Thursday, September 27, 2012


I am a bleating hog on your tail,
scented by feelings I can't derail.
I chase your chimerical odor through
weeds and dumps, swamps and ghettos,
and I swear allegiance to the love of you
each day. I've long ago grown deaf  -  to
the pleas of others, the cries of women and
children, and even to the odered surrender
of judges and juries. They can all go to Hell.
I've got new eyes set on the new sun, the
brightness of a lethal sky. The streets are shiney
with the rains, the sewers run fast to the river.
No one cares, nor gives a damn about anything
real at all. I am a bleating hog on your trail,
scented by feelings I can't derail.


This recompense is shoddy, and the
boats are rocking in the water. It is silent
where I sleep : some very old and run-down
room on the sailor's edge of town. Seaport
wayfarer, that's me. It's been three hundred 
years, in fact, since I've left the port. No
matter, you wouldn't believe the way the vain
and the proud still lie to me. A long time ago,
in the basement here, was a dog-fighting parlor;
drunks and violent veterans would bet and stammer
with their vehement tongues  -  about chances of
death, about outlasting time. The filthy curs, all
bloodied and crying, would die a nasty death.
It all still makes me sick, and I'm glad they
closed it down. I cried nearly every night. It
was better replaced, not so long after, by a
second floor brothel  -  a much better deal,
I always said. (Or, as Farley the drunk put it
'first it was dogs, now it's pussies'). Whatever
the situation may be, I am - as I said - still here;
the original ancient mariner who goes nowhere. 
Men are dogs themselves, I only now realize  -  
but it took me so very long to see.


I've always wished to flee with wings, run the 
highest mountain, travel the stars. People say
'go back from where you came' - oh lord, if
they only knew. This last precipice itself has 
downward, as if there never had been any
bottom  -  all like words and truth (the
stuff of which we wash our hands), filmy,
sheer, and always incomplete. I am the dotage
of this human age, this human place. Watch
me out as I watch out : for you, for your land,
for your waters, your minerals, your planet.
Take advantage of the things I can offer.

Monday, September 24, 2012

3898. USED TO BE

I am thinking of that girl with the amazing eyes, and the 
 wire which leads to my mind and heart. I am thinking of  
something now so old it is new again. Here I sit, shorn  
and shackled, remembering the life I think I've already lived.  
It's been said you can't go home again. Forget the 'again';  
you can't go home. This changing of the clocks and changing  
of the guards, and all that Halloween drivel soon to be, all 
of this is a sickness for which there is no remedy. I want
to run away. I want to be gone  -   I want to Tom Sawyer
my way to dissolution like that run-down carcass they
found on the boat. It may be my father, as Huck found
out, but it's of no consequence to me. I am thinking
only of her again, and all those things that used to be.


Just yesterday I met a man wanting to stage the
Mahabharata under two sixty watt bulbs on a stage
cut from cardboard on a raft of fire. It all seemed
inconsequential enough to me to be done.  Lest
we fail for not trying, I let him run his idea out.
Like some silly basketball team on a college-gym
floor, we tried running out the clock, but found it
was longer and stronger-willed than we'd ever be.
Too bad for all that : right then the world blew open
and my words exploded. I was as insensitive as a dog
with a bone could be. Looking about, I sought refuge.
My path led to your boat. Oh Jesus, God of Kings
and Son of God, don't ever fail me now  -  both my
hands are on fire and there's a new tongue of flame
above my head. What am I supposed to do about
that? I talk to the converted and they laugh back in
my face. I preach to the unconcerned, and they
say I'm a crazy prophet. Just yesterday, remember,
I met the man  -  at least he had a mission. Today,
all salvation seems like a long and tedious bore.


Having met time at its oasis, I realize
I care for nothing at all  -  have no wishes
or desires, am as clean and stripped bare
as a zen-featured monk on the way to Nirvana.
Ocular rotation brings me a daze. I reach the
stars with my hands and my hands with my heart.

Friday, September 21, 2012


(all indications are)
'I saw two ants carrying
a drop of water between 
them. I grew really tired
of helping weightless guys.'

3894. NO MARKS (san francisco, 1976)

Driving the ghetto strong, living
along Haight Street, looking for
that Starbucks or Peet's or anything
that hip  -  oh those traipsing, touristy
types. Right on the money, and right
on the hype. It's all in the gloved hand
riding the wheel, turning the chassis
and chain  - go where you feel. No
more crooked than Lombard Street -
every cat down at the heels 
and oh so beat.

3893. A CAR POEM

'Get out of Dodge;
or at least this one.'


If maybe you could do for me
tomorrow what I do for you today
then memories wouldn't hold such sorrow
and sadness wouldn't  hold such sway. That
small-framed Neanderthal coming at me makes
me sneer  -  look at him there. Over on Elmira's
dusty plain, let's recall, Gen Sullivan killed all
the Indians  -  Senecas and Syracuse. They
called him a God then, a truly-talented military
man. They built him an obelisk on a massive,
high lawn  -  like bad luck, all that famous
blood. For myself, here, now, I watch and
listen in rapt attention to everything that 
happens and to what people say : if
you would do for me tomorrow
what I do for you today.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I genuflect too easily at all the graves
of saints  -  but it's the ones of sinners where
I get really carried away. No one says anything,
they just watch. This new northern wind blows
candy wrappers across my feet  -  here and there
something wayward blows. It was, I am sure, once
said that death is sacred, but no more. People are
slobs, of a general condition, and think nothing of
leaving their matter behind. It's all so relentless, this
dining and diving and dying. Everything together and
jumbled, as if there's no room for anything left.
I've always meant to be present at the second creation:
I really want to see how things come to be. The new
wave of a little river cutting rock, the diamond styles
of the new-found light of Heaven, climbing us back to
something we've lost. Maybe it's true about all that,
first time, the try; second time, the folly. It won't matter.
To be sure, there will be someone standing around selling
something to litter  -  coffee cups in Eden II, or another
candy wrapper with the sweetness of Hell entwined.
I'll be the sorry soldier holding his head, sitting back on
the concrete veranda, just pretending I don't see a thing.

3890. JAZZBO

This porkpie hat you're listening to goes nowhere  - 
the head is attached to no neck, the smile wears
a brace. Things are too secure, and you need reliability
not chance. I'm so tired of perfect things. I want abstract
and messy matter; like a Hans Hoffman painting pushing
back against the pull. Dynamic tension, and the power
of will. No stasis here at all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

3889. MEMORY

I broke my sails on the quarter-panel, on
the dark wood where you'd entered your
name in knife-point, like some errant scrimshaw
on the jaw of a tree. The words had darkened
over time, yet I remembered the instant well.
You were as crazy drunk as I was, and we'd
just fallen down laughing. The hand that did
this work still smiles, years later, though you
are gone. The ghosts of these letters linger.
How difficult is it for a man like me to age and
pass on?  -  I'll let you know sometime, though
don't (please) keep waiting on the edge of your
seat. Hopefully, like these letters carved in wood,
I'll still be around for a while. I'll enrich even you,
in memory if not in presence. Well, anyway,
here I am and here I remain. All pleasure.
In the old log book that guy kept on this
boat, in the quarter cabin where he slept,
at the wheelhouse where he watched, 
somewhere like that, I remember being 
twenty with you, watching as he wrote his
notes. We wondered what he had to write
down. All the time, it seemed, latitude and
longitude, and all that dreary stuff. All we
then cared about was this : I knew your
equator, and at what point your blossoms 
bloomed, and you knew mine. Onward
and upward, each day, we sailed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

3888. MARNA

How soon this utopian pledge
elopes  -  with a token hand
and a heart to boot. She is my
sister, she is my love. We are
silent together. All these things
are a force for affectation. And , to 
to those who would wander on the
road for affection : when you see it,
take it. Let us bow to the sun.
Elliptical chords that I try to
undo  -  some sacred music of
a Philip Glass acolyte lost in his
slander: "'Einstein On the Beach'
is incomplete without this piece.'
The dumb lout really said that : the
classical press agreed, or at least
went along for the ride.
Oh Marna. My token hand and
heart to boot - how swell your
utopian pledge elopes. I want to
be all things. I am tender and
hurt, and in love once again.


The whole idea here is one, singularity.
The notion of completeness being carried
by the force of authentic travel  -  like
the flow of the lightbulb's electric current
here flowing through my hands : I feel
a shake and a tingle, yet nothing much
more occurs, though I draw away; and
so many other things are like that too.


Pip to Queequeg you cannot count on differences
to matter, because all things, at some point, come 
together. The large trees themselves they falter
and fall. All life is but a matter of moment.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

3885. HOMAGE

I am duty bound and spell-free to wrangle this
dulcimer from the square I inhabit : black train running
down the track, take no time and don't come back.
We have a kingdom of legion within our mangled hands.
Along the shredded horizon  -  look ! look  -  you will
see what stands. Only this  -  the trestle of dreams
and hope, spanning a cavern of lethal mistake and a
place filled with doubt. I have left your shadow. My
secret is out. Let me stand here and gloat.
I enter the threshold. Edgar Allen Poe sat here too.
We played cards amidst shades of death as I thought
about all his days. In his fingers, even the tea cup
withered. Dark eyes, burning in the gloom.
I never knew where to turn : I lost the shadow in
all the light. My ride was not returning. Walk,
walk, walk, all the distant way home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Yes, of course, it's a well-established fact, people really
can read thoughts but just choose not to. It's much easier.
'I didn't know that, was unaware all the time. 
What do you think I am, a mind-reader?'
Unlike that person, I knew all the time. He'd made it
clear to me in oh so many ways. I carried the blood
for him by merely listening; and our contest ran - 'which
of us us more crazy than the other?' Evidently he
meant it all. I didn't. He was more crazy than me?
I still remain : I like to talk funny to people, say odd
things, and more than once. Contain their curiosity by
going on. That's my test-tube of madness in my little
leftover chemistry lab of words and idle threats.
Watch out now! So...there, maybe it's all
the same. Maybe I'm just as crazy as
him, for staying. The lethal cocktail of
a rifle in my mouth; not for me at all.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Why is it and how? I am walking around, in this 
crazy dream, larger than life in socks and sandals,
neither of which I've ever worn in my life. Never sandals
anyway; of course I wear socks, but with shoes. Just
goes to show you, I guess, how dreams move. I was
speaking my words that came out backwards  -  everything
I did was undone as I spoke. Everywhere I went, I'd just
already left. Each new place I entered, town, village or burg,
expecting something new, everyone already knew me.
I knelt down to cry at sorrow, and found laughter
coming out of my now-standing eyes. I was
famished while I ate, alive while I died. I put
the boat in the water, and the water put
the boat at the bottom. Oh help me,
help me, what am I to do?

Friday, September 7, 2012


'There's a document for every category,' the harbormaster
said that, spitting back his coffee, 'and I have to be sure I
get each one.' On the open table was his bottle of Jack Daniels
and two bedraggled dock-men slumped but cogent. 'They've
been out for four days, running the harbor tugs straight off
the Narrows - no wonder they're dead fucking beat. I'll let
them sit here a while and then sleep it off on the cots in the
back. It ain't pretty, but that's how I run this place.' He kept
walking, me alongside, determined to get through his tasks.
The four-o'clock sun meant business, of sorts. It was
the time of afternoon when things undone tended to stay
that way, and things needing to be done had been done
already. Trouble was, I wasn't sure of the clock. Gulls 
and terns and the rest of the harbor-bird contingent
kept squawking. A few watercraft idled their time and
spit back to the water - a thick, slow grumble, as of
time and the river. Me, I'd been too long gone and wasted
forever to make much sense of the place and the moment.
Being just here meant just being here.
'Roll up your sleeves, take this barrel over sides, and just
roll it along. The liquid inside's gonna' get a momentum, 
and it will do most of its work for you.' Yes, yes, how I
liked that idea. Harbor-men, harbor-men, the very best.

3881. ISRAEL

I have hailed you on the run. All the tribes
of Israel agree, things are what they never
should be. Things are not what they seem.
You can have your pick of either; I am tired
of writing in this hive. Instead, watch me bow
once more to the most ancient of all : the Sun
God, which rules the sky  -  not your warrior
God madman Yahweh, fearsome wartime
jealous military-leader God. So demanding
and utterly foul. Instead of this, the great yellow
sky God above will watch, will watch, and watch
some more, and then burn out. That will silence
all the critics. Then you can have what's left, oh
Israelites : the burned fritters of your meat and
sacrifice, the cleaned solace of blood-drained
 kosher corpses. Above it all, the high God winces.



(from 'Last Time In Luxembourg')

1. Rambunctious palaver: run to the river,
racheting the smirk, bring the hammer and
unsettle the clerk. Leave your name at the
desk, completely mis-spelled.
2. Remember that time at the waterfront kiosk:
the girl bending down to her dog, showing
everything under her skirt. What a moment,
and it was all so foreign and respectable.
3. I tore the hounds-tooth cover in the car we'd
rented  -  forgetting about the knife hanging off
of my belt. Two hours squirming in a seat, digging
a hole like a mouse in the fabric.
4. The man was singing on the edge of the pier -
like a matinee idol crossed with Charles Aznavour
and Deitrich too. Not understanding one word he sang,
I decided to ask for 'Volare'. He grinned, and went on.
5. I went home with the doctor's daughter  -  she seemed
to know everything and was prepared for me to ask why.
Her answer? 'In order to survive, you stupid American jerk.'

Thursday, September 6, 2012


There's a fracture in the stars where sun and heaven used to be :
one unctuous moment now, rotating and swirling like vaunted
cosmic dust. Disjointed things, falling into place, to make the
accidental furtherance of other disjointed things more real.
We add to the disturbance as we pile on. Indefinite objects?
Items not well-defined? 'What is it you mean by all this?',
someone asked the God of chatter. It thundered back:
'Don't ask me that! My goodness now what's the matter?'
Ugly and hollow, and as dissimilar as leaves, we walk the
padded mud called earth, and still we complain on what
we see  -  Age, death, wonder, glee, all caked together
on sordid shorelines all foamy and tan with disgust.
What do we care? And why? This one solid finger
of what we name 'Time' is ours but for a moment
and then  -  by design  -  even it scurries away
and leaves us, over and over, with Nothing.


I don't know the time, and long ago forgot the
day  - things pass like that, they pass away.
That sound I hear in the morning air - the same
people going off to work : the guy in the gray car
with the bike rack on the back, The woman, always
with a bag of food. It all means little to me, less at
least than I can see. I meander instead, to watch the
sun hit the Prospect House trees, the garbled patch
of water and Summer flowers spewing everywhere.
Here's a nickel, take a dime : I hear the old church
on the Limetop corner running its morning bells again;
as if this was some medieval town, I'm supposed to
note the time and give my reverence up to that church's
moment. How foul : they do not know I already do so,
in my way, long before and without them. Hubris like that
should be buried in the churchyard they run; a sick
graveyard of trimmed trees and dried, parched grass.
I can wrestle sin and time, temperance and crime, or
any old vice at all, here there and everywhere, and
any old time as well. I am King of my stupid matter.
The fence-gate is yet open, nothing leaves, but
then again nothing enters either. What great Duality
presents itself to me? I wonder where I wish to be.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Take me down your memory,
ride in your wagon of then;
hold me like you never have
before. I am wilting and fearful
of living regrets  -  by just listening
to you I can live freshly once more.


Yes, yes, I had mentioned you to the magistrate, and
he laughed right back in my face. Angered, I wanted to
rub him out with charcoal, but did nothing at all. I walked
away, simmering my edgy humor in a basketful of
hopes and dreams : oh, when you were beautiful and
young; oh, when I was a stalwart cowboy; oh, when
the world was yet one green meadow. Like forever
ever had a day to waste.
'Please sir, I am poor and dying, can you ladle me
some soup? For too many years I have been out on
these streets, suffering the catcalls of passers-by
laughing. They throw me the quarter or dime they
first puke out their ass. Is there no further salvation?'
Men like that make me think; give me the heebies,
make me nervous as hell and sore in the heart.
I want to lift a baby to the pool, moisten its
blessed head and mouth a prayer for every
future moment the little tyke shall live.
When I was young, I was already old.
Now that I am growing old, I find I
have no interest in being young.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Wandering like minstrels the pouty boys and their
lovely girls bowed down together to enter Rainbow Arch:
love was in their eyes, though for themselves and not
each other. The one girl was eating a chocolate swirl
like it was the end of the world, and one guy kept moving
to something in rhythm; as if dancing, he swayed. I only
saw later, an earbud in each ear. Man goes walking with
music 'midst friends. They finally entered the errant
oasis, and I lastly saw them smiling to each other,
as if each, relieved, was glad to be finished.
In my own heart remain traces of what may have been;
things that I missed, wished not to have said. I understand,
by now, that I myself have arrived, as well, as some odd
crossroads of time where the shadings of all behind me try
now to mesh with a present which tells me there's not
much of a future. It's all very strange. Perhaps I wish
I was one of those kids entering the rainbow bridge,
but I know better than that by now. My heart
has missed that arch some time ago.
I hear the sound of a barking dog, not that
far off, though not so near. Over at the
parking lot, all those festive cars, and
music, and people and dogs. All at once
a jumble : I want to be part of something,
but find myself walking, slowly and 
backwards, away from the noise.

3874. THE WALL

Anybody wants to talk, let them talk. All the
monkeys have left their cages, and there's nothing
left here but scraps of salt-lick and peals of bananas.
The zookeeper's gone home to Peru. Every lightbulb
has learned to throw its crooked shadows at my face.
I listen to see if there's water running, a hose, or a
faucet, someplace to wet my lips. I'm parched and
tired and angry. Lost in a maze, am I locked in this
raided zoo for the night? Oh, no. I look over there :
the panther is lurking  -  it too is free of its cage.
Should it see me and lunge, what happens then? Can
I still be a friendly man, even to unfriendly animals?
I want to cower, but, too brave to show fear and to
scared to be brave, I decide to start talking in tongues.
Damn it all if that panther can't listen and understand
what I say! It answers back, something like 'no worry,
you're not what I came for.' I'm so really relieved.
Now, the morning light has already arrived.
The windows are rising their new yellow
light. I open my eyes and realize I'm alive.
No wall to contain me at all.


(*see footnote at end)
I am missing something, dreary already, 
saddened and down. The skylark descends.
Nothing but crumbs all over again.
Once I did marvel at rivers and lakes. 
Once I did soar with the swallow.  
And now - this report just in - all  
has become dark and hollow.  
I am walking the lame streets. 
This time, Philadelphia has no brother, 
New York City blows the big one,  and
I am stuck at the base of Paterson Falls.
There's an old bust here, of Alexander Hamilton,
looking back at the falls. City of Industry, 
and all that outdated crap. 
This place is a filthy slum of scrap; 
why don't they just call it that?  
c/r 2012
*Confucius had a concept called 'the Rectification of Names', 
whereby when things go wrong it is because there is no harmony
in naming, things are no longer what they are called, and the 
Emperor has lost favor with the God. The concept says that 
unless things are renamed to show a truer harmony and 
reveal by the name each their true self, no good would occur.

3872. SO MADAM

Sometimes a great notion : heard that : doesn't
matter. There comes a time when you stop talking
about where you live : doesn't matter, just is. I saw
Judith today, said hello. She smiled back and we
talked. She's a wonderful soprano who lives in
Princeton; as done a lot of Milton Babbit's work.
She seems somehow a little nervous, but she's
calm as a lamb. Judith Bettina, ma'am.
I don't know why I talk this way : a braying shed
of sheep in my head. Wearing the Wurlitzer I have
no watches to hold; nothing ticks in my head, really,
 'cept my brain. But I want to be free; like a slave in
a cellar would be seeking release, that's me.
Willow tree, weep for me : heard that : doesn't
matter. Whenever it is that they invent a submarine
that can work on land, well then, call me, I'll listen.
I ran into a tall, dark fellow today, he was robbing
hives from out the farmer's trees. 'I seek a honey
that can't be matched; but don't tell the bee-keeper
that.' I wanted to tell him about hives not really
being in trees, 'cept for a bear, but I just let it go.
So, madam, I'm still willing to meet you, just as
we'd planned. Can we make this work?