Of flares, of flowers

 [Poetry], Of flares, of flowers  Comments Off on Of flares, of flowers
Jun 222020

Loving one face, and the soul that animates it
142 erotic sonnets


As talking apes, we handle the matter of urgent mating in a way quite different from our hairier cousins. For us musing humans, loving someone seems to be equal parts artifice and fascination. We love someone, first, not for who they are, but for whom we make them out to be through the mists of dim recognition–across the roomful of phony fog and the pulsing rainbows of the disco ball. This fascination, combined with the artifice of who they present themselves to be, is just the initial sauce of the gourmand’s smorgasbord of attraction and affection we term “love.”

And where the imagination latches its mollusk, it secretes its magic–transforming the rottenest rowboat into Cleopatra’s bejeweled barge.

The courtship between two adult humans contains, on average, one million words–roughly 100,000 more words than Shakespeare’s complete plays. This is the titanic effort that the imagination brings to bed with us. And from this art, we weave the dreams of our sexual lives, our tenderest expressions of affection. And, indeed, we weave our own families.

How we imagine love is important. To be raw, to be vulnerable, to weave our dreams of love in utter nakedness, is important. It’s what we talking apes do. We do it incessantly and, in all the animal kingdom, we do it with an artifice and fascination compounded mainly of words.

This human intrusion of the heart and cock into one’s interpersonal affairs can be awkward, embarrassing, and nearly impossible to winningly negotiate.

July, 2012


Ah, the small
That takes my all....
No gravity
Could keep me down--
When I smell
Your downy mound....
I fell, I fall!


It's just a little while
We've been two, we two.
Too long myself a solitary,
Self-possessed as a dromedary--
And landscape as bleak.
Too, too long my lonely hills
Slanted-- all drift, sift and seethe.
No wet roll or rill, no river
Rushed oceanward open-armed,
Dissolving all the river's crazy
Hermit-cackle to one tongue's
More marmoreal, vast
Unknowing murmur.


I am desperate to love you, to know you,
Like a bride who burns off her wedding dress,
Like lips waiting, misshapen, to kiss.

Kisses fell out of us like water falls,
Bursting to earth and deafening the onlookers!
When we kissed, we could hear the sea crashing around us.

But where are they now, those slippery kisses?
What's left of their vast wetness?
No child has grown between us.

Even a puddle leaves its residue of mud,
Some softening of the way
Despite whatever volume of traffic.

Stirring the syrup of your sweet sweet life,
Letting the licks insist their way into me, inside me,
Surely my lips remain sticky? 
How many feet have been here before us?  Every foot.
Every pace of the path is hard with old passages, old passions.
Every route is known;  no star blinks undiscovered--

Except by us, two blips on the periphery,
Elliptical with longing, our lips chapped by the long wintering over,
Too stiff and dry to even whistle!

Our veined and florid maps are still tucked in our backpacks.
Our tents are not yet ready to unroll with sleep.
My eyes keep blinking, keep looking, no matter how dark the way.

There's still so much to see, I think,
When your hand brushes mine under the pine trees,
And the sound of our walking fades into the background,

And I close my eyes to breathe.
If love is, then love is what happens
When you forget where you're going. 


Assist me, some extempore god of rhyme; for I am sure I shall turn sonneteer. ~~ Shakespeare

All my life my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name. ~~ Andre Breton

Desire too cosmic and too close to name
A vibrant nothing and a tortured shame.
My all, my fall--which in one syllable I'll tell
If you beside me, dear, will ride
     the black thunders to Hell.

Sonnet 1

My eyes are weary of looking for lovers
In every face, every cinch of the hips,
All the coffee, the talk, that passes my lips;
Tired of my solitude under cold covers.

A day is a long time, an hour, even a minute
Without you, stranger who will melt my heart,
Who will hear the doves beating in my chest
And fold herself into my arms like a shirt.

Arctic winds cross my forehead,
My hands chill and splayed as a penguin's orange feet
As I wait on this ice floe for the one I must meet,
One who will ignite my nights with lavender heat.
Who are you, hands held before you toward my hands' use....
A sleepwalker?  A zombie?  A mistress, a muse?

Sonnet 2

This is the first morning of the first day.
Even the grass looks like its being born,
Its green is so tender, matching your eyes,
As we learn to walk together down the unworn path.

Birds hesitate, amazed by the songs in their throats,
The wild corollas of sound at their command--
Even the mocking bird, even the warbler, hesitate,
Testing bright notes in the new sky and new land.

The trees look as young as fresh pea-tendrils.
Today, water is closest to happy tears.
Smiles cover our faces like big chrome grills--
The first hour of the first day of the first year!

I look over at you in your coat and your broach,
Ask your name, and, slowly, approach.

Sonnet 3

My backpack is weighted with lilies and candles.
I cross argent mountains and oceans to reach you.
I throw a tasseled rug before you
And stare into wide eyes no longer dull,
Passing the carafe until dawn fills us
With rock-candy colors, and our smiles are tired
From talking too animatedly wired
While night cloaks his blue frills around us.

How long have I walked to find your country?
How long had I slept till I dreamed of you?
How long has my desire kept me swimming?

Toward you, toward you, my dear, I am swimming!
My breath breaks the surface seeking shores of you!
Coming home to your eyes, I sing "‘Tis of thee!"

Sonnet 4

I know you minimally only,
The way a head knows hair: an invisible halo,-- 
The way a sleepwalker knows life: fully lonely
As a blind hand walking across a mirror.
I know you only as a keel knows water:
I divide and unite your surfaces endlessly and seamlessly, 
Never knowing the wet of your green interiors.

But I know you will know me completely.
You will know me without any deceit,
For deceit's too weak to withstand your winds--
The hurricanes that live in your laughter 
Announcing: "It is she!"  And I'll stand
Open to you totally, a book without a binding,
And our eyes will share tears simple as water.

Sonnet 5

Let us play a game then, you and I.
Let the table be raised beneath the sky,
Let the drums be drummed, and on it lie.

Smoky women bear their burning tapers nigh,
Dwarves with gongs come clanging, by-and-by.
Everyone take your seats, let the last one in,
The ceremony of sex is about to begin.

My hand finds you, your hand unknots my tie,
Lips as lithe as fishes sip, and we let slip
Our final disguise.  Now at last in naked night
We plunge the utter dark with light caresses.

Touching the matter to the heart, they bless us.
For you and I are nothing when this is,
When we are one thing, one mass of blessings.

Sonnet 6

Magnolia petals on a tank... fall lightly...
As they fall... on everything, being
The pink delirious things they are.

Philosophers in their overcoats construe
More meaning than meaning thinks its due,
Being the grey barristers of the real
They be.  But you, sweating in your spring attire,
Visit devastation on the sweet magnolia tree,
Declawing its blossoms... and trimming the wings
Of birds as they return to their warm abode.

For you the poet unfolds his ode.
For you the tank stutters in its tracks.
For you the petals in my stark heart
Fall in flattering loveliness... for a start.

Sonnet 7

It's enough.  To play with scarves in summer air
Is enough. The weaving and the waving
Of their colors in the fresh summer air
Is enough.  There is no more to be waved 
Or to be woven than what has already occurred.
No past is prologue when the moment's all.
Look how brightly the colors wave and curve!
The summer air is here, and that is all.

The summer air is heavy in the mind,
The mind is old and full of dusty thoughts:
How this becomes that, how the child crawls into the man;
Colors wave and curve, and I calculate their sine.
--Ai! You cover me with a hundred scarves uncaught,
And the summer air is bright with omen. 

Sonnet 8

What is time, and how is it our own?
I will not recognize the clock hours maybe,
So bee-like diligent to my task I am,
Or, grown slowly thoughtful looking out to sea,
Time slips by lightly that would govern me.
My time feels most my own when you and I
Together spend the gold moments given:
Pointing at Venus in her drape of sky,
Or doubling-up downright--with laughter shaken.
Or when moony looks imbue you, dear,
(If I'm not mistaken) the way a clear
Pond becomes clouded with the thought of rain
Or a mother disappears into her child's pain.
We keep time most when we give all our own.

Sonnet 9

The fierce being you would have spring from you
Will yet spring.  The life your life trembles to beget
Is waiting in your snowy body curled.

She shall from your eyes drink the honied fire,
And her breath your breath will yet sustain,
Inspiring in her unborn eyes a thousand worlds.

The new-made woman who will step like brightness
Too bright to look at--dances in your likeness
When before the mirror you test your tresses.

This phantom of your future self shall come yet:
And every diamond be her birthright,
And every river flutter like her caress.

Oh little mother frowning brownly so,
Let one small smile be born upon you now.

Sonnet 10

If Cezanne painted you, what village would you be?
What pair of Monet's haystacks, soft,
And glistening in sunlit serenity?
To me, too close, you are a crosshatch, crossed
With empty diamonds and abrasive lines,
A certain blotchey rosacea of the soul
Yanking your kite-string down from the divine;
From the eternal you wither into the small.

Here is where we meet, knees beneath the table,
The traffic staticy, the world unstable
That goes zagging through the fog beyond us.

In our discussion's no accordance--
We're as different as figs, as cracks
In the Old Masters, two needles in the haystack.

Sonnet 11

The blossoms that stood out on the branch
Now blow along pavement wet with runoff;
Fall gave way to winter, and winter now to March
When early flowers crowd and then fall off.
It is almost too much of the coming thing,
This blizzard of blossoms after blizzard in earnest
Before the azalea really get going--
Such hazardous blooming should be in jest.
Almost too much... with the excited whites
Boating toward oblivion in the gutter
Where the storm drain lurks, all appetite,
And the dark beyond the grate is utter.
There's much to consider while we sit as one,
Touched blonde by the sun,--but no longer young.

Sonnet 12

Calm as ponds let yourself be today.
Leadeth thyself to lie down, shut off the TV,
Hear the million bees murmur rumor of plenty
While kids race at recess in unharried play.
Peace, peace be on your sensitive eyes,
Your fingers steady as new radial tires;
Put up your feet, you're off the highwire,
Each exhale sails another balloon to the sky....
May contentment come and tuck you in,
Pull the clean sheet right up to your chin,
Sing lullabies and lieder until you believe
No one you know will ever again grieve.
Today take this prayer, and light a tea candle:
Whatever comes your way you can handle.

Sonnet 13

Dancing makes a motion of its own.
My ears are dense with music of the known;
What notes the moment's inner ear can sow!
How like a planet a swaying body goes:
Orbiting we dance, and in such dancing flow.
Is there a blessing in these moves that move us so?

My mother used all her days to make amends,
Yet all her days were not enough to spend.
What moves in us moves without an end,
A dance between the register-marks of stars
Whose spheres revolve high music to the ears.
--We keep turning to become just what we are.

Is there a blessing in these moves that move us so?
Dancing makes a motion of its own.

Sonnet 14

I would have you grow invisible,
Shrink down and disappear like blotted tears,
Like wine consumed in hungry drops, or winter
Snow become fantastical in melting March,
Leaving the green hillside patched with wet.

Do not change your petals for a branch
Curved low with many weighted fruits;
Burn, flash to ashes, and let those ashes blow
Till no grey shred of your greatness waits
Behind, till all colors that compose you are undone.

Become some transparent, wingy thing
They tell about in churches when they sing.
Take all you are with you when you go.
Still, I cannot unknow you.  This I know.

Sonnet 15

Return to me naked, I would have you so
Always and everywhere, like the nude prow
Of a wooden ship, announcing where she goes
With splashes white as catastrophe, and as loud.

Why have you left me for laundry and chores,
Your sails lifted, your hand saluting for shade?
Why have you left me?  For now you are gone:
The bed unmade, and my heart unmade.

Wherever you go primly sailing now
Through cute boutiques or old bodegas
I will wait, for I know that night must follow
And your bare moon burst before my window-glass.

For this new Life where we squall unadorned,
Return to me naked as you were naked born.

Sonnet 16

You have such a subtle, neutral scent,
Like a show-pony before she's ridden hard,
Before good use turns her breathing scant
And she makes a wanton break-out toward the stars
That leaves the sturdy fencepost rent.

Cleanly we begin, easy in our reins and chaps,
Taking the wide acreage at a simple cant
Until the rocking saddle slaps.

Then I cleave to you and cleave in twain
The sweaty mystery of your sex;
Molten mists of joy and pain inextricably mix.

Raucous across the finish line,
We pant and pause and smell as one
To what rank stench our hard riding's come.

Sonnet 17

Love me fiercely, though nipples bleed
And lips need stitches where your lips have passed;
Love me fiery until love's pyre is dead,
The bonfire soaked, the man-in-the moon undressed.
The heat that creeps through lovers' veins
Ignites silently in eyes and furtive looks
Until a shared surrender in the brain
Incinerates discretion, undoes every hook.
Do not wait for the duration of a zipper
But love me instantly, as steam loves the cold air,
Hot as torches in huge candelabra.
Burn me until for burning there is no cure,
For no love comes when lust's coal-red is gone:
No mother-love, no nurse's hand, no one.

Sonnet 18

You open for me, a luminous anemone;
You bloom in intense interior colors
And wildly give out strong scents of the sea.
Are you plant or animal in your passive pleasure?
I peel you blandly at my manly leisure,
Exploring your deep promise of treasure:
The shine in your eyes is silver with glee.

Holding our breaths, we bodysurf white combers,
Looking left and right in the tumbling lea
Until the grating sand our grace encumbers
And we land half-dressed on the bedded beach.
You hand me a towel, if one is in reach,
And out-of-breath smile and shyly stretch:
This is the treasure toward which we lumber.

Sonnet 19

Each night my mantra sounds your name
Which in going round undoes itself in sound
Until all syllables go circling the same.

Night-owls hoo you, dark winds whistle you, clouds
Spell out what letters tout you, only you,
Until all alphabets jumble just the same
In going round, beading prayers of your name.
Crickets crick you, and lapping water begs
The shore until all oceans go echoing your name....
Faces whirl and blur, merging as they do,
Until all faces are your face, identical as eggs.

This mirror-maze of gladness has no end:
Beauty is not beauty that shares not your name.
All surfaces reflect you, only you.

Sonnet 20

Eros' rose shed red shreds of petals
On your bed, your eyelids, and your long lips--
Pressing silence to the secrets that we keep,
Just we two, alone as Adam at the Fall.

Twins in sin, how redly aches our double-loving
(Spiking with sin-cinnamon our apple pie)
As mouth-to-groin and groin-to-mouth we lie,
Lengthwise mirrors of all our loving's trouble.

Each slap and grapple leaves temptation's trace
Trailing red rose petals of fingerprints
Across the landscape of your ass and face.

And, like a gardener in his pints,
I pull the thorns aside for only this:
To find two lips, your rose, upraised to kiss.

Sonnet 21

When the tongue darts tart to the aspic place
Ranging round the brown aromaed hole
Seeking solace between fundament and face,
By licks outlining the awkward tale of souls,
I know myself a slave of lust, and lave
The merry mistress of my cock with praise
No higher than my lust himself does rise
To be a sunk spelunker in your caves.
Round and round we go, and soul to soul
We play bandit and the badman night and day
Stealing happiness from the world's decay
Whose carnival commands us stand in sadder roles.
Through the work week, daybreak to dusk,
I dream of our theater, the husk of your musk.

Sonnet 22

The soft musk of your pale downy neck,
Apple-dappled depth of orchard's wealth,
Wreathes through our low-hung boughs of breath
As we share warm whispers and shining cheeks.
The bed about us is tumbled as the Andes,
White-peaked bedlam of a stormy ocean
Frozen when exhaustion paused our oars again
And breath returned to calm our pantings.

Soft the musk of your downy neck, my peach.
Soft the teased traceries of tongue and tongue
Vying redly with teeth and lips and gums
To bite the splendid fruit our loves unleash.
The endless hours move in one slow sigh--
Opening on a downy dawn as warm as thighs.

Sonnet 23

Love--Love thundering, love underlined
Declares itself no louder than your whisper
Whispered in a moment unrefined
Until my beaten heart is a burning blister--
Along with other parts best left undefined.

The small things you say to me at midnight
When the drapes are drawn and shutters tight
(And day a rumor of remembered sight)--
Those things you say become my private light
And blaze behind my eyes in sheer delight.

Although small and quiet as two bugs
Sitting aslant a ruby leaf in spring,
Our love's not less that chummily hugs
And waits till dark to say the wildest things.

Sonnet 24

I'd trade prayerbeads for millstones
If stone could grant what lips have wished
And manifest for my solitude
All the weight of kissing I have missed,
Blessing my bed with your beatitude.

All the burdens of the awkward ox
I'd shoulder as my own if only
Hours, not days, remained till I unroll your socks
Next to mine, white stripes on the lonely
Divan pushed back and piled with busted boxes.

Here I wait in a penitent's house,
Whose heart's all roses and runaway kites,
Whose curse is time--who has kissed eternity
And tossed her socks next to mine.

Sonnet 25

Why is love my measure and my means?
My talk, my trouble, my idle thought obscene,
My crisis, my crux, my cri de coeur supreme?

Of all the arrows fitted for my ample quiver,
Or wrinkled routes eked out by many rivers,
Why is my sea love, love my apple ever?

Flowers come as varied as their seeds began;
Varied fall the fruits, and many the works of man;
Endless are our melodies, destinies, and dreams.

But my drum, though struck by a thousand hands,
Bangs one love, my harp--though by an angel band
Commanded--pleads love alone through every golden strand.

For you are my love, my sun and my seed.
Toward you I grow, who answers my every need.

Sonnet 26

Who were you before we entered the trees
Of our being together?  What creatures walked
Under the umbrella of your shadow?
Who has been made cool in your shade?
And why, besides death, would they leave?
You with your brow of hard bread, threshed wheat,
Your breasts full of the scents of strawberries and dough,
Your thighs some mysterious spring has darkened?
Did you exile those others who walked with you?
Did you send them naked down the hillside at midnight,
No lantern in their hands, the path thorny and burnt?

How glad I am they are gone, or, better, dead! Oh!
No one should touch you save one most supplicant.
Only one being born should enter your cunt.

Sonnet 27

Out of the bitter snow, I came rattling in.
Out of melting March, muddy and wet,
Shaking like a harassed dog, I came in.
I came in when summer was not summer yet
And the soft air gave me leave to wander
All night long and stare into the starry sky,
At one with the celestial order.
And when the nights were hot and the grass was dry
And all the world slept out-of-doors
To hear the night things stirring, I came in.
Out of all nights, and out of every weather,
Harassed, tempted, or implored, I came in.
And now that autumn's nip is here again
(And you still beside me) I'll stay in, stay in.

Sonnet 28

Go until the earth lies between us, pregnant,
The curved horizon blue as a whale's back
And every constellation different.

Go until your memory is black
With absences where I had been the stars
That shooed your ship home from her wanderings.

Go until the sound of talk is strange, far
From your childhood chants and gabblings;
Where ABCs are cuneiform on the blocks.

Go until time itself has come unsprung
And the hands go whirl-a-gig on the clock.
Go, go, and retreat not back one rung.

For there's nowhere where you are that I am not,
Seeing what you see--and what touches you, I touch.

Sonnet 29

The soft fall of flares, of flowers, once the orgasm's
Over... the body's empty tube through which no music
Is moving--a sumptuous trumpet dumped in the museum
As if no hand no mouth had ever crossed it.
Who could imagine it rampaging erect,
This piece of rusty history, tucked
Where the bodies of dead moths collect,
Churning to silvery dust as I walk?

Too long have you been unbedded by me
Whose arms once held you like a river
And covered you buoyantly with balsam and kisses
Falling in flakes from heaven forever
To dissolve in yourself, in your sea,
Your wet spring tenderness unending and green.

Sonnet 30

For you, I would be little as the rain, and fall on you
From everywhere, on your eyes and in your hair
Until you turned your mouth up to the blue
To drink me in in the drenching air.
For you, I would be as patient as the earth
And follow your steps everywhere to feel you go and come,
Dancing on my skin until the red dust covers us both.
I would feel you plant grass in me with your strong thumb.
For you, I would be as ecstatic as the sun,
Radiant everywhere, and happy everywhere too,
Like the abrupt smiles of very old women
Who know the sun wants to own them, but keep the night alone.
But, oh, for you, I would be the nighttime too!
And all the stars, and wrap you up in sleep in my glittering poncho.

Sonnet 31

Love has nourished us like a beet root, red,
Or a sweet potato pulling candy from the dirt.
From one look at you, I know that all I ever said
Has taken root, my tendrils alleviating the hurt
Others placed inside you the way a bullet 
Lodges in a tree but does not kill the tree--
A tree whose slow rivers of sap, sweet
Maple syrup, flow from too deep a mystery
To ever stop until they end in blossoms.
And those blossoms are your two eyes
The color of new leaves, of wings fallen from locusts
Who no longer want to take to the sky
To sing, but have come down with us among the roots
Giving us their dark hymns and dreams of truth.

Sonnet 32

What is this enigma that has ruined my sleep?
This thought that repeats like an epileptic stutter,
Lightning always striking the same place, two times, twenty?

Sometimes the sway of a dress will make me weep,
The cough of a shoe on the sidewalk,--
If it is your shoe, your feet that do the walking.

A hundred times I have been in love, and never
Have I lost even one minute's sleep,
No matter how beautiful the woman, no matter how deep 

The loves that swam up from my heart to attend her
Like aquarium fish when dinner is sprinkled,
Their small mouths all Os, hungry and unfed.

What is this enigma that has ruined my sleep?
Sometimes the sway of a dress will make me weep. 

Sonnet 33

How one goes on wrestling with destiny!
Trying so hard to throw away one beautiful thing
That has fluttered to your feet like litter, a free gift.

Here I am, hunched over the trash can, wrestling,
Uncomfortable, angry even, with what has come to me freely:
Priceless platinum the world has thrown after me,
Chasing me down with free armfuls of ecstasy
While I try so hard to throw away one beautiful thing--
Miserably, miserably with my angel wrestling.

Life is not a medicine to swallow, it is a feast!
Just open yourself to being blessed, you will see!
The trash will throw itself away, only you will be left
Standing, shining like an angel's wings,
You, who tried so hard to throw away one beautiful thing.

Sonnet 34

My heart clicks on and off, a sacred searchlight
Sweeping the skies for your spark and your light
Until our X-ed rays meet in a singular spot
The way stars press their faces against the glass,
Mocking the world with their peculiar taunts:
Here we are above you, pure and pristine!
You below can never wear our radiant gowns,
Trapped in your tragic habit of being human.

If only you and I were perfect, untouchable, one!
The rest of the world would be nothings and no ones
--Only we two in the immensity of space,
Locked alone in our looking face-to-face--
Not even minding the other stars' conversation 
Arranged in their envious constellations.

Sonnet 35

Whose face this is I think I know--
Though time has hurried with his plow
(Leaving alive the eyes);  the face is strafed,
Scored with ruts and roofed by snow.

Had some magic mirror come and chafed
My younger self with this injured image of her face,
I could not have shuddered with more surprise
At my darling's disordered fate.

Nothing so wild in wild surmise
Would I have conjured for my eyes
Who now at breakfast contemplates the wreck
Time has drifted to my side.

Still, her eyes, measuring my old self as we sit,
Demark no damage to my aspect.

Sonnet 36

Every day the poet sat down and thought.
That was his first mistake.  Each day he spent
Knotting and unknotting until it caught
Itself, half a line.  Each month his rent
And bills piled up higher than his epic
On the cetaceous era undersea--
No vorpal sword on that went snicker-snak.

The protozoa had proto-souls, you see.
He had convinced himself, now all he lacked
(In time's green-golden ache and sway)
Was a readership that had his back,
The discerning few he would show the way.

A note was found among his apartment stacks
In neat pink script: "Going, not coming back."

Sonnet 37

Adam and Eve, by their garden wall surrounded,
Met with the snake innocently enough,
Heard his insurance pitch, had a laugh,
And went back to touring their miraculous grounds.

Unexpectedly, the snake came back again,
Here and there in the shrubs with a hiss,
Insinuating that, inferring this,
Until the nightmares and migraines began.

Then he disappeared, gone in a smoky wisp,
And Adam and Eve relaxed, had a snack,
Ignored the prickling mounting up their backs
Implying there was something important they'd missed.

Almost, they made it.  But their brains, too big
Not to wonder, pulled them under.

Sonnet 38

I kiss your statue, fervid while you vacillate.
Your lips are perfect, poised; mine insistent,
Never satisfied, lonelier with each deep pressing,--
Imagining the dark with you undressing,
Dropping your bra on the carpet, panties flung
Higher than the highest note a soprano sings.

But you, being a statue, remain composed.
Hands, once warm as bread, lie gracefully reposed.
Take my spark, my soul, my all!  But do not stay so cold.
I keep kissing your coldness, growing old.

I hope I am not too rude to one not quite alive,
One toward whose loveliness my whole life has fallen,
Leaving my own dead pedestal behind, praying my passion
Is love enough to bring you back to life.

Sonnet 39

How can tonight come without you here?
Where will I go to bury my sorrow
When I am alone and the single stars come clear
From behind their invisible cloud as out of a barrow?
Without your face close, your hair, your breathing,
How can I endure the darkness yet to come?
One night alone feels like a civilization ending,
The pottery shattered, upended the throne.
When my hands reach out for the small
Thumbhold on your hip, no bigger than a rose
Petal that in our house's garden has fallen,
What will my hands hang onto instead, what emptiness?
Must I walk alone through the long midnight in sorrow,
Without even the company of my shadow?

Sonnet 40

The wind insisted nothing, came to my face
With the frittery gentleness of nothing.
I had not noticed were I running a race
Or had head bent down, pensive, on some one thing.
But I was doing nothing, and so found grace
Given by the wind out of nothing.

The wind was slightly misty, as I recall,
With filaments of seaweed threading the bare
Blowsy breath that passed down the empty hall
And touched my cheekbone hanging there
Blank as a bank of paper, or a roll
Of scripture with no writing anywhere.

And then in the nothing air there hung, as I recall,
Your perfume, too;  and from that nothing, all.

Sonnet 41

When I create my love for you in my heart,
Secretly, it's a black alchemy, a recipe
Without directions, accomplished all out
Of order.  Eat of it anyway!  Eat every pie.
There is a deliciousness in this mystery
We consume, one that has us lick our fingers
And wipe round our lips with our tongues.

Discard every question but how to linger
In the slow soft light that gently comes
After our tumultuous lovemaking.
All the candles of heaven, falling stars and comets,
Have been hushed in our mutual taking.
Now is the time of quiet, and the time 
Our murmurs slur most toward the sublime.

Sonnet 42

How should I write a poem of love?
I, who am selfish, small, and alone?
"First, stuff your craw with caviar and doves,
The best of the best, stolen gold and emperors' bones."

I listened to the voice and ran everywhere
Stuffing myself with rarities and riches.
Surely if one is stuffed with beauty up to here
One's speech will be all eloquence and wishes.

But, no.  I did not know it then
But what I needed most was nothingness--
That empty feeling, that utter lack
That would let me be filled with you again and again,
Like a vessel whose emptiness keeps holding more kisses,
And hears in your voice every morning the morning lark.

Sonnet 43

All day long I have followed this sad dog.
My love for you, mangy and clumsy, wanders
Down windy alleys, snooping through gutters.
And now it's 4 A.M., and where is the dog?

One day I had gotten mad and kicked it out.
Out of my house, and out of my heart, perhaps.--
My great love for you must wander in the street!
What I'd fed so tenderly must survive on scraps.

Soon enough, I missed its nails on the floor;
Its needy whomp into the bed when thunder uttered;
Even love's wet dingy smell when the rain would pour
I missed, and missed utterly.

Come, help me tonight, whistle out loud;
My love is bound to find me, now I'm no longer proud.

Sonnet 44

I can't have you every day, can I?
My stomach will get swollen, sour, and tight,
As if candy-gorged on Halloween night.

I can't have you every day, can I?
You would blow through your lips "Oh, alright."
But, in your heart, you'd be bored and uptight.

I can't have you every day, can I?
Beating a drum too often can blister a thumb.
How much more gently, then, when loving someone?

I can't have you every day, can I?
You can't be hungry every single day, can you?
I want you so bad, but you must tell me what to do.

"When you doubt that I would be with you,
Look into my eyes, and see: All I see is you."

Sonnet 45

So much time has gone by, sliding and washing
Away, the little waves piling into the larger....
Before you, my life had fallen asleep.
Now I am awake, a little of me is waking,
Like bubbles inching to the top of the lager.
Who knew how years go by, that one could sleep so deeply?

Together in bed, we yawn and slap our eyes;
Dawn opens the curtain with a sunny spear.
I feel as if, when we walk, my head scrapes the sky.
Our feet are leaping like deer!

Together our nights are pink and warm,
The stars are the tips of a baby's fingers.
We hold hands and walk across the night lawn;
Somehow the moon looks down at us, laughs. Awake, we linger.

Sonnet 46

Lovers always meet each other twice.
First, in animal excitement, pupils wide,
Stamping and pawing and rubbing their sides,
They leap into each other's mouths; it's nice.

Later, if they continue consuming each other,
A day comes when their hands are on the same handle
And they turn the wheel together, humbly,
And their eyes, once wild and hungry, grow tender.

It is this tenderness that holds the baby
In the womb;  the womb that's made of tender netting.
It is this tenderness that weaves the nest,
That tells us "yes" instead of "maybe,"
That gives tonight's moon the light it's shedding.
It is in this tenderness you and I may rest.

Sonnet 47

You are sleeping, a hill where night-snow falls.
No longer do you laugh and become a cloud,
Cotton pinched between the nurse's able fingers, helping all,
Letting the blood of others enter you, clotting
Their wounds or applying alcohol before the needle.
Now you are purely sleeping, your breath apples,
Your great shaggy hair-river up in a mop.
Tell me, am I remembered in your dreams?
There where you fly above the world without a cape?
Am I a one-eyed giant crunching bones?
How I would like to crouch down and enter your dream-tunnels
And patter in the water after you, running.

Sonnet 48

A little pale shy wetness, a little slit
Is all it is;  not even a flower is so shy--
Not edelweiss on its rocky sit,
Nor bold button pom, nor lazy calla-lily.
Yet through this keyhole (and with this minor key)
A prism of delight may print its rainbow
On all the sky, and all of space, and me.
How fretfully you guard what nowhere shows
But is secret with the secretness of souls--
Invisible until given in gift outright
And then a purple palimpsest, a slippery miracle,
Perpetual desire emblazoning darky night.
All of this you gave, and are giving yet
To one who never can, nor shall, forget.

Sonnet 49

If you must go today, shed your skin
Like a snake, folded over in silken pleats.
I want to roll always in your musky and fragrant muslins.
I want to cover my pillows with you, and stitch moccasins--
My face on your rosy breast, my feet in your feet.
Your skin pours over me, cream from the pitcher 
Dousing me head to foot till I'm swimming
In white memories of touching you, deeper
And deeper. You, not God, are my soul's keeper.
With your beauty, your nearness, your softness, I am brimming.
I smell that one spot behind your ear, you know,
Every time I close my eyes to pray.
Every time I close my eyes--as now--
You are there, luminous in naked ecstasy.

Sonnet 50

Say it once and best, unlike the lark
Who goes on going on repeating,
Refreshing voice beyond the boundaries of the park
Far into horizon's pale receding.
Say it once and let that once stand fast,
Unlike the sea seducing the long seashore
With repetitions of a caress that does not last
But, mutable and moving, touches less and more.
Say it once, once only, unlike the sun
Whose heartbeat breaks each day from night's breast
Burning as if no other billion days or beats had come,
Warmly consoling all beneath, man and worm and beast.
Say it once, then let all saying rest.
Say "I love you,"-- not first, not last, but best.

Sonnet 51

Grief is not part of us, part of this loving.
Grief no longer eats our bodies, cracking bones
And finding in our marrow we are lonely.
That grief is gone which had kept us alone.
The griefs that blasted us have blown through
Leaving the house refreshed, the shutters tested,
The waste of tears pooled coolly in the foyer.

New light in the garden exalts wet roses' colors.

Now we discover each other with dry eyes
Looking clearly at each other's shoulders,
The tilt of hips, cuffed hair, crooked smiles,
All of us that shows us solider.
You look at me as I at you must look:
Evenly level, starting to open the book.

Sonnet 52

Venus is bending now above the bow
Of earth, her body shedding Venus-light
Into spirits which had been ember-low,
The burned-out mascara of the night.
Venus goes stalking among the other stars
Winking in their little admiration
That so great a lady would come so far
To let them be gems that hem her graces.
Venus lets me follow too, as, slowly,
We walk beyond the dusk together
Into whatever the evening is evolving--
The sunset wind that kicked is now a nothing-feather.
When Venus descends to us, rayed so ably,
Cupid's bivouacked in the bushes, surely.

Sonnet 53

In your mouth there glows a holy rose;
Two sun-red roses are your fiery eyes.
When your palms turn up, they hold roses
Warm and red, blushing and alive
As your two cheeks, where two more roses open,
Or the rose-loveliness pinning back your hair
So that roses orbit you like cherry moons.
And when you weep, the roses all despair.

So like roses are your noble knees, when up
From scrubbing you run to greet me
And kiss with your rose-mouth--an open cup
Full of rose-blood, which rosy perfumes wreathe.
And when your rose brow shadows a look that knows,
My soul is lost in folds of rose.

Sonnet 54

You come to me encased in a shell of light,
Light dripping from your wet fingertips
Until swept sparks gather on the mat like sweat,
A slow swirl of flame rising to our hips--
And we in the center of this focused rose
Touch like torches our incandescent arms
And fall into the whirl of liquid pulses
Beating to our hearts' bruised alarms.

Here in the center of light is love
And silence.  Only your face floats above
The burning candle end;  only your eyes and mine,
Dear, in all the ardent fire remain.
Only here, in the light's heart of is,
The earth releases her captives, and we rise.

Sonnet 55

Your feet are wounded doves walking home,
Your hair a current of motionless water;
Melancholy your eyes, dark daughter,
And your high forehead is a sandstone dome
Irritable winds etch and erode.

This is your catalog, but not your ark.
What you are continues, unwinding like a road
Blessing dusts are paving for your good;
What you are reaches out beyond the wind,
Beyond strange stars, far past the last spark.

The familiar grip of your loving hands
I love, and because your hands know well
My intimate recesses intricate as bells,
I love and follow you beyond the wind.

Sonnet 56

You come carrying gifts no other knows
But me, who loves you the way a seafish
Loves the sea--until my body lives in you entirely,
Transparently--waving in your waves, like so.
The gift of your body is the first gift,
Round and good, a spicy hand-pinched empanada
Floured and left to sizzle until ripe--la!

--No, not your body, just your ears are first.
You listen like a mouse, full of tiny attentiveness,
Hearing in my most minor word the major chord;
This is a gift--I throw off my melancholy shroud 
Under your lemony canopy of giving.
You stand at the prow, your heart straight out like a flag,
Flying forward to new continents from my crags.

Sonnet 57

Your heart's composed of grey mourning doves
Cooing in circles under the dogwood tree.
Come, my nunnish sis.  Come, break open to love,
Alight upon the budded branch you cannot yet see.
Let light interpenetrate you like honied waters
Or as when lime and garden dirt are mixed;
Let corn stand golden in the blackest rut;
Let seed and need be one;  let the roaring sun be fixed.
If there's something in the roadway, pick it up.
Let your pockets hang fat as a puppy belly;
Love itself, and love alone, fills fullness up.
--Is that a dime glinting in the gully?
In my heart, too, a bird is circling, dear,
Its wings fanned wide for loving--or despair.

Sonnet 58

Black butterflies crowd the white church with shadows.
Secretly now I speak, who had been plain before
Fear and pain had come and nailed my door.

I am lost in a world of truculent shadows.
I only approach what's real in whispers,
I am mute before the others.

All that was solid is now thrown shadows.
The black butterflies land on my heart and fold their wings,
My tongue forgets to sing.

Love has webbed my ardent hands with shadows.
My hands, once full of eloquent caresses,
Are folded now in wings of blackness.

Do not follow me into this twilight,
Love, for after such a dusk must come the night.

Sonnet 59

Someone has written your body on the grass
In long erotic brushstrokes loaded with dew.
You shine on green blades that shimmer as we pass
Sighing thigh and eyelash as only you could do.
The trees' great roots tangle enticingly
Romancing the dark fructification of earth
As I romance you in the grass blades,
Erect in the dirt as iron filings pulled toward magnetic North.
How I want to roll in you, breathe in you,
Bury myself in you,--pull the lawn up like a coverlet
And sleep in the deep mystery I see is you
Always and everywhere, even in death's regret:
When you are gone, let my bones on your bones
Lie lingeringly--against death's cold alone.

Sonnet 60

When love spills white on her cloudy breast,
And stormy brows blow clear of steamy Os,
And aching Ahs breeze to their windy rest, 
I, new-calm, quiet to calm's no-moan.

The placid window opens to a sky
Where I float alone, unclouded now,
And listen to my lying mistress, fly-
Ing in her far Afghanistan, unfollow-
Ed by harrying lust, the insistent prick-
Ling that turns moist "Maybe" to "Hurry, yes!" 
O how we seeded love's tempest to light-
Ning desire!--which lies beside, a deflated gust.

So we lie apart who had shared one heart
And, pant for pant, had each played the stormfront's part.

Sonnet 61

After the white heat has left the pen,
The tower come to grief, and all our loving
Ceased, there will be time for turtle-doving
And all the public petting couples plan.
After the bed has ceased creak-quaking,
And reddened knees and slipping toes uncurl,
There will be time to be just boy and girl
Laughing at our nasty pelvic snaking.
After the sweet tipping, love and shove
Of two bodies burning to be one,
The shouting out to God and His holy son,
There will be time to count all the stars above.
But now I say, looking over at you again,
Let stars remain unnumbered till time's end.

Sonnet 62

A lamp burns in the corner of my room,
Evilly-eyed.  Somehow, today, my happiness
Is playing hide-and-seek with me gloomily.
Newspapers pile up.  The room's a mess.
Only over the bed is there a memory
Of wings, scarlet happiness, ecstasies
We shared on the fitted sheets of ivory.
Those afternoons come to me now.  Too clear.
My head rattles like a tin can full of pebbles:
The pebbles are hard eyes of yesterdays I've seen,
From the mildly annoying to the incredible.
Remembering you, our joy, makes me sadder than I've been
In a long time, a long row of odd days,
Ragtag and worsted-ended, without your golden rays.

Sonnet 63

We drive on beautiful white roads until
The lake is a single blue eyelid;
Strange fish leap, straining their scarlet gills,
Keeping their watch on humankind.
We are so young, we people of the earth,
The other creatures don't understand us
With our prayers and wars--but they and we both
Mount the lovers' excited crucifix.

The turtle, the bluejay, and even the jellyfish
Sting and huddle--and skim through the mighty sky--
When we lie down together as I wish.
And you, too, craven and wanting and sly,
Cozying over with your pearl skin and fur dish,
The hollow in your side where we meet and say goodbye.

Sonnet 64

Though stuffed with joy, I'm starved for joy;
For you I have devoured every jot,
Jammy and seedy as raspberries.
My ecstatic skin incinerates acres, the starving fire
Of joys consumed by their own desire!
For you I am made hungry as the sea,
Drinking every river to the lees.
To my gullet goes all treasure, all junk!
Greedily I gorge on diamonds and rust,
Old anchors, the amber delicacy of sunsets.
All goes down to my soul with a clank.
For you, I eat empires and dandelions equally--
For you, I have made myself open and empty,
Starved to taste, with my being, all of your being.

Sonnet 65

In you I discover the sea, am lost in waters,
Smelling the bitter brine that floods from my cock,
The sharp salt exfoliates of our Maker
That shiver hoarsely in the sweat of our fuck.
With you, I grab at the reeling gunwales
And almost fall overboard each day;
Every night, biting smiles from the dark, we assail
Each other with our shark-bodies--saw and sway!

Below you, I am drowning.  My hands go wide 
As I look up, loving the sky's last uncertain bright
As the green water's weight breaks me inside.
There's only you at the surface, only you in the light.
Let me live this adventure, dear woman,
In your body, by your side, as a man.

Sonnet 66

Your eyes are two moondrops, two bowls
With silvery goldfish going lazily inside;
Your white hips are built like a waterslide,
And I go down with no owlish thought of rescue at all....
Let me dive in your wetness and paddle refreshed!
Whatever apples the sea offers
Your breasts give me also in our affair;
Our affair of noon shadows and shaded flesh.
Lie with me on the salt beach of our bodies,
Stretch out into the sand of many hands
And dunes of restless thighs, neither land
Nor sea really, as we are neither soul nor body only.
Whatever we are, we are in this air
Together;  this liquid land and hard sea, together.

Sonnet 67

Our wings are straight out, our wingtips just
Touch as we move motionless over the whole
Earth as we glide without diving over the whole
Map of creation, silent and colored-in, just us.

What do we see from the great height of our love?
Millions crawling over the earth and over each other, larvae
Feasting on their mother's corpse in a red furrow.
There's more to this earth than our hovering.

I'd rather fly beside you, lashing our hook-beaks,
And starve on the air currents like a dying leaf
Than dive for the fattest lamb, the most ripe beef
If we must walk among those whose lives are crooked.
Can't these fools see that love is a straight line?
Love stretches straight from your taut heart to mine.

Sonnet 68

In you I taste my death, your mouth the open
Corners of my grave, damp clay ochre and dun;
Your arms like gravediggers hold me round
And lower me helpless to the sucking ground.
Here, in your mouth, live the roots of many things,
Many ripening vines;  incantations and songs;
Buried in you are deep emeralds, mines of nickel and lead,
Rivers of ore coursing among the buried.
So much comes so deeply from touching you,
Breathing you in;  even in this final suffocation, you
Remain dark and compelling--of you I can see no end,
Although the earth you are composed of has an end.
You are measureless, endless and supreme--
A depth beneath which no man may dream.

Sonnet 69

When you kiss me my face changes, like a face stamped on a lollipop when it’s licked. Gradually the face smears to a flatness and disappears, and the tongue gradually becomes the color of the face that is no longer there. So you are slowly becoming the color of my soul, and I am forgetting my face lick by lick. Lick by lick, I begin to resemble the smooth personless joy of a red balloon–until (perhaps deliberately, in a fit of hungry ecstasy) you bite through me to the white sweet stick at my core. And no one knows me any more than the washed-up skeleton of a dead whale, picked clean by diving gulls and rolling back-and-forth in the acid waves.

Sonnet 70

Are we sowing daughters when we seesaw?
Is any throng of sons arising from our private aching,
The back-and-forth of our terrifying loving
That silences to shame the puma and the daw?
Is it enough to just be here and be just us?
Doesn't "fairest nature desire fair increase,"
Isn't your body a longboat full of empty seats
Where antsy children clamor, like on the bus?
Isn't there something in the flower of ourselves
That desires to be plucked like the heavy magnolia,
Plucked and held up, despite the streaks of purple melancholia?
Is it enough for love to just ask these questions?
Our fears exchange a look of blackest ice;
A shiver comes, and then a kiss;  it will suffice.

Sonnet 71

You have filled me the way a jug of wine is filled;
Drop by drop your tears have shed: pale joy, dark grief
Replacing fear and solidude and sorrow with belief
--Almost I could not believe, almost my wound of doubting killed
The new true universe we two have willed.

Out of my sadness, shedding the black crown
In the alabaster dust at your feet, on my knees
I have made this pilgrimage through many trees--
Out of the night dances on the wintry lawn,
Out of the first spring day arrived in streaks of dawn.

And now I am here, and you are here,
And we drink from the heavy clay jug we've been filling.
Night and day we drink to the dregs, and there, my silly,
We are empty and happy as a ring tossed in the air.

Sonnet 72

How often have I turned the pages of your book,
Reading your braille nipples, commas round your mouth--
Your eyebrows the astonished parenthesis of a look
Damp delight engenders for us both.
I read in the firelight stirred by your fingertips:
How you yearn to be warm bread and warm earth
Rising and restless, the air whipping!

There are so many marvelous stories to touch
As I run my tongue across your fragrant words,
Swashbuckling over the mossy moat of ooh and aah
To reach the climax: castle, cave, treasure or fabulous bird.
And there in the dogeared dark of bed and book,
The phoenix erupts like a hydrant!  Ah, fabulous bird!
And your eyebrows almost contain your fireworks look.

Sonnet 73

Let us hunt among smallnesses for love:
The tapering end, held tight, of the elephant's tail,
Or how a condor's aiming wing ends in a single quill--
They way your nose reaches me before your lips from above.
These little things, littler and littler,
The kindness one might extend to a mouse;
It is in these small wonders that we build our house,
You and I, meeting alone, thumb and thimble.

Notice the tininess of quiet:
The ballerina leaping in the barn by herself
--So small a gesture--or the inchling elf
Who goes on tiptoe to view love's riot.

Prayerfully, we fold ourselves into bed,
Close our eyes, and dream the littlest dream in one head.

Sonnet 74

Mysteriously each day flares and disappears,
Stars are thrown over us in a glimmering net
And we swim in our dreams through an unforgettable wet
Until dawn ignites its sheet of crimson paper.
Everything goes up in the fire, daily;  vagueness
Has my kisses mingle with others' kisses;
In a week, my face is merging with the visage
Of a half-dozen half-remembered masterpieces....

When oblivion unplugs the phone, and the line goes dead
Your friends discuss the stranger whom they loved;
Who you were has come and gone like a matchstick's red;
Those who swore you oaths forget your voice.
Since you and I must succumb to such severe severing,
Let's play today as if today we were forevering. 

Sonnet 75

Come to me, come to me, wild rose who grows
Apart--I climb the thorny mountain,
And I tread the thorny path to know
The thorny secret of your thorny heart.
Bitter the wind and long, long the way
To come to the dancing brook, your fountain;
The thorny rock I climb both night and day.

And there at your root I slept, a day and night,
And dreamed a pilgrim dream that has not
Gone away: O little mountain rose, who bent
And said the words my heart still hears: Come to me--
Come to me, walker and stranger, come drink
Beside my rocks and my roots, come drink
My dreams and kiss the bitter thorn of me.

Sonnet 76

A thorny ladder wraps the mountain
As I stride to attend your musky rose;
I come for your body's garden, mossy and open:
Of your musky skin, I breath the rose.
I climb the ladder as I climb you, daily
Heaving my weight up toward your unconquerable eyes,--
My heavy regrets, my dank past, my disguises.
Hurrying, I plunge into the thorns.  Ai!

Suddenly, the angry angel's red-hot rapier is everywhere,
Hissing into my neck, my lungs, my sides, 
Lancing the blue coil of my intestines.
Will loving you and climbing you leave me dying?

From the highest rock you bend, dusky rose;
I attend your soft musk's music, and I arise.

Sonnet 77

Death, I don't get it--Death seems like a fake
When (right next to you) my eyes snap awake
Like blinds rolled up in the alert light of dawn.

Everyone's always mooning over some grave,
Some president or lover or bloke awfully brave
--At best I manage to stifle my yawns.

Microbes and cancers and blanks on the map
Steal time from their eyes they'll never get back.
Why don't they get wise and do what I do?

Building big monuments is hard on the back,
And who cares what's there in the blanks on the maps?
So why don't the world shut up and just love you?

They'd see crystal-clear how Death was a fake
When (right next to you) their eyes snapped awake.

Sonnet 78

We're here to celebrate a life of dust.
We're born passing away, as we must.
Dying we crawl to our parents' knees,
Choking clutch our holy rosaries.
Crippled we round the bases at stickball,
Hamstrung pitch pennies against the back wall.
We count our raises on fingers of bone;
The dying crowd cheers, but we're still alone.

Nothing and no one can stop the sands shift-
Ing down the hourglass and over the cliff;
We're dead at our prayers, and dead at our song;
Dead in the mirror; dead all the day long.
When across the bed your kiss comes like a knife,
I open my mouth, I surrender my life.

Sonnet 79

Bury me standing and pennyeyed,
A pagan and a fighter I have died,
Nor expect to be alive again--
So loving you must have an end.

Although intimations came and went
Of a meaning more eternal when we kissed,
I kept to my convictions and now am spent.--
Light a penny-candle if I'm missed.

Don't imagine that from heaven I would frown
If you still cavort and canter like a lass;
Something there is that loves a clown,
And I loved you when I saw you last.

So leave a stone and raise a glass to me,
Who when he kissed you, kissed you;  as it was meant to be.

Sonnet 80

I am cut, and in my heart is planted
A grafting of your luxurious bough--
Some gesture you made, some grace half-granted
Rinsing kitchen mangoes beneath the faucet.

Your eyes were black and hungry, your mouth too,
As you shook out of your pants--
Round the rickety chairs we wheeled, rich and slow,
A sweet molasses movement in our dance.

The mango juice oiled your open breasts
Olive-toned and slanted, and the green smell of tea
Rose wreathed from your hair--I lost my breath
And rode your slipping hips for certainty.

And now from the grafted tree that grows,
I shake a thousand hours of our mangoes.

Sonnet 81

We've been kissing till our lips are chapped 
And happy, our eyes hypnotized from a gazing-fest
That out-stared the sap in their sockets.
Too long we've lain with sex on the brain
And the groin--oh, the groans!--we must stop it.
We need to rest, shut up, get dressed,
And see if the blue world still rolls outdoors.

Sore as a sigh, we depart on our lark,
Creaking weak keisters to the car:
The movies, the mall, or Seaside Park?
We drive until five on our dutiful tryst
And ask: Did a longer day ever exist?

We laugh as we dash madly back to bed
Where we align half-divine and (half the time) head-to-head.

Sonnet 82

Voyeurs at the wall of Abelard
And his heaving Heloise heard love made,
Forged from iron fires groaning hard
Where bellows hiss and the hot poker's laid.

Cleopatra paddling on her barge
Proffered pink enticements to Antony
While excited slaves looked on with eyes quite large
And the sinuous Nile slinked into the sea.

When Salome threw her seventh veil away
And shone before Herod as God intended,
Unashamed as sunshine at midday,
Even John the Baptist lost his head.

So ardent are our toe-to-toe romances,
Prudence peeps between her fingers at us!

Sonnet 83

I would break over your body like a wave
Every night, over and over, over your back,
Your hair, dissolving into the shadows I crave
That inhabit the nape of your neck.
I would bear you distances to hidden sands
Like pirate booty, alone beneath the palm trees;
I would not share you, even with the moonlight, on our island!
To me you have come, to me remain.  To me.
I open your heavy chest and count the treasures there:
Zion and Taj Mahal in a single body!
Your lips are memorable as a cut lemon;
Your tongue persuades me to love's duty....
Tonight I break upon you a million ways
And break and break until my breaking stays.

Sonnet 84

I tie you to the chair and feel the rough
Of wood and soft of skin compete and play
For where my wet attention goes and stays,
Although the sport's sniggered at as uncouth.

Still, there is a time to bring the rope and bind
The love-object to her astute pedestal
And grant her darkest wish therewithal:
To feel assured that mating's sting is blind.

I with she and she with he and they with them
Play a roundel merry Mozart could commend,
So difficult's't to parse the beginning from the end
Until the music stops and draws the curtain.

I would tie you to me more gently, though:
Be thou the butterfly on which my breezes blow.

Sonnet 85

Dear, I am jealous of you, the way a pearl
Is jealous of the moon.--Vanity, my girl,
Has brought me singing here beside you
Although I am small as a child's first "O."
Teach me your light, how you throw yourself
Over every roof and field, and all the items on the shelf,
Detailing the dust on the clock... even its hands you enhance--
Infinite and infinitesimal at once!

I stay stung inside myself like an eyeball,
Greedy to see, yet selfishly pearled as a shut shell.
How can I break open like a moon-gleam,
Traveling the nothing, and giving even dogs dreams?
Teach me your light;  its depth, its height--
I would crest with the sea-wave, and give lovers light.

Sonnet 86

Desire rifles me, disorders my innards,
Chars my hugging arms to black, helpless studs,
Untongues the eloquence of my familiar patter
And leaves my heaving soul standing mute.
I'd shredded myself to spastic tatters
Disobeying love's laws and rescinding old statutes,
Frisking suspects for tinder to ignite with desire--
Desire the fever that burned down my house.

I was wrecked with wanting until you came, 
Plain as a square of sunlight on the oaken floor....
Then I saw: how overwrought and strange my pain!
How simple to acquit desire's rave and roar;
Desire is nothing when love is--which, fussless,
Overpours the brim desire desires.

Sonnet 87

Life, I hold you up and look through you,
A clear pane of ice skimmed from a puddle
Held only a desperate moment in the muddle
Until fingers go numb and you slip through....
Only a moment, and what I saw
Was the color and contour of conchs,
The sweet center of a woman's haunch
Open and thirsty--for a man's peck, a lover's paw.

Life, if you have a meaning, what else
Is it?  Today a man and a woman are meeting,
Words pass between them, a sleet of bees,
Until night finds them naked as a racing pulse.
Life, share with me all of your secret whispers.
Wife, kiss me with your fresh lips like cinders.

Sonnet 88

I try to go to sleep, but can only think.
Strange shades of death assault me,
Drown me in their inks, squids of the sea
Constricting the peaceful measure of my soul.
A tomtom is rapping in my awake ears
From inside the cork corridors of my skull;
Whatever's left of me is not my will,
Just this red repeat of sound that sears.
I watch the animated faces go by
In a silent film, every mouth sealed with cellophane;
Are they laughing haphazardly or crying out in pain?
I watch the animated faces go by.
The moon rolls into my room, a bloodshot eye.
We stare the night out.  We do not blink.

Sonnet 89

Being here, meeting you, my life, well, my life
Is feeling complete.  I almost don't want
To jinx it by saying so much about my life.
Almost, too, I don't want what I want.
How can his be?  We are two humans,
Alike as mirrors facing each other,
Same sets of hands, toes, same talk, same tongues, lungs
The same, and yet.... I feel your alien center out there.

Your pride and determination to teach well,
How love has sucked you up like a vacuum
And now you are afraid.  All this I feel,
And myself going around humming Te Deum.
Being here, meeting you, my life, well, my life
Feels complete. And yet, almost, I don't want my life.

Sonnet 90

Life, they say, occurs in the caesuras,
The pauses when passion's breath is breaking
Or the mired eye at dawn is mildly peering,
And lovers lie replaying their old overtures.
Life is what's happening when it's not,
When nothing much is foremost in our thoughts,
A finger caught in some stray weft of webbing
While over Miami the blue moon is ebbing.
Life, elusive fish, is not captured when it's caught;
It's not the adding and subtracting of pensive thought
Or any other species of abstract thinking.
Life is just the waits between the blinking.
So long as I lollygag (between the birth pang
And oblivion) with you--I'm content to hang.

Sonnet 91

I am blind, blinded, a lost mole escaped out
Of his long house, for now my home is in your self;
In you, my soul falls up out of itself
The way a lotus floats over its roots.
In you, I am so close to being air, to flying!
You pull my umbilical cord through my mouth,
And in my center forms a silver pool of truth;
Almost, in you, my me, my I, is dying.
We are together as the cords of a twisted rope.
Together, we turn back from frogs into tadpoles;
Soon we'll be egg-sacks, then a single egg, pale.
We kiss with our mouths open as if saying "Hope."
You, who have my sight, my life, my sighing,
Come be blind with me beyond our dying.

Sonnet 92

Your hands prepare a night for us together--
Candles and glasses, the eats chopped and prepped;
How carefully, how thoroughly, I am in your debt!
The bed turned down, the rum-topaz light soft as feathers.
A hundred times I have walked around you, sighing,
While you hung up the moon and arranged the plates,
Preparing even the corners of our life until very late.
And all I can think to do is undress you, and kiss your feet, crying.
My gratitude fills me, like wetness in cactus--
Don't let my sharp whiskers deceive you!
Inside I am sweet and full of grateful dews.
That you should live our life so intently.... Without practice
You throw love everywhere like streamers from a spotlight,
And happiness explodes in me like a burst piñata.

Sonnet 93

When you abide beside me I am calm,
All my tempests by temperance overtaken.
Life's hazards hurry in, but not their harm;
Although my leaves do rattle, no root is shaken.
When my hot forehead meets with your tender palm
My fever breaks, my delirium mistaken.
I do not know what others do, madam,
But with the seal of your solace I am so blazoned
I feel myself a lion who was a lamb,
Yet mellow in my marrow as a Shaker.
I hope to be no more than what I am:
Gratefully alive, and grateful for thy Maker--
For nothing could surpass, in the world to come,
Than this I have, when I by thee awaken.

Sonnet 94

When I am feeling troubled and at a loss
For no other reason than I'd forgot
My own reasons for getting too hot,
She comes to me with a cool compress
(And rustles near me in her silken dress)
And manages without managing at all
To manage away my worry with her skill
And save me from my own self-caused duress.

And for this aid I have no help to give,
None at all, but school my truant gratitude
To look on her with love,--me, whose natively rude,
And petty too, and, so, condemned to live....
Then she comes again with her talk, her touch,
Her tender balm, making smooth the rough.  

Sonnet 95

She is a compass needle going round,
And seems in all her spin and waver
More like something lost than something found.

Still, how the blue point endeavors!
And will not be put off her trying harder
(No matter that she'll earn no extra chevrons).

What lodestone rubbed to make her so endure?
Something there is perhaps in her being pinned
To house and job and child and filling the larder.

For round she goes, feeding us and filling bins
With fine fidelity for one so scattered,
So torn between her going out and coming in.

Still, she knows her North despite all hazard
--As if loving us were all that really mattered.

Sonnet 96

You held my hand and held me back to make
Me stay, who would have walked on without a thought
To reach the ready bench past the woodland brake
And there sit content, and have no further thought.

You held me back, and pointed without a word--
There, between the slant and screen of trunks, 
A fox returned to her nesting brood, 
Her mouth blooded, and in that mouth a skunk.
Such dedication had the young ones yip
And tear at the striped carcass, black and white,
Love had brought dragging for their sup--
And kept the mother-skunk from her kits.

You held my hand, and may you always
Be so wise of eye and wise to nature's ways.

Sonnet 97

Have you ever wanted to fly?
There was a frog who wanted to fly
And got his chance.  First, he was lonely,
And cried at the pond's edge in his great loneliness.
His voice was like a drum.  Other frogs
Covered their ears.  Dragonflies flew off in fog
To avoid the cacophony. What was the frog lonely for?

I'll tell you.  He was lonely for the sky
--Just that.  That's where his froggish dreaming was tacked.
Low, low in his frog-throat, who knows why,
The great loneliness gathered, like the great
Tension of a bowstring pulled back.
And out of that came the frog's dark cry
Like a lover's lament.  He was in love--just that.

Sonnet 98

Love comes sneaky like the coyote,
Stealing hearts left trashed and discarded;
Love cannot enter a gate when guarded
For love is soft and secret as midnight smoke,
Easily spooked by a too-attentive hoot
Or too-oft remembrance of an antique hurt.

But let down pride and let down vigilance
And love like moss on every root will grow;
Love will come slinking by for kitchen scraps
With eyes as big as moons in a puddle's overflow--
Love will live on iffy maybes and a half-perhaps.
Once love's pennant's pitched upon the parapet,
She waves her colors gaily, victorious in surfeit.

Sonnet 99

Because my dreams know you, I do not,
Because I do not know my dreams.  Sad eyes
Come glancing, and then suddenly hide themselves
In the blackness of wells, in a pine board's knot.
In my dreams there are rumors of your beauty,
And I follow the noble words like stepping stones
Over the abyss, my old bachelor home--
Sweep me: winds, words!  I weave songs of fealty.
I curl around what you might be, white lady,
Like a dog around a stove, the tongue around "love."
How everything below curves toward what's above!
Every plant and every eye is trained on the butane sky.
And so, white lady, whenever you want
You may appear here, as my dreams you already haunt.

Sonnet 100

Break like an oak, or keep faith forever--
Die in the harness, your heart a furnace of effort:
The oath of a bull is not the oath of a feather.

Love with your will and not your body only,
The way virgins married Vesuvius alive
And died in a silence terribly lonely.

Condors mate with their wild kind on the crags
As sky and rock mate in ravening winter,
Their high crying caught in the wind's brag.

Come take me, maiden, with your Amazon mind!
Come kiss lips till lips blaze and splinter!
Come ravish the man who climbs to marry your kind!

The oath of a bull is not the oath of a feather:
Break like an oak, or keep faith forever.

Sonnet 101

Shameless is my mistress wetly caught,
Wily in her seeking freedom thence--
Demure when spanked as though she would be taught,
Yet still runs wild at her third offense.
Who could teach much to such wantonness,
Frenzied to be free, when freed all frenzy still?
Unbidden, she'll curl upon a lap to rest--
All things her way always is her only will.
She charms at first with an off-hand gesture,
Comes for pets, is damned attentive;
Your good opinion seems her only pleasure….
Next day proves her unretentive.
How can one instruct such a flitting wisp?
No way but enjoy each shimmer as she shifts.

Sonnet 102

For three dates you remained a mermaid to me,
Swimming away and flashing your tail.
I didn't even know if you had two legs, and the sea
Kept foaming right up to your navel.

When would I feel your slick body climb into bed,
Your clothes lumped in a disordered heap,
Your half half-sinking, taking ballast aboard,
And you naked as a newly-sheared sheep?

Something was fishy, my little mermaid;
Was our romancing faux or spurious?
The course you set was cunningly laid,
And my suspicion kept me curious.

But then you swam up, and sailed home to my bed,
And wrapped your legs around my head.

Sonnet 103

My love is not a river, but it is
In the river, flowing among the yeasty curls,
Wetting itself in the wavery spray and the spritz
Playfully as an otter with two balls.
My love is not grand like a church bell
Forged lovingly from parishioners' pennies,
Calling in the blackclad faithful to solemnly kneel;
(But my love does have a tongue for you, Jenny.)
My love is not as vast as the Great Plains'
Majesties--fertile and broad and deep;
But my love does peep like a prairie dog, is game
To pop up and play hide-and-seek.
My love is a funny sort of thing, and a small:
A paper plane thrown in a cathedral.

Sonnet 104

Other constellations have all flashed to ash--
Old photo-bulbs, popped and nude,
Heaven's eons reduced to interludes
Since your starry being has come to pass.
I doodle the lines of your constellation, dotting spots
That limn your chin or trace your waist
With my hands and mouth, pausing at each place
To braise my pallor on your burning body's hot.
My ardent lips come back bruised and burnt
As burls, and tears shine hard where lust had lurked--
Surprising eyes, and leaving me unsure how this works.
Loving is not loving that will not learn to hurt.
Now I lay me down on the grassy floor
And memorize stars that are all yours.

Sonnet 105

File me down to an unbearable essence,
Pinch me tight like ground spices, and haul
My granular essence up to your curious nose.
Inhale my sharpness;  love is at the core.
It has taken me a long time to arrive,
A long time I paddled in love's tanning vat
Disputing causes, examining the sieve,
Adding up my love-lists like an accountant.
But now I am soaked, dunked, drenched, a whore
Wholly open and wholly possessed;
I love all of you, your least eyelash adore;
I love you stripped, or bathing, or dressed.
Love is at my center, love up to the teeth;
Now love me too--quick--or love must come to grief.

Sonnet 106

Your love's locked up in her intricate castle.
High, high the parapet!  In the moat, a crocodile.
I slip into the black water anyway, the way
The moon slips into your mouth when you raise it, singing.
My desire for you has made me brave--
Not brave to conquer, nor to save,
But brave to kiss you and to be kissed
Regardless of what the interference is.

Bold lions lean yellow in your feline eyes,
Crouched to kill with womanly surmise;
In your mouth, ten thousand snakes lie limply curled--
Ready to haunt and hiss at a word.
All this I dare who never dared before:
I throw down my heart before your farthest shore.

Sonnet 107

In the mist, in the rain,
Comes illimitable pain;
Here your face remains a memory
Of insuperable agony....

We who had been lovers, closer
Than diodes anodyne and chosen
Now separate like trees in fog,
Dull white columns half-sogged

Until I and all I feel
Is insubstantial, ephemeral....
I myself a ghost
Invisible in mist, lost

Without you as my anchor, dear,
My source, my succor.

Sonnet 108

Play the sistrum softly, softly. 
Her image glides all ghostly
When the refrigerator hums
And dead of night is come.

I am haunted by her now
Who knows the strength and hour
Of her presence, of her power--
Oh ghost at once sweet and sour!

Illusory, frightful,
Hysterical, delightful,
The woman in the mirror
Haunts and appears.

On my shoulder like a parrot
She hops, my ghoul, my Pierrot!

Sonnet 109

As hypnotic as a living fan of coral,
As delicate in their blue aurorals
The veins on your legs wave their traceries,
Sturdy pillars of impious ecstasy.
You climb aboard me, and I sink beneath
Breathless as a turtle swimming in a reef;
Chains of bubbles from my hooked lips
Enclose my moans of sinful happiness, 
Audible only when they pop open.

So I sigh with the sea....  Do I sigh in vain,
Evoking only my lady's harsh laugh?

O My lady of marble with marbled thighs,
Punch me, crush me with desire til I sigh
Your praises upward in a silent prayer of pain!

Sonnet 110

Love, so great an emblem, a divinest thing
Like Himalayas beyond Himalayas' aspiring:
So tall, so fierce--an Amazon from the moon
Loitering on the porch between us now it's June.
Love, once remote beyond ebony pearls of Cathay,
Strolls by with baskets of daily laundry;
Love sits knit in the pearl of "purl one, purl two"
As we lounge of an evening with pay-per-view.
Love, when I was ignorant and young,
Lay locked in a castle beyond my tongue
Which knew not the secret keys of a kiss:
Holding hands in the rain, the nearness of bliss.
So long have I stood imagining wings
Who, knowing you, flies over everything.

Sonnet 111

I thought I knew just what to do with you:
Keep you in a box on my Friday night shelf,
Feed you snickers and movies and romantic fluff
About stars in your eyes and kisses like wine
And other such fabulous stuff.

But, oh, how mistaken!  My heart was taken
When your body spooned glued to mine.
My will swam away under a tidal wave
To tropic, Tahitian moons. I thought I knew
You, I thought I knew me. But, today,
I am a man lost at sea, the sea gorgeous,
A man on an island washing away under his feet....
And I need you, in your wooden canoe, to come
And take me to wherever you came from.

Sonnet 112

Grey's anatomy and all that crap:
Bodies blueprinted and expertly dissected,
Drawn and quartered from arse to cap
As that curious scalpel the eye directed.
No diagram can master what you are:
Lusty stardust fallen to our sphere.

Here, you present yourself humanly:
Swearing at the buckles on your mackintosh,
Spilling the last soggy bag of groceries,
Stamping your rain boots free of fresh slush.
That's the you who you are--whose eyes see deep,
Whose breath is half roses when you're half asleep,
Whose kiss is integral, and whose calm arms are just
The skinsoft thing that wakes the whole of my lust.

Sonnet 113

Miscreant Time has spelt his troubles plain
On papery forehead and chill cheeks eaten
By the wind.  Lacing my sneakers at dawn,
I ran, once, and raced the wind unbeaten.
While still a boy by the barefoot pond,
I saw my face resolve past hanging fronds
Unlined by any lesson of the Lord's;
All was still penny-a-wish and open hope.

Now past my zenith, on the far shore lodged,
Where snows heap up and the hillside steepens,
I reach weakly across the wrinkled gorge
To one who keeps my heart within her steeple.
Will you take this hand and creak on crutches?--
There's a place past the peak where the church is.

Sonnet 114

Love cannot choose, but knows it is chosen
To undertake all that love can endeavor:
Hurl rocks from the heights, or love you forever,
Whichever is hardest, more burning, more frozen.
One big love is better than any half dozen;
One Mississippi masters ten cataracts--
Those, my lover, are simply the facts.
Love cannot choose, but knows it is chosen.
A hunchback haranguing the town with his bell,
A lady pirouetting herself off a cliff,
Hamlet pondering Ophelia's sweet "If...."
That man with the Nose who knows words all too well;
They all knew nothing, but one thing knew then--
Love cannot choose, but knew love chose them.

Sonnet 115

Although my joy with pain is blistered
And I choke on every luau larded at my feet:
Purple whortle-berries, vintage of San Griet,
Still I eat, still drink to life and leisure.
Each hike I take toward some higher good,
Each leap I make, induces some new seizure;
Each trial into undiscovered pleasure
Leaves a trail of bodies through the wood....
Still I trod, having found no higher God
Than duty to what beauty here appears--
Leaves that come and go throughout the year,
Milkweed seeds drifting slowly from their pods.
Whatever cost our private Christmases incur, 
I'll pay the pain, so long as you and I continue us.

Sonnet 116

Death will take you, and I will bless you: "Go."
Not like demented Edgar shall I wander and weep,
Clasping for golden sandgrains on the margin of the deep
Where every wave is saying, sweep, sweep, sweep.
No, no.  Not in tragic sadness all alone
Will I face the inevitable lightning:
Your face yellow, or wan, dead and frightening 
Down in the dark new box black with lacquering.

Instead, I'll stand happy and mad as the rain,
Watching the deep drops, like sucked gumdrops, fall
On the gathered mourners, and wetly roll
Prescient and perfect and round as crystal balls.
My time continuing, your time remains,
For I will praise you, darling, till you are come again.

Sonnet 117

If I were without whoever you are
Would I feel the loss, and miss it?
The spoon licked clean, the talk at the bar,
The bree and crackers, the hand at whist?
If I were without whoever you are
Would your memory enlarge to a shade?
Would you haunt me at midnight with a twanged guitar,
Misplace my keys, ruin parades?
Would I bury my head in your pillow,
Sniff the drawer where your sweaters were left?
At movies, would I weep like a willow?
Would I feel like a victim of theft?
Who would it be who was driving my car
If I were without whoever you are?

Sonnet 119

Tell me, does love have sorrow for its marrow?
Is a dandelion lovely only
Because its baldness leaves us lonely?

When the player prates "Tomorrow, tomorrow..."
Or the expired milk curls its lip,
Their change of state makes us moue and weep.

Is it the same with love and her tears--
Wiping our noses or blinking them back
Stops our hearts as if under attack.

O, look in the mirror with that look of fear:
The horseman is coming to trample our dears.
The x-ray, once backlit, the cancer is clear.

The test returned positive from the hospital staff,
Our hearts are in our throats, and we cannot gasp.

Sonnet 119

Death holds lovers who forget each other,
Who pretend the soft pulsings in a wrist
Everlastingly unroll.--Death's cold furs
Wrap up those proud hearts' hot velvets
In a chill no quilt can conquer.

It is no idle boast of coffins
To say they box us best that box us last.--
In satin trim and eternal dim
We kiss goodbye our past.
No lovers' squalls within such walls remain.

So hold me now, and thou to thou,
We'll build a house of love and pillows
Plumped with such subtle human powers
Death's retreat will last our lifetimes' hours.

Sonnet 120

Sitting there so saucily thoughtful,
Your firm legs a-dangle, uncrossed,
Your eyes milky and mildly unfocused
As your lips taste tart thoughts that are lustful:
What pictures are you painting in your mind?
Do azure sands unfurl below tan skies?
Do proud men crouch between your thighs
Flashing dark looks beneath hair wildly curled?

You sit on your tall fantasist's throne
Cruel and adored, the barstool worn flat
From daily use (chopping carrots and all that),
A woman who shy-slyly transforms her home
Into Pan's Cavern, where white firelight dances,
Anonymous hands strip us, and we grow frantic.

Sonnet 121

I'm not quite sure I quite know quite how
Or quite why you love me even now.
After so many leerings and pairings,
So many hesitations and darings,
Assignations, arrangements and trysts, 
Allurements, procurements and back alley kisses,
Still you return, still make me feel missed.

At each meeting the mystery deepens,
Yet no abyss intervenes with its weeping,
No catastrophe clatters, no shinbone shatters,
In fact, almost nothing at all's the matter!
Only you and I standing in the clear air,
No moon romancing the contented pair
Waiting for nothing else to appear.

Sonnet 122

What can summer add to what our winter
Love has found?  The heat and desperate damp of days
Leaning from the sill with a sangria pitcher,
Moonlight looming through a greasy lens,
The stacked smoke of apartment grills
Confusing fuzzy flavors and leaving palettes burnt,
The noise of neighbor kids grinding by on big wheels
Floating through summer screens green with bugs and lint.

Oh summer is one-thousand annoyances
Compressed into ninety sweaty nights
While Bennies scoop up spots on all the beaches....

Love me to the depth, love me to the height
Of all the loving any human heart has vowed.
Only, do not wait for summer;  love me now.

Sonnet 123

I like to watch you try the new words on your tongue,
Mouthing "missus" and the house address
Strange as Demosthenes with his pebble-tongue.

All of this had come of your trying "Yes"
Once before the parson's congregation:
A new household, and a man, and all this strangeness.

New wife, is all your world a wedding?
Is stepping past a traffic light like passing arches garlanded?
Is love brand new, or just the Sears bedding?

Your married life, you say, began in childhood
Dressing dolls;  in middleschool there came petting;
Then all the mercenary ads in "Modern Bride"....

Knock the domestic idols from the shelf!
Step in, my merry love, and be yourself.

Sonnet 124

The world is packed tight with Kreons and Medeas,
The Antigones go wobbly, the Electras are mad;
Tragedy springs bubbling from each tongue-tip, you'll see,
The good are driven into the arms of the bad.
Helter-skelter harpies darken the trees;
It's chaos at home and confusion abroad--
The sad children are all abandoning God,
They sing no more carols and never say "Please."
When the good life has gone from golden to black,
When virtue is threatened and evil triumphant,
When all the old dears are under attack,
What kind of love can two lovers want?
We lock eyes and lock horns and threaten a fight
But coo soft as doves when we spend the night.

Sonnet 125

I burn through muses like Estes rockets--
Skirts and faces whirl in a grand fandango,
The shipboard romances tucked in a pocket
Real and unreal as a fabulous go-go.
"Love" crumbles at my lips, a communion wafer
Eaten when blood and wine are not enough,
Nor I transformed by what I have quaffed.

Love's no drug to make us feel safer;
It's a razor on which we willingly tango
To a personal oblivion we have crafted
Cunningly, from basement to rafters.
And in this morose house, my soul
Winds the empty stairs and surveys the windows
Hoping I do not know what I know.

Sonnet 126

Would you buy me a backyard full of dreams?
I see the fence, pale, a little rattled.
I see the tiger-lilies growing boldly along the seam.
I see the mole's house, by his round door the dottle.
There's room enough for vegetables, some bamboo,
A clothesline dancing from the house to the tree,
Maybe a swing below a low branch, too.
I see us there, happy, and the huge moon makes three.

So many dreams vibrate above this square of ground;
So many terrible, lovely things live in our bodies.
When will this dreaming and wanting have an end?
After long enough, even pure dreams seem shoddy.
Would you buy me a backyard full of dreams?
Stand beside me, just here.  Do not dream.

Sonnet 127

You had grown quiet in a snowy field, 
Stood a little near the fence, did not move 
But led sleeping flakes on your blushing tongue to yield 
Their bodies back to water, misting love. 
How like those little crystals, though in large, 
My solemn wishes harmless fall on your magnificence 
To dissolve in the huge waters of your marge 
And, losing all themselves, add nothing to your sense. 
For you are more, in your silent warmth, 
Like constant earth that wears seasons for her veils, 
Changing summer green for autumn's gaiety, -- 
More constant, more true, more everything of worth 
Than the fretful melts that touch your least detail 
And must, with touching, the seasons of their being interchange, 
Losing their winter dignity in your kissing spring.

Sonnet 128

Where do the birds go when it rains? 
Their wings like little snippers are still,
Black wings, yellow wings, grey wings, again
And again they flash... and, like knives, are still.
Again and again the pain of tears is falling;
All over the world and my block it is raining,
On the little birds especially--in their walls
Of bushes, their deep green bushes, they're wailing.

A bird wails with silence, for a bird
Is born to be always singing;  it is not born
To be silent in the rain, in a bush, like a word
Unspoken.  So much silence!  My heart is torn
With words I have not spoken, cannot speak
When you look at me like rain beginning to break.

Sonnet 129

I do not love you the way fire loves wood
Although my heat's as great, my hunger greater;
I do not love you as saints crave the good
Although my devotion's deeper than saint's prayer.
Not by any measure of heart, hope, or greed
Does my loving come round to loving you;
Not by comparison's calipers does my love exceed
What others' love may be for those they do.
No;  it is by excess of gentleness 
And superlatives of softest care,
By exquisite forethought for your happiness
That my love arrives when you are least aware
And prepares the wide ground with downy flakes
For your descent from clouds into the love I make.

Sonnet 130

At sunset, how it all runs away from one,
Day slips by day slippery till days are done;
Whatever we were is not what we become.

"Old age should rage," but we are infant beings
And do not know our ends and meanings--
Carved from scrap, and, erected, leaning.

What comes to us and comes of us is scattered;
We moon by mirrors as if mirrors mattered
--But the self is fugitive, identity shattered.

We are a rift in the jazzman's riff,
A glass-bottomed boat lazily adrift
Sighing into slender reeds that whistle rough.

And so, our only music's not our own
But time's, whose ticking hands leave none alone.

Sonnet 131

Love is a corpse, nothing but a corpse
Of joy, of memory, until the next minute
Lips incinerate, fire goes up in the copse,
Fire-fingers through the furze spread enchantment,
And the body, momentarily present,
Manifests for its own self-destruction:--
When what is you has escaped its vent
And enters me, hissing whispers of perfection.

So long and lovingly do we circle 
In this clasp, scientists at our instruments
Hooked to reality's terrifying lure,
The self at the telescope knows not where it went.
The fishing line cuts until soul's bones show
That cadaverous look, that ecstatic glow.

Sonnet 132

That night you sang to me shines in me now,
Long streamers of notes poured from a bucket;
I am wrapped in your song, the long hair shadowy,
Completely contained in your voice as in a locket.

Move your voice over the fluid night,
Lift hosannas from your throat like fireflies,
Sparks flung arrowlike from the flames' light
When green wood goes yearning to the campfire.

Now your voice is dark, black pools in a cave,
Liquid with the deep auguries of earth,
Baptismal of beginnings, the underground nave
Where songs spring among the first things of life.

You carry me around your neck, your voice full;
I flow with you into everything beautiful.

Sonnet 133

Shivery as a delicate dart from a blowgun
You entered my blood, and my blood responded.
Shivering, I leave behind my lonely skin
And dance entranced where I had only wandered.
Now my heart's set loose among the stars....

I visit the constellations, my neighbors;
The Plieades are in my arms, not strangers;
Andromeda's my roommate, borrowing my car
To drive the dark wilderness behind your eyes.
And there I am, too, licking, flickering.

O, such wildernesses!  Beyond known skies
I gather the fiery flowers continually,
Fattening my basket, fat to overflowing
With just you, all the you I am knowing.

Sonnet 134

Everywhere people are looking to the heavens
For perfection, for completion, for
A patch to cover the holes in themselves.

Even the man, the woman at an auction,
Bidding low and hoping for a bargain,
Are looking for a cheap perfection.

The ears of the fox twitch again and again,
Alertly aware of the wind's siftings,
Nose lifted to sniff a vulnerable perfection.

Even the vole, even the sandflea sings
This song of seeking that will not hush.
This song is revolving through everything

Slowly and grandly as gravity's deep crush....
Somewhere, with great perfection, you holster your toothbrush.

Sonnet 135

I pull you open and divide the loaves
Of your lovely body over and over--
You are shared and consumed, our molten moves
The everlasting communion of all lovers.
Your shoulders rise whitely as round hills,
Your buttocks tell of eternal life,
How all the long loving that we spill 
Goes on flowing for centuries, life
After life.  On your bedstand a handful
Of earrings, a litter of glittering
Such as might flutter from a beautiful
Night--a splash of discarded things, of rings--
Meaningless with no central singleness to adorn,
The pin in the pinwheel where our motion is born.

Sonnet 136

Love comes apart, like shards, in the hand,
Defies the twine of the newspaper bundle;
Decrepit as autumn, love creeps toward the cold
Dissolution entombed in earth's snowy mantle.
When the body departs, love departs;
Love does not endure among the bones.

Love is the flesh's unconquerable throne,
An elegance of kisses, a masterpiece of hearts.
Two hands, when they cross, build cathedrals;
Two hearts, when they meet, come to summer
In an instant, like ringing a bell.
Love, in this life, is all life's shimmer.

So take this hand.  Today, take this hand
And kneel with me, and knead our daily bread.

Sonnet 137

If I am living, I must be loving.
As air enters the lungs, as words exit the mouth,
My diamond toward your diamond is craving--
Twin lights entwined as self within self,
Shine within shine, our beauties exchanging.

How lightly we touch the deep-hidden beacon
That flares unwearied, unwary of loss,
A lighthouse that gives all to all who may come:
Illumination's essence, simple, unglossed--
A lamp where we read our hearts' simple tome:
Loving is living with the extravagance of grass.

Extravagant we shimmer as dew shines in the grass!
As dew lives a moment (and that moment must pass)
Our loving is dew, and must vanish at last.

Sonnet 138

Crying out in my wounds, I do not find you.
Crying out in midnight misery, you are gone.
Crying out from inside the mountain, I hear no reply.
Crying out from under seas of tears, I drown.
Is there nothing to find in this thin agony?
Has pain no standing with love's ecstasies?
Sweet, sweet the shame of wanting you only.
Sweeter than honeysuckle is being unworthy,
Being a bark-wasp on the great tree of your beauty,
Being the dust blown about by your eagle's wings.
I crawl before the thrown light of your glance,
I shrivel like burning tissue to nothing.
Crying out of my emptiness, I empty myself--
Breathing in at last the nectar of yourself.

Sonnet 139

An infinity of needles stick in my thumb
Whenever I try to write this love,
This cargo of roses, this boxcar of honeycombs,
All the things unearthed by your eyes from above.

When you and I talk, it is two rivers meeting,
The white ropes of foam go on riding
Together among many rocks, our silver notes greeting
The silver sky--and our laughter keeps striding.

When you and I sleep, our dreams exchange clothes
And we stand up in each others' shadow-world
Like puppets unfolded from a magic chest of souls--
Our faces gigantic in rouge and wood.

Only in dreams, where our strings tangle,
Can I write like a river alive with sun-spangles.

Sonnet 140

Let love's little sunbeam into your heart;
Do not fear love's indelible dart
Whose impact, whose crater, can blow hearts apart.

Let love's little sunbeam into your heart;
Let blossom love's seed in your most indwelling part
Whose wild vines kudzu the field where they start.

Let love's little sunbeam into your heart;
Don't yelp when love's hammer and tongs make you smart,
Reconcile pain and love and all that.

Let love's little sunbeam into your heart;
Through stained-glass parables and great works of art
Love comes crashing until bright glitter results.

Let love's little sunbeam into your heart
And we'll endure every turn, till love flips our cart.

Sonnet 141

Put your hand in the thorny conflagration,
Jump in with your whole body and soul!
Leave not one shred of indecision
Unburnt in the bonfire love engulfs.
Our love is both the light and the heat.
Strangers warm their naked feet, their faces
Blazed bald from the glare of two undefeated hearts.
Dark is driven out;  all the spotlit night-opossums 
Snooze confused;  bats hang dazed in their belfries,
Waiting for stars to pinhole evening's curtain.
None of them know a star has fallen by the highway
Singing and whistling unbearable matins.
Jump in with your whole life--right now!
To your great soul this fire is a small flower.

Sonnet 142

In the tripping tick of time it's taken
This fist of flowers, these cut daisies
To wither brown in their cobalt vases,
I've tapped out my hymns of being shaken.

You found me wild among old shadows
And with careful eye overlooked my petals:
Trimmed, arranged, and displayed me gently 
In vibrant vases of your own.

Now my carnations red and jonquils yellow
Branch and bunch as you would have me
(Who from moody singleness hath saved me).

But will you still love a wild thing so mellowed?
Do not discard me when I am brown and drear--
Let me be wild again, tucked behind your ear.

CODA: The Night Janitor

Each eve, whatever came for me to push
(Mash notes, tissues, cups) I was content to crush--
Not caring its meaning or intent.
I thought all that nosed me thus irrelevant.

I had a schedule and sought to keep it
Tight.  When dust purled about me, I'd sweep it
Out of sight.  Litter of the day in piles
Fed the starry furnace basement-style.

My fire did not care my fire's source
So long as burning never lost its force;
My face sweat as I handed in the trash,
Reddening when words their hidden cache

Of light revealed.  So I spent my nights.

Ode to an Earlobe

O to the ear, entering in in lullaby lilt
Goes O against the sweet strength of eardrum
And hums O down the lovely length of the ear tube.
O starts the sound with my mouth on your earlobe
And O goes the round of your mouth with a moan
And O go our days, each round into the next
O of the time that O is dwindling!

O is the end of the flute that is sighing
And O is the lambent moon that is prying
O upon our loving by waves that are trying
To reach O your toes in sand-spray waving
O with the ecstasy of our slow loving
To moons of our eyes O-open and crying
While lying down together and sighing--
O you say, O God, am I dying?

Leda After Lunch

The park had invited us, we did not wait
But walked out, out beyond the sound of gates,
Our hands unhinged and dropping to our waists.

I held my lover down and gave her gall.
She turned her angry face to the half-fallen wall.
"Life is good," I crowed, rowing her home.

For a minute in her midst, I was not alone.
Haunches on heels, I left her quiet after that--
Watching her breathe, retrieving my hat

Rolled past my grasp in the flattened grass.
"Life is good," she sighed, she swore,
And slit her eyes and said no more.

The Unnameable

This is the color that crawls along chasms,
That spurns the moon and mocks good luck
In laughing spasms.

This is the color that counts down to null,  
Reverses years, and peels the skin
From the skull.

This is the color of grimace and grime,
Of "murder most foul" 
And troubled times.

This is the color that steals pens' souls,
Lays waste the vastest fields
And heighs the Devil home.

This is the color bells hide in their bellies,
That creeps in cracks and smells
Of napalm jelly.

This is the color that empties every eye,
That pitches tents in tumors
And blots out the sky.

River Read Talking Intro for “Of flares, of flowers”

 [Essays], Introductions, Of flares, of flowers  Comments Off on River Read Talking Intro for “Of flares, of flowers”
Jun 102012

As talking apes, we handle the matter of urgent mating in a way quite different from our hairier cousins. For us musing humans, loving someone seems to be equal parts artifice and fascination.

We love someone, first, not for who they are, but for whom we make them out to be through the mists of dim recognition–across the roomful of phony fog and the pulsing rainbows of the disco ball. This fascination, combined with the artifice of who they present themselves to be, is just the initial sauce of the gourmand’s smorgasbord of attraction and affection we term “love.”

And where the imagination latches its mollusk, it secretes its magic–transforming the rottenest rowboat into Cleopatra’s bejeweled barge.

The courtship between two adult humans contains, on average, one million words–roughly 100,000 more words than Shakespeare’s complete plays. This is the titanic effort that the imagination brings to bed with us. And from this art, we weave the dreams of our sexual lives, our tenderest expressions of affection. And, indeed, we weave our own families.

How we imagine love is important. To be raw, to be vulnerable, to weave our dreams of love in utter nakedness, is important. It’s what we talking apes do. We do it incessantly and, in all the animal kingdom, we do it with an artifice and fascination compounded mainly of words.

This human intrusion of the heart and cock into one’s interpersonal affairs can be awkward, embarrassing, and nearly impossible to winningly negotiate.

Intro: A Kiss Occurred

 [Essays], [Poetry], Introductions, Of flares, of flowers  Comments Off on Intro: A Kiss Occurred
Jun 042012

This assemblage of sonnets is neither a trumpet of blind praise, nor a morose ogling of the pains of passion. It is more on the order of an exploration of the situation of love. Of being subjectively in love, and, more objectively, of loving someone besides oneself. So, there are eager rehearsals of coming joys and somber reappraisals of old impious passions both in this collection.

The biographical circumstances are simply that I had an intuition that I was on the cusp of some new union with love; there was a dating service, fresh faces and swaying ladies; a kiss occurred, other details.

Spring has arrived with its brash boings and raindrop doings!

GGB March 15-April 15, 2012


Two, We Two

 [Poetry], Of flares, of flowers  Comments Off on Two, We Two
Apr 162012
It's just a little while
We've been two, we two.
Too long myself a solitary,
Self-possessed as a dromedary--
And landscape as bleak.
Too, too long my lonely hills
Slanted-- all drift, sift and seethe.
No wet roll or rill, no river
Rushed oceanward open-armed,
Dissolving all the river's crazy
Hermit-cackle to one tongue's
More marmoreal, vast
Unknowing murmur.


 [Poetry], Of flares, of flowers  Comments Off on Blips
Apr 162012
I am desperate to love you, to know you,
Like a bride who burns off her wedding dress,
Like lips waiting, misshapen, to kiss.

Kisses fell out of us like water falls,
Bursting to earth and deafening the onlookers!
When we kissed, we could hear the sea crashing around us.

But where are they now, those slippery kisses?
What's left of their vast wetness?
No child has grown between us.

Even a puddle leaves its residue of mud,
Some softening of the way
Despite whatever volume of traffic.

Stirring the syrup of your sweet sweet life,
Letting the licks insist their way into me, inside me,
Surely my lips remain sticky?

How many feet have been here before us?  Every foot.
Every pace of the path is hard with old passages, old passions.
Every route is known;  no star blinks undiscovered--

Except by us, two blips on the periphery,
Elliptical with longing, our lips chapped by the long wintering over,
Too stiff and dry to even whistle!

Our veined and florid maps are still tucked in our backpacks.
Our tents are not yet ready to unroll with sleep.
My eyes keep blinking, keep looking, no matter how dark the way.

There's still so much to see, I think,
When your hand brushes mine under the pine trees,
And the sound of our walking fades into the background,

And I close my eyes to breathe.
If love is, then love is what happens
When you forget where you're going.

Of flares, of flowers: Sonnets Epigrams

 [Poetry], Of flares, of flowers, Sonnets  Comments Off on Of flares, of flowers: Sonnets Epigrams
Apr 162012
Assist me, some extempore god of rhyme;  
for I am sure I shall turn sonneteer. ~~ Shakespeare

All my life my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name. 
~~ Andre Breton

Desire too cosmic and too close to name
A vibrant nothing and a tortured shame.
My all, my fall--which in one syllable I'll tell
If you beside me, dear, will ride
     the black thunders to Hell.

Sonnet 1

 [Poetry], Of flares, of flowers, Sonnets  Comments Off on Sonnet 1
Apr 162012
My eyes are weary of looking for lovers
In every face, every cinch of the hips,
All the coffee, the talk, that passes my lips;
Tired of my solitude under cold covers.

A day is a long time, an hour, even a minute
Without you, stranger who will melt my heart,
Who will hear the doves beating in my chest
And fold herself into my arms like a shirt.

Arctic winds cross my forehead,
My hands chill and splayed as a penguin's orange feet
As I wait on this ice floe for the one I must meet,
One who will ignite my nights with lavender heat.
Who are you, hands held before you toward my hands' use....
A sleepwalker?  A zombie?  A mistress, a muse?