Poems: 2004:  

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gesticulate ghosts

my poems

haunt the unconscious world
of virtual space

fling heart beats

against the screen

Seeking the Spirit

Derrida said: "Life will have been so short
it is as if I were dead

Is Derrida dead?

Are all his writings posthumorous,
open to endless confusion
in strange hands?

marks, remarks
eternally deferred/referred forward
into eternity?

On October 8, 2004
Derrida was deconstructed

but is still here
there, somewhere
in the text.


time brings to March
the earliest harbingers of April thaw
and ripening between the lives of streets

thru the tracery of leaves
glimpses of royal purple
sylvan shuffle of centuries

rain on the doorstep
girl with umbrella

and the chance to regret
all I never began
to regret

by speaking to her

Poor Eurydice...

supplicant to his song's
prismatic streamer
in her gray-scale world

where even sardonic Death
granted his boon.

Following, following
fated to die again

knowing that on the very
brink of light
he will look back.

Expect More Snow

new snow will cover up the old
whose heartbreak has at last gone cold
bury the latest blight, the one
whose heartbreak's only just begun

and, so, a final rendezvous
white cloth, soft lamps, table for two
we quietly agree while eating
it is, in this life, our last meeting
and there is talk of things that matter
mingled with the usual chatter
you're for a new life in the West
I to my old world's empty nest

as false dawn with its snowy birds
pales, I recall your final words

"If you should die, will someone write
and tell me?"

                          I died last night."

after she left...

the condo acquired a classic purity
museum light
cold and precise

the love that was absorbed
by her skin
raced outward to the world
and was reflected back

now I intuit the rain's mood
my sunset is the painting of a flame
an easy chair and heavy volumes name
the galleries of my life
my solitude


"Still She Haunts Me, Phantomwise" 

I press my head into your rose sweater
the softness beneath the knit wool.
In your clothes, your shoes
the surrounding air, room, world,
you are presence without pretense
motion without flourish.
Seen on a suburban bus
or in the aisle of a supermarket
ever eluding one who searches beaches and wide thoroughfares
wanting what he can never have
or having always discards
who searches still, seeing you
"as in a dream where everything happens...
somewhere just beyond the view of the sleeping eye".  *



at the quiet hour of night
at neap tide

the sea eddies listlessly
against the rocks

a pale glow
drowses on the waters

night birds shake
fiery showers

from wings
of dawn

Volutes and Vortices

insects and feathers
petals and twigs
straws in the stream
leaves in the flow
clouds of bubbles
grasses and stems

rushed by an eddy
spun in a pool
frozen in glass
sliding over a rock

directed, deflected
to archives of day
some scattered about
on the summery strand
some buried below
in the pebbles and sand
some lifted in air
with the foam and the spray

A Poet Reads at the Library

He is serious, sincere and rather sad
has lost friends, lovers
been saved from the loony-bin
by good Samaritans.

His monotone
nudges me into waking dream;
a crash of applause
jolts me to consciousness.
I ride the elevator down alone.

I borrow a book:
known in this city
by legal documents:
a library card.

Like him
am arrogant enough
to leave sandpiper tracks
of ordinary experiences
on recycled paper.


Remembering Simon Stanislow

How you would rail and thunder
at the frauds, fascists
hypocrites and crooks;

but in a quiet bed
in Maimonides
all that energy and rage
ebbed away.

In the cancer ward
you said:
"I feel like a clapped out prostitute,"
and pulled the blankets up
over your head
like a layer of dirt.

Your small ghost
haunts the lower East Side,
floating through book stores and coffee shops
stopping to photograph graffiti on a wall
or lovers in the park.

You will be remembered in Cozumel
and Isla de Mujeres
by sailors and fishermen
with affectionate laughter:

"Ah, Simón, that crazy gringo,
how he loved his cerveza."



writing thru paper into world
out of the dark of mind
into light

but whence comes that brightness
if not from you?

the ardor of our island lovemaking
late night visits to your bedroom
in Port Jeff

love at relativistic speed
etherealized in a dissonance of superstrings
sum-over histories
multiversed into sand
into silicon

nothing having changed
no hint of acrimony
saying good-bye


Christmas Card to New York


Let us edge the green sorrow of the fir
with shimmering tinsel
with silver spheres

forgive the deaths we have endured
fill the cut crystal!

There's Stan across the table
in Teresa's Polish restaurant
behind a three-year pane of ice

uncles, aunts
and cousin Melvin who tried
to cheat me out of my inheritance.


I trudge through city snow
to the merriment of puppets
in Macy's window

skirr on Wollman's rink
in glittering Central Park.

Joy to the snow globe
where four seasons
push the worn turnstiles
of incessant birth.

And we impending ghosts
share with our children
the love that turns to stone
but trembles in a certain light.



after the medieval sculptor
carved the royal hunt
into the halves of a walnut

after the Swiss watchmaker
wove fishnets for time
from wheels and springs

comes the silicon sandman
moving molecules, wireless
writing with photons

etherealization of world
by wizards in cool cubicles
living on pizzas and coke

For Leslie

the girl I wasn't allowed to name Marina
works on tall ships plunging
through crested waves:
strong hands for the halyard
strong shoulders for the storm raked wheel

restless, moody ashore
joyful on high seas
fearless of sister Sirens
or mother Circe

while I, Poseidon
would bless her voyages
send her calm winds

but wish I had insisted on that name


* Philip Whalen