Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Empire of Fire

Falling asleep by the dying flames
of a faux-stone fireplace,
I found myself inside an empire
of fire, of faceless soldiers in flight,
the clashing embers above the ashes,
raging meteor showers, shooting lights,
sonorous lamentations in the air
above where ashen parents lie,
and I heard peaking hollers
of children burning with desire
to join the ranks of fighters in the night.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tock-Tock

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock….
Old Adams and Eves on the ageless rock
awash in oceans that spit shells and muck.
The shrinking Earth can never run nor walk
as wilful living do around the clock,
so it must spin and spin as timeless talk.
***
It’s late at night, I’m counting sheep, a knock,
it's wind? I thought of Keats’s sweet hemlock.
And sleep has fled.  A tick…though not a tock.
My kitten's, on the windowsill yawning
enframed by stars where no human race is,
no Eliot's cat, one who could disconnect
nothing from nothing. Sleepy…nothing...tock.

The Lab

We're waiting to hear our numbers.
Later we brace ourselves for stings.
I saw mine smacking its thin lips,
Looking like a fat greedy fly.
All around I see perspiring bodies
That fear how they'll be graded
Under judging microscopes shortly.
There never is an essay portion,
Defending your brokenness.
This feels like a beauty contest,
No chance for old hearts and livers.
The red ink is most unforgiving:
Fix these and come back again,
Say the numbers looking very grim.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pieces of Me

Some were left behind like the ones smeared on
backs of teachers' heavy hands in autumn.
Some where lost like the ones in red petals
of those tulips risen among the rocks,
my childhood springs in the construction sites.
And between cars beneath mulberry trees
lining the back alleys, in the presence
of us all playing ball in late July.
In Panchatantra, and Jules Verne's fancies,
in goodnight kisses every single night….
But now I stand a  porous skin only
wrapped around absence that festers and spreads
a nameless disease that tears through the past.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Earthly Carnival

I revel in repetition, I do,
like revolving around the lovely sun.
What Earthly carnival of life, these pine
valleys, these rural grasslands, rolling plains,
velvety rivers, groves of olive, beds
of wildflowers, these woods where lions roar.
This Ferris wheel of soil contains souls too—
in wrinkling skin, pumping their failing hearts,
who hold on tight as Earth circles and spins,
and sun takes in the sights and smiles once more....

Thursday, April 27, 2017

To the Thief

I'll be brief.
This, to the thief
who stole—to my grief—
my Kobe beef
and ate it here
guzzling my beer
with no fear
that we will hear:
Your worse crime
was adding the lime
and all my thyme!
Hope you do time!

Think

Think Belgian chocolate, caramel, fudge,
pomegranate pistachio, mango-peach....
Think ice cream melting and a stranger's touch,
think taste of salted skin, a moonlit beach
that licks the foamy whites of ocean's reach,
a breeze perfumed with rotting kelp and fish.
Think waking cold and hungry...no, don't think!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

At Last to Feel Regret for Having Killed

At last to feel regret for having killed
myself, flesh and soul, systematically
over the years, though slowly and with care;
to peel that onion, drill through the numbness,
discovering jagged fossils of rage;
with surgical precision discharging
the ancient grief blocked by congested pain;
to find the core of self-flagellation
concealed within a fog, now lifting, rain
soaking my face, and bless me, thus washing
away the guilt and loss, dissolve their chain.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Childhood's Monsters

Beneath my childhood bed myriad monsters
lurked nightly in darkness, hidden horrors....
Oh how simple was life for the young me,
life's monsters confined in space and in time.
Mushrooming they've colonized every inch
of my insides now, of the world out there,
blending in when need be, profess honor,
ones that look like me, ones in modest robes,
in Kiton suits, fatigues, dirty tatters...
some even capes!  Who to trust when I've known
monstrous hearts in some, some their monstrous brains?
But monsters live too inside chance and fate,
deep in the deafening hush of the world
where air, with or without you, keeps its form,
the sun's forever sun and the moon moon,
childhood's monsters gulped as if breaths in storm.

Do What You Love

Looking back at me, the slight counselor,
her head framed by thick shelves of dusty tomes,
strands of her grey hair stuck to her collar,
her crinkled dirty-blue eyes twitching still,
too dim to guide my heart’s drifting vessel,
said to me, “Do what you love,” in a tone
as though coming from bottom of a well,
not a shout, but an echoless whisper
of love that lives only to speak these words,
for when it stops it’ll recall the thirst,
heart afloat in ocean of salty tears.
So she drank her coffee and asked, Who’s next?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Two Elevenies (Sentence and Chaos)

Sentence
Demands order
Inside the bars
Of consciousness and universe
Escape
--------------------------------------
Chaos
Destabilizes perceptions
Here and there
No there and here
Graspings

Last War

Entangled roots
And barren tongues
A ground with bounds
Buried in soot
Corpses unsung
Gaspings of young
As grudge is crowned
Failings compound
The selves construed
Get gutted good

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Fable (The Proud Eagle)

An eagle, famous, glorious and proud,
majestically descended down toward
the water, caught a common carp, between
colossal claws, but then before it climbed
toward its kingly nest high on the peak,
a voice had spoke, “Sad you’ve settled for me.
You whose dignified name would chill the sharks.”
Offended now but not finding the carp
worthy of answer, thus choosing instead
to drop the carp, go on seeking to find
a carp worthy of filling such gizzard.
It circled ‘round a few times till it found
a bigger carp, and caught it in its claws,
just perfect for a proud respected king.
But soon the mumbles came, “Consume me fast,
you bird whose name had truly scared me once,
so others won’t witness such disgrace,
ruler of skies once now here eating this!”
And so the bald eagle circled again,
and struggling harder with the latest one,
each bigger and heavier than the last,
while growing hungrier, and much fatigued.
At last in picking up the biggest carp,
it lost control and sank into the sea,
unwilling to let go and so became
a mess of rotting fat without a name,
and food for worms that laughed at vanity.
There’s lesson in this if you want to hear:
Let go of pride that weighs you down to death.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Growing Tomatoes (a georgic)

To grow tomatoes one needs fertilize the soil
Five pounds per hundred square feet, five pounds of limestone,
then mix them into the top layer of the soil.
Choose robust dark-green seedlings only, and choose short.
Plant in rows four feet apart.  Don't plant when it's cold,
they're killed by frost, when it's 32ยบ or below.
They need an inch of water a week, and eight hours
of sun each day.  You can apply mulch to control
the weeds.  Farmers, don't forget to pray for showers
and praise the sun and the moon and the blameless soul
of the universe so that your plants grow in full.

The Wastebasket

A black colored wire mesh basket—
Inside which some words on crumpled
pages I’d forced into arranged
marriage of rhyme and rhythm, jump
now for joy though it’s hard to see
their friends crossed, some torn to pieces,
thus they taste bittersweet freedom,
saved from the ever scheming mind
of I the struggling poet—sits
in the corner next to my desk
across from the open closet,
where I keep stacks of lined paper
and many dozens of black pens,
and holds words prisoners, those words
who refused my orders and rules,
rejected my concepts and plans,
endured my threats and abuses,
were free at last to simply be.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Accident

He seemed, well, almost good today.
Toivo, you can't get your hopes up.
Yes, but his face wasn't sallow—
Is that one yours?  I take mine black.
Yes.  No, this one; with two sugars.
The doctor though was such a prick.
They love being told what to do.
He's my only child!  Just because—
Don't say the word Kukka, please don't.
I think your coffee's getting cold.
Rest assured I will sue the guy.
Kick him, myself I'll knock him out!
No need, I will do everything—
A mom's knuckles can beat blind courts.
I hope his surgery goes well.
He's a boxer!  I need a smoke.
I need air too...stuffy in here.
Don't forget your coffee, let me—
Oh, do you see that leaf in front?
The scarlet one?  One on the car?
Yes, Del's lips used to be that red
Where's my smoke?  They will be, Toivo.

My task

She quoted someone whose name I forget,
something about her tasks being akin
to the torture of…someone…Sisyphus!
Speaking of endless repetitions, clean
becoming soiled and then the soiled made clean
over and over and over again….
Staying in Germany then with the kids,
still in my 40s, she in her 30s,
one of us had a lot of growing up
to do and now I know it wasn’t she.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Just a Game

We sit by the unlit fireplace
the crystal chess set between us
I say your move Lilith oh you
coquettish devil I'm thinking
to myself hope you don't recall
my blunder in the opening
So that's why you called up my ex
Yet you chuckle as you punch "that"
then take my white knight and roar check!
"Well..." I start but is that a trap?
Let it go or explain myself?
We're even now bishop for knight
The exchange though easily won
too tempting so I make a move
make up an elaborate tale
take your rook with my other knight
Right away you say mate in four!
Oh never leave your king exposed
Then add that your ex called today
played our recorded call for her
From here on every move is forced
adding you badly lose this one
but remember it's just a game
You leave I notice I'd been forked
My heart and brain I'd lost them both

What will grow in Aleppo? (a 5-7-5 haiku)

Life born from Tigris,
yellow asphodels, tulips.
Scent of sun-dried blood.

Memories

memories are bones we find
inside unmarked burial grounds
when digging for fresh water

memories are Frankensteins
fragments forced into sense
their last words your lips her scent

memories are misleading brochures
tales with no beginnings and no ends
sickly ghosts needing doctors or priests

memories are abandoned rusting rails
they’re circuses of snapshots and sounds
floundering zoos of beauties and beasts

memories stretch from depths of the brain
through blood and flesh and through bones
like a meandering poem looking for home

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fingertongues

On the paper I walk on my fingertongues
this is no way to live I wish I didn't have to
hunt for words all about me
and jump from one to one as though a frog on a pond
my fingertongues projecting to swallow the meaning
before making another jump
here on a lotus leaf enclosed by stagnant waters
of unconscious white page I fear
falling in.

Life of a Poet

Producing poetry is like pushing an empty pen
Right into your guest’s sinless heart
Write as the horror in their eyes
Dulls engulfed into death
But pray at their dargah
Notice it is your own
We poets worship
Ourselves first
We murder it
Again and
Again

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dictatorial Systems

Some system circulates
propaganda and sh*t
What must be excreted
instead force-fed
People can’t be trusted
to digest unprocessed…
The system’s immune yes
but is nervous no less
reproducing itself
forever and ever
The system-muscular
does not fear the hater
but people who still care
want to help each other
as though this foul world were
a functioning body.

A Rubaiyat

In smiles you've shared here penning lines that speak
Your kindness, nobly shared, when all is bleak;
In words that soothe as petals from a rose,
Lip-smacking as a drink in Furnace Creek;

In letters that you've sent me, graceful prose
Of promise lining where your spirit flows....
Drunk on your vision, virtues of your will,
I'd love to read the life your eyes compose.

A pebble, but inside your words a hill;
A weed, though in your eyes a daffodil;
Digest my cosmos for my open beak!
Postman's my dealer, your mail's my pill!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees

At daybreak sauntering along a blind,
My eyes were drawn to something odd behind
the silver gates there, giving off a sheen,
a soaring tree with leaves of grayish-green.
I saw...but no!  It can't be that...it can't!
That Mr. Andrew Jackson?  Franklin...Grant?
Saw thousands of them swaying in the breeze.
Let's go, dad said, money don' grow on trees!

De Niro

Mr. Robert Anthony De Niro
Has always played the tough-guy type hero.
They say when his daughter said her first word "daddy",
He looked severely at her: "You talkin' to me?!"