Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Perils of Observation

People think
I think
I look
the way
they think
I look.
And I don’t!

I think
people think
they look
the way
I think
they look.
And they don’t!


Monday, March 30, 2009


You notice a weight
in your feet after years of not
noticing anything much:
as if something’s achieving
the vertical – easily: day
gently ceases – lends dusk
its suspense – sends a breeze

towards the touch of a thought
you now know you had
always unconsciously fought:
the impending event has arrived –
in a darkening blue cool
dimension of sky. Evening’s
clarified sigh puts the lie to all

notions of push; there’s no drive
to aliveness: the sneaky
odd thing of you cackles
and grunts as if nothing had
ever required a back or a front.
You reach for the cup – put it up
to your mouth – let it flow

south past tongue, throat
and gullet to lap ‘round the trunk
of you: slowly – a palpable sap
grapples through to the roots:
warming, forming its gravitas –
drunk from the chalice.
Balance takes ballast.


Sunday, March 29, 2009



extravagantly weird!





Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Hoop-de-Doo of You

Somewhere between the soul and crotch – the heart –
and lungs, esophagus, intestines, kidneys, liver
and whatever other clumps and forces shiver, tug
and course, eject, protect and mitigate with biological effect
to keep the body resurrecting morning after morning: oh,
we’ve got our versifying uses for the ways our body parts
symbolically go wheee and boing: though surely spirit – groin –

persist as what primarily impel expression of the wish. But
what exactly seeks, attracts, repels, elicits a ‘poetic thought’? –
what constitutes the strange noetic condensations that
the mind has wielded, wrought, will wring to wing
a simulacrum of a living thing? – to sting and swing and brew,
pursue, imbue and skew? – to bring outrage and absolution
to the slew? – and grace and music, too? – and sex, oh yes,

oh sex, oh sex, oh sex: the way you vex me like a banshee
every night until the recollected sight of you can’t not ignite
me into hex. One rambles, rhyming, hoping through
the hoop-de-doo of you one might proceed – succeed in
cultivating some construed warm seed: to rear and render
some new glory to its quivering, unnecessary story –
and alluring throne. I just can’t leave this thing alone.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Episcopal Priest

for my brother Bob, who died March 27, 1989 *

An almost pleasurable heaviness –
faint ache – neuralgia: soft – dissociated
from emotion: disparate, dispersed and widely
unrelated notions floating aimlessly
and far away – as if in some near-empty
ocean various unbidden unrelated
species of sea creatures dimly
make each other’s shadows out
beyond the tug and push of a translucent
gray salinity – just visibly enough
to raise a tiny doubt that they might not
be so intractably alone: and yet not
terribly excited at the thought: there’s
nothing fraught in this wide stillness –
nothing urgent or intense, untoward:
a lack of any sense of moving backward,
forward, up or down: a kind of round
existence in which nothing needed much –

or anything at all. Episcopal priest –
my brother felt, and answered to, a call –
and just before he met his fall, he conjured up
a Christ with whom the only possible
experience was ardor – wild untamed desire –
utter longing for immersion. In my brother’s
version, God was something so in love with us
that we could not imagine the obsession –
could not know just how inordinately,
inextricably that flow caressed, contained our
every little tic and throe. My brother left
the living twenty years ago. Perhaps
my rambling foray now through this uncertain
not unpleasant shroud of warm translucent
afternoon is giving, through the flip side
of my brother’s passion, something
prescient. Through its absence,
we know presence.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bountifully Up Short

I will acquaint myself
with all the moments in the day
that catapult or sway –
that bring me bountifully up short –
take on the funky sweaty sport
of undertaking understanding
of whatever can be understood

beneath my balsa wood
defenses – to provoke the mind
to undergo what it can find
that captivates and activates
resistance and attention:
I will fabricate a system
which deduces sense

from nonsense, so provisionally
I might make an artifact
that goes some way
to quaking like
the thing
I'll then put it on my shelf

along with all my other stabs
at grabbing at obscurity
and one day take each off
to show you how
I have discovered heaven
isn’t hell.
Show and tell.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2:57 p.m., March 25, Lunar-Bright

This center of an afternoon
incites with something swift –
it has relations with the moon
which underlie its drift.

Suggesting that the latent night
is only blinks away,
a whisper in its blatant light
unmasks its hidden sway.

I come to an absorbing peace
with atmosphere – I thank
all this striated brilliant fleece
of lunar-bright cloudbank –

there’s none of it which has to do
with anything not here –
a simultaneous review –
eternity is clear.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You’ll Confess

To say or not to say
can never be the thing –
it can’t be said in any way
that nears the power to sing.

And you’ll confess:
to you, the one true test
to which the depth
of an affection might subject

itself must surely be the wide –
sky-wide – degree to which
it can retain a claim
to silence. Violets and violence

and violins attempt to struggle in
to bleat their note, and you,
by rote, decline the invitation
to their dance. But you

may tell us secretly, perchance,
some time, inside the quiet
of an early afternoon too sunny
to have room for lies,

perhaps like this prized new
Spring day, today: whose wintry
cold refuses to give way
to shoots of yellow-green:

recruits who stubbornly
announce their right
to stay. You stood there
with him in the wind and in

the street within the ring
of an intolerable love:
imagining one soul was hand,
and one was glove.


Monday, March 23, 2009


People who still have parents
are interesting to me.
For instance, my friend Clarence
yearns for transparency –

he wishes he were free as birds –
all naked, wild and glad –
but can’t be: his existence girds
him – if his mom and dad

were to get even inklings of
(he thinks) his truest soul –
they’d freak – retract their fragile love –
and leave him in the hole.

It’s not for me to say what he
should plead or pray for, dread –
but surely he won’t atrophy
before his folks are dead.

And while they’re here he might take notes
on how they misbehave –
and help them sow their wild oats
before they hit the grave.

We all have secret lives, desires –
Clarence’ parents too –
let’s light them into healthy fires –
before our lives are through.


The Honeyed Piss of Naptime

Disassembling, and dissembling,
my rapt busy nap mind dreams
dimensionally streaming reams
of schemes, with such small care for
analytic logic that I wonder that I ever
have a claim to same when I am stirred
to re-emerge – I am so evidently

ready to disintegrate and disengage
into a jabberwocky game of floating
heads and long trombones parading
into parlor tricks, charades and trysts
with multi-penised courtesans
who trade their questionable charms
for cupcakes armed with eyeballs.

It would get tedious, I know, to ramble
on with more of that, and so I shan’t,
but something’s clearly burbling
here in all this cant that can’t elucidate
itself except inside the honeyed
piss of naptime, which, as if released
by some lone little boy deep in

the woods, squirts out in loop-de-loops
and swoops into a bill of goods
which he’d be harder pressed to sell
in sentient sunlight than he is inside
the privately indwelling brightness
of my semi-sleeping head. I wonder
what he'd think or do out here instead.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

When One Runs Out of Referents

Small red x’s on the lower right of my desktop
inform me my computer’s quips and blips won’t
synapse to the Internet – whatever cyber
waves it had depended on have waved
a brisk bye-bye. The TV’s on – I click it off –
I’ll save the radio for some more needful
silence when its hum, imbroglio might salve

a sadder or more anxious ear than I quite have
right now. I wonder what it is I feel, or if it has
the least importance. Strange when one
runs out of referents. Today I saw the most
amazing ornament upon a stalwart tarnished
yellow corner building on Fourteenth Street,
Seventh Avenue – as if a strolling band of curlicue

and swelling line had once decided in – say,
nineteen-hundred-nine – to hazard makeshift
art nouveau which croaked a bit of awkward
home-grown jazz: a sort of snazzy New York
glow type thing. It made the building sing:
sweet treat! – surreal. I’ll go out now,
retrieve an image of it. Perhaps it’s what I feel.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Man Contemplates the Penis While Eating a Donut

Imperially distant,
unashamedly overt –
used to all your
wanton sloppy jerks
and twitches:
coolly inured
to your rash fickle
blast and sudden
exit: pegs it
for the brash
involuntary thrust

it is, and isn’t busy
wondering too much
about the rest of what
you do. You are
its little shmoo:
completely in its
power and as malleably
true to it as it decides.
in the tiny booth
you occupy away

from it in which
you live your little life –
the part that doesn’t
slice you into
slavery – which is
to say, the smallest
bit, you are its
acolyte, proponent
and exacting P.R. man:
proclaiming its
philosophy as if it –

fresh! – had just
occurred to you: flesh
is flesh, but never
word. The palace
of the phallus –
prepuce unfolding –
baring ultimate truths
holding in all possible
conditions and in all
possible worlds.

Be enfurled.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Spinning Routes

1 - Some Creatures

Some creatures leave the best for last –
and others grab it first –
the former make the bubble vast –
the latter make it burst.

2 - Everything But Him

Each side

the other’s
violent annihilation.

Savage mad extravagance:
ungovernable whiffs of mortal stink provide
the pique that tweaks and sinks the whole:
a consciousness which hates and loves

whatever’s in its bowl, erupts to eat it
up – all hunger and disgust: divided
lust: an angry “must” confronts


random and abandoned: grim,
unspent, untrue: my friend,
beloved friend, intones
his godless hymn;

his madness

the spinning route
to everything

but him.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Not Sickness stains the brave,
Nor any Dart,
Nor Doubt of Scene to come,
But an adjourning Heart –
Emily Dickinson


Loss of it in life’s the curse –
much worse than corporeal
eradication through a death:

the root of “bless” – to wound,
to cut – but here: to kill
unconsciousness: to make

a breathing apparatus
feel: to have its senses
reel and spill into a vortex:

grand and cruel and undergone:
big words, today, to say
that in the way the rain fell

on my city’s streets
and on the window shields
of taxi cabs deriving wherewithal

from bringing passengers
to yet more episodic life,
little lights – insight – arrived:

contrived as if each droplet
were a whole entire love –
all round, transparent, wet:

and ground into evaporating
spatter – matter – mist. Loves
exist – adjourn – like this.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Impotent Life

Do not sing an elegy
to me you little flea –
you speck of nothingness –
you bit of dreck
evincing no one's interest
or affection –
strangled circumspection
of the soul.

Do not make me jump
into your vast undreaming
hole, you mole.
I shall not deal
with you today, in any way,
beneath, around,
above you. Go away
until I have to love you.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Remembering Her Memories

embroidery –
amber blown glass
figurine – air-light silver
bracelet chain – tiny charms –
happy tale of children’s arms around
each other’s waists – laughter, boredom and
the chaste dissociation of suppressed sad recollections
she was told she oughtn’t entertain: second-
hand, like secrets handed round a fire-
side in winter, fairy tales involving

someone utterly not you:
someone who had
bred you into

was otherwise
as alien to your experience
as movies made of Dickens’ stories; other
people’s glories riven into such translucent helplessness
that you must softly wrap them up in
tissue and replace them
in their musty

the way you’d
harbor anything of which
to an incontrovertible degree there never
would, or could, be more.
These were hers
not yours
their date
of utter obsolescence

lies with you: their fragile tendrils
will evaporate exactly
when the mess
of you takes
off. Odd,
can hear
the echo of her cough.


Monday, March 16, 2009

No Excuse

“Remember. The way you make love
is the way God will be with you.”

You cast about today for games to play –
and that is simply not the way.

(Use your music!) Spirit fuses, clots:
schedules and plots for seeing tourist spots

abound: map and train and bus and ferry,
art and history and zoo: you’re through.
Even Judy Garland movies aren't for you.
The sky avails precisely in its plump

refusal to precipitate one thing. It waits
for you to sing.
You are what you do:
do not for one stark nanosecond think
that any other take is true. Rubies

are the light they capture: everyone is sun.
No excuse. Be and drink the juice.
Here’s your lover – run for cover! – raging
all about. He gonna knock you out.


Quatrain for Not-Yet-Spring

Every bond was burned –
hearts were riven.
Love is not returned –
love is given.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Leaving Buttock-Shaped Dents

(Effects of a Cloudy Day on the Brain)

“I wonder whom I might consult,” he said,
in an affectless manner, “to rev up my head.”
“What would you like to accomplish?” she asked –
while she watched him continue to loll and to bask

in the nude in the sun at a beach resort.
“Clearly not you!” he had meant to retort
before Destiny thought to exhort, intervene:
and he suddenly – flit! – disappeared from the scene

borne away by a quantum mechanical blip
into which he proceeded to slide, then to slip
leaving buttock-shaped dents in a vacancy
on the warm shore: as if some strange latency

had decided just then to employ its volition
and bring on an outcome of rarest fruition –
to drop him all naked upon a white globe
of nothing particular: as if the lobe

of an ear on a giant mad scientist
had invited him – so to encourage a tryst
between naked small speck and some dangling part
of the giant mad scientist who’d just lost heart

that he’d ever discover – alas! – how to reach
a delectable woman upon a warm beach –
when as if in a dream the small speck understood
that the place he’d just come from quite easily would

bring the saddened mad scientist quite the result
that the speck knew would make the poor fellow exult –
and on cues that it’s true seem impossible now
the quantum mechanical blip did its “wow!”

and deposited both on the beach in a rush –
and alit on the lady and whomped her to mush.
The moral is obvious – certainly:
but for now I’m afraid it escapes even me.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


on hearing a friend is back in a psych ward

Crowd the corridors with love!
Or anyway what passes for it
when the vast redoubled efforts
of the mandibles of your perplexity

consume distress the way yours have
today. Crowd the corridors with life!
Or anyway those portions of it which
alight unquestioned, unconsidered

in your mental musk, and vaguely send
your dusky brightness any-which-way –
here, my dear, you’ll find that there’s
no room for fear for simple reasons:

it cannot occupy the seasons of your
occupation in the world. Your secret
has unfurled. We’ve caught it
at its game. You are its name.


Friday, March 13, 2009

As Much As You Will Hear

As if in a dream
but not a dream
unless it’s all a dream
he came to me
with the economy

of poetry: muscled,
blue-black: thrifty in his
swift compact
component parts –
in mute determination

to hold up the blessings
of his graceful fifty
(I was guessing)
year old frame.
African – I didn’t ask his name:

soft accent I imagined
might be found in Senegal.
The smooth and tight regalia
of his skin taught me
that if there were a sin

it would reside
in not accepting
what he had to give:
the sort of sweet experience
that makes you recollect

you want to live.
His mouth – his lips –
went south – to kiss –
and that’s as much
as you will hear of this.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let Our Winters Stay

Somebody yanked the dark away
without consulting me. It’s too
damned light at six p.m. – the clock
tick-tocks insultingly: supposed

to be the heaven I expect when we
approach the evening that adheres
to early March at seven. Perhaps
you think it’s sour to get mad at

the abrupt manipulation of a single
hour, but body rhythms know when
there’s an un-enchanted bumpy
screw-up in the flow: a blatant misuse

of our annum’s chronologic power.
Next month we’ll get the flower:
we wouldn’t mind a bit more snow.
Let our winters stay before they go.


The Boy on the Bench

for my brother, Robert Alan Kettelhack, 1945-1989

The obvious thing
to note would be
that he seems shy –
watching bubbles
that a little girl blows up

float by: a little boy
is not supposed to sigh,
or cry. And so he won’t.
But don’t say “don’t.”
He knows already

what the rules are.
And who the fools are.
He is four.
And very near the door:
he might

at any little flight
of fright slip in – again –
away – to when
and where the prospect
of experience won’t chafe –

to where he’ll think he has
at least a chance
of being safe.
How pretty and witty
he’d be when he grew up! –

before he died.
But that would take
another slide
show. Oh, Bobby,
where did you go.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On Remembering Old Houses

As a child, I think I understood the vagaries,
enchantments, possibilities of wood: I liked –
was drawn to – rich extremities of shutter, shingle,
library and door – paneled wall and parquet floor –
and more – as if I knew the ghosts of pine and oak
and maple shoots that had become them still
were harbored in their grain – chromosomally

verbatim to the first green coursing stuff that fed
their veins and bred them in their mother trees –
and if I sat there quietly enough I might sustain
an ease, a receptivity: detect some sense of soul
that surely must remain – in so much dark
and polished and, though seen, forgotten,
disregarded lumber: in refrain, in softly breathing

slumber, surely there was music to be heard:
in all these fashioned boards and newel posts
and shelves whose dark Victoriana’s hidden hosts
of private selves still dwelled – for too long
barren and neglected – surely one might yet
impart the proper yearned-for kiss. I am a creature
whom the Nineteenth Century must miss.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This Passing and Half-Conscious God

Close-pored flawless skin – body tight as some bright satin
bow – whose lightness preternaturally glows, bestows
its unconsidered loveliness as if it were the norm,

the simple grand condition of the Universe, a form so
utterly unquestioned and replete with its own sense
of its completeness that you’re left unutterably out.

Oh yes, there are these creatures who do not appear
to know how marvelously well they glide across
your hungry vision – hungry first for them, then

quickly after – second, third – for some graced godlike
sweet capacity to touch again at least a thread
of the diaphanous remembered hem of your own youth:

sadistic demonstration of the Keatsian equation: beauty,
truth, and truth and beauty tangled up: and wedded
to the duty, somehow, of this passing and half-conscious

god who makes you understand, by contrast, just how
muddily you plod. He speaks of other lovely ones,
with whom he can’t not feel that he competes: aha! –

he suffers from those vast comparative dark agonies,
it’s true; perhaps much worse (you dare to take some little
solace) than the ones that seize, through him, at you.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Another New York Play

Let’s do a little justice
to this cold, occasionally
rainy day – let’s like the way-
station it gives imagination –
love its stubbornness and its
fragility – enthrall ourselves
with its peculiar fence between

the rest of everything and us –
exhort the organs of our senses –
vision, hearing, smell – to tell us
if its enterprise is swelling
to some peak or on the very
brink of dissipating into
something else. We are

a hundred years ago today –
right at the eve of the provocatively
strange: we are in all this
intermittent clever rain the object
and the subject of its story:
New York City in its liberally
gritty pretty glory: here, on March

the 9th, 1909, 2009, 3009, 4009:
we are the wine of clouds that
were and are to come –
precipitant, precipitous.
How lovely, nesting here!
Above, below, the rest
of everything seems far

too alien, too queer to care
about – not in this misty
city, now, that makes of doubt
another of its finest arts.
Another day, another New York
play: we stay and wait
for her to hand us out our parts.


Unalterably True

This was

Had the opposite
occurred, it would

have been

Unalterably true,
from every



Sunday, March 8, 2009


We have succumbed.
We had some bacon and an egg.
We had grown numb
from all the healthy rules that beg

us to be good.
We know we should
be good, and so we would
be good, if we had found we could

be good. But whoa!
We can’t.
we shan’t.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Every Single Bit of Weather

Sifting through the fair
soft air – the oddly
plummy hoot of bongos
bleating in the park’s
warm beating heart: mild
enough today and far enough
from winter dark to play

the sensually faintly
gleaming part of March:
not Spring yet, but with
hints of what might slake
the thirst – the parched
experience that clings
like a cocoon to the expected

cool first vernal moon,
too still and shy behind
the bongos’ jewel note
tune quite to arrive –
just yet. There’s more
to every single bit of weather
than appears, I’ll bet.


Friday, March 6, 2009

New York, 1911, George Bellows

maleness – funked up jazz and body – darkness – necessity: a Bellows poem's gotta burst thru boundaries – surrender to such ploys as illustration – desperation from frustration at never getting it & delight at the discovery that everything can be made to work (a little) – sense the ambient lateral sound, horizontal waves of it – layers and layers of sound – city sound – the vast insinuation of New York – this fellow Bellows who rags at the light with a sweat-soaked brush – the towel as implement – wrenched out of the boxing ring and its blood and stink and smoke into Union Square, wiping up the air – the ready dare of rhyme about to want its say again,

the way again – to stanzas
forming, phrases breaking –
enjambments waltzing oddly
into dance steps from the city’s
grisly slide – back to the ride –

the thing that takes you with it –
the singing quaking jizz of yellow-
belly-Bellows who did not get hit
would not get hit could not get hit
but learned to spit on canvas

just as if he had: one wants to rhyme
with ‘glad’ and ‘sad’ – some far more
radical delusion and diffusion –
one sits here in one’s jockstrap
listening to Brahms and Joni Mitchell

and admitting nothing but ambient
lateral sound, moving in waves
horizontally – layers and layers
of sound – the vast and pounding
boxing ring insinuations of that

yellow-belly-mellow-fellow Bellows,
and his preternaturally accurate
New York. Pig turns to pork: Prose
poem turns to cut-up meat:
flop down with Mr. Bellows: eat.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fresh New March Gold

Seek the private pleasure
of this waning light:
in precisest measure
of the wider sight

that it excites, please hear
beyond its whisper –
tuneless hum – too near
to be the crisper

outline you’d expected
in your cartoon youth:
too pale to be projected
into showy truth –

too finely dim to get
attention: be it
let go and make the bet –
do more than see it:

these fluid hues request –
ask you to behold –
to learn how to invest
in fresh new March gold.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Maybe the Day is a Dream

I have to have some Edgar Allan Poe
in my Emerson. I have to have the thing
that patently will never go next to
the thing that always will. I have to have
some bars upon the window sill
through which to see the bluest freedom.
I have to know the worst and best,

and see them. I cannot not transgress
and always will pursue a blessing.
Sexually I am irredeemable: and
in my heart I laugh as lightly as a baby.
Maybe the day is a dream. Blinding
bright to make exciting contrast with its
darkest seam. Look at it gleam!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It did seem like the time, today --

It did seem like the time, today –
to stay in, blanket up, and ride the bitter winter
noonday glare and let it take me there,
wherever there might be – and so I fell asleep
and landed in the house, our house, her house,
her studio, where she sat making do –

wondering what all her paints and brushes,
paper, palettes had come to – and where
the drawing table was – “where are
the books?” she asked – and ardently I met her
querying dim looks and fell in front of her
and put my head into her lap, to gasp

and tell her, crying, how I hadn’t known,
I hadn’t known that she’d come back, that she
was still alive: and how the ardor grew
until it shook me to the point of shivering
so hard I’d had to dive into another day again! –
resurfaced from the sudden sleep-deep

liminality of being there with her again,
and coming to inside the gory glory of the glary
afternoon again, to breathe again, out
of her pale receding froth. (So cold!)
I got up: padded, foggy, to the kitchen: heated –
drank – a cup of steaming chicken broth.



Recession, March 2009

Take our cherished stuff away,
we hiss and rage and jeer.
The man behind the curtain quakes
with avarice and fear.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Late Winter Awakening

Blanketing – insensate freeze –
an endlessly re-run reprise
of twenty-seven cold degrees –
an eyelid opens, something sees –

her interest in the wanton squall
is not in how the snowflakes fall –
their chaos, or their thick white pall –
but that they dare to fall at all.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Sky Decides

As if I were a filigree and mesh
of branches reaching up in pure,
assured, communicable gestures
of appeal, defiance, supplication:
as if there were a way to say the thing
outright to it, receive response:
as if my ears had unforeseen

experience in hearing: as if my throat
were golden, bred to float and flood
its canopy with song: as if its
ceiling had a sentient soul – not
red with blood, not fibrillating
bibulously, drunk on longing,
wrong, as raspy as a toad – like mine:

as if I knew the way to goad it into
definition, make it delicately
apprehensible, and preternaturally
fine: as if the only job I ever had
and ever will have is to be here
when it spills – and drink my portion
of its wine: as if this poem with

its picture could depict the recognition
that it wanted – sustenance on which,
with me, it might decide to dine:
as if I had the least persuasive
power to invoke its snow, this first
of March, Two-Thousand-Nine,
to fly. The sky decides, not I.