Monday, March 26, 2018

Blah Blah Eternity


I’m in hot water: lodestone
Malfunction, throbbing
Ocean on my back.

My shell’s beauty –
Hard as any – I meant
To master. Eyes,

It has none, nor ears nor nose
To call its own, all of

One should love.
Incrementally is best
Mercy says.

Lulled into dream
Does the trick.
I’ll be a hot cloud,

Pink when it’s over.
And what of the steamy wrath 
I amassed?

Engraved surrender,
Body low with words
Like gods once were.


I AM, that is,
A religion of one, a miracle
Of timing, timepiece

Piece of divine no
Genius can solve,
Hallowed be my name –   

I knelt at the figure
Of lovely man
In a gilded robe

Of earth, spread-eagled
Eyes on the jumble
Throng, on me, my song

Nailed to itself,
Flesh nailed to spirit,
Spirit by flesh,

Earth and sky
Nailed to a prayer
That repeats after me

Like a kid says over and over
“Dad, listen to me,


Delved into it
On all sides way back
Amid generations,

And it’s doom & gloom
Looks like. Screwed
If it bears fruit.

The great-great-greats
Fell in pain
On both sides

Uncles and aunts
Hardened their hearts,
Lots of wheezing.

This is a deathbed
Denial: whatever
Got done, he meant

Something else, or didn’t
Do it at all. Acquitted
Like all of us

With our alleged crimes
Amid the stars.
The bottom beckons.


Meantime, a PC-
Coffee-glut and touchdowns,
The boom boom boom

Of victory; kaon
Obituaries. Poor Pres, no
Wading in the palace

Fountain, no dipping
For lucky Lincolns
Or an FDR;

Not enough iodine
For the masses. 
His thinking

Cracks like lightning,
Conveys death
To non-believers.

Our guys and gals
Wear the white hats
To stay cool

In the unforgiving shine.
They fit perfect.
It never sets there.


Terrible things happen.
Time, space agree
It’s always terrible.

Wonderful things
Happen and everyone
Is afraid to admit it.

It’s like a marriage,
Rushing around
Forgetting things

Then remembering
What’s best to forget.
A final sweep

Of the terrain.
It ends like one too
With a falling

On the bed, arms
Wide open, big

Terrible wonder
In measure. And now,
What now?


I’d like to know who
Will run the upkeep
When the center comes

Apart, who will dispose of
The cars, trucks, trains
And who gets to live

In the toll taker’s booth?
I want to know
If paradise has litter in its gutters

If it has gutters at all.
I don’t want that old kind of paradise
With its language in ruins

Everywhere you listen.
What happens if someone else
From somewhere else

Moves in? Gives us the boot?
What if other people
Want to fly their flag above you?

I collect them, big
And small, because you never know. 
Run it up the pole in a snap.


Once upon a time....
Spic-n-span like the deck of a ship
Bow to stern; barking orders

From the bridge, the headless
Edge of a polar wind—
Once upon a so-so

Soiled by too little oxygen,
A hole closes
Each step you take

Is what drives us mad
In the humid polluted climes
Where horizons

Have no mercy, endlessly

Idea. Spotlessly –
Look at the universe
I’d like people

To keep it thus,
Evading the next
Something to cry about.


All you see was mine
Before you arrived.

You see was mine.
Now that you’re here

It belongs to no one
As if found, tripped over
On the way to mass.

Picking it up
Makes it yours, even,
Think about this, please,

Even though
It was once all mine.
Before you arrived

I was the lord of my domain.
Now I am a domain
Resisting a lord.

What a splendid time
When it was mine.
Now you. Death, you.


I didn’t invent me. I didn’t
Make life out of death
Or take anything

Or do anything
Or say anything
About anything

I didn’t ask to be sent here.
You bore me.

Have the decency
To provide
A warm thing.

Have you forgotten
Your manners?
Improved them?

Is it honor and nothing
Else, no humility,
No civility

Without reward?
I offer my foot to wash.
I offer thirst.


I go among them
As if they’d ever want me

As if they and I
One mind
One charge

As if I were not me
But posing as one
I go among them

Without options.
No stake in the outcome,
Being for

Today a song,
An arrow’s feather-brief
Flight, vibrations

Through air.
I shoot in among them
As if at a target

Moving as I do
Move when I hear
Me coming.


I’ll give you everything
If you promise love

Even if I have to war
Against those you admire
And the architecture

You love, forever
(Or else I can’t

Until death.
Just in case you get used
To me,

In case you notice
Your breath is mine,
Mine yours.

Promise me forever
No matter what happens
Or die or

Let’s just forget it.
Can you live with any of that?
Neither can I.


I’m no apple expert,
Just a fan of compromise
If the pay’s right,

If it won’t linger too long
In my conscience
And wreck

Everything else there. 
If it takes a daily on the rocks
To get on, hey, hello

Think of hot shampoo
Showers, dreams
Mined for reality’s boon

Before coming to myself
In a panic: save me! 
Please! Yes, calm

In the make-believe
I don’t know
On the street, at the table

While my wife
Ladles soup and our kid
Waves a toy


Like the flag of home.
Carnival experience,
Decide: walnut

Or plum, wound or pain.
She was uneverything,

Enough to love.
I was rich
With my poverty

Of experience.
We alchemized,
Fell victim, shining

In a conspiracy
Beyond our knowledge
Though sure enough

That love was
A dyke-hole
And a fingertip

And stardust enough
To fill
The scars.


I’m always in motion,
A wave in the air, okay,
Okay, whatever

You say is me.
I tidy up around here. 
My only

Discipline. I am
A stay-at-home warrior

With maps, parking
My least resistance
Like residual

Highs, clouds
Of skies, like leaves 
Fly in swirling,

Curling goodbyes.
Nothing’s a thing
When I crash

In apathy
On the grass no one
Bothers to cut.


Garden birds sing
Their view. I sit back
Like everything

Is just fine. A drink,
The wind
Combing the land.

The main leak
Is slowmotion,
The wall a lifetime

Below standards.
Will save us all

When my son owns it.
He’ll wink a brand
New roof, blink

The wall to right itself
Or a machine
Will do it for him.

I have faith.
History is full of faith.
That’s how we got here.

I’m keeping mine
Since it so happens
That’s all there’s likely to be.


At night in the castle
I imagine voices
Moving in the dark

Of the people
I know how to love.
I’m always alone,

Always just
About to light a smoke
Beneath the stars

Right on top of me,
A wild country thing
Screaming inside

The black trees. 
On duty like
Royalty’s henchman:

Manager of details,
Who, what, when, how
I’m the one

Atop the bomb—
Programmed to love
On a cross.


Always lately
In the alley, my mind,
Bushes that edge

Your place. I climb
The tallest tree in the yard
Singing whippoorwill

Shrill until the sun
Breaks on the hill.
I watch papa

And the youngest
Hunt for the ball
In the grass,

Her teen self
Skijumping as she trots
To find it.

In the alley
I search for love
Half-eaten in its wrapper

Or a safe place
To avoid the ones who hate
Signs they’re lost.


I go to my job
For money, to have
Something to do.

On the road
In contemplation
Behind the wheel

With the sun
Baking my forehead
Through the glass,

Tractors, trucks, compacts
With trailers pig-piled
For market, a lady

Pushing a carriage
On the dirt shoulder
Between towns,

I avoid them all
Between thoughts

Not only am I
Bringing peace to myself
But I’m driving too.


You want it
And don’t know why
And then do, and then don’t

Want it at all,
Don’t think about it.
You think rather

The answer lives
Only to die to live on
In endless thought,

In the meaty deep
Lungs where loose
Ends arrive,

In polyps of yesterday,
Branches of hope. 

Lately it makes sense
In the rain
Because you can see

From a god’s POV
The dandelions nodding yes,
Yes, agreeing to disagree.


Nothing but juice—
I have it figured. Remember
How I once imagined

You? And I’d be nothing
Without you. Nothing
Without us, without me

And others.
Remember the tricks we played,
How I knew where it hurt

And went there
To help kindness take root.
That was real.

But you can’t recall
The reasons or the point
You wished to make

About living that way,
Losing your sight
In the glare, what died

Mounted to debt.
I bank I church I fill
My account with hymns.


Hard knowing.
I say a word
And the chestnut

Drops a pincushion
On my head. The birds

Past us.
I can’t writhe myself
Out of it. Hard

Being here. Being
There for you,
Too. (Can I borrow

A few dollars?)
Maybe it’s a breeze
Where you are.

At least in the beginning
Before here and there
Facing each other

Look like leaving
And returning from now
On together as one.

Friday, February 16, 2018

World Series

They brought out the triple amputee.
We all stood at attention and applauded. 
He crossed the diamond as if freeing himself
From some device invisible to the naked eye,
In a crisp dress uniform. He stabbed the earth
With a cane, one sleeve flapping in the breeze.
The applause exploded as he jack-knifed himself
To the mound. The voice boomed again:
“Two tours in Afghanistan, Triple Amputee
Recipient of five Purple Hearts and a Navy Cross,
A true American hero,” and a name was spoken
Like one of those you hear every single day.
He tossed the ball (the pitcher held his glove
At the small of his back so he wouldn’t tumble
From the mound) home. It plopped from his hand,
Dropped and rolled a few feet away. The handsome
Faces of the players, heroes themselves, froze;
They stood tall, shoulders back, limbs complete. 
The announcer praised the triple amputee
For defending freedom, and for giving us
The chance to remember it, to salute his sacrifice.
But where, Iraq or Afghanistan, did he leave his limbs?
No one knew. No one but he thought it mattered
Which country of strangers had claimed them
As trophies of their own heroism, just that
He’s ours, and needs more than ever to feel it—
I’m thinking, Jesus, he gave up three of his four
With a good sixty years left, barring complications,
And for what but banks and business and good guys
In the stands, fans on their feet, patriots clapping
With the same thunder as the jets overhead, some
Checking to see who’s not enthusiastic enough.
Even those who showed up for baseball clapped,
While the team’s colors got painted on the heavens
Above the stadium. After the last out, defeated
Or victorious, we fight like dogs to exit the lot.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Fan of Fans

Nothing’s more sad at the end of the season
Than to see the home team go the way of leaves
Falling to the earth for a long snow-packed winter
Before life returns again to my dad, fan of fans,
Who sat in his chair all summer like the captain
Of a ship hovering above the old stadium, wishing
With all his might that the boys will pull through.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Fixing Plans

How can we trust the one who knows
What to do? Who has the plan? What about
The last thing he did earned our loyalty?
Sure fixed it good. But how could anyone

Believe in the plan? How could they
Listen to it, so much like the last bunch
That failed? As soon as I see someone’s plan
And an airtight argument, I split the scene

Like someone getting up from a bad film
And heading into the peopled night, digging
At popcorn slivers lodged in his gums
Wondering how he coulda been so dumb.

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 draw something that resembled her daughter, that it was important to get it right, 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 the 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 chilly tidewater dawns).
The whole business gives me a wound-tight
Fright. Hail 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 for 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 dawns,
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, the 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, the 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 shall 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 prayer, with a bomb's heartfelt amen.)
And now you’re dead, bright shade among them,
Angel of song, keeper of the 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.