Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Hand Gestures of Plants

Having retraced my steps, I stood in a field.
Perhaps another way of being, like a clean shirt.
Banal, ethereal, unmoved.  A true statement
The pointillist apocalypse dissolved
When I walked around the musical trees.
I did not at first perceive the emptiness behind the song.
How can powers fail that one never had?
O leaf-blower be thou be thou me!
I keep thinking something will break through.
All evidence is to the contrary.  The days are drained
From the calendar and dumped into this
Purgatory without sprinklers or fire escapes.

Goodbye to the sweaty nuptials of narrative.
I write (who is not pissing away his life?)
Permanence without substance, beneath the world
Of ideas, past remembrance, a sea of rust.
The chimes announce the edge of an event,
Pure movement, and then one rides the lip
Of consciousness, each thing being itself
As each becomes in turn yet something else.
A truer way, I think, than casting memory
In bronze.  Balloons arise like questions
So beautiful, we watch them disappear.
I note what I can consoled by the obscure.

A sagging stars-and-stripes declares a lull
In the eolian cross-talk of shrubs
And Queen Anne’s lace in the dirt parking lot.
A vine of flowers overtakes a barbed wire fence.
Small vibrations of colors.  Along the embankment
The majestic spiraling of foliage arrests
The gaze.  Is that a sign of valediction?
Breathing pillars emit confusing speech.
Now that the high fa├žades have dimmed their lamps,
Some form of secret communication occurs
Under the surface, down where the juices cook
As crazy saps trickle up the green fuses.

My early correspondence with jasmine
Vanished among unstoppered starlight.
The further I peered into her rank darkness,
The more fatal any declaration proved.
And what about the distillations of my soul?
Somehow it doesn’t matter, rude woods.
She cracked open my navel-gazing
While I was walking around looking at the sky.
I did want to communicate something:
"Thank you for trashing my confidence.
It was blocking my salvation.
I am almost sure you know what you are doing."

Like the rest of us, the pigeons are going nowhere
Under the high pewter clouds in the west
As the sun smears the sky with its orange sands.
Small dirt squares in the concrete sidewalks
Bubble up grasses whose fine-haired stalks
Harbor the stray droplet from this morning.
Cars stack up like red and white blood cells
Oozing through jammed arteries
While domiciles are honeycombed with a saffron glow.
No pleasure is forbidden while I register
As from the inside of a raindrop
Stray thoughts on loopy intermingling walks.

One of the dogwoods lights up a solitary bloom,
A small pink lamp.  After labor day, too.
Never produced much during the grandiose blowout
When everything rhymes with decadence.
Now a hemisphere teetering on the brink of exhaustion
And this reverie in broad twilight.  The bleak
Designs of capital once more postponed while they may.
That has always been the way, hasn’t it.
Stopping where one finds it, lingering awhile,
All our most pressing affairs left in suspense,
Till the clepsydra of our attention drains away.
But gazing up into the hyperbolic purple

I cannot help but ask myself exactly how
Do I translate that?  Whereas I almost understand
The clumsy sign language of urban trees
Or the Morse code from small white flowers.
That is not all.  This sprawl of asignifiers
Encompasses the lovely curves of animals
Standing in circles, walking about, moving the air
With spirit motions of the mouth.  People
And plants calling attention to themselves
With rational artifice, truth thrives
At the symbolic level but only up there
With that small, inaudible cyclone of gnats.

This orgy of late vegetation disgorged at last,
October rolls over like a wet, smelly drunk,
An orange leaf stuck to its buttock.
My hunched shoulders wait under dripping trees.
The gently oscillating boughs, the sweeping branches,
The flapping leaf, become the movements of a mind
Without consciousness.  This I am is its double,
Strung through time like self-knowing syllables.
The long, jagged puddles between the curb
And the macadam cleave what they redouble.
Moons drown themselves one by one in the moon.
The lawns are stubble.  Twitters swallow the sky.

Unbearable stillnesses descend at winter’s sill,
The sky locked in a box of lead clouds.
The pinnacles of the houses point up, but
What succor ever came from iron indifference?
A buzzing mind would tear the whole thing asunder.
Better to dwell in the fragrant, metaphysical dark
Conjugating with the powdery blue mist
Like a swimmer of unspeakable voluptuousness
Than stand in the stench of confessions aired.
The ghost of jasmine echoes like a memory.
Support for this poem has been made possible
By absences like you.  Thank you.

Friday, June 24, 2016

You Have Not Always Known What You Are

Whoever you are, the pulse of your being is within you
Unknown to you, I recognize you from afar
The talkers have defined you—not I, I leave you undefined
Seeing past all that, beyond their fetishes, beyond your accidents

I do not limit you to any country, creed, culture, or language
You come like everyone from anywhere and nowhere at all
Nation, people, family, race—abstractions for the weak of mind
I look past your segments, surfaces, and appurtenances

You have not always known what you are
The bigoted of heart have choked your soul with smoke
And hateful violent men with chains and whips and guns
Have sunk a wound in you that festers in the dark

The wound goes where you go breathing with your lungs
Hearing with your ears the suffering it wants to hear
And with your eyes seeing the world in sepia tones of hurt
What else had kept you ignorant of yourself?

Were you born into this?
Have you never known anything but this?
I reckon you the first verse of a new chapter from the hymn of you
Today you will father and mother a transparent people of joy

No injustice within yourself will bring about justice
No violence within yourself will end violence
No bitterness within yourself will make life sweet
No wound within yourself will heal the wounded

All deep down things remain untouched by human hate
Do you see the sun, the clouds, the sky, the stars?
No man or woman who cursed existence ever soiled them
How much more untainted the phenomena of you

Joyful knowing does not come like a change in the weather
You, I, we have had to build a monument of forgetting
Brick by brick until a tower of useless love lifted into the sky
Dipping back into history to free us from ourselves

Are there no mysterious constellations in your soul?
Blue summer nights keep eternal appointments for you
Ignore the trippers and the tongue-tiers
And discover the unknown cosmos of yourself

Every account of you has been too logical
They only talk of forgetting you who never knew you
I will not name you so the others may come to you
And though you stand apart from these my vain perceptions

It pleases me to mark the silence of your eyes
And guess in them a ghostly property
A soul like a gazelle spacious with energy, alive, and beautiful
You having arrived, moving on like atoms in the wind

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Sentimental Ego

To whom these scattered particles of speech?
Though I, perhaps, is one way
It has been done since the early days,
The speaking self is just one of the parts.
The envelope of mystery that I address
In dialogue with absences
To the blameless night may never reach
Its destination.  But I is undeterred.

Syphilitic schizophrenics walking in the park
Stave off the bad words emanating from
The unintentional topiary shrubs.
The purpose of these judgments will be
Revealed.  Not to me.  Who the hell are you?
A turd dissolves in the grass just as the self
Against the bushes.  To the far-flung deserts of the soul,
To the evaporated cities of the mind,

Jagged transition declares the inexorable
Tipping of epochs, like the temporal subduction
Under the house where the wrapping paper
Of children sloughs off year after year
Till the big one jolts everyone involved
To a new consciousness—of life, yes,
Life conscious of itself as for the first time
In the midst of this long series of aftershocks.

The present is maddening, in a way, despite
Its salutary effects.  Everything, all at once,
With you and ignoring you, a glimpse
Into totality, an infinitesimal part
Of the perception of God, for a fraction
Of a part of a second, must be indulged
As an intense pleasure, half pain,
In roughly regular intervals, like a season.

All things end where they begin,
In the middle of other things.
The backside of the hour does not go down
So smooth.  The hovering between chains of sense
Opens into long vacancies, or vacations,
For the hard-working angels of the tribe,
Whose ephemeral half-lives, thoroughly known,
Have been going on beautifully without you.

Friday, February 12, 2016


As I walk home (a multi-brown hulk
Plopped next to the hushed flows of traffic,
A minor fifth achieved by angry honks
Before the thundering LIRR obliterates

All sense) I catch a burst of expletives.
Everything continues as before, unchanged,
That is, in constant flux, paying no mind
To the white distances I trek in thought.

A seagull, come inland today, roosts
On the neighbor’s balcony across the way;
His presence turns the snow to sea foam
While the bird itself morphs into a white crow.

I loaf in the cold of imperfection
And let the afternoon wash away my pride.
No doubt the demagogues on CNN tonight
Will issue dire prognostications to a world

That does not conform to the ego.
The black holes of identity spin around themselves,
Churning out the rhetoric of apocalypse
In xenophobic songs and kill crusades.

The Pharaohs of capital continue to erect
Slave-pyramids whose gravitational waves
Disturb the depths of the most placid soul
As no-go zones proliferate across the earth.

And, for all that, I and this mystery
Are never spent making a housecleaning
Of belief before the chrysalis of sleep.
Dream and building are one impermanence

To someone or something in danger
Of winking out of existence unnoticed
In the darkness beyond names and forms.
My opinions don't matter now.

A menacing snow-black seagull
Tells me there is still time to go back inside.
I will loaf in the cold of imperfection
And let the afternoon wash away my pride.