Wednesday, August 31, 2016

fleurs à la mode

Fashionable flowers
rise at half-past seven.
But rarely close their eyes
before a quarter to eleven.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Sweeter Fame

They are, by common measures,
disproportionately shaped.
No wonder people gape. Especially
at him. Each huge ungainly limb 
galumphs its nakedness across 
whatever acreage the law permits him 
to be in. He is a lot to see.
He knows the most secluded corners,
nooks and reaches of nude beaches.

She admires his audacity. She knew
he loved her awkward neck and head.
“So what if people gawk?” she said.
Her questions mainly were rhetorical.
She felt herself becoming allegorical
by merely sitting on his back.
All sense of lack began to fade.
She was a lady with a purpose.

As she sat, wherever she could
manage to, upon his surface,
she’d felt they’d something to proclaim.
They gave dysmorphia a sweeter fame.
Bodies were a metaphor for oddities
one had to drag from here to there.
They’ve long learned not to care
when people stare, or glare.
They joy in being rare.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Sam and Adeline

Some say peace of mind
is hard to find.
“Nope,” say Sam and Adeline.
“Do what we do, you’ll be fine.”

We’ve tried but can’t divine
how what they do
would work for us.
They look so ponderous

wrapped up like big striped
pots. Can psychodynamics
in certain ceramics be found
to connect the dots?

What does one learn
resembling an urn? Defeats
analysis. Seems like a way
to induce paralysis.

And yet their best amenity
is their serenity. “Do what
we do, you’ll be fine,”
say Sam and Adeline.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Drawing Hate

To animate the premise and to draw the face of hate,
you must upend the standard menace of a devil –
you must transcend cliché conventions of a mask:
new eyes must open wide, achieve another level

of attention. Draw, draw more: push past Halloween:
convene with breathing avatars of evil’s immobility.
At last you find the eyes – whose mix of pain and pride
breed hate’s utility – and terrible belief in its nobility.


No Less Alive

He’ll always take you where you want to go.
All you ever have to do is ask.
It never strikes him as an onerous incursion.
He wouldn’t bother calling it a “task.”

And now, at last, a mental light turns on,
as if illumining the contents of a shelf:
he feels as alive when he is tending to another
as he does when he is tending to himself.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Dancing Badly

He rode in on the plumy fumes of hydrocarbons –
stumble-dancing in and out of stinking gas –
the last attenuated progeny of supernova blast –
the stamp and record of the most the Cosmos
had yet ever sired: a thing with consciousness,

intention – incarnation of new ruthlessness –
a hungry self-direction which desired. He lusted
after everything: he’d take whatever he could press
to his exorbitance as wife: all the squirms of chaos,
every edgily resistant strife. His name was Life.



Who me?
Not me!
No, never me!

I must simply



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Much Better

Much better, now you’ve climbed the little hill
to sit in solitude until this spill of feelings dissipates:
the overkill of sensory indulgence in a day!

The way the sun keeps gilding hay to gold:
the alchemy of infinitely varied colors, shadows, shapes
in every pebble, puddle, leaf: no relief from their

relentlessly proliferating asymmetric angles, bumps
and curves: the endless importuning of a pressing
strangeness: the painful beauty of its range. Old

is always new now: nothing’s ever through. This is what
the mind imbibes: this is how the revolution of the soul
unfolds: this describes the evolution of an angel.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Your Worship

Make up
a deity:


Kneel to it,
adore it.

Implore it
to fulfill.


it will.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Well, Hello There!

We’re told we can’t presume a single
aspect about whom we meet when
we encounter the inevitable Sentient
Others who exist in solar systems

either nearer to or farther from ourselves
than we’ve now basis to discern.
However, if the Universe is infinite,
it’s not a possibility but an imperative

that all imaginable beings somewhere
manifest and breathe and learn – and some
of these will be like us. Perhaps our
android form is mandated by physics

in reaction to phenomena of chemicals
and temperatures and gravity which have
a kinship to Earth’s own. Perhaps,
wherever they occur, our sorts of birth,

intelligence and evolution share a primal
template from the workings-out of which
we can expect to find, in some availing
clime, societies of creatures to whose

symmetries and features we incline.
But when we look into
their similarly fashioned eyes,
will we see anything we recognize?


Monday, August 22, 2016

All Is Not Lost

All is not lost, little one.
See how the world’s
just been glossed
by the sun!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Loneliness of a Long Poem

As witty as she’s pretty, she’s who every lady
in a gentlewoman’s novel wants to be. Parsing out
the delicacies of her watchful sensibilities and luck,

without of course in any way broadcasting her advance,
she’s found she is the central presence with whom
every man must dance. She chooses confidants

and confidences with an almost playful sense
of mild unguarded ease – a touch of tease –
and yet a breath, though never taken heavily,

that something more than nothing may well be
at stake. She is the cake and they are eating it
and she is eating it: there always will be more. Ears

she favors with her secrets are both known to be
deserving, and deserving. Perhaps this sounds
self-serving: as if her main pursuit resides in publicly

performing her appeal: ministering only to the very
knowing, deeper minds, more handsome brows –
those gentlemen who have a feel for depth and value

and who can’t not fall in love with every ripple
of her surreptitious sense of the absurd – so fresh
with laughter! – touched with nearly negligible sighs.

This is neither solipsistic nor unwise. Wondrous things
get said in bed with human treats as fully formed
and sweet as she. Play it to the hilt, my dear: release

your talent for the balances of volupté and every
elegant, sharp, brilliant bit of evidence you have  
amassed of what you’re more than certain

is persuasive re: the wars of soul and class
in Proust. Perhaps assume a looser stance

onstage today. Love the play. Be the play.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Papa Roams, Mama Doesn’t

A father is a father if you’re told he is.
Otherwise how would you know?
Paternity, essential to our genesis,
of course must be presumed: but how

much does it matter who its source is?
No less esteemed a patriarchal clan
than Jews refuse to recognize as Jewish
anyone whose mother wasn’t.

Papa roams, Mama doesn’t.
Fathers are a cipher: not a spiritual stamp.
From points-of-view far too innumerable
to enumerate, dads become de trop:

goods delivered – park the van. Not
that we ought not revere the man – exult
in his carnality! Be deeply glad that dads
get amorous. Their lust accounts for us.


Friday, August 19, 2016


“The answer is always yes.”

“Did you say sex?”



Thursday, August 18, 2016

(A Sigh More than an Expletive)

We could make the case that this is all a dream.
It’s certainly the way things seem. Although
we know they don’t seem like a dream to you.

Perhaps it’s not a dream, then. Who
can tell? If something’s cast a spell and we’re
the objects of its scheme, we very likely

wouldn’t know the differences between a dream –
and what? What’s the alternative? Oh fuck.
(A sigh more than an expletive.)

That’s where we get stuck.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Fury is a reflex when
you can’t abide your impotence –

when some unspeakable incursion
puts the lie to innocence,
betrays the heart too badly to deny.

Dare to find the agony
behind the angry eye.


Mysteries of Loving New York

I rushed eagerly just now to this laptop in the fresh wake of listening to Pete Hamill talk to Tony Guida about Frank Sinatra (about whom Hamill wrote a book, 'Why Sinatra Matters') on the CUNY TV channel because, watching it, I got a firmer grip, for that moment anyway, on why I can sort of pledge a new allegiance to New York. Pete Hamill has always seemed to me a good candidate for THE avatar of New York - he is so deeply made of it, born into & steeped in every bit of its steam, sturm und drang, glamour, alcoholic depths, deep strengths which have served his writing so well -- out of all of which seems to have arisen a sweet unforced wisdom which entirely identifies him (as he himself all but does) as "New York."
New Yorkers who were born here - and stayed - have always struck me as a troubling extended family: it's like they know 'family secrets' of some strange half-conscious kind which, since I'm not of the clan, are closed to me -- they represent a kind of barrier through which a convert, like me, has no hope of passing. I suppose I harbor a guilty bias against converts to the New York Religion, which group I've always felt includes me. We're way too zealous, often pretentious, too eager to be thought of as professing our devotion to the NYC religion more completely than, well, you do. We make a great show of "knowing." Pushy, childish, transparent: betraying our secret certainty we're inadequate to the task of 'making' this our own.
But as I listened to Pete Hamill in this interview - particularly his description of the teenaged Sinatra standing at the Hoboken docks looking over to Manhattan's lights at night - having a version of what Quentin Crisp said when he first saw this city ("The moment I saw Manhattan, I WANTED it") -- it occurred to me that anything you deeply love you inevitably come to as an outsider - even if it's a place whose geography you're born into. My mother described similar feelings, sitting on the shore of Brooklyn Heights as a little girl in the 1920s looking over at New York. It was "other" than she - which was partly why she was inexorably drawn to it. And that's the secret I maybe hadn't quite cracked till just now, listening to Mr. Hamill's New York-accented voice: Nobody knows New York when he or she opens his or her eyes to it. It is unknowable. If you're drawn to it, you are almost by definition HUMBLY drawn to it -- we all, 'converts' or other, are faced with this huge mystery of a city, a mystery that never entirely reveals itself. It couldn't! It's ADDING to its unknowability every moment of its and our being here.
So we're all strangers to it - and far from that keeping us from loving it, those of us who do, it's what pokes the heart to yearn for it more. We're always both intimately in it and irremediably outside it. Can't have it, can't not have it.
pics: my bro Bob & me, 1960, in front of the New York Library; me where I am right now; Pete Hamill; my mother & her dear friend Millie in NYC 1939.
Mr. Hamill's interview below:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

He Liked his Things to be Alive

He was an alchemist
when there were alchemists
who were deserving of the name.

He worked in malleable substances:
bread dough and mud and clay
had brought him fame.

Others conjured gold from old
abandoned medicines
or pulled the volupté of silk

out of salt hay – but he preferred
incurring births of sentient flesh
out of a mesh of all the better parts

of Earth: mulch and silt
and amber minerals comprised
the heart of his organic arts.

And he would bake them into bread,
or mould them into candlesticks,
or leave them in a cozy lump

and read to them in bed.
He liked his things to be alive.
He didn’t like them dead.