Thursday, April 30, 2009

slipping, shifting

Sleep's Quick Sands

The sound of sand
slipping, shifting
beneath head,
below heel
as sleep comes
in sonic waves,
tossed and turned,
between suns
burned brightly,
adrift on oceans
soon swallowing
our senses
as they have
the identities
of the dead.

Hold me here
where night lingers,
fingers wet with
tidal desires,
washing over
and wiping away
the day's first
but not lasting
the slight, unseen
of grains,
shifting, slipping
through our
braille hands.

The sound,
the splash
of together again,
over and over,
ad infinitum,
like burials at sea,
drowning out
the sibilance
of our sighs,
the semblance
of our names,
lost to us
for the hours,
the yawn of years,
we lie below
the leagues
of sleep's
quick sands.

photo by john gay, blackpool 1949

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

fragile heart

All That I Carry

I came here with
I'll leave here with

The sunlight can only hold the dust so long
even as I dance across the dirt shadowboxing Death,
forever knowing forever at an end is only just steps beyond.

Angels tied to the ground signing silent reminders
of the fragile heart you hold captive, my only possession,
carried by the Fates up a river rife with trials to lay at your feet.

A tithe to temper waves of sorrow and tamping rains
turning dust to mud, love to loss, where one day we will wallow,
the beautiful ghost of you holding fast to my heart when I am gone.

I came here with
I'll leave here with

Sunday, April 26, 2009

escape and landscape

A Dream, Amaranthine and Arcadian

No pretense here, just the sincere and unshakeable
memories from an engineered landscape still shuddering
an arcadian soul, lodged in mind, muscle and marrow
as I walk this dream I once had when I was still unwillingly
shuttered inside the teeth-whitened bite of suburban development,
peering out at a panorama devoid of old growth trees and
teeming with an unchecked, reckless abandon of endless farmland
falling prey to curb, sewer, sidewalk and sod replicating itself
without aid, an asexual advance flirting with disaster, asleep
beside me where I dreamt these amaranthine, undeveloped acres,
these farmed then fallow, farmed then fallow fields and woods whose
ancient histories are held within now holding mine as well as I walk this
dream I once had when sleep was my only escape from false pretense.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

more real than you

Impostor Lovers : Charlatan Husbands, Fainting Wives

Impostor Lovers you fear us.

You fear our love
as it breaks wide open
like a pod offering
its abundant seed
with undying devotion
to a willing wind.

Paper Lions you fear us.

You fear our hate
as it grabs the blunt
instrument of truth
and proceeds to bludgeon
without any emotion
both kindred and crippled.

Faux Monks you fear us.

You fear our solemnity
as it dips deeper down
into a well dug well into
the back country holds
where holy waters run
through true solitude.

Charlatan Husbands, Fainting Wives you fear us.

You fear our commitment
as it sures itself against
the wandering of an eye
it would rather blind
than indulge to no end
but its selfish own.

Impersonator Friends you fear us.

You fear our friendship
as it strengtens further
to brace us for and
against the unstoppable
drift toward death
where two become one.

Impostor Lovers you fear us.

You fear our love
as it swells our hearts
beyond their own beating
to keep the other alive
if only, eventually, inevitably
in memories more real than you.

jean cocteau's thomas the impostor

With Gratitude To Ludwig Wittgenstein

In Vienna Circles

an osprey soars over the lake,
turning and twisting in the winds,
rising and resting on the thermals

with wings silent in their graceful tilt and tip
well above other birds below whistling away
as the chill of morning dew succumbs
to an overdue and welcome southern flow

warming our winter bones,
thawing the thick ice of hard, cold realities
we have weathered winterlong, closemouthed

like the philosophy we have unwittingly embraced,
hovering overhead, in vienna circles,
unstated, unspoken, understood
and passing over in silence

" Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen".

" What we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence. "
from Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Friday, April 24, 2009

four winds bring the rain to dirt

Bone Marrow Mud

Four winds,
my children's voices,
whispering, howling,

passing through me

like a shiver
that clenches teeth.

I did not chew my own arm off to get away,

instead dismembered in the dark
where none of you could see,

left to tumble down a rabbit hole
and left to wonder

when will the rain begin
behind these four winds,
wash away the scars of a father
and make him whole again?

I find I still can't quite breath in the grey light
of these days.

Taste of tin in a mouth without an answer
but this promise kissed into a collapsing isobar;

I will not sleep until you bury me
and four winds bring the rain to dirt
in a soft patter at first, in a deluge at last,
turning wind and rain and dirt to bone marrow mud.

This blood and clay,
the only connection
to our time here on earth.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

in the blink of an eye

The Jaguar Sun

She stalked the light for the last time
and their room went dark
in the blink of an eye.

Oh, for her to be young again,
hunting the vague glow of
specters prowling shadows
falling beneath the jaguar sun,
pulling back her birch bow and letting go
feathered arrows that never seemed to fall.

The quiver of her only weapon
against a shuddering world
still sends bent light bleeding
'round the curvature of the earth,
up the curvature of his spine
to a light-bulb brain aneurysm
seizing, flickering, hemorrhaging with
memories of moonlight murdered by her
before it could ever reach the ground.

Oh, for him to grow old alone,
blind love groping to remember
the phases of her moonlit face
and finding only fading silhouettes
from when she stalked the light
for the first time, for the last time,
their room growing darker yet
in the final blink of an eye.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

some of our boats still burning

Don't Panic / Something Will Happen

After years of ' watch and wait ',
some of our boats still burning.

Waves form then fall
along a rolling horizon
battering our little armada,
vulnerable in the vastness
we are anchored against.

The changeable weight
of the world shifting unseen
on currents colliding beneath us
and beyond our control.

Holding fast to mast and sheet
we ' watch and wait '
with a will unfathomable
for a favorable wind.

The slight flapping of our tattered flag
whispering with calm aplomb,

Don't panic, something will happen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

a personal chaos theory

The Weight Of Uncertainty And The Certainty Of Gravity

I am still navigating a series of daunting geographies,
demoralized and debilitated by the weight of uncertainty,
in search of a sanitarium rife with supple and subtle respite
where I might just lie this battered body, mind and soul down -

the sweet, soft green of landscaped lawns

the rich, dark brown of furrowed fields

the smooth, cool blue of still waters

- wanting simply to be one million moonlit miles away
from shadowed, chaotic topographies and a wreck of days
still wreaking psychosomatic havoc upon unset broken bones
barely holding the weight of me against the certainty of gravity.

sleep is like a temporary death

Forever Awake

The ghosts we lie beside forever awake
as we sleep the deep, dreaming of the days
before we were born, dying between breaths
that save us from the same fate of forever awake.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the smoke of difficult days

Sky Blue Sky (Living In The Present Tense)

We are finally here,
transfixed by this moment
burning brightly between us,
watching the smoke of difficult days
disappear along with our separate pasts
into the clear, calm and wide of the sky blue sky.

photo: beneath the blue sky II by philipp klinger

sunset over laurel lake


And in this glimmer,

that the face of God
smiles as brightly

when the sun sets
on this life.

photo by rachel goertel

Sunday, April 19, 2009

electric company

Illume Of Bliss

Every hair on our heads
this morning,
sparking electric
arcs of light and bliss.

Dull sun disappearing
across the lake,
relieving trees
of their own shadows.

Taste of cinnamon
in warm winds
reminds us
we too were once children.

Bound by a language
of natural sound
we linger listening
to crickets' Hottentot talking.

We rise to walk,
summoning strength
from black caffeine,
field, wood, ridge awaiting.

European sons and daughters
wandering intuition maps,
instinct geographies,
ephemeral and yet familiar.

Standing near melt-water rills ,
transfixed by their babble,
we speak
of futures still downstream.

We still carry with us
all the mud springs'
stuck fast
to feet through mean seasons.

Tongues seek the bitters
of a kiss
still wet
and sweetening our lips.

Hold each other here
still enough
to sense this mountain
shift less than a millimeter.

Time is a passing cloud
moving across
the sunny days
we exalt as memories over others.

Covet the nights,
the unseen dawns,
fog shroud showers
and the rain that slows the days.

Walking south into wind,
our cold hands
together, electric,
connected to the illume of bliss.

Friday, April 17, 2009


An Already Swollen Harbour

the harboured resentment of a wasted lifetime
floating in the silken grey milk of crepuscular light

memories like matches
burning brightly one moment,
only the slight essence of sulphur
on a shifting north wind, the next

sadness waves from a flagpole in the yard,
loneliness refuses to leave a burning house,
bitterness plants a victory garden in a downpour

the rain swelling an already swollen harbour
of resentment with the sullen grey milk of regrets

Thursday, April 16, 2009

the good book

You Are My Bible

You, with no middle name and no father,
the virgin birth with no star hovering above
for infidels, kings or martyrs like me to follow
and so I canvased the night after night skies
for a sign of you, my opposite gender Jesus,
searched in vain for eight and thirty years,
like a bewildered Bedouin left wandering a desert mirage,
like a wounded animal left howling beneath a druid moon,
taste of lonesome death upon lips so long without
the water turned to wine, the body turned to bread
of Love's communion, of Love's consecrating kiss,
an apostle abandoned by hope, orphaned by faith
until at last saved from myself by your grace,
a spiritual leper freed to shed the rest of his skin
and release a chrysalis soul from a cocooned heart,
resurrection like butterflies escaped from a cage of ribs
reincarnated as doves roosting in the peace of your pages
where I read your revelations, sang your psalms, prayed your prayers,
turned epistle into epiphany, divined aphorism from apostasy,
this James The Lesser found no longer bound by King James
and a version of apocalypse sown from the seeds of despair,
an apocryphal, self-fulfilling prophecy swept to the four winds
by you, the word made flesh, my salvation, for you are my bible.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

from A to Zzzzz's

Sleep All Summer

I may never be a better man than I am here tonight
with my head full of wasps and plans to sleep all summer
so I can dream of your love raining down, beautiful and cool,
to relieve the sting of another June through August without you.

Monday, April 13, 2009


At The Drive-In : Day For Night

in the abandoned drive-in theater of my former life,
the sun slung low and sinking fast behind

the torn-screen flicker and stop-start glitch
of scenes jump cutting across broken sprockets

and a series of seemingly unrelated edits
begun at dusk winding down toward a new dawn

where even day for night could not quite hide
the nervous breakdown behind a marriage unreeling

photo by weburbanist

the acorn of a poem planted

Upon Recalling An Evening With Stanley Kunitz And His Wife

At dinner,
twenty- some years ago,
in a Manhattan eatery
with the poet Stanley Kunitz
and his strange and lovely wife,

You look like a Native American,
where is your family from?

She asked, taking my hand in hers.

Earlier that evening,
after shooting part of a documentary
on her famous husband in their small walk-up,
Mr. Kunitz offered me a tall tumbler of straight vodka
and his glass in an emblematic toast to the moment.
With one eye over the lip of my own, looking for a cue
to the etiquette of a ritual he had engaged in with all manner
of famous men and women in this humble kitchen galley way,
decade after decade upon the very floorboards beneath my feet,
I followed the great old poet's lead and continued tipping
glass to lip, the white light bare bulb burning overhead,
the white hot distilled spirits burning my throat,
singeing sinus cavities on their way to where
poetry lies in ephemeral pools of inspiration
waiting for release even all these years on.

North Dakota.

I replied, her other hand atop mine now,
Mrs. Kunitz' gypsy eyes locked in a trance
with my own, dull brown and drunk punched.

I knew it Stanley, I knew it. We are dining with an Indian.

Stanley, distracted by the sudden appearance of the waiter,
offered a half-nod before motioning for a round of drinks
with a wave of his weather-veined, liver-spotted hand.

Vodka, straight-up, all the way around.

Mrs. Kunitz squeezing my hand,

Tell me all about North Dakota, dear.

The night devolving into a fog of family histories
and anecdotes from a Nobel Prize winning poet
and his mistress-cum-Mrs.-cum-muse whose hand's
slightness I can still recall sitting here years later
reading The Testing Tree, 'native-blood' stirred by

Once I owned the key
to an umbrageous trail
thickened with mosses
where flickering presences
gave me right of passage
as I followed in the steps
of straight-backed Massasoit
soundlessly heel-and-toe
practicing my Indian walk.*

*excerpt from Stanley Kunitz' poem The Testing Tree

Saturday, April 11, 2009

un segreto della famiglia

The Lost Art Of Listening

You never knew I was there.

the wind rattling a flagpole

I always hated the holidays.

each one of us in a different room

It never got any easier.

indifference passing as family

You never knew I was there.

yet we all heard the wind

Friday, April 10, 2009

one and one is three

And So A Son Or So A Daughter

and so a son or so a daughter from somewhere unseen,
from just behind a stoic stand of budding beechwood trees,
from just beneath a setting sun's rippled reflection sinking

out of sight,
never out of mind,
beyond imagination

from somewhere when we first met,
hiding in the fog of our two shadows touching

from somewhere in our struggles,
waiting patiently for two to first become one

and so soon this one and one will at last become three
and so a son or so a daughter from somewhere unseen

Thursday, April 9, 2009

it's only 'rock' and 'roll' but i like it

Seven Easters On

The rock, rolled away and revealing
a kind of crypt at the end of a path
of self-inflicted self-destruction.

My dusty footprints barely there now
and leading away from all we sacrificed
to be together seven Easters on.

photo: 'the empty tomb' by rich legg


Waves Of Mutilation (There Is No Sunken Treasure)

There is no sunken treasure
beneath your bottomless ocean.

There is no X-marks-the-spot
upon the incomplete map of your heart.

in your sea's cruel depths,
unrepentent and unrelenting,
I have suffered a thousand slow deaths
adrift upon your unfathomable latitudes,
leaving me delirious below a cannibal sun
blistering, ravaging the very flesh of my soul,
sucking the carnal knowledge from my loins
as I swallow saltwater in a delusional effort
to hold on another day, another year, another decade,
desperate not to succumb to your unforgiving undertow
and its suction pulling me under again and again
only to spit me to the surface where I survive
by the sheer force of a will treading waves of mutilation.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

At Play in the Fields of the Lord

Gospel Oak

There is a field beyond these woods
hiding all manner of the unseen
within its folds, within its thicket,
within its hutches and burrowed holes.
Without a sound I have made a secret life
in these surroundings, quietly, patiently
building a new way of being,
silently constructing a shelter
against the wind and rain of sad memories.
Mineral rich waters from years of ice
around this heart melting, flowing
underfoot and through my veins,
baptizing me, birthing me anew,
born again within a rural religion
fashioned from perseverance
and practiced like a craftsman,
meticulously carving a gospel of oak
from a lone shade tree planted 100 years ago,
delicately weaving the fabric of my being
from the thistle, heather and wild grasses waiting
in the hushed chapel of this field beyond these woods.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

like a prayer

All The Tired Horses

measured in my movements

each motion like a prayer




taking days to drop to my knees

before your temple at last

inhaling the long, slow breath of you

and in this moment of grace

a betrayal, a denial undone

fire frozen in an arc around a martyr

four horsemen rest and water their horses

In Memory Of John Updike (1932-2009)

Epitaphs In Granite

Run rabbit run, Updike is dead,
His unwritten pages on a pyre
Turned to ash, turned to smoke,

Turned to layers of earth left untilled,
Turned to grey fog not unlike a ghost
Lifting over a New England field of green

Where rabbits run between headstones
In the fading, failing of twilight falling
Across our final lines, our epitaphs in granite.



rummaging, foraging,
the dark for your light

incandescence unrivaled

glowing brightly beneath
these sheets, your skin

Sunday, April 5, 2009

the imagined art of me

Lament Of A Post-Impressionist

I am no good at drinking anymore
and all the punch-drunk nights I tally from memory
bring a grin but nothing more than rum-soaked regrets
flagging a ride on a lonely road in the middle of a town
full of weekend revelers and beer-drowned dreams.

I want to see the sun and its star slung savage light,
not some Monet-Manet impression of what lies ahead,
overhead the blue beyond blue of sky belies comprehension
of wasted nights and Sundays spent in the arms of lethargy,
for the thrill is gone if ever it was the imagined art of me.

man's best friend

Dog Day Afternoon

My dog you lie sleeping,
more content than I will ever be.
My god, you know nothing of
days, weeks, birthdays, weddings, death, divorce.

Your disappointment lasts just a moment.
Forgetting you didn't get to ride in the car,
not even wondering where I went, greeting me
with the same electric enthusiasm whether I am
arriving home from a clock's slow crawl across eight hours work
or from the minutes it ticks while taking out the trash,
all the same to you it seems to me in a dog day afternoon.

If only I could forget so easily,
the slights, the slanders, the longing left waiting
in a memory eager to retrieve,
no matter how far I have flung
the sticks and stones that broke my bones,
their names and faces fetched,
etched in a brain forever reacting to a bell
sounding, ringing with the sting of resentment.

My god, to be you my dog,
knowing tomorrow is not even a conception you conceive of,
that yesterday leaves no mark and today happiness is assured
in a walk through fallow fields where yesterday, today, tomorrow's
memories are carried away by a wind and your fleeting sense
of their scent soon forgotten, sparing you again and again
the collective scar-tissue that marks your master's skin.

walk with me today

The Last Jaguar

vast stretches,
a continent.

On a collision course with indifference
where one becomes none.

Walk with me today though,
steps behind,

Your ghost
as menacing,
as misunderstood
as when you roamed the high and low,
never knowing your own pale stalkers
were never more than one step behind.

photo by emil mccain

Saturday, April 4, 2009

idly dreaming

In This Gentle Hour

In this gentle hour I am alone
though somehow your love pervades,
sheltering me from melancholy and wind gust
whipping folds of mercury, flaps of grey flannel
across the lake, painting windows framed by walls
where inside, safe and sound, I sit quietly listening
to my mother's voice through an answering machine
which somehow manages to mask her advancing age
and the burden of my father's dementia not easliy forgotten
here in this gentle hour where I await with calm idle your return
while we are still young and idly dreaming of growing old together.

young lust, naive love

From A Poison Well

right there in our little yard,
asleep for years but slowly stirring
awake beneath a flowerbed of bleeding hearts,
the water of blessed union running red and backwards,
vows flowing in reverse turning virgin white to scarlet letter rust,
young lust, naive love withering along with grass where we once lay
before the beginning of the end began its leaching from a poison well

Thursday, April 2, 2009

an ocean empties

Lovers On Our Backs (In A Salton Sea)

when you surrender,


beneath the weight of me,

waiting patiently

for the wash, the roar, the hum,

somewhere an ocean empties


only to fill again

with the sweat and moist

of collapse,

in waves upon a beach, upon a bed,

leaving you and me,

lovers on our backs,

emptied out, asleep and adrift

in a Salton Sea.

painting: pablo picasso's 'the embrace', 1903


You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself

You know me better than I know myself,
My tics, my fears, my less affected moments.

You hum me like some warm and reassuring tune
I don't always recognize from the opening notes.

And even though I have spent years inside this skin,
You know its bruise and blush better than I ever will.

You wear me like some torn tee-shirt I won't give up,
Well aware of the soft, the sweat, the stain, the security.

But beware my love for I am not always who you think,
To know me is to not always love me, but somehow you do,

For you know me better than I know myself,
For better, for worse and, for all I know, for myself.