched Tibetan painter means to make the mural

 

up above him flood and glisten - fit the eye and wall it clings

to like a lissome silken glove: seems to have discovered

an ineffable and alien love for which he, solely, has the heart.

His part is secret: we can only watch. Meanwhile on upper

floors of the museum soars an army of mad hatters known as

"Siddhas" - "spiritually accomplished ones" - who blow the lids

 

off sanity - caught in their impossibilities: riding long-tongued

zombies, chasing courtesans and flying like sweet beasts

with saffron wings. Their bright unworried eyes make their

contorted soaring seem the most expected, unremarkable

of things. Embroidered silk and holy madness drive away - 

for just this taste and touch of an eternity - my soul-deep

 

sadness. I know someone who strains against the limits of

his brain - it might be mania, or schizophrenia, or grace. Now, 

at these Tibetan heights, I wonder if I'm not observing in

my friend's departure from himself - and in the painter's

concentrated trance - and in the wild dancing Siddhas making

mayhem through the night - the enigmatic ordinariness of flight.

 

August 9, 2006

 

So Far

 

I feel - but cannot seem to say - the larger thing.

Wings flutter - keep me hovering - aloft enough 

to gather what impressions of the whole I can.

I only know to bring them with me note by note -

 

learned by ear, cupped in hand. I am Vivaldi's

choir of orphan girls - each learning her small part

and waiting for the Maestro to impart some unity

and sense. One measure in the fugue can only

 

distantly imply what may be huge in the design -

lucid in the dense. But it's the only way I know,

so far, remotely to align: minutely tend this garden 

of the mind - line by line by bit by bit - in hope

 

that I might find a drop of psychic comprehension 

in some jot of it. So far no leaf of song seems

to belong to any other: there's no comparative. 

Perhaps that is the larger thing: my narrative. 

 

August 8, 2006

 

Spider

 

Who wouldn't want to steal a trick or two - from Dr. Phil

or Looney Tunes or Proust - to goose oneself onto another

higher sweeter lighter roost - direct one's feelings like a film? -

perhaps by fingering a cherished love-note, funny photograph - 

or bathing in the volupté and convolutions of a favorite 

Jamesian paragraph - or wallowing in Casablanca's Bergman

haunting Bogart. But hearts cannot, on cue, be made to care.

 

They caution when we want to dare. We want to melt:

they freeze. We have about as much control of them as

someone with the flu can stop a sneeze. Yesterday I met

a kitten by the name of Spider. On Tenth Street - east of

Second Avenue - his fragile wriggling warmth was offered up by 

some beguiling smiling plump young matron - who kept him 

in the pocket of her apron - hoping that he might be taken

 

home by me or you. I've never seen a happier thing. All he knew

to do was purr and writhe and cling. He should have made

my being sing. But like his namesake, other feelings crept

with tiny spindly legs up, into, through - then stung and 

icily exploded: TILT! - the pinball game inside my heart

imploded: I'd felt too much that day already. I left the little

spider in his web, and walked away: determined to hold steady.

 

August 7, 2006

 

Like Lizzie Murdered Bordens

 

Yesterday I grabbed Tchaikovsky by the balls and

made him howl - but he allowed my plowing to continue -

as long, that is, as I subjected myself to his tsarist rule -

however clunkily - addressed him as the maestro

 

with a passionate vibrato on my trapped, convicted violin.

He knew as long as I was playing him - thrash, cajole

or hammer though I might - I couldn't win the fight.

Before then Beethoven commanded me and beat me

 

to a pulp. I gulp each time I face his prospects of deliverance. 

No halfway measure here: all awe and fear. I must

enslave myself to every double sharp and flat and brilliantly 

perverse sforzando or be banned forever from his land.

 

Tyrannically and inextricably connected like a child to

demanding and abusive parents - though which is who

and who is which is not always apparent - Tchaikovsky,

Beethoven, my bow and violin are prisoners and wardens.

 

I'd like to kill the lot of them, like Lizzie murdered Bordens.

 

August 6, 2006

 

Dumb, and Growing Dumber

 

How we seek sense in density and absence! - 

Rorschach blots and random dots and other

marks of chaos are the grist for our deductive

mills: amazing how the Universe's random spills

are turned by nervous minds into symmetrical -

 

allegedly prophetic or explanatory - "finds": we 

squeeze from mess the barely educated guess

that something can be charted from beginning to

an end. And, spinning, spend our energies

contriving constant reassurance that we know

 

a little of what's going on. My eyes see pixels,

and create a city street, today a drier bluer version

than the hot-funk-town that saturated meat all week

till now. I say the weather's "fine" - demonstrably.

I pick the things I want to see, ignore what surely

 

is the wide majority of all the rest. Supposedly

this is the best use of my faculties but secretly -

as I attempt to make some sense of summer -

I surmise the truth, the more I prize my own 

conclusions, is: I'm dumb, and growing dumber.

 

August 5, 2006

 

Teaspoon Of It

 

One tastes a teaspoon of it at one's peril:

odd thick August air, so full of languid ease,

despair: I peer out of my aerie at the makings

of a storm - as if some addled mystic angel 

cook were not quite sure if he were whisking

 

egg whites or performing arcane rites of

alchemy with dust and the effluvia of dozing

bodies - stolen from their exhalations in

the lightest stage of sleep: sky steeps bits

of fleece and mushroom soup and drifts of

 

half-digested dreams, as if it were a giant

sieve through which the creams and steams

of human indecision were now trickling, dripping,

pouring through: a soft mush of anxiety - made

gentle by the clouds' propriety in staying up,

 

so far, instead of falling down. Though soon

the change will come: and everything the world

holds back will deluge sense again, diffusely

and completely - to the concupiscent heat

and funereal beat of August thunder's drum.  

 

August 4, 2006

 

Life, for the Moment, Defined

 

I wonder if all life is not unlike the year of 1910,

four years before a war, when Howard's End

propended to pronouncements about subtle

wars of class, and Paris boasted (on December

Third) a neon sign - first in the world - appended to

the glass of its new Motor Show - attended by

sweet rotor-motion of a slew of fashionably turned-

out girls whose hips sent tiny seismic shocks

up through their coiffured curls and down into

their furling street-length skirts. I wonder if all life

is not unlike the three-piece suits and ironed shirts

 

of men just at the end of the Edwardians: metaphoric

military phallic swordsmen striding to and fro

like so much lost spermatozoa: searching for

a secret egg up someone's hidden faintly rosy

alabaster leg. I wonder if all life is not unlike the bloom

of the erotic in a room of Henry James's own:

unspeakably unknowably alone: heart-ache over

tea-cake. I wonder if you can't make life into whatever

you've a liking to make life into. Today the early

teens of Europe tease, appease. I get no quarrel 

from my referent: life never argues: it agrees.

 

August 3, 2006

 

The Shadow and the Glory

 

Can't break or make the stuff we're made of.

Matter slips to energy: force turns into things:

your psyche flickers - yodels - patters - sings.

 

(Existential angst is hubris.) All is changeless

in eternity. Fraternity of being ranges large

and deep and strange - in drifts of quantum

 

snow. You're in a monumental show. Evoked:

a gut-deep rude guffaw: the law. Your shtick -

an evidently necessary part of it - can't be

 

revoked - and will be mindlessly re-stoked -

and re-invoked. Energy's the set-up - matter is

the punch: the shadow and the glory of the joke.

 

August 2, 2006

 

You Wouldn't Have to Give it Back

 

If I could lend you one small

bit of an infinity I would.

(You wouldn't have to give

it back.) It might cast just

 

the needed spell of letting

you believe that all is now

and always will be well.

There is something bright - 

 

ungovernable - volatile in

you called life. Now you

slice and fight it with

a mental knife: to split it

 

into good guys, bad guys,

brutal lessons to be learned.

If you could borrow from me

one small bit of an infinity

 

(you wouldn't have to give it

back) you mightn't think that

safety in the soul could

only mortally be earned.

 

August 1, 2006

 

Obligations

 

I have obligations. Yesterday I scrubbed my kitchen floor

and vacuumed my rug, rewrote - rewrote - rewrote

a ghastly poem till it didn't make me cringe - fed a good

 

friend's lonely cat. Today I fed the lonely cat again,

returned a dozen phone calls - lawyer, friends,

acquaintances in varying bewilderments - one in dire

 

distress - and met the minimum requirements of feeding,

cleaning, dressing, catering to my incarnate flesh: quite

carefully I scissored fingernails off my right hand with 

 

my ineptly insufficient left. My world went on okay, I guess.

Two memories won't go away. The echo of the mournful

call the cat made when I ventured in each day. And how

 

the ancient lady in the wheelchair on the sidewalk whom

I passed on West End Avenue looked into me as if to say,

"Don't ever go away." I had obligations so I couldn't stay.

 

July 31, 2006

 

Napoleon and me

 

Determined to pursue the Russian army

all the way to Moscow, Napoleon fought the flu.

In the biting wind and rain he faced his future

with a fever. Levering his Enemy into the best

 

position to be killed, he steeled himself to disbelieve

his own mortality - enrobing in puissance-de-Dieu -

he exercised ague- and world-defying godly

autocratic will. I am equivalently ill. I'm drawn to

 

grand denial and hyperbole no less than he.

My capacity for a selective take on what the tapestry

reveals is thoroughly unbounded. I have a taste

for the unfounded. I think the paradox of being

 

human must contain these two perplexities:

the felt necessity of bald self-revelation and

the urgency of clinging to the lie. Amounts to this:

Plan never to know anything. Expect to die.

 

July 30, 2006

 

Voices

 

The messages come thick and fast - like

Joan of Arc with her Saints Margaret and

Catherine and Michael, his spirit-guides

provide him clear instruction: their disciple, 

 

he turns left or right - away from dark (he says)

towards light. Perhaps it is projection but it gives 

him some assurance of protection - for a moment

he is safe. I can't assess this as pathology:

 

it seems to me an absolutely viable response

to feeling spiritually chafed - ripped raw. Dumped

into the depths of the abyss you will do anything

to promulgate at least the fleeting sense of

 

some experience of bliss: that is the law.

I sit here knowing nothing but that it is human

to resist the sucking maw that wants to swallow

him. I only wonder that I haven't followed him.

 

July 29, 2006

 

Contagion

 

Eyes in the subway seem to look at something, though

they don't appear to look at much. They are purveyors

of transition: proclaiming to each mind and body that we

aren't really here. I catch their transitoriness - and disappear.

 

I wield a key, unlock an upper west side uptown door and

see the cat who's in my charge to pet and tend this week - 

and he implores the air with yowling need - pleads me to

completely feed his emptiness. I catch the virus: his abyss.

 

Someone I love finds life as he'd once lived it is intolerable: 

he vaults above the boundaries of an unimaginable hell to

weave a desperate spell of artificial heaven: all that tied

him he has severed, tossed. I catch what he has and I'm lost.

 

My artist friend and I have lunch and her eyes take in

everything, exemplify the certainty of all that is, invite

me to regale her with what I see too. She markets radiance

and other soul-supplies. I catch what she has and I rise.

 

July 28, 2006

 

Bubble Baths and Crystal Meth

 

Bubble baths and crystal meth and other forms of

what amount to cognitive attempts to touch the soul

are not enough for me, although conceptually and

sometimes actually they used to seem to be. But now

I get my POW directly from the source: the alpha

and omega jackpot of the course. I look - and there's

the miracle. Sometimes it's spherical: I'm in a spinning 

circle fully three-dimensional: a zone in which sharp

angles are unknown. Sometimes it seems more like 

 

consensual ménage-à-mille - a glorious unending multi-

bodied orgy full of pleasurably strange sensations and

activity: at times the shock presents as an imploding clock - 

a Dali-esque reminder that if we invented Time (and

hoo! we did) we could invent alternatives far more sublime -

and truer to the prurient experience of ogling Eternity:

close enough for us to sense its meat. Sometimes

the miracle is sweet as blood would be to vampire bats:

compulsively pursued, fantastically delicious but not

 

made of anything you knew, could know. Sometimes

the blast and thunder blow capriciously - bursting like

a random fireworks display: pretty little neurons falling

like confetti in a shaken snow globe: indiscriminately

fleecy, happy, white. Bubble baths and crystal meth

and other forms of what amount to cognitive attempts to

touch the soul can't touch what really makes you whole:

it's right there in the obvious - the stuff on which a gnat

subsists: the endlessly surprising clues that we exist.

 

July 27, 2006

 

Thick Green Glass

 

He makes his place in density as if he were a minnow

separated from his school - reflexively and self-protectively

on guard against the ocean's cruel indifference - imagining

the world as predator, he scoots and shoots and bubbles out

self-soothing soft non sequiturs - amid the green-gold aqueous

thick grassy blades: "I am a fish of God and God's a fish

 

of me - I pray no shark or crab will make a dish of me" -

darting through the slippery and waving reeds as if somewhere

within his loneliness he might discover seeds of - purpose - to

allow him to resurface into habitable life. Right now it seems

the only way that he can possibly imagine getting loose

of terror is to gravitate to these seaweed extremes: to isolate

 

within his own unfathomably dark and terrible Sargasso Sea 

to wait for some unfathomable savior. Imagine some sadistic

glazier has imprisoned you in thick green glass in which you're

doomed to dream of endless flight from an inevitable imminent

catastrophe. He hasn't realized yet he doesn't have to do this

to himself. And yet, right now, for him, there's nothing else.

 

July 26, 2006

 

"You could define art as a passionate desire for accuracy." T. E. Hulme

 

What I Spill

 

All I've got are words. Auden

sometimes called them turds - best

forgotten when begotten - enjoyed

for just the moment of evacuation. 

I think that's how I take them.

Although I felt a moment's shiver

as I shoved my hand repeatedly into

the cardboard file I'd bought

 

to handle and deliver the considerable

pile of alphabetic bouillabaisse 

that I'd assessed might get me into

Westbeth - subsidized apartments

for Manhattan artists - stuffing twenty

years of overcoming fears of

letting out whatever burned in me to

sing - and as I dabbed a touch

 

of white-out on the thing (to cover

several nervous typos on my contact

info) - picked it up to feel its funereal

heft - I wondered for a second

what, in giving up this stuff, I might

have left. Could I still write? Should

I make extra photocopies of each 

tight and bursting paragraph and

 

verse that I had crammed into this

fragile cardboard purse to keep as

evidence I could? Nah - no good.

I'll just do what I have done: try to get

my language to behave while knowing

that it never will. It doesn't matter

awfully what - at Westbeth, here

or anywhere - I dump or keep or spill.

 

July 25, 2006

 

As Near As Here Could Be

 

Since infancy I have suspected something strange:

an urgent, obvious, involving presence always just

a nano-millimeter out of range: as if the most

familiar face I've known - whose cheeks and lips

I could imagine brushing with my own - were

pressing palpably against a taut translucent sheet

to meet and greet - as harbinger of, gateway to -

 

a fullness and dimensionality as freshly obvious

as flesh - and yet quite different from the rest of what

I had accepted as 'the real.' Just this side of visibly,

I nearly felt it physically right as my brother died, late

March of 1989: my hand felt drawn into some softly

sucking space, as if to bid me follow some quite patent

line that he, by dying, traced and drew: as if I could

 

reach through to - grasp - wherever he had gone: and

that it was an ordinary place: as near as here could be.

And yet "as if" did not quite ripen into "is." Experience

of it remains unanswered quiz. I wonder if the thing

will ever dawn beyond my senses' seeming prohibition - 

authenticate my intuition. I don't know. Meanwhile,

within - without - I undergo its pressure and its glow.

 

July 24, 2006

 

As near as I can be

 

I don't know what portion of the mind defines insanity:

I know the floodgates open in Tourette's to tics

and indiscriminate profanity: bipolarity has harrowing

and drastic swings: hallucinating people, things -

 

seeing paradise in hell, and hell in the Edenic - may - 

they say - point to the schizophrenic: mad or compos

mentis - perturbations of the brain and heart and soul:

what divides the whole? - who's master, who's apprentice? -

 

who's captain, crewman, in the floating state of being

human? I have a friend whose dark propensities, ideas

and fears appear to have redoubled in intensity: all

I know is that he's badly troubled. I don't know what is

 

sane for him: I cannot play the game for him. There's

surely something deep inside that he might reach for.

All I can do is hope he'll find it - from as near as I can be:

spectating - praying - in the front row of the bleachers.

 

July 23, 2006

 

Can't Seem Not To

I used to do it for a living. Experience once
readily devolved into great stretches of the stuff:
it never seemed to be a pose, that prose.
Lines of freshly laundered adverbs, adjectives,
conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions would

surround my
Stonehenge
monoliths of verbs and
nouns like togas ready for the gods. But now
the very notion of a sentence plods: nothing goes
into the earnest dry casuistry of paragraphs and
lives! What gives? The alphabet has turned to

pale fine clay - will only let itself be fired through
a kiln into a hard thin porcelain, to ping its tiptoe
way fastidiously through a tiny feast of punctuation -
comma, dash and colon - like some breathing
Meissen golem. Can't seem not to write a poem.

 

 -----------------------

 

Wish You Were Here

 

I don't want to travel. Why unravel 

the quotidian - the precious contents

of the everyday - to get away to some

remote venue they say is guaranteed

to entertain, renew - some island,

 

lake or cape? Why such hunger for

escape - horror of the near? Everything

is always new right here. Vacation:

to vacate - what want does that placate?

There is no noose from which you must

 

vamoose. Unless of course it's dying.

And who knows: something may be

flying after that. I'll wait for death to make

the batter splat - and flip the pancake.

'Til then, right here's the trip I'll take.

 

July 22, 2006

  

My Gentle, Smoky Father

 

Heavy summer morning rain -

stains the lamplight,

tramps on day, creates a little

night in my apartment:

mostly comfortingly spooky -

beguiling in a ghostly way - 

as if my kind, intrusive,

humming father had

 

returned from death to light

his pipe and sway my

sensibilities again - with over-

burdened stories and advice: 

his scent of pipe smoke

would be nice. Today I strain

against a strangely sourceless 

pain, anxiety. If I let it be,

 

I wonder if it might, by increments, 

entice - like some initially 

unpalatable spice you

slowly grow to like: as dark

and interesting and dense

as summer rain - distracting

as the fuss and bother of

my gentle, smoky father.

 

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

 

For Jan Pengelly - London, April 2005

 

We walked along the Thames together -

English silver April weather -

London woman - New York man -

whose poems had begun to span

 

the ocean towards each other:

words uncovered sister, brother -

shared sensibility and heart.

I can't quite name the finest part

 

of that gray-blue and changing day:

perhaps it was the startling way

we laughed - and paused - while listening -

with ancient London nuance glistening

 

beyond the gray Embankment in the river.

Impossible to tell the gift from giver.

 

July 21, 2006

 

Amass, amass

 

I morph. I used to be Display -

but now I am a Crucible -

a vessel in which Being melts

until it's irreducible. Everything

before was bling: baubles and

 

medallions - and a regal ring - 

designed to show you I was king

of what I thought I was the king of:

I could play and fight and write

and sing: I wore diplomas for my

 

shirts and diapers: my eyelashes

were window-wipers, sweeping

clean the surface of each pupil

to regard my shiny world in duple.

But now I've lost each scruple:

 

gold gets cold: transmuted by

despair and certain changes in

the air, I'm scattered - shattered

to fine mist. My stuff is far less

pricey on the market. Can't find 

 

a place to park it. Once my butt

was singularly here. Now my ass

is grass: it's everywhere. I no longer

rake it in, I take it in. "What do you

do?" I'm asked. "Amass, amass."

 

 

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

 

 

Vive le Fromage

 

The brie is dead!

They chilled it ‘til it died.

 

I guess it’s no surprise.

America despises cheese

 

that seethes and breeds.

France likes it alive.

 

July 20, 2006

 

A Chic and Stylish Poem

 

Sew a chic and stylish poem.

Endow it now

with haute couture to show 'em

your grace and pow.

 

Strive to keep its contours clear

yet from the heart

(you fear some knot unravels here -

but where - what part?) -

 

employ your sure and practiced craft

with sharp precision -

pursue the perfect final draft -

stitch with decision.

 

But damn - still no phylogeny

of limpid lines

to tender a homogeny

of lucent signs!

 

So cut your losses, fancy words,

and end this ruse.

A lot of fussy feathered birds! -

you're gonna lose.

 

You’ve no gift for the rigorously

chic. Make peace

with knitting more ambiguously

thick dark fleece.

 

July 19, 2006

  

No Telling When

 

Found out about an old and twisted maple tree - which

when I was a monkey-boy I climbed and swung on

frequently: it's gone. Long Island beetles over decades

battled it - and ate it secretly to death: seems to slam

another no into the notion I might ever dive headlong into

the ocean of my childhood again - but memory is not

declarative or narrative or linear: it sweeps the landscape

 

like the whinny of a horse - storm of hoof and flank - rudely

rank and indiscriminately fresh - warming, cooling, soothing

and upending spirit - flesh - exactly as it will: my present

is its spill. The horse morphs into an enormity: a beast 

I sense but cannot see: dark matter-mammal-mama of 

my private idiosyncrasies as big as an eternity - sits fat 

beside my bed, inside my sieving head, bestride my

 

wordy-weaving loom, resides right in my living room:

voluptuously steeping like Manhattan in July: answering

my why - she is my ne plus ultra, incarnation of the fatal

instant, ever-coming-birth - dark dearth of everything I think

I know and see: beginning and the end of me. That old and 

twisted maple tree is gone. Unless, of course, I get back on

that horse. No telling when - but she can get me there again.

 

July 18, 2006

 

Granularly Speaking

  

Like lines - Bahama sand -

forearm hair -

fastidious distinctions -

 

English mist -

fragile web -

spider's lair -

 

gossamer

in gauge

and texture -

 

ground to

 tiny particles:

How am I?

 

Fine.

 

July 17, 2006

 

Schooled to be Promiscuous

 

As I half-wake into the confines of my bed, forsaking

sleep to meet the mandate of the dawn - ritually

microwaving coffee I made yesterday - obediently

padding to the toilet to release the pee backed up

in me since sometime just before the hour of three -

 

within a gathering complexity of other organized 

attempts to stay and stem what I am evidently sure

would otherwise be psychic mayhem - some spirit

like Rapunzel sits inside a little room atop the buttressed

thick-brick locked-up tower of my head, and waits.

 

She knows for all the gates and barriers I put around her

she will get her kiss. Some rogue she's never met will

find an opening that I have missed through which

she can let drop the golden braid of her deliverance. 

Schooled to be promiscuous, she's gotten used to this.

 

July 16, 2006

 

The Thing Itself

 

Describe - and merely circumscribe.

Buzz 'round the hive and never know

exactly what and how the Queen

connives? Nah. Get inside. Inspect.

 

Be the regnant insect. Be rude. Don't

pursue. Be what's pursued - the thing

itself: the belch - don't be shocked at

its effrontery and lack of politesse: be

 

what heats the blood beneath the dress -

the beating part of heart - not the critic,

but the art. Don't stop outside the door.

There's too much more. Be the door.

 

July 15, 2006 

 

Snow White Skin and Death-Dark Hair

 

Shock of silk - moth-soft and marble-smooth: you brush 

the skin - which sheathes a pulling grace of muscle - long

and warm - beneath - within: the man, a pearl-flame

spirit lost - invisible - beside the sun - too bright to see - 

too wantonly eruptive not to feel: too odd to think he could

be real. Your eyes will not adjust. You summon up your
secret guide to take you back to some place you can trust:

 

to find the cave again - too close a shave! - when you

discover something's hot and stuck inside your palm: a tiny

bomb - a violence! - too live and wild - a butterfly with toxic

wings - a buzz-like insect whine now sings and stings

its needles through your ears and mind: it doesn't matter

that you're back - behind - inside your hollow now - with all its

darknesses and densities and vines. You bungle in this jungle.

 

Some phosphorescent heat flits through you as if you were

made of nothing: lights the air in an impertinent exasperating

flare: a fairy-elf like Ariel - while you, like Caliban, galumph - 

spelunk - towards some imagined, hoped-for blackness

where you might not have to touch - be moved - be loved -

be brave. Your cave seems like a grave. You met someone.

You're scared. Snow White skin and death-dark hair.

 

July 14, 2006

 

Write

 

Thick suspicious air, clotted like conspiracy:

hard to trust humidity, this damp and brutal day:

too much like the way your head gets when

you're fighting a rigidity - a craving-something-now:  

 

perplexing hex!: the sweat, the heat, the flesh:

sometimes you think the only thing it's possible

to want is sex - until the recollections coalesce

and worsen: and you remember sex entails

 

another person. Snake around in search of old

facility: things you used to like to do: books or food:

a movie, maybe: you could take yourself alone.

The phone sits silent in your air-conditioned home:

 

too cool to be believable. Surely something is

retrievable: a clarity, an answer to disparity. Thick

suspicious air. Ambient July despair? You don't

particularly care. No need for fight or flight. Write.

 

July 13, 2006

 

Coddle, Suck and Woo

 

"...time as a quantifiable, linear entity is a mirage. All time and no time

are the same. A couple making love for an hour is a cloud of luminosity."

 

 Holland Cotter, review of Atta Kim's photography,

 New York Times, July 12, 2006

 

Sex? Fun. Let it be -

without apology.

Wake it! Shake and bake it:

take and give - and take it.

 

Fall upon your knees.

Give the meat a squeeze.

Flop down on your back.

Fill your happy lack.

 

Stay here all the day.

Have the thing be play.

Bite the hot infernal.

Swallow warm eternal.

 

Inner, outer space

occasion this embrace.

Coddle, suck and woo

the God in "fuck" - and you.

  

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/12/arts/design/12atta.html?th&emc=th

 

July 12, 2006

 

Knock on Wood

 

Today he met the morning with a full

fat simple infant smile: unreasonably

mild, as if all things were done already

and no other thing remained: as if there

weren't anyone to wait for anymore -

as if the notion that one could be bored

were arrantly unthinkable; life - adored,

unsinkable! - was all the fashion and

 

the rage today: nothing mattered now

but now. Cowed by so much happiness!

He'd better knock on wood. Tomorrow

might not be so good. Time returned, his

smile fled, he bled with loneliness, too

many things to do: a mess! - nothing

mattered but the future and the past.

Tedium is all that lasts! The die was cast:

 

the forecast, doom. And then he looked

around the room, inspected it from ceiling to

the floor: nothing but his mood had changed:

no more. He heard a tapping at the door.

Someone else had knocked on wood.

He opened it - and there he stood! Him-

self! A doppelgänger fresh from his

Creator's shelf! "Are you me, or am I you?"

 

they asked, together, understanding little

about two, which seemed like one.

They were stunned: and weren't sure

that this was fun. Then I woke up and they

were gone and groggily I wondered why

they'd come. Another dream I hadn't

understood. But I was sure: this one,

one day, I could. Knock on wood.

 

July 11, 2006

 

Walruses

 

Sleeping giants, wallowing like walruses: trapped

inside your thick-as-layered-concrete head -

 

sometimes muscles stretch and spread - opening

a soporific lid a slit before remanding it to grids

 

of heavy dreaming: snores and creaks and groans

imploring every soma of your memory to slip into

 

a coma, slowly rolling over on their lumpy bones, 

enveloped in their steaming muddy bed: dense as

 

lead: close to dead: until some tiny chill - a thrill -

how many silent brimming crevices are poised to

 

spill? (A walrus now comes to - attacks - gives your 

rocky hide a crack - then lumbers blunderingly back.)

 

You'd forgotten until yesterday that you were

twenty-two. You met somebody who reminded you.

 

July 10, 2006

 

Déjeuner sur l'herbe

 

Sympathy is boring. Empathy's a little better,

but not much. Here's the touch I want. Drop

your front. Pay attention and take note. Be

 

someone for whom nothing's rote. Lavish

days with languor: listen to the clangor: mark

its chaos and its tunes: jot and doodle, don't 

 

conclude. Then let’s lunch. Talk about our

every bafflement and hunch. Make a private

clearing in the wood. Let the food be really good.

 

July 9, 2006

 

Sutured Soul

 

Today your mouth feels

like a Mack truck

drove over it. Pain is gold:

emboldens you to

 

certainty: teaches you

the starts and ends

of things. Curtains flip,

knuckles grip, dental

 

surgeon rips into

the window. Cut flesh on

his spindle, pass out into

dreams. Incursions of

 

sharp instruments: blood

streams - awakens,

heats. ("To make us

feel existence": Keats.)

 

Promising to render you,

your mouth and future whole -

quatrains, rhymes and dental

surgeon claim your sutured soul.

 

July 8, 2006

 

Barbecue

 

Reflecting on one's style is like 

an eye attempting to regard itself:

the mirror merely pinpoints where 

the pupil is, reveals the scrunch

and the expansion of one's lines.

I figure I've got thirty years of life

left, if I'm lucky: looking at my eye,

my style, my body or my verse

cannot refute the curse of their

momentum: all I can do is chart

 

them like a map, and even that,

I don't do very well. Past the fact

that I know how to spell - and

seem to need to plant my phrases

in configurations - I don't know

what to say. I never liked this stuff

before: poetry was one big snore.

Blake spewed gold by twenty: I've

never known that plenty. But now

I think the deal is this. I have

 

a style entirely produced by my 

carnivorous desire to break the back

of death - barbecue and eat its flesh

until it fosters breath. I'll bust my

ass to string my assonances

on a line, like laundry flapping in 

indifferent wind. I'll kick and punch

as decorously as this enterprise

permits, until, perhaps through some

internal rhyme, Eternity submits.

 

July 7, 2006

 

Short lucid life, strangely cursed

 

Short lucid life, strangely cursed - full of grace

but - lacking, oddly: lived by reflex - impulse -

splotchy memory - knit-raveling: mesh of fuzz 

and simmering awarenesses: countering doubt

with body-wants: to eat, perchance to sleep -

 

or fuck - or otherwise go after dancing devils 

in the dark - the deep: whom does one owe,

and what? Fuzz - simmering awarenesses;

some shimmering and daring souls appear to

know what to pursue. You wonder if they do.

 

 

July 6, 2006

 

Lump in the Throat

 

You want it over quick,

but that would be like thinking

you could pull the plug and

let it sluice right through - thin

instead of thick: the stuff will stick.

 

You say what you can say,

accentuating all the positives,

and exercise your firm prerogative

to leave the rest until another day,

or never. Then one day it belches

 

in the middle of a tea party,

and threatens to engorge your

throat forever. When I discovered

I had not acknowledged hell,

I didn't feel so well.

 

July 5, 2006

 

On This Day When I’m Supposed To

 

Thickly spread like too much marmalade on bread

a stultifying heat devours skin and dulls

Manhattan's ambient intensity: a tolerable din,

 

a comforting discomfort - something intimately

known and therefore loved - by reflex: like a mother's

tuneless hum: there's every reason to become

 

inert and prize inertia: coercion is unspeakable:

now is not the time to move. Mud-slow, I muse. Do

I love my country on this day when I'm supposed to?

 

July 4, 2006

 

Ain't No Easy Fight

 

At the surface right above the focus of the blast - 

the epicenter of the heart - the angel and the beast

do not, precisely, co-exist: they mix and match

and coalesce and fix their gazes here and there

 

and everywhere: become each other and/or hybridize:

categorize them if you dare - they'll shatter into anywhere.

We want, we think, to abdicate the throne of blood

and grief: and give it to that hungry thief who thrills at

 

killing and at lusting over what he's killed: oh, let that

part of Soul be spilled! - like water on the wicked witch,

let evil melt and twitch to its last gasp: and let what

lasts switch to the open heart - be felt! Until we see

 

the skulking thief is us, and all his power-broking violent

sadistic fuss is at the core, no less or more than 

breezy light. This ain't no easy fight. The beast is not

some atavistic relic: he's daily fed and wed to the angelic.

 

July 3, 2006

 

Post-Mortem Weather Report

 

What would you give for just one taste of

what comes after? Probably you're giving

it already. (Hold steady. It will come. But

 

not, on evidence, until you're viscerally

rendered dumb into some final incapacity.)

She committed her audacity three years

 

ago, five days from now. You saw her

struck down into knowing - or unknowing:

which? She's too bewitched to say. And

 

here you are in hot July praying for some

rain to wash the heat she cannot feel

away. Or praying, possibly, for it to stay.

 

July 2, 2006

 

Are We There Yet?

 

This excess! - this capacity to see and feel

and do and be! - too much to handle:

candle gutters and gives out: wax splats -

cools and hardens: that's that.

 

Fools and charlatans, geniuses and freaks,

 sexy muthas and dull mousy geeks:

whoever sits complaining - whoever strives

and seeks - ends up on the heap.

 

Far? - (whee!) - swear - bet:

 

bless.

 

Are - we - there - yet?

 

Yes.

July 1, 2006

 

My Meat

 

As from a butcher to a deli tray I am displayed:

yesterday I was a plate of sliced salami

circularly shuffled to attract the lunch crowd

(I allowed a punk kid - hot and sweet - to steal

a greasy treat from me - thrill to feel him

peel it off!): day before I was a trussed-up turkey - 

 

sexy, plump and tied and golden, gaping wide:

emboldening the passing salivating tongue

and hungry belly - knees I regularly turned to jelly -

to convene inside and plead to taste the least

of me - a shred of hide!: but no - by then, I'd

turned into a pheasant under glass (no way

 

nobody gonna touch my ass); I've been a string

of cocktail franks, content to pop my skin in

cocktail-drinking mouths - and sometimes, when

I'm feeling pallid, drooping south to sad, I'll turn

myself to chicken salad. But every day I spread

my meat: fresh flesh to tempt - perchance to eat.

 

June 30, 2006 

 

As Close As I Know How To Get

 

The war is with yourself: 

assembled like a darkly

wished-for dream: terror given

 

form and battled as if it were

living - warm - and near - 

instead of what it is: the steam

 

and storm of fear. Forbidden

hate and lust and jealousy:

what's wrong with him

 

and her and them: anxiety

seems tractable imagined

as external scheme.

 

You are what you seem to be:

the glints and gleams of

an uncharted sea. Here's

 

as close as I know how to get

to free: Embrace your own

infinity - and taste autonomy.