Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Seeing Valentine

When sparrow sees me
I know I have been seen
she flees in fear of discovery
I stay with what has been
she’s working on her second nest
I’m working on my warts
where do the feathers come from
with which she weaves her nest
what others don’t abandon
she will have to steal
what of myself I cannot see
I will have to feel
my way in darkest night
while you dear sparrow
only comprehend more light

Monday, May 30, 2016

Voluntary Valentine

Even for our sins and passions
we must thank and forgive our angels
who remain hard at work still
creating and refining our slowly
accumulating competencies and senses
and not disparage them for the multiple
breakdowns and malfunctions
they have not yet ironed out
in their recalcitrant creations
who are not simply collages
whose forms and colors
suggest a world that’s faded
now their thankless task is to get
each of us to function on our own volition
having mastered standing and walking
to learn to speak naturally to one another
with something kind and sensible to say

Terrible Valentine

The poem is a terrible thing
like a limb that’s been
removed at a particular stage
in its development
kept as a specimen
more expensive than
medicine more healing
the poem brings us to it
and seems glad to wait
already having traveled
on ahead and met
a stranger fate
to be dissolved
in so many minds
and no one’s mate

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Best American Poetry Valentine

The best American poetry
is also a clever sequencing
of all the verbal flotsam
and jetsam of our time
so the future will hear
exactly how we spoke
on the street and in bed
the phrases and expressions
language itself discovered
buried in us and saved
for just these few decades
when it can offer no discernible
direction poetry becomes
an archivist of idioms
whose time has come and gone

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How Much Longer Valentine

A sparrow with a strip
of cellophane in her beak
from a pack of cigarettes
on seeing me sitting here
drops it on the grass and
flies off returning shortly
with a tuft of feathers
this time undaunted
by whatever danger
I might represent
proceeding to her nest
just as I was reading
that millions of birds
have disappeared over
this continent alone
the last several years

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Valentine

I had all the right things
in all the wrong places
I was on a good path
but then I lost the traces
I was just like you
so I started to move things around
I got up and slapped a few faces
it calmed us all down
we sat it out on the lonely terraces
of the last motel before dawn
love is so tiring and strong
for us hopeless cases
we keep getting it wrong --
come undo these laces
I am nothing like you

Thursday, May 26, 2016

At Best Valentine

How is poetry like
having a conscience
which is why it can get
so personal so impolitic
drawing our attention away
from war-making hopefully
but even at best words are only
the beginning of the prelude
to the real operation
of working out our resentments
and not even the rarest poem
is able to hold the hand
of even the simplest act
of kindness or forgiveness
given and received

Homecoming Valentine

If all my prior lives crowded round me
even if I could not see them
I could feel them all around me
and all my future selves as well
stood waiting patiently around us
as if I stood at the center
of a numberless crowd
of expectant faces waiting
for me to speak to acknowledge
each of them with some sign
only they would recognize
about our time in this world
and that they would know
we had finally reached the place
we could all be together again

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

At Chartres Cathedral Valentine

How a leaf becomes a petal
how a stone becomes a metal
how the heart will never settle
how of fish we are a kettle (OK, OK)
in one tall window a tree grows
right out of his groin and ascends
to God the Son in another four
writers sit on the shoulders
of four earlier writers
the anxiety of ascendency
prophecy becoming gospel truth
and then there they sit the blue
Madonna and her boy child
both gazing at you calmly waiting
for the world to become a star

Monday, May 23, 2016

Spring Violets Valentine

This is your perennial weakness
that you won’t aspire to flower
but prefer smallness meekness
until you don’t and then
assume a hawk’s demeanor
seizing upon that inner mouse
devouring his humility for lunch
with the ferocity of your smile
not one of satisfaction
or even of recognition
as you survey the inner
and outer landscapes
hawk-like mouse-like
but the will of the world
rising up through your feet
and the light of the stars
falling into your sleep

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Frostian Valentine

This weekend the wind
will bring down all
the oranges I couldn’t find
or weary of reaching
relinquished to the bugs
and rot knowing full well
this northwestly would
throw them at my nearby
large basket and miss it
almost every time leaving
the clean-up to me
but think if we weren’t
here on the earth it would
immediately improve
then slowly sink into ruin

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friend’s Valentine

Friendship is the best place
we can practice that universal
respect we’re still not ready
to implement for humans and all
living and non-living things
though we can finally acknowledge
we preserve our enemies
primarily as a way of avoiding
doing something about our own priorities
while remaining uncertain what will
come of such clever insights and analogies
in terms of actual boots on the ground
because every summer they try to pull us out
into their vast networks and star-fields
to lose ourselves in the light
and every winter they drag us back down
into the cold caves of our brains
where in the darkness we draw
all we have seen and see again

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ode to Keats Valentine

Like Keats said we should
we wait calmly with nothing
and this can go on for lifetimes
watching far in the distance
the blurred words of clouds
approaching circling fading out
but only when you make
your life a blank unlined
wilderness of whiteness does
something get written down
that is not just about you
that is not just your life
but the other lives you live
inside all the other things
and beings in the world

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Earth’s Imperfect Idea of Freedom Valentine

Subconsciously every generation
wishes to be the last
just so maybe some final resolution
of conflict can come about
so some catastrophe
can elevate the conversation
and save the earth
from having to grow up
but those concepts of ‘death’
‘end’ ‘no’ we forget we
ourselves invented long ago
and arranged on purpose
out of an early appreciation
for freedom despite a clear
sense for all the suffering
it would bring the earth

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rilke’s Valentine

Is death a provisional
reassignment of energies
or a permanent change
of address a cleansing wind
or a divorce from all the senses
in order to enter the dream
the shedding of all skins
remember Orpheus lost Eurydice
because he had already lost
his connection with the other world
which of course continued to exist
but incommunicado out of sight
and more and more of the gods
failed to return to speak with him
the one who had been their favorite
the last one to watch them go 

Guileless Valentine

It looks to me in all animals
some deep anguish is going on
some suffering imposed on them
through no fault of their own
some sadness always visible
in their eyes which they seem
nobly to have taken on for us
and which touches us or scares us
or completely embarrasses us
and we love them immediately
for their refusal to pay the price
of thinking but to stick
to instinct and inspiration
and a wild guileless life
along traditional lines

We’re All Pink Inside Valentine

Small round black seeds
next year’s pink and
white sweet peas
sleep in my palm
were I to plant them
in myself they would
yield only death
but in the ground
their deaths yield
only climbing tendril
leaf and flower 
and in the end
a seed-pod which
in drying twists itself
and twisting finally
explodes these seeds
I catch and keep

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pentecostal Valentine

Isn’t there always something feminine
about poetry as there is about all art
and something masculine about science
but wait I mean the approach the
perspective of each not the participants
the way thinking is a feminine activity
receptive flowing secretive while
the science of the will is masculine
active flowing secretive though
it can all be turned around
easily or not so easily
but then we’re here aren’t we
because we didn’t want to be
a part of nature but our own creation

Saturday, May 14, 2016

For Suffering Valentine

I had a sudden spell of sorrow
for the world that made me
cry for three days straight
it had flashed before me in a rush
a picture of all the pain and anger
and resentful disappointment
in life and in this world that exists
or has existed at any given second
and it was like a bomb
going off in my brain
for a long time I shook with tears
for what must happen to the earth
which I had only ever loved
because of this because of what
it must still undergo at the hands
of its own children

Friday, May 13, 2016

Coming Out Valentine

Gayness is not only
the exception to the rule
it is the reversal of the rule
so strong a desire to be
its honest self it turns
and goes the other way
even when we don’t
want it to because
of what’s baked in
that final decision made
in the design slash
engineering departments
but not until certain
aesthetic pre-conditions
have been met and replicated
think how many bodies
we will occupy just
over the course of this
one evening after childhood

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lost Valentine

How is it possible to speak
lost in this lovely night
but maybe we should only speak
when we have something ecstatic to say
or maybe that’s already the case
and our words though mute
and meek today will emerge years later
as stars and moons remembered
since all speech carries the curse
of the divine though I meant
to say the grace of a god
I will leave what I
have written twice
how is it possible to speak
lost in this lovely face

Lunch Valentine

With a side of love
our flesh sandwich
of lunch meat tomatoes
and a dollop of mayo
went down better when we
used to get it over
by the wharves at 32nd
before the romance
of the thighs silted up
the estuary of the heart
just as they were about
to take us somewhere
past all that lunch time munching
all this hungry flesh

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Boarding Valentine

Not the words
but through the words
and beyond the words
to the actual seeing
of the being of thinking
a tall dude in overalls
boarding a plane to the Canaries
or a child sold into slavery
it could be anyone thinking visits
and yet the only thing
we have in common
not the stone
but through the stone
beyond the statue
to the actual idea

Personal Valentine

I didn’t want to get
too close to the world
for fear it would feel
I was interested in a more
permanent arrangement
we were so often on
tenterhooks with one
another its representatives
after inspecting my documents
would  reauthorize my complaints
but after you arrived
the idea of a personal history
seemed a vain but necessary
gesture on behalf of the greatness
love itself offered to bestow

Blues For Impermance Valentine

The blue hibiscus bloomed today
under the purple panicles
of the Chaste tree so loaded
with blossom this year
it requires air forces of bees
several hours every day
to carry off its burden of pollen
the quiet roar of so many wings
finally starts to levitate the tree
until it sways back and forth
like a body dangling from a tree
or a Sufi dancer’s head thrown back
spinning in the ecstasy of love
while the blue hibiscus blooms away

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dreaming Deer Valentine (for David)

Under the swoon of the fan
in the warm coil of dreams
your slender flesh and bones
recall the sleeping deer
I stumbled on in the fields
a hundred years ago
asleep we are all children again
scrunching down into the drifting
or flinging ourselves up into the air
while the safety pin of a body
keeps us anchored to the earth
and yet life here is unimaginable
without this nightly ritual of dreams
where we get to see what happens
when we leave space and time behind

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother’s Day Valentine (for Thoreau)

Summer is our ascension
everything rises into clouds
and don’t inspiring fires rain down
on the few languages remaining
though suicide is still on the table
like a card one plays when cornered
trying to penetrate the zone
of abstractions that surrounds
the earth and already engulfs us
here comes summer singing
but it could all be this simple
a dappled path and pond
a small boat to row out on
a few miles from mother’s kitchen

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fiery Valentine

Cuneiform clouds
in the night sky
no peace on earth
the wind assaults
and then exalts us
gently prodding
then tearing at us
in lusty gusts we
who are always fleeing
in small boats still
unwelcome everywhere
while in the happy churches
Pentecost is being celebrated
feast of universal brotherhood

Some Days Valentine

You may just have
trapped yourself
into a little heaven
and don’t want to escape
I pray to myself
every morning
Simon says here
is your life back
for one more day
incarnation is a kind
of incarceration
but some days
it feels like joy
has already arrived

Nesting Valentine

My brain is the nest
of a bluebird or eagle
a spoonbill or the crested
nocturnal booby of fable
depending how stable
the clouds I read
thinking of all the empty
ones hanging in trees
abandoned rendezvous
in crumbling breeze
a nest can be young once
or reborn year after year
some lined with a fine
weaving of dreaming
and waking like mine

Friday, May 6, 2016

Another Appearance Valentine

The beautiful face of Kwan Yin
appeared to me in the clouds
this afternoon making something up
is almost next to lying so I know
no one will believe me when I say
she wore a rainbow around her neck
it was all too pure and amazing
but I managed to get a few pictures
before she winked at me and dissolved
leaving her necklace behind
making me wonder how many others
moving around on this sunny day
happened to look up just then
to see an upside down rainbow
floating briefly in the bluest sky
and not a drop of rain in sight

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Uncountable Heraldries Valentine

The true purpose of time
betrays its humble origin
in the need to strengthen
what already existed
with a new impulse
life was forced to make
use of time as the only way
something new can come
into the finished worlds
and then be carried back
after a small or large piece of time
to build up again the timeless space’s
always crumbling infrastructure
from which we started out ideally
impatient ignorant and crude
that first day of our ascension

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

William Bronk is the Bela Lugosi of Modern Poetry Valentine

Do you want to screw me
was something I was asking
myself more and more
frequently and with such
a hostile tone of voice
whose side are you on anyway
I kept asking myself
I knew I was not
a unitary being
more battlefield
with both sides losing
but is the spirit merely
a Santa Claus of the mind
and why aren’t the body
and the soul married forever

Imaginary Valentine

There is no craving
for poetry in heaven
and yet without it
as a preparation
would heaven not
be possible
whatever we imagine
heaven to be
we know already
it reaches past
the Buddha of languages
the Buddha of first stirrings
even if we can’t get there yet
we know it really exists
as idea and as heartbreak