Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year’s Eve Valentine

For us now all problems
are moral problems
when what’s natural matures
its most beautiful creatures
it becomes a moral picture
doubt becomes a red rose
shame becomes a blue sky
fear becomes a flown bird
while the world works
from the inside out
the gods work from the outside in
and guess who gets grandfathered in
the one who feels most left behind
but having let blind intelligence
fall to the earth
now only the heart can carve
a path of return

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In Honor of the Disaster Valentine

We know what will happen
but we’re not sure when
though we have some ideas
based on the behavior of dogs
and we suspect our own immorality
but prefer to see that as remote
how could a lie finesse the weather
or a rape result in earthquakes
yet as certainly as everything affects
everything else in the world
this is our once upon a time
happening over and over
and as we descend
so must the gods come with us
or with us ascend

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

We Are All Estranged Brothers Valentine

The perfection of memory
must be the goal of evolution
so many latecomers die
at the end of the year
as if catching the last plane
out of an exploding country
the world is that place
progress doesn’t actually occur
promises aren’t really kept
and where good can only go
halfway because it’s not
enough unless to it
be given guts
lots and lots
of guts

Monday, December 28, 2015

Threshold Valentine

In deepest depths of day
I can almost see my angel working
his way through so much
dark and fog to me
while I so oddly encumbered
hardly every think of him
anymore but when I do
I feel moved to dance
and throw myself around the room
and cry with joy and thanks
like the momentary rumbling
of the volcano of a love
I thought extinct or sleeping
but I don’t I sit for a minute
and peer down the long hallway
of our lives together
first left then right

first the past then the future
before I cross the threshold
before I return to my little life

Epic Valentine

Here you can imagine
the epic poem you
don’t want to write
in which the refrain
‘And just like that ‘
is used repeatedly
to explain the billion
unseen accidents
that never happen
as for instance
how just like that
your heart was born
and died broken and
rose again still
wearing some dirt
to prove where
the glory came from

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Chrysanthemums Valentine

Does God the Son look out his window
on a drive-by through the hood
‘know you ain’t doin’ what you should
but I still love you bro’
shining from his face
do you really think so sis
and yet I absolutely do
feel he hangs out a lot
with certain seasonal rhythms
of speech certain dance steps
that have a tree-like structure
like these white chrysanthemums
preserving for centuries
all that stays behind
in childhood waiting
for our return

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Solstice Valentine

The breeze is so slight
only two or three blades
of grass are moving the air
is white with sunlight
high up in the leaves
the cat of the world
curls at your feet
an animal’s pure love
a plant’s pleasure
do you see now
how love had to
invent time for us
if it was ever going
to accomplish
the kind of tenderness
it had imagined
in its first awakening

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Naked (At Last) Valentine

One by one
he puts them down
as he counts them
his gold nuggets like
leaves on the ground
the pomegranate tree
but after ten full
bushel’s worth he
loses count falls
asleep dreams
of a little cottage
on the coast
a quick lunch
with Ovid
a long walk
along the shore
with Blake
before he’s called
naked before the vast
audience of stars
to sing his heart out
as if he was at the Met
as if his great wealth
had bought him a voice
as if all those stars
had given him a choice

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


1.      The Song of the Liver

Thirst was made for water almost
more than the other way around
for what does water thirst for
but to drink the ground
to transform one thing into another
to salvage and to discard
to separate and tear down
to bear the derelict thought
down into the ornament of limbs
with the courage to dance alone
and stand and swirl and roar
above the sand unfurl the shell
of self and build another shore
2.      The Song of the Lungs

Unseen birds sing
in the twin trees
of the lungs
whose leaves
keep the red of fall
before they fall
in the spring
of an old soul-hurt
become a body’s hardening
xylem phloem and bark
whose breath is so unselfish
they live on what’s leaving
discard what others need
keeping rooted in the earth
barely a breeze in a reed

3.      The Song of the Kidneys

What are they listening for
those ears at the bottom
of the stairs when the breath
comes down and stands there
turns and then ascends
they hear voices in the blood
bringing word of the outside world
whether to be afraid or laugh
to feel betrayed or saved
learning to fly upwind
against too much emotion
or to pace and run in circles
frantic as a lost child
the blood that rushes in amazed
and rushes out as red and wild

 4.      The Song of the Heart

If it's really feelings and a few thoughts
that pump the blood through the heart
then what is the heart’s purpose
except to cup the blood like a hand
and hold it fast for a few moments
in its arriving and departing
the fresh flushed face
at the window of the bus
the wrinkled body entering the flames
here in the heart they break
side by side without touching
the blue stallions of the dead
riding past the children of the red
flowing in opposite directions
proving the heart is not the head

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Saurian Valentine

What if we were the dinosaurs
the tyrannosaurus rex the pterodactyl
in our earlier incarnations
what if they were true and accurate
portraits of us in that epoch
the last animal forms
we're still working to cast off
and didn’t the dinosaurs
destroy themselves or
was it some external force
their own viciousness provoked
too bestial to fail
in the days before
the I arrived as a child
asleep in the lion’s lair

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cold Nights Valentine

The airport is at the bottom
of a huge bowl at the center
of the amphitheatrical city
encircled by gray mountains
so everyone no matter how far away
can hear the planes landing and leaving
especially at night when you wake up
inside the churning factory of darkness
hearing that deep roar in the distance
as if some great battle was underway
but still far enough and cold
you can safely turn in your sleep
and after a while you stop listening
no matter how loud or invasive
you live in that drone and dream
of the peace of Bethlehem long gone

Emily’s Birthday Valentine

A new battery
made my watch
run backwards
so I could catch up
on a few days
I missed a few
words I meant
to revise my whole
life gradually
got involved
as I unraveled
to my first
screams my earliest
recognitions of
our dire situation

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Valentine for Jess

Do you remember
finding that yellow
lady’s-slipper in our
woods years ago
on one of the paths
I made trying to tame
the tangle of young
oaks and maples
a new forest
seemed possible
a new name
a new discovery
and for one so small
proved the miraculous
reigns above all

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Archetypal Valentine

That there was only a father
who had no son or daughter
was the first story he told us
about a god who lived alone
behind all things but who
secretly wanted a child
which was the second story
he told himself before us
before conceiving a way
for it to happen in the wilds
of the material world
but now how far out of hand
this whole thing has gotten
since that day he was begotten

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Barn’s Valentine

If you knew everything
you would know how useless
knowledge leads to power
you would know how to control
yourself and influence a few hours
with your calm demeanor
but still not know how to love
how to relinquish knowledge
and abstain from power
love which only death can prove
dangling between life and life
because you remembered
the place of your birth
and every year
return to earth

Circumstantial Valentine

Standing nearby
a tree rather
inconclusively I
waited for the next
thing to happen
proof-reading reality
to kill some time
you were never late
I was always early
how could you speak
to reality like this
casually even indifferently
beginning as a helpless infant
just like everybody else

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Immaculate Valentine

A drop of blood
in the form of a finch
fell on the ground
it was the only sound
death had left
the last red leaf
but in the silence
you could hear
from far out in space
armies of light
rushing toward the earth
toward the tiny figure
of a girl on a donkey
in which to drown
in love alone

Monday, December 7, 2015

Yardscape with Cockroach Valentine

He too had been awaiting
the sunrise and stood alone
at attention unmoving solemn
on the promontory of a paving stone
in prayerful homage to his god
in whose sunlight the future arrives
stepping out from its hiding places
he knew someone had to play
the cockroach the one fallen
so far everyone is against him
even the cat hissed at him
strolling past full of disdain
but he also knew his god alone
had experienced such pain

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Love or Power Valentine

How much of the pleasure
of having a physical body
is often in abusing it or
enduring it being abused
love comes to transmute us
not to settle for the flesh
but first it must be disabused
of its power over the mind
after all it is the mind itself
which alone confers its power
to see the sense of surrender
the tenderness of acquiescence
and not to be afraid to love
for which the body arrayed
is only an early pretender

Falling For the Third Time Valentine

Earth is things
that keep coming up
needing to be
taken care of
some traceable to
foreseeable signs
ignored and so
one’s own damn fault
but others by far
the greater murders
from some other lives
I borrowed
and never returned
till now

Choirs Assembling Valentine

There’s a woman in the clouds above me
or she could be androgynous actually
now she really is a he all three
forms of the human a Mary
a porn star and a simple man
who has found the angels really do
inhabit the clouds that’s not a myth
moisture in the air gives them
a whole new concept to work into
it’s clear matter wants to destroy
unless some force re-creates it
pun intended son of joy
who arrives in what looks
cloudy to us due to our not yet
pure vision as Buddha says

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Plutonic Valentine

Inside the shadow of the tree
the shadow of a bird keeps
moving about on the gray wall
and then at three-thirty
the sky sighs quietly
as if in the final stages
of the defeat of acceptance
and many more birds come
casting their quick shadows
from inside the sun-lit tree
onto the blank wall of heaven
so now I can’t make out a thing
I wouldn’t change about my life
so much space for improvement
and then a garden

Friday, December 4, 2015

But Who’s the Ten For Valentine

Mostly often
they got you
fishing rods
license fees
apple with cheese
this man is going to jump
smell the world
the protest follows you
some vicious man is always
trying to beat up on J. Doe
I want to talk to you
so was this your dumb idea
this earth extravaganza thing
this cockamamie human being
this parade of bedtimes Lord

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tonight’s Valentine

The red finches like to sleep
in the pomegranate tree
these cold hard nights
their covers the leaves
but the leaves are leaving
and more every day
that’s the pomegranate’s way
the naked widow of another summer’s
false bravado and sweet wit
how old she’s grown gnarled
with a few bruised dugs left
hanging shamelessly
leaving me to sweep
the leaves and clean the shit
staining the old red bricks
but where will they sleep tonight

Alchemical Valentine

In the process of precipitating
into a physical body
like a lake or a thought
of a lake with one cloud
floating above it
or one cloud with a lake
floating heavily above it
the hexagrams of the stars
dancing in the darkness
not dice or chance at all
but the meticulous
swaying of beings
above and within us
creating destroying
the last safe place

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nostalgic Valentine

So where is my Rilke tonight
left on some lover’s shelf
a lover of the light
and the dark self I chose
a friend of the beautiful
things in life
which come down
to life itself
earthly life
cosmic life
the little life
and the father
of all grief
and life

Elegiac Valentine

Why be well
can one be well
without a reason
on this life raft
easy to tip over
or slip under one
early evening
torn from her people her language
cancer recurring all her life
abusive alcoholic husband
violent schizophrenic daughter
for which her reward was
tumors and a colostomy bag
after sixty-five years
of trying not to die