POEMS IN THE YEAR OF THE STEP-CHILD AND LATER

 

 

 
Frog Hunting at the Ditch -- inspired by above photo called "Drain" by Jeff Wall
 
There were frogs there
lots of frogs and polliwogs --
frogs' eggs too.

 
Age eleven
I went there every week
to capture them -- mothers, eggs and polliwogs.
I brought one home to my own mother
(who screamed as I released it --
this wildly leaping creature --
into her bedroom)
so happy I had caught a frog
like me
a captive long-legged changeling.

 
But what
really grabbed me
was the drain
long as a mile
that five-foot-wide conduit
with two more ducts coupled into it --
those two too small
for even a toddler to crawl --
the omnivorous culvert
tall as I was tall
that went under the railroad tracks.
 
And if you were lucky
or unlucky enough
the train could blaze
right over your head --
comet sparks flying only feet above you
earth shaking like an orgasm --
in the drain
in the tunnel as tall as a girl.
 
Like it was just the coolest thing
that would ever happen to you
if that train went overhead
and you lived to tell
about it in school.
But of course almost no one
(except my friend Eileen
who sometimes went there with me)
knew about the drain and the
two skinny pipes
like fallopian tubes
that emptied into it
so narrow that
babies could die there . . .

Like that kid Cathy
in nineteen-forty-something
trapped in a tunnel underground
(or was it a well?)
in god-knows-what-god-forsaken place
where she fell
and fell
like Alice
and Jill
with no jack-of-white-rabbits
to catch her
back when prayers were still answered
and we all prayed
for her three year old body and soul
gathering around the radio
and she died anyway
in the well.
 
I think it was in Texas --
it must have been Texas --
a place large enough to hold
all the world's falling girls
and the vast emptiness of death
in one constricted passage . . .

Nearby
in dense copsewood
stood the ruin of a house --
its chimney exposed -- and
jack-in-pulpit treasure
sprouting beyond the hearth.
 
Never had I seen such things
and always I approached
as to an altar
softly
bearing jars of polliwogs.

                3/97
 

Step-Mother's Tale


In this step-mother stage of life I am
bitten by old fairy tales, gray-green
as wolves and grim as the reaping
of those brothers whose eponymous
adjective gallops like a verb through their works,
warning us of life's inevitable,
our childhood's horsemen of the apocalypse.
 
Old fairy tales open their oven mouths
and I enter with candles of memory.
Dim light simmers with my dangerous thoughts.
I am an unfired vessel over flame.
 
I watch the family romance on the wrong
side of the glass, half-conscious of a scene
that features puppets and changelings.
Always angry and always disturbed in
some vague way, I am as though roused from dreaming
of my father or lost in a Trojan play.
 
Who is it who writes the step-mother's tale?
Where is the alison, the teller of truth,
alyssum to cure the rabies and mad dogs in this heart? And what to do
about the oven door that slowly closes?

                                                                       1/97

                                        

 

Fairy Tales Can Come True
 
I have seen the dark side
of your snow white child
her face as perfect as the moon
so pale, serene
I could not glean
a creature
as well composed
could cast me
on my shadow
gleaming
wild step-queen by all reviled.
 
But I am not the first
to fall in love with a flawless face
holy as the snow
discount lip's lingering halo
lace of lies and heroin
and still keep dreaming
until I'd see the fight
was for our own life
then gladly shout
Drink your hemlock, damn you,
but not before you leave my house!

                                  2/98

 
 
Upon Reading "Birthday Letters" by Ted Hughes
 
There was a hole in you so wide
Any hope of building a life
Had slipped right through it.
Guarding my own cautiously nested
Courage in my breast I saw that its nurture had
Swallowed my pity alive
Like a cuckoo's egg
Misguidedly placed in my care.
 
It's not my fault (never your fault)
Brandished in anthem tones
Stentorian as stamping feet
The collective wail and banner
Of Torrie Amos girl-groups:
You made me do it.
A suicide story
Whining to play and
A note, you say, that was
Signed by somebody else.
Precocious poetry, self-absorbed
Your suckling depression the
step-child of fickle conceit
Requiring a bolder hero.
 
What was she thinking when
She turned on the gas
Her babies asleep nearby?
Did she mean to take them with her?
Was it all a bad mistake?
And everyone afterwards blamed him
For nearly forty years they blamed him.
In the air prevails
The scent of evil flowers --
Traces of Narcissus --
Their narcotic on your finger tips.

                              5/98
 


Step-Child
 
A step-child of divorce
dies of a broken heart.
They said it was congenital
but hearts still beating know
the aorta burst from
too much love swelling up
inside and a hidden
split upon its fork that,
undetected, would never mend.
Like Christ he bled to death
before his mother's eyes.
 
On the edge of their grief
I sit with my child, another
step-son of these divorces. My
arm is around him but I know
he is alone. And I watch him
grow up before my eyes
as the minister omits him while
blessing those bereft.
 
Such are the scenes we cannot
imagine as destiny,
like an axe, cleaves our will.

                          Fall, 1988 -- at the death of my son's step-brother

   
 
A Family Thanksgiving
 
Alone in the airport
No surprise
Sitting so long
Three days
With my mind's distortions
Inbred like a cancer
Of too many generations'
Weight upon me
Rockaby babies blown
From broken treetops
The end of a family line
On slender snapping branches
Until I thought
I would start shrieking
At the dinner table
throwing glasses
And said instead
simply
I have to go home
 
It was a tender moment
As you wondered
Did you mean to go to your place or . . .
And I responded
No, New York,
Back Home, New York
Then you began
To weep and plead
How much you loved me
But each remonstration
Just yanked the anger tighter
I tried to tell you
It didn't matter
That I was not worth the cry
And felt my cruelty
Rise like a hatchet
Its haughty tooth
About to fall
On uncleft flesh
Embittered spinster aunts
Guiding my hand
Smiling those one-cornered smiles
 
While I dug my fingers
Deliciously into your armpit
As in childhood
My crime undetected then
And you smiling sweetly
Bewildered
I dragging you behind me
Little sister.
 
The others stared
This time bearing witness
One nearly dribbling in his soup
But following every word
The other impassively
Demanding
An explanation I would never give
Since I didn't know myself
And could only keep repeating that
I was no more in the family

                     11/26/98

 
 
A Fall: 2001
 
It was an autumn of excessive sweetness:
like amber trees burned slowly
under Umbrian sun
or a long late fall in Rome.
 
But the fall was our home
and the empty hole eyes
the cells in each skull
in the skeleton of steel
were as countless as Roman ruins:
open pockets holding only our imagery.
 
First, an umbrella of warmth cloaked the city:
a veil of citron and pale orange
that hung its scrim upon our shoulders
keeping out the cold.
Souls of thousands searched for home
confused as the mayhem of the day
flailing feverishly
they warmed the city with their wings.
 
Then, the sound of the gravel haulers:
emptied
roaring out the mouth
of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel
or other forbidden venues
on their way to Ground Zero
like hardy peasant laborers
again and again.
 
And the squeal of the N train
carefully creeping through Cortlandt Street
where crudely hewn timbers buttress-up the station
the route from City Hall
to Cortlandt
a perfect S
so that each subway car shrieks loudly
feels doomed
wheels fighting rails, body fighting air
despair of those who jumped.
 
And, at last, the sight of the ruin from West Street:
movie-set lights, seven stories of steel
still elegant
lovely as a gothic cathedral
with even an entrance
a portal.
 
And, tonight, I see a blow torch at its height:
at labor a cutter of steel.
How will we remember them
when his last light is done
and winter has finally come?

                       12/06/01


 
Lady L.
 
She is there
Draped in vertigo
Keeping the columns
With her torchlight.
The wind shifts and
A cat turns in its sleep.

                      2/2002

 
 
De Gustibus
 
My poems are my fatherless children
vague, unattended, not intended.
They are out there staring
waiting in rooms of houses
now belonging to someone else.
Quickly, furtively I view them
and I blush as I's appear
in the ink of their own eyes
voices and open-O mouths.
 
One near to me and brave
denies a poem is born from pain
declares it borne by art
a child on strong shoulders.
 
But I have no art, no child
just this pen
bitten at the end and
a need to devour whatever
will have me.
 
I am the deadbeat father.

                  10/03

 

 

 

A Yawnless Awakening: 9/11/1
 
Dreaming of a natatorium
A green marble birth place
Fingering my mind
With vines of memory.
Mossy walls.
A deep pool of wine and
No shallow line
For shore. Dreaming
Over and over this dream.
 
That day
I always wish I had seen
The dawn that day.
 
Instead I heard the garbage trucks
Perfectly paced
Backing up their honks
With metal crashes.
 
Beep. . . Beep. . . Crash
Beep. . . Beep. . . Crash
 
Why so loud the last?
 
The dream was swallowed
By a yawnless awakening
And never came again.

                       11/05

 

 
The Vest
 
The moon is traveling

the fog tonight

Wearing him like a pocket
As the silver watch

wears the vest.

                                        11/05

 
 
Circle of Life
 
Rolling along on the bandy-bowed
Wheel of his legs
his cane the lever that keeps him moving
like the old-fashioned child's toy
a hoop and a stick
pausing in his urgent, labored orbit
and late orbit of life
he hurries his rest
at haste to find sleep.

                    11/05

 

Options
 
There are fewer bright options
Doors close daily
The looks, the wit
The heart-stopping smiles
 
reveal
 
Spinach on the Teeth
Some are born with
Spinach - O' - Tooth
They are the early wise
Drawing us
Where we will go
Startled others
Turn to them in surprise.

                         01/06


 
  
Missing Mystic
 
Do you miss Mystic?
No not anymore.
Why not? asked my insistent sister-in-law
Who was a pit boss in Atlantic City
Who'd been a pit boss at Mohegan Sun.
It was my parents that made me love Mystic.
They were there.
Evie was not your mother.
She was your step-mother.
Evie became my mother
By doing all the things my mother hadn't done.
She cared for my child
She cooked a goose
I so longed for order.
She was all the things
My mother was not
And I am still not
But may perhaps be becoming
Or leaving behind forever in sadness
So long.
 
But Evelyn had a bread crisper
And it gave me great hope.

                             08/06

 
 
Well Contained Violence
 
I was sixteen
I broke up all the furniture in my room
I took it to the garage
Receptacle of our highest tragedies:
Old license plates
My father's honorary degrees and
Framed membership
In the millenium clubs
He could not endure
Cars were unwelcome in our garage.
 
My father did not hit me in the face
As usual
When he did not like my lip
It was though it had been expected
As though he understood
This shucking of our shared past
The second-hand Christmas presents
The furniture left behind by the Rileys
To ill to move it out
Their dust
Their dirt
Their ownership
A lovely Victorian wardrobve
In broken gaslight's light
Not mine.
 
No it was not the usual hand
Coming at me
As fast as I could snarl.
 
He had tried after all
He had painted all my furniture pink
In secret places
The pink hung in long enamel tears.
 
I could not have known the value
Of what we had gladly
Demolished together.

                    08/06

 
 
The Facts of Death
 
Not knowing the facts of life
I learned the facts of death.
My mother told me to bury the cats.
They were four of five
in number, kittens,
the size of dead hampsters.
 
I buried them as at Trafalgar
in a cardboard box
in a ditch
Where I dug out a hole
in the soft, muddy earth
too soon to be
bared by reality.
Many have been buried this way.
 
At Trafalgar the Spanish did
not bury the dead at sea.
As they washed ashore at Cadiz
they buried them in the sand
wherever their bodies landed
 
As when a teenage cat
ran round our house
then, when I was ten.
My mother explained to me
that all her babies were dead.
 
She was far too young
to have babies
and too young to bury well
I buried them
as at Trafalgar
to be washed away by next tide
or rainfall in a ditch.

                 08/06

 
 

For Olga

 

I

The Greeks taught us everything.
They gave us their gods.
All of human psychology
lives in those gods.
They gave us democracy.
They recorded philosophy.
They gave us their art.
 
Then they said,
Go do with this
what you will.
Never mind
the incredible things
we have done.
We are done.
We have no move to give you.

 
 
II

When we went to Sparta
we saw the women
waiting, staring
in the lobby.
They were judgmental women.
Their faces were hard.
They were severe.
 
But they had your bones.
These were the bones of
strong women.
Your face has been softened
but it's still the same face.
 
 
III

And what I most admire
is your strength
tempered by forgiveness.
Such is the forgiveness of Greece
reflected in a face.

                                      12/06

 
 
Invoking the Bard
 
How did it sound?
The roar from your mouth?
Can there ever be another?
Would that one be bountiful
Or merely more than clever.
 
I have been lucky
Paltry
Poor, at times
But lucky.
 
Vain, in vain
With antonomasia
Big-worded Bard
Of bawdy moments
I call your name.
 
I have been lucky
To have heard your words
And understood my paltry little.

                                   12/06

 
 
 
Trailer Park Girl: Camp Shanks,* 1954
 
I took her to all the dead
and beautiful places.
After all, she was there
Waiting
in the vast parking lot
of Simpson's grocery store
once a place where all
the embarking G.I.'s
had come to buy . . .
In my ten year old eyes
I thought it held thousands.
 
But she was there
alone
with only a trailer
on an acre of empty cement
her parents had appropriated
Waiting for me.
She said she had no friends
because her family kept moving
in the trailer
from one bleak parking lot
like this
to another.
 
I tried to tell her how this place
had once been so alive
a parking lot full of G.I.'s
going off to World War II
buying, eatinng drinking
touching everything in sight.
 
(Simpson's had really been the motor pool --
a gas station, garage and repair shop
its denizens.
But I preferred to imagine my canteen
teeming, seething with dozens of jeeps
G.I.'s and army scenes, army life.)
 
I told her I would be her friend and that's
when I took her to all the dead and sacred places.

 
Here was the "colonel's house."
It was a school for awhile
but in 4th grade the oil burner
burst and it burnt to the ground.
 
Here is where the rose bushes grow
Yes, they still bloom in season
and here is where the grown-ups
made a playground for us.
Look at the rope swings
and all the good things
we had -- tire swings --
their memory is well alive here.
I remember fireworks
on the 4th of July -- in this same field --
so close I thought I could catch them
as they fell out of the sky.
 
There's a place in Shanks Village
where you can swing on a vine
over a slope and then let go.
Did you ever do that?
The vine slips over the branch
and then you must decide
to jump
to fall
or be bashed
by what you thought you'd left
behind.
 
Here's the big hill.
We still sleigh-ride on this hill.
We can crash into the FHA**
if we don't take care.
The FHA is where we pay the rent
but my mother makes me
bring the rent because
they have a picture of her there --
on the wall of the FHA.
 
Is she "wanted" asked the girl?
Why a picture there?
I guess she was a show-girl
she's very nearly bare but
I can't tell for sure
from where I pay the rent.
I dont think my mother is "wanted"
not sure I really care.
 
I've a story that's better --
about the sleigh-ride hill.
When I was five
my best friend's mother
took us to this same big hill
for dandelion picking and
we whined about the dandelion wine
we didn't want to work for.
 
But we picked dandelions:
Brett deBary, Mrs. deBary and I.
We picked forever and ever
happily ever after
under a perfect dandelion sun
and Fanny Brett deBary
went home with Brett
to make dandelion wine.
 
Two days later the wine exploded
kind of like the "colonel's house."
It blew a hole right into
the barrack's cardboard ceiling.
Mrs. deBary had Brett
bring me over to see
and we all stared in thrall
imagining the dandelions' roar.
 

We said good-by in front of the trailer
and promised to stay friends forever
and always
but I cannot remember her name.
I turned to wave and she stayed
Waiting
in front of the trailer
until I disappeared.
Next day the trailer was gone.

                                                        06/07

 
*The barracks of Camp Shanks were converted to public housing after the war and the camp was renamed Shanks Village.
 
**FHA=Federal Housing Administration

 
This is dedicated to Fanny Brett deBary and her husband, Dr. William Theodore deBary, on their wedding anniversary, celebrated June 17, 2007.

 
 

 

Of Course
 
Of course
What can we possibly do about this?
Two old people heaving in the bed
Like a final swell of wanting.
Ocean imagining all the other things.
Yes, each rogue wave ends like this
Even a tidal wave.
Somehow, someone remembers.

                                        07/07

 
 

The Heat
 
I need to sleep in the heat.
Beyond childhood
Fully grown
When the heat was too much
I would crawl out
My bedroom window
Onto the gabled porch.
I would sit there
Like a griffen
On my haunches
Under the eaves
Waiting for the cool
But loving the heat
Waiting forever --
A griffen gone hunting for a bat.
The bat, of course
Was never to be seen
But that did lessen my love of the heat.

                                                08/07

 
 
Sunday Morning Solipsism
 
It was Sunday morning at the New Jersey Shore
in a diner.
As I recall, my step-daughters were among us.
 
It was a happy moment.
No one had been disagreeable.
Something, perhaps one of the "girls"
had teased my mother-in-law
into girlish behavior.
 
She took out her teeth.
I remembered my own grandmother
once laughing so hard
her teeth fell out.
(I happened to be sitting on the toilet
being expected to perform --
I had evidently amused Nana
even if I had not performed.)
Nana's teeth clattered to the floor
like a chattering set of cartoon teeth
while Nana laughted on without them.
 
My mother-in-law
was likewise amused by her grandchildren
which is one of the gorgeous
wonders of the world.
 
Inspired by my mother-in-law
I told a story
apropos of nothing beyond itself
about a friend having said to me:
(the context is gone)
"You live in your head."
 
I will never forgget
my father-in-law as
the smile slid from his jaw to the floor
with all of his teeth intact:
My story was inappropriate.
I lived in my head and
the intimacy he saw
between me and his son
must have been a lie.
 
But it was not
After all don't we all
live in our heads?
 
Myriad are the coincidents
not mutually exclusive
and in those moments
the sleight of hand
holds the magic of memory,
chattering mnemonic
cartoon teeth
clattering to the floor.

                    09/07

 
 
Piero della Francesca
 
In the altarpiece of Montefeltro
Piero della Francesca
Was after perfect proportion.
(That's what it says in
Umberto Eco's History of Beauty.)
The Madonna, indeed, is perfect.
She is perfect and so is the proportion
And perfection of everything else
As far as I can tell:
Perfect Perfection, Perfect Proportion.
 
Nevertheless
The Madonna is petulant:
Her hands are almost
In motion as she prays.
I would never do that
She imagines in her
Otherwise beatific pose.
But the Babe is about to roll
Over those widespread folds
Covering splayed legs
Given way more than room to move.
 
All holds barred, the Babe
Is corpulent
Not in the least attractive.
The Madonna would like
In fact
To roll the baby off her lap.
Evidently the others
With their unhappy mouths
Might do the same.
Piero della Francesca
Was ahead of the time
Seeking a new proportion:
Or perhaps, only
Miming the titams.

               01/08
 


Never Mess with a Borderline
 
Never mess with a Borderline.
Their testing and abandonment issues
Will always come home to bite you on your booty.
They will always seduce you.
They cannot help themselves.
It's part of the package --
Their imaginary self-deal --
I am going to be left by you.
And, yet, they will always leave you.
How do you know?
When you've been left
At the moment you least expected.

NNDiF, Feb, 2008

 
 
 
Nine Eleven and One: or The Eyes of the E-Train*
 
The Eyes of the E-Train
Still stare at me
Prescient
Before a September morn
And present beyond many more
 
Afterwards and now
The eyes are still there
The Big Eye of Our Apple
Just at the passageway
From Chambers Street Station
To the Trade Center Stop 
 
A passage of eyes in tile
Mosaic of many nations
And largest of all
Iris Corona of colors

Embedded in the puzzle
Pupil Wide, Open Mouth
Fixed in a Scream:
 
Our City
Epicenter of the Universe

      1/11/09, a synchronicity

 
*Several years before 09/11/01, artists brought to life -- with dozens of mosaic eyes of many colors and ethnicities -- the walls of the subway passage between Chambers Street and the World Trade Center.  The crown jewel of this work was a grand floor mosaic that represented a map of the earth with an eye at its center,  yet seemed to me to be NYC as the epicenter of the world.  It ushered the parade of mosaic eyes to become, in my mind and in retrospect, symbolic of all the eyes that would close at 09/11/01.  This larger mosaic was called "Occulus", and was finished in 1998 by artists Kristen Jones, Andrew Ginzel and Rinaldo Piras.  

 

(Now, in 2016, just beyond the new WTC, we have the Oculus, designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, a connection hub that continues the imagery by resembling a 'vigilant bird of prey' from the outside and a 'milky view of the interior of an eye' from within.  It looks like heaven to me and if well maintained, could become the most perfect of all the Memorials to 911.) 
 
 
 
After Reading Taking the Quantum Leap
When I was in my early twenties
And dumber than my dirty blonde
We talked about the "Secret of the Universe"
with solemn appropriate respect.
 
I said, "It will surely be a paradox,"
Having read about Black Holes being such
And feeling very clever.
 
Then we talked about the "Afterlife"
And feeling evermore clever I said,
"Maybe I believe in inter-galactical reincarnation!"


* * * * *


In the world of quantum mechanics
I,d like to pop the quiff
Gleefully, with zest
Jumping from Newtonian particles
To quantum interference patterns
(Or is it just the opposite?)
In my solipsistic observations
Of self and other, other and self
Free will and consciousness.
 
But when I am about to die I shall prefer
Parallel Universes and select the one
Where my possibility goes an and on . . . . .
 
No more paradoxical than particles
In the face of wave patterns.

                        04/09

 


Stalker


When I imagined you were stalking me
Trolling the internet
Did you think that your persistence
Would wear me down
As my indifference
Whet your appetite for me
Revealing your lack of aptness
And quickening my revulsion for you?
I forgot . . . . . I was imagining.

                          02/09

 

 
But You Are a Wicked Old Soul
 
She feels as though she were losing him already
Yet she always dreaded this would happen.
He was now still younger than most of her poems
Yet older than she when she'd written them.
 
She had made certain he was perfect
And he rarely disappointed
A shining solitaire
Testament to their once-shared argosy.
 
How surprised she was at how he'd done it
The way that he would leave her
Always expecting a horrible accident
Or an illness
Felling his body
Cleaving his heart from soul.
 
She had imagined her own hospitalization
To keep her from hurting herself
At that thrall of outliving one's child
As she rended her clothes
And howled at fresh kill of the moon.
 
This was so simple, so elegant and so silent.
He need say nothing
It was just a choice
And she saw that a path had come to an end
Family tree with blunted trunk
Damaged branch
Ebbing life upon the bud
Never to be with blossom
Dismembered and maudled embryo.
 
She was startled at how much that hurt
As though the very roots felt pain
As though she were feeling all the old
Miscarriages of her life that tried to justify
A death wish on a child.
 
Like Demeter
She would wander
In the kingdom of the barren
While he kindly smiled
Pure as a Prince
Serene as new-born Venice
Sailing to his Ithaca
Still shaking his head, no.
 
It stops right here.
 
Always remember
You said I had to go against you --
A betrayal of the highest order --
And that when I did
I would know I had become a man.
 
You have gotten everything you ever wanted
And now that manhood too --
Most greedy of mothering threshers --
Which is why it stops right here.
 
I shall not craft
Your Venice for you
Or even your voyage to Ithaca
This you shall not have
Mother.
 
Now I am my own self
But you are a wicked old soul.

04/09

 
 
How Could You Write That
 
How could you have said that
For everyone to read?
Did you not see how that would affect me?
You always taught me to be free in my speech
But be thoughtful of others.
Where is your thoughtfulness right now?

05/09

 


Mama Mammalia
 
My poetry speaks from a dark side
--Sinister window
--Shadow on my soul
So when in my poems
I'm a murthering mother
I must really mean it.
 
Maybe forgive me
Baby forgive me
A well-mannered mammal
A mama mammalia
--Mammaries flapping
--Occasionally slapping
A socially civilized
Smiling pink whale
Odd moments voicing anathema.
 
So do as I do and not as I say.

                           05/09

 
 
The Horses of Hector
 
Who writes of the Horses of Hector?
Hector, Tamer, Breaker of Horses
Dragged around Trojan walls
Again and again
By the Brutal Achilles
Who slew him by knowing
Knowing the flaw
Hole in the armor
Once worn by Patroklus*
 
Achilles was angry, jugular angry
While Hector beseeched for respect.
 
Zeus pitied the horses
Those of Achilles
Lamenting their tears
Regretting his gift
Thus garnered
Those horses our honor.**
 
While the Horses of Hector
Must stare at their master
Mute, shamed and mortal
The slain hero flayed
By the ground about Troy.          

                                                 09/09

 
*Hector was, alas, wearing the armor of Patroklus which Acchilles knew was flawed at the neck.
 
**See "The Horses of Achilles" by C.P. Cavafy.
 
 
What I Saw Out My Window
 
The buildings have torn the sky in two
--Not what you're thinking--
Just Jersey City buildings
Doing their circus side show
Maybe the late night light
has slashed the mauve
with a perfect black wound
that bleeds across the horizon

                                                         2/19/10

 
 
Reconstruction Site
 
In the shadow of 9/11
The lights creeep up on you
Surprising lights
Leaping from the shadows
Consecutive lights
High as my shoulder
Under the scaffold
From the blackness at right
And the stranger at my back
Overtaking my back
Swallowing the distance between us
Is my own shadow-self
Doing it again and again
Until the lights are gone.

                 2010

 
 
Callie
 
We used to talk of things like this
You and I, we two, at Cafe Loup
Where we met for years
Under the brief umbrella
Of dinners with too much white wine--
Champagne and caviar to our words
 
We spoke portly thoughts
Or so I thought
In those brave days when we were
Hardly old yet almost wise
Still struggling for guises to live
Not die by
 
Live one's life as a work of art
I brayed while stuffing pate
And you gravely nodded
Always respectful
Even though you must have seen
Clearly
Beneath your great thick glasses
A dour truth about these years
When I knew I knew you
But merely spoke for myself
As we all do in our flailing efforts
To connect
 
Today
No more fat ducks
As I scramble onto lines--
Mourners asserting themselves--
For a place in your life
Your history
But now we can only agree
You are not here to show it
Make sure they all will know
While we press each other for position--
Mired by our wallow of questions--
To cry I loved her
Or I was her lover
Or I loved her most of all
Almost forgetting the grief
Of those who really did
 
Too late
We are all here too late
Oddly uninvited
Yet graciously received
Tell me, Callie,
When you called to seek advice
About a suicidal friend
Were you calling for yourself?
Was the bell for thee?
 
If that, we heeded not
So I tell myself you are at peace,
Make do without your art

                          05/13/10

 
Commentary on "Callie"
 
The six "not knowings" in the poem for Callie Angell:
 
1) The not knowing why.
2) The not knowing more of your vision.
3) The not knowing of miscommunication.
4) The not knowing of one another's rlationships, and relationships with you, that only you could know.
5) The not knowing what you did and did not know about yourself and what you might have done.
6) The not knowing when one should have known better, as when one should have known for whom the bell tolls.
 
 
 
HAIKU FROM THE iPAD OF EMILY DICKENSON*
 
SOMEHOW

"THERE IS NO FRIGATE
LIKE A KINDLE"**

DOESN'T REALLY WORK WELL.
 
WONDER WHETHER

"THERE IS NO FRIGATE
LIKE A NOOK"**

WORKS ANY BETTER?

                 08/10

 

*early notepad computer
**e-books circa 2010
 
 


The Sun Today
 
The sun did not get up today--

he has such a hangover.

And his beard of clouds droops

lower than his belly.

What fun if a finger of moon should appear
And tickle him awake anyhow.

                                                        Summer, 2010

 
 

Dead Pigeon on a Ledge: 90 West St
 
The pigeon is dead on the ledge
and it seems unbearable
I want to scream
and weep for its dumb mate
waiting for it to awaken
keeping futile vigil
on the slender shelf of window
along our West Side Highway
wind from the Hudson
baring winter teeth--
 
This building is a classic
designed by Cass Gilbert
he of Woolworth fame
whose name is like stained glass
steepled in spires
at last a hand in need
to still the eye
or shelter December chill--
 
Only the traffic flying by
can give that bird its wings
and for days I am afraid
to raise my eyes
on that walk I take to task
striding towards its beauty
writhing under truth--
 
By solstice not a feather's trace
while just behind me
we race to finish the Freedom Tower.

                                                                    Fall, 2010

 
 
 
Random Thoughts
 
Our lives seem a war game against our bodies
She killed herself while sitting in a foxhole
Who wouldn't wonder why she's yet here
Or not
 
Still, I can leave my trenches
Instead,sail my boat
Rudderless
Pretending to be at the helm

                                 Fall, 2010

 


 
Dead People
 
Have the dead people
really settled into our lungs?
 
Unspoken heart of lamenting
doling and settling with money
they all say nothing is settled
a friend said no one can settle
be at peace without some remains
I remind her of all lost at sea
or those who perished in war
their bodies unclaimed or forgotten
we have lost forever for ages
 
To me it"s merely the dead people
dead people in my lungs
clawing enraging their way to be heard
unique in their own dust to dust
yet like all others before them
 
The wailing will never get better
the way they're going about it:

"You need to be angry
as long as you need
but try to remember
you'll never be healed
til you let go the anger"

I sigh
 
They answer that nothing is settled
until their dead ones come home
never forget the banner of Israel
China lost five times galore
too booted subdued to complain
what numbers do more?
you'd rather percentiles?
where Israel wins for its loss?
 
I started to cough in
October, October of 2001
I couldn't go home
unless with I.D.
to answer my email
or water the plants
not nearly dead yet
 
(Whither thou goest?
To water withered plants
To talk to them with
Mighty words
Weighty words
To nurture them onward
Within the dirty air and
So from hither I goeth)
 
After picking up mail
from Bowling Green post stop
not gone missing
I'd stare at computer
monitor laboring
stunned by the blow
inhaling thin needles
thimbles of people
into my lungs
 
Every so often
come brief fits of coughing
it comforts me as the
dead in my lungs
 
I've stopped my response to the
9/11 survey, survey of health
come hopeful to my door
as a lost abandoned cur
 
But the grace of remains
of Eleven, September
is with me forever and ever.

                             01/24/11

 
 
 
The Days Before 9/11: Falling Objects
 
I said to my grown child
Visiting for a friend's wedding:
Don't walk under the bridge
Between Deutche Bank
And the World Trade Center.
It's been closed for years
And I see that metal plates have fallen off.
Why has it not been torn down.
It's not safe.
Don't walk down Liberty Street.*
 
All that summer
I'd had a fear
Of air conditioners
Falling from building's windows
Since I'd never understood
Why so few had died by their fall
I often stuck to the gutter.**
 
At brunch we spoke
About Rome
The Palatine
The civilization buried.
 
When I mused
Rhetorically
That ours might come to an end
My husband soothsaid
He did not know when
"But you can be sure
if it happens we
did not watch our backs."***
 
The day after tomorrow
It happened****
 
Pulverized concrete
Crumbled like the Palatine.

                                                   12/07
*9/8/200
**6-8/2001
***9/9/2001
****9/11/2001

 
 

 
Poem About Immortality or Be Careful What You Wish For
 
Gregory Sampson awoke one day
From his cryogenically frozen slumber
To discover that he really was a cockroach.
 
To be clear, there had been virtually
No transformation
No metamorphosis
He was exactly the same
Except that he now knew he was
Indeed, a cockroach.
 
Wanting to live forever he had paid
A Shah-worthy sum to have his person sustained
In a medically induced facsimile of coma
That preserved his thought-to-be-handsone
Thought-to-be-himself self
In a special cryocrypt
At an undisclosed and classified research lab
He would be awakened at the Ascension
The Ascension of Immortality.
 
Unlike his nearly eponymous Kafkaesque forebear
He did not soon apprehend his cockroach status
Rather, his enlightenment crawled slowly as a dull dawn
Until it became blinding: he was a coakroach by comparison.
 
Gregor Samsa had easily stumbled
Upon awareness of his new cockroach self
Through the awkward misuse of his body parts
While Gregory learned through the sluggish and nauseating
Realization that every creature he encountered
Was far more physically dazzling
And mentally brilliant than he.
He had awakened to a world of superior beings
In which he was an evolutionary nadir
Not the forward-thinking avatar he had imagined.
 
At this epiphany, his moment of resurrection
Gregory wanted to be dead.
 
Next came the torture of Gregory
Followed by his condemnation
To irrevocable immortality, an automatic hell.

                                                        Winter, 2010-2011

 
 
First Sentence in Italian, Summer of '66
 
It was chocolate and liquor
and keys in the river
not quite in that order
but that was the recipe
 
Somehow, "Io ho dimenticato
la chiave" had become a theme
and she realized it had been lifelong:
 
Having a key
forgetting it
throwing it
down the garbage shute
hoisted with it
by her hundred petards
dropping the key in the slot
between elevator cab and
the eternity of its shaft
wanting it back and
the solutions we see
yet let slip away
 
Even Mimi loses her key and dies
never mind the falling in love
and tuberculosis in-between
was that it?
what have we begun
again and again?
 
In the end
her father had strung
all his diplomas, awards
in the garage
like doomed hanged men
someone whose history papered
the walls and was written
with long-expired license plates
nailed to an outhouse stall
defiling his own success
 
Last days he walked a circle
over and over
altogether without a key

                       10/10

 
 
Take My Word
 
Take my word and
Do not take my words
Don't you dare
I am my words
But I just keep standing there
Like a huge failing tower
I can think them but
I cannot hear them screaming
As they fall       

                          03/ 11

 
 
Let Me Alone
 
Let me alone
Let me alone with my words
Incantatory
They will rub against my breast
Like a cheese grater
They could make me behave
Or make a soufflee

        05/2012

  

 

The Word Scoliosis
 
Almost onomotopoeic*
The word scoliosis
Coils round and around
Like a snake
And the backs of
Me and Richard III

                                     02/13
 
*metaonomotopoeic said one source

 

 
  
 
The Most Cutting Thing
 
The most cutting thing is
the disdain of youth
arrogance of youth
stupidity of youth
wrongness of it
that cannot be told
until you are far too old
to tell anything.

          Winter, 2011

 
 
 
The Body is Remembering
 
The body is remembering
the old young self
now collapsed into
pursy prunery.
crepery papery
And the mind?
Is it minding
that simple self?
And which the simpler
or the worse?

                              Spring, 2011

 
 
The Watershed of Self-Assessment
 
At the age of thirty-five
I became very focused on my brain
My looks has not led me
To the too-wicked stage
Or God
Nor bought me lotteries of money
And the visage got odder by the day:
Can no longer trade on this
Well rehearsed package
So no more truck with that
I came to think a thought or two
Stir the slumbering brain
Something I had not done
Else and heretofore

                  Winter, 2011


   
 
Once Upon a Stephen Hawking Book
(Or: M-Theory and "The Grand Design")
 
It has been embarrassing
to have read
in the book I read
thus perseverating
as an obsessive self-replicator
wanting to understand the multiple universes
and that gravity (or was it anti-gravity?)
is somehow imparticled unwaved
energy
that is the opposite
of the nothing
that quantum evented
the big bang
the poop scoop of infinite possible universes
and infinite possible histories of ourselves
 
Is possible probable?
Is probable possible
 
God started as a quantum event
grave as gravity
mega as m-theory
gradual as g-force
energy darker than darth vader
energy of empty space itself
hologram of a black hole
where we are stored on the surface
living our lives in god's cosmic computer

                                                  08/11

 
 
 
Moment
 
I am two years old . . . plus a bit
He placed me on a wall
Like Helen of Troy
On Riverside Drive
And we did the alphabet
And counted to ten
My thrilling father
Home from the War

                10/2011

 
 
 
He Said
 
Let me throw you on a roller coaster
Let me show you how to ride the waves
Let me almost kill you
And then know when to kiss you
To keep me alive
To keep us alive

            04/13

 
 
 
THE PURPLE PROSE IN MY PINK POEMS
 
 
Temple of Diana
 

In a temple

A Temple of Diana

A Temple of the Vestal Virgins

Sacred Forest of Nemi

He waits

 

He stays because it's what he does

He can only ever stay

And they, the others

Wait still the vigil

The vigil to take his place

Slay him one shall surely do

As it is long expected

The ritual without a choice*
 

The virgins sleep

Without a sound

He is waiting

The fire is keeping

All is forgotten

But soon remembered

In deepest of sleep

 

Tomorrow he shall rise

Disturbed by his visions

Still crouch and pace

Holding his knife

Staying his life
 

He stays because it's what he does

He waits for his own demise

Waiting to become the kill

As he has killed before

Awaiting his When I Die

Will fighting for his life

He does this, what he must

Thus too, to all of us

                   08/06

 
*The Golden Bough, Sir James George Frazer. Diana's priest, King of the Wood, was required to slay his predecessor in the eternal circle of life and death. Diana of Nemi is associated with the Vestal Virgins and she bore the title of Vesta. The Golden Bough was an oak from which no branch might be broken, a sacred tree within Diana's Sacred Grove near the Italian village of Nemi. The King of the wood is guardian of the Vestals' Perpetual Fire, Diana's Sacred Grove and his own doomed existence.
 

 
Death Anxiety
 
Every day I watch myself dying
In front of the mirror,
I feel as though I am in Nabokov's Laura
Devouring myself alive
But I have eaten this way
Since eighth grade: grammar school
 
I watched myself dying
Line by Line and
Watching Eating Marching
In the nettle of it
I missed the day
I turned into a swan
 
I only know I became a swan
Because others once told me so:
You were swanning through the halls
Not knnowing I was absent that day ---
And still---
So busy with my vigil.

             06/13

 
 
 
Sailing Knots
 
I cannot work my sailing knots
Anymore
I am slipping away
On a noose I cannot even tie
I am getting to see myself die
In enormous gulps
That I have always taken of myself
In some carefully secreted narcissism
But also
Of the pale graveyard ghost
Digging at my brain.

          06/13

 
 
  Nefertiti
 
Nefertiti did not have Tamoxifen
And other breast elixirs or interventions
Which does not mean such tender heel
As breast for her
How did she suffer
This understanding
Of her own mortality?
Did she watch herself
Cannibilize
Her own body every day?
 
Body yet not betray me again
As you always do
And as it is meant to be.
Please remember
That I shall eat myself alive
Before you win

                                06/13

 
 
Fungible Friable* Breasts
 
Carcinomous
Reconstructed

                         03/13

 

*In medical terminology, "friable tumor" is a term used to describe malignant tissue that is easily torn apart.  It is often a sign that the tumor has matastasized.  Usually the word friable means crumbling, an odd yet not malappropriate adjective for a failing breast.  (A "fungible breast" reminds me of Tom Sawyer's "morbid toe.") 

 
 
 
Homage to William Blake
 
Flower
You are dying
Now cut and put
In water
We shall watch one another
Vibrate and Shimmer
You and I together
As you unfold, we unfold
Forgetting the deceit
The betrayal
The worm-riddled death
Of that rose.

7/13/13

 
 
The Panther
 
Some say that breast cancer
Loves to go to the bones.
 
They also say I have arthritis
But the pain keeps coming back:
 
The Panther with his teeth in my groin
claws tearing my loins
I recite:
"Tyger, Tyger
Burning bright
In the forest of the night"
Like a mantra of
Incantatory powers
But it does no good
He frames my fearful symmetry
Tyger and Panther together
Like a story for a child
But not.

5/31/14

 
 

I Feel Like
 
I feel like someone's experiment
A puppet getting rashes
Cancer and other ugly things
Unseemly diseases
Once hushed
Once told in dead filmmaker cinema
Those whispers, sighs and white
Victorian dresses like death
One who must persevere for science
The C.V. of my doctor
Or even the evolution of
My family's proud pool of genes
Swimming like frantic sperm in the ouvre
Of yet another filmmaker of fame --
Even if genes don't swim
But lurk and hover over lives
As ominous birds of prey --
Must persevere for past and future plagues
Assure them I still smile.

                         10/23/13

 
 
 
Hey, Whit
 
Hey Whit, Hey Whitman
I hear you whistling
My Whistler Boy, my dandelion boy
I want to roll down a hill of dandelions
With you in my arms.

                    12/26/13

 
 
For Each Grandchild
 
Oh, sweet baby
Let the world
Not break your heart
Too Much.
Too Fast.
Too Strong.

10/13

 
 
 
Hungry
 
Hungry, I would break
Teeth on a gourd
I am an animal
Animal anathema
Misanthropic social student
Oxymoronic
An introverted paradox
Self-devouring and
Destined to dance
Seldom speaking to my partner
As though dancing with a stranger
Few shall say such things
But I know I am not alone

                          10/22/13

 
 
 
Technology
 
Could we dissolve, devolve
into minutia in two more
generations? I surely am!
Minutia of my mind,
my excuse is age, so
ask yourselves if you are
devolving, dissolving
delicious young ones.
But you cannot
you are in it
I am not.
 
Our texts are so different
and that is just the start

                                              7/13/13

 
 


HAIKU
 
THE PISSANT DEVOID

OF PUISSANCE

IS PUSILLANIMOUS*
 
*mnemonic device for the meaning of three vocabulary words

                                                                                     2014

 

 

                                                   

                                                           Making It Up as I Go Along


My Life


Everything in Life, my life
Lately seems about Meaning
If not about Meaning
It's Beauty or Truth
Ethics as Aesthetics
Values as Quantities
Morality as Qualities
Capital Abstracts
Emboldened in Gold

Meaning is Beauty
No Beauty is Truth
But Truth is a lie
Beauty nearly dies
Is fleetingly revived
Holds hands with Truth
As they struggle to rise
Ascend to fluffy skies
Philosophy cries

Ethics, Morality and
Noble Values wail
My Meaning prevails
My liar has won me
He rubs his hands in glee
No Golden Bold needs he
                                             1/13/2014


A Beautiful Picture

This is a beautiful picture
The surgeon stated
Referring to the scan, its quality
He quickly qualified
There my skeleton stood
With earring studs and hoops
And I had to allow a gasp
Vanity most thrallful
Acknowledging the
Excessive plasticity of those
Exquisitely contorted bones
Serpentine curve still
Pressing to coil
Like Daphne turning to tree
Imprisoned by my scoliosis
And its Harrington Rod bailor.

                           Spring, 20014



I Need to Call You

I need to call you from the window of my brain
I shall throw up the sash and holler aloud
Before I am discovered in the act and my
Gatekeeper slams the window shut
                                                             Spring, 20014

 

 

The Tollund Man Nightmare

 

I am lying in a bog with an Incubus

An Incubus of Seamus Heaney

Demonic infant Seamus Heaney 

Feeding on my breast

 

It is the White Mare of the Night

Come at Midnight

Rider on an Ashen Horse

Galloping through the Fright

Squatting on my frail ribs

 

I cannot pull out of the bog

Or out of the wolf-toothed dream

The wolves are always howling 

And I must run with them like Artemis

Diana who runs with the wolves

 

I cry to my spouse in that half-state

Of paralyzed limbs when the dread

Has settled on one's breast

And the breath is as absent as the voice

And the legs can run no more

 

Help me, Help me; Pull me out

I cannot move

I saw the Tollund Man

He has the Face of my Father

That River of Blood runs through me

Cliffs and icy fjords slice me until 

I am swallowed in the Danish fen

So afraid of that Pale Horseman

 

Seamus Heaney was not

So here I shall lie with an Incubus on my chest

In a peat bog where I may not have been seen

Barely glimpsed, not noticed in the quaking muck

Sucked downward and hidden by the sphagnum moss

A voice without an echo

 

Seamus Heaney smiles at me

From the cover of his book 

And I see it is the Tollund Man*

Perfectly preserved, prehistoric

The Man sacrificed and placed

In the peat bog, eyes closed

Beatific smile in rapture

Embraced by the primevol ooze

Reunited with the darkness

Blessed

                     06/16/2015

 

*There is controversey as to whether the Tollund Man, found in a peat bog in Denmark, is a hanged criminal, a victim of torture, or a ritual sacrifice of nobleman to the gods.  This same controversey occurs over the Irish peat bog people and the bog children.  (The Yde Girl is a 16 year old girl thought to have been sacrificed because of the scoliosis that rendered her defective.)  The poet Seamus Heaney is well known for his "Tollund Man," from the 1972 collection Wintering Out,"  as well as "The Grauballe Man," "Punishment," and "Bog Queen," which first appeared in his 1975 collection of North.  

 

 

I Am in a Bog

 

Still in a bog with Seamus Heaney

Even if he did not choose me

Even if they did not choose me

For the ritual sacrifice

Still makes him smile

 

And even as I did not choose him

Blind hands are stirring the bog.

                                                             03/16 

 



Subway Encounter

I saw a woman on the subway
This week
She was like me
But older
Still good featured in her years
She knew I knew
In my younger old age
What I was seeing
She removed her sunglasses
To let me view
To let me see her work
Her perfect liquid eyes

She was magnificent
Leonine and proud
But that face vibrated
Shook with a palsy of excess
She could not control
Her facial orgasms
Or her desire; or of simply
Having been alive too long
Thus raged at this indignity

                                                   08/09/14
                                 

This Before the Cradle Falls

My weak genes still survive
I am alive because no one is attacking me
That'll be soon enough
All too soon
The cradle of civilization
Is rocking hard
Is very angry
It has lost its words
And found other means
                                              12/24/14


The Cradle of Civilization

From the Cradle of Civilization
There grew a giant child
Knocking down sandcastles
Loud lungs wailing

How did this come to be?
You gve us something and went on
But you became petulant
Always cheated
Always angry
At our indifference

Allow me please
To apologise for your
Resentment of me
For what civiliztion has done
And you can oly abhor

Jihad-me-not and remember that
ISIS was once Isis
Wed to Osiris
Goddess of Fertility
Now in the death aspect
Of the circle of life?

Because you think to not do it
Often shamed by your own
Blind behavior
But do it anyway
A compulsion
Spewed fro the voracious
Mouth of obsession
Whole continents weep blood for you.
My Cradle of civilization.
                                                             12/24/14


Lily of the Valley

I am now a lily of the valley
Delicate, modest
Shy bell eyes averted
Color of alabaster
Turned towards the ground
But utterly poisonous
To myself too soon alas
To others grown weary
Of my bitter taste and
My own contempt for
This lingering this
Underground prolixity
And livid red berries
Once a wedding bouquet
                                                   10/13/14


It's Time

It's time for the
Dye of my life to weep
To bleed like madras
Color stopped somewhere
On the cloth
Fading so soon in the sun
                                                  10/13/14


Articulate Future

We used to toil
Over these words
Yes we did
When we were
Still speaking

Now we spit
Bullets of text
Cursive gone the way
Of calligraphy
Brave new brain tendrils
Dendrites marching on
Thrilling at their own splendour

The telegram --
Tapped out then
And now another way --
Must have seemed the same

Yet here we are
In spite of ourselves
Seeking novel versions
Of deep connection
Pockets of fossil fuel
In a stormy northern ocean
                                                         10/14/14


From a Gabled Dormer

I think I felt the
End-of-life
Vigilance
Sooner than I should have
Age seven, staring
At my Aesop's Fables book
There, a rendition of death
As cloaked skeleton with scythe
Holding the hourglass of time
And that oversized sickle
The Grim Reaper too soon
Came calling in my life

And in the Temple of Diana
Temple of the Westal Virgins
He rests the scythe awhile
But one eye on the hourglass
He always waits for me.*
                                                 11/10/14

 

 

Being in the Temple of Diana

 

Give or take

The genetic

Crushing blows

To my body

 

Balanced by

Several pleasing

Features

Even virtues

 

I have gotten

Everything

I have ever wanted

And it's terrifying:

 

He who kills the pacer

In the Temple of Diana

Treads softly as he appproaches

Breaches the Sacred Grove

 

I do not think he sees me

Wants only to kill the pacer

Lives to kill the pacer

The pacer he's been promised

The pacer most of all

 

Not got the pacer yet -- he waits

Nor gotten all he's wanted -- waits

Told he might be chosen -- leaps

Too late I see I am the pacer

The prey that he shall keep

The prey that he shall kill.

                                                 08/25/15

 

Click here for "Temple of Diana"

 

 

Animals of the Pack

 

To have climbed the crabapple apple tree

And gone onto the roof that windowed on my bedroom

Like another dimensioned portal that I might crawl into

In that long hard black hold kind of way

I was clawing to master

 

Was one thing

 

But to have been safe in my bedroom

At dusk with a pack of ten cats

Or so it seemed that day

Cats who had climbed my tree

 

Was another

 

The cats were howling in August heat

Seeking insistent

Something unfathomed

Or simply infatuated by our own queens

Our House Cats in heat

All to join in a Ferragosto harvest

Harvest of mid-August heat

An orgy on my bedroom floor if I unlocked the screens

 

But this whole pack? But why?

Cats I thought don't run in packs

Seeking insistent

Something unfathomed

Were they calling me?

 

I cowered yet cried aloud

To join them for one moment

Before being mayhemmed

Because I had never

Slithered out my window --

Only into it --

Onto the roof

Like the feral feline I became

 

They are still howling

After me like wolves

Crying alone in alleys

Of my dimming brain

But lions always heed the pride

Never running the hunt alone

 

Needing the pride

Wanting the pride

I decided to be a lioness

Masked face of golden fur.

                                                   07/27/15

 

 

 

The Critic

 

My father judged my poems 

As "laundry" hung in narrow places

A thin line of mismatched flags

Waving between tenement buildings

 

While I still pray they might

Stand in sight of those "Bone Dreams"

Those lines of "skinny quatrains" *

By Seamus Heaney

                                         08/13/15

 

*P. 94 of Seamus Heaney:Poet, Critic, Translator by Crowder ad Hall ("Heaney has become well known for such skinny quatrains.")

 

 

 

Gertrude Stein

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose
And the Emperor Has No Clothes
A Rose for Emily
Replaced
By Sacred Emily*
Emily Dickinson Dead.
                                             03/13/14


*"Sacred Emily" is a poem by Gertrude Stein about a person stuck in her character.

 

 

Sometimes

 

Sometimes you just need

To leave the poem alone

It's going to be and let it be . . .

'Til entropy

For then is when

Neither you nor I nor the poem

Shall be

In any form

 

And this, no worse a verse

Than a rose is a rose is a rose

A verse that arose

That thinks it's a rose

So leave the words alone

                                               10/3/15


She Needs a Boyfriend and More Work

I was furious
Explain your Tibetan Medicine
She is not depressed
By an excess of air
Digestive Air --
Your diagnosis for me, my patient
(we all say shrinks are full of hot air)
And all the rest of the suffering world --
But by love and labor deficits

Next you'll be telling me
About Hippocrates
And the Four Humours --
Though Melancholy could apply --
Say it in a way we can comprehend
You make it more arcane
Than quantum physics
Which I try to understand
And then forget
The strain too hard to bear

The recondite
The conundrum
Palpably ephemeral
Ambiguously ambivalent
Transparently opaque
And other paradoxical
Oxymorons
Floating like ether
To oblivian in my favored
Hot air balloon of art
Those are great
For poems I write
Leave and let reader be
Bring a meaning unique

But not Ever Ever Ever
For my hard-edged everday
Onomatopoeic effect
As in pragmatic like a rock
And my thus far functioning gut
                                                          07/22/14

 

Life in the Lurid Lane

 

Screw you, God Delusion book*

I want a human delusion

That must invent meaning

Perceives the god

Is not as expected

And then does science

To realize by reprise

That science holds seeds

Of extremely creepy deities --

Because we are a hologram

A projection --

Egads!!!!!?????#####

Maybe even a computer simulation

And if the physicists are correct

Who or what is simulating?

Who or what , if not a "god?"

A loudly laughind computer game

A lurid funhouse architect

Enjoying that we cannot know the simulation

Because we are trapped within it.

                                                              03/15/15

 

*The God Delusion by Stephen Dawkins

                                                                    

 

 

Mathematics

 

The only right and wrong

In the universe is

Mathematics and

Despite such perfection

It seems a metaphor bereft

Time and again a

Closed hard capsule

Like a bi-valve that

Cannot be pried open

Seemingly untouched

By empirical validity

But flawless in its theory

 

How shall we be without

Metaphor, non-math signs

symbols anathema

Not?

 

And Yet

 

If I better understood the maths

Then maybe I would stand in wonder

Wonder stand that it could hold

The metaphor for everything

Algorythms for all our worlds.

                                                       05/19/15

 

 

Before My Post-Prehensile Days

 

Before my post-prehensile days

Philosophy was recondite conundrumate

A rock with a fossil inside --

That almost looked made up

A neologistic artifact

Brachiopod shells captured within

Cracked and fractured shale

Before fracking wracking obdurate skull

Could question the would be in the woods

The forest would I ever find it

And what would I do when I found it

Would never understand it

Could not get through the woods

Of words, worlds and woulds

And those mocking my wolves

And my escaped criminals

That we all secretly root for

Because they are very bad but they

Still have that primitive

Life Death lust that is not

Pure and Noble in itself

But that we long for

Because we do not have it

Anymore, No more Forever

                                                     07/6/15

 

 

Times Are

 

Times are

I must use words

Like "Must Should & Ought"

'Lest I leave this earth

By equivocastion

Lacking the gravity

to remain earthbound

Drone driven

Without direction

 

But that may be later

And all anticipation gone.

                                             08/22/15

 

 

Many Millennials

 

Many Millennials are

Sickened with Velleity

Sounds as though they're airborne

Like Felicity or Gaiety

But how so be it not:

 

Velleity lacking velocity

Lowest level of Volition

                                           12/18/15

 

 

A Question of Values

 

The bird was there

The bird from the t.v. show*

Somehow ravaged by its attraction

To like things: colorful pieces of vinyl

Vivid as its plumage

I could not see how it had died

But it died with its guts full of plastic

 

I dreamed of the bird

And my dog, long gone

And the bird once again

Both sucked down by the water

Below the balcony

The whirlpool of water

Like a toilet flushed

 

I wanted back the white wicker chair

The chair I'd tossed off the balcony

To "save them" in its wicker nest

Both bird and dog, but in truth

I only cared for the white wicker chair

Alas, for me, no more anymore

 

The chair whirled in the whirlpool

And I knew it, too, would be gone

Still, it was warm there in paradise

With bright birds that circled

Like Vultures

                             01/16/16

 

*Documentary my husband was watching, which I interrupted by returning home from work.

 

 

 

Only the Moon

 

Who is watching me?

Only the moon

The sun is too busy

Getting to be

Super Nova Queen

Giant Diva Star

That takes this place

Forever

Only my moon

For now for me

                                    4/15/16

 

 

Yde Girl*

 

I am the Yde Girl

Back from the Bog

Again and again

You can see her

See me in her

Trapped in the Bog

It's in my genes

 

They pull me out

Peat-shovelling peasants

And scream

She is the Devil

The blonde hair is now

More florid than fire

Bog time has done this

 

They say she was

A sacrifice

Her delicate scoliosis

A return to the serpent

Gave a limp

Thus twice the Devil

 

Some say she was

Merely murdered

Or ritually executed

Perhaps an adultress

But others say that

Thus flawed, she was

The perfect sacrificial vessel

 

The peasants chopped her

When they found her

Chopped her with their shovels

Thus twice made dead

To be resurrected by a poet.**

                                                  Spring, 2016

 

*The Yde Girl was found centuries after her death in Netherlands bog land.  She was discovered by peasants digging for peat moss in the year 1897.  She was almost perfectly preserved my the sphagnum moss that is found in many bogs.  The peasants thought they had met the devil (on account of her blond hair that had been turned red by the bog) and nearly destroyed her body with their shovels. 

 

**The poet Seamus Heaney devoted multiple poems to the bog and was, as he admitted, "almost in love" with the little adultress," another of his bog goddesses.  ("Punishment," by Seamus Heaney)

 

 

 

 

                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poems Escaped from New York City