Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Seeing Valentine

When sparrow sees me
I know I have been seen
she flees in fear of discovery
I stay with what has been
she’s working on her second nest
I’m working on my warts
where do the feathers come from
with which she weaves her nest
what others don’t abandon
she will have to steal
what of myself I cannot see
I will have to feel
my way in darkest night
while you dear sparrow
only comprehend more light

Monday, May 30, 2016

Voluntary Valentine

Even for our sins and passions
we must thank and forgive our angels
who remain hard at work still
creating and refining our slowly
accumulating competencies and senses
and not disparage them for the multiple
breakdowns and malfunctions
they have not yet ironed out
in their recalcitrant creations
who are not simply collages
whose forms and colors
suggest a world that’s faded
now their thankless task is to get
each of us to function on our own volition
having mastered standing and walking
to learn to speak naturally to one another
with something kind and sensible to say

Terrible Valentine

The poem is a terrible thing
like a limb that’s been
removed at a particular stage
in its development
kept as a specimen
more expensive than
medicine more healing
the poem brings us to it
and seems glad to wait
already having traveled
on ahead and met
a stranger fate
to be dissolved
in so many minds
and no one’s mate

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Best American Poetry Valentine

The best American poetry
is also a clever sequencing
of all the verbal flotsam
and jetsam of our time
so the future will hear
exactly how we spoke
on the street and in bed
the phrases and expressions
language itself discovered
buried in us and saved
for just these few decades
when it can offer no discernible
direction poetry becomes
an archivist of idioms
whose time has come and gone

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How Much Longer Valentine

A sparrow with a strip
of cellophane in her beak
from a pack of cigarettes
on seeing me sitting here
drops it on the grass and
flies off returning shortly
with a tuft of feathers
this time undaunted
by whatever danger
I might represent
proceeding to her nest
just as I was reading
that millions of birds
have disappeared over
this continent alone
the last several years

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Valentine

I had all the right things
in all the wrong places
I was on a good path
but then I lost the traces
I was just like you
so I started to move things around
I got up and slapped a few faces
it calmed us all down
we sat it out on the lonely terraces
of the last motel before dawn
love is so tiring and strong
for us hopeless cases
we keep getting it wrong --
come undo these laces
I am nothing like you

Thursday, May 26, 2016

At Best Valentine

How is poetry like
having a conscience
which is why it can get
so personal so impolitic
drawing our attention away
from war-making hopefully
but even at best words are only
the beginning of the prelude
to the real operation
of working out our resentments
and not even the rarest poem
is able to hold the hand
of even the simplest act
of kindness or forgiveness
given and received

Homecoming Valentine

If all my prior lives crowded round me
even if I could not see them
I could feel them all around me
and all my future selves as well
stood waiting patiently around us
as if I stood at the center
of a numberless crowd
of expectant faces waiting
for me to speak to acknowledge
each of them with some sign
only they would recognize
about our time in this world
and that they would know
we had finally reached the place
we could all be together again

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

At Chartres Cathedral Valentine

How a leaf becomes a petal
how a stone becomes a metal
how the heart will never settle
how of fish we are a kettle (OK, OK)
in one tall window a tree grows
right out of his groin and ascends
to God the Son in another four
writers sit on the shoulders
of four earlier writers
the anxiety of ascendency
prophecy becoming gospel truth
and then there they sit the blue
Madonna and her boy child
both gazing at you calmly waiting
for the world to become a star

Monday, May 23, 2016

Spring Violets Valentine

This is your perennial weakness
that you won’t aspire to flower
but prefer smallness meekness
until you don’t and then
assume a hawk’s demeanor
seizing upon that inner mouse
devouring his humility for lunch
with the ferocity of your smile
not one of satisfaction
or even of recognition
as you survey the inner
and outer landscapes
hawk-like mouse-like
but the will of the world
rising up through your feet
and the light of the stars
falling into your sleep

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Frostian Valentine

This weekend the wind
will bring down all
the oranges I couldn’t find
or weary of reaching
relinquished to the bugs
and rot knowing full well
this northwestly would
throw them at my nearby
large basket and miss it
almost every time leaving
the clean-up to me
but think if we weren’t
here on the earth it would
immediately improve
then slowly sink into ruin

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friend’s Valentine

Friendship is the best place
we can practice that universal
respect we’re still not ready
to implement for humans and all
living and non-living things
though we can finally acknowledge
we preserve our enemies
primarily as a way of avoiding
doing something about our own priorities
while remaining uncertain what will
come of such clever insights and analogies
in terms of actual boots on the ground
because every summer they try to pull us out
into their vast networks and star-fields
to lose ourselves in the light
and every winter they drag us back down
into the cold caves of our brains
where in the darkness we draw
all we have seen and see again

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ode to Keats Valentine

Like Keats said we should
we wait calmly with nothing
and this can go on for lifetimes
watching far in the distance
the blurred words of clouds
approaching circling fading out
but only when you make
your life a blank unlined
wilderness of whiteness does
something get written down
that is not just about you
that is not just your life
but the other lives you live
inside all the other things
and beings in the world

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Earth’s Imperfect Idea of Freedom Valentine

Subconsciously every generation
wishes to be the last
just so maybe some final resolution
of conflict can come about
so some catastrophe
can elevate the conversation
and save the earth
from having to grow up
but those concepts of ‘death’
‘end’ ‘no’ we forget we
ourselves invented long ago
and arranged on purpose
out of an early appreciation
for freedom despite a clear
sense for all the suffering
it would bring the earth

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rilke’s Valentine

Is death a provisional
reassignment of energies
or a permanent change
of address a cleansing wind
or a divorce from all the senses
in order to enter the dream
the shedding of all skins
remember Orpheus lost Eurydice
because he had already lost
his connection with the other world
which of course continued to exist
but incommunicado out of sight
and more and more of the gods
failed to return to speak with him
the one who had been their favorite
the last one to watch them go 

Guileless Valentine

It looks to me in all animals
some deep anguish is going on
some suffering imposed on them
through no fault of their own
some sadness always visible
in their eyes which they seem
nobly to have taken on for us
and which touches us or scares us
or completely embarrasses us
and we love them immediately
for their refusal to pay the price
of thinking but to stick
to instinct and inspiration
and a wild guileless life
along traditional lines

We’re All Pink Inside Valentine

Small round black seeds
next year’s pink and
white sweet peas
sleep in my palm
were I to plant them
in myself they would
yield only death
but in the ground
their deaths yield
only climbing tendril
leaf and flower 
and in the end
a seed-pod which
in drying twists itself
and twisting finally
explodes these seeds
I catch and keep

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pentecostal Valentine

Isn’t there always something feminine
about poetry as there is about all art
and something masculine about science
but wait I mean the approach the
perspective of each not the participants
the way thinking is a feminine activity
receptive flowing secretive while
the science of the will is masculine
active flowing secretive though
it can all be turned around
easily or not so easily
but then we’re here aren’t we
because we didn’t want to be
a part of nature but our own creation