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Plague days

Plague days—
Please come to me, dear
The black swan—
None of us are alone

You’re like me
in what you yearn for
Powerful women often
attract slander

Toothbrush in his pocket
He’s far from home
Another neglected masterpiece
All of us ends in ourselves

There’s some stops you don’t
get over—some losses you don’t
get past—you incorporate them within
you, they become part of your cells

We’re all different—
I may have dreamed of you
last night—good luck, adaptability
We’re all the same  

What’s enough to soothe
an anxious mind? Something
brutal snaps in his head—cautious
preparation before battle

Sharp intelligence
Great athleticism
Extremely attractive
Like a rock star with brains

A proficient organizer
An aggressive fighter
The storm inside him outstrips
the rage of a deadly hurricane 

Quick thinking and boldness
during battle, he inspires intense
loyalty in us so, from Egypt to
Italy, our armies take everything

We’re a people who wonder
in error and ignorance, a parade,
shall we say, of fools, prey to
the fiend who lies like truth

Respect for persons is more
important than adverse consequences
“I hated to see him go down like that
I…I really can’t talk about it”

Because the music talks to them
when it’s really right, you felt
the love and care as he plays
Energy and liveliness are holy

“Nothing wrong with getting paid
for what you’d do anyway
and getting paid well”
Even this plague isn’t infinite

As philosopher Mike once said,
“Everyone has a plan until
they get punched in the mouth”
Adapt, invent, transform

Art comes from pain
Pain inflames art into gold
Some suffering never goes
You don’t get over it

She could have stopped
and said I’ve done enough
And we would gratefully have
said, “My lady, you surely have”

but she kept on going through
the fields of emptiness
Some pain pervades your cells
and then becomes a part of you

Redness, pain, warmth and swelling
War is violence and violence begets
violence—the executioner is no hero,
he’s just another stupid man

Passion, genius, luck
Pity is tender, vulnerable
and powerful, strangely so
“Society needs its noble lies”

When his dad got sick we sad strangers
sent his family lots of good wishes
and his son lots of toys “I don’t want
toys, I want my dad”  he said  

-March 21, 2020-

Emanations

Hilarious mendacities are a god’s
false sinews of immortality

Condensed concentrations—love
is here for you if you grasp it

Gramps spoke with his fists because
the mean Passaic streets so “learned him”

In a party run by sociopaths and opportunists—
you’ll be a pawn, a sad sack member of our team

Only the leader is ever complete and you, the
loyalist pure of heart, are alone without deceit

When he delights brash horses and young
children, your charismatic leader is a god

Sometimes our people won’t respond
without money— the sinew of his power,

the meat of the nut—ulcerated
skin hidden beneath thin tissue

It’s significant but is it true?
We cling to the fitful fantastic

In the blistering process of renewals and
regeneration all our empires must fall

Caesar knows the mob is gullible—
giant brutes or malevolent children

are made great in the excess of his power
Even the trees, he thought, applaud me

We are ruled by a mob and remain
manipulated by political hacks

Caesar didn’t seem obsessed when after
he successfully hid his obsessions

Power is realized only in action—
If it erupts it’s there

All power redounds in a lonely 
sacred fickle shroud of immortality

A gull that man, a sucker—
his stern, irrational prejudices grate

Espionage and sabotage are
the weapons of his weakness

The emanation of starlight and
heat is the essential fuse of all power

Human nature invokes inequality
and as I get older I heartily plead

for that which makes it, dissipates
it, emanates it like the solarizing

of the human, the humanization of
the sun where all of our lives emanate

-March 7, 2020-

Primitive gifts

Primitive gifts make power
flow from the invisible to
the visible—Wars are won not
by the best stuff but by those
with the most stuff—The essentials
about us are not our mastery and
all of our traumas are private

She gave you cheap trinkets
and thought “that ought to suffice”
I’ve faced death three times—
once in the ocean, once in the
street and once under the surgeon’s
knife—“In these fraught days
wolves roam free in our streets”

Payback, punishment, restoration
of balance—proclamations of distress
become the essence of suffering
Empathetic, loving, caring
but without naiveté, he was
no mark for the unscrupulous,
the devious, the hateful

In a court of law perception
is everything and who wouldn’t
want some dark-eyed careless girl
to decipher for us all a world that
is, in so many ways, beyond us? Does
a spiteful wolf ever tell the truth about 
anything? Sense is what words

signify, optimism is his buoyancy
and his pessimism scours the depths
Why summon the dead when it’s us
and not them in turmoil? Rigorous,
vigor when you lack the sense to qualify
it all, every description theory laden,
in fear of earth’s desolate oblivions

What we fear most is extinction,
of course—He wouldn’t play chess
because if he was going to work so
hard he thought it best to accomplish
something beyond our ruthless
opportunism and bloodlust
“I was hoping there’d be more

good times with him but a
terrible, awful thing happened”
He had to find his own way
that ugly man who answered
the door and refused to speak
French to me (so much was his
hatred of Napoleon) because

what he needed to know
couldn’t be taught—that is,
exceptional strength, powers
of endurance, suffering and
animal toughness—He never
really saw that one tyrant at all
but glanced at him only once

in a momentary blurred vision
The cunning pleasure we take
in our own minds’ tenacity, the
layers of cant under which we
conceal our viciousness, can barely
protect the childish in me, the
abiding sweetness that loves you  

-February 22, 2020-

Creation

Creation is contrasted coordination—
This world’s not just one arena
of intention and, if you see only
what you want to see, your freedoms
will reduce to muted mediocrity
Let’s make some decisive improvisations—
Chance favors rigor, preparation

and the only roads that never find
Rome are our mediocre middling ways
She smelled better than I expected,
nothing like what I thought and better
Flesh is individuality, our
bones are our universality
“When he returned to the visible

they didn’t recognize him though,
for so long, he’d walked among them”
It was always about the expression,
contrast and containment of feeling
Creation isn’t unity, it uses it—
Creation’s  improvisatory contrast
Is there any meaning that death

fails to destroy?—“not for an age
but for all time”—The world is
more than one mask of intention
In the Eisenhower ‘50s my parents
decided, “to hell with politics, politics
that disappointing lying bore
The American people are callous

idiots, stupid, brutal, childish, angry
Let’s pursue, instead, protected private
lives, like nightly constellations
obscured in bright city lights”
“But to do so would be wrong
So the King can’t do it because
the King can do no wrong”

I’m determined to wring each
precious drop from the time
left to me—“Rabbi hurry back,” he   
said, “There’s so much I need to learn
from you and my sun will soon set”
Trust a person until you learn you can’t
and then, never forget that you can’t

“We don’t need everyone to agree
We just need for them to behave”
“We defeated them utterly like
stubble cut from under our blades”
A comet is just a large dirty snowball
whose magnificent flight is obscured
in city lights, caught in the rancor

of death’s tremors, so sing
“Once she was hot
Once he was strong
Now she’s not
Now they’re all wrong
with each essential
drop we see”

It’s a savage game played by
and for savages—“Any music
that’s not a single-minded sharply
contrasted interpretation fails”
It hurts when I can’t believe you
Seeds germinate from the invisible
to the viable, just as we do

-February 8, 2020-

At a funeral

At a funeral feast given to 
heal our community, a spider
crawls up the wood slat wall without
conscious intent, spontaneously because
that’s what wild brown spiders do
I didn’t start out to love you
like a spider who can only set her

snowy, intricate, finely spun webs     
Death is the horizon—irreversible,
permanent, inevitable like a small
brained, pale-faced, prim looking
man with his faultless black suit
and snowy white tie, like a morbid
invocation at a funeral, imbued

with tragic straight-laced cries
Some humans ascended 238,900
miles to the moon for what?
Rocky without life, barren,
whitish, mawkish and some will do
it again with bracing courage and
high-minded originality

in the rib of the real where there’s
no bottom, no shame, no limits, just
the relentlessness of hard fought quests
Intellectual ferment has consequences
An artist exploits well-defined
expectations which he proceeds
to meaningfully contradict

as autonomous, unassailable and
seductive as a spider’s alluring 
weave and web or a surgeon who
should think a lot more and cut a
lot less because the loss of liberty to
a generous mind is worse than death
One woman I knew was a pusillanimous

liar—made up witches, fairies and ghosts
mean we’re never really alone—and I thought
if a quarter of her catastrophes are real
than maybe I can believe in her enough
to go up to her and ask 
“Why so hideous?”
when a minute spent in her 

company is a minute lost forever
Like some hero who baffles all
the attempts of tyranny, she cultivates,
quite effectively, a mask of royalty,
an escape from her own subjectivity
because one could so easily die in
an airplane “designed by clowns

who are, in turn, supervised by monkeys”
in a barely imaginable expanse of time
and space where we fight hard for our place
and where wonder and awe lead one thinker
after another down wrong paths of illogic
and sophistry where they’ll learn
to fake it all in illustrious old time

looking brown paint and phony cracks
“Maybe the opposite is also true”
The involuntary bodily functions that
allow us to live are hidden except, in
part, from a limited number of intricate,
burdensome, complex, medical electrical
tests as I hunger alone for her love

-January 25, 2020-

Dry, sour

Dry, sour opinionated men—
their warmed over overweening brains,
these tyrannical beings—their tepid
visual clichés—trap, scold and clip one
another as if this was their special inhumane
play to engage in reciprocal disasters
She led a monogamist, stagnant life

The idea of reciprocity left her
impervious—you gave, she got,
that was it—magical days so swiftly
fade, regular days the usual ways—
a plethora of usual days
The insidiousness of their waltz
was a special pathetic briskness

In a foreign place what to us seems
beautiful leaves the natives indifferent
What they find beautiful we find
strange—our future, reverential
perspective—we would if we could
generate extensive forms of new life
like a child of glass embracing

some new theory, its impressive results
achieved with a minimum of stuff
Such was the theory of light and space
and time and of kings who are feared
and not loved, and I knew when I
fell asleep she’d disappear into
my savage, impenetrable rage   

We accept the fictional idiosyncrasy of
unpredictable inevitability, instinctually
at first, intellectually later, because the
other is just like us and cares for us
deeply or, rather, the other is nothing
like us and couldn’t care less
“You’re sad,” she said “so I thought

I’d try to make you less sad
but I couldn’t”—she wasn’t
the right person for that
We tend to idealize our parents
Take my view of Dad—to me he was
stable, brilliant, funny, a PhD in philosophy,
very diligent, good at his advertising work

looked up to by colleagues and reliable
but for others he had an angry temperament
at home especially with his first son Howard
whom he couldn’t stand, always losing his
temper with Howard, violent with Howard
who was afraid of him—at Dad’s funeral
(he died of cancer at age 40) the line of

cars to the graveyard seemed endless—
all those colleagues, all those adult
mourners, his wife, relatives and children,
including Howard, who later said how he
loathed his father and who would then
bear the guilt of surviving a man he first
looked up to and truly learned to hate

“The other is not derivative or
contingent or subject to or relative
to or limited in any way”—but
I’d be ashamed to take any comfort from
this rich and imaginative traditional account
of our god and being as might only be found in
the most probing and profound works of fiction 

-January 11, 2020-

Being gradually

Being gradually diminishes, dissipates
Our luck is indeterminate, unintelligible
“If you don’t get the spicy,” he said,
“don’t bother to paint”
Conflict ridden, stale marriages
leave the survivor haunted with grief—
each sullied life led alone

The elderly, wrinkled, wretched witch
of the west is still in the gym spryly lifting
weights—give her a magic broomstick, send her
away and she’ll fly and glide into a dark night
sky as if to show you how your life might
withstand injustice, feebleness, tyranny because
you’ll never get close to her sad broken soul

He amuses us—and when talking of
himself he imagines himself a member
of his audience, thus joining in the applause
for himself—he thought if you weren’t a
businessman you were certainly good
for nothing and he immeasurably enjoys
the sound of his own voice

There are some who will lie
straight to your face and take great
offense if you call them out—They’ll
provide no proofs because they’re liars
who can only obfuscate and offend
In the 18th century “Europeans
scarcely visited any coast but

to gratify avarice and extend corruption;
to arrogate dominion without right
and practice cruelty without incentive”
That eminent old man had “little to care
from censure or praise since most of his
acquaintances were feeble at best
and at worse in their graves”

“He knew he should visit his mother
and though he tried to go he couldn’t
Though he wanted to go he didn’t”
The holidays chill and isolate those
with fractured families but I just need
a little love to steady me—civilization’s
veneer before it gets torn away

“She’s a truly good person but
she’s so fucking lost”—we became
familiar with the art of the fractals and
collage—I went after the drowning soul
but couldn’t help her, she’d have taken
us both under—“It’s a most unreasonable
fancy that we’re bound to live forever”

“Her bulldogs put their heads on her
knees or pawed at her legs to comfort
her with little whimpers of concern”
We’re fragments of light trapped in a
dark realm, hindsight imposed on history—
I had such hopes then—“Don’t believe
the tale if you can’t believe the teller”

-December 28, 2019-

Betrayal

He preferred to live in a world
of transparency and numbers,
broke the German codes with their
infantile fantasies of military glory
Her betrayal is a subtle mutation
of muted light in the mist, the
stale grey fog of Brittany

Her black willful eyes soften
into beautiful, soft-eyed solitude
Outside it smells of rain and burnt
leaves in a dangerous, hostile crag
where we perceive the similar in
what’s different, the different in the
similar, and leave behind the

limitations of hope and reason
Restraint liberates invention
Engagement in a task and
we forget its meaninglessness
The movement of thought can
be more interesting than any thought—
She betrays me in a hurtful grey fog

Just a bit of ocher and a touch
of green—we don’t express nature,
we are nature—all our pleasures
spiced with the taste of ash, a clear
sense of grey, each in the glory of
solitude—we seize our powers by the gift
of sharp forms and the terrors of survival

Each day they felt their love
had one less day to go
When I love I don’t think
about meaninglessness,
but my heart is made of leather
and I never reach solely outward 
Perfection through collision

and conflict—explosions in the fog,
the deadlines, we need to prepare and
the days of the great revelations are here  
as we engage in a series of long
complicated events slow, determined
and, if we’re not prepared and if
we’re betrayed, then what

will happen to us next?
After the First World War
so many soldiers returned
shattered, had no jobs and
found their wives and sweethearts
had abandoned them
Whatever they gave was 

so easily taken away
How cruel were the times like sea
smoke air over cold water mists—
Ancestral metaphysical error grips
the inevitable strife of life, grips
his burgeoning leather heart as it cracks,
sears and scars with each betrayal     

-December 14, 2019-

Early fall evening

Other people, other minds—
Early fall evening, darkness into
night—It’s quite cold outside
They died apart—don’t
let the courts take your life—
clever shallowness, self-
congratulatory complacence,

laziness in the stillness, stone sadness
He lived as a hunted man, never
stayed long in one place,
trial and error reason, exile
It takes so little for some to go
savage, but he didn’t— his cognitive
map, his internal representations clean

but not together, so clear and so flat
The mysteries, the essence, the salt
honey sweetness—she extolls each of
her plans with every intention of following
through—makes each meticulous plan and
then doesn’t exactly—because appearance
is a part of reality, neither the whole nor

the end— because marks like them
together don’t get it—and he wants to
be her hero and she plays him just
for that—“No morality without autonomy”
What we see every day is so hard to
see, our obvious strides hide us away—
hidden heroes all, tough and true

She demands more and more and
gives less and less— the weakness
of our secrets, like a fallen
woven web of stone, the feeble
intellectual endowment of most
of us and our obvious dependence
on fond pleasures and passions

She said “I couldn’t
awaken from this nightmare
because I was awake already”
Love always goes one way
dictated by needs and he’d never
say “You’re traumatizing me”
His internal map—hot-tempered,

friendly, as sweet as Dad’s bet—
“You lose nothing to suppose
there’s a god” and then guess what—
Nothing exploded and became, 13.7
billion years ago, the whole damn
universe, the violent stars in the dark,
the muted sweep and noise of life

How desolate the first dark of
cold fall’s evening into night
as it descends from today
within our stony bleak allure
Nature never makes the same thing
twice and today the sun was so spotty
green, not yellowish green like yesterday,

not brownish spots, the way it was last
week—the hurt, the rejected, the sad—
this is a solitary, fiery, tragic, mad
adventure, each stride unique,
with a stone as our heart’s sad
allure, other minds, in the early
fall evening, darkness into night

-November 30, 2019-

We set a bona fide

We set a bona fide signal, a special,
feral noise—hell’s gates are always open,
the damned are there by choice—
It’s good to feel strong, healthy again—
“You don’t write serious, you write funny,”
she said, “Not at all about the starved,
the outraged, naked nameless dead”

Well I, for one, have much more respect
for funny now “They tried to make me go
to rehab, I said, no, no no,” she sang
That wasn’t defiance—sad Amy
rehabbed four times, failed and died—too late,
too late, so slowly does time unwind— for the
lovers of truth and those whom truth defies

Action denies human richness
Friendship is vulnerability
Politicians stake our truths on their
appearances—their fights always
over anger and material strides—
their political ideals just pretexts in
hell because they want to be there

A scent of cedar or pine,
rotted leaves, decayed bark, silence,
rest—moonlight over spider webs,
flighty forest streams and dreams,
where each meaning is the result of
“one will, one health, one soil, one
 sun, perfection, silence and rest”

as if we could write our way
to sheer essence because you’re mine
within a non-linguistic course, pattern,
separation, being—your coarse
grifter’s mask of unbearable deceit
and suffering, withering in gleams of
the low winter’s sun against buildings

made of steel and glass—how we disappear
into the glare and blur of unconstrained light,
as spontaneously as a tree bears fruit, like
a clever shallow essence, as successful as
a revolution that takes its stock from the
flawed corrupt state rebelled against—
I’m your safety, your oasis, your rock

-November 16, 2019-