Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ars Poetica Valentine

I garden because
I can’t paint
but love colors
I paint because
I can’t write
but love words
I write because
I can’t garden
but love hoeing
it’s all for the viridian I need
like an extension
of my sense
of a past present
and possible self
along with those magenta
clouds of the first
light of morning
come to save my life

Sunny Valentine

Slowly the weight of heaven
hammers us back into the earth
the mineral world absconds
with the soul dragged down
felt but not seen where
the cold is coming from
OK it’s just winter guys
I have a plan to fix the future
which I will share with you
when you wish to become whole
the plant says to us humans
they don’t understand what’s
keeping us from becoming like them
creatures of light and strength
savants of the sun

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Heart’s Valentine

The heart’s religion
is a fantasy at first
a holy imaginary vision
soon corrupted by the earth
but for this love
it steps down into
darkness and fear
lives alone on the other
side of sentences with trees
friendly with the oppressed
and with the oppressor
swinging both ways
the heart’s science
is a mere theorem at first
until it becomes the heart’s art

There’s Valentine

What’s it like out there
at the edge of the known senses
to be welcomed in warmly
or to be coldly turned away
until we become convicted of matter
when nothing could be less real
we start to clutch at things
and make stuff up losing
all sincerity for sincerity or calm
but out there only one soul
is shared by many bodies
passing over the endless sand
and every night we go there
to be welcomed warmly
or coldly turned around

Friday, January 29, 2016

Connoisseur’s Valentine

A connoisseur of days
as against a mere critic
or art historian or buyer
with a good eye for bargains
is an enthusiast without getting
fanatical or over the top
about the gemstones that slide
through his fingers the still
mornings that should never
have been refinished cleaned
of their original luster
and value their signatures
blurred their dates erased
so taken is he by that one night
rediscovered hiding in the light

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pharaonic Valentine

As if I was sticking around
I keep accumulating things
but who doesn’t want
a flashlight or a bracelet
it’s all a symbolic gesture
like a pharaoh’s preparations
for the real life after
when awake on the other side
we know and feel and act
but cannot see or touch
except through things left behind
drawers of clothes or old tools
for working in the garden
or a solitary mind

Mysteries Valentine

What draws us to the ocean
I recognized when I read
about Lucius falling asleep
on the beach under the first
full moon of spring
this was millennia ago
and in his tearful dream
the goddess Isis the darkness
with the sun on her forehead
crowned with nameless flowers
and snakes appeared to him
out of the sea the eternal
feminine with specific instructions
about how to eat the roses
and stay committed to me

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Love’s Valentine

You too are a language
I have learned to utter
haltingly and with a heavy
accent once you were just
a diphthong stranded on
the tip of my tongue where I
could taste traces of pine
and blackberry and murkier
parentage possibly myrrh
notes now in the rush
of music sounds meaningless
all the words are eaten
they say the thing
you’ve been running
from is death

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

World’s Valentine

The world can put a hole
in your happiness daily
though you sway in your hammock
and smell like a daisy
how you’re almost completely crazy
but just enough to show it
as a feature not a slug
while the pain goes on politely
a shark circling the surface
the world can slip a joke
into your mortification lately
though it’s cumbersome to feel adrift
it all seems so cleverly arranged
timely and apt
at least it has you rapt

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pitiful Valentine

The culminating and climactic movement
of the oratorio of your gaze
indelibly written on the air and waves
the diamond path of the sun on the snow
arrives at last here in the future
nothing more than what we willed
out of our old distracted thoughts
most of which remain submerged
like the huge dissatisfaction
all of us feel for our physical selves
the fallibility and disobedience
even to our pitiful pleading
this still unhappy marriage
of the spirit and the flesh
for whom divorce is death

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ventured Valentine

Only a lined page
offers so many lost horizons
words rise out of the wonder
and we who are all happy
and unhappy with ourselves
venture out into the waves
of words and get tossed back
to the sandy silence of the shore
we have waves and waves to say
slowly moving the continents around
while all we really want is rest
not to move at all for a day or two
in some unspeakably blue bay
but what could be more improbable
than nothing left to say

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blizzard of Sorrows Valentine

So you have to leave the world
with its freight trains packed with prisoners
with its dizzying staircases of lies and inaccuracies
stumbling and falling several flights on your own
as your stomach turns to stone
you have to leave the world alone
and just when you started to love it
for trying so hard to ignore you
and yet shower you with so much
beauty and sorrow you felt
perceived and held at times
by a comprehension wider fuller
deeper than the world
you leave could own

Friday, January 22, 2016

Lists Missing You On Them Valentine

I look forward to your call
I look out the window meanwhile
I go for a walk and pick up
a few things for supper
I write lists of things
that could have happened
but didn’t both the costs
and the benefits
I write lists of things
to do and cross them off
as I get them done
usually they’re so much
easier that I imagined
when I felt overwhelmed
just writing them all down

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Closed Valentine

Someone has crudely drawn
a white line across the sky
meaning no sky entrance today
meaning the sky though blue
a feral radiant spotless blue
is closed for repairs today
or for some undisclosed feast-day
of the gods or their cloud-equivalents
because they’ve all gone
into the purely spiritual world
which surrounds the earth
like a skin or the integument
of a seed or like a sign nailed
to heaven’s gate O man
keep out all ye who hate

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Explosive Valentine

The little tree fills with clamor
I don’t see the tree
I see its whole shadow and
the shadows of the birds
moving about the empty branches
ascending and descending
red finches and brown sparrows
two or three at a time
taking turns at the hanging feeder
recently stocked with seeds
the cat and I sit watching
flicking our tails and listening
to the small bells almost ringing
when the breeze gallops by
and the little tree explodes

You Are Here Valentine

On the other side of the colors
as when crossing any bridge
at the velocity of a hearse
or if you’ve practiced
with the grace of a gull
and let’s say you make it across
though the bridge tremble
under the weight of your trauma
and the heart flutter
remembering its old life
but you want to stop there
in the middle of the bridge
hanging in the air with the gulls
here where they come together
the two halves of your love

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dead Letter Valentine

Fish skeleton clouds
lined paperwork
what poems are written there
what human faces appear
and disappear always around us
trying to get a message through
trying to start a revolution
but we aren’t paying any attention
vaguer than the corner beggar
to those who believe in death
to those who believe in the body
to those who have put a stop
to thinking or haven’t started yet
to those who await the second coming
when they haven’t comprehended the first

Monday, January 18, 2016

Devil’s Valentine

Doesn’t the devil have good taste
or is the very idea devilish
the way fashions prove the fact
we all want to look like one another
and the smell of new things
so we drove out to the hot springs
to soak naked in some mineral sense
in a tub perched above a small pond
accessorized with one blue-chevroned
duck a female alone but as we gazed
bracelets of bright fish gleamed up at us
and the jade cabochon of a turtle’s head
who would have dreamed
paradise could be so funky
and then two mourning doves
dropped down to drink
until out of nowhere
the duck attacked them
and back they fled to the branches above
there goes your paradise you said
why did the duck refuse them
after a pause you wanted to know
because he’s deeply immoral I said
which was why we showed up
to put our paradise in order
but so far it hasn’t been working out
our last fight will be over water rights
and many will die of thirst no doubt

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mercy’s Valentine

Isn’t it mostly better
to decide on the side
of mercy haven’t we
gotten that much
crystal yet maybe
half of us have and
the other half the cold
intellectual rule-bound
half hasn’t which explains
its faithless resort
to power and knowledge
when it comes time
to solve human problems
the heart is still the step-child
sent out to live in the streets

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Knights’ Valentine (or, What the Hell Was Ava Gardner Doing in That Movie?)

King Arthur and Sir Lancelot
look like they’re about to kiss
but just in time Arthur dies
in his arms I mean by his sword
fifties films resemble the middle ages
in the minds of current Westerners
but at one time the movies had the kind
of hold on the American imagination
that mythology in its last days
had upon the old Greeks and Romans
my heart is too sick to pray
the cup the cup the end
but if you were ever ten then
on Saturdays you sat enthralled
at a round table and killed men

Last Life Valentine

Suddenly the cat
runs straight into
the brick wall
like a knock-out
punch it wobbles
right over to you
dies in your lap
the phone is ringing
you notice a cloud
in the corner like
God winking I
can do things
like that the machine
takes a message
but when you check
there’s nothing there
the cat requests

Friday, January 15, 2016

Shade’s Valentine

“ ‘Did you see the one whose corpse
was left lying on the plain?’  ‘I saw him.
His shade is not at rest in the Netherworld.’ ”
Sit sit sit sit sit
yellow is just around the corner
but for now violet gleams
to be the one who watched
the door close to the other
world is the earth the gods’
Guantanamo Bay I ask you
but to return in the morning
the lost shepherd of your dreams
having visited with your friends
the concepts of the Concept King
and then unceremoniously
dumped back into matter
waking in the same prison
in which you fell asleep
what passes now for vision
what echoes from the deep

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Evolutionary Valentine

out of empathy
we come to resemble
our surroundings
it’s a family friendly
resemblance of one
succulent admitting
another eventually
into familiarity
into its cactus arms
but who does not aspire
to become a saguaro
in old age with holes
carved out like wounds
nests for the next life

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Suffering Valentine

Do you hear as I
often do these days
and nights a neighbor
or someone suddenly
scream or shout out
in rage or loudly
curse across the way
or down the street
just once or twice
then silence and
the world resumes
its tangent to love
but those cries
float for me like dead
flowers in the space
winter leaves for them
while down below
in the crystalline ground
the seeds are overcoming
death without a sound

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pam’s Valentine

If you don’t mind
I say to myself
or one of my selves
if you don’t say
I say to myself
or some of my selves
if you don’t heart
I say to myself
or all of my selves
then what’s the point
how could under these
extraordinary conditions
the ongoing miracles
that sustain and grow
our universe our lives
could there be any
possibility of failure
to complete our mission
as a species as gods
except by our own
misguided choices now
the price of freedom
is love

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Anti-poetry Valentine

In the late 19th century
poetry started to think
about itself and this has been
a problem ever since
we’re not going to correct anything
when seeking to find out what
has not been noticed it’s not
a competition but a chorus
of competing sonorities false notes
not excluded though at first
they glow like the real tremolo
we work at language’s behest
not unlike the rowers of triremes
singing pyramids up into thin air
painting the curlicues around reality
casting the butterfly in blue bronze

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Good Valentine

There are gods and more gods
but only one who is good
which for a man alone
is impossible even for
a woman it is difficult
though she comes to it
more naturally carefully
because all women are beautiful
even barren they bring
life into the world while
only one man could do that
most of the rest blame it
on their weakness for
the beauty of the body
which for them is like a stone
sinking to the bottom of the sea
while she floats eternally
above it all alone

Friday, January 8, 2016

Visible Valentine

What we must learn to love
about one another is not the body
don’t stop there and not even the soul
with its frantic parade of joys and wars
both of which have finally
a purely preliminary function
like an introduction or a prelude
a scaffolding or a preamble
to what we must come to recognize
and love about one another
which turns strangely out to be
the most hidden part of us
only visible to the most
hidden part of someone else
the eternal spirit of each one
which in these fogged-up days
seems the most out of reach

American Valentine

The discourse of my country
saddens-frightens me the way
I felt as a child when my mother
would say some awful racist thing
or call some foreigner a name
I would feel the pain even as a child
I knew it wasn’t right yet she
was a kind person and warm-hearted
and now my whole country
confuses and embarrasses me
with the sting of its hatred still there
yet is it not a good country
smiling and generous and fair
until it opens its mouth
and spits out some ugly fear

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Words for Music Valentine

I don’t go to the ghetto
except when I go inside
where I still hear an echo
of someone I’m trying to hide
she’s agreed to give it up
she’s agreed to give it up
for love for love for love
never thought I’d make it back
but that’s what happens
when you die die die
you get to retro every track
unselfing every self and lie
and then you fly fly fly

Stuck Valentine

What is it you feel
driving through the city’s
pokey mid-morning streets
dark enormous clouds
pursuing us above
like the Persian fleet
approaching Salamis
or the great mysteries
before they entered
Schelling’s brain
you must read him again
but here you are in
Phoenix and it’s raining
and you’re stuck behind
some sleep-driving landscaper
and your soul has lost its mind