Aug 272015

Gregg Glory

Published by BLAST PRESS

A Dream Dislodged

Disorderly love falls on our lives
Like a dream in which we die
And cannot awake or dream otherwise
And only this dream is before our eyes

Ritual and rote and stigmatized
Inescapable and inordinately stylized
A sleepwalker's temptless step's imposed
And we see only the dream and are blind

Prolog of a Dog

This is an epic: shrunk, crabbed, and small,
Full of false-effects, self-pity, the merely personal,
A Don Juan who lambastes not the passing scene
But all that has-been Juan may be, or is, or has been.
Where more loving looks would gloss a blemish
The critic's eye inscribes a scar to cherish,
For every jot that takes away from fame, frame, or form
Bolts the sniping critic thus much more above the norm.

I spy inside to sight with telescopic sighs
The whys of my feelings' reasons:
Interloper on a landscape without seasons
-- Why are such thoughts always such internal messes?
Insistent blots and bleeding
Awful as a Rorsach reading?
Or are summer ladies in their swaying dresses
The carnal cause of my distresses?
(Your guess is as good as I guess my guess is.)

Love's each word confirms what I suspect:
Disaster's the master, and we but the guests.
She sheds no sigh for any man's part,
Whether the nether gender or simply his heart.
On Time's high hill my glass house lies sheer,
White licked-together ice panes as thin as tears---
I'll throw nothing as improbable as rocks
But must content my anger by flinging dirty socks.

When confronted by the bare barbarity
Of a too-intimate, too-personal personal history
The titillating crowd contracts a gassy gasp
Into the actor's ruination of  a yawn.
Put away the hugs, unclench the hearty clasp,
Poke about for the folded rulebook on Badminton
Or dewy martinis not cleared away at dawn,
Any of last season's or last night's amenable diversions,
No worse for the weather on the party lawn.

"But I have a tale to tell you!" he told the mirror
As a minor chord played in the castle dreary,
And like a lawyer at a settlement
Between heavenly disputants temporarily hellbent
He unpacked his tale like a holy relic. 
He tried, when talking, talking about his happenstance
To concentrate Pure Mind from nominal Space.
Somehow somewhere something means something
As we fill with ephemeral words our eternal dumbness.

And ever the bleak bitterness of Love is present,
Awkward to forget, awkwarder to remember,
A golden goose whose taste has turned to pheasant:
Sour to eat, but the killing's pleasant.
Leaning with a highpower scope on my pickup's fender,
I forget at once who was the first offender.
A kiss is just a kiss, for all our wishing
And love is just another way for brains to say "gone fishing."
And yet what hopes are harbored in a sigh
To which all the pall of History can't manage to give the lie?
And somehow behind Love's final curtain
The essential something-nothing of ourselves is lurking.

To say that these things are only so,
That, in the course of life, such heinousness is usual
Is to dodge the lodging dart that conscience pricks
And with our green tequilas reel 
About the empty garden like a crypt.
It doesn't make much difference
If you're in the Congo, Buenos Aries, or France
Time can add no savor but regret
To what the hand has done, or the heart inflicts.

Yet I may say, like the newscaster at six "Once
Upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away
I loved." Such a rare occurrence
Can't be measured by existential stirrings and segues:
It's the internal turnings of that monster Fate
That makes our mousing loves or hatreds great.
Is my mauve eagle of presidential pinion,
Or am I but a seraph's wingman?
Public puffs and public scrapes
Suck divinest wines back to earthy grapes.

The Sword Inside

A purposeless scrub plain laid before the sight,
Inarticulate, has nothing to offer;
Neutral evolution's meaning is neuter
Until interpretive man stands near.

Cool swaths and charts of haughty stars
Whirling infinite on a pin
To rampaging wolf and twittering lark
Revolve innocent of sin.

But one constellation-loaded look or angst-angelic glance
Cast up by blameful man
Can trace God's wrath in each twinkling coordinate
As plainly as a plan.

Until the intuitive outcast on the monotone plain
Divided the iterative day
Into the arrowy horror of arbitrative time,
Inventing vatic history,

God's mercy and His blood could not from the dust
Gather us to his breast;
Bhudda in his monk-smock howled the rice from his throat,
A proctor without a test.

Lacking sin's spectacle or anticipatory hope's
Human ability to fail
Life spins in a bituminous bubble of unbecome,
A whereless, whenless exile.

Narrow animal and expansive man both hunt world and sky;
Anxious and inscrutable they rave.
The one with tooth, paw and blind beak will kill,
The other with inner glaive.

The Ardor for Order

Once I was happy just
To flabbergast and gust
Over incestuous Thanatos and Eros,
My impulsive pair of heroes.

But now my erring mind
(Arranging, jury-rigging jigsaws night by night)
Surveys the surrounding social scene
In meditative fright.

The president imposes order,
The pope imposes hope;
Which one has the right to expedite
My sonnets with his ardor? 

Every rhyme with law and order
Is enticingly narcotic,
But to impose them on the Zeitgeist
Is damnably neurotic.

The windbag of a fascist
Hoots and emotes in Life's emporium,
His whistlework's that of the serious artist,
Envowelling society's consortium.

His graves are all so neatly done
They lie down in counted rows;
The bones obey coordinates;
Above, there blooms a rose.

But I conceive of a magic bag
That holds us all together,
A something simple like the spurious
Convention of "the weather."

There's no God, or need be none
(Intrusive into our intimate "Scene A")
Who's got to plod, or descend
Deus ex machina.

Draw instead in dreamy eye or fable
Something constellationish
Shared with elbows tucked at table,
A grace passed round or handed down,

The substance of a wish.


Bullets 'oft gang awry'
When we squint with lying eye
At the target we had thought
To level with a shot;
Somewhere along the barrel
Our curving expectation falls
And what is becomes a part
Of what we hope to shoot,
Or perhaps an intervening wind
Has changed beginning and the end.
The future always lies
Somewhere in the 'is,'
Or so the marksman's maxim goes
Hunkered in a bush of rose.
The future always lies
Somewhere in the 'is'
Our eyes are scouting now;
Hope and here intermix somehow,
Nor get pulled apart
Unless our killing art
Delivers to the shaping thought
The dead end we had sought.

The philosopher with his carcass
Dispenses with his guesses
- What would be now is,
And this is happiness.
Nor does he as he eats inquire
"What if I had not fired...."
Or if a speck of dust had interposed
Between his sightline and his nose.
All the dedication of his thought
Goes to digestion of what he's brought
From the wild field, as able,
To his domesticated table.
Not until quick hunger comes again
Will his thoughts curve and turn 
To all the 'Ifs' of chance
That can cancel out his choice
And send aim or word awry
In the hunted day.

My Beloved Enemy

My beloved Enemy
Confronts my chaos to define
My anger out of emptiness,
A solid hatred from rash wish.

My beloved Enemy
For my arch-arranging eye
Designs an aching target
That I must miss or hit;

Gives to my wide-range stagger
A more local, focal goal,
A sharpness to each dagger
Unfolded from the soul.

My beloved Enemy
Incinerates Laws like xmas-trees 
And from a dwarfish, brutal bush
Grows adored as Truth.

Without my beloved Enemy
--Alone, or made by mirrors three--
No matter how I writhe and twist
My very self would not exist.

My beloved Enemy
Radiant with joy and energy
Looks out from my own interior,
Puts on my scowls and powers.

My beloved Enemy
Alight with hate and ecstasy
--Fevered cheek to cheek we dance
Heedless of our circumstance.

Now my beloved Enemy
Made naked by wind and time
Arrives with a stricter chill:
My Enemy I must kill.

My beloved Enemy
Must learn now how to die,
And my beloved Enemy
In blood before me lies.

Burning the Vail

Let Love's lukewarm body lie
Drained of every lover's sigh;
Put up the crepe, pull down the bunting,
Pack in boxes the matrimonial trumpets. 

Rescind the secret thought, and cancel hope.
Let marriage feasts go up in smoke;
Let the lover, loved, display
Independence to the end of days.

Heaven's research into love's prayers
Recommends ascetic despair;
Despite longstanding and accustomed use,
A gander's not as good as goose.

When the mirror spots in morning's face
No room for absolution or for grace,
Every constellation seems
Evidence of God's complicity.

To exercise the lover's part
Seems the only answer to retreating hearts:
Mechanics of hydraulic hand
Give no ease to loves lorn gland.

Modern convenience should make us fit
To enjoy the air-conditioning, and forget;
Yet still in every neighbor's bush
Lurks the same distempered wish.

Every kiss but seems to mock
Those lips no kissing will unlock;
Snipers crouch on every roof
To put an end to lovers' truth.

Ransack every inked-out line
For furtive hints of peace-of-mind,
Time the healer will not dispense
Relief when every breath is grief.

To be a ghost and blow unmade
Through drawn and yellowed windowshade....
What aught occurs, there is no stop
To distraught hearts or lovers' hopes.

What may mere continuance teach,
Stalwart survival of the leech?
Let pain cease, and let cease pride
When love's soft cause has died inside.

Intellectual despair
Indulges 'The Unrepaired',
While Hymanaeus Io wont console
Particulate memory, 
                                the ripsawed soul.

A Double in the Dark

Ideal and disposable, the idea of you
Rustles beyond my moony shoulder,
Amorous shadow of fictive love,
A dream demanded by the dove.
Shapeless bloods within me, grant
Dark nurture to this faithless plant;
Heart, beat on in dreamland to create,
Where a pink and rumpled pillow lies,
Nerves that throb in sympathy;
Create, heart, until I in moonbeams see
A second dreamer dreaming cordially.

New eyes open, asleep yet silvery.

Confessional moonlight's idyll
Which previously had bridled
In dry daylight's talk and squawk
Now lets our human arms console
Each other till the feeling's whole.
Let rosy midnight flicker on
Neon until the ending dawn;
Together in our sparkless darkness,
Exchanging jokes and mental missives,
Our only soft defense against
Outer Nature's rage: This is not this
Is wishing, wishing, wishing
Against compelling consciousness.
And our breaths' most secret heats,
Sirocco on rose-darkened sheets,
Whisper the stories of our souls
Where conceptual contrapuntal kiss
And simpler carnal lips may meet.

A new moon glimmers in the room.

By careful compact with the night,
Tangled breaths and traded hands
And tangoed bodies no longer stand
But lie as loving strangers might
Acquainted with mysteries of delight.
Side by side let us abide
Before that darling blonde, the dawn
Explodes and leaves in shards
The love we worked on oh so hard--
Let us have a meeting without an edge,
Nor wrestle with our conscience once
But play pillow-talk, be each a dunce,
Two drowsy loves, pale and veined,
A pair of frangible spirits' vessels
Laughing out the candles.

A new day glitters at the ledge.


I lived unaware for a time
(I have to admit it)
Unconscious in a casual castle
Sipping livid Glenlivit;
I was deaf to the daily curses
Of incontinent scullery maids,
And recognized not the stable boys'
Disingenuous praise.

As lazy time lolled on
From here and now to gone
A private contentedness
And not extant catastrophe was
What I secretly counted on.

And all that time, you
Looked over the lifeboats
Tested and prepped the crew,
Gauging the drop-height
From the second story window
In case of fire or flight.

I was smoking cigarettes
In bed, getting girls up for a chat
While tanning in a deckchair,
Eyeing the hostess on the sly,
And all that.
But you had long before departed.
The hallway echoed with your passage
As dawn or noon or night invited
The memory of your visage.

You had left like a bell
That rings only in memory,
Or how a tale told in childhood
Retold is a story today.
The hearing ear is fooled
By a wrongful kindness of the mind
Whose generous assistance molds
Everything it finds.

You are silent, absent and afar
Indifferent and unreachable
As a collapsing star.
Quietly busy ostensibly
In an alternate universe
For your light still spills
Some length of years at ease
In at every sill.

Ships and compasses
Still rely on the light,
Having been forged in your presence
And wandering still in the night.
But one day your light, having left,
Will leave us of light bereft.

And yet you return, return
In all the days of my thought
As if there were no now and then
As if mercury cornered stayed caught.
And yet you return, return
Like an agile ellipsoid mobile
About your own center you turn
Presenting new angles the while,
New facets and faces revealed,
But really always and beautifully centered.

Maybe I too am centered, I too,
But more orbitally arranged
Fixed on a spar of you
From your central largeness estranged
As when Earth to dawn has come
Halfblind in the sun.


A silent fibbing moonlight washes
Distorted shadows of the dissenting sun
Over each snow-molested branch and bush
Arranged outside with a congregation's grace
For the terminal minutes of our love-embrace
Happening behind an unrolled windowsash.
You had wanted to hurt me, and did.
Truth was my only tribulation.

Your hands hung, inert and underfed,
Along the sofa's arms, overstuffed and wan,
Resisting the reconciliation of my touch
- And you pulled away, besides, your face,
Quick and moonlike, from my near face
Hurrying forward in a rudimentary rush
That had so often sought the complexity of bed.
Truth was my only tribulation.

It was then, snowbound and alone, you had said
Words that made all things one
And useless, in the gelid December hush
Whose winds diminished to a sparse trace
In the outer emptiness I could not face,
Too full of the moon's pale refracted crush.
I don't know how all this roomy dark occurred.
Truth is my only tribulation.

Pavilion Fountain: After the Funeral (Nov. 25, 1963)

Winter's never here at the fountain
Whose waters' liveliness seems a warm 
And open candor. Things are but things and do as they must:
As in the fountain's pallorous spangling forever
Heaviness and  light contest.

Beyond the torus of its halo
The summery waters' motions endeavor,
With the tear-bright dignity of an eye in agony,
To show how lightly may a substance go
An afflatus of divinity.

All things to their opposite use
Tortured, as when this lithesome watercourse
Was narrowed from easy murmur into gladdened sound,
Reveal some laden tale of their earthly course
Returning to their source.

As when like tears to ground we streak  
And the opened waters that accompany burial
Flow in broken speech, so the startled water, at its arc
Interpenetrate of scattered light, torridly tumbles
All rainbows to one stone bowl.

Something had sung up 
From the dark watered words summoned to console
Bodied brightness; as when we ourselves, by a terrible pity pul-
Led vocal from the womb, tighten and squall 
To give creation's own 

Cry to the beautiful.

Sestina: A Whittler’s Self-Portrait

Tired of the afternoon, too tired to rest,
a crooked dropping spider made herself my guest,
dispossessed of the wood over which she'd labored
wispily uniting the crooked scrap lengths of pine
by busy inner habit for a length of time.
Unwitting where she was, she knew no reason

to rest here out of season. No reason....
Though with no reason myself among the rest,
I dare endure my time as long as any guest;
ignorant of Sisyphus, she had no sense of labor,
tying and untying her crooked knots of pine.
Reason's only reason in the absurdity of time.

With sly and candid step, each time each time,
a spider will weight a grassblade for her reasons
until the toppling tip on earth must have its rest
where busy man himself is a busy guest
by dint of crooked reason and crooked labor.
Too tired to rest, wherever here is, I pine

for bed. Each crooked plank was chopped from pine;
I lie and contemplate the length of time
Granddad who'd taught me hewed his reasons,
laboring and loving busily that I might rest
somewhere on Earth an honored guest.
And here again the dropping spider took up her labors,

surprising me upon the crooked wood I labor.
I watched her threaded progress along the pine
desktop chopped from scraps of time
when Granddad himself had thought his reasons
for cutting and hewing had been laid to rest.
Busily I contemplate my busy guest.

Absurd, I think, how the length of time we're guests
Shrinks, and crook my wood portrait while she labors,
going awkwardly on against the lengths of pine
as if it were no labor to labor all her time.
If reasons she kept, she kept them her own reasons
as we carved the scraps of day to silent rest.

Tired in my crooked dreams of tired day's length of tired time,
I hear my angry Mentors demand and reason;
I labor, labor, labor on my portrait without rest.

Late-Flowering Bush

Beyond the serious torches of several cypress trees,
The dusty chirrup chirrup of militant cicadas,
The noble solitude of a solid lonely oak
Clattering his leaves at the sun over a bleached field
That balanced his high growth by spreading out,
Desert-like and hot at noon, and all afternoon
Until the evening made them equal sharers 
Of one shade, a blackness welled up from the root.
Beyond all this, beyond the blushing bluish grasses
And inner darkness of some evergreens out right,
I thought to see what seemed from the county road
A sweet hilarious patch of beech, tittering 
Among more sober rowans, and walked on
Farther than I had thought at first to do.
A forest darkness hustled, a coat atop my coat.
And so I came upon a late-flowering bush
Hidden deeper in among more doubtful darks,
Taller and elder, more august and up high.
It was way out of season, much too too late,
Yet full of hopeful blossom regardless
Of the season's clock; it kept its time its own--
Before the long sharpness of the frost that tapered
In shadows till midday, it held its whites aloft.

The flowering bush was a thing itself, alone,
Clotted with milky flowers as large as fists
As if to claim a space among the harder barks,
As a child will feel more brave at midnight,
Startled from a nightmare, to smile in the dark,
Or as a father walks twice round and round 
A house, for proof he really has a home.
The flowers asked for bees that would not come
To so shaded an interior, whose buzzed instincts
Could not guess to lead them there, too far
From the sugary buttercups and tigerlilies of the field;
The bees were busy with their honeys and their hives,
Too industrious to bother with this thing alone.
I wondered what had made the seed drop here
All those years ago when this bush first pipped.
Had some panicked thrush raced bewildered through the thick,
Or been carried dead by some hawk, and dropped?
How had the seed, which loved the sun, found 
Filtered light to endure, in the coolness all about?
Had some tree burned out and a dormant seed 
Been sprung, hot from its casing, into germination?
I'd known an odd old fellow who had not
Half begun to sing until he was half past eighty,
And his voice as awful as an old phonograph;
But still he sung, and mostly pleased himself of late,
And showed the lyric shavings of sharpened wit
To any too-curious; those words were his fists.

Above us all in the little clearing, the dull touch
Of a near cloud's inner-lighted immanence
Broadened into mystery over man and bush.
Something happened then, I did not know
How much until years afterward had stretched
My roots into some new dark flowing underneath.
But then, I did not know what I would become,
And, never having intended to be there once at all,
And having forgotten all about the patch of beech
That had first sent me off into the dark,
I shook my head at the flowering bush and took off.


It's wondrous easy some days to guess
What at last we are and what's happiness.
Yet these inscrutable questions duly observe
Both the face of the question and the hidden obverse.

What do we know but that knit intuition
Pearls the stitches of mere superstition
When sacred instinct's emergent pattern comes
Divulging phantoms of what we might become?

There's no simple time in which to simply be;
Time's a dark palimpsest of what we can see:
Squaring the past with our parochial acre of here,
Or inferring a fictional future from fanciful history.

Flip, stitch, or analysis: we guess as we must,
Surprise ourselves, and end as dust.


A psyche's inscape's treacherous,
As alive with dangers as with bliss;
The purple outcrop of a mental rock
Cripples the supple Muse and mocks.

Caught between imagination and the dream
The mind's barriers dissolve at the seams;
The motivating carnivals of lurid emotions
Cycles us like actors thru smoky memories and scenes.

Here we're running, running on the borderline
Half-unaware of the tailored baggage we've brought,
Half-amnesiac about the burdens dropped,
Drunk on our own lucubrant blood like wine.

Blindfolded eyes foretell dark prophecies
When we cannot see that we cannot see.



   Beyond the paper moon
        and past the plastic stars
   Lurks a lump or troubled wisp
        of what we really are.

   Behind the pantaloon, the canvas and the grease,
        beside the green stage door
   Lingers a loveable stranger
        whose tenor urges us to "more."

   Although the lights are out, are out
        and the set's gone burning down
   Still we ache to traipse the stage
        and immortalize the clown.

   The grave is but a keyhole
        and we ourselves the key
   That into clay or on to flame
        abide Eternity.


At the Gate

   Beyond the bland suspension of a moment
       (still and queer and empty)
   We sip our tea and take our toast
        drained of life and envy.

   A drunken angel at a harpsichord
        suspends upon a cigarette
   Some tattooed prayer of the Lord,
        some blank mystery as yet.

   An opal in a teardrop
        confers what grief would keep;
   Purpure absolution drops
        in gutters at your feet.

   Starlight in a candle
        reddens the intruding hand,
   Restless on the icy mantle
        where Life makes no demands.

Come with me, Love

Come with me, love, beside the oaken bole
We'll watch the finch dance in the waterhole.
Old blind men get their comeuppance
Whenever a loving two become
What's commonly called a one;
Only unlovers sit on the fence.

Come with me, love, behind the hill
Where the geese hold court on the croquet field.
Look at the terrible virginity of the snow!
Whatever is the matter?
We'll get the geese to scatter;
Only the unmoved won't go where's to go.

Come with me, love, uncomb your cares,
Mother and father are no longer here.
Take this white ribbon, take it and tie
The wildness of your black hair,
The wrongness of your despair:
Only take my white crossed hands till I die.

Come with me, love, into the sun,
We'll dare what they daren't when we are one.
Let the old man's finch and the old man's goose
Run to ruin and devolve to havoc;
We'll burn the prison and break the locks
And like the moon in water let happiness loose.

Beached Lightning

Stars and sand assault the sight
chafeing what should charm--
cloudy, angry--
a spirit's irritants--
until the kiln
of God's great unmated hand
closes close and fuses them
opinionless as glass.

Writing at the Park

Square sunlight on a square green field
Shows in a polluted puddle a perfect sky reflected:
The ordered boskage of the public park blesses
All those whose disordered hearts it caresses.

Love, with her careless powers
Marks or marrs our unable hours
Until desertion's our proof of having been touched;
Although the matter is little, the feeling is much.

Crossing that out, I then passed
A dead house with nothing to recommend it,
Solitary and unstately on the grizzled grass
And thought again about my sonnet:

Love's a whitened house with thin ivy trim,
Red roofing tiles almost caved in;
Its got attic eyeots to let out the stale air
Ninety long years had inheld with stale cares.

Soon I topped a big crooked hill that tapered,
And unsteadily almost drunk with the magnificent view
Settled down sweating to my dark square of paper,
Carefully writing while the sky was askew:

Love, which soaks up all connotations,
A paranoid obsessive of boozy inflection
Will cringe at each hiss, puff at ovations,
And in light looks divine heavy temptations.

A garter snake having easefully transgressed
My naked left ankle, I stood as I Xed out the rest.
One quarter's still blank; I'll try one more time.
Perhaps my tongue-tied Amour is a mime?

Love, the anaconda banded to the brow
Compresses all meditations into raw howls,
Cancels all occupations, the well and the dour,
And contracts imaginative maybe into definite now.

All of the objects (the snakes, the sonnets)
Distributed like rhymes in this Lover's Park
Endure the warm unlacing of the afternoon yet
And stay in stricter order until after dark

When darkness grants us all all the dark wishes
No acquaintance of daylight would ever wish us.

The Difference Is Less

"The neon fire Prometheus stole
Shown here before us as natural
In a painted campfire fuelled by laurels
Says stealing is Art's only real school;
Mimesis flames from Nature's manual
An ignis fatuus that kills and fools."

Museum explanations and the afternoon
Presume the usual, the accustomed track,
Drag us down to pre-history and myth
And then obligingly back.

"Before us both chameleon and sloth
In the surrealist jungles of deceit
Follow genome's and artist's plotted path,
Blend inhabitant and habitat;
So what could ever differ then, in pith,
Between boar's snort and man's snit?"

Among the crowded halls and windows
Our tourguide of the Louvre
Explicates Christs, perennial widows, the dice,
Hung between anonymous thieves.

"Since birth we're honed
To art and to theft;
To deceive to survive alone
Is Nature's tricky gift;
To get what's been gathered
By others is thrift."


Art and Theft

If a thief gave you his friendship, would you
     take of it and feel it?
Would you sit inside his patterned house
     among strangers' memorabilia
And watch his tongue when he remarks
     on the lamp from Aunt Cecilia?

The truth has always suffered,
     and the thief has always lied.
By law or thief or money
     the truth is never paid.

Raphael's Madonna, blithe upon the wall
     officiates at snooker;
Surely those eyes, so sad, so full, so wise
     they'd spot emergent Christ
Among all the convergent lice, surely they
     forgive the hand that took her.

The priceless art and conversation
     conspire to do you good;
You thrill that every turn of social talk
     might have a twisted end.
He recalls your foibles lightly;
     lightly, he's your friend.

So take the offset printed coaster
     that is offered obliquely;
Let the politely proffered crumbcake
     sit center on the doilies--
And in his tepid eyes behind his tea
     see if you are his.

The truth has always suffered,
     and the thief has always lied.
By law or thief or money
     the truth is never paid.

By valentine's the command comes down
     to pen two loving stanzas;
You lean and stare and calmly crib them
     on a millionaire's cadenza:
"Love is that which gives and gives
     and finds in taking, splendour."

Villanelle: Beware Chimeras

Pastiche of paradises once pursued, chimeras
Simmer and shimmy, love's dancer desires.
In an era of boredom they glare from the shelves.

Our wanting all wanting by wanting consumes.
Desire's substance is fire, and desire continues,
A pastiche of paradises once pursued, chimeras.

Miss Mississippi poses and pouts blue allure as
We lust, Romeo baboons who drool for new Julias.
In an era of boredom shes glare from the shelves.

Kisses in a cave-dark hole we willfully dive in,
Drowning and hoping for anxious love's prizes:
Pastiche of paradises once pursued, chimeras.

Don't walk to their whistle or wink at their mirrors:
What's seen there's not seen, merely seen as.
In an era of boredom they glare from the shelves.

Fadeless as marshlights, they hate the actual stars.
It's fine that they shine, but not where they lead us,
These pastiches of paradises once pursued, these chimeras.
In an era of boredom they glare from the shelves.

The Silent Woman

The silent woman in the church
On nerves and vitriol does her work.
Doilies of the crucifixion
From warm young hands spread benediction.

Beyond the garden, where interred
Repose parental elders of the herd,
A picket fence keeps neat within
A few old sinners gone to Hell again.

The silent woman in the church
Tho' fourteen summers have blown away
Hiked up her heavy velvet skirts
Fourteen summers ago today.

And love was in her dawning eyes
And a wild slow dance in her step....
She turned a measure from where the graveyard lay
Like a promise not yet kept.

One Million This Minute

You've aged me one million this minute, my dear.
For you were my time before time had begun,
Your approval my watchword, my moon and my sun.
My cartelidged bones, once supple, now snap when I shiver;
The boys on the block wear thick Santa beards,
The pup that I kissed whelps broken-hipped in my hands;
I see them grow agued, and myself grow unbrave,
Full of hard wisdom and friends in the grave.

The hourglass pours eons in my ancient eyes,          
I, who first saw you and leapt like a panther!
Like fated black clockhands, together we dashed
(At midnight my rest is murdered quietly).
I, who was once as timeless as laughter
And lived in quartz crystal; that crystal is smashed.


Perhaps my middle-aged spread, love,
Is made of despair instead of

Potato chips and beer.
The refrigerator's cool porcelain leer

Sighs and hums in weighty solace
Nightlong, and leaves a light on in the palace

Stocked with richest foods, assembled desires
Anxious yet to stoke caloric fires

That youth kept warm
By muscle burn.

The Thing Itself

In any universal force
     or unifying vision
An emptiness of intent inhabits,
     a blank of indecision.
To try and grasp the whole of Man 
     must blur individuation
And see all wide variation One,
     innocent of division.

Who can blame them for their blankness,
     or feel themselves assured
That they have flossed Reality
     from the asterisked Obscure?

Wherever truth lies
     it lies becalmed,
Unmoved in its sutures
     by winter storms or squalls.
We come into our knowing
     neither too early nor too late
But just in a moment's glowing
     and take what we may take.

If you don't, as I don't,
     know just what a thing is
Sit silent, or politely ask
     the thing itself its business.

The Events Themselves

   Happily at home amidst a blizzardy haphazard of papers
        dawn steeps the window with visionary promise
          for the entire apartment complex.

   I am barren as you are barren, in a world replete with objects
        indifferent to our crux; I am broken and unwise
          as you yourself are broken, and both unclear
            and nobody objects.

   Its always a trifle embarrassing to be caught in the act, to be alive
        isn't it?  Coping with jaundice and child-proof tops, waking
          out of the same problematical nightmare at five
            as if sleep were the body's occasion for jeering

   at the brain, which imposes its ordinary articulate order
        fetishistically every day on the bombardment of senses
          selling us fictions while telling it all, reporting odors
            and heartthrobs with equal indifference.

   God bless the gods, apathetic executives of the irrational
        who are powerless without our laughable bodies
          to cast even a third-rate thrill-
            er, and make of our unable lives
               their inarticulate movies.

   Discursive stanzas look like they're hurrying
        to the nowhere-somewhere of a formal fountain's
          repetitive static whiteness.
            What is left to say, is there anything?

   Let love be the last letter of the penultimate law
        righting us rigidly as a strapping father full of laughter
          when like every incertain curious infant thither
            we totter and yaw.

  And yet, with all of that said (so much) and (conceivably)
       registered in heart and in head by habit
         each day is only a day at play....

  A lesson in how dowdy light becomes slowly a whole room
       and the grateful green leather chair emerged
         awaits patiently by the window its daily burden
            like a remembered word

  its definition.  Its in this way that we have died already
       died and come to this life, two civil persons
         talking together sanely, quietly, long-windedly
            as an aqueduct hums.

  The world is full of sane sunlight and responsible landscapes
       not too impossible for believable humans to accomplish
         their unremarkable heights or average depths
            and whose prayers resemble steps.

  But first a brief sleep, first order of business, then work (not too late)
       may commence: every man must darkly his own
         unconscious Olympus propitiate

  as when a mountain, unexpectedly on the horizon alone
       rediscovers, without notice or noise
         its monumental poise.

The Hydra of Days

The idle angling
			of a watersnake--
loquacious and lungless
			through yellowing waters
faded, sulfuric
			of a hurried traveler's Chesapeake
-- through tums of evolutionary
			time still saunters.

Politicians, as limericks tell,
			are of a swift and similar species;
unchanging agile evil vile
			a Nepalese prince with an Eton smile
considers the cost of suicide
			the price of becoming a democracy.

Pelestinian flags
			on fallen Faisel Husseini
drape the dark Dome of the Rock
			while he's more leisurly laid beneath it.
Mourners wail until their faces congeal
			to unfeatured unsculpted stone,
blunted as snakes' in a pit.

Chinese warships in a watery ring
			lazily braid to enclose
the pale clarity and newsworthy brattle
			of independently little Taiwan.
Would cobras or roses be roses or cobras
			if they could be persuaded to choose?
Another day, another hour goes
			cold-soldered to the chain.

State Street bagpipes and banners
			play old Joe Moakley to rest;
dead as he'd lived, paraded,
			by cries and high casuistry followed,
down to the crypt and the Beantown dirt
			he lies interred with the rest,
another day snaked to the flow.

"All change as they die,"
			is the evolutionist's cry,
"and all ways wander unlost
			toward the one wild Great Way.
Each creature encircled
			beneath the infinite 'Ifs' of the sky
is trapped in the hydra of days."

Memo for the Millennium

Muscular terror swipes at our skins
        with its professional ironblack hooks,
Peers in at every evening window,
        flashes out of every book.
Defined by what we fear, we each begin
        dawn within a mirror's hollow look.
Terror's all eagerness and action--
        a nightmare thing with wings;
An Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal, one
        horror that glares and preens,
Agitates all hearts like flippers, and thumps
        at the back of every scene.

Before this lonesome sojourn launched
        in Body's leaky boat,
Did we hesitate on the angled grass,
        touch toes beneath the moat?
Did we dream of all the dreams of wanting
That lifelong flock about us,
        circling and taunting?

But here we are, and that's the main thing,
        hugging ourselves in shopping malls,
Screeching at the top of the swing.
        Our lonely unaloneness should appall
But is itself a kind of lovely;
Or so I think the angels think,
       hovering abovely.

Origins & Ends

'Tis said our end is half-divine
And our days leave but a broken track
That moves, when it moves,
Neither here nor there,
But shuttles forth and back.

I heard our origins are in the sky
And we crawl in  fallen estate,
That when we stand
And cry 'gainst God's plan
We moan more than half-way mad.

'Tis rumored in our veins
That sex is a wish ape-uncles had
In a forgotten forest glade
Evolutionary urge made glad
And figleaf now forbade.

I know my heart's an Argonaut
And sails on waves of pain
Toward adventure and to a land
Evolution and God forgot
But like a sleeping seed long has lain

In Imagination's open hand.

Off the Coast: The Castaway

Our interim swimmer
The flotsam of a dreamer
Will drift and shrug on whatever log
Drifts and shrugs along.

Among warm fantasies of existence
He'll pip himself a prince
Or surmise a wisp a whip
Coiling angrily at his hip,
His own dark, androgynous
Urges to nip and sharply shape
And torture into consciousness
Speech where a beast would gape.
Forgetting in the momentarily kind
Regard or design of a cumulus cloud
And friendly D vitamin sunshine
How a taut tiger might lie supine
Between the shadow and the visible
He considered that nature and nurture
Had made him of all things the richer.

The circumlocution of the clouds
Said nothing to him; of this he was proud.

He thought: to be awake but unaware,
To not be subject to thought's despair
Or consciousness' superstitious care
That inscribes the history of the tribe
Into every member's singular side
-- a Rotary Club tattoo, the gestural
Cool of a Crip or Blood's hand signal
That had DNA for its original--
Is to give up or resign
Your part in the human sublime,
To abandon the spiral nadir
Of accomplishment's stair
To the deterioration of clumsy Time
Dirtying suavity's shine.

A barracuda acting as it was told
Skirled to the surface, garish and bold.

He thought thinking was almost all.
He thought that since the fall 
From preconscious One
Into the active energy of Become
That History and all of her messes
Devolved to individual "bless yous,"
And the scale that shows this depth
Can be reeled off in a breath
By any mammal whose consciousness
Swims livelier than a fish.
From a wet and worsted pocket,
With an uncareful, watery shift,
He brought a palmed mouth organ out.

And he thought as he floated there
Between ecstasy and despair
Between the sweet green-glowing swells
Of his mild Cape Hatteras hell
That the shirring, Shelleyan lute
Could be plucked only to confute
The rare, the rightful argument
That evolution in the docks presents:
That obscurity obstinate and disguise
Are designed by chance to make us wise
And lift us by gimmicks to Eternity
On whose verities we may spy.
By the regularity of genital function
By the pageant of reproduction
We place opportune or Platonic kisses
On wicked lips or wicked wishes
And spurt our progeny toward Heaven's swoon,
And like the tiger we sleep at noon.


Heavy, unforgivable dreams, despair,
Hard breathing, the omnipresent air,

Whistle beneath my brain a tribal tune
Uncaught by inner ear since Stonehenge rune.

Waking in a shuddered fever
Unconscious of pattern or the weather,

Ripped apart by an ambulance scream,
Torn to storm-cloud crepe in dreams,

The question presents itself undressed:
What's happening? Where's Death?

What's my cause, my case, my crux?
Horror stirred to eloquence

Returns the steady stare,
Blatant or beady, that I did not dare.

By failure of vision we unite
Where all the candles refuse to light

At the black bottom of a bowl or ditch
Where every nerveless hand fumbles for the switch. 

A Lighter Ballast

To balance a friendship's difficult.
To give's difficult, to take's difficult,
Difficult to offer the enduring cure
To caustic inward hurt and to outward time
Where nothing's ever certain and less is sure.

One must always be willing to offer a sacrifice--
A clattering frag of the poor apportioned self let go,
Give the altar fire a fist of flour and rice
Thrown into the forward void of hope. An ego
Can be a convenient casualty at three.

A memory of wiped eyes deployed at four
Can settle noon's uneasy moment, and by jettisoning restore 
A lighter ballast to trim ship and sail on.    
A calm cool hand on a vomiting neck is displaced
By the necessary zero, placeholding what's gone.

Jaded jokes traded over a toke and a drink,
The topical hour tossed off in a walk
That helps a mellow pair of humans to think--
All can be branded and bundled and bade fair farewell:
Your cost of continuing's their going to Hell.

Lose it and be happy at the loss,
Pay it and be damned the cost.
Friendships no less than civil societies
Send out their draft notices to the soon-to-be-lost;
Death's the price to maintain us at our ease.

An accurate accounting is friendship's worst curse
For, accurately speaking, however equit-
Able in feeling, all friendships divide at
The punctual inequality of a hearse.
So joy as you may and addition be damned.

Don't look to friends for your conclusions       
While you nod and hum at their confusions
(As maybe they will nod and hum at yours)
And in this charmed essential interchange
Do not dream to esteem yourself the worse

Because of angry antsy things either said or did
(What dark horrors brightly shown, what honors hid).
After the humiliation in the kitchen
A friend will still do as friendship always bids:
Exert persistent force for modest growth
          inexorably as lichen.


This quick collection saved my life.

May 20th -- June 10th 2001