Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spring Drought Canoe

My yellow utterly incarnate tree bends to the wind,

trailing its leaves, like the wake of a trawler, across the glass

in the wall at the head of my bed.

A sunlit dress with a pale green fringe,

and narrow, deep-red veins,

drifts from a hanger on a rack of clothes

behind your name,

haunting the still air near my memories,

flirting the billowed breeze

beside my hopes.

My rising summer heart

and daybreak eyes


into the fabric lines,

fingering knots

against the sight of naked limbs

reaching out to the wind,

answering the wind:

a dry and ceaseless rustling--

the planks of a canoe scraping against

the riverbed stones

in a spring drought.

My yellow utterly incarnate tree,

unravelling its solemn bough,

splashes its dress across the wall

and spreads a tide of dew before my dreams,

unclothes my dreams with names,

whets the abandoned channel of my thirsting dreams,

disturbs the sleep of the canoe

on the riverbed stones of that distant spring.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Wingless Bird

God, I have nothing
to say to you. A beggar
shows the king his palm;

tumbles, a wingless bird
before the swaying pines,
and waits--unmoving, breathless, mute.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Glass Curves

She is receding
the memory in the dark
panels of hardwood

walls speckled


altered, hung with
shadowed bulbs


bouncing round the glass
drifting slowly past

through walls

dwindling, receding

turning inward

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vivaldi Summer

Vivaldi summer

horizon boils over
and over, replaced

endless succession

pure grace refilling the lamp
beneath the bowl
of clouds

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Year Ends (Mononucleosis)

And growing silently tall
in the deep snow, the oaks said,
And women?

Quietly, I gathered the snow in my hands
as, silently, the ground reached up
to brush the tips of my fingers.

And the oaks, astonished, lowered their leaves
to wreath me in a falling crown of gold.


Opalescent glass
softly diffuses the light
as it enters the bulb,

spreading carnations
across the walls, covering
the surface inside.

A Tree of Dry Leaves (An Orchard Warmth)

Sinking, the pomegranate jewel dissolves
in an orchard warmth, extinguishing
among the dark roots of the good leaves
lining the curve of the bowl.

I do not want it to sink and die.
I want to keep it long alive and watch it
burrow through the stones and wood,
the endless lines of pipes and wires,
until this wet globe splinters from its core,
a dry leaf, an old ornament,
a long-forgotten fragment
reeling in the avalanche of space!

Drifting, the jewel settles
and falls along its course,
sinking into the rift between my hands
and my impenetrable hope,
burning until I break from the center,
a tree of dry leaves, an ancient ornament
dropped at the foot of a blank and ageless wall;
shattered and burned,
rising on the air, utterly still,
entirely at peace in the carrying throes
of the complete freedom
of emptiness.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Piercing Luminance (A Soft Door)

It certainly seems that Lily will never bloom again,
God will never be resurrected from my death
and the light is gone forever.

I never saw the light die.

I saw the obscuring grief gather,
and it took to the edges first,
slowly absorbing my center,
which shone till the last, as if to say
"Do not forget, never despair, remember!"

I saw a naked statue today, her smooth stone body reminding,
her promises concealed by perfect vines.
Her body spoke virtues: sacrifice, gentle forgiveness,
an invitation and a healing love.

God awakes in my body,
a piercing luminance breaks through for a moment,
a secret blossom trembles in the leaves.

Stay, my hope from God! Beloved,
guard yourself for me: unfold, enfold, in season.
These seasons never last, and Spring is close.

So begins lovemaking,
when my hope folds in the edges
of the world upon me,
closing a soft door on the past.

Clean Edges, Tall Glass

I appreciate tall windows with clean edges,
as I love beautiful women in passing on the streets.
Clean edges, tall glass, what do they know?
I look through them; they never see what I see,
unless the light glows from my side of the pane
and the other side shines darkness.

But windows aren't windows
in that case;
they're mirrors.

Women are mirrors, mostly.
Their bulbs burn out too quickly,
especially when they hang down
from the basement ceiling
on a wire,
without a lampshade.

Impenetrable Silence (A Low Flame)

It's not enough, said my simplicity,
that you loved her and today
she isn't gone at all but lives at a distance;
what reason to grieve?

It's not enough, replied my incredulous tears, that the pieces of
her little sounds once fit together into parted lips,
how her lashes brushed as she would close her eyes
against you, wrapping the bulbs within a darkness
as she bade you enter that impenetrable silence where
the light burned near behind a thinning shade of separation
that, bursting into a low flame, cast from two hearts at once
a single cry into the corners of the night?


Oh God, whispered
my shattered


Oh God, breathed out
my wounded simplicity,
don't say that again.

The Phoenix

This golden vessel weighs creakingly
upon the crux of the ancient wooden structure,
soft and damp and feeble.

This tall sepulcher glows a little from its mouth,
this ancient wooden structure prone
behind its dead tree scraggle-roots and thorns.

This golden vessel rests in the midst and shines through all,
this little precious empty thing, long longing to be filled brim-high.
It turns the water of the eyes to wine so lovers can be drunk on loneliness;
it widens and is large enough to bathe in,
if you know the words to say:
Oh God.

God has not forsaken the vessel of his making;
that which no one values gathers dust unhindered.
This golden vessel weighs creakingly
upon the crux of the ancient wooden structure;
this heart leans heavily upon
the dry beams of a love once new.
Make of a love a crucible,
and the vessel will emerge from flames
bearing its ever-truer form and face.

Oh God, this ancient wooden structure!
Who could have imagined
such heat from an old flame?


The truer form is stirring in the glowing ash:
an indistinct, beauteous shape
like a bird with new, clean wings.

Hallelujah in the Dark (Bright Spots)

Hallelujah in the dark, hallelujah as it sings from every flicker of every naked bulb.
Hallelujah for the 60 watts of clarity, hallelujah for the endless chiaroscuro.
Hallelujah in the highest, which my head bumps into
if I do not stoop too low.

Bright spots danced down from my eyes, across my fingers,
and they wet the dry, black powder of the shadows,
the shadows that traced swinging words.
God, write more with this torrential bursting forth,
God, drown some uncertainties in the rippling hardwood!
God, let the planks grow some new leaves;
so old, so dry, do they even remember?
God, let them twine through my nostrils,
let them encircle my wrists and cradle my neck,
and let them flower lotus blooms between my legs,
naked in the dark, revealed.

Take me back to the beginning,
give me back to me, to You, to Om;
oh hallelujah, save our souls!

The planks rend and the soul blossoms.

I Saw My Heart in a Pawn Shop

I saw my heart in a pawn shop and bought it back.
A bell-sound washed across the clerk, said: Free, no charge.
I cradled my repository close and wept him:
Damn you, liar! Damn you, liar!

They moved the chairs at the cafe. There is a long table there now.
How little it takes to slay an old thought, a memory!
Such gold would melt between cold hands.
I wonder sometimes who gets letters now,
whether you've run out of ribbon yet
on someone else
(oh God, God, God.)

I passed your old flame in the hall
and shared a glance:
you too, me too?

We burned low.

I don't know if your letters smell like you anymore.

I cannot find them.


I'm sure they do.


The clerk said, A beautiful girl
who smelled like letters
walked into the shop the day before you.
He said she looked sadly around
and walked out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Remembrance Asleep (Echo, Echo, Echo)

"I can't tell you the pace or direction
taken by the guiding traveler beneath my breast,
and what would you say if I could?"

I might have tried to follow the beat,
played double-time, caught up to it somehow.
I may have proved less wanting than I'm proven now,
thinking back in preference to waking up.

We Sang Our Songs (What I Will Be When I Grow Up)

I'm so afraid that everyone I love will die
and I will be left alone in a too-small box,
knocking on the lid with my nose
in a silent place with no good smells.

I don't know why I live so timid, never intimate,
claiming instead to be encircled
by enormous tall oblong protruding pastel faces
of animals leering sexually and wondering
half to themselves, aloud,
what I will be when I grow up.

I know how to sing! I know how to play! I know how to write!
I know how to walk around without my head in some damn cloudbanks,
looking down the wet slope of a murdered bridge.

Stop telling me I don't!

I'm not from where you're from!
Where I came from, we sang our songs
because we knew them by heart, not by rote.
Stoppit, damn stupid condemnation evil notion, confusing the two!

I won't listen to you. Goodbye!

Dream of Living Color

There was a slow harvest
that year, and slow
trysts, like long drops of ice,
reminiscent of all the color,
the variation of love.

"It's too monotonous to love,"
you said once, "the harvest
lacks Autumn color."
If only hands ran as slow
as hearts--look, the ice
you melted, it all drops.

I've searched for the sea built of those drops,
I've searched for a vessel, planks of honest love,
but fiery hearts must burn; a good harvest,
like intentions, cannot bear to ice.
Better to die spitefully than slow;
better to spark high than drain color

at the thought of waiting, to color
the smooth ground with wrinkling drops
and watch the earth bloom slow,
like a memory of love,
yielding to the mind a harvest
when, to the eyes, there was ground and ice.

Inevitably, invariably: the ice
blows in to color
my perceptions, still my hands at harvest,
make me watch as Time drops
my accusations of love
against my heart. Dying is slow,

just as waking is slow
when the corners of the dream ice
over and the tunnel closes. Love
must be the last color
seen when all else drops.
If so, let death harvest.

When death comes, how slow! Its harvest
will be edge-ice, the husk that drops
the spirit wakened to love, asleep to dream of living color.

She Clouds Wanting

She clouds wanting
This damn torrent
No light today

One day
will be new

One day
I will

and you



Friday, April 1, 2011

Gods, Like Men

Many, many memories have died and many futures shed their blood
throughout this war for the present,
this desperate whites-of-the-eyes campaign against the past
and all that it could lead to.

I am so tired, emblematic of my generation,
my generation emblematic of my race;
but I could escape.

I could know the hidden tunnel and the refugees,
I could know the touch of sunlight through the ash like clouds,
the clouds like gods displeased and looming,
the gods like those they condemn, the gods like men:
frail hands stained with blood they do not think their own.

Galatians 4

Do you remember the light from whence you shone?
Do you have any remembrance
of that bright womb cradling you before you were?

O God!

What did your mother whisper in her birthing groans to make you hate her so?
Will she squeeze love from you as water from a stone?
I am sorry that you wept at Moses' blows when words would suffice;
but hate, hate mothers? Hate bruised, discolored self?
Hate God that he is not obeyed?

You, Voice.

He does not see, but fear unblinded sight; not all feet are shy of Damascus.
Your hold is not so deep that a lion cannot draw you from his back by the throat.
This fire will burn, see all your ashes out upon a forge's breath!
You would have martyred impure ore, but perfect gold comes of it!
Golgatha taught you what you have not learned.

Persecution is the maidenhead of grace
that bleeds when it is pierced.

Eternal Long White Sheets

Eternal long white sheets, cool draperies,
forever and ever unending waves of noontide, moontide and dawn
fell with soft sounds, orchestral rushings, brushing silk and air and moth wings,
secrets down from tall beds, cold, thin clouds, down from the real, warm sun,
forever sun, where it has floated like a moon behind the veil,
where beauty has reflected in the rippled, glassy pools of promises and time
for so, so long, the tide has rushed and lapped, receded and moaned against the land,
the white, white beaches, the cool, clear rocks and moss,
the pictured scenes, the opaque whispers of a time to come,
the close, the near, the almost, the shiverings, the want restrained,
the forgotten time and the hopeless hope,
the hair that lay across shoulders, the some skin, the held hands,
the leashes for the dog in the alabaster coat, the shelved jar with a rush of blood in it,
the wind that told the first, withheld the last and ran while we ran after it.
All fell: a single infinite, impatient, instantaneous unhurried rush
of cloth and dress and wear.

There all of every inch and foot and dip and swell
and scent and sight and breath and lips and ears and hands and arms and legs
and touch and glance and lithe and long stood still and waiting.

Saw the sight, beheld the touch, embraced the real,
it all was there to be; I wept to her
as both our souls like stars collided and there lay,
burning until we were the brightest, only light.

Your Bright Ghost

I can remember losing a lot of memories in cloudy water
like a milky stare, like a child's gift swept angrily away
past immeasurably wounded eyes, the first landmark of adulthood
and confusion in the face of stupid cruelty.

I can see myself going blind with the sunset;
I cannot feel the touchstones I once held in hand:
light, rest, reason and faith.

All fades, yet I remember you, my gilded Lily.
I am encompassed by the night, these grassy rustlings, but you have a bright ghost.
Having lost even the deathly sense of the drowning glass, the looking glass,
the glass darkly swimming between blue hands,
your lingering warmth is all of mine.

God took you from me.
I would have been as jealous of my love.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Warm to the Rim (Five Cups)

In the first cup, I have no object
because I do not know what is there.
I drink from it when I drink from it.
The rim is smooth and the tea is hot until there is a cup,
some tasty traces on my lips
and a warmth within.

In the second cup I look for more and it frustrates the hell out of me
because the taste is different, the temperature is changed,
the process is observed, not done, and only fools seek to be wise.
The tea is first a catalyst, then a vexation, then a symbol, then a clue,
but never is the tea tea in a cup from which I drink.

In the third cup there is a mixture: tea, some milk, a little sugar,
bitterness and some redeeming warmth that makes the cup worth drinking.
I do not notice when it is gone; I've already begun to stir again.

In the fourth cup there is no tea and there is no cup.
There is a little milk to which I add some water and a golden strand of honey.
With these additional things, it still looks like a little milk
in a little bowl of cool, clean porcelain. The first drink is wonderful and warm,
bitter as hot water, cold as milk with no trace of the golden strand.
I hold it in my mouth and stir the liquid in the bowl with one finger.
I can feel the warmth on my tongue and I can feel
the viscous, golden strand entwined about my finger as it stirs.
I swallow the first drink and I taste the rest at once,
and O glad God! I am glad because there is so little milk and water in the bowl
and so much honey. Not wasting a drop, I clean my finger in my mouth
and empty the little bowl with my tongue.
I have forgotten tea and cups.

In the fifth cup is tea, but the fifth cup doesn't exist
because it is tea in a cup and I am not thirsty;
I want for nothing, having become, by this time, nothing myself.

There is tea in a cup, warm to the rim.

New Yorker

A woman on the back of an American magazine tells me with her gaze,
behind her cheap expensive shades,
that she is bronze and I am metropolitan,
worth looking at from the vantage point of the stiff gray threads
that make up the soft, cold couch
upon which lie her frighteningly long, long legs.

Her sex is barely covered by her leather bag and velvet hands,
her hands with little more to do in life than fondle her own vanity,
touch my eyes and lead me: onto the couch, on fast to nothing,
(that is, the point at which my paycheck ends, another man's begins)
and if, if I am lucky: into her
to be devoured, maybe photographed.

She wears her eyes as well as now her breasts wear both her hands,
almost as artfully as her ego wears her nakedness.
Her fingertip, paused in the apex of her clavicle,
moans me to rest in my pursuit of love by chasing her.

But I have seen her when she bathes her face,
have seen it run the same as I: madly
and far from her tumbling eyes.

Clear is the Dawn

Newly born of night, my sun rose clean and clear
into a dawn that faltered as it moved towards true light, true warmth;
no cloud to warn, no single drop of rain
from low heights of high hopes.

Into the dawn to wither?
Into the noon to die of darkness and misgivings of What?
Into the highest noon
like one of many cold stars that day.

Bright is the sun, clear is the dawn,
warm is the Summer that the Spring entailed:
distance, silent far-off space, has made the day so dark.