12.30.2007

Lover of Infinite Lands

The world is lonely wherever you are not
(and so lovely wherever you are…)—
The winds that blow across so many Mexican ranches are chilly
Like the bottoms of icy oceans.
The grass is less lovely and less green
When you are not near the grasses to make them as they should be.
The ice caps grow chillier than they should.
They shock the whole world into a blanket of the blackest ice.
The rains that fall across Asian rice fields
Are like pelts of ice that ruin the crops and livelihoods
Of all paupers, everywhere.

The world is lonely where you are not—
When you are beside me, a chill falls over the next county,
And the hills of all the Western mountains miss you, too.
And, then, when you are on the top of some such mountain (as you are bound
To be), not just I, but the whole South, the whole world
Is lonely for you the way they are lonely for heavenly realms.
The stars, too, are cold and jealous
But you cannot touch them, and so
Please, stick to those things you can touch:
Glaciers and streams and oceans and a hill
And me at times and others at times—
For you, my dear darling, will soon be touching all.

So, when you fear for the chill that falls several months behind and before you,
Do not mourn for the people of those icy realms
For they, perhaps in the back or the front of you,
Will have once felt the warmth of your presence and your song.
The world, you see, is all yours, my darling dear,
And though you may not conquer it (the way you conquer
Many and mountains and me),
You will warm it over, from icy to icy pole,
With your warmest songs.

29 December 2007

12.28.2007

Raw

I maybe fell in love with the sushi bar man.
He stood behind the bar—
A partition to separate the desperate from
The Divine Giver—
As I walked into the quiet, serene, and desperate restaurant.
He was kind, for his eyes and his smile told me as much,
And eager to serve with his elegant, sparkling eyes.
He said, “What can I give you?”—
Ah! those words I love to hear!—
And his eyes sparkled, so I knew he was sincere
And would, sincerely, give me ocean waves and starry nights
If that is what I wanted, if that is what he could give me.
His triangle face
Pointed down to the things he had to give:
To the lovely library of green and white
And the raw red of the raw things he would give.
Everything looked like Christmas
And everything carried with it the scent and taste of raw.
Every pretty piece told a story and history,
And he served me what I wanted
So that we two became a part of the history
For the moments I stood at the bar.

There are times, of course, there are times
When a time of feasting on history and sushi
Must be done—
For there are always other things to do or to eat:
Delicious, decadent things to sink your teeth into
And to set your eyes sparkling and wild with possibilities.
There are always other histories to be had.
And I, belly full and heart content for a time,
Left the bar with a smile and a quick wave,
Happy to leave with all that I came for.
Perhaps I fell in love with the sushi bar man
But I will never think again of it
Until again I need something to fill
My belly up and my senses up.

12.27.2007

For Evelyn

We were together once and watching
the young girl, the lovely Sister,
spin wild with wimsy
in a grove of cedar-scented trees.

She spun like a dove in a hail storm
and like so many falling autumn leaves
and like so many petals from the avacado tree.
She giggled like a lunatic
or a lady driven wild with dementia
and by the brilliance of a long-lived life--
the Nature of wisdom proving too much for such a silly little mind.
She giggled, and we giggled as we watched her,
looked at each other and looked at
the Spinning Girl, the Little Petal Lady,
adorned in the splendor of her smiles.
She carried all sorts of fancifcul dresses and dreams
(dreams of autumn or of spring
or the way the sun and the rain likewise shine
through the orchestra of cedar trees)
in her silly little mind.
She smiled, and we smiled in the glorious breath of her wimsy
and in the cascade of her lovely giggles
and in the joy of her spinning petal skirts.

We smiled in our joy of Her,
and we smiled for each other.

12.26.2007

I've fallen in love with a man named Etheridge Knight.....

Belly Song

"You have made something
Out of the sea that blew
And rolled you on its salt bitter lips.
It nearly swallowed you
But I hear
That you are tough and harder to swallow than most."
--S. Mansfield

1.
And I and I/must admit
that the sea in you
has sung/to the sea/in me
and I and I/must admit
that the sea in me
has fallen/in love/
with the sea in you
because you have made something
out of the sea
that nearly swallowed you

And this poem
this poem
this poem/I give/to you
this poem/is a song/I sing/to you
from the bottom
of the sea
in my belly

this poem
this poem/is a song/about FEELINGS
about the Bone of feeling
about the Stone of feeling
and the Feather of feeling


4.
And now--in my 40th year
I have come here
to this House of Feelings
to this Singing Sea
and I and I/must admit
that the sea in me
has fallen/in love
with the sea in you
because the sea
that now sings/in you
is the same sea
that nearly swallowed you--
and me too.

--Etheridge Knight

12.22.2007

But I don’t know if I can write about
The children dying in the mists of war;
Or death squads, poisons, countries I ignore;
Or people I could learn to live without.
For I don’t know the worth of it—I doubt
Reactions would be won, just as the whores
Of Hiroshima, Prague, and Bangalore
Will not be won with guns, with death, with shouts
Of their Damnation scattered in their homes.
I doubt that words can heal, that words can cease
The orphans crawling through the catacombs,
Searching for a scrap of bread, and peace.
I do not know the worth of words that rhyme
Or medicines or kindness or my dimes.

12.10.2007

The Fire and the Fog

I walked one day down sinless streets
To watch the time slip by.
But while there, people in a drove
Did catch my wandering eye.

The darkness swelled around the crowd
Until no face was clear,
When all at once, much like a shroud,
Did rise a fire there.

The smoke that rose then drew my eye
For lovely was its light—
And o, the fire burned and hissed
And lit the dreary night.

But then the smoke did rise again
Just like a ghastly host.
The bodies there did form a den
To house the frightening Ghost.

The fire then was burning fast
And lit up all the earth,
But as the light of morn did come
It dried up all my mirth—

For sun and moon and all the stars
Were shrouded in the blight
Of billowing smoke that rose from flames
That once had shed such light.

I tried to speak, but then a cough
Did wretch my tired voice.
The billows of the smoke did quench
My tongue, my eyes, my choice.

So with the crowd, I hastened on,
Arms raised high in the air
In hopes that some eye might catch mine
And know that I was there.

The people railed and cried and laughed;
My tongue no longer mine.
But for the hideous games smoke plays,
The people thought it fine.

The fire once so docile, sweet,
And lovely and so thin
Did grow in violence and in strength
And ate up all the men.

The children screamed, but not in pain:
They welcomed tragedy;
Because they played among the Ghost,
He was no enemy.

The houses and the wharfs and springs
And children and the dogs
Were swallowed in the billowing strength
Of fire and of fog.

So, many people perished fast,
And all at once the fire
Became not merely light and warmth
But was a funeral pyre.

I know that still the sun will shine
And starry fields still lay,
And since I cannot see them now
They are not in the way.

And though I may not ever see
The stars or sun again,
Perhaps my eyes are better off
Not knowing grace, or sin.


10 December 2007

12.07.2007

And now the winter has approached: Our heads
Are covered in the penitential spell;
Gone are birds who boast that all is well;
The leaves have fallen, strewn about us, dead.
It now is winter; now with utmost dread
Now must I cease to write to you. You fell
Like autumn leaves, but now the winter tells
That, like a bare-stripped tree that stands in beds
Of fallen parts, so also must you stand.
You stirred me like warm wind against my face--
In gentler months, you bid me take your hand;
But now for all our comforts, winter in its place.
Forgive me, then, if words or hands now stray--
For now they only slur and drink and pray.
I need no touch to tell me of Romance:
For touch can be a devil or a fool.
It can blindly take charge or can blindly rule
And never give my heart a fighting chance
For all the beating and the throbbing, like a dance.
I need no ribbons, and I need no tule--
Just your set of eyes, set deeper than a jewel.
I need no hand that gropes or lung that pants.

I only ask for fingers that can touch
Though I will touch them not until they're mine.
Your eyes and thoughts will be my one request,
Not mansions, diamonds, starry skies, or much.
I want your all for me, and it is fine
Not to be groped but to be called your Best.

12.05.2007

Leaves have a sort of learned helplessness:
In Autumn, they get shaken from their branches
And they lie still upon the ground
To await being stepped upon or sat upon or jumped upon.
They wait (to fall or to be stepped upon), but they do not wait for me.
Those that remain high upon their pedestals
Do not wait to be plucked, to be taken and turned into
Some child’s craft or some teacher’s exhibit or some lover’s gift.
Those that remain only wait to fall and be a part
Of something so much larger and grander: Autumn.
They wait to be a part of the thousands of other leaves that have fallen
Earlier that day or earlier in centuries before.
They wait to be a part. They do not wait for
My hands or the child’s hands or the teacher’s hands or the lover’s hands.
Leaves have a sort of learned helplessness:
They feel the autumn coming nearer to them, and they change—
In one ecstatic wave they become something new,
Some new color and entity that suddenly attracts some new audience.
They feel the autumn coming, and they are prepared.
They do not know the times or the seasons, but in one great
Romance,
After the long wait from bud to bud, from hand to hand,
They change into some new beauty and then fall to earth
Before their beauty could fully be taken in or grasped by those feeble hands.
They become beautiful only to make more beautiful the great
Romance
To which they belong: Autumn.


26 November 2007

11.28.2007

A Romance

When in the ‘spanse of time I would recall
A silly-rhym-ed symphony of words-
Worth nothing 'midst the clamor of the bells,
I'd walk through familiarity
Of emerald grasses sweet and soft to touch.
A gentle kiss of wind against my breath
And vivid hues of violet light the way
Back from the house. My footsteps would not fail
And I, once more, would be with-out those walls.
The brickwork, dubbed by years of soil, wear
The temp'rate trials of a life -- a monument,
Colossus, giant form, cemented sure
Against the rocky fundamentals. Then,
Escaping through the rooms towards the door
To scurry to the lighted windowsill
From which the brilliant light, emanating
And clear, poured crystal rainbows all along
The rug. I sit serene against the glass.
My clawing eyes searched ev’ry inch of earth
To find a fault. No problems seen, I stepped
Across the threshold, regal and composed
To meet the raindrops searching for the warmth
Of human skin. Pleased to concede, I’d go,
And ev’ry day her eyes would search for mine.
I would dance for her and sing a song
To chase away the pain within her bones.

A romance born of bare-foot promenades
And kumquat trees with aloe interspersed.
Amongst the scent of myrrh-like breath, I see
With elephantine eyes the murky lake.
I feel with recollections strong the cool,
Soft wind composing milky-water rips
And tears. I taste the end-of-summer sweat.
I hear my idle voice raised to the doors
Of heav’n itself to touch the ear of God
Or anyone who’ll listen.

Now I hear
A voice, more ag├ęd and repulsed by sound,
Attack the throne of pearl and glassy sea
Which mimics that most perfect and ideal
Mirage. The agate tears of sky and wind
Returned to earth to quench the crying ground;
And I, alone against the rage, am still
Along the waters edge, toes deeply damp.

I owe to you my sanity. I dream
Of you in moments of despair –
To look upon a skyline mixed with steel,
You are the only grace to ransom me.
How sweet your leaves, how kind your tender branch
To hold my swinging legs and weary head.
Would I were there to once more sit alone.
Would I were there to dip my toes in deep.

11.26.2007

White Flowers

I have grown quite tired of white
Flowers: always celebrated in mourning,
Or in weddings. I am in need of color,
A spell of bright swirling sparkling
To brighten up the gloomy world.
What there is of Fall
Is beautiful while it lasts—
The colors are sparks against the low gray clouds
Until they fall and leave us gaps up to them.
The winter, too, sparkles—
And though white, still it covers
A great host of colors and histories:
Choleric babies and warm fireplaces and fallen leaves turned into some dirt.
But these white flowers cover not.
These white flowers are funeral dirges
Or songs of great white mirth.
I grow quite tired of breaks in color
For a solemn affair.
I want for one wash of color, unbroken.

26 November 2007

Monday 26 November

I wonder at all the other 26 Novembers—
The todays for some and the yesterdays for some.
I wonder at the other Monday 26 Novembers
That felt quite like this one—
And did a child play in fallen leaves
Or in fallen snow?
Did a hard, cold rain fall
Or did the sun fall like a great beacon?

And did a young man, ages ago or yesterdays ago,
Sit down at his desk,
Pen or quill in hand,
Ink smudges lining the beds of his fingernails
(from whence came all those funny words,
Until, good God, some oil was struck,
Making rich the writer, making rich his
Sons)? Or did a young man
Yawn and turn over once more,
Escaping the incessant drones of some similar bells?

I recall one such 26 November—sacred and bleak
Where a great hush fell with the avocados
Down to the earth with a whisper.
Children played in the murky waters, splashed
As though only an ant might have died,
Squashed beneath their fumbling feet
As they padded towards the shore and the waves.
Then from the west, with the falling light,
Came the sound of some similar bells—
They called out, like fireworks splitting the sky,
A death knell.
And all at once, there came a hush,
Soft as the crushing of the life of some ant.

I wonder at how they used every 26 Novembers—
A lifetime of Monday 26 Novembers.
How did the lady tidy each stray hair
Before approaching the aisle?
And how did the son creep up beside the lizard
To catch it before it ran off?
And how did the oil monger carry home his wealth
In dirty handfuls with stained fingernail beds?
And how did some similar bells sound
In all of the other 26 Novembers?

10.25.2007

An Unquiet Life

You’ll quietly go to see the Almighty—
A shocking end for an unquiet life.
Your hands are frailer and far less mighty
And as soft on my hands as they were on your wife.
Your face is now rigid as though set in stone,But your voice kind of shakes when you say “How pretty.”
You may say aloud, “Oh, just leave me alone,”
But eye glimmers beg us to lend you some pity.

Y’looked up in a tree
And met your dame.
She looked like me
And we talked the same.
She wore her braids
As I wear these.
That’s what you get paid
For looking up trees.


Your ring, like a hammer, fell from your finger
When you moved away from the beloved city.
You grew up a giant, and you grew up a singer,
And you grew up some members of some great committee.
You grew up a poet, and you grew up a saint,
A church man, a barkeep, a wandering fool.
You watched them work as you watched them paint
Their first family picture on their first day of school.
You worked your four jobs, you brought in the meat,
And you lived with your woman who never complained,
Who cooked up your dinner, and always smelled sweet,
And longed for companions, but always remained.

Now tell me your truths
And I’ll tell you mine.
We have our youths
And plenty of time.
We’ll take our crusade
On down to the Keys—
You’ll throw a parade
That celebrates me.

Off to the Orient, holding your hats,
You cruised on the streets and bought your cheap things.
You held her hands, held back your spats,
And lived out your lives as the pauperest kings.
Your children were born. Your parents all died,
The knights of religion that set us ablaze.
Your brother was dead. And then was your bride.
Your life still continued, and so did your ways.
Front porches now shelter your leathery hands
Until you are called to do your grand work:
Quiet, you swing until one commands
That you wash up your fingers and set out the forks.

To suppertime talk,
Do you prefer woods?
We’ll take us a walk
With trees as our hoods.
‘Fore eating, they prayed
And so did we
But after, we stayed
Safe under the trees.

In Autumn, you went to cathedral tents—
The people were wailing for joy or for grief.
And whether they went to praise or lament,
Mostly they went to find some relief.
So thus you were waiting when winds blew through.
They ruffled your hair and rustled your shirt,
Which billowed away from the sticky stew
Of sweating and weeping and dollops of dirt.
You left the great cauldron and went toward the sun
That set in the sky like a blazing white horse.
It lit up the trees like a harbinger’s gun
And split from the clouds like an awful divorce.

And do you recall
The way that you met?—
The trees in the Fall.
It is hard to forget.
A masquerade
Of loving me
When memories fade
With pictures you see.

The sound of a foot on the creaking old stair
Alarms of a child or a weightless young girl.
It lets in her presence and lets in some air
And her skirts fly up like the air in a twirl.
Her face like the picture you keep by your bed,
But younger and stronger and darker of brow.
You try to remember the words that she said;
She looks just the same, but she’s different somehow.
Shorter than yesterday, and sharper last year,
She spins through the kitchen and sweeps up the floor,
Puts flowers in tea cups and tea in the rear—
Her scent floats around while she does every chore.
You cut your eyes sharply to her every move.
Her hands are less graceful. Her feet are too small.
Her hair is too short, and you’ll never approve.
You’d rather her leave you with nothing at all.

Her eyes from that picture
Burn under your skin.
You cast down your strictures
Like ‘riginal sin.
They move through the glade
Just like a disease
That eats up the maid
And curdles the cheese.


When you were still dashing, you held out your hand.
She took it with modesty urging her forth.
Her youth was too pretty to then understand
Until you laid quiet and looked to the North,Where lovely she stood with the sun to her back
And twirled like an angel beside the still trees.
You stayed by her side ‘til the sky turned black
And mourned when her youth was turned into disease.
If you could go back, would you meet your Christ?
Would you kill all the Hitlers? Give peasants some bread?
According to you, it’s unevenly priced,
For you’d rather be lying beside her in bed.

You held her hands
As you hold mine.
We have no more plans.
We have no more time.
Her serenades
Were much like these—
The benefits paid
For looking up trees.

You moved to the forest
To put you at ease,
But now you’re just searching,
Looking up in the trees.

July 15, 2007

A Drink

He gambled and drank and cursed away
His days that seemed to him so vile.
He wished for a day
In Prague and Bombay,
And soon, he said, in just a while.

His voice grew hoarse from all of his liquor
And his squalor and pinkish riddles.
The church bells flicker,
And he grows sicker
As he slept to the sound of fiddles.

Vibrant, he wakes to the chiding
Of his woman, his lover-girl.
His children are hiding
And she is abiding,
Awaiting her piece of the world.

The world, all—he promised her all:
The moonbeams straight down from the sky,
The cherries in fall
The whippoorwill’s call,
And he promised her never to lie.

He scorned all his bad luck, and grace,
And God, and the whole world, and booze.
He hated her lace
As she hated his face,
Because, God, how he hated to lose.

An Autumnal Poem

Does it fall down
Like a leaf, a piece of autumnal grandeur, tumbling in ecstatic winds,
Down from a branch,
Wind-rustled and blooming with the blush of cool air?
Branches can be grasped;
Air will not be climbed—
Grasped like a leaf in my palm,
Climbed like ladders toward a stretch of sky, crisp.

Palms stretch their fingers heavenward,
Crisp leaves branching like my palms—
Heaven; branching veins like my veins,
Palm lining up with my hand,
Veins pulsing with an organic heartbeat.

Hands, tiny and wild,
And heartbeats name romantic bests.
Wildly they together chase after the autumn,
Besting me. Is it the leaf or is it the wind?
Autumn grasps after me with long, cold fingers
Of wind against my cheek, like a forest of branches.
Fingers dance across mine.

Branches may be climbed to higher heights.
Mine are steep.
Height increases with every breath,
Steeping tea leaves in water to be warm.
Breathing is visible this autumn evening,
Warm as steam on my face.
Evening spreads, cool and bright.

My face warms at the sight of such splendor.
Bright attitudes, like a blushing leaf or bride,
With splendor and hidden ecstasy.
Brides blush and fall
In ecstasy down the aisle toward romance.
Fall breathes romance through and through;
Romance that builds you ladders,
Through fallen leaves from branches.
Ladders you fail to climb,
For branches may fall—don’t think it.
Climb; think that it grows.
It does.

25 October 2007

8.12.2007

Free Verse

Everything now is sacred: Ambivalence;
A traveling troubadour troupe
Holding tongues of fire and gospels
Of white lilies in their hair;
The weathered logs of antiquity’s past,
Flowered over with rhinestone buttons
Of discolored saplings;
A shuffle of static rustle through the tree branches
As a visible treachery is shattered
And veritably missed;
An extremity newly cleansed with water
And wreaking of peppermint soap;
The sunset blooming like flower petals
Over the encroaching skyline of
Pizzerias and bank tellers;
The waves of laughter in quiet tones;
The flaming colors of blinded followers;
A hand to hold with trust down the hill.

A meandering grasp grabs, grapples through the darkness
Of trees surrounding and blinders secure.
A gentle hand to guide or beguile
Moves over the soft arms of questioning.
The squeals of tires and excitement
Fill the air with joy and odors of candor
As the blinds stay closed
On the trusting faces that entreat the silent darkness
For but a moment’s light.
They are entangled in an embrace
Of tree branches and shoulders and hair.
They are breathing the scent
Of insecurity and laughter,
And they stare blankly ahead with uncertainty,
Awaiting a quiet fate or a bang or whisper.

Everything now is clothed, bathed in poignancy.
Everything cries out its uncertain importance.
The noonday rises as the moon fades
And the knowing travelers welcome the uncertainty
With arms outstretched.
A fragment calls out from the edge of the wood
To remember the plucked lilies and peppermint
And the sensation of newly washed feet in the darkness.
May 10, 2007
I will grow old, and you’ll forget my name.
I will roll up my socks past my ankles.
I will cut my hair short like a lady.
I will wear my skirts much longer and thick.
I will wear pearls, perhaps, or maybe just skin.
I will have children.
They will spit their words and joy all over me,
And I will smile and feel well.
I will wake up every morning with the sun in my bed.
I will perhaps put on coffee, maybe tea,
Maybe boil water for my concentrated drinking
To avoid diseases and pain,
But maybe I will be accustomed when I am old,
But maybe it will not matter so much.
I will walk to the rooms, down the halls,
Call the names, smooth the hair, tie the shoes,
Clean the floors, paint the walls,
And feed the children their bountiful meals.
I will look at the sky and the sun will be warm.
Sometimes it will rain, but maybe it won’t.

Not much has been decided,
But you will forget.
I will forget.
I will remember these words,
And perhaps I will remember your name,
But perhaps it will no longer matter.
Perhaps you will be with the sun in my bed,
But maybe it’s only company will be
The shoeless, sockless feet of youth
Covered to her eyes with blankets,
Afraid of the wind on the shutters at night.
Perhaps, I will be lonely,
But mostly I will not.
I might remember your name,
But perhaps it will no longer matter,
And I will never be too lonely
With the sun and wind and youth.



July 15, 2007