Saturday, December 31, 2016

Later That Day Valentine

Five finches arrive in the end
For their evening baths and solos
And because above all their other secrets
They prize their privacy they wait
Till I go in where I can watch
Them unobserved but tonight
They’ve come to sing and drink
In a new light which of course
Is fading now but resuming
In the morning according to
The notes they’ve chosen
Come O come new morning light
Although our beaks are frozen tight

12/31/16 Valentine

I can see the nasty from here
The hateful doubtful fearful nasty
From the high cliff of the year
From which one either leaps
Or is lifted off by death’s
Delicate snatchings
Like chocolates from a box
In seasonal wrappings
To plunge into downwardness
And darkness the double’s
Fine tailoring of truth
To take the feathers for the goose
To place a crown on the uncouth
And on one’s neck a noose

Friday, December 30, 2016

Exit Interview Valentine

Is it because I keep staring
At his courage that statue
Keeps grinning at me
Is it because I can see
The roots of some higher tree
In the bare branches of this one
I can feel cloud-like
Is it because death is
Just getting tired of oneself
That one can foresee
A dramatic departure
All this time to plan
One’s death as if it were
A wedding or a party

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Provisional Valentine

What good is freedom
If there’s no freedom
From death what good
Is love if it can’t
Overcome death
For if death could
It would have
Already done it
So somewhere love
Must still exist
Provisionally victorious
Though still married to death
Living in some cramped apartment
Dreaming of freedom
But what good is it 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In Memory of Innocence Valentine

When you get old you start
Living into the time
After your death
A part goes on and looks
Back on that reverse
Birthday of the spirit
While still in a body
The body is the one
That takes it in the chin
Only the spirit is free
And claims its freedom spitefully
Because of the power of beauty
Which drew you to it
And draws you back to be

Missing Valentine

I smiled too late
In all the photographs
Lost in the maps
I missed the dates
You were my compass
Sail and keel  
But how can a blind
Man go by feel
On the braille of the sea
He trusts his nose’s
Memory to guide his hand
They say I’ve read I sailed
Myself but never out
Of sight of land

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Life Valentine

I tried to keep
An overall plan
To my life
Wholly dependent
On the element
Of surprise and
The expectation
Of illumination
At some point
Or else I would go
Skating on thin
Ice fall through
And not be saved
As happens to so many
But it was not to be
So easily arrived at or
So summarily dismissed
My life which went on
Before me and will
Go on long after

After All Valentine

In the shrine of my ego
Where my weaknesses
Worship my fears and
My fears strut about
Lording it over my struggling
Intentions until one clear
Thought heroically appears
Signaling the other fires
Only lacking a spark
After all to take hold
To ignite my timidity
These few dry leaves
Into buds of flame
Because I will it
Because I make it be

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Inn’s Valentine

On the road to Bethlehem
I lost my way
What is this crazy
Following some light
In the distance
Night after night
As if salvation
Were actually coming
When we’re the ones
Chasing it I could
Almost see from the inn
Through drunken tears
The child was already
Born and fled
Love was not dead

Monday, December 19, 2016

Distant Valentine

I know the leaves from this tree each
Year fill three large plastic bags
I know the raspberries I grew in 1981
Will never be rivalled in taste and size
I know why the fear of damnation
Does not deter some people
Doesn’t even phase them
I know knowledge alone
Will never get us there
I know the distance from
Doing right to doing good
Is like seven continents away
I know we must lose the directions
To find out where we’ve been

Thirsty Valentine

The stray cat stands
On his hind legs
To reach the rim
Of the birdbath to sip
His thirst away
Even though I fill
A bowl of water
He will only drink
Where the birds
Bathe when he’s
Napping of course
And I’m reading over
Here pretending I
Know nothing of
Their private lives

Sunday, December 18, 2016

On the Road to Bethlehem Valentine

Pity for the earth
For what brings brown to the leaves
For what brings them to their knees
Weren’t these the first
Real spiritual beings
The warm and cold nights
Which created us
Pity for the earth
That the light
Had to follow
For life to be possible
Even if not quite
Even if not finally

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Winter Valentine

Love that cannot get
Beyond the body is
Like someone who dies
Young and never gets
To flower or like the five
Finches one Verdin
And one hummingbird
All warming themselves
In the winter sun
Together at the top
Of the orange tree
Which itself looks
Like it’s dying
Leafless and brown
All this meant literally
I take it

Platonic Valentine

The direction of the flow
Of energy from the earth
Spirals lefty-loosey upward
And outward while the direction
Of the flow of energy from the stars
And all the endless cosmos
Spirals righty-tighty downward
Corkscrewing like new tendrils
So the solstice is the meeting
Of these two energies equalized
While everyone holds still for the picture
We say ‘taken’ but from what
Instead of ‘given’ but by whom
To prove we were here still
Hanging between the vertical
And the beam 

Friday, December 16, 2016

True To Our Music Valentine

After the rain
The gutters drip
In quick-time
Clicking away like
The typewriters
In old movies
A rhythm you could
Dance to so old
But still fresh
You can only tap
Your mortal feet
The gods set the beat
They make the body pay
The music never stops
Do you come here often
We got carried away

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lord’s Valentine

The world is really
Just loneliness
For the lord of love
Which must in time
Be sated
Even if you have
Already dismantled it
You too will be
Satisfied you too
Will find a way
So kind is he
To have already
Been you once
Enough to be

Epic Valentine

To have fallen
From 2/3 a god
And 1/3 a man
Or to have risen
From 2/3 an animal
And 1/3 a man
To a wholly human
Condition depends
On your approach
Whether you arrive
At night in secret
Or openly at noon
Still our bodies
Are the oldest things
On the earth
And still of the most
Questionable worth

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

True Stories Valentine

When the cat flew
Up into the yellow
Quietly waiting tree
The branches shook
And every leaf dropped
To the ground at once
Except for a last few
Drifting down with the cat’s
And my astonishment
Like people who die together
In large groups at once
Plunging over the line
Bodies left behind
Between this life and the next
Proof there is one

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Grand Air Trine Valentine

When we feel made
To do something even
When it’s something we
Might otherwise do
We resist it naturally
As free spirits must
Insist upon their own
Freedom as the basis
For all valuing
And humanity
If as a species
It is to survive
The predations
Of its own
Hungry soul

Monday, December 12, 2016

Old Valentine

Old pomegranate tree
Your fruit are rotten
But your flowers are sweet
In the spring and
Your shade in summer
But for a few weeks
Every year you stand
Naked and alone
In the cold nights
While the moon and stars
Fit you out with a whole
New plan for yourself
As a mast with sails
Or a raft of limbs
But every spring somehow
When we’re not looking
You come back to us
Your flesh-colored
Flowers first

Building Valentine

It can be useful in a lifetime
To have made a close study
Of at least one other person
Or of several perhaps less intimate
But unusually attentive encounters
Until you begin to develop          
A sensibility for the incalculable
Which can feel amateurish at first
And gradually building waves
Of deep sorrow and deep happiness
Can threaten to overwhelm you
And definitely do at times
But it seems only by such means
Are we capable of moving forward

Soul’s Valentine

When I woke up
I saw the yard
Was laid out
Like the soul
With the usual
Tree at the center
Its space was its life
Its time was matter
But what’s a soul for
If the tree that holds
The light in its slowly
Unwinding arms
Not also hold
The whole yard
The whole I
And sky

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hacienda Valentine

Today I wanted
Your body close
More than your soul
But you have taken
It back into
Invisible spaces
And I can find
Your image only
In forgotten pictures
So I went back
To the places of your
first appearances to me
and the winter
I first held you
And got warmed

Friday, December 9, 2016

Praise Song Valentine

My life flies by
So fast dear Lord
How can I keep
Up with you
I keep trying
To lie down in
Those green pastures
You promised or
Was that just some
Psalmist’s flattery
To win your favor
My lord of night
And day my fly
By night my
Light by day

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Twilit Valentine

At twilight the stray cat
Goes hunting in the tall grass
Out behind the houses
The three-quarter moon
In hazy pursuit
Maybe the fighting
In so many homes
The yelling and screaming
Is what finally becomes
The fighting that moves out
Into the streets as war
And chaos meanwhile
The sky fills with
Alternating bands
Of blue and pink
And then that final
Chrome oxide green
The moon wipes clean

Buried Valentine

His last photograph
Was of a few pale and
Broken corn stalks
Stranded in old snow
The wind was blowing
Their tattered leaves so
It looked like a cross
Between an Indian
Burial ground from
The movies of my youth
And Van Gogh’s Crows
In a Cornfield with all
His terrifying colors
Washed down to dirty
Whites and hazy browns
Not unlike the sepia of the very
First photographs ever taken
The colors of the blind end 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Figs in Winter Valentine

And you my dear fig tree
Need to pull yourself together
But why did you plant me here
If you don’t intend to take care
Of me I am taking care of you
It’s just winter why do
You never remember winter
We go through this every year
First you lose your hair
And then your memory
Goes this tawny yellow
Which I sweep into piles
I think you need some medicine
And boy do I have just
The compost tea for you

We Will Be Lovers Yet Valentine

There in the middle
Of the path a large
blue feather fell right
in front of me like a sign
or a blessing and yet
when I look back on my life
I’m astonished by how
Many gifts I was given
And turned away from
How many simple things
I left untouched but now  
I know I’ll never die
I’ll live life differently
Next chance I get
Not hedging my bet
We will be lovers yet

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Aging Valentine

My gastroenterologist
Is a short fat gourmand
My barber is bald
My heart surgeon
Just married his fifth blond
My confessor is a transvestite
My connection is agoraphobic
My convictions just left town
But by Monday I felt profound
My butcher wanted a pound
My undertaker came around
Had me lie down on the ground
Said I’d get used to it
When peace I’d found

That I Love You That Alone Means Something Valentine

In the new book of my dying
Which I have all along been sketching
It turns out in the back of my brain
I try to venture something further
Than my earlier never-completed
Volumes on the same theme
Which failed to balance satisfactorily
The reality of death against
The abstract actuality of love
Which drives the world
In noble and sentimental ways
Those who say only death
Will tell you the truth
And those who know
That’s what love is for

Monday, December 5, 2016

Genesis Valentine

On the tree of the knowledge
Of good and evil hung
The tortured body of their son
One hand nailed by evil
The other nailed by good
As on the tree of freedom
Hung the body of love
Among thieves and angels
No one below
No one above
There in the mud
Or walking on the water
A sudden gush of blood
And it was over
Except forever after

Child’s Valentine

Thinking predates us
Thinking that is not
Our thinking or not
Any longer experienced
As ours but the thoughts
Were there before we
Could perceive them
Like trees in fog
We kept bumping into
Thus injury’s among our
First inspirations
As still amateur sufferers
And struggling
Beginning thinkers

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Nothing Ever Fails Valentine

There is sin but never failure
In a white horse running
Up into snowy hills and
Slowly disappearing
But the gods don’t experiment
They perfect so there
Can be no failure
Even apart from them
Transcendence awaits that horse
And we will succeed ourselves
One enlightenment at a time
Though there will be acts of suffering
Apparently mostly prearranged
But not one failure
The very idea of failure
Is as perverse as it is persuasive
But it still isn’t failure
Like the flight to intelligence
As if the gods hung out there

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Secret Valentine

How can I make
Peace with the world
When the world is so
Terrifyingly sweet and
So beautifully evil
Except it was you
Who showed me
The cathedral at the
Bottom of the lake
And the fresco of St Anne
Salvaged from history
With her finger on her lips
Eyes wide with surprise
Noticing you noticing
Her Mary’s pregnant glow
And no man in sight
Just a dove in flight

Living Valentine

Even though we do come back
And live many separate lives in time
Each evolving our own mythologies
It’s the uniqueness of each life
That moves me the most to tears
Laughter and applause
That our I’s could live
In all these different bodies
And arrange to meet again
Even if not at first recognizing
One another but feeling
Reeled in to one another’s
Quite specific conflagration
Which only love endures

Friday, December 2, 2016

Vagabond's Valentine

Like the one spoon
In the drawer turned
Upside down you
Come back to me
To be turned around
As you once turned
Your head away abashed
By my love
That it could happen
The impossible
And yet that’s all that does
Now that we’ve exhausted
All the possible worlds

Dee’s Valentine

Had to get my glasses
And then the binoculars
And there it was the soul
Of the curve-billed thrasher
Atop the ailing orange tree
With his orange-red eye
I mean the song flowing
Out of the same mouth
He digs holes with I find
In my yard what could
He be wanting I wondered
Beetles worms my heart
And then he sang
Love that always
Give itself away

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Autumnal Valentine

The way stillness augurs death
Bees play into these rotting pomegranates
A small oval of sun crosses
An empty clearing in your thoughts
Such quiet and such commotion
Like lights switched on and off
The colder nights inspiring love
The sunny days filled with death
And your own as in a crowd
Among them in a foreign city
Miles away so you’re still safe
As long as you stay still
Or run as fast as you can
Every day a few blocks
So you’re not here
When he knocks

Advent Valentine

Naturally if you put
A blue sky together
With a yellow sun
You get the green
Of grass and trees
A green so hungry
For red it flows
Eventually at last
Into rivers of blood
Lifted into clouds
Of snow falling
Into darkness all
This for a child
Returning to a cave