Friday, February 28, 2014

Waiting Valentine

Waiting for the rain
we lost all track of
space and time
the world began to rhyme
and a mourning dove I swear
was cooing ‘Get Lucky’
as if it truly knew how
to take lessons from the zeitgeist
the clouds rolled up their sleeves
after so many sunny mornings
the coming darkness will have to be
particularly wretched
and refreshing for the fearless
like us who know
what love is for

New Valentine

Sit down old man
among your conscious ruins
old flower while the sun
opens your bones
so you can hear the storm
slowly assembling in the south
though it’s none
of your business anymore
do that trick you’ve learned
of climbing thoughts each
tendril to its end until
they disappear
into the world of pictures
hidden right here the luminous
world of the real

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sprouting Valentine

Imagine what it’s like
to pull yourself
right up out of the ground
as if you’d been buried alive
but despite your panic
you’d fallen asleep and dreamt
for a few minutes about the day
you first felt alone and
stranded even from yourself
and the pain of that
woke you only to find
you were under the ground
but could still wrest yourself free
working one hand leaf-like upward
and pushing down against all hell

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Slave's Valentine

Stranded in the rainy Irish countryside
lost in a snowstorm in Wisconsin
baking on the stones of Samos
waiting for you on a bench in Paris
having a sandwich in Ipswich
or noticing a frotteur in Monteux
where the Ficus is a delicate princess
channeling forlornness into the world
but your point is not punctuation
that an asterisk be a kiss
on the lips of the reader
as it was on the writer’s before
whether from beauty or sorrow
wasn’t the heart always escaping
as if it had any rights of its own

Antique Valentine

A night for candles
the devils are out there
a German bisque googly doll
from her father’s side
watch if we open it up
it’s silver with gilt edges
probably the 1880’s
a Spanish inscription
it all depends on who wants them
like in the old films
of the steel mills
pumping out the golden age
old swords and old guns
a carved ivory brush pot
but look the rain has stopped

Monday, February 24, 2014

Beaten Valentine

They’re taking the roof off
one of the houses down the street
not with a bomb as it happens
in other cities so one pauses
at the door to hear the workmen
groan and beat the obdurate beams
with hammers and crowbars
to do honor to the trees
they’re hewn from the old towns
around here invisibly present
and unaccounted for to build
a whole new neighborhood
of graves and loves
just while I’ve been standing here
listening to them pound

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Healing Valentine

Early mornings
I sweep up
yesterday’s leaves
and water
and sit
that sparrow
the poem
to stir
the waters of
the birdbath
and heal me
which even
when he does
he just flies off
often shitting
on me as
he flees

Unnamed Valentine

In the presence of the dead
who of course live on without
bodies holding them together
in the absence of the living
who are still mostly asleep
in the time when the color
for safety returns to the breeze
and the formula for green goes public
and all at a microscopic level
all the way back to hydrogen
and the invention of prayer
but which came first
thirty times thirty denials
my name goes here
or acceptance of the spring

Friday, February 21, 2014

Crossing Valentine

A fountain in the shape
of a frosted glass door
to the other world
no water needed
a few dry pebbles
left behind to symbolize
the pure puddles
of heaven’s sky
it’s all a muddle
when you get there
and you barely find
your seat before it starts
you hum the score
the curtain rises it’s your life
in scenes you’ve never seen before

Silk Bracelet Valentine

A caravan to Konya
a cool open courtyard
every twenty miles or so
a caravanserai with a hundred camels
a donkey leads the way
a sensible fellow with a nose
for theological turn-offs
that only lead to bad minarets
and the scholar’s stalls
the glowing tiles still intact
now selling bracelets like
the one you brought me
my people have always
worn bracelets the old woman said
so we will know the one we love

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Musicale Valentine

Usually we take this
perceived reality too
literally and forget it’s
all a Potemkin village
another visit by the Red Cross
to the dressed-up concentration camp
where the talented girl violinist
plays Brahms not Mahler
but barely a week later
they enter the gas chamber
this thorn in our side
the world is not yet a human place
the gods still toy with us
their beautiful invention
and will run us if we let them

Villon Cover Valentine

Now last year’s leaves
made from last year’s rains
blow over and cover
the path to the past
which was already muffled
and taut as a riddle
and difficult to swallow
gone but never gone
or let’s just say put aside
Francois not to be a freak
about it yet something’s
laid away for the future
a kind of spiritual retirement plan
about which Wall Street
knows nothing

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Greek Valentine

How is heaven better
than this doomed earth
at evening when the sun
descending lifts us up
we can have heaven later
with our suppers
after a stroll along the harbor
as the moon leaps over
these were some of our earlier mistakes
and triumphs cemented over
as if they created themselves
as indeed they created this nothing
what the Greeks called beauty
by which they meant the world itself
not just everything in it

My Adolescent Valentine

If when you’re 56 in the body
you’re really only 14 in the soul
that would go a long stretch
toward explaining your grief
and would confirm your enduring
suspicion you are not at all
in control of your life
nor but in the loosest sense
free yet as a person to accomplish
most of your original potential
let alone the new obligations
accrued along the way

the heart always lags behind
or runs on far ahead
refusing to grow old or end

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Evolutionary Valentine

For years I would wake up
eagerly in the morning to see
what the dreamed world had prepared
for me alone as if some wise counsel
had inspired its construction
which I was charged to uncover
before sleep snuck back again
but what is all the mystery about
if there is nothing hidden there
which comes to seem more credible
fear or love if you consider
the slow evolution of goodness itself

from its purely mineral conception
through the slavery years of its youth
and still the whole world stacked against it

Monday, February 17, 2014

Plato's Valentine

Gradually one by one
we shadows may be able
to recognize our thoughts
are not of this world
this physical-mineral world
a personal experience
as fearful and decisive as
any sensual experience can be
to know one is chained
in Plato’s cave but to be writing
about it with a storyteller’s heart
one who has risen above the story
to that moment of encouragement
when you perceive yourself
as part of a realer realm

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Explanatory Valentine

Maybe the dead are the weathers
of the world the great oceans
of clouds gathering or self-effacing
that have no fixed abode
the warmth against the cold
the dry against the moist
clashing in monumental battles
inserting their spears of light
or fluttering down in ashy flakes
stirring the volcanoes into rumbling
the earthquakes to answer back
but they might as well be using

sign language to try to warn us
that what we have the power to destroy
only they have the power to bring back

Poet's Valentine

I am a poet yes but
are you really any good
that is not a question
that belongs in a poem
or in poetry for that matter
intellectualism has corrupted
the heart to betray
its greatest treasures
and violence is just down the street
the couple next door
aspire to great opera
with the right composure
while I tally the wings
we’ll need to rally
our ascent

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Everything Ends Badly Valentine

All ends and all endings
are bad everything ends badly
but all beginnings are brilliant
and go on and on brilliantly
even if to bad ends
how could there not be
something good in the beginning
not to come to a bad end
despite the brilliance
that persists long after
the beginning is achieved
we are all prodigies in our youth
only a few years later ending
under the spell of an evil world
as the fairytales foretold

Friday, February 14, 2014

Newport Valentine

At the vast outwardness
of the sea you draw
inwardly more deeply
down into the inner
workings of the sea
of inwardness
and if it’s just at sunset
you can feel yourself a part

of all the light that’s slowly
being taken over
by the darkness it’s like
the sun is speaking to you
be your own illumination
I can’t go like this forever
be the darkness
my light is burning through

Angel Mine's Valentine

I call my angel
Angel Mine
which might sound
a little corny
but my angel is
a little corny
a little sentimental
never in a mawkish way
but Angel Mine
I say you have a tender
heart and way to care
for one so blind
and he agrees
nothing if not honest
nothing if not fair

Heart Day Valentine

Here’s a bouquet of
pictures for you
of what’s blooming today
in my garden
as you are I hope
blooming today as always
two of these pictures
(can you find them?)
are of my newly-sprouted
morning glories blue
and purple some in a
pot some in the ground
under a trellis on
opposite sides of the
patio it’s a competition
for the best location
do you think they’ll
make it to bloom before
the heat kills them bad heat
but we’re going to try 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Seedless Valentine

A seed just wants to
make a new seed
the way a human
wants to make a new self
or to make many selves
just to get one that succeeds
in rooting sprouting
leafing flowering
but the green blood of the grass
stains the flagstones
when the bodies of summer
are dragged from the yard
all the self wants
is to make a seed
of a better self

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

National Valentine

In shade I sit
watching mocking
bird and hummingbird
and one intimidated sparrow
he would rather have
a criminal son who’s
straight than a national
athlete son who’s gay
America the high school country
molested by slavery as a child
now shorn of the ideals
of his early years
a bit of a bully and a bit of a creep
but brilliant so brilliant
it makes me weep

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lifted Glass Valentine

To the clear quadrant of sky
I’ve been given
and the block wall
of my garden my prison
and to the settling mound
of compost like a detached
breast I sprinkle some of
on my morning glorys
or is that ‘glories’
those to come and those
already among us if
largely invisible still
and to the little islands of heat
each of is
born from a love that endures

Time Becomes Space Valentine

The outward sign
of the real catastrophe
is the loss of the will to face
catastrophe itself
as always the immutable part
of any imminent collapse
but taking its sweet time
breaking all the records
an upheaval of the heart
which now we see
was scheduled all along
nostalgically inevitable
the sharp shadow of a bird
cutting through the sunlit wall
creating the world again

Monday, February 10, 2014

Benny's Valentine

A poem needs the serenity
of a suicide note without
all the bells and whistles
a stripped-down emergency
calmly reconnoitered later
seeking your forgiveness for
having slapped you
momentarily awake
and carefully talking you
down from the nightmare
of your life why not
admit that’s how it works
a trumpet sounds
but that’s just Benny
in the backyard practicing

Aquarius Moon Valentine

I want to paint
this blue pail of oranges
but I see the moon’s
already done that

I want to creep around
the house not to wake you
it’s like having you
and not having you
but of course you know
these thoughts don’t come
from my mind that snob
and stranger I live with
but from the deep under-
ground and widest
sky of my heart

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thinking's Valentine

So beautiful today
you feel like you’ll have
to pay for it in some way
pay it back it’s so rich
but in thinking thoroughly
you cannot come to
the wrong conclusions
if your thinking is true
do you think I live
just to wake up
and make you eggs
in the morning
do you think I live
just to love someone completely
yes you

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Drop's Valentine

The naiveté of health in the face
of the deadliness of the truth
if you were set free
then you must be dead
and that we are still not
the acme of ourselves
and yet who else
could it be
who keeps stumbling
forward into the past
bumping into ourselves
and taking offense
and every day vanishing
like the last drop
of water on the earth

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sitting Valentine

I try to sit quietly with the world
the way I sat with my dying mother
who slept fitfully and woke
not knowing me anymore
I keep going over
the hills of her hand
looking to soothe her
looking to understand
she promises me she
will be young again
this awkward dying’s
only temporary pain
I think of all the years she’s struggled
I think of all the children she’s had
I wonder was it all in vain

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Seymour's Valentine

Happiness is heroin
we can barely speak of it
when it kisses with its tongue
happiness is hard
obviously for all
who stick it out they go
right over the happiness bridge
even as the truth of their descent
begins to dawn upon them
happiness is holy
which explains our lack of it
the fears of our rejection
that it would turning away
be known
for the first and final time

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Morning Valentine

A sense of the common good
a common sense of the good
a good sense of the common
but when I walk by their houses
scattered among hills or jammed
tight as slaves together in a ship
I see all that’s forgotten
a sense of the hidden world
behind the obvious subject matter
an adamant refusal to see the body
as a product of moral pain
though we have all been left alive
for now as in some fairy story
closing our eyes to cross the bridge of death
and hurrying back by morning

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bob Dylan is Not the Bodhisattva Valentine

We don’t say ‘frick you’
or ‘I’ll frick you up’
but we do say ‘fricking’
because words are irresponsible
which is not a terrible thing
not to trust them past
their level of expertise
the limits of their ‘seducibility’
like the word ‘desire’
which could mean anything
but always includes ‘sire’
‘ire’ and ‘fire’ you don’t
have to spell it out
you can sit in the sun and stare
but it’s always there churning

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bodhisattva's Valentine

If reality is only a side-street
not a grand thoroughfare
if reality is an autobahn
not an anonymous alley
but compared to actual reality
our languages are still autistic
of course these are relative terms
so a language not yet speakable
will have to be created
if certain things can finally
get to be said and not the things
that bring death into the world
but the words themselves must act
like seeds proliferating unstoppably
a new spring in the human soul

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Knowing Myself Valentine

When I’m alone
I still don’t know
who or what I am
but it’s not an issue
I wrote that last night
before I fell asleep
but in a dream I completely
reversed myself
I had total self-awareness
and it was quite a shock
I mean how one can just
keep going on and on
recalling all one has been
and in a variety of moods
arranging all one will be