staring contemptuously

as I grow older

he hardly bothers to match my thrusts

I cannot fend him off.

Why does he wait?

In Praise of Women

for being what we need

and what we wish

Autumn Ghosts


night song

forest ghosts

and family spirits

jumble in November's

northwest winds


a sudden path opens

in the forest

Lesson 3

The bull is at his lesson

in the china shop.

As he threads the aisles

not a Wedgwood saucer


He plucks a Limoges teacup

eggshell thin

gently in his fetlock

and politely sips

beaming ferociously

at the hostess.

He lowers massive bulk

into a spindly Chippendale

that holds his weight.

At the garden party

he is scripted with polite conversation

punctuated by bows and flourishes.

He essays the minuet.

On the prairie

ripping off starched shirt

and ascot

he bellows and roars.

Thundering across the plains

his hooves

pound boulders into gravel

and send shock waves

under continental faults.  


Her glittering court arrayed upon the stair

across the halls of marble-pillared night

Diana with unfolding veil of stars

swathed in ivory, enthralling light.

Below, the King declares a royal fete

as nobles dance in dazzling disguise.

The palace pools and jardiniere reflect

The luminous epic of midsummer skies.


a crematorium of ash

and powder in a bowl

consumes the spongy forest of my thought

to draw a chemical richness from my soul

and recreate the garden I had sought


I will be here

weeding the garden

when you've flown off 

on silken wings

digging turnips

mucking out stables

when you and he

dance the mosaic floor

divided by love

joined in fear

go to your suitor

in the upper air!


I have broken up with her

for the last time

at least I hope it's the last time

I think I hope

it's the last time

I hope I hope

it's the last 



surrender is the Trojan Horse

that let's her in

a stratagem, a ruse of course

so she can win

surrender is a camouflage

in which to hide

the most effective sabotage

bores from inside

the King in all his majesty

is overthrown

his power is a travesty

she holds the throne


after the sobbing and weeping

there is chatting and eating

the family, once submerged

is lifted by malpractice millions

do you see the fine gold stitchery

beneath the blood-black splashes

in the weave


a red bird

in a silver cage


given a microphone

they accept no limits on our patience

of course, we'd love 

another twenty minutes

of your utter mediocrity

sit down!

go home!

inspired by your own drivel

you think we are as well

because we sit politely

yet somehow

after your endless, hideous 


in spite of everything

we applaud

In Mourning for His Dead Wife by P'An Yueh: Sixth dynasty China

When I come home, I expect to see her.

Her perfume

still haunts the bedroom. Her clothes

still hang there in the closet. Two birds made a nest

and then there was only one;

a pair of fishes were separated

and lost in the current.

All through the night

the Autumn wind blows.

The morning is misty, with dripping eaves.

I hope the time will come when

I am calm enough to beat

on a pot like Chung Tzu did.

Adapted by Martin Abramson


stalking us

in beloved arms

when death meets us

at the source of life

we have come full circle


where flesh enfolds

in coded covenant

the Torah of the living DNA

the double-twisted rosaries of self

At the Party

she is weeping

speaking quietly

about trying to live normally

after her daughter's death

we are an island of grief

her face at my ear

my large handkerchief

my eyes

Another Person


ice-shadows in the empty town

you go unguessed

along the glossy streets

into the bronze mirrors

hat raked to crazy wind

lips wet with sea-spray

eyes colder than moons


in Central Park

old bags and bundles

wedged bench after bench

like knots of impulse

in a block of time

musing on life

the vacant garden

the subtle flair of lilac

in the mind

again-bird sings flurry


                    once more


what are these intricate constructions

shining within other exploding structures?

what liquid form

across the wall of thunder

gathers and strikes?


patterns elude proof

cool shadows

deflect the dancers

a net dips

through the roof


you waited in endless galleries

by great timetables

in the half-light

of myths and photographs

I found you 

among the ghostly exiles

in green saloons

where smoke spins slowly

on stone tables

I found you

under a hundred subtle veils

pure as a pool of light

you lay


in my bed

your hair flung out

whipped out

the light


and flames


in this pool

a circle of enveloping heat


we are in the sacred places

my pulse is a drum

beating inside you

your arms the reins

of my desire


strong hands

around a table

twisting the poem like toffee

sometimes licking the sweetness

of a phrase

off the fingers

life tenses language

on a loom

cut, woven, laced

deep dyes infuse

the skeins

quarrels, laughter

off-color asides

till in the spell's

new setting

wordsmiths unveil

the jewel