Brief letter to a faraway friend

Exceptional drama
the thirty petals
of the white daisy
the yellow of the
center

these little islands
that invoke
your light
the consummation
of your distance

Actual or
imagined
the message is
always felt,
your memory meets
the standards
of the morning.


Slow fade

You left me a painting  
of tulips on a windowsill
straight backed
and butter yellow
in their coke bottle vases.
Between their stems
the slanting of the morning
and the cream colored wall
I have begun to lose
the outline of you
the arrangement of your breathing. 

At times when you waltz
through my kitchen
a half sashay from the limits of living
or a do-si-do
through the withering day
I feel a hint of spring
in the prairies of dreaming.
a vibration on the track
a breeze on the circuit
of a naked back
the impatient peeking
of seedlings.

In an orchestra of curls,
I found easy contentment
and half the stars were scattered
in the black earth of your sleeping.
when I had to look for you
I couldn't find the lines to draw
the footprints of your leaving.

You left evidence of your name
on everything
I thought I owned,
slim fingers printed
reminders
on the margins
of evening.
But you are slipping,
how do i keep you
from falling softly out of view
like a ferris wheel tipping?


Vessel

What have I seen here?
or felt profoundly
in the marrow
traveling esconced
in the rafters
of motion's ribcage,
stowed away here
like a splintered arrow
amidst the ballast
of a stowaway skull

Lines recorded,
drosometer readings
in a sodden desert,
shocks of encounters
yawning and oceanic-
things I believed in Vancouver
but came to know the truth of
in my bed alone. 

What have I not seen here?
It's all written in the faces
and in crumpled irises,
scrawled in the landscape
of the cold cotton bedspread
it permeates the disillusioned handfuls
of fallow ground. 
The emptiness
is prone to intrusion.
The question is
never left hanging
long enough.

Ode to Jessica

There is almost never nothing
in the hollows of your collarbones-
they hold the evening, fading slowly,
slightly ochre, sunlit Kodachrome.

I dreamt I built a perfect tea-house
in your tresses, tinged with tangerine
with windows stained, and latticed walls
and ceilings held by arching cedar beams
and there you lay in meditation-
memorizations so serene-
until the daylight broke the spell
and orange flames licked at the shoji screens.

Morning glory pools,
and procelain hillsides,
your eyes are honest, cloudless blue,
even when hibiscus lips lie.
it seems each line that leaves your mouth
is stirred and sweetened, honeyed sensually,
caught in the dimple of your chin
where every pause can last a century.

 

Pilgrim's progress

Hand on the book
Lebbaeus draws
molasses from the deceptive
mason jars of memory
and his calloused knuckles
hammer, like a West Texas piston
on the oil of aortal reservoirs.

He has lost track
of the splintered saplings
and the piss-trail
of the wolf pack
the lease that was
meant to last
and he is confounded by the
unbeaten path,
the departure of human touch.

And as we walk away from
palm on palm acquaintance
he is wounded by the indifferent
separation of stamens
the pulling apart
of subway cars that were laden
with magic and conversation,
suffused with the sex
of strange and earnest flowers.

A little tear drop
leaves a sooty rivulet
on the lunar surface
of the architect's face.
The big job is coming
and the night will be long.
Our rickety carriages
have been cleared of crickets
silently christened with
dripping liquor
rakia, aguardiente and sake
and our hearts have been hardened
with hot homemade hooch.

Round-up-ready
weedy pilgrim pinups
we huddle together
in the silence of the alcove,
wearing expressions like
cracked flagstones. 
Lebbaeus records the frequent
and soft indecencies of waiting-
the shredding of the fabric,
the cleaning of the muzzle
and the beating of nine billion hearts
before the slow revolt of dawn.


SMH

What does it mean to be human?
Are we the snapshots
of desert mesas

that recede unnervingly
like Norma Jean
into an amber sunset
and out of a third story office?

and what does it mean to be in harmony
when there is a button
always at the fingertip

a blinking light
on the baby monitor
and an off switch
on the belly button of your daughter.

I saw once, a lizard
a goanna or a basilisk
who licked his pebbly lips
with a blue tongue
he looked more human than you.


Uki

Inwards
she nibbles
fidgets
clipping scissors
trimming
winter fistfuls
fleeting pleasures
never straight
this thinner vision
facing
scripture
scarce believing,
limits splintering
her sinful
innards breathing mist
twin fingers
spinning tendons
in with tinsel
algonquin birch twig temples
sinking ribs and sinew
into C shaped symbols.

A bzzz
a little zzzzzzzzt,
whiskers from a nightjar,
a nip of intuition
wincing frost
on wind lips tinted,
the glinting tips of tundra
mink skin,
her crackling transistor.
Inuit predictor,
fictive primness
ticklish
in situ
barely moving
flinty prisms
quickly licking
thin ellipses.


Annabelle

Likes to be gazed upon
by harbor seals and fishermen
smoking camel lights in sand dunes
she prefers to be seen

on summer sundays
lying naked
golden
browned like a pancake
in a brocade of pebbles
at the edge of Goosewing Beach.

She carries easy conversation,
treats the pauses like old neighbors
extending sea glass invitations
frosted blue and bottle green.
And there's a slow anticipation
to the way she builds her phrases
a smile preceding
words beginning
vowels spilling
seagulls wheeling
lapping waves caressing syllables
and the spaces in between.


Sorry

Yes the
weight is the
same as the world

and more than that
it's holding on
shaking
to a tornado
empty
and heavy as the sky 

I want to say
something like
I'm sorry, but better
all indigo
in the dark
bluest dye

my hands
like my words
are not made for healing

they are conductors
of dependable folly
often
immune
to the cold rain,
the sponge and the lye

but the smoke in the kitchen
is a figure
of absence
not shifting or leaving
the shame of not feeling
the source of my being
the tears in your eyes.
 

Vacancy

Wake
I said
and she understood me
implicitly
with her eyelids
her breathing
and there was a hum
and a pulling of horsehair across
nickel and all of it was
as coal, or oil
or maybe even darker

and she awoke,
but only in that distant place
under time's slow current
and I braced against the weight of it
taking me.

yes I went to her
through the density of constellations
and briar and dripping curtains,
soaked
like a fresh wound.

But when I imagined
that I reached that place
that clearing
and I smelled chysanthemums
no longer submerged in ink
and I saw little pieces of light
and felt that I could kiss
the back of her neck,
which is always sloping
away from me

I found echoes
and bedchambers forgotten
with neatly made beds
pressed linens
and empty crystal vases.
She left her happiness
unattended by her smile
vacant as the inside of a violin
bereft as a clothesline
in need of clean cotton.

 

Untitled (because it might not happen)

If only things were more simple
but wishes are drifting
ripped missives,
sleeves of thin paper.
I dreamt I was better at waking-
dreams are empty rooms
outside, a couple stood in line
filling applications,
waiting on love's labor.
I wish you weren't sick
wishes are spaces before lines.
traces and tea stains
and lost time.

emerging with longing-
the fermentation,
bubbles forming
the top opening.
and always
I say the wrong thing
to anyone who cares
because they remind me
of me
and of the If?
and if and if and if and if
and whatever we're in-
it's akin to milk in the morning
all in the delivery
and not in the hoping.

 

Picking up the thread

How many times have I said
to myself between breakfast and nightfall-
I should have written it down
scratched it into the shoulder
pushed it into the moss
hurried for a ballpoint pen
and connected it in the freckles
combined it with the sugar and the oatmeal and the jelly.

It spoke of moans and victories
and small capitulations. 

Where is the sinew
that was taut between yesterday and somewhere?
I should have placed the thought
in a tomb.
My mind spreads like an aftershock
down Onderdonk Avenue
and my body is a fault line
held together by tape.

 

Prospect Park

Newly green, but cold as jade
The day sleeps under the somber skies of providence.
Gray branches reach for each other,
never touching over tired avenues
and the muffled engines grow and fade,
one after another, quietly, in my mind full of you.

I walk faster to feel brave
But the rustling of your absence follows-
the shadow of your face is soft,
but everywhere on Benefit Street.
Doorways, sidewalks, signposts and steeples
are featureless bricks in a landscape that needs you
to lift the dusty slumber from its many crumbling walls.

At Prospect Park I stop and look out at the city-
from here you seem as distant,
as the glimmer of the sea.
I’m searching the skyline for answers,
grabbing at doubts you left hanging
like last night’s discarded garments
on the boughs of every tree. 

 

Resurrection

I am the snake that wraps your bones,
reviving pangs of hunger.
I lift at once the pleated skirts
and leaden veil that you’ve been under.
Narcissus drew his warming life
from glassy lakes of self reflection
We drink through opened window eyes
and swim in springs of resurrection.

What words are there that echo true
in the emptied cellars of my chest?
I offered wine so generously,
I spilled the dregs and drank the rest.
But on my tongue is still a taste
of what I gave and what was best
and now you creep in from the shade,
a riper vine than all the rest.

 

Dancing peonies

are disassembled by the wind...
the sleepy exhalation of a lotus mouth.
Before her horse wild eyes they fall-
the ever shifting,
petal dropping,
shadow dancing,
dew dripping flowers
are the substance of her dreams.

The oily night tries its best to swallow
her angel food intentions
tries its best to mingle
in the same realm as the sweet kisses
of her thoughts- synaptic party sparklers
lovemaking of neurons
co-mingling of ecstatic chemicals
that shimmer brighter and purer than the stars,
those diamond baubles that the sky borrows
for its nightly parties.

 

 

January

In January the bent reeds whisper
Hollow songs and winter secrets
and daylight passes quickly
over ice and shattered crystal.

a quick intermission-
a sequined flash,
furtive kissing
a break before the night's next dance
a flick of tongue dismissing
an errant lash
unseated by the planet's tilting
toward the cold expanse.

shy waitress
reclusive evening painter
finishes a shift at Nathan's,
and takes in hand
the stiff mink bristles,
sipping tea and sighing
outlining bees and thistles
against a much bluer sky.

where is she
at half past one
asleep, reliving the evening's fun
or tracing a name
on the frost covered window?
hot breath, blonde curls
soften the break of a year begun,
moonbeams fall on a frozen world
as night clips the heels of a timid sun.

 

February

the wolf moon
the roundness of it
a pink mantra,
a frozen cheek
a lapping of milk
click of teeth

the wind is whispering to me…
speak softly cold poet

Aeolus sings of whitecapped seas
and frostbitten mermaids

the ermine brush
the feel of it
a circling of ideas
fingertips, iris, and areola
a licking of lips
at dawn
a kiss.
the sun does not heat me
so quick

 

March

a fait accompli
the deal is done.

a turn of the wind
the thread is spun.

the winter's gone
and the will o' the whisp
will have its fun
with the bones of your buried sons.

the mockingbird flashes
black - white - black - white - black
tail feathers,
fluttering, fanning,
thawing feet,
cold beak
emphatically chanting
here it comes
here it comes
here it comes.

 

May

I think
therefore I am
in the minority.
Manhattan
Is becoming as empty
as an island
Stripped of spirits
Bereft of ghosts.

I love
Really love
therefore I am
You
before you
and after you
and without you
and still
You.
I ask-
will you live with me on islands
where money is fiber
and flesh is hot?

But you are a paper song
you, rising to the top-
you are transacting funds
you are already lost.

 

June

Fast gradient
in the sun-streaked green
lukewarm into cold,
muscle through to bone,
hear the clicking of horseshoe crabs
pushing on small stones.

Your hands
two porcelain cups
ellipses so opportune
they carry you, white and lithe
like the curves of cold spoons.

Bronze rays
trace slender limbs
that hover above the bottom sloping
you rise again for a breath of air,
chin lifting, lips opening.

A perfect stroke
wide becoming narrow,
embracing the tide,
then straight as a supple arrow
Emerging, you glow gold as June,
dandelion and yarrow.

 

July


I've been moving in the minutes
sandwiched in between the rising
and the falling on the edges
of the river, round the saucer
and the ripples in the sandbar
with my eyes and hands and feet
just running here and savoring
the leftovers, the pie crusts
wild strawberries and watermelon
dripping on the table
in the burning mid-day heat.

And in the spaces between spoonfuls
and the stalling of the engines
and the foot heels
on the dashboards
I've been thinking of the words exchanged
and kisses placed
on shoulders, on the freeway
back from Boston
where the trees are celebrating
maples fighting for small windows
cracks of daylight
in the summer, just brief moments
to make seeds.

It's a stiff drink
this existence, this persistence
of impulses, rhythmic dipping of the branches
in the wind that picks up, stirring
thoughtful musings,
awkward chances
swaying cattails,
sighing reeds. 
Water, like a heartbeat, dripping
from the curves of pebbles
pulsing, throbbing, and reflecting, 
kneecaps darken on the porches, mowers
working, bending, sweating, clippers
cutting grass and weeds.

 

August

Is it?
Already?
In the roadside ditches
the goldenrod answers
yes.

I fill my irises
with that color,
with the saffron
that overflows
as people do
from storefronts
onto sidewalks.

Languid verses
glide into windows
sun sodden
and alight on me.
A broken hydrant
soaks my pages
in possibility
and I cannot wait a month
to rest my head
in the small of a back,
to chase ants
off a blanket.
to say, most tritely,
can i taste
your honeyed lips?
There are stories
in that hazy amber
impatient
to be unlocked.

 

September

No one knew where to place his gaze
when she walked into the party.
The corners of her mouth were turned down,
and yet she was smiling.
A seraphim in auburn trim,
gray-blue eyes unclouded.

She was the one note
that closes throats,
the last wave of a tan hand
from the last boat
between the islands and the mainland.

Of course everybody knew her
we’d all taken her to bed,
having never really touched her,
having only spun he bottle.
and we all stopped paying attention
to the women at our sides,
those dilettantes
and debutantes,
socialites in their summer flaunts.

We all wanted to be with her,
run a hand along her shameless thigh,
carve the trees up into arrows,
and shoot them at her eyes,
shape our words into a bucket
and throw them down her well,
try to drain the wintry pools of sorrow,
hear the echo of our yells.

She’s the one leaf falling early green,
scarlet, gold and in between
laugh or cry it’s all the same
her smiles are bright as cloudless skies,
her tears fall light as autumn rain.

Every day and every firefly filled night
I knew that she’d show up,
confidently stroll up,
from down the road, her throat exposed,
as the geese fly south to escape the snow.
Bountiful mouth like an apple,
ripe with crisp and clever sweetness,
shining tresses caress her clavicles
and soft breasts,
September, a bittersweet harvest.

 

October

It is, as a painter might suggest, 
pure pigment. 
behold the roundness of the day, still and windy, 
simultaneously. 
Oh, no subtlety here, 
not in the stringy guts of the pumpkin,
or in the rosy fingers that pick out the seeds for roasting.

October is a final symphony
and I'm its spellbound audience. 
Look out onto the ocean- every whitecap tumbles
with a portentous... gurgle. 
There's no shame
in the way that the trees strip down
or in the clarity of the squirrel's preparation. 
There are only empty walnut husks, 
shorter days, feverish last kisses
and heartache sunsets.

 

November

According to the unasked for calculations
of that roughly tuned scale, 
my sentiment- 
the weight of falling maple leaves still hasn’t changed. 

Neither has the creeping dark of winter
softened its approach, 
or made gentler its late-night advances. 

October was, 
as always, 
a fiery eyed, 
vermillion lipped firecracker- 
a turquoise clad shaman, 
warm in her buckskin, 
fiercely cool undressed. 

Her sister November
is here in the morning, 
sliding under my covers
with a touch of soft cold knees. 

we listen to the clicking of sparrow feet
on the wet bedroom windowsill, 
And though I’ve tried for years to love her, 
chances are I never will.

 

December

Will surely come and go

without a word
or a bit of spilling ink
or an answer to a poem.

you'll let down impatient braids,
resting easy,
maybe once or twice
or more...

and the waves of smitten gold
and the wind whipped barley stalks
and the freezing rain and snow

December
will be infinitely cold.

you are a fickle rosy ghost
the thin space between the trees,
and you glide over concrete
like a feather on the sea.

and in truth it makes me smile
that you're incorrigibly free..

 

Atacama

Moisture loving lichens
absorb liquid like a sponge,
drinking the dewy deposits
left last night by the fog.

In the Atacama,
guanacos, little llamas,
curl their tongues round and round
and up and down the cactus spines
they sip and slurp,
and thirst for more, 
the droplets they lick will take no time
to fall to the desert floor.

 

Thoughts of you

When I should be making art
I only concoct thoughts of you-
Ever expanding gunpowder sparks
moon-jelly spectrum globe lights.

shooting roman candles
into blackness,
setting votives in a damp ruin,
or a limestone cave,
mossy and infinite.

If time and space are just hummingbird wing beats,
and life and death are just echoes of lamb bleats,
then I live in the pauses between them
when you’re far away from me. 

The bedraggled, transplanted plant
that resides on my nightstand
is no more real, it seems, than the color of your cheeks, 
than the color of your breath
after sex. 

Whatever emptiness exists after death,
you could plant it with these seeds of yourself-
red Chinese lanterns in my chest
that remain hanging in black passageways
and light my wanderings when you’ve left.

 

Uncertain Years

The gathering clouds bring nothing but rain,
midnight rain and the promise of dampness.
When I wake I find the hills still wrapped,
reluctant to shed their misty blankets.

The fog hangs low,
not wanting to leave the jungle peaks
lingering, kissing the canopy, as the fat sun sneaks,
and casts a disapproving eye
over his lush, voluptuous daughters.

The whole world is waiting for an answer-
at least that’s what I like to think
“What’s the catch?” the oily trawler captain barks,
“Where’s my meat?” the stray dog snarls,
and where does it all lead
this frantic daily struggle?

The turbulent sea provides no explanation.
Persistently teased by a wanton moon,
he swells and seethes,
rises, recedes,
and rumbles in frustration.
Cuckolded each night by Orion,
he hurls his jealous diatribe crashing, 
gnashing teeth and pounding fists
against a weary, hardened coastline.

The Ceiba tree endures on buttressed roots,
wizened limbs aching,
reaching skyward,
paying homage to lost gods.
Tall he stands, surveying remaining woodlands.
Centenarian sentinel of these uncertain years,
proud arms outspread,
draped in bromeliads that drink his last tears. 

And everywhere are vultures
everywhere is shadow and nowhere do we learn
what is now and what is not, 
and what will remain.
But the scavengers wait,
not caring when the light dims
from the irises of asking eyes.
The carrion eaters do not wonder,
they accept the truth that we deny
and they feast on our last questions
as we give up our search and die.


She wears the night

Inky black pupils,
her cupid shoots obsidian tipped arrows
With a raven’s grace
she tears entrails
panther nails slashing hearts
unabashed teeth flashing.
Start to turn away and she’ll catch you
Her self control is a mahogany sword handle
a nocturnal animal
she tempers her passion
her soul is lacquered
her look is the blade, sharpened, true,
she wears the night like a tattoo.

Slightly parted, scarlet
her lips quiver with anticipation, excitement.
The music has started
and all she is and was and wants to be
rises up in her chest with the bass tremors
alarmingly
attractive without the frills
peacock quills, paint or pills
the nightclub lights spill on skin like milk
red, green and blue combine,
photons dance inside her.
sliding high on a sound wave’s crest
she wears the night like a see through dress.

Impeccably frightened countenance,
she cowers when it’s time to dance
and backs into a candle-lit cloister.
The hollows of her home are filled with wolves,
the mind she owns is imaginative,
a wandering ship, wary of ghost shoals.
And most would walk the plank
for only one glance
at the body beneath her turbulent seas
straight back, brave breasts,
proud heart glittering in a locked chest
She hides from the dark in a habit,
her armor of garments,
gloves and hosiery,
she wears the night like a rosary.

A rusted over weathervane
watches over her house,
always pointed in the same direction.
Frost cracks her tear-streaked cheeks
as she looks out through the window panes.
Translucent hands touch a pearly face,
cold porcelain perfection.
Memories of fall days drift down icy hallways
and cling to unworn clothes like dust
she brushes from old picture frames.
Too young to lay in cavernous depths
and cede her hopes to the humid breath
of all consuming time.
Is there nothing left but pain? she thinks,
self pitying and listening
to the gentle rise and fall of her chest,
choked sobs, deep sighs,
and deep breaths.
Too vast is the dark for a frame so frail-
she wears the night like a veil.

Apple cider smiles
abound by the starting fire,
Fuel lacking, she stokes the embers
and red flames rise higher, air pockets in the logs cracking,
steam emanating,
the remnants of a hot shower. 
She plays LPs and sips her tea,
brushes the starlight into her hair and tells me
to lay my head in her lap,
the sinewy soft embrace of her words
erases everything.
She’s felt lost in the past,
undeniably alone,
justifiably astray, but now she’s found a home
on a checkered couch, in a cedar room,
two bowls of soup and a click of spoons,
life toasted her health and she drank it,
she wears the night like a blanket.

 

 

Seven Letters Uncurled

The papayas rot in bunches
falling soft and yellow
they split, releasing bitter seeds
and my heart sinks and I can’t tell you-
I can´t tell you that nothing´s sweet
just overripe, and at my feet
I see the fruit of all my dreams,
out in the sun, torn at the seams.

Afternoon rainstorms are inevitable-
they come and leave, with lightning streaks,
and still, I just can´t find release
when I pour the contents of my cloudy chest
onto these blank pages.
These words are just shoes without laces,
endlessly empty and out of step,
echoes in rooms that feel cold since you left.

I say your name to myself
and it crawls back inside my chest,
closes my throat and all I have left
is a shell of you, a lonely line,
seven letters uncurled,
the sound they spelled, my love, my girl,
the face they described was my world.

 

 

 

 

Melt me

There aren’t any more ways to tell you I need you,
no more storms to pull off the African coast
There are no more apples left in my basket,
no ways to convince you that I love you the most.

On any other day I’d take my pain,
make it grow like a barbed wire vine, 
let it slice and thrive.
But today the hurt settles in,
a Siamese cat on satin pillows
licking its fangs, reminding me
of your lazy, supple stretches on Sunday mornings.

When I’m with you
All my steely switches are in the on position-
The incendiary bottles stuffed with gas soaked rags
are loose, hot missiles
flying at the bridges I want to burn.
If I can’t walk on the Pont Neuf,
If I can’t kiss on that small cleft
In the middle of your chin,
I’ll feel like a passenger left
floating in the garbage of the Seine.

I am a french horn engulfed in flames,
a trumpet burning hot in cherry embers.
Your heat melts my mental metal
into unrecognizable curlicues,
an instrument without a name.

Raise that little red bar of mercury,
Lick the numbers and shatter the records,
keep teasing and stoking the soaring temperature,
Shatter the glass and help me escape.

 

87 degree recovery

It looks like you've begun to measure them,
which is great...
Five or six years ago, you were pushed out
into the gridlock of rickshaws,
the violent coughing of rolling coffins,
and sparring of filthy busses

The metro runs at twenty percent capacity,
but your mind was always full-
brimming with the golden droplets
that dribbled down the chins of happy urchins
and fell through the steamy air
to mix with dust and sediment.

The day you stopped buying mangoes,
carefully picking the biggest ones
to give to the street kids,
I ate my dessert, wandering slowly through the rest of my meal.
The cold lassi was about all I could stomach,
as I sat and thought of you,
the tiny wrinkles by your eyes
and your hair like a river of ink.

I thought about the way your fingertips
caressed the spine of your contemporary poetry book
and about the days we would read Neruda
and William Carlos Williams
on the Ghats at Varanasi.
I wondered if you'd think about me
as you ate your cold plums (or rice pudding),
reclining, alone and out of love with me,
watching TV in the B.R. Singh hospital.

 

We, Arriving

We arrive
and re-arrive
Columbuses and Roger Williamses
and are still strangers in this forest

We were given a gourd,
a corn stalk
aquidneck island
and the cliff walk,
fashioned cameos
of our sweethearts
with silver from Toledo
and gold hauled from the Comstock

Main street echoes with the
minuteman’s musket,
Horseshoe clip clopping,
beating of the tell-tale heart…
the panhandler’s plastic bucket
backward glances of the cherokee
the trail of tears, and the ride of Paul Revere
We are living between the rhythm of the
Creak splash
Creak splash
Creak splash
The cry of the herring gull
And the foreign stirrings
of countless starlings.

We sit with friends
imagining first footsteps
on plymouth rock
And as we sit, we imagine again
new footfalls, free of Baptist sin,
Free of western guilt
Free of native grief

Carefully laid bricks buckle and split
an uneasy nostalgic skin
protects our tender modern foot
from the rugged glacial till
the disintegrating hill, the river silt
and the thirsty honey locust root.

Last night’s rainfall
has trickled through the herringbone
Last year’s fortune
has slipped through the cracks of the old stone bank
but depressions in the granite
accommodate the puddles,
recycled particles
of fickle water,
perhaps the same molecules
that swallowed the burning decks
of the Gaspee as it sank.

We walk on
bluestone
And the bedrock below,
breathing the remaining emanations
of thirteen million trees
replaced
by thirteen colonies.
The river finds us brimming with hope
in an increasingly anaerobic America
we amble by monuments to the countless dead
stand on concrete banks, as the fish die hemmed
and we hold our breath
because the Narragansett and the Chesapeake are our lungs
and the menhaden are our hemoglobin.

Politically reawakened
by the spirit of biracialism
multiracialism
post-racialism
we-are-one-people-ism
but unemployed
and pulsing with the blood
of the Narragansett
the Taino
the Visigoth
and Nahua
the Quechua
the Pequot
and the anglo-saxon.

The daylighted waters
meet a city burning bonfires of togetherness
and populated by longing.
we hear the rushing water
and ask the orange embers-
Will we launch paper boats
on the Woonasquatucket
And dip canoe paddles in
the clear Moshassuck?
will we grow with the oak?
will we inhabit the stone?
Or will the patchwork of streets that glittered
In the eyes of city planners and smiths
manufacturers and metal workers
lead us ever forward
into the confines of our own polished homes?

What is the prospect of a dirty city?
a river contained and tamed
since the hurricane of ’38
Slammed headlong into the land’s face
How will we claim
this Rockwell defaced, refaced, misplaced
a homeless man on fire in space,
a handful of plastic arrows ,
an acid rain bleached bouquet of laurels ,
a freedom-seeking missile,
Are these our symbols?

My New England foothills majesty,
my soaring eagle scavenger,
ever forward we move without foresight
seeking penance and revenge
simultaneously, escaping
from the hatred that shot Lincoln with a derringer
Burying memories to a twenty gun salute,
the other in our boot,
holding a canteen full of pride,
so we leave, the pioneers,
bound for California. 

And the oceans are met on all coasts
the water runs from earth to sky,
from the aquifer to the factory
and mostly to the mouth of the city,
sheeting down benevolent and college street
down the throats of our beleaguered rivers.
The walls of glen canyon watch
as their creator trickles through concrete and rebar. 
We are seabirds that fight over a transparent fish,
pecked apart by an American wish,
what will we say to our children
that for too long
we tested our mother’s patience,
that we could not imagine a different place
where coyotes and crows
oaks and maples
pulsed with the same energy as the homo sapiens
that we perished, strangers still,
feeling lost inside a nation?

 

Poetry

Poetry is not a rich man’s pastime
or a leisurely pursuit.
Poetry is the song of solace,
the sound of a bamboo flute.
Two lines on a snowy page-
two birds on a laden branch
twitter as the falling flakes
engage in a winter's dance.


Viti Levu

As I lay listening,
looking up at the delicate cathedral
of the lingering mosquito netting,
leftover folds of blanket
left my limbs cool
and my chest caressed
by the moonbeam shadows of an equatorial midnight.

I ran my fingers up
along the silky canopy,
thinking of the things I’d like to be,
And clumsily tore the thread-

A little thorn draws droplets, scarlet petals
dripping from my finger
blooming in darkness, scarlet hibiscus
crimson bromeliads, quivering blood.
Sensing the night’s entrance,
the landing pollen of night flowers on my eyelids, 
the hummingbirds flitter in.
Leaves like tiny Chinese fans
they lick the dewy leaves.

Raindrop noises of rubbing palm fronds
why have you turned to a glossy green butterfly
that tiptoes on my skin?
Nylon sweet guitar strings ringing
I don’t know if it’s a bed,
or a softly strummed song I’m in.
And the fluttering,
The fan sweeping,
The girl outside the thatch is weeping,
Then laughing
and happy to see me
she’s the breaking of the kava drunk sun
smiling over the reef.


Song for New England

When I tell you that I’ve left her,
that’s only half the truth.
Her mouth was like a pomegranate,
and her memory’s like its juice.

Sometimes I wake to see the Sound,
or islands now long gone,
where Indians once paddled
under fireworks of dawn.

New England, maple fire, soft hills,
your rockweed covered coastline
still beckons me, and seagull cries
remind me of your sunshine.

 

Loneliness

Loneliness, 
foul tentacled creature
emerges from the parchments of my past.
Every arm of the beast
embraces my sinking shipwreck of a heart.

The sea is only salt and space today,
an unforgiving abyss.
Ever more cold
hollow blue ballroom
walls draped in solitude
the dancers pale inhabitants
crawling like living ghosts.

Devoid of friends, a man is much less than an island
deprived of hope, my smile is no life saving spar
I wander, lost, like a wind beaten shearwater
awash on the waves of my doubt.


Nicoya

Extending, receding,
as the foam washes in
the lungs of the sea are breathing.

Hanging, suspended,
the sun streaks the sky
as each wave is upended. 

And no two evenings
light the sultry atmosphere
with the same gleam.
The ocean beckons with white fingertips
Her back and forth sweeping
polishes away misgivings.

A procession of clouds
drifts in the distance,
Memories of past loves,
ethereal and shape-shifting,
nonchalant and white at first,
then tainted with nostalgic hues,
dreamy virgins turn to blushing brides,
then sleepwalk in the moonlit sky. 

Contracting, receding
arteries are filled with sunset’s blessing
blood longing to mingle
with the salty rising tide.
 

They did well to mend you

Criss crossing
railroad tracks
there and back
it was nice moving my fingertip
up and down that line,
feeling each tie and rivet.

It may not have seemed like much
of anything to you-
maybe just the aimless pacing
of another traveler.
but moving over those little lacerations,
those long rows of tiny indentations,
shook me like the hammering of pistons
and the grinding of metal wheels.

I'd like my cuts to be so visible
so you could stitch them up
with sticky kisses
and the hot glue of your tongue.

They did well to mend you
and send you back into this world
of burns and scrapes and bruises,
cracked and shattered egos
and hard fragmented hearts.

Did I misread the braille?
was it for you
just another silly song
played out on the rotating bumps
of an indifferent music box?
Your scars belie a strength
I haven't seen in quite a while.
 

From the promontory
of your resting shoulder
I could see the craggy ranges,
trading posts and highway stations,
excavations in sandstone valleys,
and the freckles left with time.
but the trail most native to my hands,
like tiny bird feet printed in the sand
or ridges left by the tide,
was the undulating trace
of those lovely lingering lines.

 

I have a music in me


I have a music in me
a grinding of wheat sheaves
golden and gritty
like sequins and sun rays
or the hollering of freed thieves
drinking in empty nunneries.

Unassuming and gentle,
the call of blood stained warriors
denouncing their bad days,
drunk on the vapors
of yesteryear's wine haze.

Shamanistic
linseed oil and lipstick,
bottled cataclysm,
altruistic murderer's mischief
and the crack
of an elephant gun. 

I have a music in me
that defies existence,
pulls the strings out of cellos,
harpsichords,
violins,
and all sorts of trinkets.

The drosophylla dances,
it deems the corpse flower delectable.
I prefer orange blossoms.
my music is an inflorescence
a fragrant spadix,
silky and self pollinating.

If Ernst Haeckel could hear it
he would draw fifty radiolarians
and i would slap him on his brilliant head
and tell him that the sound begins
not with the language,
dense with verbal barnacles
not with the human,
bound by his own manacles
the origin of music
is perfume so ungodly,
irrational and slimy,
clean as silver whistles,
succulent and grimy.

I have a music in me
that defies the rules of science
it could kill a thousand jesuses
and tame a million savage lions
I have a music in me
that shines like shattered diamonds.

Oh sugar
Oh molasses
Oh sweet nyssa honey
my body is a tar baby
incapable of holding money
but i have a music in me
a bellowing of ctenophores,
blue as burning copper chloride,
and hot as a whore's belly.

 

Night watchman


The corner of my eye twitches,
a scared mouse
glimpsing flying saucers, 
golden corneas.
hearing nothing,
feeling rustling
of air molecules.

The owl passes-
a fleeting thought
chills transmitted,
touched by the silent assassin.
downy quills,
hungry hunter,
ephemeral night watchman.

 

Nymph

Toss a lily on your chest
  and watch it drip wet
over your river fairy breasts
      Squash purple berries in my hands
            and mush them on your milky whiteness
         Swim among silver minnows
               that twirl around your ankles
        Sit and dry your sunny hair
            on a moss covered willow
                          play like otters in a pool
                                  of softly flowing water.