Friday, February 27, 2009

248. F.T. MARINETTI (1909)

Brazen speed over the wild land:
a game the Futurists once played.
Marinetti and all that in old Italy way back.
A hundred years before, we were still
fighting over the shackles of encampment.
He strode forward, printed his fervid manifesto,
and went puking all over the land, like some
drunk Pinocchio looking for fire.


As life was long ago - the shallowness of the swamp,
the dense underbrush of marsh grass and the bog; all
those little things creeping around - so too now are my
own moments in the sun. I try to shield my eyes from
anything I configure as 'too much', but it doesn't
often work.
My hands have withheld the storms that time brought;
sensible things, tamed as lions in a zoo are tamed. Almost,
but not always; brought back from the brink, but not quite.
It's a shameless compromise really : how we deliver
our own time to the ages we inhabit; living in a sequence
really little understood. There are no headlines about
this stuff. It all rather just 'is'.
We accept that enrichment, taking the crown as
proffered. We are, after all, high Mankind - and
nothing more than us has ever existed. The linear
plane above our brow - that place where all these
brains are - that's the horizon sign within us
we never see. The most simple place,
which we always miss.


In the sense of having no roof yet maintaining a
line, keeping no shelter while having a form.
The hotel-keeper's daughter - whose name was Marnie -
kept busy with small talk and the cleaning of shoes.
Each Thursday she'd take the bus to the greenmarket
outside of town and buy some fresh goods for the
upcoming weekend. It was always a nice occasion -
once she'd prepared and served everything by
Saturday night. The dowagers of fame and fortune,
men of esteem, and even the other daughters of the
old town's fathers - they'd all attend. Everyone
knew everyone, and the small talk never ended.
I moved away in 1976 - just after Ford but still before
Carter. The first vote I ever cast - that was for Ford.
He lost; and I've never voted a winner ever. Ever.
Fact is, I could have voted years before, but never did.
Never voted since, either. Placed all my bets with Marnie.
And, you know what? In its own way, Luck's been
very good to me; very good indeed.'

Thursday, February 26, 2009


There are new Gods on the mantelpiece tonight:
old guys smoking pipes, a drum majorette
sulking about some romance, and a few retired
policemen, talking about the days of yore.
Everyone's looking back. Leather chairs and
pedestal ashtrays are everywhere. Some couch-
filled university club, or some gunman's private perch.
Community lodging for the dead-of-mind.
I take down a picture from the wall -
something resembling an old farm field fenced
in and filled with some sheep. It's so real
I can sense it and smell it - the braying, the
cattle, the bleating, the odors. Idle old farm
country - the type we never have anymore.
British fens, a green upland oasis, something
even farther off; a Lake Country banner.
I'm certain even William Wordsworth has been
here once : 'the things which I have seen,
I now can see no more.'

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I gathered up the waiting from the wanting on
the floor; as they'd sent us new pictures of where
we had been. Just outside the doorway, a strong
wind was blowing south, rankling the shrubs and
bending some of the trees, to the point where they
almost seemed to snap - and then instead snapped back.
Upright again, they readied for another bout.
I was, at least, familiar with that.
Over by the menthol stand, where two
guys with hammers were molding the brass,
I watched the tallest girl I could find. She was
lighting a cigarette with her free hand, while the other
held both a purse and a small dog. An incredible
array, it seemed, all these crazy things at once.
How far are we, ever, really, from the mirror which
catches us all - every moment, watching, seeing,
to reflect us in all that we do? How glimmering,
or how sodden, is that reflection meant to be?
Do we take pride in moments we overlooked?
If so, to whom is it that we offer these moments back?
Certainly not ourselves; we're far smaller than that.
I motioned to the man in a short black coat.
He came over, and I said: 'you look so medieval
in your forehead of ashes. It does me good just
to see you alive. I hope you are mindful of that.'

Tuesday, February 24, 2009



Ten times the old clock struck - its hammered sound
striking less like a bell than a muffled mallet : onto
something coarse and hardened - a negative thud
like old Europe itself.
Had we been present then (at that creation when),
it's pretty certain we'd still have been holding hands
when the last bomb dropped. A Doppelganger of
ersatz Freedom (something more like doom), we watched
as St. Paul's fell. We saw Christopher Wren running away.
The tourist-guide lady said she'd read our palms (as
an extra) for fourteen American dollars each. This was
after there was no more to see anyway. You gave her your
hand (tearing it from mine), while I gave her my arm
She took both. She took all she could. She took everything.
That said, I still recall that we retreated to that small room
at the Harbinger Hotel and stayed there for hours, in love.
Or some form of contact; I forget. Room service brought
up snails and Sandover Oysters, since the month had an 'R';
months without 'R's in them are not good months for
oyster-eating, it is said in the guidebooks for food.
One last thing I forgot to mention:
The fortune-teller guide-lady got it
all wrong. Your purse was for her
penny. It was my heart, you remember,
that was for a song. All together, that
old clock was striking again....


(man on a train)
This is what people do now :
'I am on emotional high at the
moment. I do not want it to end.'
Thus said, the blinding light of electronics
took her away (that girl, over there, at
the screen alone). All the streams - as
I look out this window this morning -
are once again frozen over. That white
car is still in the ditch. It's over a year
now I've seen it in place. She stares still
intently at the image she sees - her other
hand, at rest, on some electronic attachment.
In the background, I notice almost no noise.
The cold morning makes the world a frozen
place - even this late in Winter it still seems
novel and fresh. What if it stayed like this
forever? Would things be any different?

Monday, February 23, 2009


Like Thomas Edison in July - deaf and dumb and
stupid but sly - I ran this railroad through the woods.
It went roaming everywhere - seeking out new
efforts - ideas and inventions and uses for everything,
and all that went with them. Making light where there
was none before, throwing new shadows on old
city walls. The one mission I kept to was progress;
something never suspected nor doubted,
and that with (as well) little meaning.
Never stopped a daffodil from growing.
Never kept a saint from showing, or a
premise from achieving all it was meant to
achieve. This was my one idea : light from
the harbor and ocean and sea - enough light
for mankind and all else to see.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


It doesn't sound like much - never does.
The shoreline reeds, bending themselves
over in supplication, seek to race the surface
to the shore. Sands dwindle into little eddies,
cast-about like tokens in a storm. The regular
roar of the drumming ocean, without a
cease, hits on and hits some more.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


(Philadelphia, 2/21/09)
There are a million ways of progressing.
The lines of every disclaimer, tendentious and
narrow, speak volumes about both politics and life.
Men with guns, slaves and servants forever, walk
secretly towards internal death while following an
inclination to live. Clouds dive, winds howl,
fire comes flying out from caves and tunnels.
Along the street - Walnut or Market or something -
wild men on crates stand forth and harangue the crowd.
Loudspeakers somehow have granted them an ignorant
man's power - the words are rash and too large for
their simple mouths. Yet, they go on.
They are flanked, incredibly, with crossed-armed
guards while, behind them from a van hang
large signs proclaiming their rant. The vans are
probably filled with guns, as the words are filled
with hate. Vitriol seeps. They play-act their
broadcast anger : howling, yelping, wanting.
I enjoy the joy, howling back myself - just as
adept at finding their negative points as they
are, the same, in finding mine. Two worlds
collide, in a silent collision no one can hear.
The sidewalks are coated with their Winter
glaze. People, walking carefully, watch
their way and avoid their gaze.
Endless like this, everything
seems the same; both
heavy and dense.


('Priestly and Lavoisier')
The elm tree at the corner was ravaged - I saw it
reflected in a thrown-out wall-size mirror. The
image was startling - probably half life-size too.
There's no way to gauge such comparison -
it's more an inner thing; mind's eye or intuition.
No science exists to measure like this.
I see other things too -
the distant trestle of the SEPTA line,
the dome of some golden church or another.
Pigeons aloft, alight to wires and a pole.
Up in the dusky sky, a lone old moon is high.
I reach it all without connection.
These things, images or figments, are
of some pseudo-scientific spell to me;
like a man, let's say, who discovered oxygen
while not realizing he'd already been breathing.


I haven't had much good time lately -
merely a holding pattern, and to that
I have to add 'perhaps'. I saw a picture
today of a guy I once knew. At present he's
much older, and - like mine - his older
face had set fuller and solid. Age makes
people rock-like in the hardness of
their faces - until it all falls apart, even later,
and everything sags to an atrocious, fleshy
blubber. The kind of thing old men have -
trying to talk, while the skin of their face
moves in a hundred different directions.
It's a sideshow of seniority and senescence
together, all as one, all over the place.
This fellow's picture I mentioned - that's
where the difference was at. He was
standing over a stove or a table, mixing some
food to be cooked - what looked like shanks
of some meat in a sauce. To which he
was sprinkling seasons or some spice.
From his lips, oddly, dangled a cigarette
with the longest ash I'd ever seen.
He was smirking, as he looked down.
Nothing seemed exactly right, the distance,
the time, the action, but it was,
unmistakeably, him, and
unmistakeably, ash.


Cardboard and string, and a box of clips,
with someone's scissors left open: it seemed
like a kindergarten frolic to me. The light
was beating on the edge of the tables and the
room smelled like a layer of varnish.
I'd ventured everywhere, and now this place -
a museum room of restorative art or some kid's
room from Hell. An essential point was to
realize how little difference there was.
Rossetti called his money 'tin' - a quaint
English version, I guess, of the same
stuff Americans once called cabbage.
Swinburne, no slouch, holed up his
temper like Mercury in fleeting
sentences and a swift pass to emotion.
Hard to read today, yes, but things change.
Osmium and rhenium - whoever heard of them?
Yet there they are too, numbers 75 and 76.
It's amazing - like the light from the windows
or this crazy room, how everything jumbled gets
named and assorted : eventual, gradual, at
one time or another. Soon enough. Selenium,
palladium and lutetium too.

Friday, February 20, 2009


A large clutch of robins in the tree,
the cacophony of flags in the wind;
a harsh start to a gentle morning.
All I hear are birds, and the noise
of those flags flapping.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


(Montclair, NJ, 1983)
The old woman fell to the pavement.
Her forehead was cracked, and red blood
trickled down to the ground. The frozen sidewalk
looked somehow decorated for the season.
Her body seemed to shudder with the
shock upon her face; blue lips and glassy eyes.
In her daughter's arms, it all looked like tragedy.
Everywhere were the lights and ribbons of Christmas.
No one contradicted what they saw.
The daughter tried to hold her mother up.
The ambulance celebrated itself through traffic,
screaming to weave its way to the scene.
The doorman at the hotel just stared.
Christmas was in the air.

233. ABSTRACT #7

Pommes de terre.
Apples in the shape
of Mary's breasts.
The French have a word
for saying, a way of saying,
anything. 'Now we can cross the
border at the edge of the reservation.'
Apples in the shape of Mary's breasts.
Like the body of wood : balsa, pine,
maple, cherry, fir - a catalogue of the
forest's own take. Think less of what's
written then what's put between the lines.
The funnel at the bottom of the pool.
Looking at Palladio style.
Oxygen mask send-out.
Papal illusion.
Apples in the
shapes of


Elixirs of this sort are
a dime a dozen: a slim form
of the weather-coat worn by
soldiers in the enemy's army.
The clocks tick, the weather vanes spin.
The small restaurant alongside the tracks,
now gutted and under some form of
renovation, sits idle. Along its front window,
five forms linger - awaiting buses or taxis -
in their winter coats. No one notices a short
flock of birds overhead; things gliding and
flitting to branches on the bare trees nearby.
The thick white fog hugs the marshland and shrubs:
it stays close to the ground as it tries not to move.
The bog and the swamp leech like eerie fens -
a low and dismal smoke distends.
Above it all, a white round sun tries
breaking through.
I've probably tried everything too - praying,
wishing, hoping. All to no avail. I've kept
appointments for things of this sort.
A life like this must have its meaning -
still, I can't remember what it may have been.
(Elixirs if this sort are a dime a dozen).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


(a fantasy)
Having renovated both the cottage and the castle,
most things now are quite different. We still ring
the salubrious bells - announcing meals and the like -
but (I've noticed) the tenor of the sound is now
different. Those foreign tongues I hear, still spoken
as they are, are not quite now as jarring to my ears.
I notice Mexican cooks and housekeepers, and the
entire groundskeeper staff, it would appear, are Hondurans
or something. Everything is different, and so much has
changed. It takes time to get comfortable with all this.
In a way, I guess it had to be. For instance, I wasn't the
one (was I?) who was about to get up from the library chairs
and book-cases in my study and go fetch or go do these
things. No, my days were spent in a solitary toil, much - much -
to my liking and not about to change. Things could have
fallen apart around me, for all I would have cared. I am a scribe;
all that, and nothing more. So I look at it as good that someone
steps in to willingly do these chores.
Tincture of iodine, some balmy scent of a floral mist, the odor
of pine, the wafting aromas of (maybe) cinnamon and cloves.
Odors I really can't place - they've done that too. Smells and
bouquets, medicines and sprays - things I'd never had dreamed
of on my own. It's a rather lovely place, this domicile, this cave,
this 'hostelry' for me and kindred spirits. I wouldn't change it
if I could. I couldn't change it if I would. Either way, I'm happy now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Weavers are at their posts in the gloom;
tending to spools and the layers of fabrics
and cloth. A lone man staggers in, muttering
to himself - something about enforcing the ideas
of true service. He enters the office marked
'Manager' and simply sits down. With an impatient
swoop he picks up the papers upon the desktop,
and walks off.
The noise - machinery, cutters, sewing-stations and
balers - is as nearly deafening as can be. Tragically
enforced by their codes of work and their hours,
the women - in a row - are bent over their machines.
At the end of each aisle, a small flame flits from an
open pot.
To live such a life is a poor-soul's lot: garment-workers,
peasants, and the childless few still in sorrow over someone
else's death. The streets outside have rows of tenements and
hovels. To each of these women, it will be 1912 forever;
and I want to hug them all - a Magdalene code for the ages.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Darkness catches the train-station waiting.
Lights along the steel are reflected back,
just once, into the already tired eyes of dawn,
trying to arise and enter. What is that long
over the horizon? We are seeking an arrival.
So many things flee the train, like cats
from a watery fiction. They run about until
something takes them in. People waiting for
rides, and lovers seeking their mate.
Trash-cans overflow with paper; yesterday's
comings and goings low along the grate.
Old cigarettes die by the flame. These
tracks are stuck with the curve of the Earth.
Shingles, and the roof. Smoke, and the chimney.
Once brick, always brick, it is said. Very little
changes in the country. Brown bags, rubber-bands,
gloves, shoelaces, and a box. Listen while you
can to your very own life.
One day the Sun won't rise.
Won't you be surprised.

228. MOSCOW (1980)

Snare the difference, causing blind-eye
vacant stares. All along the roadway,
the peasants are busy - washing their pots,
cleaning their clothes, whistling for horses.
There is a fire in every pit; meat roasting,
potatoes close to crisp, and, everywhere,
the singing of closed eyes. Vodka passes
itself off as real. The scene is one of Winter,
always. The sky is passing close.
Wear those clothes that matter - keeping oneself warm
is what counts today. The lines of mud routinely
close the road. Mired lamplights are cut to waxen
images; black lines along the ceiling. These portend
the favorite war, still forever fighting. Ice, and fire.
The final storyline, the end.
Without reason, whatever grows - prospers.
Thick and leafy green, the lettuce is carried in
from the south and piled on tabletops,
with old bitches crying out: 'the eggplants
and squash are the best!' And everywhere else,
liquor-of-fire on everyone's lips. The towers,
with blinking red lights. That is Moscow:
far away, so close to zero, so near to the end.


Guilt has a sister, the name is pride.
Pride has a brother called hatred.
Put it all together and you get
one big factor called 'I'.
I is a word never


Oils; spaces of rooms splattered
rich with color, forms and markings. All
these things lighting up three walls.
Endless features pantomimed in line with
blackened secrets etched.
The huge squares belie the glass
they hide beneath.
East Hampton; I know.
Destination carrying its owned
famed secret : rich immensities of stroke
and brush, huge streaks along the canvas.
Bouts of red and blue.
Knowledge; carnival-storms brewing in
pigments wrapped about with form and eyes
of brevity - long, rapturous music.
The sentiment remains wrapped tightly
around those thirty years yet singing.
Brushes and bread by the baker,
sought hot, still warm to the touch.
These colors are the message.
To go to where form is secondary, for once.
Learn to love the line, and flee it.


We are taking pictures of ourselves,
melting in that mind's eye of doubt
which makes up the space between us.
I snap things unintentionally sad.
You smile. The wintry light clasps
its white hands over dead ears. In
photos, no one need listen. All the world
is deaf, and only eyes are needed. The end
of perfection is here. We need not recognize
what we do not want. It is so absolute -
putting things coldly into perspective.
Stand there. Snap!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


You were the guy with the long black coat,
holding that gun like it meant to talk; the long,
black barrel pointing straight out. From thirty
feet away, I've got to tell you, you really looked
like something : a fearsome, violent force. A man
fighting to death with a vengeance to spare.
But that was then. Now I see you sprawled
on that cocktail couch on the porch by the sea.
Sipping that drink, with the gun at your feet,
you look like nothing more than some
kitty cat on a European beach.


(Bronx, 2-14-09)
They were walking over the bridge, all these people,
as easily as driving - which cars were stuck in traffic.
Something akin to awaiting doom on the elevator down to Hell.
This was, after all, the Bronx. Honk after honk, the dishevelled
locals threw their aplomb to the wind, disdaining all they
took to be surplus : rules, traffic, variations of taste, the
very barter of cash and mind. It little mattered - fat-bottomed
mamas throwing themselves sideways along the walk, tough
thugs in cheap clothing, spinning yarns and asides in even
cheaper shirts. I'd guess it means a lot, in a country of such
poor renown, to know how to say something back
to an insult or a slight.
It's sometimes like this everywhere else:
my vacant mind, idle and poor, trudging
through something and impatient at
waiting. Loud music from a storefront
selling panties and bras. Lonesome
idle cowpokes throwing stones at
errant cattle. Well, at least no one's
yet electrified the fence.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


The mountain pass over the ramp-laden hill,
where the colliers or the tomato farmers
each drew their fill, was nothing but a
few rutted lanes. The iron on the wheels
had cut the soil deep - every so often needing
maintenance - so that a large iron bar,
drawn by four horses, would drag over
the path. Flattening ridges, filling in the ruts,
The locals would say 'it was good for a while,
either three or four moons and three or four miles' -
their way of talking nonsense about something
which couldn't be fixed no-how.
'No matter how you turn it, it's all the same -
we're given this land for a little while,
and use it to get what we earn. Some call it
plunder, some call it toil - in the end we're
all given right back to that soil.'


Washed in holy water - running off the roofs
of the overhead tracks - and bathed in old
civil war bloods with no men in between,
I little knew what space I was taking up.
I bent down to get up, and just then
something caught my eye. The corner post
where the old elevated line turned the corner -
train tracks to some mad oblivion - held a boxful
of kittens someone had left. They seemed as helpless
as me - stuck in a box and too young to get out.
Meowing in a polite frustration, with their small paws
but sliding back on the wet cardboard they were in,
it seemed as if even they weren't sure yet if they
could see. Or wanted to. This desperate situation
was set-up for something bad. I knew I was no
better than they were, stuck in my way in a very-same
box. What to do, oh what to do? I took the box from
the rain and the drips, and at least positioned it dry -
a token esteem I could do for them. Not much else.
Thinking of them - and the taxi sheds nearby - I made
them dry and walked away into my own small night.

Friday, February 13, 2009

220. OH NIKI

Barrelhead, baghead, beggar-man, thief:
you know how it is when old rhymes get
twisted, turned over, and repeated wrongly.
Five hundred times, or one, make no difference.
The rag-doll over on the corner of the chair,
empty ears and vacant eyes, knows no separation
between what things are right and what are wrong.
By category, perhaps, we're the ones who listen -
the only ones to care, the early-arrivals at some
stupid party, watching everywhere.
Take it easy, all this life. Accept it as it comes.
The simplest things are probably the safest:
like building a railing at the end of that steep,
dangerous stairwell, or padding the bottom of
the furniture legs. 'If the best we can do is get by,
then every little thing helps' - someone says.
The scars of the heavy years mark Niki's face;
being thrown to the floor like a cast-off pillow,
getting that name from a three-year-old child,
taking the cut that tore into that cloth stomach.
It's still probably all better than death - all that grief,
the moments of reverie, the remembrance of things
long forgotten, ideas down a long dark path...
Barrelhead, baghead, beggar-man, thief.

Monday, February 9, 2009


The refinement of the horizon was an unaccustomed thing -
the orange ball of the lifted Sun, slowly coming up from
somewhere, was startling in its daily and calm intensity.
Something over and over again, recurring - the rising
of consciousness and mind. The bare Earth, in its repose,
accepted what came its way. On the left, I saw six deer
slowly grazing, their heads down into the snowy gruff
of last season's corn-stubble. A choppy reminder of
what was - now stabbing up through a few inches of snow.
Everything was covered; just as everything was exposed.
The small waters of the local canal, chocked too with ice,
made slow movement around obstacles and over things -
the concrete spillway, the floodgate and its turnwheel and gear,
the bargemaster's cabin, now rotted and crumbling back
to the land. Layers of time, like the skin of an oversized
onion in the hand of an idle God, slowly seemed to roll
themselves back. The sun kept a'rising - higher atop
the field - as I watched its vivid orange turn to a
yellowy white.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


It was a long time ago, in a very small closet,
that I first beheld the glory of the world's
old story - and just like that too, I found
that this closet, in effect, opened into another world.
Its back wall simply held another door - invisible
to most and imaginary to some, but real to me, and
enough to open for me to a grand and different place.
I gladly walked right through and, pretty much, have
never stopped since then forging right ahead. For every
step forward I took, it made sure to take pains to cover
my trail with an equal step in 'their' direction - so it
was all illusion by those means given to thwart others
off my trail. Apparently I was 'doing' what I had to for them -
all those routines we know - the 'go to school/mind the rules'
and all the rest - while at the same time heading out grandly
in the direction I'd chosen. Lending a wonderful asperity to
an audacious game, I learned to manage my means.
Three blind mice, dancing with their canes, on a stage
known only to them - on a stage known only to them.


Portraits of dead Gods and old leaders -
one in some proportion to the other,
whether better or worse, fill up the
rogue's gallery where I generally live.
I have taken pencil to paper, in the
past, just to inscribe my feelings about
what it is I see - nothing much, mind you,
but a sensible drivel just the same.
I could have written songs about a Caesar,
or some Wotan or Thor, had I wished to -
but instead, as hard as Carrera marble,
I chiseled an image by words of the
deeds which have gone undone...
when any of these Gods or demi-Gods
or earthly potentates deemed it suitable
to show up (throwing thunder, heaving
lightning, raising the dead, burning bushes,
whatever). Great and sanctimonious, how
nice it was to know that we were somehow
saved by their persistent interdictions into
the affairs of Man - though it was, perhaps,
only when it suited them, not us. By which means
they could inscribe their own stories, with their
own fiery pens, into the poor hot hearts of
ineffective men. Statues are toppled for less.

216. RUSSIA (1980), II

My white hands haunt the ancient cold.
Icons to the stars, those gold-gilt virgins,
held in rare esteem, astound the empty walls.
Cold smokestacks puff from cabins in the snow.
Short paths detect the horrid wastes of ice below.
The workers sort, in wool, their Winter source.
Red Army dozes, soft-to-snooze, asleep across the
vast white waste; iced over, far to Asia's strange expanse.
Europe short averts its eyes and wanders.
White hands haunt the ancient cold.
Fingers tap the spittle from the broom.
Small fires boil soup upon the stoves.
The horses, pawing, seek another Spring.
All quiet, Russia bows.
The soul too easy slumbers in a quick December nap,
as balalaikas tumble from a daze, determined to be
heard above the present roar. Cold steel snaps.
Dreamed swords of hollow armor clink.
Moscow slithers in its slink of Winter snow.
White hands haunt the ancient cold.
The prisoners bow, and sulk, and go.

215. RUSSIA (1980)

The Russia that I know
enchants the frozen trees
until they learn to dance.
Erect, they split apart their
unity, encasing all the seasons
in the bier of ice proclaimed.
The forest sings the tune,
along with all the Earth,
and dances in the melody as well.
The Russia that I know
enchants the frozen world
until all things are dancing.
Held within its fear is
quivered man, lest this
fierce monster should arise.
(Lest this fierce monster should arise).

Friday, February 6, 2009


That Merovingian man is walking backwards,
his head haunched to almost below his
shoulders. Looking much like an errant Ichabod
Crane, he reminds me of every mystery religion
that ever was : charcoal worshippers and peat-bog
goddesses, alchemists with wise heads and
furious fingers, those with great eagles for pets.
The magic hand, the chimeras of soul, all of
those people who disappeared - walking
steadfastly into some grand Bavarian forest
or the slimes of ancient Rome and Paris.
We know nothing. It is all still a very
great mystery.


All at once it hits me :
It is a sad fate, this bitter envy for time and
space. I read some papers just found in an old valise.
They were wrapped in a string I undid. Scraps
flew about - the dust of ten or fifteen years.
I understand now, the gravity:
'Only your beliefs, training and neurological
indoctrination prevent you from recognizing the
true nature of your consciousness while you sleep.
You close out those data. In that period, however,
at an inner order of events, you are highly active
and do much of the interior mental work that will
later appear as physical appearance.
While your consciousness is so engaged, your body
consciousness performs many functions that are
impossible for it during waking hours. The greatest
biological creativity takes place while you sleep,
for example, and certain cellular functions are
accelerated. Some such disengagement of your main
consciousness and the body is therefore obviously
necessary, or it would not occur. Sleeping is not a
by-product of your waking life. In greater terms, you are
just as awake when you are asleep, but the focus of your
awareness is turned in other directions.'
Shadows reach the well of the lawn.
We are edging towards nightfall.
The rotund barometer of your eyes
and heart try bravely to counter the
ceasing of the light. I can sense, also
that beacon within your heart - something
soft and pounding, beneath your cloak.
Thus, darkness and night should be
welcomed...not avoided.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Without even a moment, I can't believe it's
happening again. The radio behind me is
playing Ruggles and Ives - a discordant
harmony I love nonetheless - and I'm sitting
back just listening to what I dream.
To be imagined, in fact, is a whole
entire scene :
the backyard fence, the boldness of the
hawk - which just landed with a noisy
flutter on a tree-limb up high - and the
skeptical eye of every other ground creature
nearby. Squirrels scurry and run. The
rabbits find somewhere to hide. I'm
somehow waiting for the skunk now to exude
its wonderful odor. My intentions in fact
are good : a witness I will be for the
prosecution. 'Your honor, such a life is
a wonderful thing to explain. The varied
hand of Nature at work in every thing.
Were I some Roman God, or a Greek one
before that, I'd have a perfect sequence
for bringing all the good time back : a golden
age, some staggering proliferation of goodness
and bliss. Alas, in fact, all I'm left with is this.'



The sky is a broad, wide arch - something above us,
protective like a cloak. In its context, we are but
a scene, far, far below. Statuary and gardens and
fountains - the things of momentary pause, may look
but like litter from far above - fatuous fragments
on a broad field below. In a way, it's all in the
perspective, that which we perceive : a waxen Heaven,
a deep black space, a wide cosmos all twisting around.
There is no dimension really but 'spiral' - something
unending, which runs over onto itself again and again.
'There is no ending, as there was no beginning' -
it's sometimes said like that; forswearing the bible
and everything with it - those handsomely delineated
starts and finishes, begots and begats. He who did
what when...There's no connection to any of that.
In staring at deep space, while standing as well
in our place, we experience the warp as an old
and perennial favorite - the interpretation of time
as we live it, but seen only as is if Time itself
were real and present. Paradox and conundrum,
working together, to perplex all our days.
We cannot figure reality out, let alone
fantasy's bold shout - to which we
answer 'Onward', no doubt.
This is no seasoned default; instead it's
an attempt to vault the cosmos by reason,
or what we engender as 'sense' and
right thinking. Go ahead, all definitions
will fit if you let them. Every idea, your
own thoughts have fostered......
at this rate, Physics itself
will soon be exhausted.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Each morning I walk up Smallpox Hill to where
Nassau Hall now is. The site was used as a refuge,
long ago, a site for a village, where the people could
hide from the disease-ridden lowlands thought
down below - the river-run marsh, the wetlands
and swamp. Some swaddled miasma of thought,
wrapped in offal and bacteria, the scourge of
contagion and death.
By contrast, it was thought, the high-hill would be
the place to build -- free like freedom from
pestilence and wrath, some inner-peaceful
workings of Man's own crazy mind. So,
they settled there - the little rows of huts and
stores along the old Lenape trail. Now Nassau Street,
I cross that too, each day, free in my way from
contagion and spoil. I hope, that is, to surmise.
It was right here too, where Aaron Burr passed his
childhood days. He's buried here now, just down some
from the site, along with a host of others - lots, in
fact, of notables and local worthies. Sometimes, I
suppose, it doesn't take only Smallpox to
scatter a person's name - any death
will do the same.
Many days I see the sun come up bright,
and strong - cleansing the air with its power
and rays. Other times, on the drearier days, it's
storm clouds and wind, or all rain or snow.
No telling the difference, which way it will go.
Each morning, at some dawn, I walk up
Smallpox Hill and I'm gone...



I do remember being driven
mind-numbingly crazy by the
likes of Winter girls in their
great long coats and their puffy
faces : full-lipped and ringed
with hair. Hair flying loose
or stuffed under hats and scarves,
and - with or without words -
it was a wonderful world.


My brand-new lasso ropes in many things:
this sort of slip-knot is, in itself, an
expression of intent to capture,
to draw things in. All that
crowds about is game to play.
The lariat, the lasso, and all
such circular things -
cast out to the world,
and then brought back.


Having brought its morning light,
the morning leaves that light,
and goes away.


('today' - an ideology piece)
Something horrid like a post-industrial society falling
to pieces, crumbling to its haunches, down on its knees. The last
gasp of some dying man - the kind of things they portray in
really bad movies where the hero is a swindler and his bride
gets all the loot - except in this case the bride, getting raped yet
again, has everything taken from her and has to pay all his bills.
It's a very gentle transparency made up of mirrors, smoke and
the most banal of images put to work for liars and cheats.
We once had bridges and overpasses quite nearly reaching to
the moon. Now, subterranean and mangled as we are, the patches
of crumbled brickwork, lest we forget, are falling down
upon our heads - rapacious rivers where the levees have
failed now taking back what belonged to it anyway, living on
land below sea level and not fit for a dog as we were. The
barricade you only thought you saw was really real -
storm-troopers and cadets guarding the ramps with
submachine guns and camo-pants in their boots.
Silly boys masquerading as something - we douse their flames
with innuendo; weekend warriors caught in a trap. Laughing
back in their stupid faces, we catch a glimpse, only that,
of their terror as it passes. There is no comfort on
that couch. There is only room for more.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Star-power makes up for stupidity, as
olden days carom uselessly forthright.
We think we slumber but it's really death -
and these painted highways circle Hell.
Interesting allegiances save others but not
me. Atop the bookshelf, five books on art
stand completely unused - their sticky
pages still stuck closed with new ink.


Jewels piled up in corners like sugar-cane,
there where the Shropshire Lad once played.
Music behind the scenery, just slightly off-echo -
a melody made maudlin by use. The
cat, curled on a shelf like a letter, heeds nothing.
You and I, by contrast, going at something only
the half-light knows - wild fantastic sex, a rutting
through piles of laundry, a tumble on a wide sloppy bed.
As if needing something more, you take a cup from
the cupboard in another room, and fill it with some
sweet tea - nothing I like - but you, 'needing a break'
sit still while you drink it. That's OK with with me,
having to catch my breath, gain some solace, as I get
ready for a renewed bout of fierce longing.

Monday, February 2, 2009

203. OLD AGE

The hand on that local banner, the one waving
something from atop the shed, reminded me of
long ago : a small town somewhere, honored
only by its own - inhabitants with nowhere
else to go. The church yard and the steeple,
athwart the gated cemetery along the parson's
house (the one given to him for free, in two-year
increments) sought to bring the nearby people
something they'd always remember.
The charm of a winter's river or a summer lawn.
The weak lights across the porch-way, where
two gents sat, strumming old guitars. Singing
hymns was something always just like this:
attuned, harmonic, with ears to catch the sound
floating aloft in the very wind. Gentle maidens too,
I can recall, dressed in white, shimmering in the
sunlight, doing their laundries at the river's edge.
High above everything, some white-washed crazy
cross stood out. The pigs, snorting as they wished;
the ancient chickens, making rubbish out of dirt and
seed. Nearby, lording over all of this, the old folk,
in their pell-mell fashion, made mess of dates and names.
It was a village of the too-old and too-forgotten;
those pacing the surface for what was beneath it,
those biding their time for an ending to come.


I am wearing the beads of my Lord 'round my neck
while the fires are burning around me : the hillsides
are scorched and the shutters afire. Each house along
the line is burning to the ground. Bodies are piled up
like kindle in the mattress; stenching, reeking piles
of flesh too old, it seems, to even burn.
They marked each doorway with red before they left :
those with two marks, it was thought, were supposed
to burn twice - as if that exclamation mark of intent
would even tame a distance at this point. I see the dogs,
clawing, now trying to dig up their own old bones.
In each of the palms of my hand, I too spout little flames -
wavering, compact issues of fire. They harm no one,
least alone me. I am sainted (I was told) enough to
be untouched by the heat. I smolder all day; my intentions
unknown. Protected somehow by the beads around my
neck, I stagger away, seeking my home.



The Mardi Gras beads I saw on the gravestone
perplexed me to no end for hours : a joy to be
joyous in a sad situation, the play of the living
in the dead's own station. Rows of white
stones, somber and sour, with this one
standing out - bedecked in color and beads -
a certain power of taking over the moment of
doubt and sadness, refiguring it somehow in
joy, and staging - in their way - the
transfiguration. Beads and their color,
draped like a flag, on a solid white
marker where Death (only now
perhaps) held its revels. Alone.
Without an audience, or anyone
to witness the act.


(an abstract)
'Living for me is like pulling teeth' -
an orphan of the inner left at Olivia's
bacchanal. Pontiac Solwind and the
Kingfish Quartet themselves playing in person
every song you've ever heard before and they'll
be joyously performing for free in order to support
the cause. And if there's no cause, they'll find one.
But neither will the bankers nor the accountants know
what's going on - SO walk with me down the devil streets
seeking lights between lights and the shadows of
every wall. Step down as we deliver the goods we're
carrying and never ask for thanks or recognition -
merely go about our individual duties invisibly,
sharing the moment together: avenue, street
courtyard and lane in every combination
that exists, and anyone who wants merely
to talk about the old days can have them.
[Dog Bark Little Sarah]. 'Nothing is left;
just give a fire where all things
are tamed.' And at that very moment
the doors of perception, (just as I
figured), slammed shut.


She was as small as they come. He was no bigger.
There was a third guy too, but he didn't matter.
They were sharing a meal - some cold soup from a
large pop-top can someone had given them as I watched.
A big, chunky beef stew, it seemed. Their carts and baggage,
overblown black plastic bags and such, they'd parked near the
entryway, off the side of the station where they'd ducked in
for warmth. Outside, it was brutally cold. They couldn't be
blamed for that. While they were sharing the sloppy slurps,
someone else came by and gave each of them a dollar;
seemed a simple and paltry sum to try to make sense of -
a token, if that, of nothing at all. What would they do?
Balancing that against the cold soup, I'd bet they'd take
more soup. The dollars they each stuffed away. Maybe
they'd pool their money later, in the cold, cold dark.
Did they look forward to that? Jeez, I hoped not.


All that gamesmanship went for nothing in the light of the
midnight moon. I was standing on 34th Street, thinking about
it all, when the thought struck me that whatever I'd
done had already a history of its own. Out of my
control. The light changed and two cars careened into
one another - the drivers got out yelling. The taxi-driver,
wearing the purple turban, tried to remain within reason,
but the other guy was rabid - some young-turk finance
type in a silver Benz, nearly new, screaming about
the crushed door and fender. Almost as if the
whole thing was racial, he emphatically finally pushed
the taxi-guy against his car. A shouting match ensued,
but by that time some cops had arrived, broken it up,
and walked the young kid away. The rest, I figured,
was paperwork and bullshit and not much else.
Today's raging mind stops for nothing - paper, like
elastic, stretches and bends, stories are woven, and
tales head out of control. All for nothing, or the sake
of a dollar, or some stupid explanation of status or
achievement or rank or love. I realized, immediately, that
it didn't matter to me; I never know what people
are talking about anyway.