Friday, September 29, 2017

By the Time I Put my Pen Away

Two appealing faces lent their graces to me several days ago –
or was it several weeks, three months, a year? That’s part
of what they may have come to prod me to remember
by appearing here – that to appear had not had any purpose:
anyway, beyond what might occur to me to fabricate because

I needed meaning: they hadn’t come to tell me who they were
in time or space beyond what they aroused in me by being seen:
seeing is the thing, I glean, that they had beckoned me to lean
into: to press my awkward essence into untoward flow,
become with them a medium, an estuary, liquid, salt and fresh,

aligning in the ways that chicken soup, they say, address
the aches and fever in the virus-ridden flesh: designing, with me,
some unprecedented opening. This duet of visages, I then
decided, were the risen and collective manifest suggestion
that two points-of-view could more than theoretically begin to link

with mine, whatever mine was: indeed that such a confluence
was happening already! – and once I knew it was, I’d know
at last I’d made a serviceable verb of “think.” The brink they
brought me to was not a rift: the lift they taught was what it meant
to generate a breathing thought. Only then might proverbs gain

a pulse, could Word approach the Flesh and gird the cosmos
with its latticework of joined ecstatic differences: the gone, the here,
the old, the new, now steamed into a life-begetting stew, to swallow
which would be what a Communion symbolized: the sole soul food –
the soul itself, the pelf beyond all other wealth, the art the heart

imparted. I’ve no idea, of course, if this is what they’d wanted
to convey. All I can say is by the time I put my pen away, they had
departed. I nearly said summarily. Assonant with verily. Capricious
fizz, this tic, this specious rhetoric! Is that what meaning is?
Reflexive speech? Maybe that’s what they had come to teach.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

But Sometimes There are Perks

Don’t you hate it when you’re sitting
half-submerged in perfect cool-warm water
just a step down from the smoothly tiled ledge
that rims your favorite oblong swimming pool,

about as utterly unwittingly a fool as you would 
never have remotely known you were had those 
irradiating radiating lines of force now verging, 
coursing from your spine not just begun again

to undermine belief that there might, finally, be
some relief from the resurgence of their outward
push, which keep you wrestling restlessly with
all the stupid shock and mindless ambush

of existence, eternally determining to block
whatever small incursion your embattled psyche
might this time have dared to hope to make into
at least a slightly greater if still theoretic likelihood

of spending several minutes in from what those
unafflicted few around you drew their reassurance:
shared reality  some sense, however specious,
of a commonality? But sometimes there are perks.

Novelties, distractions, glittery arresting little things –
say, angel wings. This time round you grow a pair
of those. Perhaps this time you’ll even get
to fly with them. Before you decompose.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

rhyme crime

you’re the best. you pass the test:
commit the crime of rhyme
more for its beauty than from duty 
to appear as if you’re clear

as you pretend you can suspend
your disbelief or feel relief
to think capacitance for assonance
will automatically requite the lust to write 

more verse. that can be the curse.
not every lens will cleanse.
angles of the light can tangle up & fight.
prisms can be prisons.

but you shine as the example of a fine
receptor – except for
your decision now & then to requisition 
quantities of zen-like mindless blindness

as the license fee to pay for the licentious way
you must pursue, as if it didn’t bother you,
to go below
to hunt the fish in which abides your wish –

flirt with, lure & kill it; free the blood & spill it –
steal its flesh while it is fresh
so you can eat it – not entreat it & repeat it
like a rabbit with a habit.

it’s unfortunate you’re so importunate.
you write like this too often. you ought to soften
rather than get stiff inhabiting “as if” –
forever trying to be clever.

but isn’t that the aim? how you get acclaim?
isn’t there a ‘should’ in good?
believe, perhaps, in magic. in the pelagic
realm of fishes, wishes, rabbits.


Monday, September 25, 2017

All Art Wanted

All Art wanted in this life was to obtain a little boat,
get away from all the din, make it cozy as a tub
within whose sweetly quiet confines he could float.

And so he did. We watched him and his boat begin
their random way across the bay’s reflective surface:  
the sides of his bateau all jeweled by the glitter of its

rippling sunlit sheen. What Art had not foreseen,
however, is that bays get bored and lonely and are
desperately keen for novelty: on the hunt for any

new companion they can find to tease and follow
and rock up and down and ultimately swallow.
Swallowing to bays is their equivalent of kissing.

Art seems to have gone missing. He’s not been found.
This bay may just have clowned around with him until
he drowned. You know bays. Bays have their ways.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

To Pledge Allegiance

To say it is to pledge allegiance to it.

I wonder if that’s always true of any word
we choose for any reason. We mouth,
we write, we type, we envision the letters
of the word – say, “breath” – and as we do,
we strengthen our familiarity with it, our
commitment to use it, to mean something by it,
depend on it to convey or reflect something
useful or illuminating: rely on it to re-make
reality, to believe its promise that it can: to give
experience the dimension of the spoken.

But intuitively we know a word isn’t the same
as a physical reality, say, the phenomenon
of breath. To write “Take a breath” and then
actually to take a breath are inviolably distinct.

They do not, cannot be twins. We decide they
mean each other, but we lie. We lie because
we must. How else would we agree to speak?

Words are lies.

What a terrible thing to say or write!
(And then you become Ezra Pound.)
But right now it doesn’t seem terrible.

Acknowledging words are lies suggests to me
there’s some dimension I don’t now know how
to inhabit, enter or register, in which
the experience or “truth” a word wants
to be and pretends it is can be found,
can be had directly. But wait, of course it can!
We are already having it directly.
We breathe as well as say we breathe.

Is ‘separate’ a turn-on? Maybe that certain
categories of phenomena can’t be bridged by one
another is a very great pleasure. Do I operate
on a pleasure principle? Inarguably. But oh,
what strange turns and twists that principle
insists upon! Separation: life. Rhymes
with strife. Unity: death. Rhymes with breath.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Simon Jay

Simon Jay
knows all our little ways –
he’s felt them rise
within himself in waves
then sink to the unspeakable:
those dark and leaking lovely
places you’d as soon forgo,
though don’t forgo,

but say you do
(can’t wait to come back to).
Simon Jay, though,
never doesn’t ferret through
the slew without insidiously
laying down the traces of his
DNA the whole way in and to
and out from all those

untoward graces
you believe you’re better than:
the fettered man,
the dense lump of a Trump,
undone by fun and bumped
into The Moment – where
you hear you should be living –
sieving you ungivingly,

intending surely to foment
so much of everything
that Simon Jay can say,
first thinks he won’t
(“no, don’t!”), then does.
Oh, by the way, the buzz
is that he’s not not gay:
Yay Simon Jay!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Art of Not Being Descartes

(for Donna)

“What is all this?” must surely be a candidate
for the iniquitous ubiquitous first question
asked by sentient beings everywhere; well,
asked by those at least who dare to cleave
to their galactic versions of Cartesian reason:

you think therefore you are. From that self-serving
point of view, who else but you could be the star?
A star exploding into untoward elements which cool
on spinning orbs to sod: can Word be lurking far
behind, all ready to be Flesh, Body of the Letter?
How more neatly to suggest that thought is God?

(Harold Bloom says add the Odd and you have
something better: genius.) God is Phineas Fogg,
finding, naming, blaming worlds. Existence
is a language test. But you and I will shock the rest:
we’ll dock them in our pockets of resistance.

Like nests availing birds, we rest on other
than another’s words. I am the place you live.
You are the thing that lives there. What undergirds
this into grace? What theory does God have waiting
for us to remind us of our place? We don’t care.
I am where you live. You are who lives there.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Momentary Trick

At last, George Frideric Handel
cuts/caresses to the quick:
his baroque concerto grosso
in F major does the momentary trick:

distracts you into thinking
his accomplished comfortably
corseted amusements might slice
through this dull lugubrious confusion

and relax you: straightforward theme,
untaxing fugue, much less exacting
than Bach’s tediously virtuous etudes.
Interest doesn't have to irritate.

Expletives can be implied.
Euphemisms can abide. But ha! –
tough (gerund of the “f” word) luck.
One ride upon the wings of Handel’s

sweetly inter-gliding strings and you’re
bestride your yearning for a certain
kind of touch, and everything
is once again too much.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Climb on – rhyme on!

Climb on –
rhyme on!
Mime us all a sample
of today's cuisine,

all you've seen
& heard in
every moment's ample

(I may be a beast
but you're no burden.)
And oh, the times
we'll have

with all the rhymes
through which your presence
its lavish

and spends
on presents
meant to ravish

a doubt
or fuss -

but with a quiet effervescence.
You bewitch!
You must be rich.
You know how to live

you give
a penny
turn it into any

whose persuasion

with its advantages
and views
to lift,
to choose,

with heart,
gift -
a truth:

a mother's


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mabel and Fable

Mabel the mother had always been drab;
Fable her daughter, formidably fab:
so fab she had long since become inorganic.
Mabel looked on in a panic as Fable inhumanly
groomed herself into unnatural angles and folds
and extravagant dips, over time, as she somehow

divined in, and managed to wrench from, what
once were her hips – amid all of the other hot-house
mutant forms she’d assumed, involutedly
blooming into yet another synthetic esthetic –
which to Fable expressed jubilation! But Mabel
assessed mutilation – a doom, not a bloom,

with no room for what Mabel believed to be soul.
Then they posed for a portrait together. Expecting
to weather the shocks once again of their rocking
antitheses, ha! – their antitheses had become
intimacies, new and mild, without threat
of attack, like the unquestioned fact of a mother

and child. Who cared about theories of soul,
and their basis? Mabel and Fable had always
known homeostasis: had always been whole.
If Fable were able to make herself look like a bowl
made by Gaudi, well Mabel was glad, just as glad
as she was to remain unreservedly dowdy.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Another Way to Know

Fixations are predations. They subject the psyche
to a mindless sway in which we say and pray
all night and day I-likey-likey-likey-likey till we’ve

drained the language of its juices and most uses:
dropping all but one auxiliary verb – the sole necessity,
demonic talisman, the god, the holy writ of “must.”

Fixations earn because insist on trust: they can be
trusted to exhaust and to deplete and yet forever
promise plausibilities of the replete, the unimaginably
sweet outcome in whose pursuit we end up spending

every slice of who we are: we hold onto a great gold
glowing chunk of what think is star – deaf to all
entreaty to do otherwise. And yes indeedy, darlings,
this becomes the size and content, then, of life.

We do so like its glow. Which for a heretical few
illumines a mystical purview: another way to know.
It is a star. Everything’s a star. When we’ve really
looked, we see we can be seen to startling advantage,
hooked. There are pleasurable purposes in claws.

There is peace that passeth understanding in
this pause. Release afforded by quite other laws.
It isn’t what we’re told, it isn’t what we’re told.
It may be, surely is, some other enterprise as well.
But heaven doesn’t seem to be a part of it, or hell.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lovers and Loves and Lovers

You think you’ve had them.
You know that there were times
you were excruciatingly obsessed –
that what determined your desire to live
was nothing more or less than the degree
to which he could be beckoned into loving you –
by which you never knew exactly what you meant.

Loving was a sort of shoving into or away from
something else. There weren’t words for it,
or couldn’t be until you could permit
existence to exist: until you could
be interested in what was really
going on. But that would take
so many decades to discover.

The dawn was coming, though. Today
you knew that it had come. You saw
the one you had resisted seeing: the one
whose being tortured you for so long with
its worn-out iconography that you no longer
had a clue what really “turned you on.”

You saw him and it wasn’t he, the last one
you had wanted. Now he was the first one
whom you didn’t want at all. People weren’t
things to want. Love was not a thing to want.

The dawn’s become a morning now.
Soon you’ll see your life’s first
afternoon. In four years you’ll
be seventy. It will be still be light.
Then love may come. Love may be the night.