POEMS 1988

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30 MINUTES

Into 39 I pause & take a break

To toss these passing thoughts like

Leaves into great salad. Like life

At 30 minutes, Sophie was whisked

Into Intensive Care, my mother’s

Mother died in childbirth, and Truth

Or Consequences, no I take it back,

The Price is Right, today became

The Longest-Running Half-hour in the

History of Recorded Time. I’ll sit

On this, you stand around, & that’s

The way it is, 12:36 am, 10 March 1987.

 

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FUR ELIZABETH & STUART & EVERYBODY ELSE

The kids!  The kids won’t go to bed anymore!

& it’s not the ones who are 18, sure they

Won’t, & I wouldn’t either when I was

Their age — why, I wasn’t even a kid at 18,

I was a man, much more of a man then than now,

If being a man means being el jerko which it seems

To in 1988: The Twilight of the Twentieth Century.  No,

I’m talking about you’re one year old & there’s a stranger

In your room, & you’re yelling and screaming at Life as it

Pulls you through & only your mother can tell you how. Now,

Now. As, meanwhile, a Cool Guy of barely turning 40 today,

Actually – Happy Birthday! like a flame in the sky, fog

Rolling over the Second Peak taking second peek at Elizabeth,

While she’s not watching, one foot barely touching the ground,

The other

               is nowhere to be found. For stability’s sake

We have to move time zones like fragrances, or bees. That’s

What we’ve got noses for, to keep ‘em busy as bees,

Like the hive of us, here, pumping out Thought’s blue sky —

Inflatable Memory, rugged Truth, no BS, all in a mesh,

Shit! What am I talking about?! I’m not a poet at the party,

It’s a party — & I’m never going to go to sleep again! Either.

 

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ON TURNING 40 W/ A PARTY

       (& A COLD)

       (& WRITER’S BLOCK)

        & FEET CLEAN & SHINY LIKE ASKING FOR MORE

“Madness invited you here tonight!

Personifies a year of my life

Spent it in a mausoleum

Year one: No memories – linoleum

39 more crawling to this old cold curb

Carrying my father’s body to his perch

A shot of overreaction waiting in a glass

Simple trip to corner: Future, meet Past!

Aiyiyi-alliances of Birth & Death scuttle the phone

Feet clean and shiny like asking for more

Man the manifestos! There are limits to experience

Still jumping out of windows, falling forever delirious

The breeze has a warm spot in it

The bird flies into the room

“Nothing inspires! Everything bothers!”

I’m not a poet?- who cares! Night rocks moon

 

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A WEDDING TOAST TO JON & OSA BOROFSKY

Here in Japan, the decaf cappaccinos!

The Swedish tangos! The disco chandeliers!

     Resonating rainstorms

          On the darkening Swedish plain

So we gather for the photo

“The Life of the Artist is the Art of Life”

     A Toast to Time! as Bride & Groom

          Become Husband & Wife

 

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BOULDER

     for Bob Moskowitz

 Two guys try to lift a rock

 Their dog howls at the moon

“Is that the sun or the moon up there”

“I’d like to help you fellows, but

 I’m sorry, I’m from out of town”

 Red Cross (black on white)

 

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CHANGING THE FUTURE OF US CULTURE

Just what the world needs

It’s what the world needs

Another poem and no irony

Everywhere the poems are falling

Drifting to earth on windcurrents

Charted by poets who want the poems

To fall into the right hands, we want

The poets are always wanting, we want

The hands are folded & the poems slip

In and take root and begin changing the future

The future of US culture as much as TV, eyes hunger

For poem, eat poem, nourish this dream that we’re awake

 

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COME ON

Here dear hold this Real

Loose and unwrap that Nice

Touch you got there Now

Brush the rush blush the Same

Skin dear it’s not the Same

Hum yumma yumma

Hum yumma yumma

Throw the bucket out Out

Open the shades shout Shout

Catch shadows and laugh Hoot

Plow the walls dissolve Hot

Everything solid melt Hot

Hum yumma yumma

Hum yumma yumma

Barrel honey laps Tongue

Quicksand red spice mouths Mouth

Jumpstart volcano go Go

Uncover cover lover Agree

Come on come on, take it from Me

Hmmmmmmmmm yum yum

Hmmmmmmmmm yum yum

Hum yumma yumma

Hum yumma yumma

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

 

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CUPID’S CASHBOX

Mutual disenchantment was setting in!

As if water would dissolve love like

Paper – & what is paper, Love?  What is

Under your hat.  Guess the riddle which is

Never snuffed out so that it may burn

Longer: Happiness is mortal.

I want to be your girlfriend.

The Reader’s egotism demands that emotion be served,

Not second helpings of wit.  Already the water has begun

To lift ink from the page, turning it into weak

Ink, black water, blank page.  Sure I know smelling

& thinking are the same thing, but as some brilliant

Critic once croaked, “What does it mean?”  It means

Exasperation, a goat on a well searching for a fig leaf.

You can believe it in the morning

Even as you cry yourself to sleep at night.

You can write it all down

But the words are all made up

As lovers do, continually….

How sweet the jasmine in the blue evening!

Much too sweet, it is true, under this bitter moon.

Ebbtide is rushing in as we sit on the dock of the bay,

Having forgotten how to swim.  We know.  We know it all.

We know up, we know down, we just don’t know which is

Which anymore.  That is the noon whistle, I mean the fire

Engine’s siren.  I say, even the cicadas take a break.

Indeed, I know what love is.

It is no secret, but you must

Forget it as I have to pass it

On.  She read my future in ant hills.

I wrote a novel in the ashtray.  In

It the world was ashes, but the ashes

Could grow.  You could burn them, they

Would turn into trees which never stop

Growing.  Trees are people, too.  They watch

Our every move.  They have roots.  They appreciate

A nice rain.  . Uncomplaining.  They know how to

Say goodby.  When we die, trees grow

From Our hearts.  Burning.  Turning to ashes.

 

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DES MOINES DAWN

Talking about coffee over coffee

     after coffee

This is morning, you forgot

How memories can steam

     in a hot quiet cloud

A blue line falls across love’s

     face, as if the diagonal were

          a new direction

The only direction we’ll ever need

Is up, as in get up

Out, as in get out of bed

For now, it’s a cup

     with two handles

Horizontally yours,

Wish you were here and you are

 

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ENCHANTED I’M SURE

How kind to allow tongue to caress ear!

Enchanted, I am sure. Of course – wipe it

With this cloth, I am sure. Provided for just

This purpose. Causing flesh to pink,

Create new skin of smear.

The torch of physicality – Burn! phosphoric Presence! -

These restless words bind to your ear,

Not only to hear and be heard, but bear

And be born, as in “bear with me,” as

In “bare our souls as we twin” as in

“Katy, bar the door.” One thing does

And does not lead to another. If

You could only hear what I see, what a world

It would be. Not only beat-up and dented,

Pocked, dimpled and splattered, but plowed

And furrowed, with little green things growing

Across the mossy plain – that is your forehead,

My tablet, and clearing now, a clearing, a place

To sit and think, quiet now, hush ear.

 

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EPITHALAMIUM

         for Joanne & Chip,

 Landfall, 7/27/88

The Magic of Life! is that it isn’t

Magic at all, but Implacable Inexorability

Leaves plenty of room for us to invent

Grand dreams of the Fantastical Paradisiacal

Our minds make up to be Real Deal, that is,

Our Lady of the Kimonos & Our Daddy Who Art

Not Anywhere in Particular, even as the waves

Bring ripples with them, fortunately, & meanwhile

At our toes, it is up to us to interpret this

Lapping, a task required not by the Sea, but by

Ourselves, reinventing the World as Paradise

Humanized, possessed by us, even as we know

That it is we ourselves who are possessed,

Not by Magic, as we’d guessed, but by the World

Itself: at one with it, just as we sleep,

Becalmed, as in Love, where the Beloved’s

Secret is to be the Lover, even as the Waves

Continue rippling still in the deep arms of Night.

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EVAVA!

             from Sophia Murray Holman

You make up a word

Then you say, “Evava,

I love you!” So the word

Is blue, very blue.

Now what? Do we say

“Green? Very green?”

What color does green and red make?

Does blue and red make?

This is a question for you, Evava.

Your papa is a poet

Just like mine

Your mama is a painter

Just like mine

What color does green and red make?

What color does blue and red make?

This is a question for you, Evava.

Happy birthday, Evava!

 

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NOT FOR LACK OF UNDERSTANDING

Have I come to you, nor from trying

To appease the habit of touch.  This

Is not just to say, or talk myself over

A cliff, step step.  Once I loved you

I couldn’t be stopped, slapping the breakfast

Onto the floor & then kick it out the door

Down the stair out on the street.  Just following

The little scrambled egg scraps washing downstream.

 

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GREECE

To sleep in – tick-tock.  I can’t set the alarm for your next emergency,

It will emerge in a going of blush some hot o’clock when Love is finally

Unrationed and joins her cousin Irrational.  We must go and pull out the             poison

Ivy, friend, hand by hand.  Then we will walk across fire, save the icon            in the pine

Forest, pluck hot ouzo bottle from charred bucket, and douse our sponge               (head)

In song.  The simple life: sky as hat.  Earning our daily bread by                 swimming the old

Mill stream, stirring up water so the big wheel keeps on turning as the                grist

Grinds itself.  The doctor nods so patiently, wearily, expectantly,                  nervously, and

Delivers an “Is that so?” so delicately that you know it is just so,            that you hadn’t

Realized just how so it was.  That old so-and-so, he was just so-so.              Sheesh, if

I were you I’d resign effective immediately and get a day job of some             sort, a

Carhop, or a surveyor.  Part II.  It is very important to forget an                     occasional meal,

To allow that officious Team of Socializers to betray themselves.  Ach!             The wine-

Dark sea was never winier, he cracked, but I heard “whinier” as the                   Aegean begged

To list his complaints.  A typo?  On and on it went, a curvy trail up Mt.   Olympus.

What happened was they needed the top!  Part III. In the blink of a wink                she had

Wrapped me in a sheet, but I did not know if I were a shrouded corpse, a                toga-ed

God, or a sauna-toweled tool.  I was completely in her hands, beautifully

     calloused,

Exquisitely veined.  In the Land of the statues, they sculpted the                 living, and she was

The Ideal.  Such subtlety in the mouth, an abstract kiss, possessing a             spirit so

Generous – I was stopped altogether.  No recourse.  The language couldn’t   contain

Us, hopelessly sentiment-filled as it was.  Iron filings burst into                     bloom.  As for

You who want more words: Keep still. Observe. And memorize “Clouds on

     the Hill.”

 

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NEW GUYS

 – for Spring ‘88 Babies:

   Reiko Lily Hannan,

   Francesca Bochner,

   & Daniel Alan Cook

     This morning you know

     Gray & lush, like you

     New guys with raw eyes

          How I love you so

     To think of you and laugh

     At your silly parents rushing

     Around scrambling Life’s eggs

     While you dwell on meaning or

     Perhaps not meaning, gently

     In your Coat of Secrets – so

     Sleep and I will change you

     Sky Diapers, anything you say

 

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HELP

Here — you drink,

I’ll write.

The sun’s gone down.  We won’t

be needing it anymore,

So let’s tape these blossoms

back on this tree.

The branches waving

their naked arms:  ”Help! Help!”

Hey, hold the ladder steady, you!

“Help! Help!”

 

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HEY, WHAT’D I SAY?

I talk like this but I don’t stop

The way this does

Sometimes

Language arches direct

These words held so tight

We’d be kissing

But I’m too busy talking

There is that element of my speech

That it tends to go on

Not that I would ever use a phrase

Like “Tends to go on”

Without saying it in some kind of catty persona

Which is another characteristic

This stepping in & out of different uh

Characteristics and characters

Not real characters though…

(Lordy, he does go on!) Could someone else…

The words themselves!

     Little trills,

         Slippery darlings,

So full of meaning

That I forget to say

The Grace of words as they are written

The Action of words as they are spoken

& the Trust of the air that carries them -

O Air! Carry them to ears that hear!

Today may be Oct 17

It may be 11:39 am

We may be rappin at Rappaport’s

We may crayon a mullah

Still samo incorporate

Colors dizzy because, yes

You have understood

And now you live here with me

Tucked inside a WYSE AT compatible

Using a clinky enhanced keyboard

Attached to the CPU with a spiral umbilical

Awaiting the PRINT PRINTER command

So now you know the secret

Now I have you twinned

Now we halve the twining

Now we may begin

Far away is near at hand

Memory but a bite

Unflagging attention decomposes

Shears a clavicle kite

Once remembers. Twice forgot.

And three is yet to be

The zero of our nature

Love’s own constancy

So wiggly nervy natty cracks

(Bones, in another form)

Greetings from the birdies, Jack

Greetings to the worms

Surf the Stream of Consciousness

Pull the nets aboard

See the blinding vision, Jack

Tell it in a word

from “The Lies of the Poets”…

 

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LAS POEMAS #5

How I write certain of my poems

Is like this, so listen up: I don’t

Listen up, I ignore the persistent buz-

Zing of bs’ers all-around pests who

I soak layer after layer in a hot acid bath

Bitten nails, add to the brew, how do you do

Meanwhile I ask if you are still listening

So we stay chatting as I stroll out, important

Thing is to keep vocabulary at a slow roil,

Leave the whole thing uncovered for a period

Of time – then when naked and mocked, fascist love

Ignites my feet leaving footprints on the page,

Verbatim reportage from the Front. A weasel

For an editor and always axing the final couplet

 

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LOVE

       For Elizabeth

Your hand throws out

As you sleep

And brushes

Another body

Lands and settles

On the other body

Except it is your hand

And it is my body

 

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IN MEMORIAM: MARGO HOWARD-HOWARD (1935-1988)

In the event

that I should never die

Feel free to kill me

So I can be reborn

And repeat all my mistakes

And let my mistakes themselves be freed

to repeat themselves asleep in a canopy

And my job is to be there to enumerate

The Big Guys with the Funny Hair

Going to heaven

never seemed like a good idea

Because peace of mind

is only possible in Purgatory

where the buffalos nod

And the straights and the gays

have to pay exact fare

to go Somewhere and get Nowhere

in time to be forgotten forever

in the inner circles of junkfood bargains

And Mama in her kerchief, & I

in nothing at all both stand by your whales

As slow taps is played and you pop

out of the sack and fall smack

on your back on the railroad track

Where the Final Caboose presses out

your dress tresses and you step

Out of yourself only to become your t-shirt

And somebody else switches everybody’s drink

with everybody else’s and nobody notices

That is how we know that this time

Is unlike any other time

And not like the last time

Which is the only time which is

The time that repeats itself

In an hour-long way

A day-long week-long month-long year-long life-long

Simple whistle warning

First thing in the morning

Lord have Mercy

     on your soul and your addiction,

And on your obsession to remain different

     in a world of so many

          repetitious armed conflicts,

Remember me when your Kingdom

     enters your Red Light Oblivion District,

Rest in crisis,

     and never let Peace

          stop making you restless.

A-woman.                                    

                                        Pedro Pietri

                                        Bob Holman

 

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Here’s a little poem I call simply….

THE ULTIMATE

or,

THE ABSOLUTE FINAL & VERY LAST END POEM, BENEDICTION, FAREWELL FOREVER, GOOD-BY, & THAT’S IT, NO MAS, FOR THE CELEBRATION & FEAST FOR THE SPREADING OF THE ASHES (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE FEAST/CELEBRATION FOR THE APPEARANCE OF THE ASHES IN MIGUEL ALGARIN’S LOFT WITH VIEW OF YANKEE STADIUM, TRUE PARTY ALSO FOR PIRI THOMAS, & ON & ON & ON YOUR HONOR) SAID ASHES THOSE OF ONE MIGUEL “MIKEY” PINERO, WHO WAS ALWAYS SITTING IN THE CORNER WRITING, THIS POEM TO APPEAR SOLELY ON THIS PAGE, READ ONLY THIS ONE TIME, AND THEN TO BE TOSSED IN THE FLAMES TO BURN BURN, THE RESULTANT ASHES OF WHICH ARE NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE AFOREMENTIONED ASHES, BUT CONFUSED AS THE CONFUSION OF DUST THAT RETURNETH, OF SHARDS OF BODY AND RUBBLE OF STREET MELD INTO A JOYOUS CONFUSION, POEM ASH AND ASH OF THE DECEASED, WHO DIED YOUNG, OR MAYBE WITH ONE FOOT IN MIDDLE-AGE, FULL OF LOVE, A TENDER LEADER WHO NEVER LED, A RAGING SOUL

& in conclusion

Let me begin

This is that poem you had in that notebook you lost

This the poem that won’t sit still on the page, gets up, walks out, stretches, leaves the zoo

This is a secret spy camera snapshot of a poem, taken by satellite

This is the poem that lost it

& found it

But it had changed it had become it was now

This is a poem of

& then again, fuck it

This poem words don’t make it

& they don’t

They won’t

They will

Be there lying awake in bed waiting in bed for you

Poem wants to dress up fancy

Fine, you say

A certain slant of sunlight sits at the desk

To write the poem

It is still still midnight, June 28 is Wednesday

     in 1988

Cars thrush by, or is it the Future

     crashing by…

I remember summer ‘87, Pedro & I

Got Mikey on stage as revered guest, THE DOUBLE TALK SHOW,

@ Cafe Bustello, Glasnost A-Go-Go

He did it there

“Scatter my ashes!” he exhorted

They shut up,

Heard the streets talk

The growl howl grind

Vein wailing spine breaking blast siren blast

Immediate recognition staring you in Face

From then on

The thing you walk on

To walk to

As if you

Were off to

Someplaces else

So take a drink and spit it out

But rewind the film, the video

      tape, the memory bit

Because you never spit it out

Never waste it

Use it

Ink for the tongue

Rolling into the Cafe at midnight

3rd Street, shit, 6th Street, shit

Big sign: THE SHIT HITS

O shit it hits

Now, Mikey, now it hits

Rushes home like a bubble of thought

Or an arm covered with singed hair

Poem after poem tatooed there

Hits & misses & hits

It says “Mikey”

The lighter flicks to read your skin

Burning in the buildings

The buildings that will never disappear

     as they are demolished

Like a brick, man

Solid as a brick wall

Now the streets are covered with ash

Now the ashes scurry along to form footprints

Ground into the sidewalk

Stumbling feet in the Ash Storm

Big Ash Storm

Biggest anyone can remember

Man, time to move

     to higher ground

Getting fucking ash-covered man

Ashitis   Ashspecific   Ashiseptic

Mountains of Ashness, Ashified

A whole new thing

As fresh as spring

Long hot summer thing

That’s what life is

Or was

(You’ll excuse the expression)

Hustling the Deuce with an Obie,

     an Emmy, a Pulitzer, & the Nobel

Spend it in a day

Do it in a night

Write it down right

& right away before

The Intangible floats away

Down & off & on & in

Gotta keep writing it down because

Life itself man life

Itself depends on that

That was what he said

& now say it that way too

What a difference a night makes!

Night of Poetry & Stars

Where the Line that divides the p-Present

 & the p-Future  -

The Line that ties

Itself into a knot

Lee con milo, bro

The bridge

     is made of skin

The street is your body

Your last book arrives, titled Endless Poem

We all await Endless Poem Part II

 

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MINISTER OF CULTURE

The President of Nicaragua caught

   In a blinding snowstorm in Washington

      What a perfect metaphor!

Who can recognize Truth seen through

   White flakes of frozen water?

      Does it (The Truth) melt all over

Your topcoat, soggy Truth collecting

   In a puddle at your feet?

      Does it remind you of the small

Industrial town you grew up in,

   Where pink cakes are still carried on trays

      Balanced on heads right down the main street?

Limousines bark, lurch, and leave

   Black tracks back to the hotel

      And all the time you think of birds,

Of where have they gone to,

   The doves, say

      And how you want to be with them

As the fat snowflakes pile up

   Turning sweet on the tongue,

      Aging quickly on the sidewalk

 

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MISTER BLISTER

Every single day at a quarter till five

I hear you comin’ up the gravel drive

Moving like a snakey vine

Pretending you’re not alive

Park the van & dog on in

Misery & woe, ya big old cow

Not even enough eye to see by

I gotta put up with this again

Go ahead & sit in the rocker

I’ll just stand here till you want your drink

Useta be booze, now it’s booze & pepsi

What’s the diff is all I think

Flies collecting by your eye

Rain or snow, it’s all weather

Sometimes I think of my own family

Sometimes I think I’ll roll on out

Busses on the highway

Passing cars like shooting stars

Furious freight on the Interstate

Heavy lovin’ humpin in the last seat

Last week’s special sold out

& no rainchecks either, the manager said

Look at you idle youth in a rockin chair

Rock on, you old Gramps you

Plenty of reason to kick you out

Mister Blister, pout pout

Just wait’ll I get some more dough socked away

You’ll be talking out the frontside of your mouth that day

Pigs in the dining room

Don’t tell me they’re your friends

They don’t have to smell like that

Let ‘em bring their own ashtrays then

Meanwhile the coydogs act like they own the place

Come right in – maybe they’s your friends too

Maybe you’d like to feed them too while you’re at it

I just don’t know anymore. I honestly do not know.

Flies collecting by your eye

Rain or snow, it’s all weather

Sometimes I think of my own family

I just don’t know anymore. I honestly do not know.

 

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MICROPHONE

Hear ye! Hear me!

(No way not to hear me)

Electric drill surge through the wax

Of your brain

               A crow

Sits on your shoulder, Pirate

Whispering my poems

Don’t let this poem die here

Next line is silence

 

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ONE NIGHT

Awake again in the middle of sleep

I turn myself off to hear nothing

You are shining like a dream, but it is not

Romantic – it is snores and lead breath, it is

Flesh and bones, age and innocence, emotion

flowing out from my heart through my skin,

the way tears swell up from the heart to burst through the eyes.

And still,

it is not a dance of romance that I am flinging

& it’s not a push of self that wakes me up

It’s our fifth anniversary tonight, O

Bourgeois Love, and I feel like celebrating,

hearing you breathe.

 

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RED HOT CORNER

            for Mamaw 88

Red Hot Corner — there’s a name for you!

No slow-pokey, no lone prairies, no

     ice blister-paks,

No I’m sure I never. Once in a blue

     moon time,

Before the Fractured Self appeared, holding

Its own heart —like, I’m Jesus! or

Some notion, is he crazy? or some

     blessing some time

Peppering the inveterate vertebrate,

     Celebrating the Ceremonial Throwing

Out of the Last Ball, leaving the meeting

     Before you even meet,

The hearing before it is heard

Here is what I heard:

     By the way, the next time

          Would you mind?

Meanwhile, I think I’ll just

Keep it for myself. They call it a “posey”?

I call it Heaven & while I’m here

     I’m going to stay.

 

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FIRST SARCASM

“Just because of that,”

Says Sophie, 22 June 88

Thank you!”  Sarcasm

for the first time, cynicism

A blue ribbon on a pink

Finger, never to stop bleeding

Sometimes

 

When melancholy calls

Like a phone down the hall

I say, Aw, what the hell

& go ahead & answer it

Five rings six seven-eleven

Answer the phone dammit

Hovering over the dead black thing

Vulture over carrion

Pick it up

Listen to the dial tone

Electric harmonies rasp symphonies

All the possibilities

Lucky thing you’d hung up on me

What we’d talk about you don’t want to know

Couple of how ya doin’s, that’s us

Sweet by & bys, ha, locomotive on my neck

 

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SYMBOL

O CYMBAL! O crash!

O ambulance! O! Call me an ambulance!

O you are an ambulance!

As symbol falls

& breaks your pun in ear

O dear!

Dear Reader, o patient

Pioneer, O, Ah, Ouch, and Ooof -

Your weary amazement @ # of O’s

This awe-struck, symbol-ridden

P-p-ppppppppoet

Of the ever-lovin’ language-livin’

Ahem

Of the P-p-ppppppperformin’ Romantic

Rock’n’rollin’ High-minded Muy Serioso

P-p-pppppppersuasion can litter/letter

On what was (was!) such pure (pure!) white

P-p-pppppppaper….

[NB: here go sounds which are unwritedownable, yiparpeggios on the line of aHhH Oee     YA   YFLSSH. Thank you.]

Thank you.

NOW [cymbal crash!] thrusting into

Your quivering pale pink shell

Turning blush red with pun dust,

Symbol juice making way through the Drum

To Hammer vibrating ever so gently Anvil

Resounding Stirrup to race good race

Over finest of Cilia to sweetest of Cords

To plow the fertile Mind you look out in from

Yes! Never one to shy away from

You, I now hold you tight in symbolic arms

And swipe at your pale shell again.

Ahem.

In Mrs. Flood’s English class, I remember,

I learned “‘The red sun’ in the sentence

‘The red sun was pasted in the sky like a wafer’ was

A wafer,” & suddenly I converted, as she ex-

Plained, & I, convinced, reached up,

Open-mouthed, and swallowed it, and again,

Taking seconds at Communion, Absolute Hunger it was

(Was!) boundless, & I see…

I mean, I saw…

I mean… Drat!

I have lost, or left, the point. Left it

Far behind. The point being… far behind. & yet,

Having never established the point, is it not

Possible that we may be, so to speak,

Just around the corner from it?

                                   ”Ahem,”

I hear you utter, “might it not be

That the corner itself is the point?

O genius, I cry. I’m gaping; what a joy!

At last I have found You, O Perfect Reader,

You whose skilled interpretative faculties

Actually, even now, guide my hand as we (God!

What a pronoun!) skip from Symbol to Actual,

Abstract to Concrete. At which point (that word!),

I shall (I must!) digress

                         to recount an occurrence

Most unusual that overtook me some years ago in Tamanrasset,

That most glorious but notoriously remote site,

The southernmost outpost of the Algerian Sahara.

Tam! Situated high atop mammoth red sandstone sculptures,

A Martian landscape called, simply, the Hogar Mountains.

& there, as they say, I was (was!). Yes,

Having tarveled five days from Tessalit, Mali,

Where I had been refused admittance due to an absurd Technicality: I was sans visa. Tessalit! Perhaps even more Godforsaken than Tam, the spot where the van’s engine blew, Which, in conjunction with my illegal presence, resulted in My being entertained in the only available room, which had An appearance quaintly reminiscent of a jail cell. It was Here, given time to mull that I began to realize…

               Mrs. Flood, forgive me! Scoundral that I was, (Was!) how was I to know that my crashing of the cymbals When I was running for president of the Student Council – You see, it was the Year of the Change, as I’d dubbed it, Now it comes pouring in with a rush and I must speak it, Since my loving mother has dropped off all manner of high School memorabilia at this, at last, permanent address for Her oldest son (me) in the country with his family (beloved Wife Elizabeth, beloved daughters Sophie (5) and Daisy (3)) Much as she herself raised the family in New Richmond, on (& Sometimes in) the Ohio, four children there, and the as-ever Nameless Father, the Myth of the Father, is that the subtext Of this new piece I’m working on, I’m calling it Symbol. I Mean, Thimble! Uh, I sit…

All of this high school detritus piled around me.

Her last words, “I thought I’d let you throw it out.” She

Could not. And of course she could not, it is hers!

I should have made her take it back to Florida

With her and her boyfriend! The perfect jaunt: out of Storage in Cincinnati, (the city to which she moved after we Left the Big House in the Country (New Richmond)), up here To Hebron, New York, the symbolic Return to the Source, only To be refused by the Man who has tossed off the shackles of An Overachieving Childhood, a la the cell in Mali,

To become a moody and bitter self-styled Poet in this most Anti-poetic age, god what a choice of vocation!

So I hopped aboard the first available

Transport – a lorry, operated by a burly Ahab

Of an Arab. The Bastard! First I had to pay an immense Number of dirhams, only to discovere that I was to be

The lackey of the Lorry! Our trek was along a route

Marked “Forbidden to Tourists” on the Michelin, which

On the one hand made rather a thrilling adventure of it,

But on the other allowed Ahab (for so I called him)

To act as my veritable owner for the duration. Thus,

I was required to do such tasks as chase after the lorry

With a metal plank every time it was used to provide

Traction so that we might become unstuck from the sand,

of which, needless to say there was quite a bit there

in Sahara Centrale.

These planks, or tolles, were slipped under the tires,

 

_________________________________________________

 

SYNCHRONICITY

             for Kofi Natambu

It’s all there

In the air

When it’s you

On the air

 

_________________________________________________

 

TED SPEAKS TO SHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS

I was amused and bemused simultaneously

They were wonderful!

They were also

               I didn’t speak that way. I mean,

     they were very much spoken,

                         it seemed to me, in a

      flashy, witty way, full of flashing

                    metaphors and similes and Leonardo da Vinci

          mathematical proportions

                               which I thought were really wonderful

And I thought I could do the Leonardo da Vinci things,

but I didn’t think I could do – make

these metaphors, flowers, flowers and lilies, flowers and weeds

and then take that and split it up

                              into positive flowers and negative

flowers and weeds, of course.

                         Weeds are dead.

Weeds are not dead, but weeds are no good. They’re negative.

And flowers are beautiful

               and they’re positive. But

                    the flowers are festering. Well,

     weeds don’t fester. I mean,

          they evidently grow forever

                              or you pull them out. So,

               the weed is growing

                    and the flower is festering,

                         and the weed is positive.

And Shakespeare would take a mathematical conception literally

like that.  Plus one,

               minus one,

                         on one side of a line,

                    and plus one, minus one, on the other side of a line,

          and take those through these

changes, and bring it

                    down to the end,

          and then it would disappear in this puff of smoke,

                         and you knew something had happened.

 

_________________________________________________

 

VAN GOGH

Write everything down

Throw everything away

 

        Yes Yet

This remarkable day

Goes between

Because I paint it

With me in it

 

             Perfectly Great

It would be great

To eat an apple

But there in the tree

It is perfect

 

            Close-up

My nose sticks out

     A doorknob

As my poor ear grows

Like a worm back to my head

A crack, that is my brow

And yesterday is my lips

And my teeth are rocks

     I walk on

            Last Pass

Plow down the sun

Second wind, Old Bay

Last pass on this acre

Go home, go home

 

            Particle Beard

Flesh covering the face

Wheat covering the field

 

            It’s Important

To put up with everything

As you get it down on paper

 

            Misanthrope, Or…

Shy of people

Friend to star in sky

Where am I?

In a park watching children

Play without thinking

 

            Broken Dream

All joy of LIFE flashes

By my eyes

Blinding revelation

Simply morning, all the

Racket, all the LANGUAGE

Broken dream pours in

Can’t stop sadly holding

The corners of REALITY

As I reach out, one more

Tree in the garden

Under the masterful Sun

 

            Good

Good morning, Vincent

It is early December, 1889

Time to get up and paint

“Wheat Field with Rising Sun”

Hurry before all the firmament

Starts to fall apart again

Right now it’s all singing

“Good morning, Vincent!”

 

            Heightened with White Chalk

This technique brings together

Many of the unique

Elements in his work

Running the chalk over his lips

Ecstasy would be transmitted

To grass blade after blade

 

            Detail

Black in my heart biting deeper

Spitting beside my bed

Struggling through the deep forest

Was it all a dream?

What I see now is all detail

            Potato in Sky

The back of the shed

Needs painting

What next!

 

            Plying my Trade

If I sit here long enough

Maybe I’ll figure out what it is

 

            Torn Page

I cannot stop

To think

 

            Sheaves of Wheat

There is no stopping now

What I want is everything

And everything is arriving

At once to me

 

            Life

Life was the subject

Life and Love

Blending the foreground

     and background

Temperance in the midst

     of Ecstasy

Filling the holes

With Death

 

            Postcard

One cannot hesitate

With vibrant melancholy

Signalling voraciously

The collect call of the wild

 

            Sunset

This morning I raised my eye

And saw the stars

Had not moved

Sweet Death, my Love,

I will never lose you again

Waiting for the Audience on a Spring Night

The house manager is reminding the usher

To check under the seats for programs. A

siren wa-wahs past – more crack dealers off

to the hoosegow, what an age. Outside, I

imagine the TV’s blinking on, one by one,

the way the stars used to. It is 1988 and

I am selling out the house at LaMama. What

a life! My poems making love with my audience,

my books in the window at B. Dalton. In this

moment of anticipation: how long will it last?

 

_________________________________________________

 

WHILE YOU WERE OUT

A little late in the day,

Wouldn’t you say? Yes, absolutely,

Or thereabouts. You were

Missed. A big hole in all

Our hearts, pumping furiously

To make up for. So let’s make

Up and begin again. Let’s

Let’s. First a poet’s kiss,

And then a lover’s. For one thing

Leads to another – that is, rep-

Itition, like molecules. However,

Molecules do vary, as well

You know. That is what is below

The surface, as molecules themselves

Are. Science! really is not thorough,

But it certainly is there! Which is

Here, actually, my pet, Science,

The one with the bows and flowers.

Why do you study the ceiling so

Earnestly? You have come to

Deliver an ultimatum, I shall have

My spell of lamentation, dying

For smelling salts. A speech beginning

“This is not this…” hardly

Electrifies an audience, my dear.

And as for us, that is not

A pronoun for it. Appropriately

Dressed, accurately pronouncing,

As you may be, you are still

A salad, wilting, as I can’t stop,

I’m sorry, long enough to reply.

 

_________________________________________________

 

WHAT IS LEFT

Tasting the missing absence? Out

Of this world, that’s where I

Meet you.  A black leather

On the bed, you are it.  It

Is late, we might as well – no,

It is the floor                         not lately

of the forest                           in bed

From the bottom                         wellspring

of heart                                right there

Ok, what is it now & no closure.

The other part is what is left.

A sling of traffic (night past fears)

Shoehorning past the guards in drag cells.

“Go make your phone calls, Poet, go

Sit on the Bored. All things cross.”

You might as well, too. Hold on,

You are coming. I wish I were, too.

Sez Who

 

Oh to be me

Now that you are you

To be here with you only

The ant stalks across the floor

& the jet rakes a roar

At least I don’t think

What time is it now now

Pithy kiss, protein at last

I love you and we have children

It’s like taking a walk, born

Again again while you were out

You can’t say something for everyone

 

But it is not futile to try

A word alone, as it leaps into toy

A tiny lover that plugs paradise in

The socket – you pull the pullcord

The World blinks on off. If it’s not

That easy then it’s impossible, it’s

The New Physics, and it’s even

Simpler than e=mc2. Here it is: O.

O. is blue & tround & sounds like water

I is a prick & red & fucks the sun

E is well-thought invisibility

A is a blush that becomes a bruise

U is waiting patiently

Sometimes Y

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