Results for category "2012"

24 Articles

Passionate Love

Passionate love, he thought,
can be satisfied— the sages are clearly wrong
He walks along, she yappers on
She would come to think that every plug is so the same
except for those few with design flaws or defects...
“Don’t show me two inches” she’d genially say
He seemed a normal enough dreamy sort of kid
Sometimes he’d separate himself from the others,
clap his hands, whisper something to himself and laugh
Says the sage “Give up headless luxury, socializing,
worldly advancement, fighting, whoring, drinking, fucking
Your life won’t seem so short then...
Fill the endlessness with philosophy, vitality, and it goes on and on
The wise will distill the right for you and are never too busy to say
They’ll never let you go home empty-handed or alone”
Of course they want this war, those neocon, fucking fools
They’ve never seen the bodies decay or vomited in the sulfurous fields
or smelled the stink of human flesh as it rots
Their religions are all, without exception, abject nonsense
They live in absurdity and if rich, they know nothing about life on the dole,
on the road, in custody, or on the make
Does she still fuck the lights out or is her body now
as dried up, useless, and cold as her soul?
Humans seem to enjoy inflicting cruelty...
She won’t sleep well again until the dear one comes home
He’ll get here one way or another, she knows, he’ll just float his way seaward,
like soft shards of seasoned, smooth, discolored, old driftwood


-December 23, 2012-

Two Poems from Before

                Connie and Karl

We drove out to Pompton lakes
   after Christmas to visit our old friends, Connie and Karl
   She’d keep the Christmas tree up a little longer
with a dazzle of lights, just for us kids

She was the intellectual— bookcases lined with her books
   Loved Mozart, Keats, Yeats, T.S. Eliot
   (had an old recording of the Cocktail Party
I didn’t get it, but loved to hear it play)

Karl was the workingman
   “Don’t complain about your brother Matt
   Of course, his hands are dirty
He’s been outside with me, working”

He led us into the warm house, with its dinner smells, from the car
   my parents and the four of us kids
   Connie had made these long, tall mystery drinks for the adults–-
greenish blue, fun to see, mojitos?— just a now-time, adult guess

She handed one to each of my parents
   and to Karl too and Karl said
   “I don’t want this, it has ice in it
You don’t serve icy drinks on a cold day like this”

“It’s got alcohol in it, damn you Karl,”
   (just a little exasperated, but she smiles)
   “It’ll warm you up, it’s perfect for a day like this
Just drink it Karl, you damn fool, just drink it”


                Some Things She Touched

Some things she touched are in that box—
   like a place in her heart that didn’t yet exist,
   like a singularity that attains, suffers and is
You were her next best chance

“Constipation” said the doctor with some frustration
   I told your mom that is a very bad symptom for her
   I told her to call me immediately...
Yes, I did, I told her

Holiday time—long lines, butt-ass hygiene
   Pure rain smears across the daisy earth
   We see what we thought to see
punctuated by a bit of holiday rudeness

She left those schools without distinction
   and sometimes at their request
   Her sense of smell that day was sharp—
cigarette butts, wet daisies, old marijuana in a can

Sometimes, we’ll make things up without knowing what
   Like explorers who plod in a vast, white icescape
   Like sailor days on calm, placid, mild Caribbean seas
Like pilots who fly in empty, windless, everlasting skies

She had three stepfathers but only two who really scared her
   She couldn’t lose anything more she felt
   She used to stand up to them only when
she had nothing more to lose


-December 9, 2012-

It was

It was not moonless or cloudy that night—
   but like being in an enclosed room
   where the light was doused
It was his feisty, external and final dark bloom

He was always fat and now was thin
   The disease ate at him from inside
   Now we knew exactly what
the bottom smelled like

To exchange one orthodoxy for another
   is not to advance
   Don’t let them see you down, he said
Shower, brush your teeth, dress decently

As we get older we experience the ends of stories
   not just their fiery middles or lively starts
   She was so distorted, so cruel, so mad in those eyes
she’d refuse to look at herself in mirrors

We are flawed and must come to terms
   One is always evasive,
   the other in a state of acute, paralytic languor
He lastly refused to re-enter the chaos of that particular burn

His appetites were aggressive
   A vindictive, obsessive, lively lover
   As energetic about sex as he was about all else
With him it was always something astonishing and big

He’d make us all spaghetti with red sauce
   and go around the table with smiles and pats of butter
   which he’d melt into the sauce and witticisms and fine thoughts
and a block of parmesan cheese which he’d grate for us fresh

Would it have been better not to die in a storm?
   Beethoven died in a storm
   So separate and alone, so defiant like all
who have fallen or who will fall

You get me off track when you talk of her, he said
   You’ll get the wrong impression and find in me a weepy guy
   I’m not, please understand, inclined to weep anymore
This life that I live, it’s just what I wanted


-November 25, 2012-

Elegy for Howard

The sting of oppression, insanity, prison... the sting
Somewhere a craggy old rabbi intones to one youngster
in his congregation: “May God bless you and keep you, Pinchus”
Sure he will, right he will, right—
while the prisoner, Howard, wears an orange jump suit
that shows, for the past few weeks, he’s been especially bad

If he’d been good they’d have dressed him in tan
That’s the last I saw him, brilliant and orange—
No question, he planned to survive this and come back
no quit there, no quit, to us
Well maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t work that way...
Things and people break

The chief oppressor wears in myth
a dull grey business suit, bland black tie, top hat and dark glasses
His slaves are handy with their poisons and powders
Their dark rituals handed down the one next to the other down
The whiteness of his hair, the violence of their magic
Don’t let his zombie bastards get you, not now, not now
At first there was an uneasy consensus
When no one is looking he’s free
But in this place they’re always looking...
He still sees her everywhere
She messes about in his head, in everything
If only he would smile more, she says, please smile

I see it all but I hardly live it now
No distractions for me, no invitations, no calls, no messages received
A gutter civilization built on the opium trade and slavery
He wants to freeze time with games, figurines, mementos,
action figures, posters signed by the actors, preserved in picture frames
and carefully displayed aside old signed footballs...

Attorneys, agents, money-jobbers,
speculators, adventurers, the ignoble oligarchy,
the destroyers of joy, the plutocrats...
They’ll one day, if they can, bring an end
to those deceitful dreams and bogus visions of equality,
freedom, and the so-called rights of men
I’m disgusted by their useless prayers, their dumb raptures,
with their bogus miracles, their hapless scapegoats,
and their idiotic rituals of hysterical thanksgiving
Now the storm is over, now the plague has passed,
these semi-stupefied zombie heathens
too old, too fat, too belligerent by half

Out of reach...
No cause was specified
No further details were provided
They’ll do an autopsy and no doubt lie about that too
He can almost hear the one great melody
He is always listening for that

He’s a hourly slave-worker in China,
a Guatemalan seamstress, a dull zombie citizen
of North Korea and a brittle, angry, defiant albatross...
We didn’t fear our non-existence before birth but we’re surely afraid of death
Who now speaks for the sad, the mute, the beaten?
Where is our outlaw?
I’m glad mom died long before that awful day
I remember when they fought, they screamed at one another
How she violently threw him out – “get out, get out, get out...”
The door slams and did she shriek then
She shrieked for the brilliant son who’s gone and,
I think, she shrieks for him now

In a coma for weeks but shackled to the bed anyway
with an idiot southern, heathen guard outside the door
(He has zombie slave powers, he’s omnipotent, he’ll escape!!!)
He awakes and knows, seems to know her, his wife is here
His eyes are closed, a tube blocks his throat, this hurts...
She’s here and she will sing to him

Sometimes, we willfully listen for something that isn’t
“May God bless you and keep you, Pinchus”
But it doesn’t always work that way...
She starts to sing her song, she sings to him
He opens his eyes a little, he hears her we think, and he begins to cry
Then, in an hour or so, Howard’s gone—he dies

– November 11, 2012 –


The Inexpressible

I hated that goddamned son of a bitch
I thought him the quintessential, ill-tempered old charlatan
until I walked by his grave in the snow white silence
over his battered soul in Cambridge
He was the last survivor of an overwrought family quest
He lived lonely—surrounded, imbued, arrayed among us strangers
His only goal always to express the inexpressible

That brazen southern jackass, he’d show them fucking Japs...
Caught the damn blowhard
assiduously, rhythmically— look how he scrubs and scrapes raw
the bottoms of his soft white feet with sand paper rust—
He thought we’d just send his cowardly ass home
Forget it Jethro (or Billy-Bob or whatever you is)
you’re coming to the party with us

Nothing heavy, nothing steady
It was cyclical and all the cycles are tragic
Once again I hear your watch tick in my ear
We scoffed at the desperate once again
Today there’s anguish in my heart, so fill it with yearning, fill it
Some women can soothe me, smooth it all over
but you, my dear, you just seem to make it worse

She said: “He didn’t ruin my life, dear,
the fat bastard ruined my career
They’re not the same”
In the end for him it was just entertainment, really,
like some fine complex wine that leads him sip to sip
Passive diffusion worked its will with him
“Let’s try to keep these distinctions clear”

We keep telling the same jokes, like our ancestors did,
like our descendents will, around the great fires, all the same jokes...
That war came, went, it left us shattered
He looked forward to getting an MP3 player soon
Prison guards said he could have one in November
All the music he’d choose, all the music he’d hear...
Just his silence now death, just his silence

He decides to punish himself...
By the time she gets to me she’s had a few drinks
We carry our chains with us, right?
It’s not that folks here are inclined to lie (they are)
It’s that nobody tries to be all that different
She said: “I never help”, and, quite mystically, she doesn’t
“You know we got there a little late—so what?”

Our dreams can’t distract us
from this deafening, threatening noise—
They haven’t that power, they’re not made that way
The wide horizons here, no hills, no buildings, I seek, so vast
There’s the woman I dreamed of— you’re always welcome here, she says
Here’s what she means—the fire at the last to fuse the vast,
the unnamable, the inflexible, the crass, the sad, the inexpressible


– October 28, 2012 –

Always on


When I turned around to find mom,
she wasn’t there
I never saw her again or my little sisters

Dunces and frauds all dominate here
We want, we keen, we need
The unconscious in life never lies, it always digs beneath

Strain and strain again just to stay in place
In the camp we move listlessly, robotically, quietly obey
all just to live, we hope, for a few more days



If you get to do what some folks envy they may hate you
They may take your life back to that very
rough part of that rougher place

We thought we touched hard but we barely grazed
A misconception of perception across raw chasms
like luscious, cool rips in the air

Visions of heterosexual happiness dominate
like a victory that costs too much...
We run really hard, just to stay in place



Wouldn’t it be great to see Matt again, have a beer with him,
laugh and cry about everything that’s happened since he died,
all that was good, that was funny, that was sad

You go along, you walk along, you go
Layered levels of mystery, fidelity, addiction
shift into subtle, lively riffs

They cry and together try to get over it
They make these elaborate, happy plans—inside,
every camera’s always on, you know, every microphone is live

-October 14, 2012-

One hand

Mother to daughter—“How would you feel if I screamed in your ear?”
She’s seen a great deal, she jokes, of the backside of this world
It lowers my spirit to read about that mean, blind, idiot, her father,
how her transcendent, meticulous plans went bad...
Mother to daughter in illness—“Don’t forget me”
He craves savory fat food and he smokes
She craves the intensity of sunbaths and she drinks
They crave what they crave, god bless them...
Every time they fight they lose some small innocent piece
That weight, that speed, that fight
Her hand touches his hand—essence and empathy
Trauma beneath the masks, contagion in everything
He never expected to play so many roles,
his low threshold for frustration, his uncensored fervor
and always that long, strong, unconstrained reach
They never knew how much pain was in the sub-cellars of desire
Who among us, at least, doesn’t so happily love this universe?
She hangs out with the other bun-heads, smokes cigarettes
refuses to eat, drinks hot tea in plastic cups—
dances despite injury, solidity into fluidity, for fun
This world is a dangerous place full of strangers
She joyfully, today, wears the old pearl necklace he gave her
It’s an emblem for him of someplace done, gone, secret, past...
For this day they’ll be free together, warm and in love—
one hand into hand into grace

-September 30, 2012-

Shadows in the cave

“They’re not ready but they’re gettin’ ready”
He sings it real from his illusions
He leaves that brutish country for recuperation, rest and respect
He doesn’t have friends, he doesn’t trust people so easy
He gets rich and brings the ghetto uptown
He gets so sick he can’t be treated—we want to help but can’t
That fine-toned music he gives us—
smooth, hard, light, tight, joyous and insistent


Slightly overweight, the oriental lady— the wet subway stairs
her daughter’s rubber yellow raincoat, grasps her small young hand
They run fast down the slippery stairs, their rubber-wet galoshes shine
They can hear the rumble of trains—they’re so clearly late again
She slips down the subway stairs, lets go of the young girl’s hand
Hits her head hard as she smashes it into an orange metal post
Lies on the dirty grey floor while the trains rumble in—
Rubs her bruised head and starts to cry


A funeral:
They stand, they kneel, they stand
The church stinks its holy stink
They sing, they kneel, they stand...
Caught a glimpse of the old famous violinist
(so brilliant, so very brilliant)
He paces in his house
“I don’t want to die,” he mumbles “I don’t want to die”


I thought I heard them ageless sages say
This is the universe:
Divine will
Quantum vacuum flux
Mathematical essence
Timeless goodness
Pure value
The door of no return—the pain that turns you bad or good


We go from oasis to oasis
Something bothers her but I just can’t parse it—
It might be me...
Known all around for a certain moodiness
and taciturnity, he befriends a jolly Irish lesbian
whose long-term companion is absurdly morose
I frame no hypothesis but can’t help but notice
how time works us over


He doesn’t lie:
His memory tricks him
He’s got this great bawdy imagination and a keen theatrical sense...
Some out there look to destroy, to ruin everything 
She has no real instinct for right or wrong
Ambitious, she just doesn’t see the difference
They’ll destroy you, themselves, whoever’s around
They don’t care who


He wears dark green glasses due
to his morbid sensitivity to light
It’s one big brutal tautology says the sage
On that wall the vile shadows play as cool and ruthless as a logician
There’s nothing else here on the wall of the cave
I provide this information
He provides the weapons
What them gamblers do has nothing to do with me


Who protects them from:
The pimp who beats them
The landlord who shuts off their heat
The thief who steals their checks
The drug dealer who deals to them
and their own selfish, neglectful, mean-ass families?
It isn’t the medicine of friendship, I say
no one here is safe



-September 16, 2012-

The clown and her colors

She hated her looks and always the clown
made a career of the grotesque
She exaggerated every plural detail and,
relentless, submitted herself to the surgeons—
14 surgeries in 12 years

Afraid of the ordinary,
all clowns like me wear white gloves, she says
This audience of thugs – they want a car, clothes, a guy or gal
That isn’t much to want and, oh yes, before I forget—
they also want to be feared

Our partial and distorted views abound
If you’ve never wished your lover dead
perhaps you’ve never loved
She reaches out to thugs and smiles her grotesque —
They laugh, they cry, they laugh

She seeks fluidity and fixity at once
Before the first time there was no time
They resent her for some hideous spurious crimes...
A sip of good whiskey makes you only want the next
They smile then and leave the party early

No explanations, just a spice seller’s bargain
It’s not brave to do the only thing to do
The blazon red heat of her heart is subsumed
in the color she spent a lifetime trying to sense—
that light sharp surface indigo blue


-September 3, 2012-

No Blame

She, like me, lives in a world
of past, present and future
He doesn’t always stay there
The past disappeared like that, it fell
No one’s going to cry for me
not now, not here
It’s nobody’s fault
The peaches grow well in desert heat, suck up all the water—
Conditions change, people change


They pick peaches in the heat for so little pay
She always finds herself, wherever,
disproportionately, even absurdly, fascinating
Hey today, everyone, it’s family fun day
Brought to you by ING insurance...
That’s nobody’s fault
Some thought him the broken, sad, drunken ghost
The underbred, self-taught, tedious workingman
whose personal torments, like theirs, weren’t quite respectable


Let’s tell a good story
Let’s investigate a secret
His tendency’s to prefer isolation, right?
Conditions don’t change but people can
People don’t change but conditions change
This simple meal made with the best ingredients
Had circumstances fallen differently—
But they don’t give him a chance because
he’s her mirage in this hot desert air


The heroin didn’t kill him, no it didn’t
It was all that chocolate cake—
half his heart enlarged, the rest blocked off
His angels of the waters, ocean flowers, dreamy rivers
Yes, you pick yourself up when you fall and then dance
He always kept the dance
They come up a little short each month
I didn’t get the job, she said
She couldn’t live nondestructive either


Little one asks for ice-tea in her sippy cup, makes me smile
We’d been sort of happy, yes?
My doubles are all comedians
Mobility, change, uncertain—
You have nothing to be ashamed of, my brothers
We’re all fine comedians
No one’s here
They’re all in the future or the past—
they disappear

-August 21, 2012-