Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cyclopean Valentine

My right eye flickers
like a light bulb
about to burn out
while my left is almost
perfect and carries the light
the way a mountain carries
its landscape in folds
around it and in furrows
but without the depth
and width only two
together can provide
when one has died 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nashville Valentine

We’re running out of honey
honey and we’re running out of gas
stuck on this run-on highway
like a sentence worse than death
where the past first met her match
and the future still bows and scrapes
we’re running out of heaven honey
so we’re tapping into hell
exploding and finessing
denuding and caressing
singing our way to hell

Losing Valentine

When you work your way back
you find you are losing your life
first the morning fills up with
wrong numbers and cold coffee
then you try again to read about
the old Greeks was there another
people more the youth of the world
the rich young men of Athens and Sparta
Socrates’ students then the afternoon
lumbers around the yard refusing
to come indoors for crying
and finally twilight and night
vacant elegant equestrians
nudge you with their noses
as you fall asleep

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Volunteer's Valentine

Even a stem
thin as a thread
a volunteer
among the settled
foliage with six
tiny leaves but
what holds it up
draws it up
I am it says
a person with
full rights
and privileges
I transact
the business
of the sun
don’t you see
we live at
one another’s

Monday, October 28, 2013

Undefeated Valentine

When thinking starts to hurt
you hope you’re getting somewhere
like coal miners caught
deep underground or weekend
sailors battling a hurricane
who may not return
and finally when you have to
give it up and come right to the end
of thinking like a long hallway
at the end you find a picture
that becomes a mirror
on closer inspection
and you see how all the thoughts
were coming out of this picture
all along out of what it was
itself a stand-in for something
more substantial and complete
than even thinking could defeat

One More Valentine

Poor whip-
keeps saying
read my lips
but I’m back
stuck on our
record night
poor too I’ve
grown seeking
your thoughts
to know another
one more bird
is even harder
I would rather
kiss than read
your lips I
would rather
go round like
this forever

Sunday, October 27, 2013

All Souls Valentine

In the month when the leaves
have to be swept up every day
or they become impenetrable
on the nights when the old people
have to be kept locked up
or they wander away
under the dropped uterus moon
when the dead of the year assemble
and the cat gallops like a pony on the roof
do we have to turn off the lights
and eat our own candy in the dark
while the television flickers
or can we open the door to fear
even if someone who knows how
to raise the dead walks among us
along with these goblins and ghouls

Literary Valentine

In most writing
story is firstborn
then words come
but in the poem
Language is born
first and since
the story is always
the same it’s just
an excuse for
Language to take
center stage
or drive a kayak
through meaning’s
white water
for meaning is a
kayak’s kayak
which is not what
I started out to say
but at first I left the I
out of that last sentence full
disclosure is 75% of the poem today

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bowing Valentine

If you bow to the west
bow to the east also
if you bow to no God
don’t bow to yourself either
we are all worshippers
of someone or some idea
personally I prefer the former
unspeakable the beauty
of most people at some point
on the ride home tonight
what we call happiness
is that two or three seconds
between the depressed past
and the anxious fitful future –
live there with me

Fricking Valentine

In order for things to get
significantly better here
everyone in this world
will have to shut up
and sit down
and put up with a long
embarrassing harangue
administered by one’s own
unmet expectations and other
assorted failures of nerve
and witnessed by all one’s prior
manifestations which will have
everyone laughing
you most of all
until the awful gratitude
we started with returns
the smiles our faces are for
and we can all finally agree
that only love is sane
that only love is real
but that’s not fricking
about to happen I'm afraid
anytime soon

Friday, October 25, 2013

Torn Valentine

Sooner or later
you have to grow
a philosophy about
these terrible things
that keep happening
to you either a conscious
philosophy in which
you reason with
yourself an obviously
torn creature
or an unconscious
philosophy in which
you remain a bitter
or a happy person

Planting the Hibiscus Valentine

Location vocation locution
dig out the old soil
a hole like a womb
how long we waited
lay in well-composed
manure mixed with
some of the old virgin
shovelfuls of loam
use your own imagination
if we wanted to
what flowers would we make
out of our own arms
fingernails and yawns

Flying Valentine

How much do I worry
about quartz countertops
popcorn ceilings startlingly
white teeth teen suicide
perennial plants organ donors
long nose hairs dirty eyeglasses
breaking news fallen asses
wall sconces glaring inconsistencies
phony hallways erotic birds
Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s boots
the interruption reality can be
if these are the things I try
to get in front of as I fly
through the sky
holding your face

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Transitional Valentine

In that transitional moment
between the love of my life
and the love of my life
recognizing that what it took
to get here must become
the thing that has to go
that the barking dog
barks to call his master home
not to protect the place
that I missed the bus
and walked from 33rd
to 142nd St. that night
transitioning from one
love to another I wrote
them down but they
were all one now gone

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rising Valentine

How many rooftops
in the chill of time
the sun must leap
before it really rises
above the level of
sanctimonious clouds
already hard at work
and comes at last to
my neighbor’s roof
where I wait and watch
first its radiant aura
peering at it from the side
just above the ridge-line
with steep glances yes I say
I am the one over here
in the darkness where
I wait for you to find me
finally rising as you must

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Heroic Valentine

For years we remain
oblivious to some central
aspect of ourselves
which if admitted we think
would bring us devastation
and yet backstage the scenarios
swing back and forth on their tracks
holding the promise of growth
for the epic self who can
traverse several species
in a single bound
while all the audience
we are to ourselves applauds
but from a long way down 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fallen Valentine

Autumn language
mild violence
leaves indoors get dusty
the statue in the garden
taking a selfie
its face a sun
first there was the idea
of mankind but who
would be fit to carry it out
how far ahead
did the gods think
do you think
look how carefully they’ve sewn
together the illusion of freedom
with the stitches of love

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tea Party Valentine

Conservatives are preservers
of the past not creators the future
frightens them into stockpiling
lives as righteous hoarders
but the spirit despises cheapness
and the pretense of virtue
as if holiness were a competition
and God played favorites
except he does at times it’s true
even he has to give it up
for a humble man or woman
who has learned to love
for its own sake this world
and the neighbor of the self
as God alone

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Thorny Valentine (for D.)

We wrestled that thorny
Palo Verde tree to the ground
you on the roof and me
on the ground we went
round and round sawing
and clipping and tearing
getting our hands torn and
our arms ripped open for five
bushels of thorns and a pile
dragged to the bloody alley
while you cursed me
and I cursed the tree
why didn’t you listen to me
when I told you to kill
that thorny thing a week
after you planted it
but o no you said it was
for the yellow flowers
in the spring stupid
yellow flowers
in the spring

Friday, October 18, 2013

Eclipsed Haiku Valentine #2

You can tell that dove
has been shot at the way
it stays well out of range
in the spring and in the fall
hunters fill the woods
until the last thing is killed
winter comes to represent
the pollen of the dead
the soul inside each seed
in the clearing I thought
my failed loves
could finally evaporate
partly the pride I take
in these hollyhocks
keeps me on the earth

Eclipsed Haiku Valentine

Overnight my backyard has become
another nightclub for tourist birds
the pileated woodpecker stars
one show only in October
it’s like a beach town otherwise
in the winter the lonely surf
I could occupy this afternoon
move in completely and stay put
if only this evening wasn’t so jealous
in  the end our bodies
take their revenge
for dragging them through this life
what others do to us the sky said
is nothing to the punishment
we inflict upon ourselves

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shoppers Valentine

My head is sextile to the sun today
my heart is trine the moon
a full one in partial eclipse
if you must know and I see you do
try not to look directly at my face
if you can imagine this as my face
but just a little to the left or right
until you slowly start to notice
how all the letters blur
into a crowd of faces
that come right up to you
one at a time and stare
straight into your eyes
these are only the early
morning shoppers
don’t let them dissuade you
my hand is conjunct
to your hand today

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Genealogical Valentine

If you cross a trellis
with a vine
you get a shelter
if you cross a sheep
with a wolf
you get a slaughter
if you cross a mind
with an idea
you get an altar
I had to get a ladder
to climb through a hole
in the ceiling which
didn’t quite reach
I woke in the night
to the sound of ships
leaving but always
the bay was empty
and you were nowhere
to be found

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Indian Summer Valentine

What is as self-conscious as a poem
maturity is all that follows insouciance
now that we’re at the end of the future
and must face it further into ourselves
or drop it even if we do get rid of God
what do we do with call it evil
about which we have whole sciences
constructed and destroyed
just the history of libraries fills
several libraries cemeteries
of dead ideas in reposeful
rows here the martyrs
there the saints we were
here the silence listening
there the speechless trees

Monday, October 14, 2013

Shivering Valentine

I hunt around the yard to find
the first few lines of the poem
but the yard is like a mob
shouting or a child wailing
or the moment the lion
sinks a claw in the delicate
ankle of her prey
it turns me away
I shake all day
while the lions feed
on sunlight and blood
and the last few lines of the poem
barely a moment too soon
in terror run off with the herd

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Getting It Valentine

Like the old man
rushing into a room
who can’t remember
what he came to get
suppose we all get
what we came to get
that not only did we
rush headlong into
this world but we
all remembered what
we came to get
and got it going from
thing to thing not sure
what we were looking for
without even knowing
we were looking
pretending we weren’t
thus the beauty
of modern poetry

Friday, October 11, 2013

Found Blackboard Valentine

You are not pretty
You ARE NOT pretty
I was told I was not pretty
I wonder why I was told
I am not pretty
I wonder why
I wonder so much

Explanatory Valentine (for John Ashbery and Alice Munro)

The great thing she said
about getting old is that
you’re finally relieved of caring
about what anyone thinks of you
but then later in an interview
she said that bad reviews
bothered her and she refused
to read them anymore
the two women of herself agreed
age did not bring wisdom
they were the same inside
as when they turned 11
and knew they would write
a new apotheosis of gossip
in the time leftover
from having a normal life
it was all they could handle

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cloud Lit Valentine

Today’s to do list
includes clipping
toenails something
the dead don’t have
to worry about
today’s clouds
cruising north
filled with snowflakes
and lightening fires
the dead live
in the future
while we the living
fill up the past
with snow and flying
toenail clippings

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Leaf's Valentine

Leaf tried to be me
leaf tried to take my place
drifting and carousing
even with no breeze
falling and sleeping
and they wonder how matter
accumulates how dirt gathers
into a human being
without noticing
it’s all movement
rising out of warmth
which must have come first
and remains unexplained
as immaterial as feeling
rising out of darkness
into light on leaves

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Turkish Valentine

So much to do in the fall
drag out the soul
and shake it
hang it on the line
and beat it blind
of dust and crime
yes soul I’ve walked
all over you and even
slept on you some nights
holding the coffee table
how indelicate for a girl
like you from Istanbul
or wasn’t it a quiet town
near Ephesus a dodgy
merchant tricked you
into my possession
o soul o magic
carpet ride

Monday, October 7, 2013

TV in Autumn for Elvis Valentine

Somewhere between Liberace
and Andrew Lloyd Weber
lies Elton John who proves
it’s good to get old and command
young men on cellos around you
and wear orange wigs O rocket man
as if it was still 1963
while I watch here in 2013
a leaf  land in the crotch
of the pomegranate tree
one of several hundred falling
exact as a fig leaf
which in hiding only makes
it more exciting
O naked tree of man

Senior Valentine

Like the loss of innocence itself
the loss of memory has nothing
to do with the mind it’s simply
there’s so much happened
you know it’s somewhere
in that pile over there
you just can’t get a hand on it
right now but driving back
to the past you go in search
of that word that fact anyway
feeling everything is saved
or at least still exists somewhere
even our sins are kept like gold
our faults precious and preserved

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Preparatory Valentine

Surely one life can only be
a down-payment on a preparation
for another human life and so on
because no one life could even
vaguely satisfy the possibilities
of life in the forms you or I could take
or all of us could take together or alone
another rehearsal of a play we love
sometimes director-actor-cameraman
sometimes walking out in a fit
I’ve had enough of this shit
someday don’t ask me how
to become a real human being
with a true human story

Friday, October 4, 2013

The True World Valentine

The world is a test valentine
to see if you are ready
for the real one
which must come before
the true one can come
which you would not
have recognized
understood or appreciated
if it had come first
if it had not waited
and been waited for
the world is the final examination
on the last day of school
summer is already crossing the street
you look up from the questions
just long enough to see him wave

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hoarders Valentine

We’re all hoarders in our heads
who can keep track of everything
it piles up like who can remember
what you were doing on a particular
night three years ago for instance
yet it’s in there somewhere
in one of those stinking heaps
but who will ever find it
among the scorpions and mold
buried in the unrecognizable
kitchen or stinking in the hall
all these things are treasures
that day we couldn’t throw
anything away anymore
out of pity and a deep sense
of perhaps having been
(or being about to be)
thrown away ourselves 

Between Uranus and Pluto Valentine

A day hung
between the heights
and the depths
neither a balloon
nor a turd
but swung between two
legs the sack and key
that turns the lock
you have a lock
on my desire was
the way he put it
a day slung between
the eccentric and
the desolate a day
with perfect timing
a beating hard-on
and a smile

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10/1/2013 Valentine

I sit beside my
money tree and
hold its hand
a stake is all
that holds us up
to which we’re
tied as to a vision
by a leash of words
the sun we built
and put there in
a story illuminates
our veins with glory
but our leaves
are falling slowly