Monday, June 26, 2017

Annunciation Valentine (for Sharon)

The privilege of being
In the presence
Of a great soul
Though yes it may
Involve some hazards
Is always worth it
Think of all the risks
Christ took and still
His Father loved him
The will is in the getting there
Regardless of what happens
So that long afterwards
When you’ve even
Forgotten going
You feel it bear fruit
In some child’s face

Praising or Lamenting Valentine

The mourning dove’s
Echoing melody this morning
When I stop talking to myself
Sounds like ‘Why can’t we’
Then ‘Why can’t we stay’
Or maybe ‘Laudate’
Then ‘Laudate te’
The three notes speak
Of the light and the air
To flight as song
While the four notes
Tell of landing somewhere
If only to try again
To lift the earth
Or make a home

Sunday, June 25, 2017

St John’s Day Valentine (for Ruth)

One sunny day with you
We were taken to the Philadelphia
Museum of Art up the long staircase
Just like Aztecs or Egyptians
Priest and sacrifice to gaze out
Over the gleaming autumnal city
For a few moments
And then we were led inside
Down to the lower vaults
Through long narrow hallways
Where the past is stored
Memory is so distant
To the drawer where the tablet
Telling of the meeting of Gilgamesh
And Enkidu was kept
And taken out and placed
Before us yes we almost wept
To see the actual words
Some able hand transcribed
In wet clay mindful of us
And that his story not be
Entirely forgotten


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ludwig’s Valentine

I half-blame Beethoven’s music
For throwing open our age
Of anger and retaliation
With the most triumphant
Sound structures of rage
And forthright melancholia
As a great overture must
For the next several centuries
Lay out the themes and voicing
It’s not just about going to war
Now it’s about everyone
Being angry at everyone else
Most of the time and all
With very good reasons it seems
But also buried there
In his last quartets
An anguish beyond anger
That still could change the world

Friday, June 23, 2017

Brother’s Valentine

The Buddha and the Christ
Remove the implacability
From life and give it
A native face and features
A natural landscape
Which one can let
Inhabit one
A Galilee and Ganges
Of the mind like
Visitors from the future
Tokens and guarantees
Of what’s to come
From all our meditating
And all we had to get done

Animal Valentine

To the animals we must seem
Even lonelier than they are
Except they make themselves vulnerable
While we hide in our camouflage
And cannot even be loyal long
It’s hard to love the intractable
Weakness in ourselves
Let alone the surplus in others
But with animals we love them
For their weakness
Their need of us alone
Their forgiveness of our sins
As if they once were us

Cat’s Valentine

My cat’s a strict vegetarian
Grazing the sweet grass
All morning long
Then drowsing in the shade
Like cows on hot summer days
Or else she fiercely grooming
Straightening every hair
On her skinny body and won’t
Be touched or held
Then suddenly
She throws herself
At my feet what
Am I to do with
All this love

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Solstice Valentine

Something or someone
Fell into the hibiscus
There are several branches
Broken in the middle
But no footprints
In the still-wet grass
From last night’s sprinkling
So that narrows the suspects
It clearly wasn’t me
Though I can imagine
The struggle that must have
Led to this collapse
And how often
It’s a hibiscus
That breaks the fall

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Search Valentine

In the great city of Palmyra
In the great city of Thebes
In the great city of Poseidon
In the great city of Buffalo
In the great city of the Plains
In the great city of Toledo
In the great city of Uruk
In the great city of Nagasaki
In the great city of Chartres
In the great city of Mimico
In the great city of Tulum
In the great city of Damascus
In the great city of Phoenix
And still you are nowhere to be found

Monday, June 19, 2017

The World Is Not The Earth Valentine

The world is useful
As a picture of the soul
But why can’t it say
What’s buried in its
Sacred heart of hearts
Why must it act out
This history of longing
To find what it loves
Cannot be caught
In lies of owning
And all the while
The earth looks on
In wonderment and terror
Like a dog about
To be beaten again

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer Valentine

If a plant were to speak to us
We’d think it had a spirit in it
But if a man says something
It’s just another recording
All spirits are fearful at first
The summery way they dismiss
The reality we claim to know
The perception of which
Is our first spiritual act
If consciously conceived
What the plant is mirroring
Are the flowers and the fruit
Of a language we are just
Re-learning to speak

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Trouble's Valentine

We’re always in some trouble
In one way or another
Our own or someone else’s
As if we planned it
Had come to pursue it
To prove we could
Defy the odd god
Who sits on our hearts
Lifting freedom’s plea
Above love’s project
Above good and evil even
Which is where it falls apart
And where the trouble starts
We’re all in love with something
All the time it never stops

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book’s Valentine

There was a book
In the beginning now lost
That held the solutions
To all future questions
A book of living pictures
That kept intact with notes
And cogent explanations
The whole history of power
And the revelations of wisdom
That book begat another book
And so on and all subsequently
Destroyed or buried maybe
Finally with Osiris no one knows
But here it is dear God I found it
In a book-stall by the river
Here among the antiquities
The fresh pages of your eyes

Augustinian Valentine

It’s hard to reconcile
The Christ of the gospels
With Augustine’s earthbound
Cosmology for which his own
Torn life provided the ground
To turn away from vision
As a real experience and
Stick with intellect alone
He goes as far as Plato
Can carry him to explain
Why he abandoned the woman
And son he loved with a shrug
Of his Manichaean pen
And centuries of piety
And terror ensued
While the gospels were still
Not read not published
Our first Faust he was
Only looking in a mirror

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Night Valentine

O star come closer
I can feel your interest
I know you can hear me
We barely know how
To help one another down here
The dead go on
Quarreling inside us
And the so-called living
Though there’s more
Than enough love
To go around alright
Still think we’re here
To compete and win
But you know all this
Star on the horizon
Of a whole new night

Fire Spirits Valentine

All cacti and most
Succulents conform
To the forms of fire
Like snowflakes to cold
Air and moisture
Because everything is burning
Where they have to survive
Like glass blown and flowing
Into individual sketches
Of conflagration
At different moments
In the life of summer
They don’t long for leaves
When they can carry such flowers
They don’t want to be trees

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Samos Valentine

More Greek my life seems
Than Canadian-American
As I get older
Less dramatic
More Socratic
And to have a scribe
Like Plato to record
Your every word
A dying world
When a god could still speak
From inside a man
Now we’re lucky
If one even comes to mind
O streets of Samos     O beaches

Dancing Valentine

I pray for the courage
To suffer my own will
That it listen to me
When I call out to it
As its most trusted friend
Its very ground and heart
When I ask it to bend
To the truth without fear
To beauty without envy
Or when I tell it
To stop here and rest
In the darkness with me
Animal darkness
Whose pelt I wear
Dancing around a new fire

Standing Postcard Valentine

At this point
We’re still at
The toilers-and-traders stage
Slaves or masters
Preserve me from myself
The motto of our time
It’s a Wednesday at 3 o’clock
I await your arrival
These words accompanied
By a photo on the other side
Faded now of a swim-suit
Standing in a little boy
By a northern lake
Who disappeared though
The lake’s still there

Eating the Soul Valentine

They will be separated
Feelings and the will
And the thoughts will go
Their own way of return
The soul sliced and diced
To be added to the stew
As separate ingredients
Each saved over from
Some previous world
One senses a cook at work
One reckons with a recipe
As if the table was set
Everyone starving but
No one hungry enough yet

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Virgin Eye Valentine

Not to strain
My new sight
With past relapses
But peering through
A colander of stars
Step down the light
To the little I can bear
A drop supplies the world
Before the world collapses
Its HD veneer
To see the eye
That made the world
To see it

Promises Promises Valentine

I will prepare
For your sweetness
As if it had
Already arrived
I will turn my head
As a free person
And look at you
As if you were
Already here
I will not be
Dissuaded even
By myself as if
You had already
Come and gone

Cataract Valentine

The I’s
A disguise
That proves the body
Breathing in it cries
Why would a great being
Want to be a human being
Or is it the other way around
If not to acquire something
Only available on the earth
But what could we possibly offer
The gods would suffer for
When all we own
Is all they gave us
And most of that in ruins
No one to free us but ourselves

Sunday, June 11, 2017

First Valentine

The pure gold
Of our first words
The tarnished pennies
Of our last
A symbol is the morning birds
Of what’s to come the chirping
Of another world
Once we get past this one
Not to abandon it
But to see the beginning
The center and the end
Of its intentions
For surely        freely
This was all intended

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Postcard Valentine

Let me break it to you gently
I am not dead but living
In a small house in Maine
The applause of butterflies
Speaking to the sun
On their direct line
Like listening-in
When I sit in the yard
I like to come here in October
Morning fog obscuring
What I still don’t know
About myself and us
Though I did die
I go on living

Friday, June 9, 2017

Boundary Valentine (For Terry)

Wonder is so hard to get to
Each time a different way
And reverence is so remote
As boundary waters say
We race our bodies to the falls
And plunge into the next era
Where wonder will come again
I went far back to the old ceremonies
And cemeteries of wood fires
Where she had recently been seen
Is each life a recovery
Of the one before a limpid
Forecast of the one to come
A canoe carried
To the next rapids

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Weightless Valentine

Maybe the weight of the will
We’ve gathered is all
We can take into the new country
Our thoughts fall off like husks
Dried-out and a little indignant
To have been used so palely
Our feelings left with little
To eat tomorrow but bitterer
And sourer vineyards
The cup now empty
The last gulp
Cleansing the palate
For the gods

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Flying Valentine

Icarus didn’t fly
Too close to the sun
He forgot the sun was there
He could have chosen
A cold or cloudy day
And the wings would have worked
He could have seen
The wax had to go
The feathers had to be replaced
With a proper sail and things fitted
Together better overall
The technology was there
Only the inspiration failed

Dog’s Valentine

Wars force choices
We have long avoided
At a human level
So the animal returns
But it was always there
Pampered or abused
How would it not rise up
Attack its master
The dog with the three heads
Who lives inside
Once coming home from school
I barked back at a dog
And got bitten
How little I’ve learned

Swimmer’s Valentine

Just to recap
What we know
For sure
As we pause
For this Moon Alert
That everything
In the world
Will end up
In a word
And that everything
Will end well
If I want it
It’s a dream after all
I push back
Against this confidence
Like a swimmer
Against the pool wall
Or why swim on

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Home Alone with a TV Valentine

I go from “Lockup – Extended Stay”
To “Andre Rieu – Waltzing Forever”
I go from “Prom Night”
To “Swamp People”
I go from “Red Bull: Air Race”
To “World Poker Tour”
I go from “Nature”
To “El cartel de los sapos”
I go from “The Killer Speaks”
To “Overboard”
I go from “Destination Wedding”
To “Stalked by My Neighbor”
I go from “Sea Monsters:
The Definitive Guide”
To “Home Alone”
I go from “Body of Lies”
To “Darkness Falls”
Then I go to bed

They Say Valentine

They say in this life
We pay back the debt
We still owe on the previous
Not to say grievous owner
Of the original loan of life
So the soul is always
A tenant farmer
Whose best work done
In the fields of sleep
Harvests heaven
In order to return to earth
Ready for the next mystery
And I just wanted to fall in love
Again and have a life

Monday, June 5, 2017

Crime Scene Valentine

My memory’s like yours
A bombed-out museum
But the real past is whole
Intact and preserved
And can be visited
And taken as a validation
Of a true time-line
And therefore a motivation
And a landscape develop
Along similar depressions
And mountain tops
Nothing we touch or love
Escapes proof of our fingers
We must return sometime
To the scene of the crime
In order to go on 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pentecostal Valentine

It’s for you
I do me
After all
I thought
It was for me
Which it was
As it had to be
My drummer but
What if I myself
Can’t swim
How to save you
It’s Pentecost
It’s always Pentecost
The couple down the street
Are fighting again
At supper
When the flames
Come down 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Listening Valentine

Funny what we call radical
When only a child is radical
The latest message from the gods
The still-life of the past
Draws him down
To plot the reception
Of the obvious but
Who is listening
Already there everything is present
Peace and love preparing to be turned
Into a thoughtless
Or a thoughtful seed
So raw and radical
The flowers of the earth

Homeless Valentine

To help someone become a citizen
Of a country you disdain
To counsel people with addiction
And come home to your own
To hone a stubborn heart
And not the will to love
To cave for some Dave
Mon semblable mon frère
To stroll to the beach for a coffee
And lie down under the stars
To feel the darkness forgive you
And the ocean whisper a prayer
To leave the city behind you
And know you are not from there

Friday, June 2, 2017

Family Valentine

Love was always closer to Life
Than to Truth their older brother
But you can still see the family
Remembrance instantly
And why he had to flee
Them both hide underground
If we was to survive at all
Invent the most cunning excuses
To defend his own unwillingness
To cover his refusals and denials
About how much he needed them
To become free in himself
To let the light fall on him
Revealing everything at once

Not the Same Valentine

Death is not the same story is it
To a thirty year old
And an eighty year old
Though both agree on the goal
Of spiritual longevity for the body
If the soul is to have enough time
To experience the overwhelming
Feelings necessary to a life
Of ideas and dancing
But we fear death
To the degree we cling
To only one perspective
And don’t come back
For the second act
Of beauty

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Nest Valentine

After a quiet few weeks
The young sparrow returned
To the abandoned nest
Turning his cheeks north
And east hearing nothing
South and west seeing nothing
Can it be they’ve left me here
To make it on my own
He seemed to be worried
Or was it joy that flying
Up and down to find
He had the whole place
To himself except for us
And winter coming

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Borderland Valentine

Once I made a study of a starling
Who turned out to be a grackle
A thief who loved fat beetles
And would goosestep around
The garden in search of them
I called him The Lieutenant
Because of his black leather trench-coat
And because of the way he would
Stop to glare at me sitting there 
And sometimes even demand
To see my papers immediately
If I expected entrance to his land
And how long would I be staying

Waked Valentine

Are you married
But I thought you said
Are you annoyed
Get your car waxed
But I read
Get your self waked
Is that even possible
A grammar of the future
I’m going to get myself waked
So don’t wait up for me
Or maybe who knows
I’ll be the one waiting
For you to come back
Making dinner
Folding clothes

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Drunk with Emily Valentine

A white feather on the lawn
It might have been a dove
Throttled here and gone beyond
What’s left of love
Maybe a gun finally went off
Shattering the sky
But why did I have to find it
And why did it have to fly
I never heard a sound
When it pirouetted down
I was always laying in the ground
One foot in my prison-heaven
The other moving on

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Valentine to Ted Berrigan

Though I was a true believer
In poetry before
He makes me believe it more
He wanted to be its conscious radio
And working-class clown
But those were just disguises
For something Talmudic and first-
Rate in his class who suspected that
At seven he took Holy Communion
Kneeling beside a beautiful woman
I think he’s still taking it
I think I’ll go to New York
And buy him a drink
Now we’re not faking it

Friday, May 26, 2017

Offered Valentine

I fantasize my fame
After I’ve become indestructible
Flesh but still ashamed
And left to roam at will
I want to memorialize everything
In my boyhood home
With certain days enshrined
And finely cauterized
On tables and chairs
Whatever this life meant
And the days since then
To all my other lives
I offer it up
To the lives to come

Found Valentine

Time used to fly by but it was still light
Now it’s a rocket in space
Or a bomb that goes off in your face
Who sees how valuable he is
Or is that for others to decide
Today the white valentine hibiscus
With the red center bloomed
What is it you want
If you can’t sit down
With yourself like this
Don’t you want to know who you are
After you’ve extracted the world
And all the subtleties of the senses
Where you were nowhere to be found

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fickle Valentine

A hot and cloudy day
So I bring the rain
By hosing everything down
Nothing as fickle
As rain in the desert
After so many promises
Of course one feels deserted
Or is one simply a deserter
Hiding in the warmth
While others freeze
Trains and planes fly over
One feels at the center
Of a cyclone
Each in his own storm

Veil’s Valentine

I first became aware of death
When I was already in graduate school
Which I thought was rather late
In life but that triggered a great
Number of forgotten deaths
I had buried along the way
Even the witness is implicated
Impartial and alone in some of them
Which is also a kind of dying
I feel a kind of sympathy
For him whose dark costume
Hides some Isis or Osiris
If I could lift the veil

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Valentine for the First Day

I wonder what kind of birthday
Death has planned for me
And yet why blame death
He’s just the messenger
One of the kings who came
To Bethlehem and stole
Away the next night
Was it cowardice or precaution
But death knew
He did not belong in this picture
Of peace on earth
That his turn would come later
When he knew
He would die

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Post-Deluvian Valentine

From memory we have pictures
Short stories and plays
From the present the many-
Volume semi-autobiographical
Novel and from the future
The poem whose audience
Is always dwindling a ghost crowd
This time a white moth
Pursued by a black cat
Playful but heraldic
As the poem sweeps over the yard
The dove in the flood
No place yet to light

Monday, May 22, 2017

Shorn Valentine

One stalk missed the blade
And a few huddled over there
Perfection includes imperfection
The way kindness includes insults
Until the exception becomes the rule
What interests me
Threatens me
With misapprehension
Of my self-projection
Over the whole field

Of shorn sunlight
I cannot see myself
Anywhere until
I find myself in you