Saturday, January 31, 2009


We used to have to walk about three-quarters of a mile
up a densely forested, meandering path to get to my
father's old cabin in the woods. Getel's Mountain was
the name of the place - and it was the very first thing he
bought in 1946 when he got out of the war.
That's all he ever called it - 'the war' - but we always knew
what he meant for the rest of his life. He never left it -
the war, that is. To the cabin, he came and went at will.
He'd always say 'watch for the sappers within the trees' and
I never, at first, knew what he meant. I thought a 'sapper'
had something to do with the trees and their sap.
Turns out, actually, it was a word for military guys
who built fortifications in the woods or jungles -
heavily armed riflemen, bayoneteers,
warriors, killers, crazy nuts.
You always think of the sentimental best
when you think of a cabin in the woods -
wonderful hearth, fire at night, fresh water
out of buckets, a beautiful and snowy front view.
That's only true, I found out, on postcards and
birthday cards, or stuff like that. The reality
can be more like Hell, or at least that same,
everyday Hell lived elsewhere. Demons in the night,
Black bears ripping your arms off.
You really never leave any of that stuff behind.
My father's demons and ghosts came with him :
furious lashings with dead guys beaming back,
canvas body bags being dumped at sea,
kamikaze pilots in fiery planes bearing down.
He'd tell me all these things in his sleep -
me a little boy trying to figure him out,
him an old soldier now torn with doubt.

Friday, January 30, 2009

196. KELP

Keeping the stand by the green ocean border.
The waves slapping like mad, drumming the Earth
in some beatnik-bongo rhythm. I watch the sand
move itself around - eddies of water and clumps of
seaweed. 'The sand doesn't move itself anywhere.'
I hear my words in the air, just before they are blown
about and suffused with the roar - again - of surf
and sand and wind and shore. 'It doesn't move itself
anywhere, just gets tossed by everything else.'
Keeping the stand by the green ocean border.


Flying like starlight straight through the zoom,
the recollection of some fascist dessert tones
the muscles like a strenuous program of workout
and sweat. I am sure you can remember this:
recalling the Scoutmaster with your campfire woes,
re-telling stories of violent deed to your 12-year old
brother in chains, reminiscing with the executioner about
those jobs well-done. It didn't always need to be this way.
Once we relaxed with tea, watching the children around
us practice their violins - that cat-screech of promise
halted by the premise of talent or skill. It was all like
Sunday, every day: first the breakfast, than the preacher,
then the dinner, then the teacher. The snowstorm that
piled up treacherous drifts just outside the cottage door.
The broken-brick path, passable no more.
We navigated most of the shoals that damn boat
brought us to. Those we didn't, we either skip over now
or simply don't recollect. From one angle, everything is
the same, every vice a virtue, every help a bane.
I really don't know how I did it.
I really don't know where I stand.


A hankering for pain itself can drive a poor man wild;
the forms and outlines of the distant sky - some
triumph of old, idle hands - seeking a conquest over
the quick moments of time. After all, is not
everything but a dare?
In the train station waiting room,
two infinitesimally indecorous men
were talking soccer - two fools with
Spanish tongues, demonstrating their
kicks and feints; as if an oh-so-solid world
could be represented by air.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Some drunken pope or another, shouting 'Buonarroti,
you're only as good as your last marble cut in the eyes
of this age-old God! Your last chisel-strike! Your last
Pieta!' Then he threw down his soiled rag and wiped
out the chalice and cup. Michelangelo Buonarroti
replied: 'I am no Salazar, walking with a wound, holding
my side in pain or grimacing with blood. I know my meanings
and I know my marks.' And then he turned, and said: 'This
chisel, this chisel that cuts, it only cuts once.'

Monday, January 26, 2009


I'd like to see you dance some Tango with your
big fat feet - all pretzeled up like a Z on an outing.
It would be something to see, funny, a treat.
I remember that time beneath the elms when
we looked at your postcards of Montevideo or
that place nearby where you'd gone to school.
'A little nickel dormer made out of straw',
you'd called it once before. Your hands
were nearly trembling as you talked about
those days. Tears in your yellowed eyes
made me think of something that must
be wrong. It was really hard to take.
I walked you back, that night, to that
mysterious hostel where you were staying;
that skylit atrium where we kissed goodbye.


I told the guy that the only 'details' the
Devil's ever in are the details in the military.
Pedantic soldiers on foraging missions;
pickaxe and shovel, digging latrines, building
kitchens, supporting new bivouacs with lumber
and nail. That's a detail.
He snickered, and pulled back his drink -
taking it down in one big lunge.
'They only detail I got is my carbine,
and this pistol here in my belt.'
He was trying to make me understand something.
A message, one as usually without clarity as a
command to paint the Marshall's quarters red,
or redo the local whorehouse in corduroy.
All that sort of stuff good soldiers do
between wars : killing chickens,
stabbing the new foe in the eye.
Wiping out whole villages
where the 'enemy' may live...
a Devil in some detail,


Yesterday was fulfilled in the planning -
sunlight on the trailer, a rooftop glint seen
from afar, two men sparring on the open green.
The last pugilist I ever saw had just had his head
beat in - swollen eyes, bloodied mouth; he looked
like something the cat dragged in. Months later, I was
told, he entered a coma after a stroke. His brain was
shot, he couldn't remember a thing, and his mouth wouldn't
allow him to eat, just drool. It must have been pathetic.
Technical knock-out or not, he was done. Having entered
the ring, he never came out. His name was Boris something,
a big stupid oaf from Bulgaria. He went by the ring-name of
'Squeeze-Bull', and sometimes got six-hundred dollars to go
fifteen rounds, or try - what the hell. 'I didn't come to this America
for nothin' - he used to say - 'so I try make a living the best ways I
can be.' He had a wife and kid. Still around somewhere I guess.
Never entered the ring, neither one of them.
Just stayed outside, and watched.


I dreamed my grand piano, when I opened the top,
had mice and their nests all cluttered in the far back
corner; strewing the insides with straw and debris.
The quizzical mice just looked up at me as I played
all around them. Hammers flipping up and down,
the sound distorted somehow by the paper and waste.
I thought to vacuum out these insides, or clobber the
mice on their heads. But I figured none of it would work,
I liked the sound and, after all, really, why bother the
mice - so comfortable at home there that they
added somehow to my melody.


The breadloaf crowd is back in arms: ranting about
Boston and bookstores or little-known sites on the
lower eastside. Unknown to them alone, I guess. That
old underground table they speak so highly of is
now filled with salt and mackarel, places to dine,
surreptitious moves and all those stars and starlets
each standing in a line with punched tickets to
their very own Hells. I surmise from the faces
that - no matter what - everyone's happy;
steering straight ahead, or at least
pretending to be.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I will be as endless as I thought I would be: ever and more.
Reading ancient tomes in the ancient language spit, behind
flickering candles of lights and shadows. Things move, and
I know that. Celestial caverns ignite with spark and fire, and I
am there, amidst them. The shimmering forms upon the wall,
as in Plato's cave - I watch their movements and sense their
actions, too fixated to dwell on judging and yet too judgemental
to watch. Abstruse as all these words are, so too is the Philosophy
of the Gods: she who answers with some wounded pride,
perhaps feigning, perhaps not. Some hidden deceit I'd never
assume. I hear the sounds of a lark or a falcon, or a robin
or a wren. Alas, I do not know such natural noises. They
rim my earlobes with doubt and anxiety, portending something,
shaking my mind. The natural world, enough here to frighten me,
stands steady in its prime fixture upon all that is real.
We know this, and we know that. Nothing more there is.


Smokes the color of lapis lazuli, sauces in
red and brown. They seem to be eating
small marine creatures, and chutney by
the pound. I couldn't spend more than
a dollar myself, on something I'd never
realized or found.
This was - incredibly - the great train depot,
the only one here left. The other had been gutted
pillaged, raped and destroyed 50 years ago by dolts
who didn't care. Money-managers holding their dicks,
accountants managing nothing, construction men looking
for work, some other kind, with their hands. Jerk-offs all, no?
Now, by stinging contrast, they've let this one stay -
turning it instead into some infantile dining room
of sloppy eaters and piggish prunes : the disheveled
can contemplate the well-heeled while the wealthy
contemplate the grave - amidst soups and sandwiches,
chickens and wraps, fingers and ice-cream galore.
It's a sickening array of ghastly cuisine.
The sort of thing wars should clear up.
The men in the Oyster Bar were
somehow managing to play cards
while they ate and drank.
Their women looked on,
holding their drinks;
already in the tank,
they could only hope
that their train
came soon.


Forgiving eyes - those like yours -
often see the farthest horizons :
the distant things, the soils of Mars,
rapacious outcroppings of mountaintop
rock. Craggy and elongated fissures in the
heights of the mind. They shade the world.
Coming from yet another place, I realized
our contingency little mattered - that
whether we ever met or not in and of itself
bore little import to the marriage of two minds.
I was a baggage handler from Hell, compared to
your grace and beauty, ease and poise.
It's sometimes said that composure wears the
saddest face when happy. It's also said that
arms make the man. Neither of them ever made
much sense to me : too wispy, too slight,
playing tricks with meaning and words.
For just this one moment, I would
gladly take your hands and
celebrate something,


When the raven dropped out of the sky, tendentiously avoiding
its perfectly executed landing, it was - at that same moment -
that the daylight changed to a harshness of blinding snow.
Windows fogged over and noises were muffled.
In personal anguish of my own, along some tiny
Pennsylvania road, I watched a deer, struck by a car
and twisting about with two broken legs, slowly raise
its head and die. There was nothing anyone could do -
even that blowhard guy with the big red truck, lights and
tool box and all the rest, stopping in a fit to attend to
what had happened, didn't really have a clue.
Above us, in the sky, some broken half-moon wavered,
between that snowy sky and the wide open daylight blue;
passing itself alike between its own darkness or pale lumen.
It too knew not what to do. The entire world's parchment, it
seemed, had been newly scratched by what had just happened.


Charlie Mingus in Make-Believe
Hanging from the rafters, slumming from the stars,
drinking drafts of whisky, driving 'round in cars....
I've told you everything - how I walked to Mississippi
with Scatman Crothers, how I discovered the means to
stitch a baseball's seams, how Bill Burroughs and I held up
that bank in Abilene. Intricate factors, all these things.
But I haven't got the patience to go on.
I haven't got the patience to go on.
In one section of the stadium they put all those who were
once prisoners. Prisoners of something, no matter what.
There was no room for anyone, or any thing, else -
as the place quickly filled up. 'We are, beneath this moon
and sun, prisoners of every sort : nightmare nickel-tenders,
black-eyed doctors, banshee'd singers of despair and doom,
hang-dog snoopsters of trespass and gloom.'
It seemed a lot like forever, the cake, the mitre,
the saw-box and the tooth. The cake, the mitre, the
saw-box and the tooth. But I haven't the patience to go on.
I haven't the patience to go on...


I caught the ball you threw, with one hand,
as gallantly as if I was a ringer - someone as bold
and beautiful as a Willy Mays or a Cecil Fielder.
Funny names, I always thought - as if a man, caught and
stretched between two poles, took on the attributes of
what he did by ascribing a quality to the name he wore.
Carlos May. Moose Skowren. Whomever.
I caught the ball - it is said - with 'elan'.
A word that sounds vaguely African in origin,
to me, though it's not. Ibex of the Mountain, at the
Baobab Tree. Get where I'm headed with this idea?
If you do, you can take it from me.


Good men come forward testing the mettle of the time
they are in : we watch a Robin Hood of the Mainline
giving lip service to his own habits of living. He can have the
moment, if that's what he wants. Those I know will not
begrudge him that. In essence, turn him loose.
I'll watch as this late-night Saterlee walks the bridge :
his open domain, his form of wailing, the chimera
which never leaves. Fancy-fingered gloves with a
skill for glad-handed hugs. A soldier just like the
minions want. 'Let's watch him again! See how he
fakes and turns, feints and sways!' Like a demarcated
basketball star running on the hoof, he's not labored,
not panting, always fresh. See how long a moment can last.
(Constable Kent is singing along - knowing the words
to every song. Outside the circle of friends who know
him, the sense of the day is 'it won't be long.')


Your technical wizardry won't fly my kite,
can't carry my tune, won't bring back the endings
nor repaint the room. So - after all that - I'll
still need to see what good it is.
Fleet fingers for me mean piano and key -
while for others I see the only keyboard they imagine
is a Qwerty note and all the rest - pounded stupid mundane;
letters like notes on a schoolchum's bathroom wall.
I'll only enter this forest once.
Like the labyrinth inside us,
you somehow can only exit
by the same way you entered.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Thrust from nothing but present in all,
and cantilevered as the lines, the rope, from
Heavens arc'd bell to Earth's darker Hell,
they step forth as one to proceed.
The clambering millions descend.
An arc-light from some street-welder's
dizzying fire, the length of steel reaches
all heights, and stops. Its precipice too
near the stars above, mankind's humble
servants come to an insolvent halt.
Beseeching nothing, they look up, reaching
for the entry or the portal to all that
brings them life. 'Come out!' the incessant cry
of the breathing : gabardine millionaires, men with
coaches and hats, fair ladies buxom with grace and
purpose. Up and down, they struggle. The subway's
incessant cry rumbles past and beneath - we hear the
roar and watch the rising crowds explore. Streetscapes.
Towers. Elevators. Stairways. Doors. Legal rites of
passage and purpose - and more. The fact that
Death itself has a ticket stops no one from going on,
or looking back. We are aware of this, and that - and so
much more. Let us not forget, 'midst the steam and
fury of industrial day, that little door which blocks our way -
the bolted entry to the other world and, somewhere along
the line, the flag of our living, to be unfurled - something
maybe to challenge the Gods themselves, or just a cloth
by which we are covered. Merely a cloth to cover us all.


(fools and tyrants)
Imagine a mouse somehow claiming authority over
all other mice...oh would you not laugh? And, when
you come right down to it, what are men anyway?
Relatively weak creatures, whom a fly or a mosquito
can kill with a bite, or a worm can debilitate, once within.
And what is the power of one man over another?
Words, actions, scaldings, death? I actually think
less than that occurs when poor Man tries to act
upon another - and even the most powerful are
as poor as a rat. And a tyrant can close no minds,
nor rule a thought - though he can try, it is his
own sword, in turn, that will belie his words.
The only thing worth less than the
body is a fortune - the reeking golds
and silvers of all evil men's dreams.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I offered my hands to the God of the Sun.
Blinking light crisscrossed the river; one
million salient points on the move together.
I'd known this all before, had seen it, had
walked it along. Not one to be outdone,
I tried making my way to the front,
yet everything else was in the way.
I lifted my eyes to Heaven, and
tried singing some hymn of praise.
I opened my mouth, but nothing
would come out. My paean to
Creation was over.
The God of the
Sun had left.


'I never ate here before.' I said that as I
was sitting down. She sidled up alongside me
and said - 'Makes no difference to me, I was
just waiting for you to come in.' As if we'd known
each other for ten years already. Her skin was just
waiting for touch. I could feel it in her eyes.
'You probably think I mean business,
but what this is is sport.'
Something bedazzled me with cool:
the pencil, the apron, the little clip-on tag.
'I could put this on ice if you want it.'
She said that, too, with her eyes;
'Here, try one of these, or order this,
with fries' - she pointed to something
on the table. 'I don't yet know what I'll
order for now, and you already have,
and I'll try your coffee on for size.
What I'd meant to say was this:
she'd already frozen my heart.
A solid-block of moment gone.
Everything came out wrong and
I wound up eating alone.
I didn't need any ice.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


My parents cannot hear me, for they have
entered another realm where the pleasures of eternity -
one would hope - have them marked for the rest of their time,
however that may be. I am left behind, as foolishly
confused, sometimes, as a sixth-grader in Biology;
learning the grades of cells and capillaries,
drawn down like an amoeba to the simplest state.
Every gestureless pantomime I make is misunderstood.
The Shinto priest at Mt. Fuji would not understand my
pleadings - I want to be found to have something of value.
The yellow-dog remnant of all that I've done
seems to outlive even the echoes of my lineage.
Grandma, grandpa, great uncle, aunt - each of
their addresses and postboxes are closed.
I cry in grief for nothing.
I cry for nothing at all.


(an old afternoon)
You are experiencing life. You are walking the
three o'clock streets hand-in-hand with your child who
is coming from school. You are as wide-eyed as he is
as you scan the local horizon to notice things you
would have missed before - how the broad trees, bare in
Winter, droop across the street; how the white bark peels
and drops with the leaves, how the noise underfoot can
settle your mind. He points out the cars and seems to know
the names of different models. Whereas to you it's all a blur,
there's a rather fine distinction to be made. He is here, learning.
Winter sets in, with its late daylight early dusk.
There is so much expectation, as you pass and notice
neighbors' houses: the light left on in a window, the indoor
barking of a left-alone dog.. The postman, who nods, is
finishing another round. Is he as familiar with all this as
you are becoming? You wonder, but do not deign to ask.
Behind you, everyday, the rumble of that same, slow freight
train goes by. Where before you would not have noticed,
now you count and check the cars - Chessie, Western, B&O.
Distant names such as those certainly foreshorten still
another horizon. Moon travel should be as easy, you think,
as you notice the half-moon at bay, a'lit in the distant,
daytime sky. Is it rising, or falling, that moon? You wonder,
and make a note to check on it later in the night. For now,
it's just there. Such a wonderful fragment, you leave it be.
This is a certain, rich life - the vast, old white home on the
large corner lot; the twisting garage, with doors that no
longer fit closed; the debris, as an outdoor pantry, of a
recently-ended Fall and all of its supplies. The smell,
deep within the air, of wood-burning fires. The late blue
deepens. It is all approaching an evening in mid-December.


We are rolling through Southfields on the twist
of a breeze, like some overwrought dowser turning
a stick for water. In each direction we head, there is
another intention before us : the downturn of the
landscape, insufferable wetlands, or the
shacks along the old canal. Breezily, we'll
pass by them all. There's no telling what the
ending will be.
I can remember a hundred days like this before -
the treasure of rain on a brand new cap, the flat water,
jewelled with sunlight, or the low moan of that
distant small-craft airfield. By the wooden bridge
along the roadway, single-engine planes drone on,
overhead but very low, as if intent to amaze, or
snap the tops of the nearby trees.
It all amounts to something, I suppose -
a place we've been, an instance of something
long remembered, the knotted plane of
some life's old board. Like a memory
etched in cotton, it's hard to read and
harder to see - something somehow
there, but not.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Sadly sadistic, the doctor arrives bearing ill-will
and a valise - both of which he manages to throw down
on the bed. 'So much depends on the little red wheelbarrow',
I thought he said. There was too much noise to be sure, as,
outside the window, a kid was running around yelling 'Sam!'
at the top of his lungs. As I looked out, I saw a lone girl running
off, as if fleeing from something obscure, in another direction.
It was all such a confusing moment to me.
This family man - himself a father - the doctor,
had settled at the desk and was looking for
a particular pen. 'I like the fatter ones, with black ink;
any good sort of click-style is right.' Very peculiar
to be so specific about pens; well, maybe, I
thought to myself. He clicked on the TV, which
immediately aired a commercial about 'fibrous pain'.
'They get it all wrong' - he said - 'medicine and TV
certainly don't mix; you can't explain the workings of the
mind, or the body, in sixty-second soundbites.' I nodded
serenely, glad just to be hearing his voice. 'Is that the
Passaic outside your window?' I asked. 'I think it's always
been, but I've never been sure - funny isn't it how rivers
are never marked unless we see them on a map.' I
laughed a moment, trying hard to think of something to say.
(It went like that for the rest of the day).


It's not the time of year for heat; the pipes have been
cool for months, the Summer sky bristles with its own
torpid air. It's an August face, in another sort of heat
I must wear - sweat, sunburn, a white spot
where the wristwatch was. Funny, all that is.
In the same way once the roundness of the wheel
must have startled early man, I'm learning new
things by being - simply that. Once I factor
in the complications, it's all a pretty situation,
or maybe, bet. The odds are in my favor.
Outside, the sweaty crowd murmurs.
I watch them and imagine, in Winter,
all that breath steaming out of their
mouths into the cold, cold air.
Would they know the difference?
Scarves. Mufflers.
Bathing suits. Tumblers.
Water. Ice.
Ice. water.
The transformations of ordinary things.


Family lines, inside troopers,
nasty relatives, happy uncles.
The neighbors' kids, that beat-up car
always parked along the curb.
Sky-writing on high.
The simple sound of the garbage truck,
always the same, rumbling by.
The street-sweeper swish
with its trail of water.
The pealing of the bell at 8am,
the tower, the church, the lawn.
The shadows across the bell-tower,
the mimic of architecture in everyday life.
The gravel and stones abutting the tracks,
the people - at the station - awaiting a train.
The men in their suits. The girls in light jackets.
High boots. Open-back shoes. Briefcases. Hats.
Doors, and the squeak of old hinges.
Something afloat in the air : the birds,
twisting and turning in flocks -
with their sudden maneuvers like wind.
No one else watching, except the girl about
six feet away who also seems to be looking up
with nothing to say. The office building across
the way. Its face of solid glass. The memorial
marker for something - the site of an old house.
Evergreens. A silent darkness. The old
foundations and the stairway to the street.
It seems too narrow now to have ever been in use.
Dense underbrush and a layer of pine needles.
Behind it all, the high trees, the very high trees.
The silent, sobering woods; the path worn through
the center. The stream, and the pond. The new
greenery seeping, pushing out of the ground.
The birds, the animals, the air, the breeze.
The simplest swaying of the tallest trees.

Monday, January 12, 2009


(and to remain so)
There are, certainly, some magnificent moments :
as the night sky breaks, with yesterday's fat moon still in it;
the clover that never ends; the bee which endlessly seeks.
I may have witnessed my share already, but I'll stay in
place, for now, waiting - as the sunlight traces new the
orange sky and ripples of brightened gray clouds erupt in
light. Chances are I'll manage to remain; in no way
alleviated by right nor changed by wrong.
It is a simple semblance I stumble towards -
my place is here, in these earthen chords.
As a Summer's light bending its face to the
rippling stream, a frog entranced by its waiting,
or a turtle, on a log, absorbed by the sun, so too
do I my obsequies pay. This river can relieve me.
A genuflection on the forested floor -
a heart, within, pounding for more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I want a haircut like a prisoner - some political
anarchic beast stuffed into a corner and shackled,
let out only to glimpse the light but barely.
Hair hacked and chopped like a gruesome truth
on trial. To be judged by a look.
The slivered strand, obscure and cut all
at wrong angles, in bad clumps. The face -
to be framed - is hedged and defamed by
this singular matter of cut. Hair, like
a prisoner, destroyed in a fury.
You should ask why?
For this is the modern day, is
my conscious reply. A day stuffed
with the pretense of pretty and style
and modicums of comfort varied and wild.
Random. An erstwhile change of sea
at each new opportunity.
I want hair like a prisoner :
cut and chopped and wild



'No, no - nothing ever goes for nothing.'
The high-topped big-top rises every April
on the Canton town square.
Like a dream each time, the frizzy-haired
guy shows up with his papers, contract in
hand; going over this, going over that.
He reads, I swear, each sentence three times.
He reads it like he reads his life itself:
'This is the big time, boy, and you're sentenced
to die - see ain't no way out even if you try.
That's the point of this circus, crap and all,
when you come right down to it.'
Just then the game-horse whinnied,
and the elephants threw spit, and
Marnie, the high-wire girl,
fell right into my arms.


(Having never visited Tintern Abbey)
I have been left off so many lists that I
no longer regard them as essential for anything.
Like Wordsworth at Tintern Abbey, I sense that
something has passed : soothing light, quiet evenings,
open-ended assumptions about the goodness of life.
Someone stands next to a gateway, and high
above him the jagged rocks are carved as faces.
The shapes are angels, cherubs, tiny winged things.
Without a knowledge that they are there,
he goes about his clowning unawares.
A woman in green and white comes forward.
With a camera, she stands back a few feet, gazes up,
and - with an automatic focus - clicks. Her silence,
and the snapping whir of the camera, both amaze me.
They define a moment I cannot explain.
Four-hundred-year-old ruins.
Forty-five-year-old people.
A camera, less than five years developed.
What a picture this all should make....



Anarchist Christ Jezebel Jeremiah Williamson Tate -
or any other name in the book you'd want to imagine.
I have no use for anything anymore. It's all falling away.
The timeless clouds which smoke the sky, the ending of days,
the soiled talk of those towering infernos. Even all that's
over now. They may have meant well, but everything failed.
The meadows were burned on Tuesday, and that place
where the cows once grazed has now been paved.
Houses filled with idiots and indigents now crowd
that country lane (where you and I, in love, had lain).
Anyone with anything worth taking away has already
been made bereft. There is no logic, except now in
the tinkling of those little Advent bells they sell for
five dollars and - I notice - the fat women buy like hell.
The fuckheads are eating soup with a knife and expecting
it all to pay. Their hammers AND chisels have been
pounded away - turned into flags and stars and stripes
and little wizened things that veterans salute - those old
military guys with their heads up their asses.
You can tell them by their outhouse passes.
It's as simple as that.
Like the consumption of rotted,
dead meat, eaten by a rat.

Friday, January 9, 2009


The Cobra has its own mystique.
It can't tell about it, but it knows.
If every legend knew something about
itself, how deep would legends go? We'd walk
the enormous edgings of land and sea together,
wishing for circumstance and possibility.
Probably, we'd get neither; but the happenstance
of luck would be there always. Too much to
happen to just light by a candle. We'd need more
brightness when things took off.
The Cobra has its own mystique.
It can't really do that dance it did before,
but certain forces pale next to a recoil, and
venom of course speaks its very own language.


Once I had a nowhere enrap't in a shroud I stood alone :
there existed nothing to engage me - the long dark
of the sanded cave and its silences notwithstanding.
And even if I spoke , no one would answer.
Until that moment (shortly thereafter) when from outside -
the lighter world - I heard a voice commanding me
exit. I simply rose up and walked. And exited.
The brightness - strong at first but then evened out -
brought back a flood of memories; oddly enervating,
things I thought I'd left behind - yet here they were again.
I was forced (and not by this alone) to conclude that Life
as known was but a cycle in a memory itself; my ways of
walking, I noticed, had not left me. Nor had my motor control -
lifting an arm, putting one foot before the other, understanding
my eyes and what I was seeing. Nothing louder than thankfulness
followed me; or was it some other form of strange regret?
I really did not know. I really could not tell.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


What chance performs the apple tree,
desolate and wiry, sagged as it is
with torment and ruin? It has already
shed its joyous fruit and even its bugs
have left. The elapsed time encircles
its face with north and wintry wind.
Should there yet be faith for more to
come? Better things, balmier, and wiser,
with a fragrance worth repeating?
Standing in the shadow (of something)
here blessed, I cannot for myself attest -
for beauty, presence, aroma and fruit,
they each must speak - in their ways -
for themselves. I, alas, am but a witness.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


(all those virgin births)
She broke water at two am. The baby was born
by three. Nothing sensational about that, I was told.
Virgin births and all the rest happen once or twice
every so often; especially in the Hispanic tradition.
I wasn't aware of that, actually. My last trip in
to Philadelphia, I'd scouted around the moraine
just to watch the Spanish girls pass - but there
weren't any left. They'd all gone away.
'Mostly they join the Army now,' Dr. Wedgewood
had said, 'they like being around all those boys
and they really like the benefits - money, pensions,
health and dental, and - let's not forget - the boys.
That's where most of these new virgin births occur.
Don't know, it sure beats me.' I'd figured a crusty
old doctor like he was should know more than that.
So I pressed. 'What makes them want that? And what
about the killing? And why aren't they just too small?'
My pictured image was of some five foot little girl
up to her neck in trouble. Bullets, boys and brawn.
Virgin births, my ass.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


(I really should leave it at that)
However you figure it, a million years have passed
since the first rocks were formed. We've (since then)
chiseled hammers, broken stones, pulverized layers
of land. This round marble in my hand - basically a
child's joke, something to play with - does represent
something, no matter how foolish the representation.
Like cheap giveaways at any gaudy store, this
trinket bears the traces of Mankind's heavy work.
Ingenuity to enjoyment, in some swift fell swoop.
I notice now, thinking, as here I sit, that I've managed
to survive. My years, much diminished to those of
the marble, I figure will come to an end long long
before that marble's demise: I, turned to dust, and
it, turned to a crush. But after all, what is the ending
of anything - a quick jarring end to sudden boring
illusion; a finished frame to a portrait's intrusion.
I really should leave it at that.

Monday, January 5, 2009


To assail the generous forces amassed I wish to
address the crowds across from me - bleeding with
eyes and walking with sticks - all those people out there:
'Do you think we can heal!! Do you think we can find
a way out, a trail to deliverance!! These aren't, after all,
questions!! I am leading you forth!! Come away!!'
And then, below all that, as an undercurrent of
feeling, the mumbled words of hundreds rolled.
I myself knew not what they were saying.
A true 'Give us Barabbas!' moment.


This man was questioning gerunds -
what they were and how they meant.
Asking, he went on...'Catholic school...
couldn't pay attention...don't know the
rules...just go on.' Settling for a seeming
nothing, I replied in kind - something about
the mob of words, forcing declensions,
listening to voices. It did seem settled then;
awash in words as we were waiting.


(the mark of Cain)
Magisterial presence and a remarkable bearing -
of a place on Earth, among rocks and soil and stone.
'It is a husbanding of Nature, nothing more.'
He said this to no one in particular. I wasn't
watching, though I heard. To acknowledge - in the
least way I could - I nodded a response. He
laughed and heartily replied (to nothing):
'Such nonsense, you see, is the bane of our time.
A million rabid people falling apart at the seams,
and saying 'God it was' who told them to be this way'
I sensed where he was going with that, as it all
gravitated towards a nothing - a great big hole,
a place where nothing was. 'Is the absence of presence,
oh kind sir, also the presence of absence?
If you answer me that, then maybe we can talk.'

Sunday, January 4, 2009

156. LOVE

Like a bird with a treasured idea,
the Arabic lady was feeding her husband -
in a gentle manner, as if in passing,
a forkful of chicken at a time.
She had the dressing in a little cup,
and dipped it first and moved along.
Fork by fork, slowly, they went on.
Then I noticed him feeding her;
in much the very same way, his
little seasoned meatballs and lettuce.
Almost one at a time, a piece of
this and a piece of that.


I was reading The Dangling Man on a
Tuesday eve - the light, though adequate,
was dim.
There were two very old men nearby -
sitting on library chairs, they neither
spoke, it seemed, nor cared. We may as
well have been riding to doom : a Titanic
or some other such vessel.
All was sedate. Out the window nearby, I
watched a train go by on its trestle.

154. A KIAE INAGA (a translation)

(a translation)
Five evasive maneuvers - for the straggling
man steadfast in trust and yearning. Forceful
in manner, and strong. All the sorts of things
an Old Testament Father would know. Like
stealing, adultery, and lamb-slaughter/sacrifice,
with the annihilation of Self thrown in.


Orange peels on the kitchen floor, where the
refrigerator throws its shade. The broken old table,
mended to dry, lilting towards its own bad side.
The shade tree, outside the window, is bare to the
suffering of the sky. A new day's light comes through.
I never know why we mean what we do.
Everything turns on its own axis, reinforcing
a sense of the lifeless or maybe dread. Even in
Summertime, when we open these doors and windows,
it's much the same no matter. Today, the mercury
reads 20, while on other days I've seen it hit 100.
That's a fairly normal range for any jagged life;
temperature, chance, ratio, percentages of things
all together - no difference, no matter.
How life is like the weather.
Even on the best of days, it's
not so nice as all that. And on the
worst, well, we all just bundle up and go on.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


The bleak stalwarts deal with the bleak;
see how many glumly cross over that bridge.
Beneath their feet there are layered bones of
dinosaurs and the fossilized remains of things like
dreams and emanations : those powerful fogs of
other places we vaguely see as they are carried with us.
Not realizing intent, these dark connoisseurs of placement
and vantage point simply stare ahead - missing everything
peripheral to them. So does a certain form of history pass.
We are members of a dwindling club : things which die like the
light at evening, the sun at its daily parting, the 10am puddle
that is gone by 2. Mesmerizing laces entwine everything we
see - in the power to source us back to an origin, it has its
most brute strength and its moment of quick glory.
The inscription on that golden rock alongside the lake,
it reads : 'Everything that lives must die; all things
which die shall live again. So the ages decree.
Mankind can only acquiesce.'


I want to accuse you of abandoning ideology, charting the
waves or turning your back on my presence. It's as if
I need to do something to validify our both existences.
That calendar-chart you keep is not enough.
Yes, I see, there are wings on the barn and the
chickens do not hatch, but it little matters, even
in agricultural terms, if we dilute the reality of the
truth or the truth itself - that's the sort of poor choice
we've left ourselves with. Yell all you wish at the very
top of your lungs...the sky is not falling and it never will.
It was a New Year's Eve when I passed your house, seeing
the broad lights lit up on your porch. The piano was still
in place, but I figured it must be chilly in there. I saw three or
four figures walking through, wine-glasses in hand. They
weren't you, yet they seemed ageless as well. Across the
roadway, in the harbor, some twisted party boat was
cruising by. Music blared and drunk people were singing
along the heavy railing (God forbid drunks should fall into
the frigid waters, I guess). They seemed oblivious to any
reality at all. The good life is like that, I'm told.
One solitary, very bright star was in the sky above.
It was almost reflected on the water, and seemed way too
low to be normal. I imagined seeing it reflected, as well,
in your eyes. I almost wanted to cry. For me, lame as ever,
another year had passed and - now, already full of regret -
another one was just beginning.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Could you have passed for something else, had they let you?
Like a black man in a yellow skin, I feel my supposed
whiteness, even now, letting me down. These
Earthlings, after all, only have a few colors of their own.
Their tall sky they claim as blue - while their deepest
space they insist is black. Their yellow sunlight then
turns to white and then orange as it sets. No one
ever explains that, either. Storm clouds, always dark
and foreboding, are omens of bad things to come;
yet their storms and rains bring flowers and scent.
How odd they must feel, if challenged by these things.
That Riddle of the Sphinx they always talk of,
it really tells me nothing. How many legs does
on really need to stand on? From eggs, they gather
food, while other eggs they allow to their fruition -
bringing further life. Life like this then multiplies more
life itself - food/life - in some self-sustaining elegy:
a slow song they all must learn, a melody that haunts
and lingers, a skippy tune tune they eventually all learn to sing.


'She pays you because she has to, and she's
busy all the time - I swear she can talk for hours;
it's just a natural thing for her' - I put down my
fork and went right to work responding : 'on the
other hand you might want to consider the arrangement
with time that we all make amongst each other
just to stay in place - like some scalding cloth laid
over our face, it's very painful at the same
time (we're told) it deep-cleans the pores.'
'This plane flew over the houses, I swear it
was low enough that I could see the pilot's bruises.
There was someone talking pictures from the window
on the same side - all I caught was the end of a lens.'
The guy saying that seemed outraged and - as if astonished -
just kept going on about 'invasions of privacy' and how
'no one's secure anymore, even in their houses and homes.'
I noted to myself how useless redundancy really is when
the initial argument or premise is so bad. If a bomb went
off, this is the same sort of guy who'd go on endlessly
about how there was no security and 'they' weren't
doing their job. It's a comfort thing, like Jello or
pudding, to these types of people.
No one wants to be there when their daughter is de-flowered.
In the same way, when truth and its consequences hit you
in the face, everyone takes refuge in some modest excuse.
'Life is so short, suicide is like shooting yourself in the head
while falling to the ground without a parachute.
You'll be there soon anyway, why bother....'