Monday, June 30, 2014

On the Coast of Myself Valentine

Now I see what will amaze me
when I’m seventy is what amazed me
when I was sixty and fifty and forty
that I’m still not quite myself
I still only occupy a small outcropping
on the map I think of as myself
wave-ruined and languorous hillock
of stones in coastal fog
a morning in early February
straw light climbing the wall
winter built of blocks of cold
or I’m dreaming like January
praying for an early thaw 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Beautiful Together Valentine

His ex-lover called to say
he’s moving in with his
ex-lover later today
so better not be calling
for a while or did he mean
to call more often
he’s still not sure
this time will work
he’s still so unaware
but it can’t be worse
we thoroughly agree
than his time with me
we were beautiful together
except that part about
entering the other’s heart

Planetarium Valentine

What are the obvious implications
of these planetary circulations
except that all green things
grow round if not in leaf
than in their whole formation
the way a body builds its head
out of what the head discards
the sun would yield its flower
the flower its conclusive seed
my only other creed
is the sorrow of the hour
the heart must turn
broken and scattered
as must have happened once
with Venus Mercury and Mars
a dying going back to Saturn

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sleeping Valentine

Every night in sleep I go back
to the beginning of my life
my alter ego and I
as if we were starting over
with a new spirit of conspiracy
a deepened sense of recognition
(a rufous cherub in the corner
of the painting smiles – babies
as brilliant as Thomas Aquinas
scattered all over this canvas)
I go back to being a child
and turn and look back at myself
as I am today whatever day it is
and ask Are we there yet
is this what you had in mind
when you left me behind

Friday, June 27, 2014

Best Valentine

Nothing well may be the best you do
nothing may be well done
the best may be
the nothing you do so well
or you could reprise your best
but not do it as well
though it may be the best
to what your nothing does
and may even be well done
leaving you with nothing well
and nothing to be done
though nothing may well be
the best thing left to do
nothing but the best of you

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Rule Valentine

To sit down first thing every morning
and assess the facts on the ground
have you grown even a smidge
less grotesque more profound
really what side of the family
is always trying out extinction
which turns out to mean
being pretty thoughtless and mean
since no one’s going anywhere
who isn’t returning soon
thus our souls are subject to disease
which we overcome or die
often after a long illness
where all the stages of philosophy
are re-lived and re-distilled
in richly-colored tableaux
life scurrying into art
as if it could escape

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Staying Youthful Valentine

Soak them good
two or three passes
with the hose over them
the souls of the dead
seeds in the ground
let them fester a little
after so much fussing
salt locks time
in its crystal chapels
Lucifer is a precise
chemical combination
a formula for the end
of all formulae but still
let us hold one true human being
in front of us long enough
to figure out how it’s done

St. John’s Day Valentine

Thy love is limitless
it’s my capacity must grow
to be both seed and forest
to get past all I know
but how can a roach encompass
the sun’s circumference
or the king of roaches reach
past his moony perch
endowed with sorrow
rich in pus and sores
let me remember
like a Greek his myths
this was the way you went
so must I follow

Monday, June 23, 2014

News That Isn’t New Valentine

When poetry gets captured
tortured and enslaved
sent out into the fields
to labor over whiteness
with bloody brooding hands
when poetry gets arrested
like wild horses whispered to
harnessed to loaded carts
of industrial manure
when poetry gets raped
legally and in the streets
without witnesses or sound
you know something’s been lost
but who knew poetry could suffer so long
who knew it was only people
singing softly in the ground

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Possible Valentine

Because we cannot explain ourselves
even to our own dubious satisfaction
we can see we don’t nearly possess
the kind of equilibrium necessary
for our own creation let alone
what it will take to rescue us
from ourselves or what it has taken
so far even theoretically speaking
because there’s something in us
heading toward extinction
that makes life an endless
preparation for actual living
because we know we are nothing
more or less valuable but what
some clearer intelligence
wants to accomplish with
our possible participation
the willingness to love it back

Cultic Valentine

Color is a stage in our decay
picture a yellowish-gray
laid down beside a sea
that’s me my shell and I
beaten by the red waves
slowly encircling the sky
here in the land of Zeus
where the cult of the body
was born the perfect male
the perfect female form
whose destiny was not
the tourist trade before
Orpheus went off to Rome
leaving his Eurydice behind
a whole culture where color
and the cult of color was born

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tropes of Summer Valentine

Out of the proliferation
of profligate prologues
out of the poorly-washed window
on which the inside and
the outside are written
smitten with one another
to put it biblically
a shelf is poised above the sidewalk
bearing a slice of amethyst and a pot
of cactus about to bloom as leap
to feel the taut rope beneath
your feet as you step across
the transparency of the glass
the worlds as closely abutted
as pyramid stones only
a soul could slip through
necessity freely walking the air

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Solstice Valentine

The intense heat and light
of summer pull everyone up
into the still wild blue ethers
above the earth so we all
want to run away or take
a vacation or lose ourselves
even if only unconsciously:
we feel ashamed of our shortfalls
which makes honesty extremely
challenging for everyone as well:
isn’t death itself just a long vacation
filled with seminars and concerts
long walks and windy silences
camping on a beach of stars:
don’t we all want to go back
to being mere ideas grand
and clear and strong ideas
of ourselves at least for a while

Important Valentine

The important thing to remember today
is what I heard the black post-woman say
to her cell as she dropped my mail
into the white metal box by the door –
‘…so everything Felicia said is true…’
was all I caught before she turned
and went on listening down the street
sorting through the next delivery
hurrying on and humming at her phone:
so there it is if you can believe it
‘…everything Felicia said is true…’
I don’t even know who Felicia is
but I want to meet her I want
to congratulate her for speaking
the truth and then I want her
to tell me exactly what it is

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Euclidean Valentine

Draw a straight line
out from yourself
to the far horizon
everything above this line
is air and temperature
everything below
is water and shore:
now draw another line
that goes straight through you
from the infinitely distant above
to the molten center
of the earth under your feet:
this is what Plato called
the cross of the world
and if you hang there long enough
time separates from space
the inside becomes the outside:
so he didn’t want to stay
he felt the earth was like
visiting a foreign country
whose brutal and incomprehensible
customs only the gods could still:
it took Aristotle to convince him
we’re all immigrants come
to love the earth our home

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tidying Up Valentine

Memos to myself I find
lying all over the house:
water 20% off this week:
don’t call you I’ll call me:
there are two I’s in some words:
we are the infants of the universe
almost everything else is either
trying to help us or to kill us
turn us into angels or robots:
they force us to take their side
and then they feel if we can’t
be trusted we’re no use to them:
a phone number without a name
is seeking a license without a car

Bloom's Valentine

If you can recognize some good
in the world in everything
then you can recognize God
he’s just staring you in the face
the furthest thing from your mind
and if you can recognize
the necessary evil in the world
then you can recognize yourself
as a manuscript still being
worked on still stumbling
toward and yet evading
its conclusions its epilogues
the library is so beautiful today
and I’ve just run out of ink

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Historical Valentine

There are always two armies at war:
one trying to prevent the past
from destroying the future
and one trying to enshrine the past
in order to prevent the future:
their differences are all doctrinal
revealing both sides must die
thereby bankrupting the religions
they fight to defend:
there came already
the religion of peace
existent for three years
before it was put down
after which the war resumed
with a whole new set of weapons

Friday, June 13, 2014

Know Thyself Valentine

You know how a word
over time comes to mean
its opposite how a desert
in one continent creates
rain for another how a hero
turns into a plagiarist
a priest a pedophile
a laborer a capitalist
a child a monster
you know how Abraham
turned on Isaac and
Brutus on Caesar and didn’t
you too feel the kiss his warm
lips accepting yours?

Dreaming Valentine

These warm uncharted summer nights
after the gods have fallen asleep
but their messengers remain awake
the way the moon remains alight
merely a memory of the sun
and even now where you are sitting
where the first trees once swayed
where the great performances
of dancing and music and song
lifted bodies a little from the earth
now a deep listening sets in
and from the star-lit dark descends
the warmth and stillness
of a birthing self within

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Scientific Valentine

How vastly different
our daily lives would be
if we knew for a fact
life continues after death
that there really is a world
where one not only doesn’t
have to pretend but can’t because
everything there is seen through
with nothing left to hide behind
and if we knew for certain
we are all caught up
in a long-term process
of planning and development
under the guidance of beings
much more evolved than us
if we knew this for a scientific fact
and as a personal experience
like gravity or the aurora borealis
would we then get serious
would we then feel some peace at last

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Birdsong's Valentine

Place it ahead of the verb
all that has to be said
about me or you it seems
the words have changed
nothing of the kind is left
outer life growing ever inward
and then outwardly again
losing all feeling for the sound
drawn back into abstraction
the music thrown off
the nuance separates the outside
falls out of awareness  while
something inside ascends
hovering over things
reality at one remove
nothing actual about it
but the idea’s will

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ape's Valentine

For twelve months we wait
for these few days to encounter
the pure genitalia of the cactus
hot pink with a yellow center
otherwise known as the flower
while down under the dirt
its veined brain with its words
weighs the quiddities
of knowledge and power
while aloft the busy needles
fall asleep at their machines
dreaming new shades of green
while we stand mouths agape
who to this flower is not hairy ape

Monumental Valentine

Some things come by way of blood
as natural concupiscence or
rational inference some things
invent a strategy for their reception
and so come gilded beyond
a simple shepherd’s dreams
but you come by way of love
and therefore nothing natural
about it can be desired or inferred
the only free thing in the world
still embodied in a touch
whose bidding is a boding
when the god inside decides
to revolutionize the blood
but you come by way of love

Monday, June 9, 2014

Elemental Valentine

After we all get hosed down
dripping and catching the sunlight
we can enjoy the morning’s survival
letting our leaves luxuriate
like the hair of a natural woman
combed by the sun and stretched
and pulled into a braid of flowers
we are not long for this earth
but have a ticket to return
which creates a worry-free zone
of beauty where the work gets done
in the morning gatherings we prepare
a new dream for the world
which by the stifling afternoon
has turned again to lust

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Flames Valentine

To live in the expectation
of glory was the construction
they put upon it and so lived
the miracle of every day
in a profound happiness
almost inconceivable today
which was to them a natural thing
the beautiful part about beauty
that one doesn’t have to think
about it and the relief
not to feel contempt or sourness
to unite must be the destiny
of all things and people
and yet one feels sad
for the loss of sorrow

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Against Selfies in Poetry Valentine

I too oppose them
but I enjoy watching others
with self-image issues
what they're up to and think
we don’t really get to look
at ourselves enough when
we’re younger despite the
redoubtable Geoffrey Hill
who feels the poem is more
important than the poet
while I pleadingly protest
how can the poem just toss
the poet out the window
someone so loved so long
and yet it must
if either is to succeed
I count success
to be summarily forgotten
once the poem is done
as background as the Baptist
once the One has come

Friday, June 6, 2014

Father's Valentine

His frown was a crease
on the pillow of his face
his smile was the down
leaking from a rip re-sewn
as if another face had slept
on his face leaving its stain
of dreams where it had lain
his face was a corpse
always about to rise again
out of its pillowy coffin
and mutter bring me a beer
what had I a boy to fear
it’s hard to sleep
without a father near 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Religious Valentine

At 4:57 PM I was finally able
to sit down alone on the sofa
and begin my habitual staring
out the window for hours
because I love to watch the light
its blues and grays and whites
almost as fascinating as real people
but at a much slower rate perceptually
in ancient times the sun
was rightly worshipped by everyone
as the origin of all life our home
back in the day when
there was only one religion
to become a sun on one’s own

Pile's Valentine

The compost pile isn’t there for itself
the way some flowers can be said
to be there for themselves
with their peccadillos and procedures
how else could you hold all
the garden’s sins and failures
to your breast like flowers
but in a heap of ardor
slowly curing your heart
in the cold fire of forgetting
crumbling to your knees
posing as a grave or wave
dreaming of your return
trembling in the trees