Saturday, April 22, 2017

no pyre

i'm minding the folly
of my own conceit
that burns in my
breast for men whose
art i envy

in life's balance the
gifts of the creators
are pyres set upon
their mountains
and lit for all

burning the corpses
of their creations
to let the ash rain
down upon the heads
of all receivers

in my darkest
i have fallen into
a valley and the
summits rise up to
cast me in their shade

and urged by malcontent
i scale their jagged
slopes to gain the
peaks and douse the
flames that burn me

such is the blindness that
befalls a man who loses the
sight of his own vistas and
comes to rely only on his
feet to move

a man whose jealousy
has embalmed the
spirit of his creator and
wrapped him in the swathe
of self righteousness

and on the last scaled mount,
turning 'round to check my
progress, i see the fires are lit
anew and sending up great
plumes once again

except mine, which stands alone,
unfired and distant, cold and cast
in the clouds of neglect and
wanting the return of its master
to bring the fire back

Sunday, April 16, 2017

one hundred thousand thousand and one

every moment now is past
and therefore marked and
the names for each are etched
onto melodic strands that
you drop into a jar

one hundred thousand
thousand and one marked
moments that make the jar
a perfect measure

of the virtuous time
and pleasant peace
and tidal epic that you
once shared

the jar a wide-mouthed
ewer of crystal that you
place upon the window sill
of your aggrieved mind

and when you reach into
that blessed chamber
you swirl, with a child's
fingers, the dowry within

because a good man gifts
a daughter a certain trove
of one hundred thousand
thousand and one blessings

that no other can read
or attain or approach
or wash away or believe in
or dispel or ruin

what is yours is the memory
fashioned between the two
of you singly and without
the authority of others

and in a day, any day, most
nearly every day, you will
hear the words singing to you
as echoes in a deep wood

you will reach into your glassy 
globe, your crystal keep,
and swirl the subjects with
a child's devoted fervency

and let a word come to
your hand in a magical
fortuity and pull it out
to give it renewed breath

one of a one hundred
thousand thousand and one
wonders will sing in your palm
once again

as if you were back there
in the moment it was born
and he will be there as if
sitting beside you

and you will feel as
if the time has not fleeted,
has not been spent, has not
rolled on, but rather has hesitated

hovering in a small place
just for you in this conceding
luminescence in which God has 
allowed you to once again bask

before replacing the thing,
the gift, back into that
place in your jar
on the sill of your mind

i knew not the man,
or the name of the far-sighted
sprite that you birthed
together, father and daughter

but that is why it is yours alone,
your one of one hundred thousand
thousand and one time-woven
remnants of life's labors together

Thursday, April 13, 2017

jennifer's sonnet


i sit to write a psalm of spring and love
when morning sun has made her light be shone
through frames of glass and cast from up above
this violent view has left me all alone

a crooked thing that bleeds into my room
was once the purest form of all that's true
the sun, a bride, and life her lovely groom
are separate now in time and rent askew

a friend whose sister's breath was taken fast
is witness to the evil of the game
that slants the light and life when giving pass
and takes its toll when filtered through the frame

the pain of death is how it foils the heart
by taking light and breaking her apart

Saturday, April 8, 2017

body in the river


it was the beginning of april
and the local river had glutted her
banks and shouldered away a man
who'd jumped from the bridge.

when i met a lover who
was a poet and who told me
she was put on this earth
only to change people.

she had full lips,
which is all i
cared to know
about at the time.

she believed also in past lives
and claimed that her prima persona
had originated in 19th
century eastern europe.

i told her, when she asked
what moved me, that i mostly
loved the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel,
and much of the Dead.

so she wrote a poem
for me that claimed
we'd met on a battlefield
of vietnam as medics, lovers.

it called me, the way an open
door at the end of a dark hallway
calls to a child sprung
from the throes of a nightmare

so i leaped

she smoked a lot and had
experimented with drugs while
attending an ivy league
college and she was an impatient lover.

her mouth was too big
for her face, i thought, and
she said she distrusted men who
spent too much time on foreplay.

but we played it out
all the same, met and
engaged, pitched forward
and back fully.

the snow had been
rained down to weak,
fallow patches in various
spots along the road.

every walk alone outside
smelled like overturned
soil and the renewal
of past conversations.

i found myself walking
a lot those days
and not bothering
to wear a coat

because i wanted to
feel the bite of
the spring wind in
my feverish bones.

the kind of jarring waking
up that comes with
the hard resetting
of a runaway furnace.

or like the plunge in
december waters after an
immersion in the purity
burn of hot springs.

i told her i cared about her,
but i didn't really;
i agreed with her that
we should run away,

but told myself: only to a field
in vietnam, or the capital
city of lithuania before its
fall to the imperial russians;

a long-off escape
in a distant separation
with that cold wind
i felt now stinging the eyes;

to some place
just enough out of the
reach of my own
feeble, dying imagination;

to convince myself that she
was as romantic and
as important to me
as she was to herself.

she didn't love me -
i knew that;
she loved how
the smoking bothered me

but that i didn't complain;
that i had not been to europe
like her; that she had a degree,
unlike me;

that she had expansive stories
and an exotic history
and a resume written
at the knee of the literati.

she teased me about
my unimaginative domesticity,
my narrow, provincial reference,
my impairing lack.

and after that brief
fire, when june came,
she was gone in a
bland ceremony.

against our wills, somewhat,
but not really, and for the best;
i walked the banks of the river
afterwards, from the opposite way.

the cold wind was
gone, the blood back
down to a reasonable
temperature.

they found the body of the
man in a downriver town, bloated
and bobbing, run aground among driftwood.
changed.

i can't listen to the
Byrds anymore;
the Doors, the Stones -
without feeling transposed

i heard years later that
she had a husband and children,
lived in some city as a wife
and no longer writes poetry

i do

Monday, March 27, 2017

Keep digging. You might just find yourself....


P.S. The content on these pages is copyrighted. You need permission from the author to reproduce anything in total or in part. 

thank you for your support

The book continues to get rave reviews. 

And Corrine and the kids couldn't be more proud.

Thank you to my readers. 


All of you.


"Your book came!"





Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The new book has dropped!



The new book, "the girl who loved dorothy the most," is now available for orders through Amazon.com or by contacting your local book store.


the girl who loved dorothy the most

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

fall down with the day


fall down with the day
now, fall down the day-
let the fever go.
let it go now

if you were afloat in
an ocean on your
back you'd let it
let you feel it let
go and your arms
would be outstretched

like falling down with the
day. now, let it fall and
get those arms outstretched
and wait for the collision
with the world

we all love the fall-feeling
but not the fall, it has a
sinister meaning that we
know but always forget;
it is unknowing the known
forgetting the unforgotten

when i'm writing i am
falling down the day
down with the day
arms outstretched and the
rush is in the belly and in
the cock

so there is power in
the fall, intelligence in
the descent, of the going
down too fast but sometimes
not fast enough

we must go to it:
go to it, to have the
pleasure tamped,
the pain amplified,
but neither giving quarter
to the other

falling is a skepticism,
like the feeling of being
confronted by a crying friend
and not knowing what to
say

i still feel the tumbledown
for those who tell me
they've sat at the bedside
of a dying sibling, even though
i've sat there with them

so someone says to me,
'she went home to the lord
last night' and
<she had cancer>
is in the white noise of the grief
and i nod and i say
'our thoughts are with you,'
which is a terrible thing to say

and then i am pulled out
of the fall, fully out
fast, and i feel like
throwing up

after my brother, dethroned,
left us all standing around
that dark, shrinking hospice
room i wanted everyone to
just shut the fuck up about it

or at least to say,
'your brother was an asshole
to me in 1979'

or to ask,
'was he still a drunk?'

or to weep,
'i didn't come around because 
i didn't like cancer'

something approaching
honesty; something
approaching a look in
a mirror; something
other than all that public
masturbation

instead to be
falling down with the
day, fallen now -
the day, float-falling
low-flung and arms outstretched

giddy with the fast rush,
the belly pull, the kink
in the groin, in that place of
shade between fear
and knowledge, the
good long slide

listen:

when love comes
it's a fall

when death comes,
it's no ascent, child

when the sun sets,
it's a plunge of the earth

when i make love to you,
it's a driving down

the baby sleeps in the
arms, and she flails from
a primal reflex
then shutter-sobs for a
moment then is at peace
again

fall down with the
day now, fall down the
day. let the fever go
let it go now.

arms

don't forget the arms


Saturday, February 18, 2017

so you wanted to know (it is)


so you wanted to know,
but i've avoided your
request these last few days
yet i see you're not going
anywhere without an answer

(it is the tipping of the glass
by a misdirected hand
and flailing to catch the
fall before spilling the wine)

so you wanted to know -
and your persistence is admirable -
but i question the motives behind
that limp smile and cocked head;
your expressions a familiar stage craft

(it is a boat abandoned on the bank of a pond,
flipped over to expose her slatted bottom
and spiny keel, laid to rest in a rabble of wild
grass while the pond moans for a lover's return)

so you wanted to know -
forgive me, that was harsh, but you see ...
i've had my fill of the glad-handing campaigners
who knock on my door only when the clouds stir
above my head and the rain comes a'crying

(it is an unseen finger burning a hole
in the middle of the breastbone
that lets life bleed out all over your
lap and onto the floor at your shackled
feet while you look the other way)

so you wanted to know:
i don't know where exactly the water all sheds
to after it rains. i don't see the evidence
of the storm until after i've
opened my eyes and smelled the air

(it is the beginning feelings of hunger,
just before weakness, when the gut
expands and you feel like
someone has pulled the plug that
sucks you down to a smaller place)

so you wanted to know
and have outlasted my
dodges and vague excuses
and stand there now illumined
by a fluorescent sensitivity

(it is the queer pull of the ocean
water past your feet as the tide
is lulled back out to sea, how it
feels like you're what is
moving, not the briny draw)

so you wanted to know:
so i will tell you, as long as you
understand that i do so from a position of
a man who has crawled under
his own chapped skin to hide:

it is not merely sadness, baby

Friday, February 17, 2017

sea glass sister


all those sea glass pendants
in the shopkeeper's window
hung from gold twine
a certain constellation
catching the sun
and diffusing her light

we stood, my sister and i,
outside and remained
hypnotized by the watery
glean of their reflections
how they penetrated
us from their distant universe

she was older than i
my sister
and the atlantic ocean
sighed in the background
the breeze a whisper on the bare
shoulders of burnt siblings

'i like the green one'
she said, pointing
i scratched my bare leg
her arm was slender and
her fingers were slim
you could snap her with a word

'i don't have a favorite'
i said, squinting
'of course not, dummy'
she said and she told
me to stop scratching
the same spot on my leg

sea glass the shapes
of an egg, an amoeba
a horse's head, a marble,
a tear drop, a fingerless
hand, a mountain, a
heart, a coin

'they must be a million
dollars,' she finally
said, about the brilliant
pendants, how they were
jewels on a string and
how we were always out of reach

and then, just then,
i saw our reflections
in the shop window
my eyes refocused, fading
from within to without
and we now stood clearly

two burnt and squinting
siblings on a white
commercial row of a street
among rows of coastal
streets and we looked like
hungry ghosts

i didn't like that
my eyes had fooled me,
sliding from pendant to
these two helpless
waifs, teacher's children
on a day's vacation to the ocean

so i closed my eyes
and opened them and the pendants
came back, sharply
dangling, motionless
behind the large glass of
the shopkeeper's window

'someday -'
she began
'yes. all of them -'
i said
'every one! yes -'
she said

'you get the green one'
i said
'i know'
she said
and we walked back together

to the sighing beach

Monday, January 30, 2017

avis, of dignity


i'm calling you from across the
waves of endless hours that have
rolled upon our mutual
seas

calling back farther than
my beginnings on this earth, farther
still than the beginnings of your
children

back to the place you were when
the picture was taken that i've stolen
from my mother's cache that she keeps in her
closet

a picture in dwindling black and
white and lashed with the
patina of history and
time

i call back to that perfect you
frozen in the frame, a face with a
thousand long views toward me
here

and ask that we sit face to face
in some pastel landscape
that is nearly too sweet to
taste

beneath a tree on a slope
of green land that lapses
into the bosom of the Atlantic
ocean

with a noble breeze carrying
the midsummer fragrances on her flows:
briny salt and ripe grass and honeyed
wildflower

this is where i dream you
were before you were my
grandmother and were just
avis

this certain specimen of
history: a woman in youth, handsomely
alive in her country's leanest
years

before the world out there
beyond your slim fingers
and taut face went to
war

i call out to you in that
dreamy blur of a place i've
invented and ask you to not
respond

but listen to a grandson
on a distant horizon still ahead of you
who is living in a world of a new
scarcity

not unlike the hard, white, bone-dry
landscape of your youth in
which hope was a savage
thief

and men and women alike threw
themselves against the tide of
black and chased hatred into the
wilderness

the land here is going fallow again
i fear; the water is drying up,
the oceans staying away for
good

everything seems to be receding:
time, love, passion and God and
the goodwill of merciful men are all
impeached

there is a draining pull these days
that has the strength-in-draw
of the tides of your beloved
Lubec

where you once met Eleanor
Roosevelt visiting the sardine
factories that swelled the coastline with
workers

'she was so dignified'
you said of the First Lady
who summered with Franklin in
Campobello

the gilded island a stone's throw from
your impoverished shores: an emerald polished
by a billion-year-old sea and just out of your
reach

but everything was out of the reach
of those threadbare fingers,
those durable hands, weren't
they?

those measures of strength,
your hands, that sewed the dress
you wear in my purloined
picture

'she was so dignified'
you said of the First Lady
of the United States of
America

i want to know what that was
like: to be held fast in the vise of
brute poverty yet find in the
face

of wealth and privilege, of
first class comforts and easy
living, the visage of
'dignity'

i want your generous power to
see the long view, to peer past
the pretense of those in our ruling
class

to forgive shining contradictions
between those with and those without
when mashed together like that in
space

and see, for the better, something
grand in the superstructure
that underpins our society, something
essential

i'm of a cynic's age, perhaps, lacking
all the necessary impediments that you
endured in order to survive a broken
world

there are no real hardships in this
world that are not mere tokens when
the light from your past is shone upon
them

we've had it easy, i would tell you
in the pleasant visit under the tree:
we've all gone pale and need some
sun

but i see the malignancy around me;
the spreading crawl of a kind of
old pestilence not see since your
youth

i see the rise of a mind, a bothersome
shade cast at intelligence and reason
for the sake of the drunken dimness of
zealotry

i call out to you in your distance
there, silent and flat as a picture,
and pray that you send me
love

love of the kind from those days that
cut away the brine that separated a people
and brought them together to quell
enmity

and see in each other a lasting faith, a
vibrant energy, a desire toward grace and
kindness in all classes that gives a chance for
dignity

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

no easy chair






















she asks if she might be able to
sit with me and then pulls herself
up without waiting
for an answer

i have a pain in my side
that she presses against
by squirming into the
small place between me and
the arm of the chair using
her bottom as a pry

it's an old recliner
its back having lost its
strength and one side -
my side in fact - lags
beneath the seat

no easy chair,
coarse from the
wear of humans and animals,
reeking of pale urine and
dog's hide and crackers

yet i have slept in it many
times, a lot lately in fact,
covered in a blanket and
embracing a pillow like
a lover, fully reclined
and listing to the right

while across the living
room my wife has taken
to the couch in those late
hours (or are they early?)
when the baby awakens
screaming from a nightmare
and hurling her own blankets
to the floor

this evening the baby asks
if she might be able to sit
with me, shirtless with
her mouth milk-ringed,
her flesh is tranquil as
sea glass, her belly egg shaped

the pain in my side is a stitch
that comes from carrying
wood into the house and turning
one way while not bending my knees;
and scaling up into the chair
her bottom pushes against it
and i flinch and settle, flinch again

outside, sleet patters the window
that we covered in plastic last
october when we felt the tendrils
of a draft; the old collie is at my feet
gnawing on his paw like he's
digging to the root cellar

the minutes tumble from the ceiling
as if shoved from cliffs
and they fall to the
floor between my wife and i
while the child unfolds herself
from this awfully terrible
chair that groans, i flinch

she stomps across the living
room, across all those fallen
minutes and crawls up into
the heat of my wife's body
where i would love to be,
my most wanted place

only god really knows
i tell myself in the
dark, facing the window
under assault, the chair
palsied long ago makes
me feel on the edge of
falling

i turn to my ailing side
and ignore the pinch
while i watch the baby
and her mother sleep;
i smell the baby's hair
on my pillow and watch,
watch them sleep and watch
the minutes fall between us
in this no easy chair

Saturday, January 14, 2017

the moment

blind in my living
a life of fading passion
you offered access:
a touch in that old hallway
dilating these clouded eyes

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

a loud peace

on a walk this morning, or
maybe recently, i came to
the boundary that separates
my property from my neighbor's
and found that overnight he'd
erected an encircling wall

an exaggerated thing, made of
mud bricks from the Nile,
it rose up far enough to
strain the neck and blot
out the east-rising sun
i'd once enjoyed at this hour

it now cast a shadow out
across my pasture, driving
the beasts north to where the
sun could be felt on their
backs, and the grasses in
shade had withered to dirt

walking the breadth of the wall,
i came to a gate in the side of it
that drew open, a gate made of
iron rods topped with filials of ivory
pointing skyward. in the center
an obscure crest of arms

from behind the gate stepped
my neighbor, who nodded and
to whom i said hello with a
raised hand and he made the
sound of a bull snorting, scuffing
the dirt with the toe of his boot

he began by asking me my position
on this or that - my position,
specifically asked in an intemperate
tone, a demand to account for my
thoughts and beliefs on where i
stood on issues that lately vexed

taking my silence to be in opposition
to his own stance, and converting
that opposition to an insult of himself
and his wife, his children, his parents,
and their forebears, he braced his jaw

he let loose a nonjudicial ruling against
me, in a barrage of unfiltered acrimony, as
if such a lecture - if it did not penetrate
my intellect most surely would penetrate
my skull with the force of it - was in
and of itself the sole and single way of
believing on the matter

i may have winced in the face of the
charge, not from finding truth in
it but from the bawl. his words
were merely feral cats let loose
into a decaying barn

tell me how you feel, though,
i said to him and smiled

this and this and that, he spat at me
this and this and that, he pointed over my shoulder
this and this and that, he concluded, lifting
his chin and looking down his nose at me with
arms folded atop a rounded belly

i imagined what i might look like
to him down that long ridge, down the
straight thin line that reminded me of
a sighted rifle

to him i imagined i looked
quite small and the perfect game
for this hunt he was on,
unarmed as i was, taken by surprise
and shivering from the morning cold

have you no passion at all?
he accused
i think i must have blinked, not
really in answer to him but more
in response to the spit he flung at me,
like coals tossed from a fire

have you no conviction? he demanded
have you no faith, no beliefs, no fire
for what the important things are now?

his questions were something like
a flag wrapped around the body,
a clever shroud that tightened the
more i wriggled

why do you squirm, when it is i
who finds himself struggling
to breathe? why do you fidget
when i am the one whose fortune
has been robbed of me?

robbed, i said quietly to myself

yes! robbed! by weak people who
did not work to earn their own
keep. i've no place to live,
no place to eat, no place to
worship, no place to enjoy the
comforts of my desires and will

i looked beyond him, into his
property, with its long uprising
green lawn, his flowering fruit
trees, his bright white home
that looked in the east-rising sun
like an alabaster cathedral

i'd not robbed him that i was aware,
and i suppose my expression said as much

...not by you, perhaps, you stand for nothing,
but by people of your own mind

...people who slack and slander, who
do wicked things against reason,

whose very beliefs are counter to history
and convention, and therefore a direct hindrance

to my liberties. they rob me with
their obstructions to the long establishment

i contemplated for a moment in his
loud sigh and his hoofing of the ground
with his boots

i suppose my silence, in the face of
the violent times, in the presence of
the growing tide that erodes the under footing,
could be taken as a sort of selective
moral apoplexy. those who remain silent
consent, it has been said

i've been quite loud about my convictions, i said to him

when?

in my silent living, i explained

he spat on the ground

in my silent loving, i explained

he spat on the ground

in my silent giving, i explained

he spat once more

the words of the coward!

i shrugged

weak!

i sunk my hands into my pockets

you weaken us all with your lack of fight,
you put us all in danger for the sake of your
desire to embrace everything. you must choose!

i lifted my eyes and looked at him

even nature excludes! it excludes!

he left with the slam of his gate and marched
up the long green way to his own home
and i walked toward mine in a melancholy

away from that wall, through growing
blades. past the animals who grazed
silently. beneath my meager fence
that snagged the sleeve as i passed
beneath the barbs and gouged the
flesh of my arm

cursing, i tended to the blood
with a cold rag as i sat before
the window that looks down over my
property and toward my neighbor's
new wall

i staunched the bleeding
until the constellations on the rag
had gone from crimson to
pink and then disappeared altogether

i thought of the important things
to which he referred and i smiled

the house was a loud peace

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Father


Finding the right solution to this particular
Angle, the one that has perplexed him for an hour, he
Thinks on it with his quiet resolve, his calm passion.
He is a master at steadfast patience, despite a wilting sun,
Even in the face of such wooden defiance, he surrenders not to the problems of life,
Resolving them instead with the love and grace of the carpenter's son

Friday, December 23, 2016

be anew

my brother, in the prolonged lead-up
to his death, photographed a rose,
a rose my mother planted in a narrow
garden at my parent's house, where
he'd come to live out the remainder
of his days

i would sit with him over nights, to
be a vigilant watchmen of his frail
meanderings, a guard against a sudden
stuttering fall

that morning, the morning of the rose,
we sat together on a bench on a porch,
and he leaned into me to show me his
photograph

"it's a venus flytrap," he said, and
i looked at it once more, thinking
he was being queer with me. even on a
slope toward death he was alive with
mischief

squinting, i tried to see his plant;
i tried to morph the tender pedals of the
rose into the spiny wings of the fly trap,
but failed. my vision was fixed

despite all, i could not
release from my mind the shape of it
being a rose

his brain was on fire, of course,
and i knew this - the cancer was a
restless bulb, while the drugs were
a different kind of thief
and together they had him adrift

i marveled - just briefly, and not
for the first time - at my brother's
reduction at the hands of fortune

how insignificant had the flowers in
gardens or the trees in forests or the shape
of the sound of my children's voices
had become for me

but for a man in the wake of a crushing
wave, he was now cast out and had no power
or time to make it back to everything
he'd easily dismissed in life

"it's beautiful," i assured him and
he put the photo away - it was on his
cell phone - and then told me he
couldn't talk about his daughters
"not right now"

i'd not asked, but his infected mind
had leaped from the photo to some
darker place, which was common,
and he now cried in a slump

why do we arrive at all our different
places anew, demanding that this at last
was the best, and now permanent, station?

for nothing in nature informs us of
this: the sea, the wind, the sands,
they never affix themselves forever
and their flux toward death and into renewal
is how they live

yet we cry out from our fears and
from our loathing of change and
we make blasphemers of our friends
who question our new sacred, firm place

he used to never sleep, in those last months,
from fear that closing his eyes would,
at last, tear him away from us

but after this, after the picture of the rose,
he began to sleep more, and i dismissed
it as the natural progression of the evil
that had consumed his brain

i just now recalled the rose and
how he'd seen something different,
two years since he slipped into
a new night, quiet as a closing curtain

but i see his venus flytrap now, from a new
vision: of a man resisting the solid
place onto which we all insist on staking ourselves;
a man wanting for release

he was - perhaps unconsciously from
his illness - reforming his perspective,
loosening the grasp that allowed him
to float away, renewed

Saturday, December 17, 2016

shidah


destruction,
i see, is how they've mended that
city in the distant blown-up country,
and i think how the sons of abraham
have all made a mess of it and his
daughters are left weeping

i once embraced, with gaiety and without
shame, my brother, who came to live with
us when we both were greater idealists

the muslim and the christian by
the faith of our fathers,
but to hell with that on this day
just for a moment

i must remember that we've all
been fed broken conventions
but were born with the perfect
blood of adam

that what is instilled in us
is opposed to what is born
and what is collected in
time crashes against what is
there at birth

i do not deny the greatness
of certain men, but
i question the truth in any
assertions of superiority

i recall weeping on the day
my brother caught a bus to the airport,
to fly home to his distant asian
country, because he'd impacted me

but from then on we wandered separately
in our own wildernesses,
marrying and making children
in these sheltered, assigned orbits

as the world saw the collisions
of faiths and nations; peoples
in villages perished and history
folded upon itself as it always has

but in our time together we despaired
not once about our wilting differences,
our encouraged ignorance,
but loved instead, for being alive
and full of the ferocity of youth

yet today i think my brother
will agree with me that we're all to blame
for the current calamity, all of us except
shidah and her sisters

the sisters of indra, of confucius, of
lao tzu;

the sisters of the tanakh, the bible,
and the qur'an

the sisters of the primal faiths:
of the maori, of the sioux, of the bushongo,
of the pygmy, and the dayak too;

the sisters of the mythologies of the norse
and celts; the slavs and the greeks

i see them all in the face of shidah,
my brother's wife, star of the malaysian sky,
her eyes the color of the melanistic wolf,
her smile as wide as the deserts across
which our prophets once wandered

in her is the seed of the beginning,
the coursing of the begotten,
the horizons of the generations and the
origins of the spark of truth

i'd rather see her rule, and her sisters
too; and i would see the world of
men know peace at once

for i believe the answers are in the
arms of our mothers, not in the arms of
men

that rules and laws, faiths and borders,
are the constructs of the self-appointed
while the members of our race who nurture
are the true keys to the gates of heaven

my own tribe will dine on these words
of course; make a meal of my
naivete, spitting out my bones
into a chalice made of earthen clay.

after all, what am i, but a small poet in a
village of inert souls who march along
in a cold country going colder on this snowy day

i'm a recipient of good fortune,
to be sure, but the only currency i have to
make change with is word after word

and we all know that the heaviest of words
possess no weight in the hands of
those who hold the scales of power

so i plea to shidah and to her
daughters, her sisters and their
daughters: assume your thrones
and cast out the usurpers and fools

for once claim and use at will, to
correct the blunders of men, what your god
has imbued in you by nature:
the power and the joy of
creation

Sunday, December 11, 2016

my passion

i tried to be as cold as the
church wanted me to be when i was
much younger and they said i
must remove the bellows that fired
the passions of the flesh

in me dwelleth no good thing,
they said, and for years i
flogged my inner yearnings
down into a loathsome pulp

and the homosexuals i knew became
stock characters, with their lisps
and flexed wrists and flash and
bright arrogances

and the girls who unfolded into flower
before me at every turn, in halls
and classrooms and on beaches,
became plastic pieces on a board

and the men and women of the
motion pictures and
the television programs who
joined the flesh of lovers
became unartful and flat

and while what was said by the church
against them was intended to brand
into my heart an impression of the
vileness of their stations
i instead made them all a craved thing

so that emerging from youth
i was something of a submerged brooder,
skulking in a corner, fearful of my mind
making offenses against my truth
and against the people of my life

my best friend, he died alone in a hotel
room, years after confiding in me that
he was gay and that he hurt from being in
the shadow of it, cast by familiar men

and my brother, he died from a tumor that
consumed his brain, months after confiding
in me that he felt he was unfairly
judged for being in life what everyone wished they
could be: unashamedly alive

free and boundless in his passions,
open and groundless in his flights
against the headwinds that buffeted me
for so long and made me hate love
and myself for wanting both

i was once overruled in every way
- as constantly as our revolution
around the sun - by the opinions
of those who had no real investment in me

i've lived a life accepting the
rejections of some and rejecting
the acceptances of others to
the disservice of my inner self

i used to believe that there was no
precision in passion, because it
held no good aim and struck at random
and was not a controllable thing

it was a trifle, something
like waiting for inspiration to
make one's mark on the page, so
therefore not to be taken seriously

wanting and expressing want of the
flesh was cast as a villain; that
desire was subservient to a higher
good, and therefore a dog in the gutter

but since meeting you, i understand the folly
of that: passion is received and spent
as vibrantly as allowed, when people
become people and the scripts of men are burned

and passion is where life flows
best, passion is where life loves
most, passion is where life lances
the boils of the callous cynics

i knew a man with passion who embraced
the essence of what made him feel at
peace, who shunned the preachment of
the fools whose desire was to control

they want nuance and implication when
i write about the act of lovemaking, when
neither exists in the thing itself; they want
that i be quiet with my dark thoughts

but the cock and the labia
nipple and lips are explicit
in the throes and the demand of implication
is just another forced march to church

so close your doors and click
off those lights; draw the blinds and
disrobe in your darkness with an
object-of-affection, your trapped lover

shun those who dare expose themselves
to the true natures of their beings;
tell the world how it is them
against us on our way to salvation

but i will not: my passion is naked
and raw and alive and truthful and
unashamedly in flight, accepting
of what i was naturally imbued with

because in me dwelleth all good
and in my friend
and brother
and you

Friday, December 2, 2016

light

a descent of the mind to gloom
is that slow wind-down of a senile clock,
that dull drip in a country sink,
that gray water in a pasture puddle

it tightens the jowls
and draws the heart into the stomach
and aches the legs toward a bed
where relief-in-sleep is a fool's illusion.

winter, it does not consume,
it extinguishes by bloat,
crowding my primal inner space,
suffocating it by a crawling expansion.

observe the fester of a sore,
how it begins in a spot
and advances, by dint of invasion,
overspreading with a brute passion.

that is the assault on my
primal inner space
that can come most any time
but particularly in winter.

with the bowing of the sun
to the earth's roll,
when her light ebbs away
and becomes an ineffectual flirt.

the assault
can get hold of me, and i
play the part of a mortal pulled
down by the hands of Hades himself.

i felt it for the first
time when i was old enough
to distinguish reason from the mind
and draw romance from the heart,

when associations first formed between
the material world and the
spiritual, when pain could be felt
somewhere other than the flesh.

there was a click in a moment
and i was no longer inside
myself but had stepped out
and into the sphere of others

and everything after that was
pointed to knowing, and pointed to
feeling, and pointed to the muscular
act of believing in a thing without proof.

how the descent of the sun
in the fall made the shadows of
the world something that now breathed
and made darkness a stalking menace.

it was at this same time - a time of revelation
and the bridging between the solid and the
fluid of life- when the darkness had seeped in
and begun its strangulation,

that i rode, in this gloom, in my parent's car
down main street in december, staring out
the window, feeling the breathlessness
of that choking of the soul,

when above us there passed lights on a string,
like the pulse of a beacon,
then a second, then a third, and i looked
up finally and began to count the strings

that had been strung 'cross the street
between the light posts, fat white bulbs
beaming in their fat white way hung upside
down like glowing acrobats on the circus wire.

the entire street, down its straight
way, was uniformly lit, equally and
of a perfect imperfection, a supine ladder
of lights suspended on rungs between those posts.

the town was of tall brick and short wooden businesses
shouldered together in two sentry lines on
either side of our car, the storefronts
likewise glowing, and with the lights of the cars

the scene became something of a jewel
afire, alive with an untouchable and reverent
warmth that had me sitting forward and
spectating on a brilliant miracle.

it had for me the effect
of being buoyed to a surface
after a long descent, the feeling
of a palpating heart and breath-hitch

and from that moment till now
and after now i look to the lights
at christmas as a favored thing,
a thing that holds the best of it.

the lights on trees, in lamps,
in the tall windows of shops
on the roofs and doors of homes
and strung across streets

what i think i dream of christmas,
when i do dream of that particular time,
is not of the meal, of the gifts
or of the family who partook

traditions count for something:
as markers along the short line
of our histories, fragile slips
frayed by the winds of memory

they are something enamored
and reused in a romantic way,
valuable in how they
keep us tethered to contentment,

but light acts a different part
in this primitive play;
it stands not as a marker
but as a thread of currency;

a thin potency coursing through,
pulsating within the conduit
of life, unbroken in the way
it knows how to find you wanting.

time and time over and time and again
light grows in that darkness
like searching irises and
their glow expands the inner space anew

for christmas is a time of
tradition, to be sure, but
the songs, they fall away;
the vacations from school,

the movies, the shows,
the family and the friend
the eve and the morning
and the unwrappings.

they all fall away and are hung
as markers on a line of histories
important in that form, in that
station, but different than the lights

the lights come before and remain
afterward, well after, and
have no histories or fading
inequalities, they simply remain

and in their place
come as a friendly force
to liberate that primal
place of the occupying darkness

Sunday, November 27, 2016

motion

when i woke, i went straight to
music and what i heard
set a scene one might picture
if awaiting the rise of a curtain

on some expected play
between actors we know
and whose work we have
a certain anticipation toward

or maybe that was the mood
i was in already when i awoke
and the music was a mere
conspirator? either way

the music felt like a prelude:
a softly moving bass, the strum
of a guitar, the slide of the jazz rake
across the face of the snare

the laying out of a rhythm,
the pace akin to a stroll
down a leafy path in
cold, wetted autumn with its

smell of the sweet decay
of the world on either side,
of sodden woods and the effusions
of cedar and pine

a man's voice comes in,
a lofty tenor, like a swallow
crooning up high in a barn
or a coyote call on a

ridge above the valley,
singing about a slow-moving
river on a snow-gray morning
or of something she lost

and the curtain draws open
at least in my imagination and on
the stage are two figures in silhouette,
frozen and waiting the lights

and that's when i knew
i should be alone to think about
recent scenes between us that
placed me in such a closing mood

but let me keep this confined
to a simple idea: love is not won
by talk but by the violence of two hearts
and a compulsion toward their unity

so it is with you and me
that we give out so much
in our passions and clashes and
rights and wrongs, the truth is

we have our primary source
of difficulty, our dramatic
situation to keep this play
on its feet and moving

we are personality upon personality, we've
got our cause and effect, our exercise of wills;
we have our action in the wishing of something
done and the doing of it, or the failing at it

a struggle means we've got movement, my lover; and
movement means we're alive with it, pulling in our
opposite directions, all of it a kind of goodness
and all of it just enough balance to be vital and breathing

we've got the small business down, too;
the blocking is perfected;
our habitual actions that keep
the eyes and ears busy:

you draw the baby's bath and i do the dishes
and you fold the laundry in the front room while
i start a fire in the stove and by god do we
like to see things getting done

there is drama as much in the healing of a child's
bruised knee as there is in the healing of our
bruised pride, tears and laughter come to an adventure equally
and hold the same station in the theaters of heaven and hell alike

the lights on this small stage are aimed in such a
way as to illuminate us in a singular spot, giving us
tone and a sharp focus, and everything surrounding
us – all the people and their events – is in a gray shade

let our audience look upon the play
with unpassionate eyes, seeing the flaws
in our action, the kinks in the motivations,
the poorly placed climaxes

we followed our own second thoughts
in the manufacture of this story after all,
because there is greater validation in the
inspirations of the heart than in the mind;

it makes us irreducible to their methods
and therefore we should not be
surprised by their distaste for our little drama,
as if it is a foil to all their proofs somehow

we play our comedy and our tragedy
on a single wire and live not by the
shallow mechanics of some joined plot but
by the depth of our plunge into life

we have the contrast and with it
the balance and our entrances
and exits and our business and our
passionate pleas and counterpleas

and our pulls and our lovemaking
it all strikes a fire in each other and
that's what keeps the drama
moving

i thought maybe the song i woke to
was about the disaster of two people
who'd spent their currency on
the ill fates and poverty of bad living

and how it spoke to me in that one
way, how it spoke of the troubles
that vex lovers to the point of distractions
that steer them toward a tragedy of ends

but i think now i misheard it all,
listening with intent and hearing
the meaning that the mood told me
to hear

the way our audience, in their patronage,
wish upon our unfolding story
what they suspect is a truth
they themselves are eager to consume

but the plaintive song, with its
drawling moan and its languid
slide toward a darkness not unlike
the sun's bow to winter,

is talking to me of you and
of you and i and of us as a one
always waiting our entrances,
our dialogues, our business-making

our pitches, our advances and set backs,
sometimes against each other's grain, but
sometimes along the same grain, a
pardoning of sins or ungranting of wishes

sometimes, when we intermit to take a moment to consider
a scene, we become melancholy, sure that living through so
many negations is just one bad episode following
another and we become convinced that we're playing this all wrong

that all this jousting and pain suffering is
a sign of a broken thing when placed against the
play of others, whose stories seem to be framed
by more accomplished actors and with greater ease

but thinking on them, thinking on them in a reflective
way, i see that a farce moves likewise: easily along
a flat path, without motion, without fire, and performed
for the sheer enjoyment and edification of their audience

i repeat myself at this point:
love is not won by talk but by the violence of two
hearts and a compulsion toward their unity, so i say
let them talk in their stasis. and let's remain in motion