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POEMS 2006-2007

The Mist of Day

Things I cannot alter or forget
prove me Love's apostate
whom I most strove to serve.

At seventy-one
the women who were everywhere
are gone.

I have no ruins or rented tenement
do not await a bird song
or a multifoliate rose.

My high cave faces west
toward Mexico and Monterey.

I read by day and watch tv at night.

First Date

on our first date, I brought you home
to a carefully prepared stage set:
fireplace, music, wine, cushions...
asking: "Would you like the full seduction here
or should we go straight to the bedroom?"

"What's in the bedroom?"

After that, love-making every night
all night intermittently
fellatio, fucking in cars, elevators, woods
motel rooms...anywhere...

until the fault lines fractured
blew us apart, even as
bonds of atoms smashed, release
the energy of suns

but time and again
we came together, ever closer
always repeating the explosive end
each time more violent

and each time
resistance to your love...
my stubborn, bachelor will
crumbled a little more.

At last you married, moving out of state
a final severance
wounds sealed, annealed

one more return
would find me shattered, all defenses down
ripe for idolatry, kneeling before a throne
where you would sit and wear a queenly crown


the fan blows steadily

sunset's slant light
diagonally bisects the far wall
the artifacts of my living room
don't move

below my balcony
time scrolls across the urban landscape
like the clear hump of a wave

and here and there rips off a leaf
launches a fruit
or snaps a twig with ice


each night
the door opened

She'd enter
loaded with parcels
gifts, boxes, bags
and rush to kiss me.

The cups, plates and furniture
listened to the story of her day
in rapt attention
as I did not.

Now the door is still
the phone silent

the tv babbles

Time soaks into the walls
dulling the paint.

Sitting easy in my satisfaction
I idly dream the door will open

that someone will
come home.

The Light

this is a very thin reality
a screen reflecting light

where are the real actors
the real world
built with billions of numbers

for those who eat shadows
drink mirrored water?

we don't embue
we don't engender

only the light that reaches us
teaches us to move and speak

the missing
the dark matter

all in the projector
all in the light


be there no more meeting of our ways
let each awake to different worlds and days

let memory of me, by time distilled
dissolve in darkness leaving just a glow
like embers
like the spectre of a blaze


what was I thinking just now?
what was I thinking just before that?
what will I be thinking after this?


day breeze tastes of meadow
night wind scents of sea
blows warm
blows steadily

the forgetful brain reminded
of things fallen from sky
or hauled from the depths

angel-winged rays
fragments of stars

Mock Heroics

Hwaet! We Gardena. We spear-Danes!
Kia! Chariot of white gold, great snowy steed!
Lochinvar rides to rip you from your clan, Robin
nocks an arrow for your freedom.

I, Beowulf, spoiling for a fight
arrived at Herot, Hrothgar's Hall.
A Long day's Journey to Heartbreak House
Bleak House
Amfortas' house of pain.

We feasted, drank deep, but by night
Grendel tore our comrade
devoured flesh and bone.

Arabian Nights. Asian nights. Latin nights.
Stations of the Cross, the living dead.
War's immaculate conception. Empire's
Virgin Birth.

What of it?

Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous...
O man in the mirror?

I'll get a drink in hell...

Let God sort 'em out
Let it begin with me.


burnt time
scorched time

crumbling scrolls
curled pages
carbon folios


days pass

I note down every hour
reading, cooking, walking the park

woodbine, wood song

sundials, horologes
circles of dream

durance engines

earthly servitude

The Chess Players


do they still play
on the stone tables?

in summer
we played till dawn

afternoon, evening, night
circled oblivious warriors

do the fishing boats still leave
from Sheepshead Bay?

does the fog still drown Pacific Grove?

who lives in that five-story walkup
cooking ramen?

who has found love
on the Lower East Side?

The trains all rush
to their terminals

the airports silenced by snow

in 1945 my brother was two years old
I was ten

we were a family of four
in a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment

my bicycle took me throughout Brooklyn
as far as Sheepshead Bay


Today's Lesson: answer 25 questions.
tomorrow: the same
Friday: composition

November: Midterms
January: Finals

Israel in Palestine
Kennedy in Dallas
Johnson in Vietnam

moving slowly, inexorably
toward Bush, 9/11, Iraq

America down the drain
helpless to prevent

tell me what you think of me.

In my mad ardor, my lust, my needs
I would have done far more damage
had not the unknown gods jerked me short.

I'll be in a bookstore
or by a river

in a Florida supermarket
or a movie house in Vera Cruz

on 8th Street
or in Washington Square Park

in a Bickford coffee shop
(waiting for the rain to stop)

or in a fifth-floor walkup
in Brooklyn