Sunday, November 7, 2010


Climbing clouds like stepping stones and silver fonts
(they cleanse his every step on upward ways tread through the air.)

Homeless, for his home is made in others' hearts
(swiftly taken, every step, towards
the peak of any mountain, the crest of any wave,
the swell of any quiet valley's hill,
there to enlarge his habitat.)

What use for garments, alms, particular things has he
whose eyes tell both the image of his one possession,
which possesses him: a flawless pearl,
its price unasked, held in his breast
(who speaks to God and hears of you, your name that sounds like pearl)?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Glow the Sun Leaves Behind

To the West, the sun sets and tells me there is nothing I can say
to encompass or reflect its magnitude or the arc of its path
as it falls out of view. Even as these words appear, the globe has gone
and left behind only the glow of still-hot clouds
and the markings of my inky hand,
perhaps the memory of my eyes,
to tell that it was here.

Rising from their distant roots, the yellow mountains form my horizon
and blur into a mist, mingling with the foot of God
so that I cannot say where they are ended or where clouds begin.

The font of an eternal storm, the one cloud overreaching
and welling like a wave longing to drown the world and dissipate
and never run aground gives me a drop and then escapes my windy eyes,
damn the wind! the wind in those great metal sails
that rise, rise, rise into a sky like a withering bloom.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Golden Pathways In the Skin

Golden lines run beneath your skin,
directing and yearning; we must have melted the ore,
for now the treasure runs like laughter in a child's lips,
the stream billows like a flag in the wind,
the lily entices the air and is moved.
Movement becomes dance,
one heart is gone and fills the soul,
the emptiness pools gold.

In martial practice, play push-hands
and greet what arrives, escort what leaves,
rush upon loss of contact.

Learn to play thus, learn to kiss.

Learn to love and teach the body all
the golden pathways in the skin.

Endless Red Field

Every time I touch that passage, I have to read it again,
and every time the wind blows by it investigates
that one deep crevice in the face of the high cliff.

When I see those blooms, I must inhale,
when I count the petals I must forget,
when I stir the waters they must rise
and ask me in a burbling tongue who I am.

If I reach that valley, I must run into it
and make some noise; if I hold back, what am I?
If once I hear the rustle like pages
of you, I am compelled to
I will never know, but I must, I must, I must.

When you drink warm milk with a golden strand of clover honey
swirled into it, spiraled, doesn't it slip down your throat
and land in the endless red field?

You Come To

You come to the home of Lao Tzu, where
even though there are no ornaments
you're weeping about the beauty.
You come to a very wide place,
to the One whose face you don't see,
and you're weeping.

You come to a mountainous peak
when the moon has waned
and waned and the circle of her visage breaks
at your weeping. You come to feel
what T'ai Chi calls dan tien,
the warmness and the full, close body;
being pregnant with your weeping,
like a many-petalled constellation of soft red suns
lifting their feet
and turning into the sea.

You come to realize that love is a void
into which is drawn the world;
again, weeping.

You come so close to the edge of you that, O!
the tension aches pleasure and the loss
shines momentously, but you retain
your balance for sake of your weeping.

You're sitting beneath the parkway
on a long piece of ratty carpeting
beside a concrete shelf on which a cabinet rests,
one empty drawer marked Clothes,
the other Books;

you're weeping


"Where was this when I was homeless?"


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Big Cats (of Autumn)

Tigers orange and red
and lions, lions golden,
climbing headfirst down the long soft trunks
of summer, vibrant into autumn,
fast-beholding hoary winter's encroach;
like a hand with a collar,
stiffening bark.

Claws like the claws
on the hands of a clock-face
telling time's dull toll, minute to hour;
the last laugh of the last partygoer
downing his drink in an empty room
of pale, pale trees.

Trees with trunks so high, who can tell
if the tigers started from the top before the lions,
kicking off the sky like the bottom of a lake
and racing the big cats down
to see who'd first be swept in piles
and pounced on?

Words for Abraham from a Descendant of the Sky

What a lovely, lonely-wondrous city
where Abraham's descendants would have been approximately
five or seven by the count of stars,
like blindly bought celestial cigarettes and match heads
circling around behind the clouds of rancid smoke
as this old sky pontificates and gestures.

Better, more beautiful to stare into the only working streetlamp
and pretend that it's the moon that isn't up there anyplace.
It flickers and burns, but it hasn't gone out yet;
hope it does, though: I'd turn and weep on no one's distant shoulder,
whisper at the empty crowded ocean of a city sky:

How the hell do I, do I get out of
sitting on the outside?


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sweet Old Vintage

Floorboards creaking in an old porch
sound like an omen to these ears
when coupled with the rippling rush of children
laughing as they run towards home,
their feet treading the wind,
pursued by leaves.

I say let the old pines groan,
to hell with wooden prophecies!
They'll support our weight until the spring,
just as the grasping, naked branches of the oaks hold up the sky
when the year grows heavy as a thick warm blanket,
cold as nights without you.

We'll cap our heads with wool, I'll stop your mouth with mine;
we'll bottle up this passing summer like it's wine
so not a single drop escapes us.

Then, love, when the thawing thunderstorms
and bright stars roll back round to us,
we'll wave at them and shout for joy
with hands full of the sweet old vintage,
the only leaves still bright upon the branches!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Long Rows of Old Childhood

My months are getting longer.

Long rows of harsh-barked oaks, old childhood trees.
Running, running, running fast my hands along the dry trunks,
feeling little bits of torn fur in this half-light.
Quiet sounds up there,
dark canopy of branches, flitting,
rumbling whispers.

You need to stop following me.

Rolling in and out between stiff fingers,
lithe, little bits of fur and particles of bark.

Like a foam-lipped dog,
kicking out its legs behind its rolling neck,
echoing through the wild woods.

Echo, echo, echo,
follow, whisper, running!
Bark like the soft shutting
of a wooden trapdoor on an empty stage,
no curtains, curtains, curtains rippling billows in the wind.
Sounds of many, many steps down corridors and avenues.
Rolling little bits of fur down deep forever-rows
of oaks, the dark trunks of old childhood,
off into the blinding darkness of
someway, someway, someway out.

Hands still holding to the barking limbs, the old child.
If we get out, I say, we'll leave this place together.

My months are getting longer.

Iron Caught in Hard Scales

"Don't you think," said the fish to the hook,
"that you should clean yourself off a bit before
you try to get at me like this?"

"Why," replied the iron, "so I told the worm!"

Looking close, the fish gave heed to conversation
and the fisherman, who felt the tug, drew up the line
and saw the scales writhe rhythmically,
pierced through the outskirts of one eye in agony.

Hooks have never caught in fleeing tails,
only in chatty lips that know not when to still themselves and run.
Did Christ say we should reason our temptations to the ground,
build up our good defenses,
or swim off quickly, leaving nothing in the water
to be caught and fried in butter, smooth as silk?

The courageous man seeks peace for himself
at the ultimately very low expense of all his pride.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Circling Fields of the Open Air

Two single plumes
having nothing to do with one another
circling fields of the open air.

Two lovers discussing chattilly how
horribly lovesick they are
for their distant, distant loves.

Two wax candles
burning weakly in far corners;
little light.

Two sides, one blank, of a lottery billboard,
its promised count long since inaccurate.
Millions still decide to play.

Two shade plumes; clear air;
bright reflections in dark water, someone
snaps a photograph.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

To Know the Autumn Trees and Laugh Like Rain

O heart! The rich, warm, rolling hills to the south
unfold as if they were the stars in bloom.
O soul; the marshes set afire, the clear scent of an old room
touching the crest of the red-leaved bird
that soars your skies to brush the walls of mere remembering,
and see, the gold flows out beneath you!

What of these? O, love!  To know
the fingertips ungloved
of all the many autumn trees!

Above, the year's last thunderclouds cast spells of ruin
and below, we roar up laughter, singing:
"See?  We laugh, it sounds like rain."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Denying Entrance to Two Demons On Separate Nights

The threshold you are tempting toward,
though but a way without a door, it is not for you!
You have been invited here, but there was a set place,
a set time: when I suffered.

Where were you then?

You are too late; your plate is washed and dried,
your chair pushed in, your bed fulfilled.
I am asleep now.  In the morning light, whom will I love?

Go away, little thing.
Take your dreams and cool night sweats,
your too-large voice, into the bottomless long avenue
of you, your coming too late to me.
My lover holds me, resting.

The doorway without door is shut.


I know the things you show are enticing, but your very appearance
repulses me like a sermon from the lips of a hypocrite,
like promises from a drunkard's mouth.

I have nothing to do with your hellfire!
Burn some other bright place dark as windswept ashes.
I have left your flame, scarred over,
healed without you.

I will not play your riddles,
you are too weak an instrument
for my ancient tune.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Wind Off the Waves (Hope & Children)

This boat will reach the shore. . .
O God, please, please, this boat will reach the shore?

A sailor who hopes to God that he remains a sailor because he cannot swim.

What will the children think who laugh and play on the beach
in the ribs of a dead ship without a sailor in sight of the long sea?

I left my mother for the breast of the wave,
the milk crescent swell of the ocean's moon.

But will the children know, and will their mothers?

How many mothers have come looking at dusk
to find a child curled in its fists in the ribs of a ship from the sea,
holding to the swollen wood with their small, brave hands,
trying to trace the contours, trying to breath.

How many children touch the ribs and cry as the mothers pass by
in their worry, their desperate plight, and mutter to themselves
above the sound of crashing ships and sailors far from land,
"Where is my child, not this, mine! Where is my morning light
in this rustling field of cast shadows?"

Ever deeper into the crucible embrace of watery planks, floating;
no truth, no truth to overshadow the height of human hearts.

O God, can I even speak?

The wind off the waves has run away
into the forest of rain,
moaning sea-spray, carrying my voice.

Hands to the rigging, my boys, my men.
We'll reach the land
one way,
or another.


Hope is a shallow wave in a storm.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Waves from the Potomac

Multitudinous grains of speckled sand, in and out again,
little curls and eddies swirling up the image
beneath a lapping, translucent lens.
Old, old Chesapeake crabber sees it moving so.
No good catch today; old boots, other garbage;
good wind whistling North Ireland tunes.
Smells of engine puttering, stale cigarette breath.
Ripples in his reflection.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber; strong arms, weak eyes,
thinks every day of serpents seated high atop the crests of waves,
crying out wisdom like thunder, laughing, crying so,
they laugh so hard: they smack their knees.
It sounds like water on the sideboards.

Ten cigarettes or so a day, these days, a beer apiece.
Not very good stuff, but when it isn't spicy, anything tastes like smoke.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber; lives on the docks,
nice cozy bed below-decks, calls sleeping rock 'n' roll.
Hates to see young punks buzzing around his pier,
disturbing what's sacred on the water.

Every night he's a child for 6 hours, breathing in time
with the mother-river's inhale-exhale,
soft waves like a pillow of milk breasts
clothed in satin starlight nightgown: a reflected sky.

Gentle raucous battered sweet harmonica,
key of G, drifts up Sunday mornings.
At church he doesn't exist,
but when he sees the face of God
and roars "Jesus Christ!" he means it, every time.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber nurses his own past lives.
Once a month he watches his face in the light
of a good cigar on the bay at night,
tapping ash, causing ripples.
Once a month: cries for lack of karma,
seeing no cause and effect to pattern memory.
In the morning: new waves from the Potomac.

Looks at God today, sees me tying off lines, says
"What the hell you staring at!"
I wave. He smiles.

Makes me laugh every time.


Have you ever heard
a small bell ringing without
fear of being stilled?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Suddenly Attained Enlightenment (Something to Laugh About)

Old woman I have never met laughs too loudly
in a coffeeshop and doesn't care;
dies in another year, I never said hello.

Young girl gets raped,
stands outside the clinic post-op, weeps.
Picket protest sign in hand, I shout a slogan,
spit into her old, old eyes.

What was her name, again?

God damn it, she's the child I'm campaigning for!

Small boy chases a bright ball, I run and shout.
Oncoming traffic cuts the air,
ball explodes under a black tire.

Sidewalk holds a living boy
staring open at a frightened man,
bright wonder in his eyes.

He is me.

Stepping carefully across cracked pavement,
tears blurring up vision; feel like every Zen master
who has suddenly attained enlightenment.

Old man I've never been
laughs too loudly in a coffeeshop
and doesn't care.

Five Days

Tormented by dreams.
Surrounded by summer mist.
Wilting toward the stream.

Art of Artless Portraiture

Cracked glasses lens
in a surpassingly beautiful frame.

Empty canvas
mounted on the wall.

Red bird trapped behind a drainage grate
in a midsummer rainstorm.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Awakened by Loud Thunder

Sleepless in my bed-
Where are you now, my lover?
Long nights of aching.

The Gentlest Small Thread of Lightning

My heart swells beneath my chest and balloons
the blanket of my warming skin
at the recent sense memory
of your fingers in my hair, your leg beneath my chin,
your hand holding me close as the car
turns corners in the rain,
this warm rain past midnight.

Beneath, the tires turn, but all I know
is your touch on my hair and my shoulder
as, gently, you keep me from falling.

It's very lucky of me, in this cold,
that I have found someone as warm as you.

As I startle at the sound of thunder,
as I close my eyes and dream of sleeping,
I am calmed, am soothed by you,
your touch across my back.

One tire skids, one set of warming hands
moves tirelessly, slow
as water splashes up
against the cracked window.

So bright are you,
the gentlest small thread
of lightning.


Have I grown since then,
or is it the flowers by
the long path that have?

Ecclesiastes 8

Life goes on regardless,
cuts Time through and through
with a long sword and removes its heart,
then lets it pass, finding no interest there:
a long, dull ticking sound, crying out
"Hurry!" and "Stop!"

A very good mantra: one footfall
ringing along tree paths.
It does not speed or slow;
a thing that dies without fading.

One Sweet Breath

My body, a good boat
in this life, a sea;
my heart a wide drain,
my intellect a tempestuous wave.
My tongue: the strong rudder
of my soul, a calm cathedral
built upon the mast.

One sweet breath in the doldrums,
like the sound
of billowing canvas.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

She Is Fading

I passed by your old
house today, thinking: "Soon, she
will have another."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Only Until I Find You (The Low Roar of Ramparts)

Down from the high castle of my stony intellect,
out from the deep caverns of my ponderous false heart.
I am alive and this bright golden field of my wheat soul is you.
So far removed, with your voice and hands hidden
amongst this multitude of gentle strands,
but only until I find you are we one in the distance.
With God and the thought of your eyes, I am a divine Trinity.
We three are all instead of one until I realize
that these words are the same truth: we simply are.

I am an empty sea in this fortress of my being;
without your light to rise and set with me,
I am the last echo of a beautiful phrase
reverberating off the walls in these,
the caverns of my heart.
Vessels cross me in rippling storms,
yet not one casts a shadow on its way to
some other inlet or bright ocean.

In searching through this field of my soul for you
there is the wholeness
and the insatiable void of God.
I cannot find any lie in life
because there is nothing, nothing to hide.

To find you here is every deep joy that never departs;
there is nowhere else to be.

Down from the high castle of my stony intellect,
out from the deep caverns of my heart to breathe a little;
to enjoy the sound of birdsong like your whispering words,
the taste of truth like your mouth and the touch
of the wind in your hand,
carrying with it the sight of your soft hair
and the scent of your skin past the low roar
of tumbling ramparts.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Window On the Dark Nights of Summer

The truth is that there are no monsters.
Staring at a window on the dark nights of summer
will yield no terror worse than the reflection
of your frightened eyes in moonlight.

I bar my gates.

I lock my doors.

I do not own a single mirror.

My voice reflects off polished glass
and through the silence, here is the echo
of me sitting in the dark, weeping.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


When did sleeping sooner so to reach the dawn become
this endless musty wakefulness? When did rocketships
become airplanes, when did airplanes
stop being blue and red stars in a child's sky?

When did the grass grow hot beneath my feet
and seep between my lips and burn there?

How the hell do I get home?

The road is no shorter for my asking it
where it will end.

Misty, heat-haze vision
of walking towards the sun.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I am wrong to say that I must train my eyes to heaven,
my prayers to stars,
my hands to reaching high until they ache and fall aside;
I search in all directions: God is there.

God, here am I.

American Blues No. 7

One note cracks the pavement and distorts,
grossly distends the meaning of soul
and what it takes to make beautiful noise.
Buzzing in my ear, throbbing in my hands,
burning on my lips; the conviction to kill dogs
when they are foaming at the mouth in a dark barn,
like college students on bail in the Ivy league,
with rubber balls stuffed in their mouths
and blindfolds soldered in place.

I've read their signs and heard their prayers and protests:
burn whiskey, shoot kerosene,
blow smoke off the steaming double-barrelled six-string
and it makes a sound like bells,
like broken bells and howls and wind in trees
that grow between cracks in the lanes on deserted streets
all day, all day, all day, all day, all day.

God, who knew this was what they meant
when they said bend, contract, release, orgasm!
play the fucking blues?

American Blues No. 4

This is the sound of waking from a lifelong fever
to the taste of my own breath,
the scent of windlessness,
the sight of being blind from staring
at the glowing pupil
of a cloudless sky.

On the previous horizon the sea rose up and swallowed the sun.
All the smoke of its death filled the earth, erupted nightfall.
Now the spent sea (a desert) is cold
from the light of the crescent-thin corpse
of the wet sun, dripping stars.

A dog kicks its legs in its sleep and growls in its gleeful throat.
Beside, a man dreams that he is running
from the snake-eyed shadow of his own ambition.

As daylight breaks they sweat themselves awake.
They are not chasing. No more running to escape.

They are lying both in puddles,
brush to one side,
rocks to every other;
bleeding out.

The man with his feet in the land, his heart in his head,
the days in his throat; pulsing wind,
each beat and return like the vertebraic crackling
of old hands trying to squeeze a trigger.

The wind knows just what the hell it is doing
when it blows dust and sand in the face of a dying dog
as it howls for its violent, virulent drunkard.

The Edge of the Peaceful, Roaring Sea

God knows my path through these,
these endless woods and shapes of foxes,
thieving foxes with their tales and eyes aflame,
these shapes of fire and the whispered shout
of a woman's voice that reaches out
to push me far from her.

By the light of fiery tails and by the faith of hope in love,
I spit into the dust and wipe my eyes with grime
to prove to us that I am truly blind.

All my movements cast the most fantastic shadows,
just like this helpless, happy tearstain that you touch and hold and read.
If only you but knew what you were drinking,
you would not be, O! so thirsty. And I-
well, I would still the tap to cut the flowing draught
and fall asleep amidst these lovely foxes, lulled to heartless passion
by the sound insistent of the echo of the love I knew to be.
But you will not, you know, and nor for this will I.

Somewhere through these God-damned woods,
there is a swell of low grass that goes on forever
to the edge of the peaceful, roaring sea that never ends.
On a rise above this hill there is a house
built with the callus
and the blood of Irish hands
to house a green and tender soul
whose heart can heal and gentle bloodless limbs
and fill the whole of eyes that seen too much.

I pray that I will see her face, which I have never known,
and that she'll speak a language that I cannot understand
so that I must fall silent,
watch her lips and hold her hair
and sit with her and listen.

I pray that this will be there, and that someday she'll cry,
for all the crying I have forced away,
when I am old, and tired straighten up at last my hands in joy to grasp
the sea-swelled ropes of my dying form
and face the wind and roar with happy rage and cause my final storm.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

American Blues No. 3

It's hard to live as if you have an answer when every cry you cry
you would, if you could bring yourself to call it, rage.
I am the sound of walking across the eye of God
as if I own the place, with the heart of my childhood calling out:
"Look at me, look at me, look at me!"

He doesn't look any different.

My steps raise clouds of ash in traced coordinates
across the wasteland of a luscious yard
as I fall out into the ruins of a perfect home
to live with the ghost of a beautiful woman
and sleep with faucets from upstairs
trickling down through swollen woodwork
to rain on my candled eyes until my vision smokes over.

I turn around, and all the trees have taken off their clothes.
They stand in the empty, naked and stark, like buildings;
the high-risen monuments to a concrete winter.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tramontana (My Dreams This Afternoon)

On a Catalan hill overlooking the specter of Lydia,

the Nightingale of Port Lligat,
and the silhouette form of the great masturbator,
a man stands old beneath the sky's one stormcloud, breathing deep
the heady aroma of promised lightning bolts.
He has chased the cloud and traced its shadow across to this hill
as it promises to drench him, without unhappiness
or recourse past the limits of the beach.
He stands, he shouts; his hands,
like birds once shot at, fly to touch his face.

He tremors calm through tears through widened eyes,
and hands he lends to tensious gravity.

He is;

From view of him my spirit descends
and thresholds the doorway without door (so just a way)
in a wall of flinching whitewash.
The walls ask, You? Where was the day?
I whisper in a voice like the steps of a candleflame's dance:
"She is nothing, nothing, nothing."

And O, the house,
it groans
the vibrant folds of dusk.

On a Catalan hill overlooking the specter of Lydia,
the Nightingale of Port Lligat,
a man shrieks into the screaming melody of tramontana;
there is lightning in his belly, and his breath
has fallen
on the hill,
beyond the reach of his grasp.


In the tramontana, the whitewash will refuse to say what it hears
and in its silence I will lose my words,
just as a candleflame goes out and rapidly ascends its dance

in the manner of intertwining pathways
found in channels of rising smoke.