Sunday, July 31, 2011

POEM: How Like A Vista

On this bluff, eagle & I scan see everything:
Expansive earth carved in a woody green carpet,
buffalo clouds graze on blue fields above.

Yes, yes I can love like this –
Horizon to blurry horizon.
I can unfold every painful
& joyful inch of it,
This experience,
these dizzying heights,
the chance to shout swears at the top of my lungs
& to have words torn from my lips
& carried off without ears around.

Today is about drinking in the panorama
keeping nothing secret,
the large cave of me alive,
& everything in plain sight.

Friday, July 29, 2011

POEM: A Tree Shall Be Known By Its Fruit

if you want to know something you must learn to stand perfectly still

what we speak is wind across open fields,
when earth shakes, then everything sits up and takes notice
& even the clematis worries

another way I have heard this expressed is that we are containers
carrying all the things we have ever done

what we aspire to these are paintings we work at in our lives
we splash globs of red here
& a dash of verdigris there
get it on our hands & face
some on the brush ferrel
some on the handle
& some into our mouths

drink it
follow all movement
break out the muck boots
muscle & tendons, cartilage & skin & bone root us

Saturday, July 09, 2011

POEM: Mapocho River

Once it was known for its headless &
handless bodies bobbing through
Santiago, the mutilated city.

Today, Chile sends its wines and grapes
North, exporting its fruit rather than a vermilion grief
That could always turn the river red

as wine with impotence.
The past is a fleeting ghost but that is what the people
are accustomed to (even Pinochet is dead!)

You can hear the voices of the disappeared
in sibilant hush of moving water
that sluices through every anguished heart.

It is said that everything comes to
light of day, we ask for truth
to disinfect everything,

But this is not always so.
So much is carried in the shadows,
in crying hearts of the mothers

in the dark alleys through the city
in the saintly ember of el Estadio Nacional
amid a night as inky as hopeless prayer

of the tortured, of the lost
as inscrutable as the unfathomable hand of God
black as the unknowing & fog of the lost

deep in the flesh, where no one ever looks.
In lost family, so much surrendered to memory
Like a garden that is overgrown

In humid South American air, 
where every fragrant thing is caught for a second
remembered & then is never seen again

a flaccid dream pressed into
Soft earth, where the fortunate dead get to go.
Not a bloated headless cork

speaking the language of loss
Along the fluent snake of a river.

POEM: Lakelife

When birds converse,
I try to listen.
Their sounds tongue-in-groove

together like
fresh carpentry.
Each one sends up

a chirp, then listens
to the other.
In the distance,

over the lake,
Hammering takes
on the quality

of birdsong.
Humans cough up
their own banging

What is that like –
to live in a way

that blends in with
the soft sunrise?
To rise & run

down to water’s
edge, to meet friends
& take off water-

Skiing before
others have risen
to morning coffee?

Is this the outcome
of some master plan
Or just the result

of sinewy thinking?

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Incarnations of Elvis

Nothing attracts a group of white people like an Elvis impersonator. It’s Lake George and the cheesy feel of the “authentic” Adirondack experience is in the air and clings to my skin like bug spray with that same balsamic feel. I walk around in shorts and a t-shirt, in what could arguably be the t-shirt capitol of the world. I feel privileged enjoying the July festivities, taking in the glorious iridescent colors and sounds of Lake George during Independence Day week.

The Elvis impersonator has a mellifluous voice. His dress and hair style and big belt buckle (BBB – note: please refer to Dara Weir’s poem about BBBs) are reminiscent of Elvis to be sure, but he is subdued. He has not adopted all of Elvis’ traits. He sounds like Elvis, but he appears uncomfortable with his other signature traits: the hip swinging, the leg bowing and arm sweeping, even the guttural tics that made Elvis who he was.

I have always been fascinated by the Elvis cult. I was a Public Enemy fan in college so when Chuck D. rapped “Well, Elvis was a pretty big hero to most/but he never meant shit to me,” I could relate. But this idea that there are these many incarnations of Elvis at various stages of his life floating around in the public consciousness interests me in the same way that there are many incarnations of the Buddha or the various Hindu gods. These multiple identities reveal a deep human need to contort primal forces of nature into what is required in order to survive, so we create visions of Elvis bookmarking moments in our lives, marking the momentous in our personal narratives, and in essence signposting to others who we are.

There was fat Elvis, skinny Elvis, post-Hawaii Elvis, pre-drug addicted Elvis, military Elvis, etc. From these perspectives of how we create our heroes and gods we illuminate our own fears and longings. Which Elvis we relate to is what we fear or long for in some fashion.

Perhaps in connecting to that specific Elvis quality – the sneer, the irreverent sexuality, the cockiness or showmanship – even his tragic ending incarnation, when he was too drugged to find his way out of his prison – we reveal something about our own wants. Sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes I want to just phone it in and not be present, wishing it would all just go away. In this case, this incarnation of tragic Elvis, the one where he has lost all zest for life is the one I can relate to. There are other times I feel on top, in control. Perhaps then the pelvic-thrusting idol would be my Elvis. It may not be profound to say, but I think it is true nonetheless: the heroes we get are the heroes we need.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

POEM: July 5th

a july 4th on a monday
means there is work the next day
so we become realists and eat and drink
over the weekend instead.
no one wants to carry around
a leaden head on that tuesday.

in tepid sunlight shy as a duckling
making its way to shore,
the lake exposes its slender face
its pianist's fingers,
its alabaster skin
and delicate bluest eye.

A mosquito motor-boat
leans hard against the flat water,
fog, its morning coat

after the celebrating
is just the deep hole
that silence hopes to fill.

Monday, July 04, 2011

POEM: Adirondack Morning

there is
the romance
of the plains
to fall back
on, a fest-
ooned event
with the speed
of tam-
arac trees
to measure
our growing
children by
there is
the promise of
in after-
noon storms
& growing
a little
grim about
the mouth
in winter
then there is
the throaty
engine slap-
ping against
the soft green
pine. "sapiens
you say to me
& this sound is
loosened in-
to the air
that circles
over the
lake slic-
ing thin
as a canoe

like a
ied trout.