Monday, June 26, 2017

Annunciation Valentine (for Sharon)

The privilege of being
In the presence
Of a great soul
Though yes it may
Involve some hazards
Is always worth it
Think of all the risks
Christ took and still
His Father loved him
The will is in the getting there
Regardless of what happens
So that long afterwards
When you’ve even
Forgotten going
You feel it bear fruit
In some child’s face

Praising or Lamenting Valentine

The mourning dove’s
Echoing melody this morning
When I stop talking to myself
Sounds like ‘Why can’t we’
Then ‘Why can’t we stay’
Or maybe ‘Laudate’
Then ‘Laudate te’
The three notes speak
Of the light and the air
To flight as song
While the four notes
Tell of landing somewhere
If only to try again
To lift the earth
Or make a home

Sunday, June 25, 2017

St John’s Day Valentine (for Ruth)

One sunny day with you
We were taken to the Philadelphia
Museum of Art up the long staircase
Just like Aztecs or Egyptians
Priest and sacrifice to gaze out
Over the gleaming autumnal city
For a few moments
And then we were led inside
Down to the lower vaults
Through long narrow hallways
Where the past is stored
Memory is so distant
To the drawer where the tablet
Telling of the meeting of Gilgamesh
And Enkidu was kept
And taken out and placed
Before us yes we almost wept
To see the actual words
Some able hand transcribed
In wet clay mindful of us
And that his story not be
Entirely forgotten


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ludwig’s Valentine

I half-blame Beethoven’s music
For throwing open our age
Of anger and retaliation
With the most triumphant
Sound structures of rage
And forthright melancholia
As a great overture must
For the next several centuries
Lay out the themes and voicing
It’s not just about going to war
Now it’s about everyone
Being angry at everyone else
Most of the time and all
With very good reasons it seems
But also buried there
In his last quartets
An anguish beyond anger
That still could change the world

Friday, June 23, 2017

Brother’s Valentine

The Buddha and the Christ
Remove the implacability
From life and give it
A native face and features
A natural landscape
Which one can let
Inhabit one
A Galilee and Ganges
Of the mind like
Visitors from the future
Tokens and guarantees
Of what’s to come
From all our meditating
And all we had to get done

Animal Valentine

To the animals we must seem
Even lonelier than they are
Except they make themselves vulnerable
While we hide in our camouflage
And cannot even be loyal long
It’s hard to love the intractable
Weakness in ourselves
Let alone the surplus in others
But with animals we love them
For their weakness
Their need of us alone
Their forgiveness of our sins
As if they once were us

Cat’s Valentine

My cat’s a strict vegetarian
Grazing the sweet grass
All morning long
Then drowsing in the shade
Like cows on hot summer days
Or else she fiercely grooming
Straightening every hair
On her skinny body and won’t
Be touched or held
Then suddenly
She throws herself
At my feet what
Am I to do with
All this love

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Solstice Valentine

Something or someone
Fell into the hibiscus
There are several branches
Broken in the middle
But no footprints
In the still-wet grass
From last night’s sprinkling
So that narrows the suspects
It clearly wasn’t me
Though I can imagine
The struggle that must have
Led to this collapse
And how often
It’s a hibiscus
That breaks the fall

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Search Valentine

In the great city of Palmyra
In the great city of Thebes
In the great city of Poseidon
In the great city of Buffalo
In the great city of the Plains
In the great city of Toledo
In the great city of Uruk
In the great city of Nagasaki
In the great city of Chartres
In the great city of Mimico
In the great city of Tulum
In the great city of Damascus
In the great city of Phoenix
And still you are nowhere to be found

Monday, June 19, 2017

The World Is Not The Earth Valentine

The world is useful
As a picture of the soul
But why can’t it say
What’s buried in its
Sacred heart of hearts
Why must it act out
This history of longing
To find what it loves
Cannot be caught
In lies of owning
And all the while
The earth looks on
In wonderment and terror
Like a dog about
To be beaten again

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer Valentine

If a plant were to speak to us
We’d think it had a spirit in it
But if a man says something
It’s just another recording
All spirits are fearful at first
The summery way they dismiss
The reality we claim to know
The perception of which
Is our first spiritual act
If consciously conceived
What the plant is mirroring
Are the flowers and the fruit
Of a language we are just
Re-learning to speak

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Trouble's Valentine

We’re always in some trouble
In one way or another
Our own or someone else’s
As if we planned it
Had come to pursue it
To prove we could
Defy the odd god
Who sits on our hearts
Lifting freedom’s plea
Above love’s project
Above good and evil even
Which is where it falls apart
And where the trouble starts
We’re all in love with something
All the time it never stops

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book’s Valentine

There was a book
In the beginning now lost
That held the solutions
To all future questions
A book of living pictures
That kept intact with notes
And cogent explanations
The whole history of power
And the revelations of wisdom
That book begat another book
And so on and all subsequently
Destroyed or buried maybe
Finally with Osiris no one knows
But here it is dear God I found it
In a book-stall by the river
Here among the antiquities
The fresh pages of your eyes

Augustinian Valentine

It’s hard to reconcile
The Christ of the gospels
With Augustine’s earthbound
Cosmology for which his own
Torn life provided the ground
To turn away from vision
As a real experience and
Stick with intellect alone
He goes as far as Plato
Can carry him to explain
Why he abandoned the woman
And son he loved with a shrug
Of his Manichaean pen
And centuries of piety
And terror ensued
While the gospels were still
Not read not published
Our first Faust he was
Only looking in a mirror

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Night Valentine

O star come closer
I can feel your interest
I know you can hear me
We barely know how
To help one another down here
The dead go on
Quarreling inside us
And the so-called living
Though there’s more
Than enough love
To go around alright
Still think we’re here
To compete and win
But you know all this
Star on the horizon
Of a whole new night

Fire Spirits Valentine

All cacti and most
Succulents conform
To the forms of fire
Like snowflakes to cold
Air and moisture
Because everything is burning
Where they have to survive
Like glass blown and flowing
Into individual sketches
Of conflagration
At different moments
In the life of summer
They don’t long for leaves
When they can carry such flowers
They don’t want to be trees

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Samos Valentine

More Greek my life seems
Than Canadian-American
As I get older
Less dramatic
More Socratic
And to have a scribe
Like Plato to record
Your every word
A dying world
When a god could still speak
From inside a man
Now we’re lucky
If one even comes to mind
O streets of Samos     O beaches

Dancing Valentine

I pray for the courage
To suffer my own will
That it listen to me
When I call out to it
As its most trusted friend
Its very ground and heart
When I ask it to bend
To the truth without fear
To beauty without envy
Or when I tell it
To stop here and rest
In the darkness with me
Animal darkness
Whose pelt I wear
Dancing around a new fire

Standing Postcard Valentine

At this point
We’re still at
The toilers-and-traders stage
Slaves or masters
Preserve me from myself
The motto of our time
It’s a Wednesday at 3 o’clock
I await your arrival
These words accompanied
By a photo on the other side
Faded now of a swim-suit
Standing in a little boy
By a northern lake
Who disappeared though
The lake’s still there

Eating the Soul Valentine

They will be separated
Feelings and the will
And the thoughts will go
Their own way of return
The soul sliced and diced
To be added to the stew
As separate ingredients
Each saved over from
Some previous world
One senses a cook at work
One reckons with a recipe
As if the table was set
Everyone starving but
No one hungry enough yet

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Virgin Eye Valentine

Not to strain
My new sight
With past relapses
But peering through
A colander of stars
Step down the light
To the little I can bear
A drop supplies the world
Before the world collapses
Its HD veneer
To see the eye
That made the world
To see it

Promises Promises Valentine

I will prepare
For your sweetness
As if it had
Already arrived
I will turn my head
As a free person
And look at you
As if you were
Already here
I will not be
Dissuaded even
By myself as if
You had already
Come and gone

Cataract Valentine

The I’s
A disguise
That proves the body
Breathing in it cries
Why would a great being
Want to be a human being
Or is it the other way around
If not to acquire something
Only available on the earth
But what could we possibly offer
The gods would suffer for
When all we own
Is all they gave us
And most of that in ruins
No one to free us but ourselves

Sunday, June 11, 2017

First Valentine

The pure gold
Of our first words
The tarnished pennies
Of our last
A symbol is the morning birds
Of what’s to come the chirping
Of another world
Once we get past this one
Not to abandon it
But to see the beginning
The center and the end
Of its intentions
For surely        freely
This was all intended