Monday, October 08, 2012

For the Old Habit of Writing Letters

O, letter writers beware-a time's
at hand when even your band
will disappear from the earth.
Even though I’m one of its fertile
reminders of god as are you & the grass.  I am
writing you because
I don't want to appear lost,
although that's what I'm thinking
these days.   Turning like a yellow
hot dime, our sun, as they say,
brought me in but doesn't care—
I mean besides the lack of air,
I 'm a tranquil meteor going nowhere.

So in this late afternoon ramble
I meet you head long, having done
a million sacred penetrations
and watched the newest perturbations
appear on my screen
as if to confirm your presence.
Like the astronomer I am who I am,
cutting back on the view
to enjoy the blur.

So what song did you sing tonight?
There's been a bunch of folk walking
by and the light over the Miami
is thick with golden autumn light,
the light we'd like to say is like
a song, a perfect whistling
that never goes away.

O, letter writers be good!  Let
the hornet honey feed you wildly
so that you grow in the woods
like a bear.  I have nothing for you,
not the seed, not the time, not
the little ride we made
when we were young and full of grace.

In the holy holy space of the page
I am like the runner going by,
forcing myself into the cold air
for something that's really
unattainable-- aren't we all
forged from heat?  Don’t we all
here the same song in the wind,
in the woods all alone?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Like Shade in the Shadow

The darkness at the end of my tunnel is a bad darkness.
All told, it is swirling with desire and instinct
Like a tree in autumn wind, unleashed, perhaps
Going nowhere. Like the train I hear in the distance
At night when everybody else has gone to bed.
In my head, there will be dreams later on
of lawns and tranquil sheets of red leaves
spread on lawns, in the shade, where it is
thick as briars or ivy that darkness which invades
my head. And as if someone’s asked me to name
it specifically, I know I can only conjure the rich
deep greens of late summer, the shade
on the other side of the hill which is wet
with life, where the yawning end of the world begins.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Galaxy 27

There are still
voices there's
the quiet
whisper who
is like a distant
fever or even
the hot
blanket you
suffered under.

Then there is
the iron
hot from the fire
which does not know
us even though
we know of burns
and smoking woods.

Somewhere in between
these two galaxies
sound carries
on & there are
radio waves making
it across the dark
spectrum, which
sings in a hard
dry tenor deeper
than you or I
could ever muster.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The other war

That never happened
is curious
and alive-
the super dirigibles,
the jumbo jets and Roy
Lichtenstein in charge
of it all. And where

are you in all of this?
I've noticed you've
missed my fragmented
way of doing business,
or say, the
nice collection
of particles of sky plucked
when I was up there
last time—here this

one's as blue as
Navajo turquoise—
it tells stories,
likes your eyes,
tells me if you're
true enough.

And the last thing
in my plastic menagerie-
the war now inhabits
these jewels of experience
we've shared
all the way from
one home to another,
back when the summer
was a real twist, an opening
that made us glad
as cornflowers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lightning 23

What ever is
left of it
In some damned
cracks like
Orange lightning
Sometimes.  In
My swirling specs
Or just a
Note about
Lunch.  And
The wet rain
Returns the
Present to
Something livable.
What is it like

What is it like to live in Milan?
I live in the thick green suburbs
Of a rusted Midwestern city--
O, you can hear the freight trains
Blowing past like they really have
Some place to go, at night, like they
Really care about all the dark little
Patches of oak rushing by.
That what the American night
Is all about.  So that we all get up
In the morning to wonder if there are
Other cities among the stars,
Other songs making the air a confusion
Of stories.  Do you go to the park
To sit in the sun?  I've sat on my
Porch for ages waiting for that to happen.
Right now, in the eternal state of Ohio
I'm just home.  Dinner is warm,
Outside the silver maples have been
Absorbed by nightfall reduced
To items found at a garage sale--
It's all become a church pot-luck,
Where you can never be sure
Of anything once the sun's gone.

A ghost contacting other ghosts

It too late to be learning
About Wagner's leitmotifs
And shifting tonal centers--
That's for the new world
To discover if it wants.

I am more for you than you
Know. Even the Rilke you read
Can mean the great sun is
A fabulous golden symbol
For what was known, what
Was conquered under the stars.
Sure I spread her thighs in late
Summer and she told me
I made her glad as fall is wet
And ruddy.  The season
Twirling toward us, no reason
Except the animals to go on.

So as a ghost calling you out
From the forlorn burned -out
Center of forgotten Ohio
I hold the censer
I reek of smoke and have tasted
The burnt offerings left by
The former tenants.  There
Against the wall is the lizard
That some poets hated, although
This one is fat, obscene, filled
With god knows what.  A power
Of the everlasting, for which
This ghost, me, is in retreat.
I cannot mention
The desert without
What ever darkness

What ever darkness
You want, then earth
Is the place to go.
The slow conservative
Flowers, the wild
Strawberries clumped
Behind a local gate-
You twist a ring
To get in that yard.
And now the night
Cut by sirens, the Rolling
Stones song in the kitchen
Worn down like you, drowned
By the night howl of fire trucks.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dance Azteca

No matter how hard you try
you can't bring the eclipse back.  Listen--
yesterday morning
there was a grackle, a starling
and a cardinal perched on the silver
maple and I was on the porch
talking again, the same old
game, the sun where it should be
the birds taking it in.

Out of respect for the forlorn
you go on, fully expecting
thunder, some kind of light saving
plasma to effect renewal,
a change in the weather that we used to call
happiness.  But what was once happiness
is a now a bitter river meandering
past you every night from the darkest
zones of the heart.  It knows a million

imps and lions onshore & when the lights flicker
it’s only swamp water
darting in your ear.  In my space
the shadows never-the-less
increase.  Time empties
like a bottle.  Over here, in someone's
room, the broom is shedding its secrets
into the fireplace.   What you call
goodwill is spilled upon the road.

Friday, May 11, 2012

These 3 new poems, following, were written in response to the exhibit Changing Landscapes:   Contemporary Chinese Fiber Art, as part of the Ekphrastic Poetry Reading at the Dayton Art Institute on May 11, 2012. 
From THE MEMORY OF AUGUST by Zhao Dandan

White crystal moon of flowers
You're giving me powers
To imagine your stainless steel
Crescent swings in the sky
 loved by all the other moons
While you emanates from the dark
Powers of space.  Far away
I can see you shining like

A field of clear white clover and your
shining cradle holds what should be
Heaven for most of us--a field
of flowers like a bedspread,
a sense of the cosmos
Tied together with thin polyester.

When I first saw this crescent from another
space, cradled in the sureness of lunar gesture
and unlike our stark white moon in orbit
I was alone.  Not even the museum guard
could touch me as I circled the satellite
like the saucer from a lost in space episode—
it was this glittering polyester

landscape that I flew over unlike a moth
but knowing full well that other moons
in other places exist, some more beautiful
and compelling than others, some harsh
boiling pits like Europa, some frozen
disks, unlike our present subject—
queen of its solar system, a tricky turn in the sky.

Poem after THE ORIGIN OF THE RIVER by Wang Kai

The soil turns year after year, chthonic
Spirits slipping the loose bonds of earth--
Piled up, they are tools grinding
To get back to the deepening fields
Where the earth and water combine into the brown
Loam.  Singing out this passion, river

Spirits speak soft notes that rhyme with the river
on several levels:   the green earthly
level, the sound of the ground and the fields,
the air where dirt meets the sky and grinds
against heaven.  Oh yes, there are chthonic
unions in the soil.  The earth is brown

and as perfect as love.  The water is brown
and as perfect as love.  What’s remarkable, what’s grinding,
is the movement of bodies, celestial, chthonic,
water-bound in filaments of fiber, in the earthy
imagination of the artist.    The river
speaks to the land, the fields,

row after row of hard or fallow fields,
approaching the horizon, the earthy
end of this world.  We are here watching the grinding
formation of spirits in their attempt to contact the brown
space between planets,  heavenly opposite to the chthonic
patch we call Earth.  Even at the river’s

forking into three distinct rivers
the truth of the land and it people is an earthy
truth that comes to bear much later in the brown
spirit world that surrounds us all.  Grinding
its way to the heart of the matter,  the fields
are alive with dancing and ritual to the chthonic

sequence of the seasons, the dusky chthonic
customs flow forward like the river, a brown
lesson among the sweet orchards, a grinding
of fruit into cider.  In the meantime, we await the earthy
rendition of fate to the promise of fields
the sweet song of rivers.

And it is here I’ve seen the brown, grinding
fibers and earthy colors reminding me of fields
of rivers, of the chthonic impulse.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Hey, Hey

We watched one afternoon and smoked a hundred cigarettes—
Andrew’s dad was a retired beat cop from Manhattan
with a nice TV hooked up to a Sony Betamax. He also owned a little schnauzer named
Heidi. This all happened when we were young and didn’t know the world,
the outside, I mean, except through movies and song. The film in question
was Yellow Submarine. Even now you might not know the title

unless you’re over 45, and certainly if you’re over fifty you might re-title
that part of your life from any number of Beatles songs. The question
remains: do you know of all their variants and offshoots? The rough Manhattan
copies, the simulacrum of Monkee-land? Of Davy Jones I briefly speak, cigarette
in one hand, my other on the keypad: there were young beats named
for open windows in hell’s kitchen who frequented Los Angeles, too. The world,

for them, was like a bright blue sun-scorched sky. As for the others, the world
wakes more often to forgetfulness than any other condition, be it in Manhattan
or Los Angeles. The next day the new kid, Mitch, told us his mom smelled cigarettes
and pot smoke on him, although we’d been smoking mostly questionable
chunks of hash and Marlboro 100’s. If you could give us a title
back in the day, you might call us into question

concerning our lack of true beliefs. For example, we all questioned
whether or not god was dead or if the universe spun endlessly in quantum-named
waves and particles. At least we knew some science: one part of the Manhattan
Project had been located out in the desert, on a sagebrush flat, on an end of the world
road twisting out to the hard ruthless peaks and plains that had names and titles
like “The Journey of Death.” At a place called Allsup’s we bought cigarettes

and went on the black road heading north. We couldn’t stop smoking cigarettes
as the dim stars rushed above us and around the 1971 Nova Fastback titled
in my father’s name. We knew for sure that the car wouldn’t make it to Manhattan,
but was good for going back and forth between Albuquerque and the small world
of desert towns some of us came from: Gallup, Mentmore. We all questioned
the light, our return to light, if we’d come back to these places we’d named

in part because the feelings had no names. What can you name
the sensation of your first cigarette, your first deep inhale? Do you know the world
any better after chugging a couple of Coors Banquet Beers? We’ve all questioned
the return to normalcy that follows quite turbulent years: song titles
stick like broken records and the sensation you got from watching Manhattan
isn’t quite like what Mickey smoked with Valleri afterwards, a cigarette

probably dipped in hash oil. A cigarette made and rolled in Manhattan
where the pretty girls are there for the song titles, questioning
the world, what means what, where to locate god’s name.