Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poem - Night Swimming

midnight on fine summer nights i would secretly drink
& then skinny dip in the pool as if i was stealing from someone

but it was my pool in my silent dark backyard
under a million stars that were fixed and stared down at my white body
with a bit of that regrettable farmer's tan

i'd hear the water quietly moving as i moved
lapping on the aquamarine colored tiles
and i'd look up at the sky and see the night in the water
my shoulder would nudge the pole star out of the way for a ripple

i'd be afraid of the luminous bottom near the deep end
but then dive down to it through the blindness

i'd go to the bottom of the bottom to touch the cold surface
though fear was never solved nor would go away


For Stephanie

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Poem - Together

as if we could keep the legs
by spreading them or the pages
by reading them

all this reaching and desire
like trying to save a day you loved
so you could have it anytime

there's no keeping
but don't be discouraged
we're together right now sitting here

the kitchen is bright and dishes

Poem - Guilty

not committing the sin of ingratitude
nor of arrogance

but guilty as always
of whatever i forgot by accident
or what i denied


For Billy Collins

Poem - The Angel of Constantanople

"One of the most magnificent shrines ever known (is) the old Constantinople Cathedral...restored by the Emperor Justinian in 568, after the plan, says tradition, of an angel who came to that monarch in a dream.

The angel is stated to have appeared a second a boy who was guarding the tools of the masons, and ordered him to bring the workmen immediately, in order to hasten the building. As the boy refused, the gleaming (angel) swore by the Wisdom, i.e., by the Word of God, that he would not depart until the boy returned...

The order that he might for ever keep his word as guardian of the temple, sent away the boy, laden with presents, to pass the rest of his life in the Cyclades..."

i have thought him so often
unlike the angel on a blue morning
who appeared in shining white
before a frightened boy
and inquired for the master mason
to hasten the raising of the sanctuary
then waited forever -- i would not remain

god is so much more wiser
and compassionate to me
this force that blesses all space with
innumerable beautiful things
and unraveled reflective riddles
that seem meaningless unless
all is accepted with the grace that made it

Poem - Suburban Poem

it is so quiet
i can hear the ringing in my ears
metallic shore of a tinfoil sea

it is so still
the houses in the street are bizarre
facades made of sugary marzipan

they live in their frosting
i live in mine while the gingerbread foundations
are eaten secretly by the tide

the only things that intrude
are cars and birds because people
do not equate on sidewalks of sugar

but let me not complain
of the places i choose to go and have built
however fantastic & unreal they become


Sunset Heights

Friday, March 25, 2011

Poem - Serenade

we sat by a screen of moonlit baffled trees
a serenade of phone-tones
not crickets called though the night

as if playing hide and seek
screens glowed and were extinguished
the conductor was late due to traffic

the only thing that seemed real
were your eyes that found mine
not in a person but in a silhouette

the stage footlights became brighter
as the celebrated man arrived & silently waved
then the music began normally



Poem - robert redford's face is radioactive

robert redford's face is radioactive
he throws out the first pitch and the ball becomes contaminated
it arcs to the pitcher with a trailing
soft blue glow

there is a tavern under the street
where only newspeople meet, robert redford's face begins to go critical
reducing the front of it to a puddle of glorious
atomic slag

the bar vaporizes like tissue
nuclear material melts into the floor like butter being sucked into toast
with a massive burst of radiation
that tickles skin

the slag will congeal
but we will never go away after the slag congeals, topped by a magnificent
reinforced cement sarcophagus
complete with sensors

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Poem About Hummingbirds to Latif

latif when i think of you i stayed out of those dark rooms
the kind where you can stay quiet and write

instead i remembered the saying credo quia absurdum
as i looked for the hummingbird that is lightening blue

he's never far away and with the looptie-loop
banishes all thought of the dutiful waiting & the when


Newport Beach
Second Day of Spring, 2011

Poem - the eye/ can take it in/ not speak

it rains
the second day
of spring

three apples
in the fridge

crossword puzzle
paper sleep

at the table
i see how
some clouds

become stairs
into blue
lit with light

so high above
any mind
or pencil

the eye
can take it in
not speak

Poem - A Notion


poet halfheartedly looking through the poetry section
comes across a slim work by billy collins
poet laureate

reading a few of the poems an old feeling of excitement
springs up & certain amount of dread shame
of his own work

he realizes a raft of flimsy "on his way back to home
wouldn't you know a damned red light
and white clouds" line after line

as he thought billy collins billy collins
turning into the drive like the book he didn't intentionally buy
but the work totally owns him


when he's inside he sits down and tries to write a poem
it is like trying to construct what he was
or what he saw when it happened

but it is vanity so he thinks about billy collins
and of the book and how he might not be able to write
but everything is fine

he had been magically knocked off
and he can' quite do anything except a kind of
hurt joyful hopping


To Billy Collins

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Rainbows

Just before waking this morning, I dream of several rainbows,
looping and curling, almost tied together like a knot.
There are three tiers of clouds behind them, going up,
just after a storm. A scattering of white birds shoot through,
near the edge of the World.

All distance becomes trivial, suffused with light. I stand on a high-rise,
with gold windows, behind me the abandoned office of a friend.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

E Poe Raven Bruce

E Poe had this raven he'd write to. The raven's name was Bruce, who had been raised by Jesuits in Philadelphia. How Bruce ended up in Baltimore is a whole story that won't be told here. Bruce thought Poe was a likable nitwit. When Bruce wasn't tapping on the window for snacks, he'd fly to a church steeple and let the weather-vane point him in the direction the wind was blowing. On the wind the raven could smell the forest from across the river, the warm tiles of the rooftops, and the time of the day. Then Bruce would get hungry and fly down to look for a dead cat to eat the eyes out of, or for tidbits washed over by the drunk smelling funk of E Poe. Sometimes Poe would hide under his desk when Bruce arrived, especially at night. Then he'd recover, rub his eyes, wind a clock, or light a candle. The shaking would go away as he drank, and he was always writing. With bright black steely eyes -- the eyes of an unrelenting & uncompromising, yet sympathetic universe, Bruce watched. Bruce was logical and responsible, in his witnessing.


When spring came, Bruce fell in love and few away for several months. When he came back the building was empty, but in the cemetery there was a black casket with E POE written on the lid. Bruce landed and tapped on the lid, tearing up flakes of wood. He tapped again, no scratching came from within, E Poe was not there. Bruce knew he was somewhere. Puzzles, puzzles -- his little bird mind couldn't unloosen to know what he thought he could know.


At night the yellow moon reminded Bruce, slyly, to go one more time to E Poe's rooms. That was easy. Bruce winged up and saw from the skylight there was E Poe, shimmering in the darkness, no candles necessary now. Bruce swooped down to land on a shoulder, but there was only air, he cawed in reproach, but all was forgiven. Then Bruce saw a finger of moonlight touch the mantle, and there was a smaller E Poe, behind a flat square of glass! And Bruce was pleased, because the imperceptible E Poe assented to what Bruce saw, and Bruce knew it was E Poe's soul.

Knocking it down was easy enough, and broken covering, Bruce speared E Poe's spirit through the heart. Bruce showed E Poe the thing he had done, and Poe sat there and bowed his head with a smile. Into the card he climbed.

Through the skylight rose Bruce, with E Poe, over the town, past the steeple & weather-vane, they flew. Aside the moon, they glided, to the river high with tide. There avoiding the muck, Bruce let E Poe go with a flick of his dread beak, like a chip on the water. The moon was like a white light, reflected on E Poe's tiny face. It bumped and winked, and then was gone.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Barnes & Noble / The La Costa Express

In Orange County just after it started raining, the blacktop appearing as obsidian, I was perusing the books on sale at Barnes & Noble. Over in the periodical section, I'm surprised to see an old guy who goes to AA meetings where I live, in La Costa.

La Costa is 75 miles south of here. I also thought he was dead. Have you ever met someone like this? It happens more often than you'd think.

"Hi." I say.

"Hello." he replies.

"How's it going?" I ask.

"Fine." he says, a bit irritated that I'm still talking to him.

"What are you doing here?"

"What does it look like? I'm looking at books!"


"You don't think I'd be here looking at books!?"

"But you live in La Costa."

"Jesus Christ! Just because I live in La Costa, I can't show up here and be looking at books?"

"Hey -- no offense. I was surprised to see you."

"Offense taken!" He pushed up his glasses. "Any more questions you want to ask me, before I get back to enjoying myself alone?

"No -- no." I wanted to say "Hi"."

"OK -- "Hi". Now beat it!"

I leave him alone, but I can't help but seeing him in the corner of my eye -- he's dressed in a red flannel shirt and faded blue jeans -- like he always is. Meanwhile, the rain has let up.


A week later I go back to La Costa, and I attend the morning meeting. The chair where the guy always sat is empty. Plenty of people could sit in it, but the chair stays unoccupied.

I don't tell anyone about meeting the dead guy at Barnes & Noble, because I'm not sure he's really dead, but nobody is talking about him anymore so I don't bring it up.


The next time I go to Banes & Noble in Orange County, I guess I'm not surprised to see him in the bargain books section. He's wearing the same flannel shirt and jeans -- looking exactly like I saw him last time. Why not?

"Hi." I say.

"Oh sweet Jesus Christ! You again." he says sarcastically, with a short glance. "Why don't you fuck off?"

"Where have you been?"

"What are you, my fucking mother? Get away! Scram!"

I see a staff person frowning at me, so I leave him alone.


The next meeting, in La Costa, I see someone sitting in his chair who looks just like him. It is his brother. I go over an introduce myself, which makes him angry.

"How's _________?" I ask him.

"Whadda ya mean, how's __________?" he yells at me.

"Is he around?"

"Fuck you! He's not here!"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean what I fucking mean! He's not here!"

Now people in the meeting are looking at me with disgust. I excuse myself and sit down.


The next time I'm in Orange County when I go to a bookstore, I decide to go to a different one altogether.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Acceptance Letter

One day, just before spring, he got an acceptance letter. He was not anticipating an acceptance letter, from any publication -- let alone from a prestigious magazine. Because of this, at first he couldn't comprehend what the slip of paper said, because he assumed it was another rejection slip, but the form and the words were bizarre, they were wrong. It didn't read like anything at the mailbox. He got into the kitchen. When he realized that this was AN ACCEPTANCE LETTER, he laughed and slapped his left hand down on his lap so hard, he accidentally punched himself in the balls. That was unexpected too, and it really hurt. But he kept on laughing and waved at the mailman as he came back down the road from the big Commercial Dairy. He was so happy, he let the damn pony into the house & stand in the living room and stare out the picture window all afternoon. This was the first time the pony did this without breaking into the house when he was away for a few hours. Might as well let everyone enjoy themselves.

Poem - On Cruise to Catalina

nearing we watched the boat go up waves
until i felt blind because the sun was so strong

i looked away ashamed and sensed the rise
of mother sea under my feet

the disturbed try idle thoughts
i think about what i choose to see in front of me

catalina's scrub hardness had sheep and goats
the mining there played out badly

the romantic part of me wishes to identify
this place w/ past but honesty urged me to come clean

scars show on the cliffs over smashing waves
the island was indifferent at best and worse angry

like dreams the ocean rolls on forever but it lifts me
a great wind sends regrets away


nearing we watched
i felt blind because the sun was so strong

i looked away ashamed
sensed the mother sea under my feet

catalina's scrub hardness
anything taken to it played out badly

i wished to identify
but honesty urged me to come clean

cliffs over smashing waves
indifferent at best and worse angry

the ocean rolls on forever
a great wind sends regrets away


Southern California
March 2011