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Thin Ice

            1.
Her skeletal face
Her icy hands
Much uncanny between self and house
Run wild, never settle
All connections break
            2.
Mom and baby—
we never get that connection back
Says nothing about passion, desperation,
who might have saved her,
through fire
            3.
Her father, “Oh yes, the musician...”
Then under his breath
“Only an idiot marries a musician”
Mind a lot colder than many
on the prowl again
            4.
Thin ice
The crescent moon gleams in ice
Lots of city, lots of lights
It’s all about pleasure now
Cravings in the night
            5.
Fire on the mountain
Her rapid dysfunction
Their sexual practices are bizarre
even for insects
She hides in obscure wet crevices and cracks
             6.
Gleams awaken
in the night
She craves danger, fatigued
She depends on the recklessness of fools
the desperation of addicts
            7.
Melancholy disguised as gaiety
Unspoken words
only you can understand
You don’t do this at night
unless you ache
            8.
Bits of disembodied melody, violins
I know it well but
never feel at home here
She always sees the mirror
before it turns black

-August 17, 2010-

You know, Gary…

                1.
You know Gary,
   no matter what you give them
they’ll never love you
They talk about him like he isn’t there
   a dumb, feeble old man
Inner smiles, smirks, laughter
He laughs because he isn’t there—
   never was
They’re not very pleasant companions
Never were...
   They pray to the gods in their heads
More sorrowful than bitter
They never forgive
   All those good intentions
Courts are a pain in the ass
Slow, insensitive, expensive
   Love’s lost in this dimension
Stand fast
                2.
Time tortures and twists in his head
   Then steadies
His style exalted, pathetic
No casual touches, please
   We all know what touching is for
Love in this dimension, always stands fast
Time comes from my back and
   runs away from my eyes
I thought we might joke about it, later
But I fall into flame, instead
   Secretly, deeply feral
That’s quite a procession ahead
New rearranges what I know
   So bitter the mosquitoes won’t bite him,
brutal dogs cower,
stray feral cats piss and hide
   She’s just a scrub, like me
pigeons won’t shit on his head
                3.
Reason and you, never stand fast
   Successful, glittering, hard
Funny comes from feelings so deep
you need that funny protection
   Certainty is animal, basic, primitive
neither true nor false
instinctual, learned by rote
   Certainty can’t be tested
or proven right
A generous man, quick to anger...
   Unconscious, unresponsive,
eyes full of tears
His human needs, stimulation
   high spirits, escape...
Wipe away the tears
Starry nights...
   When we open this door,
we’re certain
                4.
He supports but isn’t supported
   Direct, hard, resolute
He eats whatever is set before him
Love is so doomed and so rare from the start
   She appeals to the extreme in me
I’m lonely for people like me
I go real strong
   for what I want,
can’t stop...
Whatever occurs here, basic balance is the same
   Our senses perceive only change
Heaps of overlapping features, no essence
We scrutinize the world... it’s our picture
   The beautiful have all left the city heat
to freaks like me
There’s no time to get over this now
   Explanation must stop somewhere
It needn’t be true; it just has to hurt

-August 1, 2010-

The Actress

                1.

Whatever she feels,
   she can pretend to feel

An uninvited guest

Melancholy fears subject to
   whims, styles, fads

No losses

Every so often he heals
   and his healed parts act

a little off

They don’t think you’re funny,
   they think you’re twisted

It’s big, stiff, juicy

We’re never really here and we really
   don’t care what you think

Go steeply in

                2.

I used to buy a root beer everyday
   before school

Macho-man, they called me “root beer”

Time ravages them
   they don’t look like before

The stuff, the thin sinew of life

Interstices of bone
   I adore her light tone

Intuitive, yearning, sure


                3.


Just two ways of dealing with pain:
   fantasy and stoicism

10 years, cancer of the jaw

30 operations, and all he would take
   was aspirin

She caught a cough

Started spitting blood,
   wouldn’t eat, pale

The black hole of your heart

Dark clouds come
   No one protects me

Our lives create cadavers

Why? You can’t control
   the way your heart beats

She never feels safe

 


                4.

He could mimic anyone
   He resented overly familiar behavior

A talented exile, an innocent outsider

If you felt half the pain you gave me
   you’d be in agony

Happily then reliving some childish thing

Though you left a few hours ago
   I still feel you’re here

You and me

Sometimes you get lost down there...
   O baby, if you only knew

Helicopter dreams— bitter, airy, loud

Beautiful now, she astonished then
   A kind of happy, aristocratic family resemblance

So stark, dark, wild, and proud

-July 18, 2010-

He Chooses

                1.
My father in shadow
   half light, half dark
Edification, redemption blend
   bloody, bold, stark
“So glad to meet you…”
   really ghost,  “so glad”
She filters out nothing visual
   fantasy, folklore, nature
If it’s not crazy (137, balance only in
   a fourth dimension) it’s wrong
This relationship won’t change him
   Truth lies at his abyss
Reality’s not personal
   blood circulates (for all) within
The angrier he gets
   the more he smiles
                2.
His realm defies her vision
   It’s cultural, isn’t it—this smile?
But if it doesn’t hurt, says coach,
   you’re doing it wrong
Cluelessness, self-denial, deception
   congenial lies
This vision of hers—
   affair after affair and
she’s always the victim, the hurt
   the scared
                3.
Superior performance, some success
   better but not good
Balanced but not free
   she filters out nothing
He detests small talk and
   chooses his dining companions with care
You don’t choose your partners and
   freedom isn’t just glimpsed
Criticisms hidden in sugar
   holes in experience,
Illiteracy in the light
   she always leaves visionless

-June 27, 2010-

The core

                1.
Reopened wounds
   in an atmosphere of haste
sorrows burn
Your sparks burn,
   sear with despair
with pain
Extra sensitive–
   creaky machines, random noises, flutterings
like melodies for you to hear
Like the melodies
   Schubert heard in such abundance
before he died
A life viewed from inside
   seems a series of defeats—
hard times
To the scrape of forks on metal plates
   to the sparks in his heart at night
Inexhaustible melody

                2.
Happiness gone
   it’s a band-aid over hurt
this particular joy
No struggling man must,
   legally, dive into the pool
and save a drowning child
There are no hidden messages
   In prison they don’t expect him
to speak, think, or grasp
No drowning child must,
   legally, jump out of the pool
to save a struggling man
Simplicity obscures things
   Fascists are simple
Preconceived patterns chafe
What’s in plain view so hard to grasp
   Keep your word
remember your promises

                   3.
I feed the wolf because
   the wolf is me
No hidden messages, no
We’re not swans, you know
   wired to bond for life
We don’t love like that
Our souls entwined for a time
   now my enemy,
she was always my enemy
I look for the hidden
   the chimera
the lost
Her life hard, brutish, cruel
   Today I’m her lifeline
Tomorrow, nothing
Photographs would freeze time
   If you start making love to doorknobs,
you’re too old and it’s time to die

-June 13, 2010-

He wakes…

He wakes at night, squints
   his wrist watch upside down
Time never goes that way
   like an errant arrow in spring
Ghastly cruel souls entwine, grimace
   demons or angels—never could tell
the difference—either way
   I’m in for a fight
I know what I flee from
   not where to go
Fortune’s favors always ambiguous
   imperfect, irregular
If natural comforts fail
   I seek artificial ones
Pristine ideals grow corrupt with conduct
   Faded tattoos on wrinkled old skin
Birds on branches tweet sweet
   for spring, the sun burns strong
Just as it did when love burned
   The birds tweet still, regardless
An angry sea churns in on itself
   If you’re old your heart breaks, heals, breaks, heals
many times, every great strength taken for granted
   every little flaw annoys
Errant undifferentiated cruelty, time
   Her whole body hurts from inside
Stolen hours, no regrets
   Dead just one year? It could be one thousand 
Though I prefer to live and laugh with
   my friends and lovers
I’d prefer to die, when it’s time,
   calmly and alone

-May 25, 2010-

The Hard Husk

               1.
Cockroaches and beetles
   have it right
the hard husk works best outside
Caught now between anxiety and yearning
Mom was kind of tone deaf
Grandma was a professional musician
“No, B-flat, B-flat!”
This from downstairs—“How could she know?”
mom thought,  “she must be a witch.”
What price brilliance?
Her two tattoos include
   potent fertility emblems
The hard husk for us
   is inside

               2.
He no longer cares about her frowns
As grandpa said,
   “What do you want from the kid?”
To truly see it
   we must step outside this world
Large, sad, dumb, and dirty
   world
To truly see it
It’s impossible,
   we can’t even pretend to step outside of 
      of this world
You don’t know what I run from

               3. 
Who speaks for the silenced, the lost, the dead?
Mental refinement
   needn’t lead to good acts
Favor makes me bend
   Fear stiffens me
What if I had drowned that day
   in the ferocious murky ocean, 12 years old,
before dad died
before mom died?
Large changes shake and pull us down
   grief makes me cringe
Having you beside me
   is no substitute for love

-May 4, 2010-

Mom drank celray…

In this fiery world
   everything burns
   What did we leave back there?
As furry mammals, we sleep together
   and love to touch
   The mean anorexic ex-alcoholic
The deity has a perplexing fondness
   Lacks the only thing in life
      she really loves

for beetles
Something left back in time
   that we can’t bear to lose
   No truth,
      just moments of clarity
“When do you finally learn to play this thing?”
      “Never...”
   For a good meal I favor the agreeable
      over the wise,
   in bed, the beautiful instead of...
“Some days it feels pretty good”
   He didn’t expect much better
      from this world
My death’s always a scene with one character
      I start to choke...
   I think about their faces, their bearing, how they      
      walked, what they wore
The wretched mouth words of defiance
   Let’s not say goodbye
      There’s more heartbreak than comfort in that
There must be some drug for me
   Mom drank celray tonic
      I used to think
Maybe you’re the drug for me

      she’s the only one who does

-April 25, 2010-

Strident Visions

            1.

This is no world for the sensitive
   we breathe her black dust each day
The salty king among angry barbarians
I feel the locus of her pain

            2.
Ravenous, satiated for awhile
   never content
All this way for this
The woman with the long black hair
   and perfect body scowls
Maggots and carrion beetles
   gnaw at their brains
She scowls a lot

            3.
Bulbous white flowers on my favorite apple tree
   Early spring…
White petals gently lead
   Half moon tonight
What was supposed to be happy wasn’t

            4.
I wonder at her grievance
Little summer apples soon
I wake in the night
   The clock reads: 3:33
All this way for this—
   ridiculous

            5.
Strident visions focus, fade
The anxiety spread for generations
   Natural, unnatural wounds
Salty kings nod among the barbarians
Dissolute frenzies...
Satiated, but never content

-April 14, 2010-

I reached out…

I lived in grey shadows
   No one sane approached me
Pleasures and this was okay
   Only the saddest most ecstatic moments
Comely, distraught and determined
Here’s where the water’s hottest
   Glides clear brown over glass, grass and stone
At this time of year
   the nights are shortest
No sleep
Alive in the luminescence
   in the curves of her moons
In the river’s sweet clear foam
   in the night
$15,000 in credit card debt
   no savings
she lives paycheck to paycheck
   ski trip to ski trip
A kind of comely, well-dressed desperation
Mom used to pick all the candied pecans
   off the pecan danish ring
Had you died first
   dad would have been bereft
She shook the pecans down
I reached out last night but
   not for love and
not for you

-March 24, 2010-