Thursday, November 26, 2009

jottings to self (2nd day)

jottings to self (2nd day)


I think the whomp of time difference is affecting me – oddly – I’m tired at 9 a.m. (4 a.m. nyc time) despite having slept all through the night – 8 hours & more – my body isn’t buying the light. yesterday: Chelsea again for brkfst (stockpot), picked anglesea arms as dinner spot for tonight, deposited richard’s 20 pound note in hsbc, tubed to Leicester sq and walked over to Trafalgar square: deep dive into 15th thru 1900 british faces at nat’l portrait gallery (how interesting to me that the 16th century – largely the dutch/Flemish guys, Holbein et al – really captured our sense of the modern face almost before any other art quite captured what we think of as the modern mind: as if the visual arts are always at the vanguard) – walk down strand/aldwych to get tkt for endgame – pushed further down to st clement danes, royal courts of justice – saw endgame, quite marvelous, kept beckett as interesting as he can be by riding the line between despair & comedy with great exactitude – dark wonderful London, an hour of the nat’l gallery, very struck by rembrandt’s heads – mostly old people including a self-portrait in his last year (a room away from a young self-portrait) – gave me the idea that if I drew anything here it will probably be an amalgam face – an old man – I am coming slowly to think of London as a “he” – first city to evoke that for me – had a comparatively healthy (compared to the eng. brkfsts I’ve been subsisting on) light Italian meal, walked up to Leicester sq and happened to pass a quaker meeting building on st martin’s lane at 6:13 – 6:15 meeting about to start so I went in & sat down for 45 minutes in quiet. Two men spoke – one of them I found very attractive – Brit quakers all. It’s strange to me still to think that if you poked one of any one of them they’d involuntarily erupt in an English accent. Increases my sense of the place being irrevocably stained with itself – as surely every place is. But there is a completeness to it here for me that continually piques/interests. Tiny breaths of word choice – ice cream commercial (for ben & jerry’s!): “perfect for a night in.” A night in! My back hurts from the bed, I think: at any rate it did yesterday too & it made walking a stiff business at first until it unkinked, which it did completely, and which it will today too. British museum this morning, I think, and then a walking tour thru Kensington, then back here, perhaps, to start on that amalgam face & head, before Nigel Kelly & wife come to meet me & we proceed on our walk past QC’s beaufort street abode & to dinner at anglesea arms. I have no idea what or if I’ll ‘write’ – no poem occurs. I think life has entirely moved into the place poems used to be. One is living it, isn’t one.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

39 Rosary Gardens, London SW7, out the back window

(jottings to myself)

9:10 a.m. or so

Have no idea what writing will come. I am too deep in the middle of a sleep-deprived recall - on Kings Rd @ the 'stockpot' - slavic-women-run 'simple' restaurant where I just wolfed down a complete English brkfst -- too much -- too fast. Walking in a mostly but not entirely awake semi-stupor - but oddly (as in a dream) sure-footed -- out of Gloucester Road tube into instantly almost shockingly familiar London. I can't get over how many 'things' - car dealership, restaurants, food shops - haven't changed - some (like the 'star of india,' my first indian restaurant good heavens - down the road from my first gay bar) not since 1971. Can't get into my room at Aston's yet (which won't have a balcony but somehow I look forward to its cocoon, esp. today) until noon. Meanwhile: Neville Terrace, Onslow Gardens - South Ken turning into Chelsea - as excruciatingly pretty & settled as ever - after this I'll walk to the Thos. More church and the river - Cheyney Ct. and Henry James. Cool/warm damp pleasant not rainy, exactly as overcast as my dream of it. Then S-L-O-W-L-Y will track back up towards South Ken & dip a bit into the V&A. But I will need to lie down somewhere soon. Rush-hour tube train ride from Heathrow absolutely SILENT. Forgot how quiet Londoners are en (that kind of) masse. Actually surprised to see a lot of "English" (stereotypically so - blond, pale, appealingly pasty) people in London -- wasn't expecting it. It really is stamped with itself, this place. Walking down Old Church Street, past what had been the Eden House Hotel Richard & I stayed at 25 years or so ago -- it's astonishingly THERE, in situ. Flowers sold on the corner, just as back then.



in my room now. They 'upgraded' me to a double room because they couldn't get me a balcony room ("they" - a pretty blonde girl who happened to be at the desk) - and I like it. Brit TV on whilst I napped -- now need to struggle back up & out & make a sort of more waking mark on the place, shake myself into gaping, stimulate myself into stark fatigue again, so I can sleep tonight (which will be easy to do -- shake myself into gaping anyway) --

this after that dip into a harrowingly over-gorgeous V&A -- god, it's one thing to see all that English self-glorification at the Met, but whoa - HERE - again -- well, talk about The Thing Itself. Compulsively endless. Really almost frightening -- this after a long moment spent in an entirely empty St. Lukes (on Sydney Street; I know it from an AA meeting I went to in its prodigious back last time I was here: morning meeting - will probably go to it tomorrow, not least just to be in that building again) in Chelsea - one of the first gothic revival (1824) churches in London -- golden Bath stone fucking cathedral of a place -- nothing in the USA built in the 1820s is anywhere near as grand: again: the empire insisting on itself almost offhandedly -- just because it could - but (because of the 1820s) with grace. Dickens got married there I think. Oh, I know this is just 'stuff' -- but it's all in some sort of swoony marvelous almost slightly scary dream: not least a product of my physical state. But I really am loving it. Took a phone-photo of the swatch of 'garden' - presumably the one after which Rosary Gardens is named - out my window. here it is.

much to come, but/and am gladly staying to my determination simply to "be" here. I forgot I hae a little kitchenette in this place -- will go out & get little overly fussy british snacks & stuff.

'poems'? maybe this is a proto-one. drawings? we shall see.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Like Any Life, and London-Town

You pack – and pare – repack –
and something rare and wondrous
whacks your psychic seat:
the neat unutterably sleek swift
kick of recognition that the packing
and the paring actually do bespeak

exactly where and what and how
you now have learned to live:
excess off the shelf – sifted through
the sieve. You know more surely
what you have to give: yourself –
all shorn and unadorned. Ascend

the ramp into the plane and look:
miracles abound! And something
else astounds. Your narrative’s
alive and walking round. Like
any life, and London-town, you
cannot speed it up or slow it down.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Possible Sufficiency

Such passion in resentment! –
such kick in vitriol! –
perversely sweet contentment
in swallowing it all

and spitting back vituperative
blasts of sharp retorts –
who cares about recuperative
peace?; to storm the forts

of huffy egotism,
pretentious wannabe’s,
while savoring the schism
that brings them to their knees,

comprises such proficiency
in viciousness: a state
of possible sufficiency
to muffle your self-hate.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Zeitgeist Hair

Sweaty twenty-something
punk meets art nouveau –
in and out of a transgressive bed –

the site of the enactment
of erotically perverse proclivities
better left unsaid;

but wait: the artful mussed-and-wild
bespeaks, as well, the child,
rubbing puffy eyes –

up from a nap –
reluctantly pulled off
a warm and musky lap;

and there’s the beast one sees
(one hopes, sans fleas),
nuzzling, grizzled, fuzzy,

disingenuously unconcerned
with its rough fur,
abruptly teased;

and most of all
the scary imminence of childhood’s
fall: invoking sexy adolescent mess

whose ruse of randomness
consists in the deployment
of a mousse.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sleep, Recently

Sleep, recently,
has been like
scrabbling in a cave –

grabbing at the waists
and swatting asses
of small misbehaving

demons – scrawny
gremlins, proto-ogres –
stealing when I can

into a murky corner
to inhale its heavy mist –
to lose resistant bits

of consciousness –
until I’m kicked again into
a shallower cognition

by some final squiggling
green-eyed sprite –
whose tiny

sharp repeating bite
informs me
I am done with night.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Hearing That Someone You Knew Died

Some gallantry is what you’d dare
to hope for first –
here or there, no matter where –
that it might bear
the gently bursting air –
the generosity – of something
graciously alert – concerned –

though with enough
cool distance to insure
whatever prepossessing breath –
detachment – wisdom – were
required to assess the larger view.
A mild availability and receptivity
and firm consistency,

you’d hope, might so comprise
the tone – that of the sort
of softly reassuring sighing lullaby
you’d want to overhear
a mother sing to some already
sleeping child – that it would quiet
every tremble, trepidation

at the prospect of the wild
and savage truer nature of what you,
alas, at last, are sure
we have to face instead.
There may be Paradise
for an Eternal Life –
but there’s no heaven for the dead.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wouldn’t Want to Scare You

Fortunate you aren’t told much
at the outset what you’ll have to do
to re-construe yourself into a viability –

the craft you’ll have to master to produce
an instrument as true to your peculiar
spangled depths and curves and paths

and hints – angles, tints and traits –
as you can make from tools you’ll also
have to make. Surely a mistake to tell you

too much of the fortitude and disrepute
and aptitude for bearing next to
an intolerable incapacity to get it right

that you will need to cultivate to fight
your way to any kind of equanimity:
the keen-aged surgically precise

necessities of knife and tincture, blade
and hook that you will need to cook
and slice and splice and spice a life.

Better not elucidate the rife inevitably
killing fates that lurk ahead to dare
you. Wouldn’t want to scare you.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Deep in Daylight

It’s as if – now
that you know
just where
the wormhole
to the cavern is

for sleep –
your mind
cannot now
not go back there –
deep in daylight:

it’s as if to breathe
that rare infinitude
of air is now
your one
imaginable prayer –

for whose
sweet invocation
you must
kneel down
wide-eyed –

waking, breaking
through the inner
night to its
illuminating light.

Here’s the sphere:
to have it
all ways:
be both there
and here.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Avant le Deluge

Your dinosaur refrigerator
is unplugged; begins
its slow defrosting melt.

Proportionately you are melting too:
deliquescing – beckoning the flood
you’ve sucked up and subjected

over eons to a freeze: blood and breath:
the mud, ice, barnacles
of psyche seize and weigh you down –

drop in dollops toward a death:
the slew of fluid-y accoutrements
that life applies and now

is slowly wiping off: agglomerated
imprimaturs: been here, done that,
don’t know much, however.

Given all one’s stamps and proofs
of purchase and endeavor
(peeling off as one

defrosts), one plausibly
might have expected not
to feel so lost.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Fine Slew of Askew

He straddles all with supine grace –
this fairy lying on a thread –
nonchalant – upending space –
as lightly as if spreading bread

with jalapeno peppers:
“OW!” he hears beyond the scrim
of his anointed fairy slippers –
unconcerned which her or him

he’s just exasperated.
Soon it will be me or you
he’ll toxify – leave macerated
in his fine Slew of Askew.


Friday, November 13, 2009

The Single Law

In intimate recurrent epochs
of bloom and decay,
you ride your body’s pyrotechnics,
blood-warm pump and sway:

you rot a bit – resuscitate –
and lumber on, bemused –
you sweat and eat and defecate:
no instinct is refused.

Coin your maxims as you can –
philosophies all fool.
The single law of woman, man:
biology will rule.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cold Rain, November Afternoon

It’s less the heart of darkness
than a darkness in the heart:

unfathomably pregnable –
impregnably apart.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

There Are Times

There are times when he thinks
he’s survived all the brinks,
navigated the edges,
climbed back from the ledges,

discovered that he
had the power to flee,
and back off from the crude,
to a sweet quietude –

to gaze out at the sky
with an unwary eye,
and look down at his toes
in unruffled repose.

And then there are times
when absolutely nothing goddamned rhymes
and right now he’s not in the mood to tell you about them.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On It Not Being November 23rd Yet

The prospect is its own reward
(they say) – but I deny
the wait, as my wide eyes look toward
the evening I defy

the odds and fly to London:
As vivid and as clear
as “now”! – as “there” appends to “when”
and meshes into “here.”

Like a burst of wild confetti,
time refuses to align –
pushes, muscular and sweaty,
back: upends the old design –

balking at the thought that Future
has to happen last –
perfectly content to suture
Present to the Past;

miss me while I’m here, my pup –
greet me when I’m gone:
I’m in London! Bottom’s up! –
gone to bed at dawn.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Two Notes to the Great Beyond


Forgive me Father
for I have binged
on your recuperative
Forgive me Mother
for I must peel
off every swaddling
cloth with which
you sought to heal me.

Forgive me, sweet
Infinity, for I have
gorged on every
root and route
I find that you
have forged. Forgive
my spiny wonder,
shiny fun from this,
your tiny son.


So a man walks up to a stranger
on West 72nd Street and asks him:
“Have you ever been to California?”
“No,” the stranger says.

“Well,” the man continues,
“from what you’ve heard of it,
you think I should go?”

“Sure,” the stranger says.

So the man buys a plane ticket
and leaves that very day.

And everything turns out
the way it would have anyway.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

This Gift

Who imagined this would play?
Soft grace note to the day –

so skillfully performed –
no doubt it is November, warmed –

it doesn’t make believe it’s Spring
or any other untoward thing –

it’s dark at four, tree leaves are yellow –
soon to breed the dead brown mellow

mulch that Winter always wrings from Fall –
it isn’t May or June at all –

but feel the full balm of its 68 degrees –
enough to bring you to your knees:

this honeyed magic little lift –
this gift.


Saturday, November 7, 2009


Here you are again, as faithful
to the muse as you can be.
You’ve taken off your shoes –
(ahh!) – review, anew, the calculable

constancy of speed three-thirty-three’s
November light pursues to plummet
into night. It’s gotten harder
to bend over to untie those shoes,

by the way. It’s gotten harder
to remain awake throughout the day.
But there’s that happy lunatic –
on cue – who shoos you on another

loopy ride – careening on this
quatrain to his crazy holy land inside.
He won’t abide your “but.”
He could give a you-know-what.


Friday, November 6, 2009

I Acquiesce

I let it roam around today
and it came back to say
it rather likes to play
as if there were such destinations as ‘away’ –

instead of always and forever here.
I was befuddled. ‘Don’t be queer.
‘Did you go far or near?
‘Did you head east or south or north or west?’

It answered yes.
(What a pest!)
But now I guess
I get it, more or less.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

On the Subway

Scrawny teens, school uniforms:
trade their gross-out jokes.
Schizophrenic lady storms
at Satan – blind man pokes.

Woman with a baby pram
and baby blocks the aisle.
Mean-ass thug about to ram –
stops: sees the baby smile.

Tourists from Alsace-Lorraine
look about in terror.
Old man with a fountain pen
crosses out an error.

Young dude in a bubble
of business suit and tie
doesn’t seem too troubled
that he will one day die.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Seems to Seem to Them

Dead family members come and knock
and pull and murmur – gently furrowed brows
bespeak their mild distress – as if annoyed that I had not
yet guessed what seems to seem to them a patent mission –
the sort of shake and tug you’d give a toddler who expects a hug
from every stranger: no, they seem to want to say: go the other way.

My father has recovered from his Alzheimer’s,
my brother is no longer AIDS-gaunt, covered with bed sores,
my mother doesn’t hack that last death rattle cough: her black eye
gotten from a fall from bed has vanished utterly –
why do they, healed as they are now, so sputter at me –
what exactly am I doing wrong?
Perhaps it hasn’t much to do with doing wrong,

but with their longing to belong to me again.
They seem to know they drift –
one day will disappear –
a matter not of if, but when.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ode to the Third of November

Oh, great good glow and volume of you –
cold November afternoon! – forgive me
for not having sooner caught your coming on –
attended to your slow deliberate dilation –
incremental widening – beginning with your

bringing in the somnolent soft vestiges
of dawn – a silent entry, fawn-like, to the sweet
enlarging clearing of the day, assuming your
exacting role in a Chekhovian-sly play:
seductively ambiguous – edging out a fine

and sharp array of gently biting color –
your portion of the fund of autumn’s alchemy –
your secret palette – opalescent pearl whose
valiant glimmer stuns a little – brittle bits
and jolts of gold that prick the eye – diffusions

of pink-gray, lit from within, enlivening –
still fresh with sun, still not quite under
the penumbral cold indifference of a winter
still to come – oh, let me live in you a while –
breathe you in before inevitable evening.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Just Beneath the Skin

Something prickles:
tremor – tickle –
just beneath the skin:

softly presses, spins –
as if it wants to pop
up through – too

frail to do much more
than ineffectually
flutter, spew: one more

new fragile notion
tries to sputter into
view. You hover

underneath the silver
net of an idea of you:
you too would like

to come up and assert.
But that would mean
you’d have to jump

a ship you can’t desert.
Novelties in love
and thinking hurt.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Existential Sunlight

Shadowed pillows on the couch – dark and bright –
arrest: induce the sudden shocking thought
that this November silver filtered light
might just have been erased from somewhere – caught,

dismissed, discarded – void – a vacant scheme:
regarded – seen – by nobody at all:
as meaningless as reflex – empty dream:
the existential sunlight of the Fall.