Tuesday, January 24, 2017

And The Power Came

And the power came from the thronging masses, and masses they were. 175,000 at last count. “Marching” is a generous description of what we did, it was more like standing with purpose, shuffling for freedom, not quite the same romantic ring to it as “marching”.
But the power came from all those faces. It came from bodies of all shapes and sizes, from all those minds and their clever signs, with pussy caps that formed a sea of pink, the power came and it said: “Here are my concerns! You need to listen!”

 The power came from the chants  – such an Indian idea! – “show us what democracy looks like/this is what democracy looks like”.

The power came from the families marching, from the small triad standing in front of us on the common before the event started, set up just on the rise, out of sight of the large screen and reviewing stand set up where dignitaries spoke.  One tall man and his partner took turns holding their baby until the speechifying was done, when they bundled their stroller and child and making like Moses, set out to part the human sea and exit.

The power came from the many generations of women marching, the great-grandmother, the grandmother, the mother and daughter, all lined up for pictures to record the continuity of struggle. 
It came from the humor of the protestor who held up a picture of Trump in a Yankees uniform, and him saying the worst thing any Bostonian could say of another: “Trump is a Yankess fan! We should have seen this coming.”

The power came from all those children who marched. It came from that little African American girl, with her pale pink pussy hat, whose sign was constructed from a wooden stirring spoon as a handle taped to poster board with the words, “Girrrrrllll Power”.  It came from my five-year old niece who managed the whole day without a complaint, holding one of the three signs I made for the event over her head: “Love & Resist”, it said. Her luminous blonde hair catching the sunlight, the soft blue of her eyes resembling love.

The power came from the sea of humanity that stretched from the entrance on Commonwealth, all the way to the gold domed state house. Protestors with signs hung from every tree on the common, making it into a farm of action, waiting to be harvested.

The power came from the compassion that was reflected in the sign of one young man with dreadlocks to his waist, who stripped to a bare top, then climbed a tree. His sign read “I am naked because I feel safe and supported to do so and I want my sisters to feel safe and supported too.” It came from the poetry of Mary Oliver on one sign: “I believe in kindness and mischief/also in singing/especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”

The power came in many languages. In signs that read “Ni putas/Ni santa/Solo mujeres! (Neither whores nor saints, only women). ”  It came in the singing of Amazing Grace in the tongue of an indigenous tribe before the march began.

The power came in music. It came from the church we passed playing the National Anthem with chimes, while the crowd sang along, a nearby trumpet player filling in the melody. It came too when the crowd spontaneously began singing America the Beautiful.

The power came after the event as well, in the form of the discussion on social media. CNN insisted this was an anti-Trump march but it wasn’t. It was about women gathering the way a storm gathers: with intention, with steady, relentless purpose. The power came from that.

There are some who still don’t understand. There are some who want to suggest all this effort could have been put to better use, that donating time or money to social causes would be better, that this causes division; as if writing a check alone could alter the structures that create injustice; as if harmony meant the acceptance of injustice; as if making noise and causing a peaceful disturbance is so un-American forgetting that this city, especially this city, was where our American revolution began, where the start was anything by quiet, anything but convenient, anything but non-intrusive.  This American belief is where the power came from: that sometimes you have to put a body behind the rhetoric, lend muscle to words.

At the end of the day, the power came as trust spilling onto the winding streets, all over these streets, trust and the knowledge that institutions need faith to work, we need to put in the hours; we need to punch the clock.

I have seen tomorrow, and it’s a mobile and vocal one. It is very much female. And the power came from that as well,

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Open Letter To The Flyover States
Dear Flyover States,
Ok, I admit it, we screwed the pooch a little.
According to some talking heads, the results of this past election might have been brought about by the latte-sipping media elite ignoring those flyover states – states in the center of the country and by which when we say “flyover states” we mean  rural folk.
This media elite (of which I must be considered one:  I live on the east coast-ish, voted for Obama twice, and voted for Clinton in this election, I work a white-collar job, and am college educated, and I support an FDR-style of liberalism that roots for the working guy, the underdog over the corporate goliaths) has you believing that we think that you are just not smart enough to see past the balsamic smarm of a Trump presidency.
That is unfortunate.
And for this, I apologize. To the extent that I have contributed to this idea that working-class values are not my values, I was wrong.
But I am going to make some assumptions here and stop me if you think I am wrong.
I assume you and I both have families that we care a lot about. We both like spending holidays with. I assume that we both want to protect them too, in so many different ways. I assume that we want to help them grow and to achieve whatever their dreams are, whether it is to become a teacher, or to carry on the family farm, whether they  hope to become tradesmen,  carpenters and electricians to build affordable housing, or sprawling estates high on some hill somewhere for people with lots of money. Or maybe our children just want to work at a job that allows them to raise their families, just as we have. Whether these children want to become welders to build skyscrapers, bridges, schools and hospitals, or if our children want to become engineers, lawyers or doctors, we have to agree that these are pretty neat things to encourage our children to become!
I assume you like to hunt and fish. Some of us do too! I assume you like to travel some. Same here! The raw, silent beauty of the Everglades humbles us, just as the same way that the fluorescent energy of New York City does you!  
You place great deal of importance in a transcendent faith, and so do we, though this belief may not always be in the same things.  Still we both believe in something greater than us, in some form or another.
I love poetry, and you love country music. And we all love rock’n’ roll. I love rap, and well, nearly everyone under a certain age loves rap these days no matter what state they are from. I love art, and classical music and you may carry on a tradition of family crafts or pass down a fiddling technique to your children and grandchildren.
I assume that you and I both worry about our retirements and our health as we age. We worry if our jobs will still be around when it’s time to retire. We worry if Social Security will still be here for us and will our pensions or 401Ks be enough. And don’t we both worry about our parents, and how we will care for them as they age? And secretly, don’t you worry like me, just a little, who will take care of us in our final days?
I assume you want to get to know and care for your grandchildren, and teach them the same simple joys you knew as a child, just like me.
I assume we both worry about the kinds of natural disasters that can happen to any one of us, whether it be floods, or tornadoes, or hurricanes or monster blizzards. Each of us watches the news, horrified at the loss of life and property with such empathy. And the money, the money to recover always flows from one state to the other and back again: from red state to blue, and blue state to blue, from red state to red and from blue back to red.  
I assume that you, like me, like to root for the underdog. I’ll bet were both even cheering for the Cubs this past October, weren’t we? And i bet we both came to really to appreciate the great sportsmanship and work ethic of the Cleveland Indians, didn’t we?
Isn’t there always the language of baseball between us?
These are how we find ourselves in each other! Community, compassion, mercy, giving someone a second-chance, getting a fair shake. Aren’t these typical American idioms that attract so many people to our borders these days?
But here is something to consider: studies indicate that my tax money is more likely to go to you, than your tax money is to come to me. When they look at “giver” and “taker” states, many of you Flyover States seem to be on the “taker” side of the equation. And you know what? That’s ok with us!
Because when we consider all of these common values, we want to believe that we are always stronger together than as individual state, don’t we?  And who knows when the situation might be reversed and we might need some of that big wad of cash we have all ponied up. That is the beauty of a United States of America. What we really are telling you that despite all our differences, is that we are brothers and sisters and that we are in this together.
But the uniqueness of our states also provides us an exoticism, like traveling to whole new countries every time we cross state lines, like Europe!
Please know that what I am talking about has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with the fabric of civility upon which we have built our relationships.
 I hope the outcome of this election helps restore your faith in the process, and you can, in time, come to reflect on what I have said and it can be like it used to be: all of us in the same row boat, pulling in the same direction. And I hope that you will fight for our rights, the same way we that will fight for yours, in the same way that all of our parents from every state, once fought for ours.
Call me when you come for a visit. Maybe we can share a latte?
The Bi-Coastal Media Elite

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Marriage: A Homily For Everyone

This was the homily given at Stephen & Anna's wedding, June 25, 2016. The officiant, Joe Chappel, gave this homily on the weekend of the New York City gay pride parade. It is really worth reading and blew us all away.

Thank you Joe. What a blessing!


Once again, it is the last weekend in June in NYC, which can mean only one thing. Tomorrow, more than a million of our brothers and sisters will march down 5th avenue into Greenwich Village to celebrate their right to be and their right to love whomever they choose. Last year that parade was probably one of the happiest ever, as they finally won the long fight for the right to legally marry. It was the celebration of the end of years of struggle and hardship and on behalf of many who never lived to see the day but on whose shoulders the victorious stand. This year, however, will probably be one of the most somber ever, as we mourn 49 people who were murdered simply because of who they were and who they chose to love. Or perhaps it won't be somber at all. The fact is that the parade happens every year, without fail, in the happiest of times and the saddest of times, no matter what, because what our LGBTQ brothers and sisters know from many years of experience is that the celebration itself IS the protest, IS the political act, IS the most daring and defiant thing to do. To march anyway IS the victory. There is wisdom in that.

In 1967, the famous Supreme Court case of Loving v Virginia saw an interracial couple win their challenge to an immoral law and in so doing, win the right to marry. We take it for granted that people of different races can marry today, but there was a time (not so long ago when this was not only taboo, it was illegal. A state-sanctioned prohibition based on race. But not today. Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter gathered the courage to challenge a world that would see them separated to recognize and honor their union. By openly and formally declaring their love, they claimed the victory. There is wisdom in that.

There will be no interracial marriage here today. Nor will there be a same sex marriage here today. But I would argue there are no such things as interracial marriage or same sex marriage. There is only marriage, and there will DEFINITELY be a marriage here today. In the context of a world that wants us to limit love, dismiss love, reject love, belittle love, ignore love, suppress love, outlaw love...in a world that encourages negativity and uses fear and mistrust for political expediency...in a world that seems fueled by divisiveness, hostility, and antagonization... in the context of that world, whenever two young people choose love, share love, and present that love for consecration before their family and friends and especially before God, heaven rejoices and indeed we should too.  Just like Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter did in 1967, let us continue to challenge this world to recognize and honor love. Just like we always do on the last weekend in June, we should openly celebrate this beautiful and happy thing called love, in defiance of what the world wants us to do. But not just in defiance of and in spite of the world, but as witness to the world that love wins. Love always wins. As we consecrate one marriage, we reaffirm all marriages. As the creator of Broadway's Hamilton Lin-Manuel Miranda reminded us recently, "Love is love is love is love is love is love..."

Of course there is no passive participation in today's ceremony. We all have a job to do. Those were not just empty platitudes in the opening prayer. We family and friends who witness this moment must endeavor to "fulfill our duty to honor, embrace, lift up, protect, and nurture the love that we bless this day."

Often, my Granny used to say "hallelujah anyhow." I never fully understood the significance of those words as a boy but I have internalized this simple but powerful wisdom as a man. Sometimes it is most important to celebrate and rejoice, because the world wants to break our spirits. And after the month we've had, I say this is the time to choose love, to choose life, and to rejoice in our choices. Yes, the world will give you a million reasons why today isn't that big of a deal, or is some relic from a time gone by, but hallelujah anyhow. We anoint this union based on a truth founded on something far surer and firmer than trends, or fads, or what is en vogue. Hallelujah anyhow! That truth is that love wins and as the wisdom that flows from an ancient Gregorian chant reminds us, wherever love and charity are found, God is always there. Surely, brothers and sisters, God is in this place today. Hallelujah anyhow!

So, let's have a marriage. And let us celebrate. Passionately and in defiance of a love-starved world. In the knowledge that what we do is not only joyful, but holy and sanctified. People were constantly telling Jesus whom he should and could not love. And he constantly ignored them. No one understood how radical and political love could be more than Jesus Christ himself.

Anna and Stephen, I didn't quote 1 Corinthians today. As church musicians, I figured you've heard that passage more than most and don't need me to recite it for you yet again, as beautiful a passage as it may be. I will also not lecture you or offer advice for a happy marriage, as I am not married and therefore am no expert in happy marriages. What I will do is remind you that when a scribe asked Jesus what the greatest of the commandments were, hoping to catch Him in a paradox, Jesus said "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Time and time again, in this example and many others, when asked to clarify any perceived discrepancies between His words and the law, Jesus consistently cited love as the preeminent guiding principle above all others. And so, I know that if you allow love to lead you, not only through good times, but especially through difficult times, God will be present in your choices and God will be walking alongside you in all that you do in your life together. Choose love, my dear friends. Not the shallow, happily ever after, never challenged Hollywood version of love, but deep, thoughtful, ethical, selfless, time-tested, true love. Choose love.

Come, brothers and sisters, let us claim victory this morning and celebrate love this afternoon in the best example of our Savior: let me remind you that His very first miracle was turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana, so we know He liked a good wedding!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fighting Cancer

There is a funny picture a friend of mine sent me that shows a vast ocean being struck by six lightning bolts at exactly the same moment. The photograph captures the strikes hitting six different spots on the water. Beneath the photo is the caption: “Fuck those particular six fish!”

It’s easy to think of the disasters of life as specific and directed. It is also easy to think of the many graces as sparse and given to others instead of us, passing over us in abundance. But when we are able to reflect from above our misery, we know this is not true.

Comic Tig Notaro talks about this in her own life. She was recently diagnosed with double breast cancer, while at the same time her career is taking off. Life, like people, is rarely one thing. She introduces her new CD called “LIVE” (spelled L-I-V-E rhymes with “give”) – by announcing at the start she has cancer, thank you. I feel great. Thank you. Thus addressing the very first thing a cancer patient must address when faced with a diagnosis: how do I tell others? Do I NOT tell others and keep a quiet, dark secret? Do I wear a T-shirt with a message? Do I write a letter to the closest people in my life? Do I blurt it out at the bus stop, or take out a full page ad? Or do I do a stand-up comedy act and announce it? Where do I go with this sort of information? Is there an etiquette for this?

My life has been pretty good, I’ve had my share of knocks like anyone else, but when I tell someone the story of my cancer I think, “Wow, what a poor schmuck! Guy can’t buy a break!” But in fact, all I’ve had are breaks.

Lately though it feels like the universe is compelled to send down its six lightning bolts at me, yet at the same time I am blessed. How do I hold in tension these opposite realities and not lose faith? Or worse, the opposite: to not become so naïve as to believe that this is the best of all possible worlds?

 A number of weeks ago there was a large manila envelope in my mailbox. My sister’s name was on the return address.  I brought it inside and opened it. Inside that envelope was a black hooded sweatshirt with the words “STRONGER THAN CANCER” in neon yellow lettering on the front. She and her daughter raised money for American Cancer and participated in fundraiser in my honor. And I was honored.
We live in a culture that applauds positive expectations for nearly everything, especially when it comes to treating cancer. We believe like religious zealots that our faith will impact the outcome. To be honest, I don’t really know if my faith in being stronger than the disease affects the medicine. Luck comes to mind, for sure, but not confidence. Still, I have always loved the idea that we create our own reality, so I am on-board with thinking positively.

I donned the sweatshirt and it looked cool. Black. Totally fucking bad-ass black. Strike a pose and declare cancer dead, dead, dead!  Fuck cancer, I thought. Fuck it! Totally! At the same time I wondered: am I stronger than cancer? Or am I just whistling past the grave yard?
What if the cancer has spread to my bones? What if it were in my lymph nodes? Worse, what if after the surgery there is still cancer remaining that will? What if I am not one of the lucky ones? What if I am NOT stronger than cancer?

There is this belief that we can out-tough cancer, or for that matter we can out-tough all the shitty things that happen to us. Am I a failure if I succumb to the cancer? The language of fighting cancer today is combative and intense but what does it say about those who fail? Are they losers? Will I be a loser if cancer takes me? Or as ESPN’s Stuart Scott said recently before himself being taken down by a rare cancer, it is not whether we live or die from cancer that determines if we beat it, but how we live our lives with it. And living with this cancer is something I am beginning to come to terms with.
There is a possibility I may never be cured, that I will not die from this. How does my relationship to this disease change then? All the side effects of the treatments, as awful and as humiliating as they are, have as their primary underlying logic the notion that life trumps them all. With surgery, radiation, chemo, and hormone treatment – a chemical castration – how will my ego morph beneath the demands of the cure?
Cancer has already whittled away my ego, how much more am I in store for? And am I any closer to enlightenment as a result? Or is everything just a wasting away until what is left is this tiny frightened boy who desperately wants to walk his two daughters down the aisle, and spoil every one of his grandchildren rotten and then give them back to their parents?

There is a dichotomy that pressurizes the air around those of us lucky enough to come down with this disease that suggests if I do not get better, I have let others down. This pressure suppresses the grief of the diagnosis. I love my sister and I love my niece more than a brand new set of matching luggage.
And have I mentioned that I really, really, really love the sweatshirt? And maybe that’s enough.
I wonder about the implied message of treating this disease as a test of one’s courage and ability to overcome and not the damned drudgery that it is. Is this bravado creating a new reality, or is it in fact masking one? For we who “fail” – what honor is there in that? How do we learn to honor the struggle and not the outcome? What sort of cool, neon-lettered shirt exists for that?

POEM: Speak a new language so that the world will be made new.

Speak a new language so that the world will be made new.
Explore the oceans that roil within, coaxed by a moon
that rules over the dark that makes the roses bloom
- red and wild as your imagination.

Plant a flag, reclaim the land of Forgiveness as your own,
where you will throw your hands into the loam
you will track into your home,
spread to the carpets, walls, and settle on the shelves.

Over time, you will ask how Jesus raised the dead,
And I will kiss you and say, “This is how”.
Over time, you will ask how the hungry were fed
on six loaves and some fishes.

 I will bake warm bread with honey –
(The bread, as a symbol of a working life,
The honey to sweeten it.)  I will
feed you and say “Eat. This is how.”
Over time you will ask ,“How can life overcome death?”
and I will hold your tears in my old fingers and tell you

go and love another –  that is how. Let the dead bury the dead.
I will say, “Go walk toward the East, shield your eyes against your luminous lives. “
You are like the disciple who ask the Master how to attain the
Spiritual life and the Master replies: “Have you loved another

in the same way that the earth shakes,  the way it splits and swallows
everything?” To which the disciple replies, “No”, at which the
Master says: “Then try this first.”  I tell you now, try this first.
Speak a new language so that the world will be made new.

Become poets of your own lives and write
Verses that make God cry. Become verbs of love, &
Roll around in the adjectives of your life,
Make a mess, offer up a life for a chance to love the other.

POEM: For All My Children

Before it becomes the music of our  world,
Your names have a story. Before there were words,
Before circles around fires sent stories skyward.
Before retelling, and dancing,
Before prayer.

You are a green-eyed geranium wish,
A blue-eyed ocean of life,
The wrap-around flavor of brown-eyed coffee,
a vermillion way of seeing the world,
like simmering beets bubbling in chopped
onion, tomato and cumin stew.

We could not have dreamed you,  you who
arrive to us still water, mysteries
in the jeans’ pocket of a universe
waiting to be fished out with the keys
and the loose change of growing older.

And just as before the sun rises,
this winter gray lightens just enough to suggest
we’ve not been abandoned,
we’ve not died in our sleep,

You are the sign reminding us what the
angels in their Halleluiah glory look like.

and when the sun reclines
Pulling its gentle curtain across brown fields,
we imagine, as parents do, all
the fearful things.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

POEM: Mission

There are people that I love being in orbit around and then there are those to whom I am just polite. I find there are more and more of those sorts of people taking up more and more of my space and time, but the thing is this: you cannot always dictate who pulls up a seat to your table, so what is one to do?

There are even more people who see no value in being polite at all, no matter what the circumstance. They city the “brevity of life” as their motive as in the common phrase with which they regale others: “who has time for this sort of foolishness?” not realizing that all of life is foolishness and it is his seriousness that is out of place, time consuming, an endless purgatory of sitting around , throwing rocks at everything they believe is really a hornet’s nest. There is an aspect of self-punishment to it, really.

We need to dig out soft places, people, soft places around us to house the most vulnerable parts of others in safety, those things that we carry with us and have nowhere  to rest them while we put on our heavy armor and mail to do battle with dragons of every shape and color and size.  Events buffet us all day, everyday, like radiation, like pollen, we are constantly under attack. Who doesn’t need the soft wind at our back every so often, if for no other reason than to remind us of what our destiny truly is?

POEM: So I Am A Brick

A red brick, solid and stiff accustomed to inclement weather
Stiff and sharp where I have never been sharp
Chipped for all my years of being steppe on
Green from the algae

In my head I want to be softer
For everything wants to be softer where
They are hard, where there is chipping
And a rough surface.

But as a brick I am incapable of dreaming
Lacking a brain stem, the limbic matter,
A prefrontal cortex.

When I awake the light is trembling
And I speak this language.
I am able to interpret it.

It is fall and the light catches the tree tops
Looking down at me, singing
At the tops of their tree lungs,
Burrowing with knotted fists into
The soil-gone-mud.

I make my way through rounded objects.
Light is one of these rounded objects
Dripping onto the walkway bleaching
Everything in its path,
Those other bricks asleep, tucked in
By moss and the smell of nuts in the air
(This autumn tastes like walnuts in the back of my mouth
Whenever I suck in the cool air.)

But the light avoids me, though my blood
Is a ruddy red. A port wine of clay aging
Aging in the yellow laughter of a folding sun.
I am geologic, granite bends to me.
I wear limestone for fingernails
Everything I write is whitened,
White, white, white hot.

POEM: Muscle Memory

This ocean is a gray tidal yank
That speaks with a blurred accent
of wild  greens and geese – the yellow
skin of sad-eyed light
makes up  the neurons of dark storms.
This frame is a blight of opaque water, is a dying
movement: go on and be brave.
Sea birds carry word to all the lost faces of a
                                 drowning in the canals,
flying against the pink buildings. Helium
lifts mylar thoughts. Salt drops everywhere are alive.
You slog on, not knowing how, unfocused on the place
where breathing can no longer be felt: where
this is not the kind of  music we can play by ear.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

POEM: Contact Tracer

Nothing is graceful in my walk.
I have all the poise of a dumpster.
But then I never spent much time on appearances.
Instead, I spend my time overcoming absence  so that
I lose sight of the ease in enjoyment.

What I wouldn’t give to set up a tent and dwell in the cave of my own voice!
Thank God for the silence that feels like ice, 
that breaks this sandpaper world,
So that I find peace in the clicking of a tongue,
Or the battering of a glottis, or the thrum of vocal chords
that align with the hum of a friendly world every once in a while.

Listening, say, to a poem read aloud,
a silent well surges within pulling at the liquid parts of me,
finding, at long last, ease.

Instead, before you, I flap my arms and with arched back, I
reach for the contact who has touched me and whom I touch, with
Invisible lines, made by the single clarity of moonlight that as a

god I could never imagine.

Monday, January 06, 2014

POEM: This Wild Daylight

 is unlike any other.

It is lizard-like
Squirms over frozen field.
It is the texture of talcum powder.
Things are tracked.
Footprints identified.
Directions discerned.
It enters lungs on every inhale.

It is a new year and day burns
It is the kindling past
that smells like charcoal.
warming us.

POEM: Tossing My Iphone Into The River

Imagine rolling down the car window
And tossing your Iphone into night air
Over a bridge that spans the Connecticut River.

Let’s call it summer.
Let’s say the stars alone are your witness.
Let’s say you’ve been drinking, but you have
Thought about this before and it is not fair to
Blame the alcohol.
Let’s say the moving trees and the warm
Cricket air has something to do with it.

Let’s say the darkness and the moving
Automobile owns you right now.

Imagine the object, shaped like a chocolate bar, swaying as it
Waddles to the riverbottom, tumbling along with the strong
Currents shad and stripers must fight every spring to spawn.

Now imagine this crippled alewife, without fins:
it cannot swim, its demon eye blinks red, blinks red,
blinks red, until the inky depth cuts the link.

Let’s say it creates a hypothermic silence.

Removed from any phone plan, a fading ghost,
A radio whisper to the satellites,
It frantically tries to connect, but only voicemail remains,
Vacant & soggy, begging for one more message.

Dreaming in a place where there is
no T9 shortcut for the word “help”.

Friday, October 18, 2013

POEM: Trumpet Ivy

A moment alone
Before another siege
And a blanket of fog
Muffles the leafblower.

Day light scores
Everything whistle clean
As a chewed dog
Toy.  My thoughts are

Draping cobwebs,
While trumpet ivy is
Ablaze in all its tropisms,

A match head
That dares the day to strike.


Monday, October 14, 2013

POEM: Gypsy Songs (Brahms)

Strike the faithless face
Lament until fleeing wave
Stream to the Rima banks.
When the loveliest
Laugh, teases and kisses me
Enfolded kiss, regret                                                                             
My poor bitter true remains.
Ever bronzed, clanking spurs
Caress his sweet whirl
Shout spring about.
Throw shiny silver guilders
On the cymbal
To hear it ping,                                                                                         

A row bloom so red.
No law against the forbidden
Beautiful wide grinned world
Thought perished
Long ago.
It would be a sin to abide
In empty cups of joy.

Recall with solemn oath

POEM: Ideal (Tosti)

Follow the friendly touch
I sense the light of air, of
Perfumed solitary radiance.
I dream of earth’s anxiety
Of her torment dreamt and forgotten.
Come instant smile,
Cloud feet rippling through tall grasses,
 Shine on me

What has yet to be.

POEM: Lovely Moon Who Sheds Silver Light (Vincenzo Bellini)

Moon silvering street like a coin.
The flowers breathe its own language
To the elements: sole witness
To ardent longing.
Recount the distance,
Assuage a cherished spot in the corner
Of the room.
Count hours of flattering comfort,

O light, my love. 

POEM: O How Anxious (Mozart)

To see only more,
How anxious,
How ardent glad reunion!
Erased by strident separation.
While I waver
While I quake and favor these
Sea swells that rise
To  halt the burst
Of fresh ocean foam.
Or sea green eyes.
In a whisper,
all fire is her sigh.
Cheeks aglow,
You deceive me so,
O tangy, trembling dream.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

POEM: Tu, La Aventura (You, The Adventure)

You are the journey I have longed to take.
The white water in me that aches
For wilder paths.

You are the canyon I would rappel if I could,
The dwelling place of all dreaming -
Something I never believed possible.

You are the adventure story
I want so eagerly to read at night,
When my leaden eyes close against my will.

You are a tale told in volcanic rock
Beneath our boots as flecks of shale.

You are the wild rabbit’s rush to the warrens of Fall,
Leading me, leading me, into the yawning dusk
Whose gilded fingers I desperately want twined into mine.

We are deep caves, the two of us. Let’s be spelunked,
Kneeling in the dark, with our dayglow clothing
And our moon breath to guide us.

Let’s wander then, to become trumpet vines
Showing off to each other our decadent flowers
On mornings, before each new gift of light.  

Let’s be stakeless tomatoes to northerly winds.
Kingly gourds with a sprawling demeanor.
Kin to the unlatched door

Lost forever in being found anew.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

POEM: Blue Flame

There then goes the vascular flame,
A flame that carries heat & light.
There then goes a claim to this life.

There then goes gravity that once
fixed objects  to this earth, but
now repels each thing from the other.

There then goes blood & DNA
& the bruised secrets of loneli
ness, of Coumadin-induced ghosts

standing in white hospital rooms,
of cousins long deceased, speaking
in spectral whispers.   There then go

the dusky eyes, the easy smile,
what remains of our father’s voice.
There then goes what we imagined about his hands.

Then goes the blue flame that released us
with the warmth of the friction created
by fingers releasing a sisal

rope, one by one, until nothing
lasts, & everything is
cast away.


POEM: The Objects That We Love

Your arm reminded me so much of lamb
That I nearly took a bite of it.

Your cheeks were so much like mashed potatoes
That I yearned to cry over them & salt them.

Your ear was a chocolate chip cookie
Begging to be dunked

And each lip, was a gummy bear.
Your neck was corn on the cob

As I plucked every yellow nib with a pink tongue.
Your eyes were butter in a toaster.

Your thick breath, maple syrup.
But when I say that I loved your lasagna

I am not being metaphorical
But that your layers entice me,

Whispering “undress me,
One curlicue noodle at a time!”

And when I dine out,
There is no cause for jealousy.

It is your sauce that I want poured over my pasta
Whenever I am hungry.

It is your bubbling red sauce, raw, stripping,
That shapes my meatball heart.



POEM: My Fearful Swan

My fearful singing swan is
so mindful yet  forced silent 
By early white plumage.
Elves glide on blissful song in the dell,
Parting false company. But only by
Listening, you died betrayed & sang
Aways in circles, where the song faded away.

You were such a swan then.


Found Poem From Translation of Edvard Grieg’s “The Swan”


POEM: Signs

Why does the flag fly at half-mast tonight / it is for breezes quitting / Or the naked trees / Or the look of hungry crows with deep eyes / in search of bread / cawing at the leaner days ahead / When I pass a church / and at every meal / I make the sign of the cross / just as I was taught growing up / Just as I still bow my head / when the name of “Jesus” / is spoken aloud / But I was never taught what sign to make / at a flag half raised / Especially When the deceased is unknown / It’s a blank gravestone / that waits for a Godly script to be written / A name perhaps a date or a clue to his faith / What remains is what I can never know / Is what has already been done / in living songs / in the friction / that life brings along with it / in the haystacks of debt that we owe to history / Which is a story / shivering to be told.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

POEM: Turdis Migratoris

Sunrise breasted bird,
You sit and wonder.
I will wonder too.
Scratch for your grubs. I
Will scratch along
with you. With a yellow
beaked heart that picks at
everything below.

POEM: Reversal

And now your life pulses

After the ebbing that was yours,

That sorrowful ghost,

That bag of dry twigs,

That was hope as kindling,

It is now just an empty glass.

The promise of love,

Of a smile, had never left you.

It was only covered up,

Hands clamped over its mouth

Waiting for the moon

To change everything

POEM: The Lives of Dreams

It is bad luck to dream of ice, or have your teeth fall out. To dream of snakes means change is coming. Dreaming of snoring people precedes natural disasters – like hurricanes. Like the night before superstorm Sandy hit when you elbowed me to tell me I was snoring and by the way, the air pressure was dropping, and do you think we should evacuate?

Nakedness is just the humility you lack; dreaming of red means you are holding a grudge, which will someday dry you up and blow you away. Rodents indicate a burrowing will, a whitheringness. The inability to vocalize during a dream means you want to be a jazz blues nightclub singer, and your soul is trying to find a hole to escape from you. You’ve never been accused of being hip, and this is why: you must let the cool escape.

Dreaming of geese in V-formation flying away means you will lose someone. Dreaming of geese in V-formation flying towards you means you are pregnant, unless you are male, in which case it means you wish you could be pregnant. Dreaming of geese on the ground means you will soon be crippled.

It is good luck to cry in your sleep, to weep soundly. It is your body’s way of uncovering all the hiding places in you, of removing the plastic sheeting you carefully construct over your internal house. It is also good luck to dream of food and if you can smell it, or taste it, even better. It is a sign that all of your hunger will soon abate. That soon, you will have enough. Stop worrying.

POEM: The Lives of Furniture

The loveseat once serviced the buttocks of Louis XIV. “Lou-eee Catorz” is how he says it. He is proud of this. The recliner never complains though he has a meat-and-potatoes life. He knows every Superbowl score since they started holding the Superbowl in 1967.

The piano stool once served in a speakeasy, dodging spilled prohibition beer. She dreams of being with a Steinway in the Biblical sense. She is a kissing cousin to a Stradavarius but does not like to mention it much since the others always make fun of her and she thinks it is bragging.

The end table is stressed – by design – to give him warmth, the marks and chips age him, make him seem experienced. On most days though he wishes the marks were gone so he could avoid all the pity stares he gets.

The hutch thinks he is overweight, and always tucks his drawers in to look thinner. He is tall so the weight is distributed well on him. He is made of mahogany, and the other pieces envy his tan. Still none of the other pieces in the room thinks he needs to lose weight. Sometimes he just feels fat, he says and asks the mirror to move a little so he can catch a glimpse.

The roll top desk likes to read. On rainy days, he rolls up his top, and flips through pages of a book. Sometimes he reads aloud until the others shush him. Near an old replica of an inkwell, are the initials “T.P” carved into his shoulder, like a tattoo. He remembers when the child did that. How much it hurt.

The grandfather clock adjusts his spectacles. His ballasts hang in fatigue. His pendulum carries a weight. Knowing time is a burden. All his springs want is a trip to Bermuda, to sit on pink beaches, and drink out of coconut glasses with colorful, paper umbrellas sticking out of them.

The rocker hums, eyes closed, imagining small children and arms.

The coat rack’s arms are tired, even without having coats to hold.

The couch needs reupholstering. His springs stick out. His arms are threadbare, with patches. Once, though, his foam was firm. Once, people felt majestic sitting between his arms.

POEM: The Lives of Voices

I found a voice on the street and thought it was mine. It was robust and fit well enough into my vest pocket, that I thought it might be the voice of reason so I kept it, hidden from the tirade of winter, keeping it dry and warm for future use. I wore this voice as a sacred undergarment, not unlike those worn by Mormons.

The next day, while hiking, I found a wounded voice in the woods, tattered in its timbre, fading at the edges. I brought it home and made it Portuguese White Bean and Kielbasa soup to give it heart, to fatten its soul. I hoped to make one fully reconstituted voice capable of the most unnerving prayer, the kind that makes you shiver from the openness; the kind that precedes a great discovery.

Friends encouraged my voice, asked her to sing, asked her to recite poems, to do interpretive dance. But her nerve grew and shrank based on the temperature of the dreams she had at night: hot dreams made her want to do more, to stand taller and to preach; cooler dreams made the voice believe she was a mushroom that no one bore witness to.

On some evenings, wandering the city streets, my own voice abandoned me and danced down alley-ways, bounding off of narrow walls, off of stucco buildings, pink in its carousing, drinking, finding women of low self-esteem, lifting their spirits and their skirts. In the morning, my voice would come back, headache in hand, remorseful for having bounced over the cobblestone of its own imagination only to find its way home on the back of a whisper.

Sometimes, in the fall, the season of great migrations, I find voices strewn all over New England, each one needing a hand up, each one in search of an inner ear and some bone-rubbing.

Not every voice makes the journey in one piece of course. Some are carried off by the wind on horseback never to be heard again. Some voices take a life time to bubble, to boil like the White Bean and Kielbasa, until it is soup. Some voices are just a glance, or a touch. And still others paint their hands bright saffron and touch everything.

Dreamers dribble into the 13 billion year old universe, spending their days waving to passing celestial bodies, never even looking for an ear to inhabit.

POEM: Wedding March

The sunlight has all the promise of a commencement address.
It tumbles over a thin-lipped horizon like a drunken pledge,
A full-bodied wine, so able to commit mayhem at a moment’s notice.

Today is your unwashed carrot plucked from dry earth, soil
Clinging to its pointed orange skin, held up by its green hair, so fragrant.
It is the diamond once lost in the back yard, rediscovered by mistake.
Today you become the seeds you’ve always dreamed of becoming.
The birds chirp a wedding march, and the clouds process in bridal white.
Before the dandelions and the compost, before the congregation
Of mayflies, those flitting maids-of-honor who flutter your praise.

In the presence of an embracing universe, in full view of smiling lilac,
A balloon heart with your names on each other’s tongue is carved into
the oldest oak tree we could find and that is your New Testament

POEM: Plague

We are melting candles
Frenzied by the noise of
Our own our diminutive voice.
Our tongues that click and clack
This and that.


Death is on its way.

The problems that have
Plagued us up to this point
Are wax drippings.

This is what the flame teaches.

What is left is what we have
Tried to avoid all this time:
The persistent cat-tongued voice
Wallpapering our brains;
Our turning around and
Around again and again only to
Face ourselves.

POEM: Apnea

1.) At 10 PM you nestle in. The bed is warm and the blankets are tucked around you. You are breathing like Darth Vader into the nose mask, through a hose connected to the CPAP machine. You imagine yourself as David Merrick, the Elephant man. “I’m not an animal, I’m a man!” you keep screaming at your wife.

2.) At 10:20 PM you are asleep. The hose to the CPAP machine is a snake that coils around your head. It is on a swivel, and you are careful not to strangle yourself or your partner with it while you switch sides.

3.) At midnight you wake up for the first time because the CPAP machine has malfunctioned and your heart has stopped. You momentarily dream of being bitten by rats and this is when you ARE getting oxygenated blood into your brain but without the machine, you do not dream at all, it is all a soupy blackness; it is the sleep you get when on cold medicines.

4.) At 12:01 AM you reach over and feel the night stand and correct the machine.

5.) At 1 AM you fall asleep long enough to feel as though you are falling. You kick your legs involuntarily and wake up again.

6.) At 1:30 AM the moon rushes into the room through the window like an anxious father and you curse it and pray to it all at once. This is the first time you glance at the digital clock - and make the analog comparison in your brain to someone running a marathon: how much further to go before the alarm. Time = distance.

7.) At 2:15 AM you turn and turn again, carefully maneuvering the hose of the CPAP machine. You are not asleep but not awake either.

8.) At 2:55 AM the mask slips off your nose and the air gushes like a wind tunnel. In a panic that has you believing you’ve just been sucked out of a 747 at 50,000 feet, you move your head slightly to cut off the air leak and then fall back to sleep.

9.) At 3:17 AM you glance again at the bloodshot eyes of the clock and mutter something about Satanic verses.

10.) At 4:02 AM you dream of sitting tied up in a chair in a field and hands, just hands, appear securing the knots. You scream as you are transported through wormholes connecting universes.

11.) At 4:05 AM you are awake again, revising the lesson plan for a class you are teaching about Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart”.

12.) At 4:06 AM you are mentally balancing your check book.

13.) At 4:07 AM you begin breathing deeply, following it into and out of your lungs.

14.) At 4:08 AM you are bored with this and go back to mentally balancing your checkbook.

15.) At 4:21 AM you are asleep long enough to dream of someone you do not know. You wake up feeling sad and you wonder why.

16.) At 4:35, AM again, you look at the clock and calculate time as distance.

17.) At 4:36 AM you accept that you are a freak; you believe that every other living thing is asleep at this hour. You believe you smell skunk.

18.) At 5:00 AM you dream of performing calculus in your head and while you believe you are sleeping, you are in fact not.

19.) At 5:30 AM the gentle melody of the alarm on your cell phone goes off. It is the opening notes to Radio Head’s “No Surprises”.

20.) At 5:31 AM you carefully shut off the alarm so as not to wake your partner. Your eyes are carrying American Tourister luggage around on your face. You stagger into the bathroom. The image staring back at you in the mirror: he knows you are a liar.

POEM: April 10, 2013

Had I left this spot

When the wind first thrummed,

When the gray clouds drummed

a black fist at me,

When my chilled teeth chattered

And my tired bones rattled a mamba

With rumbling hips of thunder -

I’d have missed the blue whale sky ripped asunder,

Stripped to the flesh, exposing

A roiling sun, flesh bared unrolling its tongue

Until it touched the earth,

All the while smirking, licking me warm.

POEM: Ode To a Statue of St. Francis

Sometimes birds like to shit on little St. Francis,
Man of peace. This is an occupational hazard
Of all garden-art, religious or not.
You can complain all you want:
Find a reason to hate birds, or
Never again trust a shady spot
But when you are brother to all things,
Which includes things with wings that shit all over everything,
Then you must have a cotton heart.
Otherwise your insides become a stone and
Then how do you respond to all the sadness of a world,
That scampers like a rat across a slate roof, that is
Sometimes seen, but always makes its presence known?

Clean it up and press on. That’s all you can do.
And if that bird shits on you nine-hundred and ninety-eight times,
You will clean it up nine-hundred and ninety-nine.

Watch a spider repair its web after a storm.
It’s incapable of sighing.
Remorse does not fit within the thimble frame of its
Rigid exoskeleton, it rebuilds.

Watch over me, shit-stained Francis. And
Protect every creature that dozes deep in my savage bones.
I will take you, mossy and white, or any way you come.

POEM: Tin Man

I stare into a mirror and
Proclaim in a mahogany voice:
“My God, what am I doing?”

That is the first step to disconnecting the red cable of your car battery,
Which is how you learn to jump-start things, like a car.

Fritter your hands a little. Fuss a bit.
Come clean with yourself, in jellied tones,
To the stranger in your head that says bat-shit crazy things
that you hide whenever company comes over.
The one that drives the Porsche of your mind
with the hormonal rage of a teenager.

Today is made possible
By its frosted flakes and all the sexy risk,
as dangerous as a cat-stretch-puddle.

It waits for you to take a step.

Here are the instructions:

Turn off the light /
make faces at the mirror/
on a moonless night/
let clouds grip your throat/
when owls embed themselves into headless trees/
hoot and then holler/
speak in private syllables/
break the tie between you and the image of you. /
Hold onto things with mosquito feet /
Promise anything: to bake bread together,/
to love the same woman or man or men or women,/
to get a rescue dog together and fight over its name./
Go and unmake your bed, /
Go slip your feet into large shoes, /
and stumble./
Time to stand in the ruinous rain/
to chisel away at the oxidized parts /

POEM: Wellwood Avenue (2 versions)

(Note: the first version is my first attempt at the poem, written normally.

The 2nd represents the same poem flipped upside down. Which one sounds better? It is a a very interesting thing to do to a poem.  The meaning is slightly different in the 2nd version, but it also suggests I am not in control of the poetry writing process as much as I might like to believe.)

We wonder how sunsets look to the dead,
From the tips of white granite
Which is now how we recognize their faces?

We know they are not really there, of course. We are
Very good at knowing the difference between
animate and inanimate: it is a difference of weight –

The living are always lighter. Geography
Sews an invisible thread to the inside of us, and
Pulls at us every step of the way, demanding us to return.

When I go, I want to build a place for you, my love,
To sit beside the godly pine. Place will be the shape of
My face, and the curve of your hips.

It is the running ripple of your spine, the meaty part of my hands
Which you have always admired. A place to clutch
cold stone. To wish beneath a glowering sky,

To believe in the heaviness of the dark oak past,
When I was your desire and we connected
To this sandy island whose soils once


And perhaps neither of us will miss or be missed as much.
While my consonant arms wrap around you,
My name, and all the vowels will lodge in the trees.

Sit before marble and silence, and you will speak.
I will slip into your breath when you rest, when this sandy
Island a long time ago hitchhiked south on a glacier,

Before I was your desire and we touched,
Believing in the heaviness of a dark oak past,
cold stone. To wish beneath a glowering sky,

Which you have always admired. A place to clutch
the running ripple of your spine, the meaty part of my hands
My face, and the curve of your hips.

To sit beside the godly pine. Place will become the shape
of my face. I want to build a place for you, my love,
that pulls at us, every step of the way, demanding us to return.

The living is always lighter. Geography
Sews an invisible thread to the inside of us.
Animate and inanimate: it is just a difference of weight –

You will know I am not reallythere, of course.
From the tips of white granite
Which is how we will recognize each other’s faces,

Wondering how sunsets look to the dead

POEM: Watching Sports

Watching sports is like carrying your lover on your back
Through every minute of every day.
She throws her arm off your neck while you try to shave.
He leans her to one side, as he bends to tie his shoe.
She uses his Ahab arm, which swings as if
tied to the back of that accursed whale,
As a trivet to place a hot frittata upon.

The chance for perfection is always appealing.
All the energy that is burned could rekindle
A supernova, black hole,
now dark as coal,
weightless in space
or it could re-illumine every burned out light bulb filament.

Monday, June 17, 2013

POEM: She’s Off To Find The World And Herself (A Parent’s Final Exam On Flag Day, 2013)

The sky shows off its boredom in pale blue, the shade of a thresher shark’s cold indifference. A jet that is so high it is ghostly, glows as gray as a newborn. It leaves jet trails like autumn leaves in its wake.

It’s Flag Day. I hear parties going off all around me. Fireworks putt-pat against the warble of tree frogs whose trill questions everything. Laughter floats like the smell of stale beer from shattered bottles on a mocha breeze.

They are with their tribes, I think.
“Where is my tribe tonight?”

I think about children who grow up to fly to other continents because once we taught them not to be afraid of the world. Right about now, uniformed men all over this land gather, meeting to dispose of old American flags in the only approved of manner: wearing medals with multicolored ribbons and oversized pea-green jackets, with elephant ears and log-like noses, swaying to taps before flags laid out like soft coffins,
saluted, anthem-ized, hand-over-heart-sworn-to, drenched in kerosene then ignited.

Rising smoke is the soul that pools into clouds of a holy memory.

The serious sounds of growing old fill my head. She is off to Tanzania, Bolivia and Iceland. Colorful stamps will decorate her passport. I worry about the intercontinental travel of children who are no longer children, and of me, being a child again, without agency, afraid of the world and everything in it.

“I would give everything I own tonight to see her pearl face poke through that door right now,” I say every night, for a year, until she returns.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

POEM: Charlton Heston In Heaven

I wonder if Charlton Heston regrets
that video clip of him raising that
musket over his head,
Growling chafed words
about prying guns from cold,
dead hands, if there are toothless
cherubs surrounding him,
onion skinned, who also know about guns,
about tiny, cold, dead hands,
still as full of wonder,
scented with the talc of trust,
with voices like a corn-cob whisk,
telling him just how wrong he was?

POEM: What We Don't Believe

We do not really believe that art and music will raise our children’s test scores, for if we did,
we would equip each child with an art pad and violin while still in her crib.

We do not really believe that bread and wine, raised and consecrated, becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, for if we did, we would crawl on our hands and knees to the altar to consume it.

We do not really believe that we are beautiful or loved for if we did,
we would surely give beauty and love more freely.
We do not really believe that we are all brothers and sisters, for if we did,
there would be a homeless man in my guest room as I write this.

This is not meant to harp on shortcomings but
rather to show that the splitting of the atom is not just esoteric science.

It happens to be part of our genetic code:
This ability to explode on contact.

Friday, March 22, 2013

POEM: The Lives of Voices

I found a voice on the street and thought it was mine.
It was robust, fitting so well into my vest pocket, that I thought it might be the voice of reason so I kept it, hidden from the tirade of winter, dry and warm for future use.
I wore this voice as a sacred undergarment, not unlike those worn by Mormons.

The next day, while hiking, I found a wounded voice in the woods.
Tattered in its timbre, faded at its edges, I brought it home and made it Portuguese White Bean and Kielbasa soup to give it heart, to fatten its soul. I hoped to make one reconstituted voice, capable of unnerving prayer, the kind of prayer that makes you shiver from the openness, the kind of prayer that precedes a great discovery.

Friends encouraged this voice, asking her to sing, asking her to recite poems and to do her interpretive dance.

Her nerves grew and shrank based on the temperature of the dreams she had at night: hot dreams made her stand taller and want to preach; cool dreams made her believe she was a mushroom nobody saw fit to bear witness to.

On evenings, wandering city streets, my own voice often abandoned me, dancing down the alley-ways, bounding off of narrow walls, off of stucco buildings, pink in its carousing, drinking, finding women of low self-esteem, lifting their spirits and their skirts.

In the morning, my voice would skulk back, headache in hand, remorseful for having bounced over the cobblestone of its own imagination only to find its way home on the back of a whisper.

Sometimes, especially in the fall, in the season of great migrations, I find voices strewn all over New England, each one needing a hand up, each one in search of an inner ear and rubbing bones.

Not every voice makes the journey in one piece of course.
Some are carried off by the wind on horseback never to be heard again.
Some voices take a lifetime to bubble up, to boil like White Bean and Kielbasa soup until it is soup.
Some voices are just a glance, or a touch.
Still others paint their hands bright saffron and touch everything.

For dreamers, a voice dribbles out into the 13 billion year old universe, waving to passing celestial bodies, never once looking for an ear to inhabit.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Carol's Language Fetish

Carol always wanted to learn a foreign language, so she signs up at the community college to learn Mandarin, but Chinese is a tonal language and Carol is tone deaf.  So she drops the course in favor of learning American Sign Language because she always wanted to be able to send secret signals to others without being overheard. She wonders if it is possible to be overseen, but registers anyway.

She is afraid of being listened to and what that means.

She practices in the mirror, pretends that her reflection is deaf and wonders if the image is impressed with her fluency.

No one ever visits her though, and over time, she realizes that knowing other languages does not, in itself, promote understanding, just the potential for understanding, and she remembers a time when she was out in public at her favorite Indian Restaurant eating her dal makhani, when another woman fainted, driven to convulsions by some spice in the chutney, how she secretly prayed that someone would need a person who knew ASL, but it never happened. Not once as long as she frequented that restaurant did it happen. They just called 9-1-1 instead and she watched three very handsome and muscular Latino EMTs perform CPR as though this woman were an organ and they were holding a concert until they brought the woman back to life.  The woman, as it turns out, was not deaf and did not even know what ASL was.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

POEM: You Are Not You

You are not you, but a shaft of white,
The chance starlight that I look up to see,
Who is the boat that carries me home
Over black water, beneath a new moon
When the dark is a velvet soup.
Who is not a kiss, or madder red lips
Or even the sound of a pucker, thinned
By fear.  Who is a fire blazing within,
Not a lone voice but the communion
Of many dead poets conspiring rebellion.
You are not you at all,
But a wind that whisks me clean,
A sinful lushness of summer greens
Against the long-shivering hours of need.

Monday, January 14, 2013

POEM: Favorite Words

"Why. I'd love to hear your ideas!"

POEM: Light Borrowers, Framed By Bits of Dark Matter

1. “Every woman adores a fascist” Plath wrote and mine is the darkness. I want to have an affair with it. The dark is a fascist love.
2. Horace Greasly held love like a bread loaf.  He escaped Germans camps in WWII more than 200 times but always snuck back in to see his German girlfriend. 
3. The hissing that I believe is my tea kettle is just a common sense escaping.
4. Love, love my season that I cannot be made ready. That melts over everything.
5. Come, my wounds. Glimmer like fresh skin. 
6. I show off my stigmata you gave me like a tattoo I dreamed of having removed once out of your sight.
7. Tulips are baskets that carry color. They lick their own petals, like a grooming cat, they raise their heads to catch the direction of the next rain, or the next frost as a bad dream, presaging the desiccating autumn.
8. Curl up now, curl up into your bulbous hideout, grieve fading embers, O gardener of clouds, take a gulping breath and keen long winter.  
9. Go imitate the lost wandering blue lust of sky.
10. Harold Whittles heard for the first time in his life, when an earpiece was placed into his left ear, He alone is credited for the discovery of sound.
11. Streams are tinted glass, made by all the weeping world. 
12. Splintered over streamstone, water is often disguised as birdsong. Birds imitate streams whenever they sing. 
13. I am terrible at small talk but my heart wants to carry you  in its back pocket    
14. Everything is a whetstone that sharpens colors, which is what tulips dream.
15. Tulips are packed with mud and bone meal far below a noisy surface where everything seems to matter.

POEM: Tattoo

The tattoo ink was very old.
The sleeve of words tumbled
Down her arm like ivy:

“Face the pith of everything.
To the flower that is a breath.
To the toughness in standing up.
With nothing to defend.
Palms open. No Fists. Always.”

She is afraid of her future.
She is afraid of the future of everyone.
She is afraid of what will happen
To her children.

I see heroic things in you.
and that will simply have to do.

POEM: Elegy

Now the ordinary day begins, though
The graying hours have yet to pass.
I say a prayer: I want to be useful.
But today I will not sing any hymns.

My lungs are stuffed with cotton. I admire
The songs of the serpaphim among us.
I know every one of these songs of heaven.
But grief clings to me, inert as soil. I

Beg for its release, but it’s sewn to my bones.
My tongue is just a sparrow but wants to
Do big things. Pain’s tidal flow has set it  
Adrift in an ocean of suffering.

Watch how light falls on us now, after quiet
Violets offering no resistance
But their gentle fragrance are crushed beneath
Violence’s cracked ice, & purple spills.

The bloody mornings will always remind us.
I want to be useful.  I want to be useful
To engage on the battlefield of love,
To healers, & caregivers, who know these songs.

A child is a promise from our pinkest flesh.
Always willing, we dangle on a hook,
Crying out in recurring boot-black dreams
of a coffin, into moonless nights to come:

“Save my children,
  Save my children,
  Save my children.”

Watching Fox News

“Sean Hannity is the most unfuckable person on the planet,” she says. My friend is a shepherd, down from the mountains for a visit.

“I feel that way about Ann Coulter,” I say.

“They could make an antiporn moving with those two,” she says.

I nod. “I’d watch them just to see them put their clothes on,” I say.

“They could threaten to NOT have sex with each other as a turn on,” she says.

“The whole thing could be sponsored by Beano or Gasx,” I say and we giggle like school kids.

“Watching Fox News makes me horny,” I say. “Not in an urgent adolescent kind of way, but in a sheep-screwing kind of way. “

“I’m not comfortable with you talking about screwing sheep,” she says.

“I understand,” I say, but I don’t. I change the subject. I promise to never mention fucking Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity or sheep again.

I am feeling the rawness of things. My head feels heavy.  My chest holds the north wind and I can’t breathe.

 “Let me teach you breaking wind pose,” she says, ever the yogi.

I want to slam my thick head into the floor.

We decide to eat waffles and bacon for dinner. I leave Fox News on.

“It helps my circulation,” I tell her.

“Oh”, she says, “I thought you were just lazy.”

She pretends to watch while we eat. We open wine and whisky and vodka. “No booze left behind.” I wink. I am clever, I think.

“Would you do Greta Van Susteren?” she says.  We go on discussing which Fox News casters were fuckable and which were not.

“It’s a completely subjective topic,” she says when I tell her I have science that proves they are unfuckable.

“Take Megan Kelly, for instance,” I say. “Even after sex… sometimes during sex… you have to talk, right?”

“And that would do it.”

“Do it?”

“Ruin it.”

“Ruin it.”  I scan the ceiling, wondering about echoes.

My head is cotton soaked in oil or no, mercury – a heavy viscous metal causing brain damage at slight exposures. We are watching Fox News, waiting for the fiscal cliff.

“Do you think it will coincide with the Mayan end times?” she asks.

“More important - do I need to dress and shave the day we go over the fiscal cliff?” I ask back.

“I always raise my arms on a roller coaster – think I should do it that day?” she says as a joke, but I mistake it as a serious consideration.

“That might cause a stroke,” I say, not believing what I am telling her. I wonder where I got that fact from. 

“Where did you get that from?” she says. She and I are my own worst enemies. We challenge everything.

Later I make tea. I serve tea and a coffee ring cake because she likes it. I like the irony of it.

“I like coffee cake,” she says.

“I know,” I say.  

“But I’d rather coffee over tea,” she says after a pause.

I change the channel to Downton Abbey. That was more her speed.

“Now this is more my speed,” she says.

“I know,” I say.  I watch too.

But deep in my concrete head I am making a mental list of people on Fox News I could never fuck.
Brit Hume? Isn’t that necrophila. Shepard Smith? That shitstain? It’s no good. I take out my laptop.
I begin to type every news reporter’s name on Fox News.

I think to myself, trying hard not to let on to my friend what I am thinking, “I would never shag Geraldo Rivera. I might boink his mustache, but that schnoz? And that ego? That would be a three-way at best.”

“What are you doing,” she says. I am silent. Then I say something.

“Not saying.”  I just keep typing.

I can feel my head sinking, lower, into the keyboard. My head is too heavy to hold up. My poor bean sprout neck bends beneath the weight. There is a pulsing. Like a nova – like a heart – like either one of those things that can explode. Only my head is imploding.  I am feeling the rawness today.

 “What about Sarah Palin?” she says. “I know she doesn’t work directly for Fox.” In mid sip of my tea, I do a spit-take. We talk for hours about not boning Fox News Reporters.

Then my laptop belches.  A serious looking message appears. A serious error has occurred.
“This looks serious,” I say.

“System is shutting down”, the message says. I try to shut down gracefully and am advised that I have no authority to shut down.

I am speaking to no one. Maybe to the laptop. “But I had authority to sign in?” I question.
 “What kind of fuckery is this?”

I hold the power button for 30 seconds. The beast gasps, wheezes and becomes dirt dormant.
“Fucking don’t tell me I don’t have the authority to shut down.”

My head begins to lighten.