Saturday, February 28, 2009

We Say a Lot of Things

We like a taste of chaos –
enough, at least, to keep us
slightly on the brink,
and off. We like to think God
sometimes gets a cough.
We like to hate the thing we love.
We like to think that if a thing

delights a little, it is perfect;
if it delights a lot, it’s perfect;
if it does not delight at all,
we like to contemplate the gall
of anything that won’t delight!
We wrote a note to self
today, but put it on the shelf,

and let it macerate away in all
its juices. We think we’ve run out
of excuses. We think perhaps
that we should know we know

and know we don’t – both
deeply. We’ve climbed it both
ways, steeply. Tonight we have

to play the violin and then we’re
contemplating never playing it
again. We contemplate a lot.
(Our jacket has a spot.
Forgive us while we clean it.)
We say a lot of things.
We think we mean it.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Care & Feeding of a Word *

Let’s do what we can do.
Let’s find exactly what will shoe
the Unicorn to make him feel
like he can kick back and relax,
enjoy the game. Let’s bake
a pretty cookie for his tea, and give
his little horny colt the same.

Let’s ask him why he bays
each night so terribly about
the ways we haven’t adequately
trumpeted his fame:
let’s pay attention to each requisite.
Let’s name him “Exquisite.”
Let’s be his champion and caretaker,

let’s pamper him, warm up his form
when he is bare and cater
to each antlered-horsey whim.
Let’s curl his mane
and give it just the trim
the other Unicorns all crave.
Let’s take him with us to the grave.

*Don’t be a dope.
Don’t tell him he’s a trope.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Too Much Light

Noon sunlight badly frightened him today – sucker-punched
him into thinking there was something he was doomed to do
and had to do it, right now, even as he wobbled from the blow,
and could not utter “NO” – and sank into a heap onto
the couch, and crouched and covered up to get his wits

back: fumbling into lack: humiliated loser: couldn’t stand up
to the bruiser in this fight – eyes shut against how bright it was –
palms over lids: a tense defense against the barest possibility
of sight, of too much light, of too much light, until the fright
began to evanesce, to lift, to pass, and he began to grasp

the flesh-embodied thought that something else was coming in –
something that would last – a softer sense, a pillowed density,
a surer feel, the prospect of imagining that he could tolerate
the “real,” though hadn’t known that he was napping when
it came, all softly lapping at his brain, assiduously curing it

of lameness, disability and slowly constituting a consistency,
a fluvially flowing sameness he could trust, a river of a “now,”
in which whatever dust had screened his vision washed away
to let in new precision of perception, sharper, darker, something
that would tell him how to face – no, not the light, no, not

the light, but something mightier, the thing this soft incursion
had ignited in what he was tempted to describe as “soul” –
no, not a sense of wholeness, but a gaping hole to which
his coalescing psyche, now, he saw, had been invited –
towards which it crept – in which, in fact, it very nearly slept.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sweet Bricklaying Life

Bearing silent witness
like a frozen mask –
a hundred-fifty years ago
or so, this wall – the thick
assiduously labored product
of a task that bought bricklayers
dinner and a bed: and kept,
presumably, a bit more
of the dread at bay of navigating
wild and hungry New York City
in the eighteen-fifties,

and made possible the whiskey
and the beer: I see a lean boy,
Irish, red-haired, drawing
near to climb a ladder
with a trowel – sweating
in the sun of summer 1858,
and scowling, wondering
what possibly could be a wonder
in the harsh strife of this day.
The war would come
and everything would change,

but right now the alignment
of these damned unyielding
bricks is all that he can find
in any range of sight:
eventually, maybe
he will fight and die
or come home from Antietam
with one eye or leg, and beg
his God for mercy or a trade
or wife. Perhaps he’ll think back
to his sweet bricklaying life.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Asiago Cheese

Refrigerated deli cold-cuts almost gone:
one oblong butter-colored sheet
of Asiago cheese – I bite off small
precise cool crescents from this final slice:

a moment after in the nose and upper palate
I perceive a tiny funk: which makes
me think of Europe –
food that tastes of where it comes from:

culinary expertise that leaps towards the heart
and touches, sniffs it – pricks it fresh –
sees and keeps the human
in its art: the animal, the sweat, the flesh.

New York has this in her left hand
but her right and both her feet
and various appurtenances she deploys
throughout each street and avenue

pursue a different sort of aim: here the soul
is galvanized, becomes a part
of New York’s gleaming name:
you can find the subtle stink of truffle but alone

it is too muffled for the teeming likes of her:
she likes the body but prefers
her canyons of the air, despair and glare.
No Europe, really, there.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Chocolate Milk

Glaring freezing February day
which several green shoots
in the scrubby garden
in the front allay
a bit: a blip on winter’s screen.
A sip of chocolate milk:
the glass of it you’ve conjured,
stirred is blissful in its way:

evokes a sheen
of memory, the just-before-
of childhood: when life came
seasonally in a sensate
jointed puppet show with thrust
and point. Chocolate milk for kids:
a hazy film skids oddly in the memory:

a sense of safety
you’d forgotten. There’d been
a mommy once, and daddy,
and an utter faith in future.
Those sutures have come loose –
and in the scrubby garden tulip-shoots
erupt indifferently: no operation
possible to give them

rationale. Chocolate milk becomes
an upfront kind of pal, best friend –
a stay against the end.
The ghosts of children play as light
bends through them, reaches you –
and here's another thing:
there’ll be tulips
in the garden in the Spring.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kneel If You Must

Slip me a line or three
you little chimpanzee –
flip me a vine and see
if we can climb a tree

in this inclement weather –
unfeathered –

Be my ekphrastic
free my monastic
heart –

encourage my lust –
kneel if you must –
tell me you’ll trust
or bust –


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Therefrom and Thereupon

Poetry’s the only thing to do
when all the less-than-palatable
tinctures and extractions, viscous fluids,
semi-solid substances and stubborn rocky
indigestibilities of life sluice through
you into murky juice – when any hope
you might induce perception runs along –

depends upon – whatever river of decision
you can shore up, commandeer until
it veers alchemically therefrom and thereupon
into a craft that you can steer with
some precision towards at least a simulacrum
of a sense, exacting “clear” from “dense,”
completely manufactured, yet with

something of the fractured fractious
mad deliciousness of felt experience –
melting into every variance and prurience
biology requires of mind – to find
whatever breath respires right at the edge
of death, and rue. Poetry’s the only thing
to do besides say toodle-oo.


Friday, February 20, 2009

You Little Stack of True

All your darkened stairways,
unused rooms –
your cellars, attics,
boarded-up compartments,
cubicles piled high with boxes,
dusty, heavy, worn –
but not forlorn

my dear
when we effect our queer
sweet little trysts here –
riffling through cobwebs
delicate as lace –
exactly where you’d most forgotten
you had space –

awaiting and receiving grace.
Let’s come back
every early morning,
do it like two pornographic
pedagogues rewriting decalogues
so that they tell the truth
for once: be the unknown poem

in the unknown book
for which the hungry
sensually-starving scholar hunts –
ha! – but only I
have got the right
detecting eye
for you, you little stack of true.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Sun Hits Brutally Just Now

When I want rubber bands,
East Tenth Street’s sidewalk understands:
a grand array of them (discarded rhythmically –
dropped, equidistant, each from each – released

from bundles of delivered mail – by postal people,
who have long before repaired to
their respective vales of rest or tears or loneliness)
grace coastal regions of the concrete pathway

in a punctuated swath, as if whatever
enterprise devolved into supplying them
had known I’d want just this replenishment, just now –
a moment, somehow, which decided otherwise

I ought to ache from lack: the absence of what
I believe I left my mother’s womb so many years ago
to find: the barest hint of a transcendent love –
the kind whose lasting passion would engulf

the body and acquaint the soul with lunacy
and make you feel as if you weren’t
absolutely real, or maybe that you were. What have
I incurred instead? A blinding light so deadly brilliant

I must guard my sight from it – the sun hits brutally
just now, four-forty-five – last dying burst
before its dive into the dusk. I’ve got
my own profoundly unappreciated musk.

I’ve got the terrible dark prettiness of all this
glorious elastic and ecstatic city’s mess –
the dress, of course, its roiling blood demands.
I’ve got my rubber bands.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

3 Cloudy Day Rhymes

No Escape

Who says there’s no escape?
Well, I do – now and then.
Usually when
perception gains a shape.



Ready with its pointed certainties,
your napping mind exalts its opportunities
to seize
and squeeze
whatever floating bees
and fleas
may be accruing in Imagination’s lees –
then, easy as a breeze,
impel them into Busby Berkeley series
of engorging swelling fantasies –
create an ever-propagating frieze
of Christmas trees
and sleaze
and monkeys chanting yes-sirree’s
and cherubs making untoward propositions on their knees –
until the whole thing blasts to stark invisibilities
because you sneeze.
Perhaps it’s allergies.


The Both of Us and It

My energy’s dispersed today
I like it quite a lot this way:

an opulently empty time
to ramble on and on in rhyme

and let my fluctuations stream
into a sort of waking dream

wherein I needn’t care at all
about the latest rise and fall,

surmise, demise or heave or ho
or whether notions cleave or go

or stay and play and make a fuss,
intensify what bothers us –

or used to when I cared one whit
about the both of us and it.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

At Times Like This

What makes me think – so suddenly! -
that they are so superb?
They proffer chocolate as the noun,
and peanut as the verb

in some sweet trancelike dreamy verse
where all I have to do
is gobble Peanut M&Ms
to make a poem. True,

my dear friend Donna does suggest
one cannot clearly see
when one blanks out on sweets like this
and eats robotically –

and broccoli and Brussels sprouts
have been my normal fare –
arugula, red pepper, garlic,
pasta, and, I swear,

I’ve found it all a merry romp –
a healthy roundelay;
but conscious eating’s too much work –
at least it is today –

some secret sadness I could name
but won’t – for privacy –
I guess induced me to reach out
for colored-shelled candy –

as simple as I wish the heart,
at times like this, could be.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Engagingly Unspeakable

God enjoys white noise –
the Big Bang hiss
His universe employs
relaxes Him, helps Him

to cultivate a little poise;
He loves inspecting us
as we subject ourselves
to vexing sex as well –

its hectoring spasmodic
hell – its twitch – reflex –
with which He keeps us
cosmologically hexed;

but surely, out of all
the nexus of perplexities
that He expects us
to ingest (what we

call eating humble pie),
He most enjoys
our swallowing what Being
uses as its lie –

and lets His grand
eternal spinning
ball imply – that anything
exists at all: his alibi –

distracting us –
while he exacts far more
engagingly unspeakable
ejaculations on the sly.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Toulouse-Lautrec Reflects

"In the jungle they feel neither pity nor revulsion.…”
(attributed toToulouse-Lautrec, "Moulin Rouge", 1952)

Animals are tender when
hormonally they have to be –
and brutal and relaxed
and terrified on similarly
autonomic cue: so it devolved
into the situation which obtains
between what once will have been
me and once will have been you:
to say we ever chose one thing

between us is to fly against
the only verity I know: whatever
exigencies make things stop
and go, whatever intricately
fluid causes and effects
and nuanced repercussions
of the flow that we all like
to think are the expression
of a finely honed, intended art

are not. But: how lucky to be what
we are! Barreling out from
a dying star, we cruise, entirely
equipped for everything except
a real capacity to choose.
Which either means we can’t
not win, or always lose. But look,
my dearest curiosity! – either
way we’re off the hook.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine, Between the Lines

Strategizing on the basis of exactly
nothing (more than whispered wish), you
shred up your affection: spread a fractal
spray of it out towards some faint desire –

prompted by a private iconography: bred
from the sight of a remembered pale tense
face – the sight, inside, not here, not right
now here in front of you, a secret sight –

which makes your senses race, the inward
sight of which, of whom, beclouds then
clarifies with its frank pull: everything takes
place between the lines: blank, full.


Friday, February 13, 2009


Strange sense of volume –
as if the day, now that you’ve let it be,
has shown you what it always was and is,
will be: eternity. Sunstar-light fills
the palace of the afternoon – almost
with solace: unexpurgated quiet: generous –

accessible. You wrestled with the city for
an hour or two: subways, sidewalks,
grumbling mumbling Aztec gods
and African aristocrats and Slavic lords:
banging in and out of banks and pharmacies
and supermarkets – awkward and annoying:

and deploying their somatic weaponry –
elbows, shoulders, knees: all pushing,
bumping, kicking – honking horns –
an edgy cold sharp wind along the torn frayed
sides of New York City’s wild abiding
urgencies: which were your own. Today

you weren’t sure if life meant more than
grabbing for a bone to gnaw on,
greedily, alone. You tried: your volatilities
all fried you: impatient for the edge
to cut. But now the door to that has gently
shut, and here this volume is

again: a modal bluesy clarinet extends –
somewhere suspends – the fine trajectory
of breath you just let go – and holds it up,
aloft, and sends it on – up, to,
and through whatever flow has in this
flooding starlight called to you.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beyond Your Scope

Surely it is measurably chemical –
a matter of what neurotransmitters
decide to flood or trickle: something
must account for why the mind
reflects the fickle sky: which now
is roiling from a February wind
confused about its temperature:
too warm for winter, splintering back

to the cold, or trying to – as if there
were some reasonable fold
to find and hide inside – to scurry
from this strange unseasonable business –
depict some habitable sense
of what should be from what too
harrowingly is – or seems to be:
but ah! – look out again, and see

the glory of the gray invite your fears
to spend themselves among these
scattered rays of animated day: as if
the way to govern feelings were to send
them reeling into nonsense. You’ve
wandered like a miserable Heathcliff
every night this week through peaks
and hollows of half-sleep: you go

and stop – pop into apertures
of dream-cloud – in and out of inner
sight – then back into the half-light
of half-waking. Everything is like
the quaking light right now: fearsome,
darkly funny, glorious – enough
to cow you into receptivity – you hope.
Outcomes are beyond your scope.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Secret Voice

I float my secret voice above
a fine, imaginary, rhythmic
upward series of evolving lines

of music: dream of a piano’s rising,
broken chords that claim in their
resolving aching sweet suspensions

just exactly what a frame for voice
should be: at least for me – now –
as with light breath and a tight

vibrato something coalesces
and projects to sing: one wonders
how one’s gifts take wing, and why

they choose to, when: whence
comes the confluence of magic
factors that allows the thing to bring

outside what it has kept inside.
A friend is coming over
in a moment, and I’d sort of

like to let him hear – but I expect
as soon as he gets near,
my secret voice will disappear.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Probably Ain't Pretty

This hunger’s a progenitor –
to want what it would have you
take to be complete is to discover
how best to entreat the Universe
to fork that portion of itself
your psyche slavers over, over –

over, over any hump of any lumpy
and inapposite impediment: bad luck
or interference? – this hunger
ravages through any muck or block –
shocks, steals, insists upon
the “real”: projecting with alacrity,

it preternaturally accurately
chooses and objectifies: until
the prey is right before its eyes –
proved it’s what this hunger knows
it wants. Today your body’s blunt:
belly-flops into the rapids of a sly

internal torrent of desire cutting
through the mire of any indecision:
ambiguity has no place in this place
in you: there’s only space
for lust. Probably ain’t pretty when
it gets like this. Tough nuts.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Brilliant Geometrically Evolving Ampersands

Today is not devoid of stress – pricks of anxiousness pinch
like a nervous lover, prodding for response. A tiny toss of spice –
Szechuan, or something not as nice – a bit of squinch to clinch

the understanding of a bright sharp opportunity: to find that
you’re still here & operating at a reasonable clip, you slip through
apertures of consciousness – & ride the light outside (again!) –

& slide into the shocking notion that you can’t decide if any
moment’s better than another! You thought you liked the winter
& the fall, but spring does not seem terrible at all, & when

it’s time for summer, that won’t be a bummer either: when to take
a breather? Ah – pretend you are a being made of sun-ray:
now parlay your little human glitches, pricks and twitches into

an array of brilliant geometrically evolving ampersands: “ands”
with sharp-edged arcs arranging all your troubles in a line
of colored sparks: a Busby Berkley dance: kaleidoscopically

colluding to enhance this trance of knowing every nanosecond
is a precious little speck of godly ease. Be the breeze. Who
needs to take a rest – when you’re incontrovertibly the best?


Sunday, February 8, 2009


Just googled it (it sounds divine): a creamy
pudding made with bubbling wine – I don't
drink wine: but I don't care: I dare to put it
on my tongue: syllabically wonderful!

Words are food – a feast: at least they serve
my mouth as if it were their master: titillating
every delicate or crude taste-bud atop
its lexicographic palate – culling lingual

dinner from a palette of articulable color –
fuller, thinner, slower, faster – swimming
in luxuriating ease, or blasting out of me like
some fierce sneeze. "Condoleezza Rice,"

“concatenation," "funk" all dunk the ball
and shoot the breeze between my frontal
cortex and my lips: sounds like that and that
and this are bliss. I guess I ought to think

about their sense: but that's beyond
the fence of my remotest interest. Which
I suppose is reprehensible and indefensible.
But what a treat! Syllabub! Ah, let’s eat.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

(Keep Your Pants on in the Saint-Saens)

I suppose I have my themes – sex, New York,
my long-gone family – and dreams, and New York, sex
and food, yes, food, oh – can’t forget the food –
and heaven knows (if heaven knows a thing) I cannot
seem to get enough cracks at the light outside,
the winging ride it gives me for a moment when I’ve spied
and sidled up to it and grabbed a ray and wrestled it into
my keyboard – hoping I could spell its spell. I love
whatever swells and makes me crazy with delight

and fright: hence, New York, sex, my long-gone family,
and food, and dreams, and light and violins: well,
not in plural, but the singularly difficult example
I have got, now, right in front of me, awaiting fingers,
arms, and bow and soul tomorrow when I’ll honor
my commitment to extract it from its case and play
with other human beings in an orchestra: what
conscientious little boys and girls we seem! – trying
with such heart, intensity and sweat not to forget whatever

we’re supposed to know to make our strange contraptions
pluck or beat or blow or bow or bleat on cue: meanwhile
an organist (she’ll play so many notes, she’ll sound
like two) will make fast use of hands and feet
(keep your pants on in the Saint-Saens). I suppose
I have my themes but this one – music, and my
odd propensities towards it – strikes me most peculiarly.
Strange to be so terrified of something you adore.
Come to think of it, it isn’t so strange anymore.


Friday, February 6, 2009

A Poet's Curse

Lunge for it again! – grab at that pink
coral glow – gelid atmospheric jewel –
try to quote the sky as it proposes
to the city park’s dark filigree of trees –
transgressively – to serve itself up
whole as if it were a mango-colored
shiver-quiver of a beast you had to

swallow quickly – live – before it died –
like lobster Japanese contrive
to eat still pulsing on a plate – though
just as you attempt to force the gate –
reach out a hand to it – it’s faded –
gray-pearled empty air – and lost itself
behind the branches and the cornices –

now grown as black and cold as coal –
the jewel’s been stolen – and the sky
pretends it never knew what frozen
Caribbean pink was – and you’re
stunned, again, by this globe’s
blunt refusal to allow its raptures
adequately to be captured in a verse.


Notion, Acquired While Napping

If the universe were finite
we could tell the big from small;
things would have relation
which they now don't have at all.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

This Fine Preparatory Light

A lovely lift just now –
new willingness
to entertain whatever
comes. Afternoon light
rumbles – tumbles
through a strange familiar
peace in me – I make

an early dinner: prepping
for an orchestra rehearsal
to which I will venture
with my bundled violin
through freezing
night, and somehow
I am fine with every likely

gelid bit of it. Something
in this fine preparatory
light. I’m happy with
my New York City life:
eager to pursue its
course. One wants
to thank a source.


Not a Cigar

I’ve continued my decline –
my perilous descent –
just profligately spent

on candy: not a bar
or Valentine assortment:
a Cuban thick “cigar”
whose fat brown sweet deportment

recalls a mighty phallus:
stiff chocolate case – slick, spruce –
as if to make a palace
for all the praline mousse

which fills it like a lust
too bursting to abate –

plump – yearning through its crust
to spill: and promulgate

its glories you know where –
to consummate, make whole
and shamelessly lay bare
my sybaritic soul.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gahooblavitz, in 3 Parts & 14 Couplets

P.A. Message to Atlas, Overheard by an Elderly Lady
on the Subway Stairs Who Thinks It's Meant for Her

Do you

holding up

the world?

holding up
the world!

Atlas Rambles On, Oblivious

You know,
this sex stuff’s

a bitch –
I mean,

yeah, my

certainly deserves
your rapt attention,

and more power
to your fixation

on it, I guess,
but, you know,

I’d rather

eat a pickle.

this thing
is heavy.

God's Only Question

Isn't this


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

White, Odd, Expectant

More, now, happens in this February snow –
dramatic bit of extra glow as everything tilts more
revealingly towards the coming of another season –

gathering and shoring up, concealed but building
to emergence – and, perhaps, emergency.
Much grows soft and cold and slow, but not

all hearts survive to undergo the change – can find
the strength to range into the new: acquire the living
and elaborate complexity required for going on.

Today you chose to buy salami and Swiss cheese
to go with fresh rye bread: more fat than
you’ve allowed yourself for quite some time.

But more, now, happens in the February snow,
and you’ve the sense you’d better shore up,
gather some resource before embarking

on the newer course – yet another strange
unprecedented climb. Amassing lacily on bushes,
branches of your neural network like amalgamating

risk – just like the snow outside: a brave entangled
mess of frozen willingness resides on top,
inside: white, odd, expectant, like a bride.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Terrifying News

Dinner last night:
college friends –
in and out of each other’s
sight for over thirty years –
pursuing elevated ends –
cheerful chatter –
sweet smart soft natter –

partly meant to flatter –
mostly far more
inexplicably attached
to motive. Involuntarily
I find myself revisiting
myself at twenty-one,
and oh! – it isn’t fun.

Whatever plenty
one may sentimentally
ascribe to youth, reveals,

three decades on,
another truth: a quagmire
of the heart, in which
one cannot think

what part of one
is best, but one is certain
there’s a test, and one
assumes, on pain
of psychic death,
that one must choose.
Terrifying news.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Kissing Portion of the Evening

When God created his odd Universe – some say
misused his pluck – to work it up until it had acquired
all its grindingly indifferent, mindlessly purposive
motives – all its mercilessly random traits – he must
have thought (if God does anything as bumbling
as think) that when inevitably his extravagance abates –
when he’s lost interest and his diddly-bits all sink –
the serpent (finally successful!) eats its tail

and Jonah wreaks a bloody vengeance on the whale –
there ought to be some grand blast of a layoff –
sweet feast payoff for the meshes and the plaits
of all the whining whirring gluons, leptons, quarks
and other wee alluring baits attracting energy
to splatter into matter: one orgasmic exhumation
that concludes the weirdness of his peroration
through the bruising slews of possibility we call

Existence – to reward his diddly-bits for their persistence.
On that metaphoric Seventh Day of rest – which
he has not attained remotely yet (God here attests) –
he surely plans to take, in his divinely ardent yielding
arms, a coalescence of the mess, conjured into
all the charms of an Apollo wed to Venus –
to the mix of which he’ll do you-know-exactly-what
with his eternally tumescent penis – but not until

he’s lent it all a cooler calming mist: the kissing
portion of the evening: let those last rays of light
above permit the sight, at last, of absolute unmitigated
love. Let sunset on a Sunday – ever-after now –
in prospect of the large penultimate affection
God will show us right before he gets to that ejaculated
final wow – present us with an opportunity for bliss.
Every musk of Sunday dusk, find someone to kiss.