Sunday, November 12, 2017

Not Knowing

You are reasonably beautiful.
That I intend as a warning.
I'm deceptive as water and sun.
Behind MEN AT WORK signs
I dig myself into a...hole
where dying desires still lurk
like yawning reasonless hopes.
It's safe to die not knowing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

In This Poem You Can Be....

In this poem you can be protected.
Despite what you have just said,
Such grand assertion demands
Proof equally extraordinary.
Unless you were to trust me.
But why should I though?
Nevertheless I can only reassure:
In this poem you can be secure,
In this poem you can let go.
Merely repeating it does not make it so,
Nor does denying it or indifference,
But only what is absolutely true,
And in reality what is the case.
In this poem you can be safe,
In this poem you can be you.
Even if so then what about
That word there with that sharp angle
That reaches out for a stirring thought
That still refuses to untangle;
What about the endless lonely spaces
Between the words with distant faces?
You can be safe—just a hope or suggestion.
I believe that no poem is safe if it speaks
To deep feelings as it must, and if it seeks
To connect to the felt universe beyond;
No poem is safe if it claims to have found
The answer to what never was a question
But a courageous vulnerable expression.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Poem Spread Across a Day

Wrote this line when I woke to find myself
soaked in sweat on a raging summer night.

This one composed with the greatest of care
crossing the ol' Pattullo on a bus
in Richmond where potholes are known to bite.

Told Don this line's my reminder to buy
a rhino on my way home...but instead
wrote this and then forgot to get the toy.

Penned this with Donald's vintage fountain pen
I cried when he then took it back by force.

This scribbled on a napkin I had found
in Park Theater where Paterson played.

Can not recount the story 'bout this one
been sworn to strict secrecy by the shore.

Wish there was a way to describe the taste
of sugar-dusted bleeding dark purples,
berries I wolfed down when I wrote these words.

This line I thought in line till heard my name
from that pharmacist's lips picking her nose.

Can't say much here without breaking the law
Can't say much here without following it
but this...I never could finish the thought.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Human Stain

Par for the course: Hollywood creeps,
threadbare couches, filming silence, cops
that strip...strippers that police: What happens
in Hollywood...
Are we flirting
with disaster?  Madonna:
truth or dare?
The human stain.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Silver Mascara

You apply coats of silver mascara
to the puffy folds about the setting sun.
In the screaming sky mannequins flew.
From the silent soil red flowers grew;
one in the shape of an umbrella,
another: a pointed gun.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Rich Cotton Quilt

On a rich cotton quilt we'd lain, us
like chess pieces: knee to knee,
shadow palms and white fists.  In such states
twitching, in knotted broken chains.  Check!
Our words and joints strategically placed—
not touching.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Friggatriskaidekaphobic

The friggatriskaidekaphobic moves
me to pity so much I laugh the laugh
of vestal vultures, homeless houses, grooved
graves, of the blazing blues, of fires, giraffes.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Punisher

I'm notorious
For punishing my mouth
Loving is easy
except myself
This thing here is my throat
disfigured by fury
Hear the agony in my voice
Despair everts my soul
Luckily too numb to moan
When I'm morose I think
I must be physically sick
That makes it easier perhaps
Very sorry if you're amongst
those who've felt what I mean.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Name

My restless feather-picking cockatoo,
Can you tell why denial veils my ire
(In turn cloaking my fears; and those my shame)
And shame's shrouding my rusting grief? But you,
Confined inside a mesh—of metal wire—
Just raise your crest, that sulphur-yellow flame,

Lift up your wings, then start to pace your cell,
And squawk in bursts, as though your bill’s on fire;
My pet, enough! I care for you the same….
Perhaps beneath my grief some geysers spell
Love’s name!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Waiting

Sometimes without even knowing
you choose not to do the dishes,
and there you are—I see you—
waiting.
Or you do them right away, do them spotlessly,
lovingly, the way only you know how to do,
but always waiting.
I know I’m not the one you would want
to notice such things, but I can’t help it.  I too have
dishes at home waiting.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Internet

Get banned, bite the dust.
End it all, delete your account.
Log out, sleep.
                                 In, to wake.
Live and die
                                 by the internet.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Donne Tell me Not

"Death, be not proud—" "Hey Donne," Death interrupts,
"I'm trying to sleep here!  Don't speak so loud!"

Thankful

I'm thankful for the words
Through whom I've learned to reach
I'm thankful for the birds
Who serenade the beach

I'm grateful for the rhymes
Who give my grief a form
I'm grateful for the chimes
Who salsa through the storm

Been in your debt my song
Who hold my bursting heart
Been in your debt so long
You feel like body part

Obliged to time and age
Who tame events in space
Obliged to pen and page
Who hide and show our race

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Weird Tail of a Whaling Wail with a White Tale

To be exact, I liked the white tale in the tail,
the wild waves, those sounds, save for the whale of the wail.
Some made no sense: I never learned how the made maid
the sea hare happy housed inside the ship’s pail pale?

When you wondered out loud about the weigh to way
a whale in ship full of hey, and when you yelled "hay",
my mind was somewhere else, not hear. I could not here
your views on whale’s pray either.  Pardon me, I prey.

I had left the animals and there plight right their,
since for sea hair and blue fish I care not a hare—
that’s not write, baleen whales are mammal, I should right,
not fish!—Sorry to air, I’m human…I breathe err.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bought the Moon

could not afford the stars   so bought the moon
keep it concealed   fearing burglary
moonlight means not a thing
to me
          having lost
                            my eyes
                                                                            way back              
to        b     r     i     l     l     i     a     n     t              
                            dreams

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Chewed Up Old Pencil

Perhaps I am a chewed up old pencil
but this body had once wrote beauty,
against the page had once sizzled,
a silhouette of seduction satisfying
the white face with sounds so tender
they melted into memory’s honeyed fountains,
had once tickled the pages with laughter,
once filled them with insights of such richness
no books could contain them nor hearts without
whispering them among silences of wonder―
dazzling celestial bodies in the darkness.
This body but I mean that I also
wrote masterpieces even, my
own Malvina and Vanessa.
Here’s something I have learned in my long life:
Whether or not it is turtles all the way down,
it must be pencils all the way up, for we write,
get written, and we’re the means of writing,
and words that move through our chewed up
bones, will have our signatures too somewhere
deep inside their marrow.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pictures

Pictures:
             an empty folding chair to the left
                                                        a tart cherry tree
                                            through French windows
                                                                  to the right me and my chai tea
                                                                             my back 
to camera

Monday, July 24, 2017

I Will Forgive You

Forgive you how I did
For all things you had done to me
Now far enough for heart to see
I never felt what must be touched 
Unreachable
                   Unreachable
         Then                        for me
Forgiving you for
                                                     Who you are

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On the Porch

On the porch the sunshine pours into me
like a bowl of mom’s butternut squash soup
so hot the baby blue table turns white
where scented steam clumps or streaks across but
freezes long enough like a memory.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Emotional Overhaul

How do you overhaul
A mangled self severed
From the fury of libido
Strangling agency
Of ego?

The conscious commander’s left
Those silent bones
Splayed out on the divan
You can see inside
Where the troops have run amok:

Rage in clashes with grief
Paranoia shooting in the chest
Shame digging itself in the rocks
Despair hurling bolts up the clouds
The soul’s powerless but to watch....

How do you into this butchered land
Anesthetize the guarded bounds
Sharpen the sterilized words
Suture these psychic cracks?
How will you doctor
Assemble
                                  Me

                 Back?

Monday, July 17, 2017

I Hear Frogs Croak

A South African lion thundered, roared
at me: Stop! I shall be devouring you!
Shuddering, "When?" I asked the mighty king.
The fiend bellowed: It will be a surprise,
like one's birthday bash…or a fatal stroke.

Oh please have mercy on me, I implored,
sobbing: Is there anything I can do?
The big cat growled back, Not a single thing
can save you, so get up and wipe your eyes,
you look pathetic…man is such a joke.

I stood up slowly—though my tears still poured,
my bones convulsing with despair, anew.
Meanwhile a breeze, perfumed with blooming spring,
passed by, birds sang as sun began to rise,
and spill the warmth of that, that runny yolk.

But what if I kill you, you godless lord,
or end myself, before you could get to?
I’m immortal, the beast began to sing,
and second, as for wooing your demise,
go on, I even lend you my own cloak.

And then the jungle's king retired toward
a red bush, after bidding me adieu.
That mamba hangs as though a tail or string
from some dead-rat tree; here slime lily lies:
split white petals…but those are frogs that croak.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

To Kiarostami

Were you the one driving us sir,
alone, and one by one asking
earnestly...what...to bury you
right there—there!—by that barren sign?
Did you desire to heal, seeking
to find in our refusals lines
that lead to roots, curing you too?
Of what, tell me, your own despair?
Perhaps you were the passenger
who rode with us, the audience—
to whom cinema's for hiding
from self, who hope to find a friend
who'd stop a bit to throw a rope.
But what's the need for this pretense?
I too had seen me in your lens.
Abbas, confess though, was that you?
If not then what are you here for,
close-up or sound take only?  Hope
celestial winds would carry you
to roots at home—or at a friend's....

*Abbas Kiarostami, the world-renowned Iranian filmmaker, passed away exactly a year ago, on July 4, 2016.  He directed, among others, the Palme d'Or-winning "A Taste of Cherry" (referenced throughout my poem), a movie about a suicidal person driving around and asking others that should he go through with it, if they'd be willing to bury him.  I also make passing references to three of his other films, "Where Is the Friend's Home?", "Close-Up", and "The Wind Will Carry Us."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Life's Monorail

Is there a chance the track could bend?
A chance our fates have long been penned?
A chance that hearts would fail to mend?
A chance our meanings won't transcend?
A chance our lives will not extend?
A chance our souls will not ascend?
A chance we've failed to comprehend?
A chance this really is the end?
Is there a chance, my Hindu friend?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Land of the Dying and the Dead

Land of the dying and the dead:
Dead men in holes; undead inside
concrete sepulchres, speeding tombs,
gold mausoleums, paper vaults....

Monday, June 12, 2017

Anxiety's Tightrope

No matter what there is always a door
and a window or two and walls and floor
and all around you things that you can name
even those times they're out waging a war.

No matter what you would still sense your shirt
or your jacket or socks or pants or skirt
to see or touch or hear its rustling sound
or smell the sweat there or cologne or dirt

No matter what the selfless breath moves through
your body back and forth each time anew
and somewhere far the wind gives life to waves
which come crashing against the shore of you

No matter what there's always boundless hope
for new resources and more ways to cope
and not just cope but be happy and grow
and fly on love beyond your life's tightrope

Trampled

When I walk by the trampled hyacinths
I try to right the flowers that been wronged
When life walks by trampling you underfoot
You find yourself affirmed in little things.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My Simpsons Song

As Professor John Frink says, Let
the commencing beginulate,
so starting with Homer's foe, let's begin:
We know where Frank Grimes was livin',
in a room above a bowling alley...
and below another bowling alley.
But did you know, that mouse, Bitey,
spent time in Monorail's closet nightly?

The show's animals that rhyme with Bitey:
Pinchy, Stampy, Blinky, Mr. Teeny,
Yeti, Itchy and Scratchy...Poochie!
There are exceptions like Lisa's pony
Princess, Snowball, Loch Ness Monster,
Plopper, Anastasia (the white tiger
owned by lion tamers, Ernst and Gunter),
Jub-Jub, Mojo...Santa's Little Helper.

But it's not just animals: Think Maggie,
Fat Tony, not Bill but Marty, Barney,
not Selma but Patty, Lenny,
and not Chief Wiggum or Lou but Eddie,
Mayor Quimby, Luigi, Sherri
and Terri, Bleeding Gums Murphy,
Charlie, Krusty, and Hyman Krustofski,
Mary Bailey, that Crazy Cat Lady,
Jasper Beardly, and Groundskeeper Willie
who got the "shinning"—but he did...really!

Some names though end in "man" like Hans Moleman,
Bumblebee Man, Duffman, Radioactive Man,
Kent Brockman, and Crazy Old Jewish Man.
But not quite, the one-armed Herman Hermann.

Names, characters...but there's a third factor:
It's about how good is the voice actor:
Now Roger Meyers was voiced by Rocco;
While Shearer did the bus driver Otto,
the school music teacher Dewey Largo,
and that shocking Dr. Marvin Monroe!
Pam Hayden did that bully named Jimbo;
Castellaneta, Guy Incognito;
and one of my favorites on the show
by the guest voice Al Brooks, Hank Scorpio!

But speaking of guest voices, John Waters,
he did not do Waylon Smithers,
but did his date, a guy named John
(scorned by Homer who worried for his son,
and despite that still adored by his wife,
he changed Homer's mind by saving his life).

The characters voiced by Azaria:
Moe, Cletus, Dr. Nick Riviera,
Chase or Pyro, Disco Stu, Akira,
Kirk Van Houten...and, well, Boobarella!

Fine, I was joking about that, as she
was voiced by Tress MacNeille, and Lunchlady
Doris too, though Doris Grau was the one
who did it, though sadly now she is gone.
The late Phil Hartman and Marcia Wallace
did their roles very well...almost flawless.
No longer here, their achievements endure:
Edna Krabappel, Hutz and Troy McClure...

The show features every faith and color:
The black Dr. Hibbert and Judge Snyder,
The Christian Ned Flanders and Tim Lovejoy,
The Jewish Krusty the Clown, Dolph, and oy
that wealthy and conceited Artie Ziff
who tried to force himself on Marge—as if!
The "miscellaneous" Apu
and Manjula...or rather called "Hindu",
Cookie Kwan of the west side who's Asian;
Richard Gere, of Buddhist persuasion,
as are Lenny, Carl, and Lisa, while Moe
is a snake-handler which means...I don't know.

At the end of the day you must relate
to the characters, be it love or hate.
So, be it Ling or Wolfcastle, one's joy
comes from how you feel for, say, Fallout Boy

I don't feel much for Nelson Muntz or Snake,
but for Milhouse whom Bart can never shake
and for Patches, Poor Violet, I do,
for pale Wendell, even Martin too.
Ralph who called Miss Hoover mommy, ate paste,
and said "burning" when describing the taste
of poison berries, is "learnding", said so,
to Super Nintendo Chalmers.  Although
it is sure quite hard to believe,  when he
still does call a rat a pointy kitty!

Of Homer's immediate family,
I like Herbert, Abe, Mona, not Abbie.
I don't know why but I like Arnie Pye
flying high in the sky. Comic Book Guy
too, the definition of a winner,
so sexy in bed with Agnes Skinner.
The abused Sideshow Bob and Sideshow Mel
despite the former's penchant for eevell,
get some sympathy from me; and Old Gil,
and Cecil, even Kodos and Kang will.
The Rich Texan, C. Montogmery Burns,
which of these two ruthless men earns
our love and liking more than hate instead?
A noble spirit, Jebediah said
embiggens the smallest man.  Right or wrong,
fine words with which to end my Simpsons song.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

First Visit

I know the unyielding nature of the beast,
its sticky and yet far too slippery texture,
made more challenging by the disguises it wears.
Some find themselves awakened to nihilistic truths, others
find sleep every hour a siren song impossible to resist,
and some like the young woman here today
so detached from her own body by these layers of fat,
has no suspicions at all that that she—she—is alive,
but I suspect, no I’m sure, that she is, somewhere
in there screaming in the clutches of the beast.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cherries

The crystal bowl full of cherries
sat proudly right in the center
of the walnut coffee table.
Handsome men in expensive suits
and their beautiful ladies
sat in grand chairs with legs of gold,
while I felt lost among adults,
standing there eyeing the cherries.
I leaned forward and suddenly
a dozen smug eyes fixed on me
dissecting all my graceless moves
as I reached into the tangled
stems of that rich cherry jungle.
So with no time to think I picked
the ripest and juiciest one,
when all at once a loud chorus
shouted at me and I sat down,
ashamed of having mistaken
artificial fruit for real ones.

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.