Monday, November 27, 2017

This World of Ours

This world of ours, so big so round so blue,
Once imagined, is a whole lot of world more than
Enough for the likes of me and you.

Unknowable, held together by the felt glue
Of mystery, with or without any mysterious plan—
This world of ours, so big so round so blue,

Coughed up magma to grow green and fluid; grew
A soul, spread itself thin through thick & kin,
Enough for the likes of me and you,

In the eye, ear, the breathing beneath our shoe
And in the visions unveiled by the messianic man,
This world of ours, so big so round so blue

In sunlight, in darkness, as if by heaven's cue,
With a sidekick moon's radiant wingspan
Enough for the likes of me and you
Who need it like love needs to stay true
To our home of selves, and we best better can—
This world of ours, so big so round so blue
Enough for the likes of me and you.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

At The Border

They hardly set their bags down and were wanted for urgent discussions. The details, where they had come from, what they had done in their home countries, what manner of religion they practiced, were already known. They were escorted to separate rooms, empty but for immigration officers on wooden chairs at metal desks with paper and pencil at the ready.

In the first room, the mother was asked to draw a portrait of her daughter. It didn’t have to be good, said the officer. That was a relief to the mother, but she still felt that she had to produce something that would at least resemble her daughter, and she was never any good at it. Her hand was shaky, but she managed to draw a little girl in a summer dress carrying two bags that nearly touched the ground beside her.

In the second room, the father was asked to write a poem about his loved ones, a short verse that captures the essence of their beings. The officer was a bit impatient with the father’s expression of bewilderment, so he repeated the instructions, adding: don’t worry, we know you are not a poet. The father started jotting down words and arranging them into lines and crossing them out, replacing them with others, tapping his fingers on the table.

In the third room, the little girl sat with her hands beneath her thighs, her shoes dangling above the floor. The officer pushed the paper and pencil towards her, and then got up and left the room. The little girl didn’t touch the paper or the pencil. She just sat there with her hands growing numb beneath her thighs.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Extempore Exercise in Five Movements on the Death of a Master


Soon it’ll be a capital crime to aim a spot-light
At the mean face of the future, the past gone
Nowhere. Like poor fishermen, we prawn
The warm engulf of vanities, parasites
Of sea, sun, air; even among the erudite
The hook gets baited (rubber longjohns
To protect against chilling tidewater dawns).
The whole business gives me a wound-tight
Fright. Hail the masters full of grace! Amen!
The majority never know what hit them,
Don’t know his name, his poems; like lambs
Led to the table, they're eager to send
Others to war on the taste of local hams,
And others for security terminally penned


And others blinded by their own wise light
Stare off as if being was all about being gone:
Gas, flesh, bone; the survival sense a prawn
Has scuttling the currents; fighting parasites
And ship-sized fish makes for an erudite
Denizen of the human reef. Dicks, Johns,
Toms and Harrys: O bombarded dawn,
The sound of fury and glories tight
To the line—what works gets the Amen!
I’m afraid it may all be a crock o’ bull: Them,
Us, those others, as if the fuss for smoked ham
Were incidental to the sow. Wolves eat lambs
On wide open plains under stars that send
The kind of poems no mortal’s ever penned.


Every image appears in its own word-light.
For seventy years you wrote about being gone
From hatred, suffering, hunger. A mere prawn
In comparison, I’m a sinecure’s parasite,
Slack-jawed with self-love, as erudite
As a goldfish flushed down the john.
You made gospel out of all the meaty dawns
In a top/bottom squeeze, bound up tight.
You traveled among us, and them, with them
For us, writing about women prepping hams
In camp kitchens, farmers skinning lambs
From branches in village squares, the amen
Of a grandmother with the eyes of a penned
Animal, witness to what God saw fit to send.


In prose and poetry you lit the flood-lights
Above our path, paving the way—now gone,
We walk in darkness. The toxic prawns
On the menu are the true poems of our parasite
Natures, what lies out of range—erudite
And empty, feasting like bulging Johns
Cashing in orgasms for amnesiac dawns
While night-shift girls work a pimp-tight
Schedule. To whom should we send an Amen?
Perhaps now you are a God, or just like them:
Brodsky, your soulmate; Ginsberg, the ham
Who left us love songs naked as lambs
Sheared for cloakrooms. Could you please send
Angel reinforcements? I fear being penned!


Today at dawn I stirred to kill the light.
On the radio, news that you were gone.
(I have a new poem about a soulless prawn,
A week old pincer-clinging parasite
On the Frigidaire air, as if erudite
Flesh could leapfrog into holiness—John,
3:13, pinky-ringed in a lavender dawn.
I should have known to seal it up tight
With a prayer, a bomb, a heartfelt “amen.”)
And now you’re dead, bright shade among them,
Angel of song, wolf among lambs;
Out of heaven’s clay you were made and sent
To harden in the fires of what you penned,
So we sheep might avoid the void of an end.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sea of Seasons

On a late November day you arrive,
A low sun to whet the shadow's edge,
Counterpoint for the eye at the window
Thinking of the days unreal years ago,
Winter weekends for a bell’s tones
On the footbridge that spans the globe
In the Christian Science Church,
While you made the custodial rounds—
Hello, Hello, I'd say to the giant stain-
Shape of Russia, the Soviet monster
In red, in my father’s head and yours,
Hello Africa over the railing, England,
China at my back. November cold
On Clearway, concrete, asphalt, brick
Cold, while here it’s all green and brown
Weeds in the field, young birch trees
Bent clinging to the last of their leaves.
A wall of wind crosses the road, a wave
Hits home and I think of the fortress
On Castle Island at our backs, Logan
Across the channel, the great cargo ships
From a four-cornered world unloading,
Loading up for journeys of a lifetime;
A mackerel jig on your line. What a sight
To see those dead fish with their eyes
Staring, their heads chopped off, gutted
And filleted on the dock, someone else
With a bucket, a live one too big to turn,
Dive, surface before dinner. Yes, yes,
I remember the melting weekend ice-cream
Cones on the rocks along the shore, gulls
Sailing for scraps on the fishy breeze,
You held my hand climbing down
Where the waves clapped into crevices
And the seaweed gave the motion form,
Food and cover for starfish and crabs.
You loved summer seas, winter seas
And November at the window watching
An ancient seabed shaped by the wind,
Ten thousand miles from your grave,
I think of us together, and hear it
On the other side in those days before
I knew what Novembers meant, what
Seas and seasons I'd come to navigate,
That someday you'd be gone for good
And leave me dreaming at water’s edge.

Monday, November 6, 2017

I Mourn All The Shotgun-Dead Ducks

I mourn all the shotgun-dead ducks
Pond-gone, now less shade than sorrow,
The spotlit movement on the bad-luck
Border: brown-skinned swarms on-the-go
Scaring the demo out of democrats
Gringoed from gradeschool to trim the fat,
Dress the meat, and never take any shit—
It’s victory to the vipers in this snake-pit!

Only kissable necks and a sandy beach will do
For my grieving—O sensible superglue
Joining my world to my oyster
Of touch and taste I’d never cloister
For a pearl. I have a few good seasons yet
To reverse what made my feathers wet.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Coffee With My Wife

There’s a lot of sad stuff
To get beyond if you wanted
To live a life that’s unhaunted
Coming and going’s enough

Tough surrounded by fluff
To ignore in the passing
Like spurned upturned lovers
Hearing songs from shore

Calling without promise
While whoever wherever lights
Up like a star in a moonless night
Deaf and dumb to process

The heart’s feeding protocol
One morsel at a time crumb
After crumb until psyche’s fall
Is fast enough for a run

At scaling its mindful heights
And moving past the sum
Of its daily lethal delights
And all the sad to overcome

When finally back at home
To work the tiny tasks of life
A cup of coffee with my wife
Heartpain plenty of her own

Thursday, October 19, 2017

One Guy And The Other

One guy is cute and the other is ugly
the first misunderstood, the second raped her

One guy is tall and the other a dwarf
ill will toward  the former boils to the top

One guy has a big house, the other small
small owes big a fortune

One guy runs like the wind, the other
pokes along with his problems

One guy plays all day, the other works,
the worker with work to do,
ever always work to do, plays too much
with so much work to do

One guy wears a suit the other wouldn’t
one guy’s a king, the other’s not

One guy rakes his yard, bags leaves
the other keeps an eye on his strangers

One has several kids who love him dearly
the other farms it out, loves them dearly

One has the type of nose everyone adores
the other can’t breathe through his

One has a foot, a marble foot or bronze
the other limps on all fours

One guy flashes his diamond ring
the other tallies up red in the sun

One guy flies non-stop, the other sits
watching the descent of his betters

One guy buys the unbuyable
takes possession of the unbuyable
and the other notices
where and when
how and why,
his own on sale
his ubuyable to be bought
his unbuyable traded priceless wares

One guy speaks like a fountain
the other a broken pipe, tongue-lashed
heart and mind paint the deed,
rust beneath a coat
of calm

Beauty drives to higher ground
while ugly dons a skirt

Beauty burns ugly like fuel
cleans it up
cooks dinner
makes a bed in heaven
in a head

One guy’s beautiful
One isn’t
One guy sees it
One doesn’t
One guy did it, one guy did it
One guy’s done it
all along

and the other looks wrong
looks dangerous
looks out of his mind to think

one guy is beautiful, and the other
explains everything