324B Matawan Avenue
Cliffwood, NJ 07721
All our nobility's munched blank by Time;
impossible dreams fit simply
in an unattended trash can
topped by Gower's lugubrious head.
in my dreams, repetitive as a horror flick,
unfixed as a workaholic's mealtime
or freckles on a cancerous face....
I worry about bothering to worry,
the WHY of these needles my consciousness carries
more to damn than darn.
Why paper the slide to oblivion with sandpaper?
The august face of a kicked-up possum's skull
mocks my mutable deportment,
my rubbery reckoning with the moment's emotions.
Where now the surprised eye
bright as a blackberry cell?
O possum! Once, rooting for riccola in the compost bucket
tipping its richness, a fly
(always the same fly, same fly as ever)
straddled the corpse of a rind
on a mound of coffee grounds
in a moonlight you are done with rummaging
(and I almost done)
rubbing its hands.
anchors the motorcyclist's window
thrown up frivolously against
the howl of "onward."
Naked and splayed
as an exhibited newt
staked out flat as a collapsed tent on felt,
I read the accompanying sign:
"Here lies one
dull as the other one--"
It lacks the garish wet that one
finds requisite for life.
elongates lingeringly enough
to define my diving bell,
the clear weirdness of here.
Here, without an onward.
A here too full to ask: from whence?
A here deaf with wetness,
drenched with now,
a prismed bubble.
The web of syntax fastens
but does not fascinate,
empty aria of here to there
without the concrete context of content.
I extend my fingerling claw to a thread....
"Filament, filament, filament,"
just like the old so-and-so's bag of beard
threading the elements
whisper-slipped from his brain-sac.
The cotton candy pinks my mouth with glue.
Why dot an I
unless all connects to all,
we know not how?
Lying down together
I say to you what you say to me until we hear it.
A vivifying sample
suspended clear in a petri dish
twists forth its tentacular longing
like a potato eye
bursting to see.
Do I long for the life of the Young,
unfurnished by loss?
Every place new, yet familiarly full
of itself, just as it is,
and not disfigured by ghosts,
by odd bits of old decor, absent everywhere
save in memory?
I settle on the stuffed settee
with its price tag jammed in a cushion-crack.
How what surrounds us drowns us!
Even if the flow and flood's
merely memorial, the happenstance and trash
of a past no gloved hand has come
to cart to the junkheap....
crowd before and behind me,
tenants of Shelley's "Triumph of Life,"
a chain-gang spectacle of hope
leading themselves in closed circle
like Dante's damned, like caterpillars a-creep;
step, wait; step, wait.
My moment comes:
the grey guard stumbles, I dash for the line,
escape to a featureless plain or ice floe
--either will do--a highway widened
to destination, a pupil aghast
at its own seeing....
myself a mote
alone on the blacktop.
stares at us across the breakfast table
as we pass the salt and brimstone
and snap the paper
crowded with crowing cowards.
We're chafed by the hurrying goers in the Tube,
the racy lackadaisical others
who groom themselves and consume food
out of sight.
Other places, other faces
eat the intimate knowing of them;
those who remain strangers to us,
to me, really, my dear guest-stranger--
improbable possible lover
full of shifts and slidings, unexpected music
glad as a stack of glasses,
tragic as matches.
Lord, help keep these words elided from my speech!
We eat our words and whey,
sugaring the pus.
my inner ear's inner aria . . . .
a wounded man's spastic tracks in the snow
--a litter of gesture
and beer after beer revealed
a fostering affection flirting
finny and familiar as goldfish
washed from their bowl on the mantle
by our tidalwave of talk.
Your stories were reckless as guesswork,
a blind detective smelling after footprints,
his nose sodden with cold.
I told my hummingbird heart's
flying backward and forward at once.
Down at Der Wunder Bar, sipping lemonade,
I telephoned my flaming doll to declare
like Zapatistas at the barricades. We watched
The Charms punk and skunk frantic as ants, while you
barracudaed through two more SoCo's and lime.
"Hurry up, please, it's time,
Hurry up, please, it's time."
Square dawn's backwash
through the frigid windowpane revealed
our underwear, pink and blue,
entwined like DNA at the foot of the bed,
a pair of mating snakes
tight as wrung laundry.
The Zone Below
A purgatorial, picture-perfect Saturday afternoon
pulls her pin-striped awnings down, lackadaisical and O.K.
with limited sky and expanding shade.
I twirl an umbrella drink and watch my toes roast
in the zone below my cool equator's waist
--all centaur once, now nulled to rubbery numbness.
Too lazy to invent, I lie
and note-take connections sifted out by Time,
my editor and better.
What rings against my enlarging ears
still childish and complete?
Full of a whistle's insistence and a tin drum's beat?
"Only you," I would lie,
but you are not here-- my dear encumbrance,
taking the hip-weight of my own imbalance.
I remember our days of ire and fire, burning out
fierce seeds that germinate my present dark,
surrounded by a shade that shadows out the lark.
Do not come again. Do not!
My downhill backyard is all otherworldly now,
mounded snow and ice frothing at the plow....
Rest, remorseful shade.
Take my sunglasses, explore the Everglades.
Just do not intrude, intrude, intrude
your half-tone tune into my afternoon.
"Tu whit, tu whoo." How rudely forced.
With my pink umbrella drink I'll beat you back!
Guest ghost, how homeless you've made me--
second-guessing what the mirror insists,
my hard-nailed words unpinned from referent.
Time rolls me like the driftwood dead
my enervation imitates.
Oh la, olé.
You know me
a Gatling gun of guesses
shooting pillows into feathers....
As fine a time
as that is, whirls and twirls
of dusty angels, feathery stars,
I want solider talk.
Commandoes who shoulder
through my slop of verbiage,
on the night-goggled target.
My dictionary thins,
my words wasted by AIDS,
flashed to ash.
tumble from my molting mouth.
We touch them together
until the words glue.
I.... where have I gone
this minute, anger edging
like a blood iceberg loosed from the pack
into the corner of my watery eyes?
Sorrow insists on blindness,
the not-here of imagination and remembrance,
potpourri and drapes to enhance
the zero hour decor.
The iceberg is cold
and hot, sweeping me off my sleepy feet,
careening into wicked waters.
The salt spray licks my face.
Wary tears wake me wetly.
I'm melting into the accommodating ice,
the ice is beating like a heart.
BAAAHH-DHUMM beats the drum of me.
Newly limber and unfinished,
I stand in my fandangled
farragoes of frenzy,
all outline now.
So little we ever do ever matters.
Its only our penury
helps us hope otherwise,
wishing against the grain of common sense,
crossing fingers because we can't cross the Alps.
So little... and little else... and less....
nicker against the Ikea shelf--stone bubbles
"anxious yet to burst."
Sane only by dint of habit
and the strange strength of plastic
that keeps us in our confines
and our confines whole.
Tap tap, tap tap.
We go on rolling toward a tumble
that never breaks us,
no matter the mess we're rolling in.
“The Loneliness of Strong Feeling”
The exhausted wash of time travel
comes over your concave face
as I stumble and ram into your missus
through the abruptly open door.
Five years? More? Not a tick
has matured your memory of me
--my head pickled like a prize
cabbage consigned to a clay
Kim Chee pot in the plot out back.
A ramshackle string of Xmas lights
blinks the shape of Texas
around an untenanted yard
all tall weed.
Between the Acts
[for Marah's 33rd]
Like the cracking coal at Isaiah's lips
Or shaft of little light at Mary's ear,
Like Bodhisattva's sorrow of an afternoon,
I am touched with speech, touching you.
If these witched words but glitter in the vast
Past out-stretched Time--which itself cannot last--
I am content to have come to yon Bo-Tree,
To have flickered in an ear I found dear
Or touched two lips burning to be near
Whatever fire alights when you are here.
The big moon starts
In ambushed grandeur from the grove--
A lurid stone for lovers and others
Haunting the brune woods alone.
Here's no night for careful words,
Persnickety parsing of this and that,
Gossipy gab like the hoot owl's hoo,
Or long loose thoughts whittled to a quip.
Here's a night the moon unpacks
For phrases full as teardrops,
For secret thoughts brought out and spoken
While the white moon shines on unbroken.
Here's a night for vows and roundels,
A speech of misty insistences, and softest promise kept
To one whose absence, like the moon,
Circles round me yet.
O absent-present! Phantom voice and face!
Come, let these woods be your leaning-place,
Let the night-brook murmur as you would do!
Telling more of remembrance dear
Than of remonstrance and fear.
O ghostly tenor singing like the leaves
A poem of nothing in the moony night
Whose heavy air clinches like a kiss
Sing on until my brookstone heart's made right
And misses not one mark or beat for thee.
I woke to walk in a dark room,
Navigating cradles, snuffed candles and corners,
The ouch of a vacuum handle
Or half-full tumbler of water
New-wet in surprise on my thighs.
Asleep in my pin-striped PJs,
I knew my nothing was nowhere
From zen class that afternoon.
But this invisible here was still here
Without the help of the moon.
Oh what rhythm was there thrumming,
Numb hum of the fridge and the heater,
While I stood so unbecoming,
A null pointer in raw blackness
To bleakness and its lackness?
Step, step, step, with a sway I swept,
From nettled and nervous I leapt,
From stalking myself in the dark
To a questionmark on the carpet
Dancing inch by inch to the light.
Our dancelike wishes haven't made us nimble
but rather like a cloth anchor
have us drag and dawdle
until the rhythm of waiting is familiar.
A stopped clock is twice right
but lacks the feral finesse
of a kidder's remark remarking a remark
--the sometimes lightning of a laugh....
How had desire left us
in a slippery tangle on our hill,
the moon our only watchman
making faces in a pool?
How had we missed the train
whose tracks we'd followed to every station,
our fingers tracing the cracks in the map,
occasionally in the same groove?
I stood before you
anxious as a candle
in a cupcake in the birthday girl's
out-thrust pink palm
hoping for your hot breath
to put me out, me out,
and start the dream of meaning
--a timid lick at the icing
stiffening in the crenellations.
Waltzing in Penn Station
A slipshod, soft-shoe waltz
inattentive to daring
and nearly too prim for whimsy
started us soaring
square by square by square.
We hang the windows with flat black felt.
Night's the only hour for our fantastic angst.
And this one's limitless, without a star to scar it.
Flat black and drab black closed eyes enliven.
We reach for the paddle first
in the wake of dreams motoring onward
strong enough, fast enough
to keep our rowboat the wrong way round.
Eccentric colors, the gauche wash of sunset
are memory only in our ashy mysterium.
Depth without thought, black without white,
we struggle flubberingly
for the longitude of some marker:
a foghorn, a death.
There in easy strokes
your animated portrait lies aslant
--happily aslant on the table of memory.
Kept in a crypt without a key
to drag the thing from Death.
My brain noses its sponge
for the quirky gift of a squish--
a sound from the roundness
no limber silence envelopes.
One sound, one dropped rock or tock
rippling out into the fogbound, oceanic vast.
The white, hard, plastic bench--
The locked door and chicken-wire window--
The rusted drain, the vaguely urinous steel toilet--
The sink, carved from carbolic soap-- the freezing hiss
Of water to numb a face of tears.
No mirror here to reflect the eye.
Stasis, while the world rolls by
Ten yards from the barrack's escape hatch. . . .
There, in the night, light, liberty,
Macadam and horns, cars shouldered together
In their hurry and happiness,
Loud as immigrants ganging a gangplank.
Here, just stocking feet that point to Hell,
Wadded TP to grind into each eye,
A shiver assuring you you still exist--
Bare as a smashed bulb's electric wire--
Glowing all exposed now under null fluorescents.
Grey-cuffed hands unlatch me, lift me, find my shoes.
My time is done. I shuffle forward.
pile up like showdown shadows at noon.
I cannot take back, take over,
gather to a knot, and drop the sack.
I hike from ignorance
to ignorance, a mountain-climber
perennially picking the incorrect peak.
Now, old love, tomorrow
I can't quite manage to squash.
Voices flap like bats
deranging the dark . . . .
Where now are the hard stars
that used to pin me in place?
I've fallen from the constellations
like a high-school poster from the wall,
a browned leaf in the mass--
No longer tethered to the visible,
anonymous at last.
The Printed Repeats
The printed repeats
of post-modern modern living;
pattern copyrighted by the wry eye,
the deadbeat designer luft-lifted
to religious legionnaire.
A color co-ordinated rock chorus
sings the setting pattern
that labyrinths us to death.
The wavy paisleys
that doily-work the lifestyle-stylist's
into incestuous palimpsest
make my head ache.
The divine grind of the final line
of the requiem's aghast ovation
gladdens the lapse into silence.
Will maggots fatten
on my quill of coffin?
Who else will eat
my delectable inks?
The handwritten record of a thing
eeks out each etch
until letters spider the eyes
an unprintable black.
Facsimile graffiti hang in the British Museum,
the scrawl of royal prisoners
gallowsed or gutted
--one scratch of time memorialized
before they were mud.
contracts, useless pupil,
light tapered to a filament,
The end of days is here.
flies farther and farther
into untempered dark.
filigree the horizon's brim,
cottoning the wattage.
This is my mistress
this zeroed hole of hours--
an abandoned well
too broad for boardage.
in the swallowing silts,
infecting the gleaming trim of teeth--
the busted smile, chummed
to scum and mockery.
My veins flash acid
with the insult.
behind my eyes
blaze and arise.
Asking for Sadness
I took away the candle's blackness
and lit it.
I took away the air's coolness
and burned it.
I took away her lips' emptiness
and kissed it.
I took away the cello's silence
and played it.
I took away this poem's sadness
and had it.
Sitting with Sadness
Sitting outside a snow globe
and looking in
Sitting in a high airplane
and looking out
Sitting outside the toy store at Christmas
and looking in
Sitting on a sandy island alone
and looking out
Sitting sitting sitting
and breathing in
Sitting sitting sitting
and breathing out
There's a snare in the faerie-dust.
A blind exhilaration
flounders at the peak, given sudden sight
and no recollection
of how eyes arise.
our daring by demarking
just where and when we last catastrophied--
de-planing on some Utah salt flat
when prepared for Parisian triumph.
Such modest heights
as homo erectus groaned to gain
remain rosy and right to our reach--
just stretch enough, a human
usual and useful.
Uncle Tenzin’s Reply to the Epistemologists
would ever be enough
to crowd-out doubt?
Infinity's a pile of stackable chairs....
Always room for one more chair at the top,
one more molded word.
can we whittle attention
to die convinced?
The spotlight moves in the circus tent
because all else is black
and full of elephants.
after the initial spike, and so is not
cause enough to carry us.
alert and loafing in his tennis shoes
whatever the wind
Tense, but without a hinge
to direct the tension, I ache
for a doorway to anchor me,
to make my ruination real, my ashes taste,
to make the flint of my fiber flex
and pinch me awake.
I wait, vaporized napalm
for the drift of ignition, the spark
of a star chart--
the magnetized pin of direction
in all this frittery wilderness,
this haze of seeing
only what stays, what repeats:
makes me visible, a steam arising
out of the torrid void.
Paradise at Sunset
weighted with blodclots
works my bones brown in the sunset.
Another lamp is lessening.
The last sky, and the last
make envy inevitable.
Such blues to cruise through!
flashes and flitters fallward,
whose cry pries its beak black.
. . . . Downed on the shushing swell
of the Public Garden's plot of water,
the swan floats
with the puffed pride of an exile,--
a soul shorn from heaven,
a crisp shaving
whittled and whistled
off of God's cloudy work table.
toss their sweaty fistfuls of manna
at its profile.
it sways the waves heavenward
when it flees
The end of the film
rattles on its spool
and only the light shows--
an image of death.
Sprezzatura of sperm,
with humans the only music
from the swallowed notes--
lives born of silence.
on being the coral bones
shaping the latest scrim-scum of color--
ourselves above the dust.
Division and cohesion
rule the choice sets of our game theorem,
procreation and death--
our pegs on the board.
This leaf I eat
tastes sandy, like everything
since I sauntered
from the tidal pool
Baudelaire put a pistol to his evaporated brain
"Here, in the nowhere that is my everywhere,
nadir, I take aim at the gods who love and oppress me."
Turquoise swans on his cufflinks glitter;
who knew that the internal exile of "not belonging"
could be so bitter? Stale coffee gives his face its pained
look of being stricken, of being struck
dumb from the inside where the words had come
ably bubbling as a spring of blood.
"My hand was a steel spring and the meter ticked
like rivets going in to the side of a ship;
faultless preparations for a voyage left unmade.
Now sloppy in my silk slippers, I putter in the parlor
thinking through the reams of old talk
(Nerval's neuralgic nose, Huysman's figure thin
as in a wishing glass)
old talk that had ascended to the chandelier's burning bough
You Are What You
Cannibal children race and chime
merciless against the flesh of age and time.
Our soft bodies in gobbets get torn to feed
their bright eyes, the tomorrows of their talk.
Why not let them scissor us to ribbons?
Brains may feed brains as thoughts feed thoughts.
Brutal, the musky corruption of our hides
once eiderdown and limber as a willow switch.
Creased into the porch's awkward rocker,
I talk until the stars seem plain enough to touch
--the Dipper emptying its milkspill of fables....
a glitter of infinity good enough to drink.
The child sleeps against my hairy shins;
he'll have my hand-me-down brains and babble soon enough,
he dreams. For now he must grow
his razory mouthful of teeth.--I rattle quarters
for the old raw one still wet beneath his pillow.
As I Am
Like Poe's Purloined Letter,
I find myself in public, plainly proffered.
My back and sides and secret innards
exist only as surmise--
the way a pious Chinese
burns finial incense
for the stacked racks
of his crepuscular dead.
Aging and insincere,
each wayward wardrobe change
announces a new soul, a new chance,
grand as an imprisoned pasha
or deliquescent drag queen
haunting the docks.
I maunder in the mirror,
my fat face an overfull balloon
hilarious with helium--
I recite Milton in pipsqueak
in a jade smoking robe, too small
to square up my embarrassment.
I fit into my slippers
the way a pearl lurks in a oyster,
well-oiled irritant coated to a sulky glow.
I am the hidden Imam of my household
lolling in the fresh laundry,
insouciant and clean as a cat.
Never in my nowhere of days
did I once suspect myself
to be as guilty as I am.
The Empty Field
In me need
a dandelion weed
hurts to push
against this hush
as dead, windless
browned to burn
in the empty field.
Still, I will.
of sheer need
narrowed to seed
and lifted dead
to a whited head
where a a list-
My song is just the same
as a rock whistling
down when thrown, or the same
stone held unheard in shadow.
To boil a kettle
'til articulation screams
eviscerates the dark
which water dreamed.
Our moon makes night
abound by its little light,
a fey stone lamp
that unshadows the map.
Here you and I
pause perplexed and like to die,
weightless and wendless,
ethereal and endless….
But what if all things
of weight and dirt
vanished with the Earth
except we sing
to drape the stone
with a careful shadow
and say the shadow
casts the stone?
The sky's exquisite blacks
starless expanse of acids
a mobile of cut strings
windless, airless, chaste void.
My face reversed into a skull
negative identity, sliced zero
without the skin of thought,
self shrived of subject.
Sluice of sex, jerked pole,
fish and its fatal hook
a biology of bones
masked by muscle
the flint flirtation of pain.