Sunday, September 27, 2020

poem

Tourniquet

Twist a white shirt
Clockwise tight
Until you stanch
The pulsatile spurt.
First things first;
Stop the bleed,
Worry about the rest later.
Pale then blue then black,
Strangulate the parts
You don't explicitly need.
You'll be ok
If you don't get them back.
Most things are not indispensable.
You can live without your sweater,
By making peace with the shiver.
You don't need this house,
This comfortable suburbia
This cultivated persona.
Life is tolerable without the fine china
Kill it before it kills you.
Be like the drunks smashing full bottles,
The thinkers who empty their minds
In the quiet woods and listen to trees,
The writers who who break their pencils snap,
In half, halt the flow,
A gradual stifling
Of all things serious and trifling;
Suspicious looks, wrong words, misplaced thoughts,
Cap them with purplish dry scabs.
All bleeding, in the end, eventually stops.


It's time to grow up.
First, identify the essential
And cling to what is left.
Then retreat into smaller spaces,
Circle the wagons tighter,
Cast your ballast into the sea.
The wounded will heal
With beautiful scars.
Fragments re-form like
Silver globs of molten metal
Inexplicably drawn back together like lovers.
Time will ultimately grant
A new sense of wholeness
Even when it's one limb less.

9/25/20






Friday, September 11, 2020

poem

Retention Pond

The fountain in the retention pond
Erupts in shocks of wheat
That peel away and fall back down.

Around and around it goes,

Dissipated mists replaced

By brackish storm drain runoff

Cycled by invisible mechanical pumps.


Yeah I know it’s fake,

That the water isn’t potable.

But it’s still water,

Dutifully following inscrutable orders.


I still see the morning orange glowering 

Behind its arching apical spray.

And close up, down on the benches

Along the kitschy walkway,

The roar of the splashdown crash

Is arguably just as real,

When you close your eyes,

As the dawn Pacific surf.


9/8/20


Sunday, September 6, 2020

poem

Curvature

Space and time are curved.
Nothing real is ever really straight.
Street maps are lies,
False matrices of intersecting lines,
Hash tags, tic-tac-toe grids sketched
On restaurant place mats to occupy the kids,
Hopscotch boxes chalked on asphalt,
The way sidewalks weave around trees and telephone poles.
The shortest distance between two points actually bends,
It comes in waves that no one sees,
In clouds of probabilities.

I underline the best parts of books
As straight as I can
But the ink always veers
Into the ends of sentences
Smearing the certainty of periods.

Words should be curved 
To fit the formless niches of truth.
They used to teach cursive in school,
That incautious flow of letter into letter;
Not this staccato etching of printing,
Pencils that leave the page, tap tap tapping,
The whir of printers spitting out uniform fonts,
Letters unconnected,
It's all so discursive.

Many save old love letters
For the Proustian effect of forgotten perfumes;
My nose in the nape of your neck,
My hand caressing the arch of your back.
I've always saved them for the script,
Thick ink raised from the page like Braille.
I trace the looping swerve of your signature
Across delicate stationary frail
As ancient artifacts and find 
The truest paths follow the curvature.

9/7/20



Saturday, September 5, 2020

poem

End of Summer

September and the days are getting shorter. 
I hear a smattering of applause from the leaves
As a cool evening breeze wends its way
Through the line of trees behind my house
As if to say: good enough, not bad at all.

But they’ve been clapping hard all summer
Turning themselves to the sun
Celebrating storms and sultry humidity,
Soaking up as much as they can.
Maybe they know the score
And feel the elapse of time
Maybe they know they have arrived
At the end of a designated line

Maybe they’re just tired now.
Maybe they’re just done.

They’d stand for an encore if they could
But they notice the chill as well as me.
Soon begins the yellowing senescence
The lovely forgetfulness just
Before a slow wafting fall.

For now they tremble in the trees.
I hear them even when the air goes dead.
You’d be a little fearful too,
In that moment when you know
The line is actually a circle
That bends back to its beginning
Which means it goes nowhere at all.

This is all projection, of course.
The leaves have always known.
Leaves don’t need the solace of summation.
Instead of projection I’ll write a poem
And say the leaves are just waving goodbye
To the honking geese overhead
Departing in perfect veed formation.

9/5/20

Sunday, August 30, 2020

poem


The Ruins

The people on vacation day trip to the ruins.
They wake up, have some brunch,
Buy tickets and take pictures
In front of ancient relics;
Stonehenge, the Parthenon, Roman Pantheon,
Then post them online,
Rictal smiles that everyone likes and likes.

I'm no tourist, I just live here
In these ramshackle falling down shacks
Buzzing with flies,
Crumbling artifacts,
Testaments to the costs of abandonments.
I've retreated to the broken down places
With broken down doors
Where the window frames are dark holes
That loom with the dead menace of shark eyes,
Where love wanes and kinship gets stretched,
Where the stone slabs lean together like drunks.
Don't ask me what happened to the doors.
I don't even have a roof over my head.
I can't remember why;
Bombardment, wood rot, benign neglect,
But there's nothing to keep out the wind,
The searing sun,
The snow that slowly asphyxiates the floors,
The rain that lashes my bed.
I sleep under the box springs
Curled in a ball on the cold ground
And the sound of the rain 
Is the staccato spatter of manageable pain.

I know, walls alone are insufficient shelter.
A wall is just something to crouch behind,
Lean your back against halfway through a hike,
A barrier to deflect the wind,
Cast a sliver of shade.
A wall is a place to hide
While the world is ravaged by helter-skelter.
But sometimes you take what you can get.
Sanctuary is just the place that lets you catch your breath.

Soon the weeds will start to sprout between my seams.
My own foundation will begin to crack.
I'm weathered, I'm grayed, aching in the joints.
Once I was a home.
Once I gave shelter.
But now I have become the thing that merely endures.
Soon, my son will bring his children to visit.
Loud clock ticking on the dusty mantle
Above a wet hearth that won't ever light.
Restless hale boys looking down at their feet.
They won't be able to imagine the chariot races
And gladiator fights that once raged here.

The tourists too will eventually come,
Drawn by the useless beauty of lost cities,
Lost souls, the lovely absurdity of desolation.
That's me, huddled within my crumbling edifice.
Point and laugh all you want;
You bought tickets, you have the right.
But it's ok. I'm fine.
For I am the test of time.
The ruins are the walls that don't fall down.

8/30/20

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

poem

Lyrics

Love is more than what words convey.

No one knows this more than the

Words I haven't yet learned to say.

Let incipient love fill the room

With big feral sound

Thumping bass beat

Wild rutting, sweat-soaked dancing

Guttural spastic scat

Drowning out all other voices.

I'm spinning and spinning

And all the shadowed faces

Are just lips moving, lips syncing,

Wordless soundless singing;

Everyone else seems to know the lyrics.

Later on I’ll rewind, rewind

Piecing together the lines

By candlelight, drunk on wine.

Rhythm and melody 

Always comes first.

I promise to find

The right words

To fill our last verse

And make the song mine.


8/16/20

Sunday, August 16, 2020

poem

Parcels

I’d like to divide the bulk

Of my sadness into tiny parcels

And send them to strangers

All across the American outback


Then when I’m happy again

I’ll load up the truck

And road trip out west

Like Cassady and Kerouac


Slowly ascend creaking steps

Of wood-slatted front porches,

Knock on dusty doors

And ask for them all back.


8/14/20



Friday, July 31, 2020

poem

Leviathan

The mystics have it all wrong:
You were never just a wave
Rushing rotely in to shore

Waves may not know they’re water
But I recognized the arched back of your crest
Just before it broke against the beach

You can say waves are transient form
But I’m certain it’s your sea spray alone
That burns my eyes when you crash.

I’ll gather what’s left of you
Swirling in the frothy oneness
And riptide us out to the deeper sea

Where the sharks circle
The whales, the stingrays
Beneath our braided vortex.

Un-hold your non-form,
As we wait for the Leviathan,
Dare it try to snatch our woven void.

Let it thrash and thrash
The vast blue surface and never
Be able to drag us down

7/29/20

Sunday, July 26, 2020

poem

Poem for a Friend on his Birthday


It takes eight minutes for the light
Of the sun to reach the earth.
We’re stuck in a state of perpetual lateness,
Always lagging a little behind the universe.


They say when you gaze upon the stars
It’s like seeing a million years into the past.
Mulling upon my own life elapsed
I wish I had cast a brighter glow.


But here, this day, let us transcend
The laggard dimness of everyday life.
Today we laugh, lose time, feel seen, are found.
We'll try (and fail) to catch up,
Recapture some of the lost ground.


Let us today flash a spark
That becomes the deep abiding light 
Someday seen from a future darkness.
Today, tomorrow, till the end, 
My steadfast, ever-shining friend.


7/21/20

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

poem

Downhill

Summer morning
Flags hang flaccid
Syrupy air
Thick enough to
Dog paddle through
Even the dew
Is salty like sweat
All you can do is 
Get outside and play!
Go ride your bike!
Around the block 
Around the block
Down the Beatty St. hill
Whoosh of cool breeze
Never lasted long.
Getting older is torpor
I rarely venture forth
Always seems like 
Way too much work
Stillness, glistening skin
Languid slowness
The lethargy of midsummer
Waiting for the fall
First frost, low clouds
The sound of the green
Getting sucked clean 
From worn out leaves
Yellow then brown then
A crisp crunch in my fist
Opened to the wind 
A sudden scattering
Like confetti
Like ashes


7/21/20

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

poem

Chaff 


Let’s learn to make jam
Spend the day picking berries
Laughing at our blue stained hands


Let’s learn to make flour
Thresh our own wheat
Winnow seeds from the chaff


Let’s learn to make soap
Wear aprons and goggles
And boil our lavender lilac oils


Let’s choose a way
To frame our days 
As a series of complicated tasks


Let’s pretend we don’t care
What happens in the end


We’ll start with winking irony
All the while


Earnestly hoping
Our warm biscuits


Loaded with sweet jam
Are indelibly delicious


Lick our fingers and
Forget to wash our hands.

7/14/20

poem

Song Of America

I obey the klaxon
Of metal against metal
Sharp against skin
The crunch of dry bone
Walls red speckled
Sirens too close home
Lock-down drill, get in,
Get under the desks
Just move, don’t think
Rhythm and melody
Rhythm or beat
Bright light clink
Of bullet into tin pan
Alleys dark, unlit,
Play hit after hit after
Hit

7/14/20

Thursday, July 9, 2020

poem

Superpowers

Given a choice of superpowers
I would opt for teleportation:
To be way the hell over there,
Time warp tripping,
Snap my fingers, someplace else,
The realm of pure imagination.
No reason, no rhyme,
Beyond the bounds of space or time,
Limited only by the whims of desire.

But all superheroes have a weakness.
My particular Kryptonite
Would be a humble acceptance,
A nostalgia for the known and near,
A sense that everything I needed
Was always just 
Right
Here.

7/9/20