POEMS: 2008-2009

Odyssey's End

 the night has promised
an unearthly tenderness

the sorrow of her cheek
warm on my chest

I have outlived the wars I won
a hollow victory

washed ashore
friendless and alone

my crew, my ship
drowned with the toppled citadels
and fallen towers

the golden spoils of Troy
glitter and tumble
in the shining surf

Ye Gods, what more have you to fear
from me

were I to spend the last years
after lost years

with Penelope?


I've tried trying

and now
I'm not trying

I'm just not trying


in the corridors of my brain
snow falls on new york city
drift after drift

old bricks breathe music
streets lead to memory   

Dream Rhetoric: A Writer's Guide

 the needful's what we breed
we doubt it

in the second of one
the doubtful takes the lead

the needful-doubtful ever
is the key

be careful to start
each second line with 'd'

this is the inner life of poetry 

Straws In the Wind

  I have no opinions

I need a passport to reality

the air's so full of straw
can't tell which way the wind blows

I need to mutate
be transformed, transfigured
selected naturally

what memories swim
in this flood of dreams?

what ghosts of past sorrows?

Ishmael, how you've grown
you could be president
this is all Sarah's fault.

desert your temples
burn the ancient books
and intermarry

intermarry till each person in the world's
ten billionth Jew

then we'll be everywhere and nowhere
like God


The Dancers

 how easily the old lose track of time
and time of them.

my zeitgeist is indeed
a wind-grieved ghost

my sins, an angry mob
howl me toward death

like Orpheus or Lot's wife
I must look back
lose love
and caramelize
still looking back
where failures are a trail of smoking ruins

I shall, when all my vices are rehearsed
and fiery witness to damnation prove
remain a prodigy forever cursed
still searching for the ultimate romance

who loved the dancers past the bounds of love

but could not dance 

How Beautiful

 how beautiful were the ones
we destroyed

agon of remembrance
what was won by courage
and lost through cowardice

between the months
when summer seguès
into rainy fall

petals in foglight
floating downstream

detained by ice
with twigs, leaves
air bubbles and loam

gripped between the frozen
banks and rocks

suspended days 

Temporary Worlds

 the temporary world of hurricane
showering shreds of houses
on shells of houses

of flood
floating houses downstream

of fire
smoke-veiled assassin

of tornado
plowing farms into the soil

crash of comet or economy
ice-age, ice-caps
germ war, web-war, nano-war
poised on the edge of cataclysm
a thousand temporary worlds

knowing we can vanish
like the foam on a wave

what are we holding on to?
what's holding on to us?

Mom and Dad

 she called him the 'little green man'
he gave her one dollar a day

green of dollar was his color

she made him so mad
he threw her seal fur coat
into a bathtub full of water

I saw it swim away 



at time's end
there is no romance

at time's end
also ends the dance


so brief the gods their blessings send
so slow the hour so swift the lark

after you leave I nurse the spark

what life divides no scar can mend

after the afterglow
the dark 

POEMS 2009


a Cincinnati suburb
drenched in real daylight
circa 1948

a boy of ten
who has not seen his father in six weeks
sits on a pillar
at the entrance to a small playground

he has waited
three hours already

and will wait
two more


 I once pulled women out of context
and romanced them

now I think
if there is to be a woman
she will have to be
in context 

Moshe the Tailor

 I forbid you
to hold my funeral

I forbid you
to remember me

as I did not exist in life
let me not exist in death

let me rush from oblivion
to oblivion


The Sea...

 reservoir of memory
has no shape
I can remember

of landscapes...
buildings in sunlight
streets, plazas, parks

I can say only
I was there 

Old Age

 funnel of memory and remorse
sorrow and situation

somebody loves me
in the strangest of ways
cruelest of ways

mirror of moment
ancient of days

All my life.


 as real as charles dodgson
in an oxford meadow
reading to young girls

as real as yeats
sailing artificial swans in byzantium

or van gogh's stars and sunflowers
bursting from the canvas

or the slow movement
of mozart's flute and harp

molly malone
or she who stole sunshine
from the red river valley

as real as rain in montauk
baseball in kansas city
or breakers at big sur

and all we take with us
into the unreal world 


 thinking back on it
a movie of mistakes
of fractured spasms
epileptic lunges
frames scorched
stripped, ripped
by a broken projector
film sprocketing, turning brown
as autumn leaves
holes opening
edged in flame

did I shun every post
fleeing the spotlight
a guilty ghost?

did the prompter withold my lines
derange my cues?

did I, ashamed to win
arrange to lose...

did I trash every take
flubbing my speeches
a fumbling fake

all  I had wanted most
dumped in my wake?

Still River: A Rhapsody on Valery's Le Rameur


A rower glides

in tunnels of foliage

prow ruffling

painted reflections

parting the real world

from its liquid mirror.


Churning the surface

commotion of oars


the memory of calm.

An Apology

 An Apology...
 For Sue Barker

...for the interruption of
our conversation.

God, the magician
Sent Tim,
A clamoring distraction,

Behind which you vanished
Like a palmed coin
In flying fingers

Before I could say
How beautiful and eternal
In star-chaste black
Reciting under floodlights

You appeared.