With Venom

 So many famous poets of today
fêted by universities
darlings of journals
lions of the lecture circuit

whom history, respecter of no
cliques and claques
harvards and yales
publishers dust and dead

will winnow

For Dangerous Dan

 I cannot mourn
although no one could match
the playful dancing of his restless mind
nor ever cast his uncreated odes.

Who's that guy in the coffin?
It's not Dan Murray.

It's Dan said Allen.

Then it's the first time
I've seen him
that he wasn't smiling. 

Since She Left

 a rock
shatters the window
to a billion crazy bits

winter splits the walls
rots the door frame
ice pries open cracks

I clutch about me
what remains
of timber, rags and lath

cannot conceive
this cold had been
kept out

by the invisible


 I smelled shit on my fingers
while eating bread

a monk said the Buddha
is a good stick
to shovel shit

my anger at the shit
kept me from God 


 You give yourself
To loving me.

And I, in taking
Find a sanctum of embrace
Beyond heart's breaking.

As on the windy beach
Where bamboo poles
Balance a roof of leaves

I held, caged larks
Your fingers in my hands
Shaking within your outsized sweatshirt sleeves.

So I would hold
In deeply vaulted cave
Embers of ruby
Flakes of pirate gold
Banked flame

If waking to dark, could
Wondering, feel your warmth
Breathing with mine
Sensed the same.



 You were my raft.

Under your gaze, reborn

My spirit flared.
How to accept
Being both sent and kept
Further to tear
What was already torn?

Now when I most need love
Crushed by the magnitude
Friendship withholds

I cannot bear
To look
Into the garden. 


 I am the buffalo
In the drawing room
The goat in the garden
The bull in the china shop.

I am unbridled energy
Shattering all facades
Smashing the stage-set
Tearing the scrims and screens
The mise en scene.

Befriend me at your risk
If you have gods
You could not stand to see
In smithereens.

My glare disperses
Sacred bric-a-brac
My love releases
Moat-encircled dreams. 


 rapt in her spell

its limb-turned

I can as soon escape the envelope
of a dimension

as this pure aura
within which
I move freely

now violently

trembling with capture 


 at our age
we're dying
and should be dying

ever slower
in a time-lapse film

it is no longer our age
this is not our music
not our words

alone, or chatting with a grandchild
of childish things

we are too foolish to die
or to live

at our age 

My Image

 I've scooped out the flesh of the world
like the inside of a gourd
till it's empty as a soap bubble
a thin film over nothingness
a shimmering zero

Only my footsteps...

 in morning silence

harbor flat
a faintly hammered glass 

Memorial For Richard Elman, 1998

 at Stanford in '55
love-hate for Yvor Winters
was our bond

you bought my '47 Plymouth
when I left

in '94 I found you again
a Long Island neighbor

your presence
lofty, impressive, kindly
facilitating connections among people
knitting the social fabric

always a Jewish joke
when you called
always genuine concern
for my welfare

rapt at the receiver
I was your telephonic sounding board
as the brilliant narrative
flowed on and on...

lately, depressed by poor health
but still, always a friend

gentle, human
a real lovable guy

and Richie, if you see Yvor
tell him he can still
blow it out his ass


 what's torn, reborn
in any random shape
hears motors
roaring capillaries, sirens
clock's weary catalog of seconds

her stray finger in my mouth
memory's food
sole on instep
palm on chest

I reach into the emptiness
beside me

Court Calendar

 In a sluggish tide of legal documents
pushed with the garbage
of crime and politics--
twenty-eight years of marriage
soaks through the hands
of lawyers, legal secretaries
to the high court

in waivers, stipulations, disclosures
summonses, allegations, depositions,
appraisals, actuarial computations
the inner-lives of families
to the grindstones of jurisprudence.

So is a severance severed
and every street and alleyway
of marriage duly sealed
and marked with barriers.

Only the traffic of the court
connects us now
and even that shall end
leaving two citizens
tasting strange sunlight
full of empty freedom
and unquiet thoughts.



 Being out of touch
and out of time,
I do not turn to you.
I cannot fake
the tenderness that skirts
the fringe of crime
The gesture neither random nor ordained.

From loss of courage
from the years that make
Falstaff of Mark Antony, I clutch
the faded rhododendrons that remain
after the touch of time
the time of touch. 


 He survives
by eating the apple of arrogance
in his heart.

Since there is nothing to inspire
going on
he builds the stubble of the wind
into a Windsor of the mind.

He walks in smug humility
fixed on his secret wealth
like a miser's cellar of gold,

Like a people
slaughtered and expelled
from every land
who must be
to be anything


White Queen

 flying across landscapes
in creamy Celica
gathering green petals

scarlet hunting cap
shades steady eyes
reading the road
her riding britches
curved to bucket seat
at the same high angle
whereof I took her
early this morning

her sweet ass sporting
my right hand's imprimatur 


 crossing the shore's last ledge
the sea-floor dropped away
a lonely swimmer over the abyss

I hadn't felt her hand
sustaining me
until she vanished in the spray and mist
and I was struggling
simply to exist

For Allen

 you were always among us
close as bodies
at a love-in

great man
in a thrift-store suit

a sheltering force
at protests, picket-lines
waving the colors of life

now we feel

yet your poems
still connect us
to starry dynamos

roaring with laughter
your spirit strides
with Walt

among whose gentle lilacs
your brash sunflowers