Results for category "2007"

13 Articles

On Awakening

Stars fade into dawn
   hazy sunlight’s fuzzy descent
   but the pock-marked moon is still full,
   gigantic, perfectly round, luminous
I lean against the railing
   and dully watch the sullen lilt
   the mighty East River makes
   wave upon rippling wave
savage love,
vehement love,
violent, valiant love
wave upon glistening wave
Through my deep slumber
   somebody calls my name
   she waits for me among the violence and violins
   reaches for me in the slur

The wail of sirens and I awaken,
   help for someone, help is on the way
The things she thought she loved about me
   now only irritate
The things she professed to most admire
   now fill her mind with hate

-December 31, 2007-

Holiday Song

This is a language I no longer speak—
   this easy exchange of phrases
   from these bland, accessible, eager and amiable faces
   drinks in their hands and
   each one of them wishing me well
So I left myself for a time
   to see if I couldn’t find
   the wellspring
I don’t wish to know them
At first she was my lover—
   then she became my muse...
I’ll find other lovers
I don’t know what I wish
I always find sadness
   whenever I see her
This is what I wish
I did nothing wrong
   but it all came out wrong
I did everything wrong
I used to love her
This music, my love, was written
   over two hundred years ago
It was written in a different place
But it feels like it was written here
   and it could have been written today

-November 18, 2007-

The Optimist

(After Richard Powers’ “The Time of Our Singing”)

Matt gambled, everyday—for him
   the throw of the dice
   made wondrous shapes in the air
   and the clop, clop, clopping of horses
   lightened his anguish
Here’s a love song:
I don’t care that you’re old
      and I don’t care that you’re crazy…”
Wavelengths vary, wherever you gaze,
   they do,  but only if you really see—
   those wondrous shapes are real
Sing again:
I’m older and crazier than you...”
Don’t you get it?
   Love’s just a word some of us use
      when we want something
   we throw it right out there, like dice
   “I’m older and crazier than you…”
What ill force makes us discard
   the very thing we most fear to lose?
Who taught us that?
I don’t care that you’re old
      and I don’t care that you’re crazy…”

Here’s what the optimist says:
“Whatever you love more than your life
   must finally belong to you
What you come to know better than your
   own way home, is yours”

-October 15, 2007-

Every Mistake

In this soft twilight place
   with its round white moon smile
   you may scar your heart forever
I pay and I pay
   for every mistake
papers, deft writings, so important
   even days ago
   like old train tickets
   distant schedules,
   past reservations
      honored in their time
      or disgraced
   so important, these papers, once
   like time’s orange streaking arrows
      brilliant, relentless
   like blistering darting thoughts
   or faded newsprint
   tales of old fights
   on fragile yellowed papers
      past explosions
like a love lost before it could begin
   or a damaged friend
I pay and I pay
   for every mistake
What was once important
   isn’t important now
what once excited
   has vanished
I pay and I pay
   for every mistake
I see various shades of orange in my head
   moving to the sounds of violins
Whenever I hear violins
   I see various shades of orange
Always have for some reason
Always have
Music always turns back on itself
It belongs, and does not belong,
   to one place

-September 25, 2007-

The Shop

In the musty brown liquor shop
rare dusty bottles on their sides
   faded labels
and a wizened white bearded mariner
   the proprietor of the shop
who knew me, at least by face,
   showing me bottles of particular value, good deals,
      interesting bottles
   as though I had, at least for special occasions
      sometimes bought expensive liquor there
who knew me well
   as one who, though not rich,
      though not an important collector
         could appreciate a rare bottle or bargain
My new son was there in his carriage
   my three old brothers were also there
waiting for me in the shop, sometimes passing me
      in silence, looking at dust covered bottles
   faded curiosities
our young parents were not there, but
   my wife was there waiting patiently by the carriage as I
carefully surveyed the wares
   three black dolphins
      their backs arching at once
from some harsh nether world of a sea
   into soft light like a small ship
      at the horizon, where the sun turns orange
to these old eyes, a small black ship
   with three black sails, in the
      placid undulation


A small black ship sails near the horizon
   shining orange to these old eyes
      with three black sails
it’s called “the three dolphins”
      it lives in this dream
   like a family of drifters passing

-September 21, 2007-

Our own gods

(after Marguerite Yourcenar’s “Memoirs of     Hadrian”)

Each of us is dedicated
   to our own gods
and in the course of this brief life will choose
   between an endless striving
   and a wise resignation
between the delights of disorder and order
I have never belonged wholly to one place
When Dad died I was 12 and
   plunged into grief, seeing only for years
   this chaotic house,
   a mother’s tears
   and my terror
But what happened to you, girl, that you
   grew up weak, selfish and mean?
Whole nations have perished for want
   of generosity...
What the hell happened to you?
The iron gray sky
   is indifferent to our wants and joys alike
Dedicated to her own gods
   she grew frail without ceasing to be hard
Life’s atrocious sometimes, as we all know
   and the mediocre will always outnumber the wise
   and at least one fool
   will reign over us per century
Still, I didn’t love her less
   I loved her more
but the weight of that love
   like a gentle tender arm around her shoulders
became too heavy to bear

If endless servitude ever ends
   and unnecessary misfortune ever ends
   there will still be these horrors:
      death, old age, incurable sickness
      love unrequited and friendships betrayed
      the mediocrity of a life less vast
      than our projects, far
      duller than our dreams
Why are we afraid of ghosts
   when we are so ready to speak with the dead
   when we welcome them back in our hearts?
My true lovers have left me more than I them
   for I have never understood how
   one can ever have enough of true love

-July 27, 2007-

Winter’s Prayer

In the very middle of winter
   they wildly shred my skin to pieces and
      utterly crush my bones
         She betrays me again and
   no one then knows which part of me
      is fish or flesh
Goddess of light, goddess of light
After years of loneliness, I took a wife
   and loved her for a good long while
but she filled my house with spite and stuff
   until there was no room left
Goddess of light, goddess of light
In Spring they say, the wild pink trout
   becomes puffed up, exuberant and joyful
      he can’t keep still and he
erotically leaps above the water to feel
      the ecstasy of air on his gills
Goddess of light, goddess of light
Then I found the love of my life
   and though I came to her in disguise
   she easily recognized me by my wounds
   and tried to starve me to death
It wasn’t until after the third blow
   that I died
Goddess of light, goddess of light
I can no longer blame you for anything, my dear
   for in our dream I saw
the meanness of your heart
      and the black rats gnawing at
         your soul

-July 3, 2007-

Winter’s Prayer 2

This time of year
   New York City streets are cold
   and unforgiving
Runners here often
   run hurt
There’s nothing to look forward to right now
   nothing to explain
Old hag winter is here to stay
   with her atrophying muscles
   and her rigid wrinkled face
When things go well for you, child,
   and your health is good
   those cold blue eyes of yours shine
These acid angels terrify--
   if they could they’d burn the scars
   right off my heart
      and curse this raging child
We will meet again in gladness
   which will, even to me,
      seem sacred
In this space unworldly bell-like whispers
   we can barely hear, barely perceive, but listen
      the joyful bells are light and
      the mournful bells are sweet

-December 14, 2007-

If I could…

If I could hold death in my hands
   like a talisman or a toy
   and my vicious anger too
   and our tenderness
If I could hold death in my hands like a toy
   then, maybe, even your loss my dear
      wouldn’t faze me
If you cry out and no one answers,
   or, if you cry out
   and the wrong person answers
The bride has golden hair
   red painted nails
   and luminous brown eyes
In that afternoon
   when you came to make love
   and you were on top
   and you started to cry
did you know that we were finally done?
Did you really want to hurt me?
What did you want?
This is despair:
   to finally throw the rigid crutches down
      only to find that you still can’t walk
   to get up from the wheelchair at last
      without moving
There is a vibrant wreck in my hands
   ever shifting, vibrant,
everything slips through my hands
   everything right
My angel, my terror, my night...

-May 9, 2007-

In a foreign land

(after Joseph von Eichendorff)

These days it is usual
   for the sad and restless
   to climb above the tips of clouds and go
   to distant foreign lands
Here a glorious pink trout
   easily glides in a wild blue pool
   and above, in the air, our wild goddess swells
   in golden light
How soon will the quiet time come?
   In the distance it barely speaks, it seems,
      of great future happiness
What do you tell us cold wind?
   What do you tell us bleak night?
The moonbeams dart over me as I swim
   It seems as if you still wait for me
      in a garden of roses
   even though you are long dead
I will sing us a song of happiness
   but inside the tears scorch my heart
Everyone who hears it will smile
   and no one will know its deep sorrow
If you have a friend on earth
   don’t trust her
much may go wrong in the night
   be aware, be alert, stay wide awake
Migrating birds are passing above the clouds
   below the thorns of earth begin to bloom
I can at last rejoice
   and in this distant foreign land
   my alien heart won’t break
You are mine, you are mine, at last

-March 10, 2007-