Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Melon Day

Another melon day –
focus gone translucently
astray – warm and strange
and fat – kept on the vine
by nascent summer

misaligning with surreal
collective memories
of monasteries full
of chanting monks –
humid with their breath

and modal melodies –
and all the blowsy
incense-funk and rote
of abstract prayer: although
it’s New York City air

we might be somewhere
other than we are: well, no,
we’re here all right: Manhattan
is the Universe’s sacristy
as we bear down on this

last day of May: en route
to its wet final night:
full of melancholic
holy melon light and its
peculiarly sweet delight.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Family-free Tree

My father lacked a father
and my mother lacked a mother –
not immaculate conception –

merely early deaths –
the sorts that, while they left
bereft the rest of anyone

who loved them, didn’t cause
untoward surprise. Premature
departures were more common

then – and everybody dies.
But now I wonder how or if
my idiosyncratic eyes might

somehow have revised their takes
on what they see if those penumbral
absences had not occurred to me –

through both my father
and my mother as unconscious
legacy: lives pulled by wind

off barren branches:
a family-free tree. Is loss
a lack – or liberty?


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sitting Down To Do It

To know the apparatus works –
its engine is in gear –
accept, forgive its fragile quirks –
its means of fighting fear –

to sit it down and ask that it
articulate the soul –
then watch it make a task of it –
pursue that foolish goal

without one bit of evidence
that it is on a track
of anything: improvidence
in front of you, and back –

like Jonah, in his sleepy whale,
while it was biding time
before deciding to exhale:
catastrophe!: you climb

atop the blast of Orca’s sneeze
and there you are, suspended
on some abrupt propellant breeze –
indifferently upended;

and yet the apparatus works –
its engine is in gear –
you’ve grown to love its fragile quirks –
and how it fights the fear.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Man's Gotta Do What A Man's Gotta Do

Little glimmer –
fleeting phosphorescence –
beguiling in your way –

enough, in fact, to tempt
my heart to stay –
and pay for it.

And pay
I do. Why you
eclipse my sight –

and keep me
from all other sources
of a sustenance –

is quite beyond
my grasp:
and yet

I’ll always ask –
implore – the gauzy
vasty reaches

of your last exasperating
astral effability –
for more.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

As If They Were Choices

Taking stock, I want to make a rhyme of it –
as if to beat some lilting time to it
would be to give it sense: who knows, perhaps it does:
for when I contemplate my batch of loves

and set them side by side before they wriggle off
to lose themselves in an embarrassed cough –
too fragile, too complex, and probably too small
to matter, really, very much at all –

the fact that I can make the first appear to swing
in assonance with who we were in Spring –
and I can make the second dance to devil’s trills –
perhaps convey a whiff of those dark thrills –

and I can draw a slow dirge from the third –
to let our aching loneliness be heard –
and I can render beats like punches to the head
to that drug-addled fourth love, and instead

of splaying out our chaos, find the pith
of how we managed to go on, and plead the fifth
was really just a wrestling mat for sex,
and cha-cha smartly through the vexing rest –

perhaps allows a chiming meter to emend
and bend the heart more softly, thus to lend
some solace and some meaning to the voices
I try to sound to comprehend my choices.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Milk & the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto: Memorial Day

Chugging fresh cold milk right
from the plastic jug – helps to sluice
and moderate the syncopated
slugs that Brahms persists
in drugging me with on this turgid
torrid Monday afternoon – this hollow

lunacy of holiday – this strange
deranged memorialization of a history
of slaughter: wave a flag, imbibe some
stylish water, pass the fat-free popcorn.
Shopworn Brahms in B flat major
on the radio clumps harmonies

like fertilizer on the plain of my
besieged, besieging brain: chords
arrive in thicknesses – like heavy
aromatic Caribbean rain: stewing his
arpeggiated lumps into a further richness:
straining blood into a fertile mud:

war into a distant thunder: seeking
to extract some wonder from its
blunder. Maybe constitutes an answer
to this charmless country’s propagating
fears. Defending war and praising
death is murderously hard, my dears.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

In the Belly of the Whale

By the time I’d reached my fifteenth year
I had within my cramped and tiny context geared
myself to tackle Mozart's violin concerto,

number four: I lumbered poorly through the score
at first: the prospect of uniting such a happy
burst of semiquavers with the flavors
of the maestro’s bright ebullience was quite

beyond my scope: but when you’re fourteen
you are biologically disposed to hope –
and, more important, have the muscles
and the reflexes – wed to a terrible anxiety
to please – to grow from hope a living being:
draw a pastel forest from its trees. I found a larger
place at last and populated it with Disney

prettinesses – knowing not without a little fear
that somehow, somewhere in the vast
still unexplored deep shadows of the music’s
cool and whispering surrounding woods
I’d find – when I was braver – where its dearer
goods were buried. So many years since then
have flurried; I still savor – play – some

strains of that concerto every now and then:
the notes are blurrier – more softly married:
Disney has long given way to something faintly
Kurosawan – my Mozart has a taint and taste
of Rashomon – wherein four witnesses of one
dark crime belie each other’s tales and leave
one wondering – stories within stories

that regale us with the questionable glories
of a human blundering. Ah – but – then: I think
of what those Disneynesses all entailed –
excitedly in tension with what fourteen year olds
barely sense lies dark – beyond – through
lenses – their opaquely pretty veil: adolescence
plays its Mozart in the belly of the whale.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

How To Have Your Day & Eat It Too

I woke up knowing this was mine! – no,
not the day – which anyway belongs
as far as I can tell to nobody – but rather
the sensation that whatever I decided,
this grand moment would persist –
and anywhere I was would offer just as fully

its resplendent kiss as anywhere I'd be:
and so I didn’t go to any lengths to see
the Queen or start a revolution or have sex
with seven nymphomaniacs at noon
beneath the dome of City Hall – in fact
I’d have to say that all I did was ride

a subway train uptown to feed a cat,
and ride it home again – perambulate up
Seventh Avenue to meet some friends
in Chelsea, chat and eat some breakfast –
after which I still did not have any wish
to utterly upend my life – no urge for

untoward strife: no yen to fight bare-fisted
in the street or sneak myself into a boudoir
to eat oysters with a courtesan who’d rub
my feet: I find myself in the sweet middle
of a Saturday, the light is pearly late-
May gray, the television glows and brays

in all its soft chaotic ways, I’ve got
a freshly laundered T-shirt on, I sport
a buzzed haircut and just-trimmed beard,
and I have got the whole thing spinning
as if everything that I revere were near
and everything I feared had disappeared.


Friday, May 23, 2008

New York Morning

Three Mexicans performed and sang their mariachi
music on the subway train: as short and squat
as Mayan gods: eliciting soft secretive reactions

from the lot of us: I smelled a tiny twitchy strain
of fear arise among embarrassed smiles: a woman
near me dropped a dollar into a sombrero hat: but

we were in the presence of a force whose guile
would never be appeased by that: snakes and predatory
birds were coiling round the poles: a temple twining

with a sinuosity of vine emerged, took over our
compartment and would surely have engulfed our souls
in shadow with a seizing blast of destiny had not

the temple just then reached another station: let
the Mayan gods get out in their disguise, and plan
another enigmatic rout before another audience’s eyes.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pink-and-Creamy Fantasies on St. Mark's Place

Is memory the measure of a life?
Enough of it perhaps to give some cognitive
authority to say what this, and you, were then –
and that you’ve therefore got some proof
of knowing what some facts were, when.

But when I pass these twenty-something’s
on St. Mark’s Place in their transient
alluring child-flesh and see them mesh with
their surroundings in a living threshold
to oblivion, it is the certainty of the oblivion

that takes. Fleeting urgencies and hungers
merely quake. Passion is an agency of making
something happen but most raging tidal seas
of it occur somewhere beyond our reckoning:
experiences alter but they do so like

a dye taints cloth: we are the blue and green
and purple it betroths us to – we are otherwise
a loss. Those youthful bodies and their softness
drain a distant melody: one part of some
attenuated and elusive strain which must

and will defeat the brain. Momentariness is not
a wagon to which you can hitch your heart
or résumé. All those pink-and-creamy
fantasies on St. Mark’s Place have gone away –
astray – were only barely here today.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Madame Tuesday

You want to write a poem about that old lady you saw
on the subway yesterday but the strange May air
of New York City afternoon keeps
up such hybrid bright disarming
humid undecided light
you cannot bring sufficient focus
to that locus, or indeed quite any
point at all: as if some creature larger
than the smearing pearly and translucent

sky that you espy now crawling over everything
had gently jiggled every swig and ligature of the expanding
signature of this metropolis so that not one thin line of it
was legible: and you reflect
again on that old lady on the subway and her intermittent
shuffling observations which she seemed to think
could only be reported from the seat beside the side of you –
that Lincoln, next to Washington and Roosevelt,
had had the hardest job, and had you

noticed there was no one on the train as old as she?
Plastic-bagged belongings
of some sort were neatly packed into
a carryall that leaned against her knee, and when you glanced
above you saw a face as wrinkled and as warty
as a children’s goblin book: you didn’t want to take another look.
Somehow the notion that there isn’t any time
is now the only thought you can retain:
both that there’s no such thing,

and that her life like yours and everyone’s
is on the rapid wane. Ah! – now you ascertain, and understand:
the creature in whose hand this city
wriggled and demanded freedom yesterday
was that old lady on the subway: Madame Tuesday –
ancient pearly third of New York’s seven daily patron saints:
cast from all the blur of its expository paints:
bleeding colors of a bright and humid undecided light.
Ephemerally memorable sight.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quadratic Equations et alia

I couldn’t solve a quadratic equation
if my life depended on it,
which begs the question: what does
my life depend on? Aquatic equations,
perhaps, which pay homage

to vast oceanic salinity and its derivative
fluids, like blood? Sporadic equations –
those random small urgencies
crying to make a numerical sense
out of thick existential intractable mud?

Galactic equations which offer explicable
trips to a star? Or synaptic equations
without which we couldn’t begin
to say who, what or when we were,
will be, or are? Alas: my path is not math.

Surely summons some grumpy
divinity’s wrath. How to divine the Divine?
I’ve got the heart and the spine –
and the requisite god-fearing dread.
But I haven’t the head.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Wondrously Exempt From Sin

I look for guidance, sorting through
what (blessed and unblessed) referents
I possess – reject all but the best –
so few are left. I’m down to sex and death.
Creation and oblivion: the sweetness
of conveying one while doing justice

to the other. Listen to Prokofiev,
the aching second movement of his
second violin concerto – slinks like
an exacting, hungry serpent through
a summer night: slithering tonality,
exhuming what romance it can, before

it ends in banning my or any other fool’s
attempt to imitate its soft and swelling
thunder: wondrously exempt from sin.
Today I wait for someone dark and potent
to come in – and oh! he will – and we
shall sink again to that experience

of spilling everything into the gaping chasm
that one only glimpses through orgasm.
Survive the brink. The music of Prokofiev,
a serpent and another great dark man:
annihilate, exalt inimitably. I’ve had a cold.
Makes an animal inside me bold.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008


"Take your crippled sense of efficacy –
shove it where the moon shines blue,"

she thought she’d coo. She tends to misconstrue.

Words come to her like coughing comes to
pediatric nurses who suppress their
colds in baby clinics: finicky about repression,

she and they swoon in the constant sway
of navigating swooping loop-de-loops
that biplanes need altimeters they rarely have

to carry off with even slight finesse. Negotiating
stress is what it probably comes
down to: not unlike what one must do with

all the blueberries one seeks to smush into
one's altruistic jam pot: handfuls
of the sticky clumps of which, alas, may only

rarely hit the spot, but do provide alternatives
to watching naked women boxing.
Foxy switches in the nick of time! Amazing

how precisely one dissembles and finagles
both to foster and appease one's
fast and flapping craving for internal rhyme.


Friday, May 16, 2008

The Awakening Conscience

Holman Hunt’s extravaganza of Victoriana
first and last astonishes – one hungers
for the summer London of his polished
rosewood and embroidered silks – the sleek
enameling of his enamored brush with flesh
beneath that ‘fallen woman’s’ dress:

young man ejaculating whiskers like a Satyr;
and the mirror catching the ascending
lady from the back, affording some small
glimpse of the Edenic gated garden towards
which she is summoned: as if in an epiphany
wherein the Serpent, now Apollo, turns

from black to gold, and asks that she exhume
herself from that fool’s mortal hold, reune
with gods – to swim in all the glory
of their brimming colors and the richness
of their jeweled and lacquered dreams –
macerate in their elaborately oil-painted

scenes. That virtue could be so supposed
to find its genesis in arrant bliss bespeaks
the truly moral current which will not
put up with one whit less than the amoral,
unimpededly divine, sweet kiss: if
conscience is awakened, it awakes to this.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

House of Cards

I remember when I used to shuffle Tarot cards,
they made a sound like silk – or dove wings
fluttering so rapidly and softly that they might
have echoed how, in dreams, love sings.
I’m shuffling a house of cards today, as I survey

a move: plan the funneling of everything
into another groove: I draw equivalents
of swords and cups and sticks and pentacles
and stars and suns – and reeling magic men
who seem dimensionally and intrinsically to live

to roam – inhabiting no empty or inactive
space – temporally temporary – cosmic foam.
Cards, like wings and other silken things,
are made to rustle and to veil and render
a reminding grace. It could be I’m already home.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Hating, as you do, the horror
and catastrophe and vast
insidiously virulent insemination
of the shadow – ineradicably
dangerously here – from which
you can have had no notion of
a respite but to flee it, and in secret

fearfully plan how to slaughter it –
conspire with your familiars –
spouses, cousins, siblings, sons
and daughters – whose existence
seems as badly threatened by
the thing as yours – it can’t be
too surprising that what pours into

the rest of life for you is similarly
tainted: drop of paint in milk:
inevitable toxin: always some
faint tincture of the killing poison
in your water and your air:
but oh! – poor friendless creature
and your barely beating arid heart:

there are features of the whole
I swear your soul longs to impart:
no need to tell you what they are:
you know. Look around you
for their evanescent glow. Dare
to love them when they come:
care about them when they go.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I walked through New York’s
weekend Stuff-Land
not a couple days ago: two

Greenwich Village
streets replete with all
the overwhelming glare

of unchecked urban
concupiscence swerving
into one composite

knick-knack fair – into, over
which it dangerously
overflowed: though possibly

providing generative
complicated silt and mud
for somebody to grow

yet more ungovernably
wonderful: this gilt
and clutter of a thousand

New York lives: this
randomly ejected confluence:
this mad collective rising

consciousness of
an impossibility of place
arrives – and manifests –

again, again, again –
as it has done since
nobody remembers when.


Monday, May 12, 2008


Ripening is odd.
Secret strategy of God.
Green begins to bleed to red:
complicating sugar

out of the acidity of infant seed:
offering a sweeter spread
for which the living
turn their need to greed: strawberries

are full of sex –
full of the capacity to hex –
pleasure is their measure of success.
Seems to offer evidence

of linear progression:
stages passed from birth
through lush maturity to death.
But that’s a trick.

God is slick.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Attached to Every Limb of You

In the distance: see a hand shoot up –
to hail? – surrender? – stretch? – express
a waking dream? – is it a sleepwalker
who thinks he’s Isadora Duncan wafting
creamily through Aberdeen? – an epileptic

reflex? – one of two palms raised in frank
admission of perplexity, despair? –
a gesture made in prayer? – a prep to
give the finger? – or attempt to catch
a hat blown by the wind off hair? – let this

suggest a fraction of the range of what
I dare to think I am prepared for as your
vast uncharted emanating ambiguity
comes sailing into view – interestingly,
mystically attached to every limb of you.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

On Balance, Like This Moment

If you took this moment
and you sliced it at the deli
it would come out roughly
circular and flat but rippled:
full of random fat – like
mortadella – blobs of white
amid amebic pink and red –
but it might also feature
severed purple peppercorns:

terrorized and full of dread
as victims’ eyes – against
gratuitously brutal ravaging
of burning caramel – surreally
deliquescing through its
dark marauding allies – sharply
split pecans and blood-black
Kalamata olives: polished
by a sinister soupçon

of squid: squalidly imploding
on the palate but a glory
in the main: one must, I would
maintain, develop taste
for every terrible inordinate
exorbitance. Today I lapped
up everyone I could. On balance,
like this moment, they were
unaccountably quite good.


Friday, May 9, 2008

This Thing I've Got For Henry James

I ought to write about this thing
I’ve got for Henry James –
though, damn, I’m tired. I didn’t
sleep enough last night,

and surely what’s required in
a tête-à-tête avec le maître
is the energy to meet his endless
scavenging and baby-like

insistence that one lap up
everything one sees – digest it
to the lees – regurgitate the stuff
in filigree into eternity. Semi-

somnolence is dangerous
around subordinately wafting
clauses, streaming through
the air and swallowing one up

assiduously until one forgets
the myriad assumptions
one had brought to the imagining
of what one thought might

constitute a “there”: a favorite
word of his, that “there!” –
fixed to an exclamation point.
Everything so subtly out of joint.

Sucks one right into the maw.

Oughta be a law.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Life Is Sometimes Like Boxing

Quick skip
off the stool
at the ‘ding.’

Tight rip
of the tool
of his swing.

Fat lip
on the fool
in the ring.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Eleanor's Nice

This morning, en route to a cat
that I tend in the home of a friend,
I decided to wend my way past

the lank statue of Eleanor Roosevelt:
bronze, long and pensive – suspending
her ghost in a host of clipped shrub

and wrought iron park bench: at
the start of the hub of the upper west side,
overseeing the river and Riverside Park.

It was early, and quiet, an hour
past dark, and nobody around, so I tipped
my head towards the brown lady

who seemed to be whispering sound,
and she was, and she said: “Sew
the mystical thread in like silk through

the burlap, or better: weave burlap
through silk: there is no purer milk:
cacophony highlights the lyrical. Don't

praise or deride, just derive a felt sense
of the spherical.” Then others arrived:
she resumed her immutable miracle.

Eleanor’s nice. Worth visiting twice.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Mother the Cobalt Blue Butterfly Star

How to want without wanting? –
desire with all of the being
I’ve got? – but without blindly
pawing for any polluting solution:

no claw marks. Some law
sparks me during a nap: a truth
that cannot be revoked:
there’s resplendent infinity

in every fast-spinning wheel
at the heart of a thought – whose
bright spokes intersect and shoot
out like barrages of starlight:

perfections of flooding response.
Just now, pouring out from
the sconce of a lamp in a dream
flew a dancing cascade of live

creatures the shape and
the brilliance of butterflies: stark
cobalt blue and as true and as full
of existence as you – whoever

you are. My birthday unnerves:
connects to my mother the cobalt
blue butterfly star. She never
lies. She says nobody dies.


Monday, May 5, 2008


I would like to live in 1897 for a while:
to spiral up through its considerable
purple heaven of a style: art nouveau
was fresh in its first mesh of anarchy
and line – must just have seemed
too fine and sharp to tolerate. I pass
an 1897 building in Manhattan everyday
whose ornamental sway and swoop

and volupté in tightly organized array
betray the grand illicit passion in
the human soul for an exquisite rapture
wherein devils slaver – craving God –
consume Him whole, like the constricting
boa swallows prey and holds it
there, at bay, a billow in the gorge –
in graceful pregnant outline – captured

and enlarged – inscribed: tumescence
deliquescing and digesting breath
to death. I would like to live in 1897’s odd
perseverance – assess firsthand
its dark ambivalent embrace – its ardent
arabesques – unblessed subjections to
the flesh – like Oscar Wilde in free-fall,
desperately attempting to ingest it all.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

If New York Has Immensity

If New York
has immensity,
to me it’s more
in its intensity
than in its
storied geographic

sprawl. It’s all
one habitable
creature in
my mind –
whose fine
reticulated spine

I travel up
and down as if
I were a flood
of neurons,
and the spine
were mine.



You want a challenge?
Take this morning on.
Just a breather of a dawn:
enough gray light to take
you into the reclusiveness

of recollection – and entrap
you there, as if that were
the deal. Hard to tell what’s real,
but then it always is, but never
quite as much as this, inside

this pearly obfuscation of a space.
Vague ghosts of skin-to-skin:
just how long has it been
since someone spent the night?
Well, that’s all right.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Who Loves to Lie with Me

“Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me
And tune his merry note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
Come hither…”

As You Like It,

Seems like fantasy to you, I bet: but
it’s reality to me: we sneeze and shoo –
ah-choo! – our lives into a rushing brook
so burbling, fast and freely undermining
that we barely know we’re wet before
we’ve drowned: oh, not to die, but to belie

the facts, and buy the fictions that we’ve
got a past and present and a future:
everything appears to stream from backs
to fronts, but we’re a dunce if we believe it –
saturated with the neutering effects
of freezing water, we don’t know the truth

it slaughters: there’s a grassy ground –
a bank above to boost to – verdant and as
dry as June that we have only to climb up to,
to resume a sunny unimpeded bliss. But
you, my sprite, my light – you’ve caught
a glimpse of that soft brightness overhead,

and sometimes from your dreamy seaweed
bed you come to lie with me atop
the greenness of eternity – and then we
wrestle bawdily and naughtily upon its soft
and rippling vegetable sensual extremity:
and you cannot go back, although you do:

that is, it seems like fantasy again, to you,
though not to me. But you will dream again,
my little pea, and then you’ll pop up
to the green anew and roll around
and see and hear and smell and taste
and chew and be the ecstasy.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Portrait en Précis

In the micro, so the macro – dead-eyed
mackerel tells the tale – stinking
with a bright effulgence which bespeaks
the whole: ancient coupling of the male
and female and the slimy fertile ovum
from which somehow this ichthyic life for
some few years would manage to prevail –

before it landed in a pail: extract its pupil
and look in and be instructed in
the Big Bang ways of ingenuity and sin
with which Existence plays compulsively –
such passionate indifference! Here is
the befuddlement: how out of all this
muddlement design and breath concur.

We are little specks of thing from which
the narcissistic Infinite appears to want
to bring more urgent proof that it
and we and mackerels exist, and will exist –
and have existed. Seems a little twisted:
pretending there's an Other that can see.
“Look at me!” Portrait en précis.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Those Spectral Chords

You think that it does everything?
Accept that it will never sing
the harmonies you’d like it to.
Those spectral chords are up to you.