Tuesday, November 7, 2017

blade


i came across this
blade and strummed
her with a finger and

i watched the dew tumble
to my bare feet waiting
and i thought about
the will of its wanting

and the arch of its back
and the pearl beads
riding on the thin ridge
and of their tumbling down.

it's all about the collapse
into the self and the
phonetics of the helpless
toiling we all make.

how a man once said
that when you die
you return to the memory
you loved most in life

which for me would be -
...

i guess i'm not yet sure
of the edge of that quiet
night or feel its pursuit

others i know have or
are, and i wonder where
they have landed or
where they expect to land

like the beads of dew
shaken suddenly and
violently from their long
highway among highways

by my curious, dumb finger,
how they rode the green blade
like crystal dreams,
then leaped into the air

and came down on
my bare feet waiting,
their coldness a prick
of my sleeping conscience.

i told myself i
better wake up in
case i miss the glass
jewels of this short life

before my blade is
strummed and all my
memories land at the
feet of unyielding stones

my best memory is yet come
but can be seen in the end of a
spyglass and i
won't tell you what
i see, but it

makes me laugh
and weep because
you are there, my beads
of radiant dew,
my loves

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

apples, fall


i saw you flower
in the spring of this
particular year, the
nurturer's air rushing
in as if from bellows and
beneath the tree from
which you hung, the
grass beginning its
rise to the goddess

i stayed away from the
tree, and from you, for
various stretches of
time, although you
spied me most days
when i came

to fetch the children,
who were out in the
back field thundering
in their frolic and unable
to hear the call to supper;

or to water and grain the
horses, who stood
in the pasture blinking
and whinnying at
the heat of the sky
and tumult of the birds;

or to dodge the stout
raindrops and electric
flash of lightning
that commuted the
sky into the refuge of
the wild reapers;

or to kiss my lover's
neck, with my hands on
her hips and her head back
and the sounds of
the summer spilling
into the soil if only
for a moment.

you aged slower
than the days moved
forward, but there
you have it - the sun
and moon are rivals
for your soul as much
as for mine

and i came out
one afternoon to
find that you'd
rounded into green
pearls strung
along the branch;

ornaments suspended,
silent as the flame upon
the wick, you in your
clusters clinging to
those slender arms,

hopeful for the day
that you'd find me
with my eyes adoring
your skin and my
voice high in the
chambers of your host.

but i am too wildly
flung to linger
for long, to be a
worthy engagement
for all of you.

some i did pick,
at random, to consider,
to handle, to polish
in the palms, while
most of you looked on.

and the harvest did
come and you braced
for it, virgin brides
awaiting in your green
cathedral, until the
whole affair was past
and you wept to the
ground on the eve of the
harvest.

i found you this morning
while out for a walk in
search of a matchless
offering of frost-dew on the
blade,

and there you all lie on
a matted bed of leaves
and grass, in concert with
a cold autumnal air that
sucked in as if by
bellows.

your stations now fully
transmuted to something
not lowly, but low, coronated
by crystal beads of dew,
your migration completed
violently indeed.

i'd missed it all,
all of it nearly enough
to no longer fully
know you anymore,
which is my consuming
transgression.

but rather than collect
you all in one terminal act
of hubris, to gather you
into unceremonious buckets
and get you off that bitter
bed that will soon succumb
to winter's enduring
concealment, i left
you to be

and stepped away to
rejoin this calamitous
existence that leads me
more away from myself
than toward, knowing that
i cannot be all things
to all good people,
and therefore almost
required by the fates
to leave you
in your spoiling postures

but stll

please

loved no less by me

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

the girl who dreamt of the exploding sun


the girl who dreamt of
the exploding sun
regards her moon
in a temper of mutation
and solitude,
singing about
a day or two not
long ago when
love's lifting wing
left her on a
diver's ledge

a wail to the stars
has caused her temporary
blindness, so she
bleeds from her eyes
until the salt in them
returns in a melancholy
flow down onto her
hands, her lap, the floor
and she is finally
ready to tell
me her dream,
which woke her last night

the sun - she explained -
rose high and stayed
fast when she ventured
outside: this cyclopean
orb hanging above the earth,
the size of immortality
and flaming in
its cradle, the sky,
like an accused child;
bristling and arresting
the air and scattering
all of god's shadows

but then, she said, in
that posture, in a
bloated cast, the
sun broke into a
thousands smaller suns
and tore across the
horizons and into the
orbits of all the stars
and held in their visages
the expression of eve on
the day she first loved adam

i am apt to think
she had dreamt the
dream of the resonant
goddess, who comes to
us in our most unarmed
state, tripping among
our gardens of dim light
and through our crops of
bright darkness and who
murmurs above the
husks of our delirious dreams,
'play, play, play!'

the girl who dreamt
of the exploding sun
is an heir to a pale heart
and a desolate amber moon,
a girl who must ever
be on guard for
the breaking tide
upon a spent shore,
and whose own love
is drowned in
the oaths of riddles

i would tell her this,
then, about her
thousand small suns:
smile up to them
in their fine orbits;
gather their rays
in porcelain palms;
sip them from the cups
of green blades of grass;
leap up and
pluck at them as you would
pluck at the strings of
an alabaster harp

for you know not
when they will
wind down their own
days, pass on from your
threshold and become cold
comets colliding with each other
until they've turned into the
dust of ages,
never to radiate down
upon you again

that is the nature of your
lovers' hearts, then

always

my friend

Sunday, October 8, 2017

my witness moon


my tempest purity,
my witness moon,
you've devoured me
and my pale armor;

plundering me,
my pastoral monarch,
my wild testimony,
rending my sea.

outside my window, on
this day, the harvest
epoch continues with
plaited rains,

lashing the barn
and drenching the
fields while i roam my
hallways to your chime.

flecked with joy
and crowned with
cascades of laughs,
you came

into my arms from
your vigilant mother,
whose seam was torn
and who was recast
anew.

you had no howl in
you, you never really have,
my astral sun,
my quick night.

i see you down a long,
pathless suspension,
your invasion of me complete
at the dawning of  a winter.

your meaning in my life
written with blood ciphers
and locked in a dark room
built with the bones of
my ancestors.

i'm not ever meant
to know why you entered
my dreams with all
your seraph sighs.

there, as in an echoing
chamber, you are the
plucking strings of a guitar
and lilt of a whispering peasant.

you were conceived on
a day such as this: at the
height of the harvest foist,
with her wet tremble,

when my howling passion
overtook your mother's
quietude and plunged her
into the familiar fire.

i will ever be an annotation
to your days, my vibrant
leaf, my avid voyager.

i will be the scent of the brume
of an extinguished candle;
the primal wildflower
perfume on your fingertips.

my memory lately leaks
from my timid fibers and
drains into the soles
of permanent wounds.

but,

my feet will fall
in the rattling hall
among a thousand and one
malnourished guests

before i know why you
were sent to me,

my lovely increase,
my armed medium,
my witness moon.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

to the girl sitting alone at the wedding last night


i.

to the girl sitting alone
at the wedding last night with
your gloomy lover:

i saw you twice
for hours as you
looked at the idling
table cloth adorned
with the ornaments of convention
and he didn't ever talk to you

you wore a dress that you
picked out for hours and
you made your hair a
canvas to Eros
and he didn't ever stroke your arm

you watched the bride
escort her groom across
a universe of polished barn
boards while you bit your lip
and he didn't ever whisper in your ear

you were ambushed
again weren't you?
by some bitter circumcision
of his irony; how he sat
with his back to you,
regarding his knuckles

your makeup was
ill-made while you dreamt
into your mirror how this was
the night he would finally plant stars
in your pouch, penetrate your
heart with a ferocious lightning
bolt

you've wasted hours wishing
him into your ripening loins;
hours of sleep enchanted by a
shimmering phantom only to wake
dry to the kiss of the wind

yours is a fugitive story
carried on the tongues of all
the inaugurated women who
ladled their dreams into buckets
of mud

only to see their coins
converted into stones
and skipped out to sea by
men made of ash and silt

i've wondered for ages
why some fields go to
harvest and some to seed;
their flowers felled and
best days sent down unspent

i would tell you
that you need nothing
but to jump into the
wheeling expanse
alone

that you flutter those
slender fingers across the
petals of collapsing daisies
alone

that you captain your
vessel, stand naked on the
prow, breathless,
alone

that you prick your
dreams with the point
of a pen in order to bleed
the air from the line
alone

that you pray for the
arrival of the triumphal
flood within you and not
the captive famine of another
alone

i suspect that you
won't, but instead will
sit at the reception with
your hands in your lap
looking across that long
way down while he
broods

ii.

there was a girl
in high school who
ached for love to the
point of distraction

she was not unattractive,
as i recall, but her
constant vigil at the door
of desperation ruined her face

how much she clawed at
possession! to be absorbed
by the skin of a boy!

i observed this in my cold
corner, alone, watched her
check her reflection in the
mirror of the windows when
a boy entered the room

she did no checking
when i said hello but
she did laugh at my jokes
and i soon became
her confidant

telling me how ____
kissed her at the football
game but has a girlfriend
(so be discreet)

how she let ____
change the oil in her mom's
car sunday afternoon
because (that's the sort
of thing i won't ever need
to know how to do, not with
a good man)

how she let ____
put his hands in certain places
even though they really just met
but don't worry it won't go further
(her mom got pregnant at 15
with her, don't forget!)

her mother was oily and
indifferent, blowing smoke
and barking orders from her
car whenever she had to pick up
my friend from school

her father lived in another
town - or another state - either
way he was really only
geography to her at that point

whenever i made her laugh
her poverty became a refugee
and i saw the real armies of
her cloudy battlefield withdraw

but then ____ would
come by and she would
stop laughing to check her
reflection and tell me he's
the kind of guy that will make
sure she doesn't live as alone
as her mother some day

she did not solicit from me
a kiss; ask me to change the oil
in her mother's car on a sunday;
allow me to touch her in places.
i was a brushstroke on a black
canvas

i believe i loved her
or would have, but out of
some overladen pity or
misplaced esteem

i dreamt about her laughing
teeth and the toffee smell of her
hair and how i could just mount
a rescue one of these days

but never did and
instead remained a witness
to her expenditure of time
flitting from flower to flower
and watched how she allowed herself
to be caught under bell jars
over and over

i ran into her at a store recently
and noticed her pearl was gone; her
fragrance evaporated, how her
hands and soul were as dislocated as
her mother's

i learned that she suffocated
eventually under the weight of
a collapsed marriage to a man
who was sulfuric and who had
moved to another town,
or another state, either way -

she'd bought her first car
and found an apartment
and her kids visited when they
needed money or a babysitter

how she takes her car to the
local garage to have the oil
changed because she doesn't
mind the man there who
flirts with her

i would know him,
his name is ____, we went
to school, remember? and
he's talking about moving
in

not now, she insisted:
she's too tired to need

then she laughed at her
own joke and we said our
good-to-see-you's
and then she departed
into her new glorious exile

iii.

my daughters, stay beneath the shading trees
that hide you from the mouths of captive minds
resist the urge to dive upon their seas
or set your sails to points of distant finds

deny a quarter to the ones whose want
would have you tossed upon their ashen sands
and make of you a shallow, idle haunt
stripped down to bleeding eyes and feeble hands

crave not a love, let love be love alone
have not your truth be leaked beneath your soul
stay not inside the mind that's not your own
let not another's dream become your toll

my daughters, toss your souls upon the air
and watch convention's shackles all laid bare

Friday, September 22, 2017

father fury


my son, with his drooly
speech, and his
excitable howling
and his fumbling dexterity
and his shoes on the
wrong feet and his open
fly and his picked-over
sores and his near-egregious,
gargantuan, gaping smile
and his stewing adolescence
and his incapacity for
meaningful discourse

was not dislodged by the snickers
of the boys this morning when
he'd launched his boisterous hello
at them and waved his fearless wave
toward them and dribbled his subterranean
basketball dribbling in their presence

as much as i was

i seethed
beneath the skin of my bones
at them as they pointed and
laughed; i wanted to pull
their souls through their
fingernails and strip them
naked before their petty
peers who preened in the
hallways of their school
and erected statues to these
new gods by their silences

i have gotten angry with
him many times; i have yelled
at my son, and i carry that
guilt one mile for every word
spilled from my guts and onto
his plate; i am sorry, and i have
no grave for my sins beyond
what my own arms will drag me
into, so i pray alone with dirt
in my mouth

in truth, i balance upon a wing
of smoke with my heels bleeding
and my eyes sewn shut, if
only to make do with these
tools i've been given

i was once a boy who
wept in the darkness
of my bedroom after
school so that my mother
knew nothing of the
trolls who haunted the
shadows of my days

i believed then that i
called down upon my
own head the lightning
bolts of those who held
dominion over me and
those like me, who
were voiceless

but today

i abide no fool who
scoffs at a soul that shades
to one side or the other
of a movable line: differences
are ghosts drawn in the salt of
the air and melt with the
tears of the mothers

so what have you that i have not,
and what have you not that
i have dreamt for my sons?

a firmer soil on which to stand?

please.

you have nothing but
your grandfathers' impotence
and coiling hell to look
forward to

so i sat beside these boys
and i whispered into the
pores of their waxed eyes:

i will make you piss
yourselves and drain
you of your fathers' wills
if you
point your finger

one

more

time

Monday, September 4, 2017

they raised a marble statue for you here


they raised a marble statue for you here
the oldest member of a stony choir
who sing a mourn about your lives afire
and how each breath was forged by angst and fear

in wonderment i walk among your heads
and ponder on this day with all its good
the lives you led and if you ever would
unlive your fates to slip these earthen beds

this marker is a lie to all your youth
a life's best spent when life is lived in truth

Saturday, September 2, 2017

all the lovers are miles away



all the lovers are miles away
and a fence post in the pasture
is too aged to keep her
barbed wire well hung

all the lovers are miles away
and the gate handles are too
entangled to release them from
their holding loops

all the lovers are miles away
and the horse and her two
companion minis graze upon
browning autumn grasses 

all the lovers are miles away
and the lame dog limps
about the yard and lies in the sun
and gnaws a phantom sore

all the lovers are miles away
and a zephyr caresses the
pasture grass as one would trace 
a hand across one's hot scalp

she had surgery 
recently on her foot
to right a 
prevailing wrong

the doctor had
been vague about
why it hurt so
much for her to walk

 neglected soreness
that began as a middling,
almost trifling, foolish
annoyance had calcified,

he told her,
into an unforgiving  growth,
a riotous spur
the size of fate

she said what hurt
the most was the
bandage that kept the
dressing around the incision

how it tightly
taunted her in her
immobile state, no longer 
able to regulate her day

i watch as she
unspools the swathe
from her treated foot
blackened and blued as it is

the wound a puckered
ridge two inches long;
a pleated range of pink
fleshed tied with black x's

have you heard from ---
no
have you spoken with ---
no. they're all gone

we talk as she
lets the gauze fall
to the floor and wiggles 
color into her toes

all the lovers are miles away
but the bandage is still
warm and i roll it into
a clumsy ball

and help her undress
and ease her into the tub
and watch her hips
and her thighs

and the way the water
rises up around her
arms and her breasts
and consumes her navel

and she dangles her lame
foot over the edge
and i palm her hot bandage
and watch her 

all the lovers are miles away
and my serene girl,
blood on her foot, is right here
and says bend down and kiss me









Monday, August 28, 2017

what have i


what have i
but the dim lights of you
lovers lost behind a bleak
window,

through which i must
hurl myself headlong
if i am to gain you back
after all these days,

shattering a barrier
erected when
our intercourse
was poorly spent?

all the estranged eyes
of all the lovers i engaged
with and released are
scowling through the film,

straining against it,
hurting for
the day when we are
congregating once again,

and embracing once
again and exchanging
once again and precise
once again.

what have i
but a bowed head
and a tear full of palms
reaching out for

you through the panes, hoping
that the breast that aches for
you will not drain itself too
much, too soon.

have your faces changed?
have your once-receiving
souls stitched themselves
up into oblivion?

am i to reach you
only to find your eyes
barren and your arms cold
as god and your lungs drowned?

what have i
in my unhappy womb
unliving in fervent acts
of crushing reservation

and the wearing of
a blanket woven by masking
blinds and secured with plastic
ties of self-loathing?

i'm certain you're there,
waiting, and i gain comfort
in that knowing, in that
expectation.

with the embers of your
leaking light i can see
through such a destroying
barrier that there is hope.

what have i
no less than a hammer,
wielded by the air
of your lungs

when you showed me you
loved me and i breathed
it in with my hungry
devotions?

i am sorry that
i have flung you so far;
that i let love lapse;

that i terrified myself
out of the goodness of
your eternity and

let go stale
the bread of you
passions!

on this path i am regaining
the clarity of my
former focus, releasing the
old foe out to pasture,

chasing fears from the
corners of my mortal
encampment that i might pierce
the wall now in this new fever.

what have i
left to do but to
press through?

what have i
lost that i can
find once more?

but everything

Thursday, August 10, 2017

no latch


he wants to be in your company
in the corner away from the dance floor
because he does not dance,
that's not his scene

it's difficult for him
to bridge, to admit to the
emotions across the abyss
of all those years of programming

he'd rather his hand on your knee, perhaps,
or around your back,
so long as he can feel your pulse
against the heat of his searching

and i've closed the latch
on you, i suppose, if you want
to consider it truthfully and
can face the facts

that his desire is not so far
from my experience, that my
exclusions are as darkening as
his hopeful inclusions are lightening

lately i'm in love with the
idea of him, how his hunger
is your iris-opening, and the
spreading is in full gorgeous view

i'm guilty of so much latch-letting
in my life, of harboring my lovers
in a lightless labor, huddling them
in the shadow of my ego

expecting them to bloom in
the dark with just my spoiled
breath the heat they needed to
find their true flower

but i'm discovering the
folly of this, of seeing
the man in the corner wanting
and seeing that his is a real passion

that he sees in you what i know
in you; that there is no lechery in
a full-fired falling into the arms
of those who would fully fly

with you, and be carried by
you or carry you, so that in
either way you are not left
in a cold dark place by anyone

i am guilty of driving the latch
home after closing the door,
and peering into the narrow slats
upon my proud capture

but i am sure now that love
is best laid open, freed of the
pull of tides and yaw
of billowing conceit

that we love best when
spread to it and receiving
it unbound, believing and
coming back home

no latch

Friday, August 4, 2017

intellectus sonet


you've approached her through that age-old passage
sure her inducement rises with your hand
engorged by the hubris of your passion
then foiled by that which you don't understand:

mouth the opening of her intellect
breathe heat on the aperture of her mind
erect a statue to her introspect
then have intercourse with all that you find

she'll then hear the beat of your native drum
invite her to discourse and she will come

Thursday, July 20, 2017

my baby, she got toes




























my baby, she got toes
sunk so deep in that morning
grass that she says, daddy,
i can't walk.

and i say no, i can't
pick you up, you need
to walk honey, it's just
from the dew

my baby, she got hair
blond as the sun, and it
shine in july the way the heavens
weep down on the forgiven

and i say, i love you,
and she look at the
tree with the horse
swing and she laughs

my baby, she got eyes
that consume the anxious,
fired multitude of all those
raging lovers

and adorns them with the
taffeta of her innocent
kissing lips and kindly
cooing breaths

my baby, she got a
hold on life as firm
as oak and she won't
let go for nothing

and she grasps my hand
as we walk toward home
and she whines about how
the world is too cold

my baby, she cry in her
sleep and it sound like
the release of black birds
from a consuming wood

and her momma, she wake
and stroke her head and she
whisper, home home
home baby home

                                                                                                                    i read a story in a magazine
                                                                                                                    that said a momma saved
                                                                                                                    a beach ball that was blown
                                                                                                                    up by her teen son hours

                                                                                                                    before he was killed in
                                                                                                                    a car accident and she told
                                                                                                                    the reporter, "it's all i got.
                                                                                                                    his air. it has his life in there"

my baby, she sing to me
in the back seat to the
radio and i don't
know no other nectar

that sounds sweeter
and i don't know no
better to just shut up
and listen to her

my baby, she got toes
growing clover up in
between them that make her
cry for my arms

so i pick her up
and her arm wraps
'round my neck and
together we sail home

i see the future in the
sky full of dying stars
and i feel the cleansing
of the light in that old dark

i don't care about nothing
in certain moments when
my baby wipes her grassy
feet on my shirt and giggles

Monday, July 17, 2017

shed


there is a spirit of her
in the things she wears
when she disrobes and
disarms after a long day

and she leaves a pile of
clothes in the bedroom
and with them she leaves a pile
of echoes in the
small heap of pants and
blouse, socks and bra

and she loosens her
life and unlatches her
clasp on a certain reality
outside these walls; her
release of a cold day
is the emission of
her essence particles

in the atmosphere of this
place i find her everywhere:

the favored pillow that crowds the
headboard;

the aborted sandal beneath the couch;

the worn hair tie hung on the knob
of the pantry door;

the fragile handrail that creaks with
the weight of the years;

the rim of the cup left to wait on the counter;

the heavy bracelet, adorned and
dimmed in the darkness of a shadow;

the blanket she pills in the night while she sleeps

i revel in her presence
in every moment shared
together as lovers

but feel her absence the
way i sense the waves of the sea,
how they rock the soul
when i can
hear them on the air
miles distant from me

all of these things
and every one of them
not witnessed thus far
emit a spectral ode
heard in the bones
of those future comers

who traverse the
streams of the dreamers
and are in tune
with the vibrations
made by the heartstrings
of former lovers

i believe in ghosts in
that simple way: they
haunt from the discarded
molecules of their flesh
when once they walked
and felled clothes
and touched doors
and breathed into linens

these small bits of souls
shed as easily as my
lover shed her clothes
enter their dormancy
and wait for a future
listener who will
catch them in an
unsuspecting moment

they haunt not from
a pouty rage, but as
a way to reconnect with
that of the living;

they want nothing more
than to be fleshed
again and making
love or leaving rooms
or crying into palms
or applying make up

my lover's left garments
i scoop up and pour
into a washing machine that
will spin out the dirt of
a day, but her mark
is already made

in a future,
they will smell her and
feel the heat of her and
taste the salt of her and
picture the curve of her hips
and hear her breathing at night

the way i love
to know her
she will haunt
them

Thursday, July 13, 2017

the lily, for good



























i recognized the face
of the girl who passed
away recently and to
whom friends were
writing messages of love
and loss across the sterile
wires

we went to high school
together, i'm sure of it,
yet we never spoke and
today the idea of that
leaves me in an echo
chamber with my own
clanging sorrows

i sit and ponder
the face of a woman,
once fully-fleshed and
smiling, who smiles now
no more

whose flesh is forever
seized and withering
but whose soul has been
released to the eternal ether
of the breath of the Goddess
to be re-breathed some day

what changed for her?
- i wondered this -
what transpired that she
be taken now and not later?
what thin variance came
to alter her path?

outside our living room
window stands a congregation
of gilded lilies, weighted
down by a spritz of raindrops
that fell the night before

i imagine the droplets
as souls sent on a call from a
god made caustic for having to
release his children to their
deaths in the name of sacrifice

and they all fell
freely in that darkness,
millions of them across
my small universe

and came to rest
on blades, petals and paths;
steal, rock, and the wool
of the animals in our
pasture

no prescription given,
no forthright agenda
but to descend in earnest
to us here and make whatever
change was open to their
impact

each of them
willing participants
in a ritual of
enlightened
love-offering

their cause known
to no one, no thing,
no beast, not even
to each other

i believe that
my lover, my most
sacred familiar,
is opening

the warmth of
a newly discovered sun
perhaps or the nutrients of
a freshly tilled
earth are pushing
her to flower
anew

without my hand
so much this time
and i stay awake
in reverie of her
new growth
but fearful of my
own waning
influence

i observed the
petals of a particular
lily in our garden
whose flesh was now
dotted with these
felled jewels

and my eye caught
one single droplet
clinging to the lip
of the lily's petal
and i stayed it with
the shutter of my
camera

i've since returned
to my writing and
wonder now what
would become of that
single crystal bead
whose passage began
in the dark with a single
mission and ended in that
precarious hang

will it have fallen
to the grass below
and nurtured something
there, leaving the
lily to her other
agents? and will that
reduce her chances
of flower? will it ruin her?

i think too of the girl
now gone, and wonder
what element might have
collided and clung to her
then fallen away and taken
with it a different fate

and whether had i spoken
to her in a long-ago
past might have favored
her and her own glassy
droplet of life in some way

or if i take a
picture of my lover
i can arrest her
in her frame and
preserve what i think
she is ought to be

and then i'm
reminded:

i must not indulge
fantastic thoughts
about the power of
my own influence
over the cosmic
and the chaotic

the wind blows
and the rain comes
after all, no matter
how i wave my hands

and that i am
not outside of this
but deep within

and the girl is changed
and the lily is
and my lover too

and me

yes. yes of course

Sunday, July 2, 2017

love is curtains toward a view





























i'm waiting for my turn
on the stage with
the seashell footlights
shining silhouettes
against a cream-colored
scrim

i'm waiting my spotlight -
how can it be so
not simple?

i sit in a bedroom
with white curtains,
a fan oscillating on
a desk, cooling my fever
while behind me is the
bed in which we
made love last night

i can't make my art today
for the humidity and
the brawling children who
are hateful with the heat

you can go,
she says - go
upstairs, you can
go - write

if i were a play's
hero-character today
i would be the one
who left his dreams
for a lover who
hated the lips of life
and sucked from him
passion

until he found the
love in the light of
a caress in the dim
hallway of a theater
playhouse, his
breath stopped
for the sake of
renewal then

my lover told me
recently she might
take up smoking
as a way to lose weight
and my first impression
was how sexy it would
be to watch her purse her
lips around the end
of a cigarette and take
seductive draws

the way women used to
look to me in the movies
of the 40s when
i feigned sickness in
order to skip school
to watch classic movies
on my grandmother's
cable television

behind the white curtains,
out an old screened
window, across a variable
way, is a barn standing fast:
an empty assertion of age
and history

in the leading man
of a show i would make
them all laugh and cry
and they'd send me telegrams
by the fistfuls
if we're following this
sort of nostalgic current

the barn was painted
last year for the old
man who lives there,
who looks out his
window frequently toward
our house, i wonder if he
feels a pull in the
heart when he watches us
making love, missing
his own life-love lost years
ago

the idea makes
me sad and watching
the curtains float
makes me want to
curl beneath the
sheets behind me
and smell her

sometimes love
is curtains toward a
view we're afraid
to see, waving -
sadly parting,
while a fan manufactures
a breeze that we can't feel

that's not true,
i'm being moody
and infatuated with
pity as i sit here

the curtains are
irrelevant

we'll make love
again tonight
and tomorrow
and in a dream,
afterward, i'll
give my monologue
in the dark to
great applause while
she smokes

Sunday, June 11, 2017

be present



how do i approach the edge
of my everything and leap with the
conviction of a man in search
of a fickle faith?

i am the promises
and the comfort of things
i offer to a select few,
but beyond that i am
mostly deferred by the
dead and living among me

who dog me
as spirits chase the
frenzied man
into corners of
vacated houses

i want that i should
go sightless into that abyss
like a sea captain commands
his ship into the night gale;
his is the power of a
man twice possessed

to leap is to say yes
and to say yes is to bow
to it all; the fear of it
consuming you is what holds
me fast to my line

i know
i know...
tell me though again
with your lips to my ear
and i will leap

faith is a chemical
reaction in the fiber of
the soul, breaking you
down as rain does to
wood left in a pile in a
fallow field

it lulls everything to
earth, founders the erect,
breaks your cells down so
that in time
you are absorbed into a
magnificence made of the
minerals of life

i'm open to it
because i know the
truth of you is in its germ;

because the future
lingers there with you
and just how spectacular
this horizon is when your
arms remain wide to my
reception!

faith is listening to
the flower suckle
the rain

it is tasting the
crimson blood of
the virgin

it is smelling the
air after a storm
has prowled the land

it is touching the
fertile moss hidden in the
hollow of a fallen tree

it is seeing
you when you are
not in front of me

spirit me here
to my right place! and be
present and repeat
in my ear
the story with
your fine faithful
breath

any story

i don't care

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

the soul is the master of itself

he frets:
what passion is this that
comes dawning over my horizon
like a prowling feline?

i am unawares
and ill-prepared, my
heart now inflated,
my mind thrown into flux

make it stop!
(but stop it slow)
make it cease!
(but fill me first)

i'd say to him: consider
every new love is an 
exercise in delicate variations
of chaos, its violence truth to the core

he paces in a stir and says
to the muse who brought him
here: i don't know but i'm alive
it's you! it's you! bless├ęd you!

but i'm torn, have i gone too far?
but maybe not far enough? i've been
struck by this and it's sent me into
undulating fits of joy and fear

i'd suggest to him: you see,
you want to master
the reigns to something
God set wild in The Beginning

you desire to be
transported just deep enough
then halt at the line you've
heeled in the sands of your heart

yet the soul is the master
of itself, boundless, and
it holds what it holds and gives
back to the universe unbound

and it humors none who'd
be its champion, beguiles
those who would attempt
to beguile it with reason

so know that if you leaped
(and you leaped, you leaped)
you did so with the wonderment
of a man soul-seduced

and while a breathless descent is the
expectation: a short, furious
fall ended by the impact of
colliding stars,

if you listen, open your
eyes, breathe, and feel
the pull from without
and the heat from within

you will realize that
the world leaped from you
in the moment this passion
came to play

you have the lover
now in an airy sway above
the cosmos, so dance
with her

and leave love to its
uncontrollable devices

Thursday, June 1, 2017

little. league

i remember matty
from little league who'd
broken his arm from
elbow to wrist
while going after a
sharp grounder to short,
how he wailed in the
dust of the infield while
we players all looked on

i stood absently in left
field watching the chaos
of running grown ups
and seeing the faces
go white as the boy was
carried off the field
by his father, who let
a cigarette dangle between
his lips, the smoke slipping
soundlessly across his son's
pinched face

a week later the cast
was already covered with
the scrawled names of matty's
favorite teammates and girls
from school and it was the color of
dirt and the left field grass where
he'd been relegated

his father
fired obscenities at the
coach as much as the ump
in that game, don't think
he didn't

'for christ's sake paul,
he can still play,
it's his glove hand,
he can squeeze it -
squeeze the glove, matty! -
why is he out there
in the fucking reeds,
paul?' and later, he told the
plate ump he was
a blind piece of shit

matty had replaced me
in left, so now i was
out of the lineup altogether
and that was okay with
me, i couldn't hit
and the coach never
looked at me without a
scowl

so
i sat the bench and watched
the drinking-buddy
fathers of the team's most
favored kids strain the third base
line chain-link fence and
smoke and bark at their boys and
slap the asses of their wives

later
we marched in the
memorial day parade, the
favored boys in a rowdy boast
in the front led by matty while
i hung back, told the shortest always
carries the team banner alone

the baking heat bore down
on the bills of our caps and on
our necks while a gangling high school
senior played taps and my father
took a picture of me with his
instamatic and waved

after the reading of
Flanders Fields and the
jolting fire of the rifles and the
inaudible prayers by clergy we
ate ice cream from round cups while
matty thumped his cast against the
porch railing of the vfw

'it don't hurt,' he said to
us, swinging the arm down
and letting the cast bounce off
'i could hit you in the
head, Turner, and it would only
hurt you, not me at all,' and the other
boys laughed, their faces
turned to see if i would say
anything: mount a defense

that was the defenseless summer
when matty's boys looked at
me and laughed most days
and i did not tell my own father how
i hated baseball, my father who stood
apart, on the first base side, away from
what he called the smoking drunks.
i sat in the dugout ashamed at myself
too much to look at him

'how come he doesn't play
you?' he once asked and i
shrugged. 'would you like
me to say something?'
no
no
god no

at the vfw
i did not say anything and matty
said 'pff' and dismissed me with the
casted arm and the
boys laughed, goaded by
a bloating sun

i walked the mile and a half
home alone in my Norway
Cardinals baseball jersey so that my father
did not have to wait with my mother
in the heat while i had ice cream

and as i walked i wished
i had a harder face turned toward life,
hard as a smoking drunk or a boy
with the bravura of a fearless bull

i wished i had a broken arm in a cast
and not such a broken head

Friday, May 26, 2017

i yearn for the unveiling release

i yearn for the unveiling release
of the artist who can open life
with the stroke of
the brush against canvas

she paints with blood,
and each approach is the
forfeit of her virginity
again and again

such an artist longs for
an appreciation of her
existence and must stand
naked before the canvas,
ready to give birth -
a rendering on the weave
of her pale womb

and the pains of it are
tidal, each stroke
a violent lashing
against the quay
built with chaos

i have an image of her
in her flesh holding the
instrument of her art
while i burn in my place

i consume her
while she stands
there, devour her
with hungry teeth
sunk slowly

if i truly risked it i
would press against her,
in her nakedness, and
beg to feel the pulse
of it in the skin

her head tilted, hair pulled up,
neck serene, the flesh
risen to the touch
of each purgative stroke
of the hand

how the hips stay square,
the feet apart, the shoulder
of the working arm tense,
the bicep and forearm
taut, and from heel
to finger tip a shuddering

and all of her everything
transferred at once to the
flat canvas now made round,
made deep, made open
by her deliberate pressure

i would beg to feel that
energy as a hand searches
for the heat of the
sun-bathed stone after
a cold swim

she paints not what
she sees, if she is being
true, but what she feels in
the rhythms of her
surrender: life beneath the life

i am jealous of
such an artist, clothed
as i am and remaining
clothed as long as i
drown in my fear

Monday, May 8, 2017

her smile is the thing


my mama, she holds the puppy
in one of her black and white histories
and her smile is the thing

a bare-footed gypsy in the 
early years of her epoch,
building up those resistances

i think i might believe that 
that smile is for me-in-waiting, 
because i called for her even then

her youngest child, who
would be heir to her runty,
her lush lips and lank

and i would be picked on for it
during the early school years,
but she loved the hell out of me

the best way she knew how,
with her little body and 
deep well of blood-fever passions

there is everything in that 
picture that needs to be to 
tell her future

the uncomely summer dress,
whose hem is soiled by the
daily drag on the ground,

gives voice to a life in the 
shade of a forced frugality
on a teacher's salary

the toes in the dirt sing to
a future of days treading an
eternal path of stones and ruts

the arms, in a desperate clutch,
cry to a soul made out of the
effusion of a heart's radical charity

but her smile is the thing,
the beacon for so many of
life's migratory love-makers

who will find themselves
on a reckless sea, thrown and
imperiled, raging and raw

her smile will cast out and
in that sweep, capture them and
hold them fast for a better port

i know this as much
as i know those small hands
and tranquil, sufficient lips

my mama, who played
in the dirt with her bare
feet and hands and who

grew up wanting me in
her womb and loving me
in her wondrous way

felt no poverty but that
which was poorly placed
at her feet by others

i have her smile

i have her smile