CANDESCENCE (May 2022, Napa Valley) White roses bring snow amidst drought— The same white of ashed cities— The same white of pages emptied of solutions with consolation existing only by smoothening issues into virtual images— flattening substance into white roses blossoming as if wars weren’t inflicted against the climate against Kharkiv against Kyiv, against Chernihiv against Mariupol against Kherson, against Mykolaiv against Odessa against Sunflowers whose gold whitened into gray
Blind Spring Lilac Plunge
of an opera sandstorm last over breakfast , rain summons a siren knees, converging, an El Dorado all down WaY, neatly brain HelD, felt, drowned USA tune To approach TuNa, shopping, best DreSSeD, baked IN reserve. / Against light of recessive RIOT squad that pinches, guts, stuck SPOKE, speaking, lashed grandiose stocking. / Wi ll & horn, a refusal that, which, upsell, SaIl OK-OK-OK-OK-OK, [manic frothing against] , guess you refuse think ing, witty as daylight utters backbreaking. / He art A total of TOTALITY, FOR Sake [needle as a cream to SHAVE], loosen ed grasping for low, a letter IN a BaNk vault, red amnes ia dropping substation TrIbE, Famously, [slurping, slurping] , dangling PrAy follow knife. / As always ScHooL collects gifts, taken FoR worse, in reverse melted as a tail. / .
HOMAGE TO UKRAINE Is this the earth unlocked—Gog and Magog The smashed logos of buried time The coded universe’s familiar death pattern Advancing furtively inflated metaphors The ones about democratic Ukraine needing “de-Nazification” As fuel depots explode from Russian missiles Spewing oily plumes formed like Cyrillic script With misspellings and war crimes As arctic cold and snow linger in late March And grocery shoppers return across mine-fields of words Are those rock stars patrolling Kyiv’s outskirts on Tik Tok? The sun without warmth. A people erased. Could a virgin-spring be bubbling up in Blue-and-Yellow Grave-markers stooped from undaunted chants of freedom Dreams attacked continuously day and night Dreams of terminologies and cyber-security The coveted dimensionality of infinite children Odessa—accountable violins playing the national anthem In the face of pure destruction and random tyrannical storms Is this the moment unreality becomes reality With the Black Sea pounding the grand piano of world-wide globalism An eternal NATO museum of artistic red rubble Versus charred autos piled high in materialist forests And obsolete myths of incontestable forevers
Satellites The boys are back, bad for life, It’s a new year for them, new contests to submit to Hairstyle bans? They transcend them, They know the stories everyone needs to know Events are picked just for them to enjoy, Our revolution has to be theirs, we all deserve better Get on aboard if you believe them, It’s the last chance to get a ticket to party on the subway
DO NOT IGNORE THE SUN to not wake up to not see the mansions made of skin the root of bone the splashes of gum disease across graffiti littered lawns a flux of heat blisters and blistered lips tongues swollen into heavy shipyard knots scurvy and bacteria laden lemonade a sudden loss of oxygen felt paper and cellophane sweat and spit an inability to scream muscular turbulence tendonitis a loss of self confidence brain waves thin as spider venom and the hollowing of a fly
POEM FOR CAMEL AND PIG For my final act, I played the camel on the pig’s back. I clung to that sow like a web without a spider. All politics, the crowd said. Progressive, reactionary, we can’t tell the difference. Please, I silently begged. Don’t judge me by what you can’t understand. I’m just trying to make a living as a camel. The pig is fine with carrying its weight and mine. It’s a pig. And a cashier in real life. Too abstract, cried the back row. Too obvious, sang the center. A man up front spat in my camel fur. He wasn’t here for realism apparently. It’s always like this when I’m four-legged, hoofed, and goofy-looking. The audience is stuck with being human. Their costume doesn’t always suit them. They boo at the camel. They’ve kind words for the pig. But the pig wrote this skit. His script said, “Camel on top, the heavier the better.”
Pebbles Upon the Narrow Road IV The twenty-seventh boat, part of the twenty-seven cherry blossoms of the night accompany me with emotion. I set out on the boughs at dawn. The sky was misty. The early morning moon had lost its light to see the long journey ahead. My dearest friends had all come to my disciple’s houseboat the night before, so that when I set out on them, my dearest friends had lost their third month light.
2 Sections from “October Sequence” 119/ Behold revanchist urgency reptilian Cold along the lifeless streets The eyes erasing what eyes know A spiral delving into wanted earth Now fallow land broken as claimed And charred and ruined aftermath Of smallness unimaginable the lust To self-broker into coveted history As if what mattered was destruction As a way of hiding impotence No one is interested no one glances At the metric meant to pierce and shame Those forced to flee The horror of deformed psychology Of the eternal infant squawking To fill emptiness embedded in the DNA That bespeaks the shallow end Of the bell curve shunned by norms And normalcy and people wanting peace 120/ Low light template rids attractive nuisance From the row of homes still orderly Yet stained by personality One and another see through whole note Opening and owning a soprano reach To match the bass tone audible To the young steepling purported worship As if feedlines were palpable To wild caught communities of thought Still feeling warp and woof Of canines defining family categories As real as these uneven steps Someone ought to smooth to artificial evenness As short planes descend To levels that mean something As dictionaries spill into the street Where muffler delete deceives Inhabitants arguing the merits Apart from factual considerations And the weeds play through The yards of growth versus development
The Points on Your Star I loved you when I was young and when you told me to “remember this,” I almost always did. The moon's eclipse at the bottom of Clinton Avenue. We sat on the seawall, the moon shadows mirrored in the Hudson River. It was a cliché, but new to me and lovely. We played checkers on the piano stool that swiveled so I could make my moves without stretching my six year-old arms. You waited without visible impatience while I considered how best to beat you. And you respected me, did not lose on purpose. Badminton in the yard. We had to avoid the old cherry tree that fell over of its own accord one peaceful night years after our games were memories. When Mom suggested there might be money for only one of us to go to college and it would be a brother because girls can marry men with jobs, I tattled and you said I would be going to college no matter what. No woman should depend upon a man's support. You had learned that lesson well, growing up as you did with a father you would not talk about, a father who was there ‒ and then ‒ not. You said, A girl should not count on a boy's loyalty but make her own way. You didn't care that this was not a thing to say in the 1950s. You knew better. Of course, this was all helpful and useful and good, and so I accepted your other advice and beliefs without question: Your family is your greatest ally. Our family sticks together. Once you step outside this house, you are vulnerable to betrayal and mischief. Do not trust anyone except a member of this family. But your father was a secret. Your mother was always sad. Your aunt threw up her hands while driving when she saw a snake in the road. Nearly killed us all. There were cousins I saw only once when I was too young to remember their names. Two little girls who lived in Brooklyn, all the cousin families in one building. I envied how easily they could run down the hallways and into each other's houses without knocking. Why did we never see those people again? Why did I have to wait until after you died to begin looking? Why did I feel that finding them would be disloyal to you? And your father also? Why did we find a cache of his postcards to you and letters and photographs tucked into an old wooden chest in the attic, but not until after Mom had died as well? I did know when your father died, then your mother, and her effects came to our garage to be sorted and discarded. I remember Mom holding up that box of your father's and you saying in a harsh voice I would not like said to me, “Burn them.” Which she did not do. And how many years has it taken me to realize that if a fire was so important, you could have set it yourself? When I left home, you were still mostly loving and kind. I tried to forget your rage when I was maybe 7 or 8, had talked back to Mom, who reported to you. You came home that day after I had gone to bed. I was asleep when you awakened me with your rapid footsteps on the stairs, and I went off the far side of the bed and lay in the dust underneath as you came into the room and bellowed at me to come out. I stayed silent. You tried to reach me, but you couldn't. And then you left. And I remembered. Maybe I was lucky. I was the oldest, and I left home first, stepping out into a world I did not trust. Now I know the worst was yet to come, and most of it I wouldn't learn until after one of us grabbed your ashes and deposited them far out of reach for cemetery visits on the summit of Cadillac Mountain,an act I failed to understand until the younger ones confided that in your later years you were angry and mean, said mean things about me, too, without the benefit of my presence, told others I had taken loans and never repaid them, trashed my reputation, in fact. Mom intervened and made everyone know This Did Not Happen, but we were also trained not to believe her in any dispute with Dad . . . The worst discovery of all was you were openly, crudely antisemitic. Which I never heard or knew. And racist also. You, the father who instructed us about the horrors of slavery and the Civil War the year we lived in Maryland when I was 9 and 10 ‒ and told us never to speak about it. What happened to you? Were you even aware of how ironic this was? You, who were so careful to instruct us about the tragedies the Jewish refugee children in our school classes had endured? How important to be kind to them? Did you know that your own grandfather was the illegitimate son of a Dutch Jewish mother whose family emigrated to France, and so you were quite Jewish yourself ‒ although you probably could not have been officially Jewish unless in a reform congregation since your Jewish connection was through blood and not also through culture or religion? And did you know what took me decades to discover,that while you were telling us about the evils of Hitler and the crimes that had happened to the children in my second grade class... your close cousins had been taken to concentration camps in Poland and Germany, that few of them had escaped? Grateful for later discovery, I ask you again. What did you mean by family loyalty? Or perhaps more to the point, What did you mean by family?
The first kayak was red and sleek I couldn't get out of it by myself. The Woodcock hides deep in the woods. (Dreams of children can come at any time.) Randy, he dances ‒ swirls high in the air. The second kayak was red and handy. (Finding the essence of the matter is a challenge for a dull mind.) The lady he wishes to impress looks away. I wore urban black for two years afterwards. (Often, child's play appeals more to adults than children.) The family's star does not have to be a man or boy. The oldest child is often the star of the show. (I doubt the innocence of a child.) Does the star have five points or six points? Black was my favorite color. (Is black a color or is it almost like white ‒ absence of color.) Essence tastes mean. Essence is the core. The first kayak was red and sleek. Poem constructed from a prompt by Eileen Myles: Write a letter to someone who makes you feel deeply uncomfortable, in which you say the most awkward things that you’ve not had the courage to say. Then put 5-6 pieces of paper on the table and write down the name of one pathetic thing/word on each one. Then turn over them over and write 3 sentences/lines each. Then bring them all pellmell together into an assemblage of pain, awkwardness, discomfort, embarrassment. I used a random number generator for the poem. https://wordwall.net/resource/4142699/1-18-spinner
rear-ended by a song in zona solari akin to a skeleton chain of keys & trinkets left in public’s plain sight for us that so often lose an interlude we wish would repeat and suspend the required mood a host lucky enough to have already kicked me to the streets so I’m walking through milan a city robed in the finest designs I behold a disrobed vision at the fountain a modern lympha squats to piss awakening a small perversion the ancients knew as madness its drizzling slightly but not enough for a song to reprise willingly I leave the card of the rental apartment on the bench after writing: one free wish I time the cars charging count the spoils overflowing from the neighboring trash bin returns the favor of neglecting four boys kick their footballs two girls wrestle over a phone teasing to send something to devastate the other her baby sister I suppose by the stronza shrieked I can’t even begin to switch off the uncertainty it takes to continue this freefall or the certainty it takes to build a balcony up brick by brick our birthmarks burn like wildfires the forgiveness we seek in every face our mistakes same old song we immerse ourselves in masking our fingerprints with pruney bone it’s autumn in italy and everywhere else in the northern hemisphere I’m here after witnessing the summer beg for its death successfully before the plague goes on spring tour another agnostic in the manger amazed by the expense of myth
from 100 Titles from Tom Beckett #31: The Logic of Senselessness It was just a kayaking trip, but some recent media coverage suggests that the subjugation of women is based on the same logic as the subordination of nature. "Taut- ologies & contradictions lack sense," wrote Wittgenstein. Seems like there's always a 'logical' reasoning behind the belief that things are the way they are, even though that may make no sense. "Say nothing except what can be said," wrote someone else. "Should I make an electronic copy of that for use in my e-book archive?" #93: We Feel Approximate Linda said that she'd pick me up at sixish. I felt the need to incorporate my personal experiences into the conversation, how I'd reduced my food intake, but now felt I was missing out on something. I'm having a psy- chotic episode. I feel strange & cut off from the world. One in fifty of us is a victim, left feeling like a robot. It's an uncomfortable sen- sation: but forecasts suggest that 47% of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two dec- ades. Maybe there'll then be a job for me. I know I wouldn't need much training to approximate a robot. Walk, talk, enter stage left. But would I then be able to approximate a human being?
Anytown, USA this country music’s gunshots slinging through the wind wrapped around Anytown, USA where I’ve never been anywhere outside my own mind traveled everywhere within this bag of skin and blood bound to family I become further and further away from each day I bleed out my own legacy owned by money by the river by the body bags I see everywhere I see a witness
shells on a bed of salt girls, i ordered shrimplastic ham. we all chopped the subwoofer. then went into the last car we bought, ts eliot and me. we had a fair amount of space. went to comics connection. out for a week or so. his girl was funny, she wore an adorable copper gown and sang yodel gospel vowels. all those european coins around. i finally just wrote a letter to athena. I'm getting tired, phantom, just take the train and come here, hun, cleverly hide yourself in a plastic easter egg, do not speak, we’ll make their hair turn white. the ninja egg. i know how to wrap the cheese in foil, squeezing lemon on a spoiler on the back. come and hate her fried vampires. follow my instinct. a cool stereo system implies suicidal jumping from the bridge, down to the easton immortal portal. so i accidentally shot ts eliot in the head. for i was twelve or maybe thirteen and I couldn’t know how to handle a cow-shaped gun. consider your age. the aquarium in genoa is the most relaxing thing in the world. it makes you think of the death of god, and all those related songs.
A Whim A whim guides an optimistic phoenix beside the annoyance the chickens have escaped fool afternoon fields familiar rice mediates admire equity among the country status the flesh a smiling populace distance solves the flower night shall pipe analog method smart oil thirsts under graveyard mettle hair up let her in arms carpet cupid cemetery snake
Sea Side Advice Oh dear friend, You should shun the deceptions of the ocean. Reject the Sisyphus of eternal tides. Wave goodbye to rides out and back in again. Act as if pride were the special portion of potion of your rectified reception in the sea of being yourself.
Fashionable Words 11-13-20 I was almost fifty years old when I added the word sartorial to my supposedly-superior vocabulary. If I am not mistaken, I was wearing on that occasion the legendary T-shirt and jeans, or something of that sort or of those means. Nicely-tailored lexical item that I was fortunate to befriend, for it even provoked rumblings in the well-worn memory banks. So, like, I was truly a motley teen, in myriad ways. I even had a sartrian phase, though I would've spelled it Sartrean. I'd barely begun to shave on a daily basis, yet I was reading, what was the title? ... The Transcendental Ego I do believe. Uh, no, sorry, that should be The Transcendence of the Ego. Get beyond it and for that matter your self while you're at it. There's a difference, a coated voice says, you dressed-down dope. Next, little hope for you, averred a former college roommate upon our unplanned reunion, you still take the prize for worst-dressed person in the room and in the class. And on did he babble about some disheveled playwright from Spain named Alfonso Sastre who sewed together versions of Irish plays and came to publish dramas in New York even though in Spanish plus a few scissored translations with such endearing titles as "Death Thrust" and "Tragic Prelude". Morbid stage mood indeed. At least you've avoided that level, mumbled, decades later, my exquisitely-clothed physical therapist while he tried to sort out my real sore maybe torn tendons, as I lay in my grey jump suit, adding that I was lucky, sort of, not to have aggravated the sartorius, a connective upper-leg muscle about which I learned absolutely nothing in my philosophy, drama, and anatomy courses.
sad, fallopian aquariums decay in my cyclical anemia, fibrous and fleshy pumpkins hemorrhage sunny, purple symptoms the anger of controversial emotions disguised as vulgar poems tied between dirty slums: your body, my body we burn all your precious words we eat in the poisonous temple satirically, and let the cautious beggars pass the sweetest nectar within their imperial cages the air around the sharp funnel captures your laughter, as the side dish discharges the bitter filling of the final orchards, slack temples camouflage in the neatness of your cuts this address is in dire need, can you tell? and then- spraying medical sheets as low-body catacombs, reproaching the attitude of material flight in comatose 'whys', daring artificial combustion rests between your thoughts the covered gauntlet of tangled cadaveric beams sloughs high in sterile surfaces of lava-like snowstorms loop freely a healthy relaxation: she walks around under his brusque torch she ignites the vintage lights spinning around your somnolent hips and the position escapes as tightly as wrapped gifts in kettle boiled tombstones
Invention Of A New Meaning Humans are in the wrong place , we don’t belong here , this is not our home , we must disengage from gravity . We’ve been tricked into believing otherwise , we don’t belong here : disengage . We are in the wrong place : recharge your imagination , let go . The truth has been lying to us , take comfort in knowing this . If we stay here we’ll lose our sense of logic . The truth has lied , we don’t belong here . This is not our home . We need a new truth : use your imagination . We need to silence language ––use your imagination : the truth is lying.
A Lethal Mutation Intelligence is a lethal mutation,* Ernst Mayr says, but bird watching, say I, is soothing in its certainty. You see it. You take its picture. When you look again, it stays the same. It does not slither around like expedient Truth ready to escape its skin and don another.
*Ernst Mayr. What Evolution Is.
Winter’s Crucial Mischief One table for your favorite griot Who would soon dance Like rhinoceroses in haciendas Somewhere east of the posthumous Sahara Of the seas, to celebrate the lost Art of instructional videos Downloaded coldly on a night in Winter’s crucial mischief Like Nicholson on a nitrous oral The truth is a matter for noxious strangers & The way you look when night Is a metaphor for crowd control & The wind looks just the same Cauterized by rain
The Night of the Caribou There are fewer than ten days left. We are heading out for a post-dinner stroll before contin- uing on to breakfast. The status quo has rusticated & cows now graze along its edges. In exchange for food we have been given shovels to clear away the expanse of bovine shit that has accumu- lated since the last patsies they could find departed. Our native land recedes in memory as the inability to return there increases. So far we have seen no caribou.
Aftermath There is a stately brick home. there's a breeze. there's a breezeway. there's a bronze stairway spiraling up to a balcony with a balustrade. The night wraps ringly around her finger. inhale. the fire at the tip of her cigarette crackles and grows briefly brighter. exhale. the smoke sinks like a semisolid. There is a broken promise disguised as a broken bottle. the shards float freely away.