Friday, March 16, 2018

(entièrement de ne pas entre nous)

Sometimes, not often, I’ve said this before but this time i really mean it. Ya gotta watch - listen to the vid. It really comes alive when you hear it.

(entièrement de ne pas entre nous)
Thanks but I won’t be attending. 
I’m afraid I can’t, at the brink of the age of 67, 
find much interest or purpose in what amounts for me 
to paying transmogrified homage to having navigated 
the fleet blur of four years of late adolescence near 50 
years ago (with people I now mostly barely
recall) to jump, as if I couldn't 
imagine anything more fun to do,
into a tug of war with other ‘classes’ 
(encouraged to behave like competing 
intramural teams) similarly engaged 
in what for the college is surely 
the motive force: to see what 
clutch of alumni donates the most dollar signs
to it. I don’t begrudge them this. Colleges
need lots of dough. And I’m graced
with the riches of unfathomed bliss
of a life in New York, skidding thrillingly
over the thinnest thin surfaces of a “fixed income” –

so fixed it has rendered me cleanly unable
to fit any niche which depended on
spending more than would
procure me a split,
grilled kielbasa, boiled sour-
cream-dabbed pierogi, Ukrainian
sauerkraut (misnomered: it’s a bit sweet)
at Odessa (at 7th street, Avenue A). In the odd way 

I register lessons from life, though, I have to confess
that the high-handed forced shrill-toned snark which
slits under and into these over-wrought lines –
(oh do beware markedly visual strict-driven
grids clamped on "writing":  as deadly
a march through the desert as college P.R.) –
bear the un-pretty tracks of defense scared of threat.
It resides in the fact I suspect I must here to the point
now espouse - I don’t like Christmas for just the same
reason I dislike the press of a college besieging us all
to love it. They're for people who barbecue chicken 
and make love to those of the Alien Sex. 
People with children.
I neither barbecue nor much like to fuck, but 
I very much warm to, indeed am by rep held 
by those with legitimate claims to a firsthand 
experience, as a candidate rather more likely
than not to be placed at the head (the word
pointedly used) of the queue of things having
to do with the come-hither faux-pouty moue 
of the Mouth. 
From here it goes South –
as shall I go mid-May, 
for a scatter of days, far away 
from collegiate maneuvers,
august weights and measures –
to quite other pleasures: 
to go,
oh to go! 
go to, oh! - 
where what I will do
my sly eye apperceives
(entièrement de ne pas
entre nous)
I won’t tell anyone (not even vous
nor even the who whom I'll be apperceiving -
and who anyway needs no apprising of any 
uprising, re-sizing, down-sizing or moue.
People don’t speak French in Mexico, Joe.
You forgot to learn Spanish, you twit.”
(Oh, shit.)


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Platonic Lovers’ Vendetta

Stalking Mr. Hawking’s physics was the prize –
they’d waited long and wearily for his demise.
Could they shanghai it, undercover, in disguise?
Swiftly done! Platonic lovers Yetta and Baletta
did it. Philosophy again was king! Vendetta,
won. The ruling physics now were meta.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nothing Left But

Creation is a blast.
Happens irremediably fast.
Flushed like methane out of mud,
combusting into fire out of blood,
a bastard anarchist, a tease
who gripes at her intricacies
but ultimately undergoes
that multitude of throes
exacted by a kickass craft: mastery
as dire as catastrophe –
sentencing her like a Pontius Pilate
to be hyperconscious of the riot
she is given to incite and to assuage,
only to be murdered in its rage.
Mission: to employ and to destroy.
Nothing left but joy.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Celebrating Clara Schumann, Arlene Hajinlian, Reed Woodhouse and the New York that made everyone (but Clara) possible.

what a thrilling day, and what a vindication of New York life - which needs no vindication but I like pointing them out anyway because they’re just so juicy. Arlene Hajinlian and I are going to play 3 romances by Clara Schumann at the Broadway Bach Ensemble chamber musicale to be presented at 7 or 7:30 (I’ll give proper info closer to the time) in the parish hall behind the Presbyterian Church wherein we play orchestral concerts at 114th St & Broadway on March 22. Arlene had the good idea of suggesting that we get Reed Woodhouse to listen to what we’ve been doing with these exquisite pieces – in which Clara Schumann demonstrates her extraordinary talent as a composer (she was known for being a piano virtuoso at a time when such a career was all but unthinkable for a woman) – they’re so harmonically and rhythmically supple -- gentle, ardent, poignant, charming – written the year Robert Schumann died so it’s hard not to see them as a particularly pointed expression of love for him. (I’m always dragging artists’ bios into the work; I’m told I shouldn’t but I can’t help it.) 
Anyway Reed invited us to a practice room at Julliard (getting clearance even to walk into Julliard is a little like visiting a lockdown asylum), and he was the model coach. He has many facets to his genius but one of them is to zero in on the organizing principle(s) in a piece which not only illuminate(s) what the piece is “saying” but how performers can “say” it. You’ll see in my little video swatch from the 2nd romance below that the octave was at the germinating heart of this particular thing. However, you’ll hear it and much else to much greater and I hope much more regaling effect if you can make it to that musicale. Arlene is a joy to play music with, a marvelous pianist – we did the lovely little two movement Mozart e minor sonata at the Bway Bach chamber concert last year (when this pic of us was taken) – and I think these pieces by Frau Schumann are going to have a similarly magical effect – if that is, I don’t screw it up. Arlene won’t, believe me, so she’ll be worth the price of admission (which in this case is free! but you know what I mean) – and I’ll do my best to keep spirits afloat. The collage pic of Reed and me is just my celebration of the enjoyment we take in each other – or anyway that I take in him. I got some pretty great cronies, I’ll tell ya. New York life vindicated again and again and again.

youtube vid - (Octaves in the 2nd romance: violin only alas.)


Means of Transport

Think about it, take a cab, go get tested in a lab,
call your little brother to remind you of that joke,
order six six-packs of Coke, study Latin harder –
as if you’d quantities of answers kept like eggs
and milk and butter in a larder, fresh as long
as you believed in them, ready for the choosing,
using, losing.  But how exactly do you get from in
to out to there to here to anywhere? Your means
of transport are a queer shenanigan – imagine if
we knew that what you do to make the story of your life
come true depends on flying in un-flyable contraptions,
so disastrously incapable of getting off the ground
that anyone who saw you trying to effect a flight that way,
would stare, embarrassed, down, away, too stricken
at the sight of it to meet your eyes: and yet in spite of it
you rise, and sometimes even soar, or if not soar
then hop and stumble and get up again and dream
of so much more of what and where you think you are
that you’ve no doubt that’s where and what you'll be.
Your real life is a mystic inning in a ballgame no one
knows you’re playing every day. No one, anyway, but me.
That’s what you don’t say. That’s the secret unconveyable
essential key to how you get to something for which
you can care, how you can bear believing what you see.
You say that none of it is true. No room in it for you:
don’t know with whom it has to do – unless it’s me.
Must be me, the chimpanzee. You say it’s time
I climbed back up my tree.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Take Me to the Bullfrog Pond!

When Luther sits beside his large amorphous brother
Ruperderma, whose rose-pink translucence rarely
strikes him now as anything but silly nuisance
and whose incapacity for thinking he need ever look
ahead apparently has left him idiotically without
a necessary sense of dread that he’d be dead one day
and that to laze about as if life were a holiday is not
the way Lou knew we had to pay for this existence,
he wonders, how can you know you’re anywhere if
you don’t know one day you won’t be here? Dare to scare
yourself with the reality of absence – reckon with 
the beckoning of the abyss, witless thing! Ruperderma
sat there happy in his dilly-dallying. Sometimes he’d sing:
“Take me to the bullfrog pond and marry me to me!
Then let’s let the three of us decide what you will be.”


Thursday, March 8, 2018

None of It

It isn’t that he isn’t trying to be happy.
He bravely greets each circumstance with cheer.
But circumstances all seem separated from him by a gap he
can’t negotiate. None of it convinces him he’s here.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Contracting with the Color God

One day he had displayed gradations of such
mild sunlit colors as you would associate with hay.
The next, he’s taking on innumerable shades of blue.
He’d always wondered what the Color God
would choose to use for him as his inimitable hue.
And so he’d signed a contract with that god to be
a human canvas onto which this Maestro
of all Shades would then array the subtle timbres
he had contemplated might be worth it to pursue.
An asterisk after “pursue” betook him to espy right
at the bottom of the document that signing it
meant he’d receive a bonus of eternal life.
Out of any god’s gateau, that surely, for a mortal,
had to have to be the nicest slice. What could there be
now but eternal fascinations and delights? The Color
God appeared already to have found him inexhaustible.  
Unless, as the unwelcome thought began to press,
he was a reflex: an all-purpose surface to imbue with
drippings from the chromosphere the Hue-god had
a whim to view. He never knew, he’d had to guess.
Would it matter? Surely no. Then, oh! – before his
second century of servitude was done, when it had
long been not remotely fun, he wished he could emend
his answer to a please-have-mercy-on-me YES:
it matters. But the contract was unmerciful,
as odds say contracts are with gods. He was its slave.
Its tenure was forever, an un-openable gate:
the lesson (keep your guard up with a god) too late.
He was bereft.
But then he thought,
what god?
And he got up and left.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Angels in Another Universe

may be the best reading of a poem I've ever done. Which is to say, I had a helluva lot of fun doing it.

Like yours, we angels fly by wing.
Publicly we can’t align
with the malign,
but our benignity will sting.
Our society apparently
can’t fathom to forgo
the status quo
of an habitual morality
but will begin to savor sin
when certain souls
achieve their goals
without intent to cut us in.
We’ll have nothing left to do
with such unwelcome company.
Their tedious ennui
will not improve our point-of-view.
Now the prey of mindless cogs in
wheels ensuring,
while procuring
them like smelly squealing hogs in
bins, they will be hauled, the crowd
of them, to dump in earnest
in a furnace:
to burn alive while crying loud
for a redemption or salvation.
Their hopes can’t but abort.
Their time is short.
They came here, keen for a vacation.
We obliged. They were vacated
in one terrible collective yelp.
We weren’t merely glad to help.
We were elated.

Saturday, March 3, 2018


If we were radially made of lines and every line had
consequence, what fate would we then face? What
template would we be? Could we be erased?
Or undermined by our own underhanded
wickedness, refining us insensibly into barb-wired
fence, or reprehensibly into an indecipherable mess,
a bungled chaos nothing could resolve?
Could we caress or be caressed without entangling
our linearities, with no hope of redress? Would there
be any countermanding essence into which we
could dissolve? Or would we find we liked to be
geometry? What would it be like to feel?
What outcome would our being radially wired,
wound, rewound, aligned and realigned reveal?
Would we be real?
I asked this creature all of that.
And it said, “I don’t know,
it’s no big deal.”

Friday, March 2, 2018

Death Talks to Life. Life Doesn’t Say Much.

“Fickle baby!
saying maybe
while you swear
you won't. As if
you had a choice.
You see the cliff –
and hear the voice –
it echoes: goes
where you would like
to go: that rose
you smell? – that spike
of scent that draws?
Just try to stay
away. The laws
decree: you'll sway
to me.”
If only you'd talk sensibly!
“I do, my little honey bee.”
Oh God.
“No God.”

Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Minuscule Entirety

I am driven by a whim to find and only
settle on what caters to the whim.
That might be something I recall that she
was wearing or the smell of him
or something about which somebody sighed
that he must spare us the specifics:
a severed limb and its abandoned body he’d
not ever talk about, dismembered
as it was front of him. The absent tale, what
one kept hid, becomes, of course,
more dare to fantasize what had occurred
than listening to what he might
have said he thought or did or saw: a law
that governs interest. Pouring
more detail than I myself am wont to pour
upon a tale is, too. Ought I try
to ladle it out adjectivally, lavishly describe
just how it felt to fall into that
bubbling vat of fat whose steam then flatly
spat me out from a retreating
shroud of dream? I’m cloudy now about
just what the whim was here. I lack
the least idea, besides a dim recall that
whim is what the dream called me.  
(The smell of ‘him’ was me as well.) Which
alters the beginning to: I’m driven
by myself to find and only settle on what
caters to my minuscule entirety.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

On ne sait jamais

(ma première chanson en français  à mon ami Franck Danican)

On ne sait jamais,
comme dit mon ami Franck,
quand il y aura beaucoup d’argent 
ou rien dans la banque.
Mais dans n’importe quel cas 
je prie: ne départ pas. 
Je ne voudrais jamais
avoir dire ‘tu me manque!’On ne sait jamais,
comme dit mon ami Franck
quand il y aura beaucoup d’argent
ou rien dans la banque.
Mais dans n’importe quel cas
je prie: ne départ pas.
Je ne voudrais jamais
avoir dire ‘tu me manque!’



One never knows,
so says my friend Franck,
when there will be a lot of money
or nothing in the bank.

But in whatever case
I plead: don't go away.
I never want to have to say
'I miss you.'