Monday, October 23, 2017

Sorry Mother Valentine

I keep trying to imagine the Archangels
Trying to deal with us down here
What their reports must say
To the higher-ups about our inner grasp
Of the situation of limited space
And time the larger question like
What is that lighthouse doing over there
Or that cavity where the ego like a boy’s
Laughter is carried across
The canyon of confusing words
I feel sorry for them
The Great Mothers who labor
So their children can play
And maybe even learn something
At that uppity school they pay

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Autumn Rendezvous Valentine

When Mars and Venus get together
They don’t talk about us kids
Though Mars is a talker and rants
Around the rooms and hallways
Led by his flailing arms
While Venus gets more comfortable
Curled up on the couch
Pretending not to be listening
Until at one point he lifts her
Into his arms and we here
On earth feel strangely exhilarated
And suspiciously joyful
For a few hours or a whole day
But it’s too good to be true we say
They will never make it

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dug Valentine

The token of their return
Was the first red bud
I saw hidden in the leaves
The ground had been pounded down
All morning long
The workers’ voices drowned
Out by someone whistling
As he shoveled gravel
I could catch the smell
Of stones and earth
But was it grave or garden
They were digging right outside
My window hardly light
Hardly time to struggle
Upward from my dream

Friday, October 20, 2017

Reunification Valentine

Turn back the stars
To the pages you don’t understand
The parts missing from the jigsaw
Is sentimentality a necessary step
As you descend to the subway
Or take the elevated train
When it’s tenderness you’re after
And a sense of the real trouble we’re in
Because of one another
How to rearrange the stars
Into a more accurate perception
Of our true intention
And return to them the impulse
To reunite all light
Into a single body and soul

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Venus in New Moon Libra Valentine

Mine the earthbound
Yours the starry worlds
Strange how we met one night
I wanted to study Venus
Sensing her at the center
Of the mystery of this world
That woman who wants to know
Everything about you
Without letting on she does
That sympathy with all things
So she cries freely
And laughs freely
She with the freedom to laugh and sleep
A whole new body
Into the earth every night 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Alone Valentine

In my next life when I’m a woman
I want to remember the women
Of today it’s not easy
Being the object of desire
Even when you understand
The longing of the wills
In your sons and daughters
To align with the stars
But a woman is always a mother
And a child assaulted
By a dragon in the old pictures
And audible in the first music
Her praise and her torment
Praise for her child
Torment for her child
Who alone can save us

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Questioning Valentine

We clearly intend as Nietzsche knew
To take the earth to its limits
Starry and otherwise feeling
That evil can only destroy not build
And ultimately will destroy itself
With a little help from the good
That it matters if your innocence
Is given or taken from you
If you can trust the earth
If you don’t spend your life
Constantly questioning its loyalty
It undying faithfulness to you

Monday, October 16, 2017

On Being a Language Valentine

When I said yes
I had no idea
It included no
Down the road
And so much letting go
From the other side
A whole different
Muscle group
That loves to talk
And the joy of listening
To a language you love
But don’t understand
And trying to figure out
What they’re really saying
Behind the words
From just watching the eyes
And the accompanying gestures
Of lips and sounds

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Secret Valentine

My secret meeting
With the smiling moon
At four in the morning
So much darkness to say
To the keeper of heaven
And the sailing swan
Knowing the time is short
And the dragon just sitting there
As the child of some woman
Falls to the ground
I will lift it back up
Replace it with my own
If you would just wait
And stop laughing moon
I too could be light
I too will be dawn

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Enter Valentine

Yesterday was a hallucination
Today a delusion tomorrow a dream
These records our broken memories
So we can get our bearings in space
And not keep doing the same things
So courage becomes a more flexible star
In the face of forgetting so much
At least that’s the hypotenuse
Thinking offers morning waving
From the window on its way to work
More in the heart than in the head
Like the old man who stumbled on
The naked Venus sleeping
And felt both ashamed
And deeply inspired

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nuzzling Valentine

She’s an outside cat
For an inside guy
We rendezvous on the patio
For a nuzzle but love too
Much our independent lives
She’s full of conspiracy theories
Between the trees and streets
But says she doesn’t need me
To survive anymore
Than I need her to think
Of me as confidante and friend
Our private relationship kept private
Our quiet meetings
Involving only those involved

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Around Valentine

The liquidity of angels
And old people
In children’s eyes
Who’ve been around
And who hasn’t yet
Not enough times
To grasp the mystery
You are already gods
But that’s not enough
Now you have to be
Responsible as well
Not just for yourself
But for the whole
God-blessed world

Monday, October 9, 2017

Shot Valentine

When an instinct becomes a passion
And a passion an obsession
That feeds upon itself
And the will surrenders
Slavish to some idea
That turns out to be a grifter
When devastation comes
When you spread the sheets
Out in the sun to dry
And walk miles for water
What’s the point if nothing’s
Learned about the weather
Do we just keep getting beaten up
Or watching others getting shot

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Afterwards Valentine

Sometimes I didn’t lift
Things up and do
A proper job I just
Swept around them
Gathering the dust
Into the center
Of the room
Into smaller and
Smaller circles
Into a craving
To be gone
And the floor
Cleared again
For more dancing

Friday, October 6, 2017

Somewhere Valentine

I can hardly wait to see
Some future age
Look back on us
The way we look back
On medieval darkness
Or Alexander’s days
I don’t remember the future
Ever looking so bleak
One blind man to another says
Yet this is somewhere
And you are saying this to me
I can hardly wait to see
From where it’s all worth it
What looks like nothing to me

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Threshold Valentine

Once I put my whole head
Into a large spider web
Where my face could feel
How carefully it was made
Before I recoiled in fear
Luckily the spider wasn’t there
But miraculously the web
Snapped back intact
You could hardly tell
Something terrifying
Had recently happened here
The design unharmed
The little baskets of food
Still waiting on each floor 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My Country’s Valentine

My country has always been a joke
To its elders a jackass to its neighbors
And now it’s become an immense cartoon
Documentary film noir of itself
And this has spread to every country
In the world virtually virally
About a group of high school students
Who wrest power back
From a deranged family of killers
And then replace them ruling the world
Fire the writers of this schlock
I want to see a plot
That thickens into common sense
About a poor country alchemist
Who finds the cure for this madness
But no one wants to take it

Alive Valentine

Do we know what we mean
When we say goodbye
How foolish it sounds
As if we won’t be back
With our superfluous hellos
As if we weren’t always there
All of it whenever recalled
As if we could lose touch
As we do with one another
Now I can see I was dead
A minute ago but now
I’m alive with the imminence
Of your arrival yet there
We are saying goodbye

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wartime Valentine

On my birthday
I ask the sunlight
To just write
A little note
Here on this paper
I’ve provided
Your inexpressible
Wishes for me

Some sign you have
Not forgotten me
Dark mother
Young as I
Remember you

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fall’s Valentine

I only had two lights
So I placed them
On either side of me
So they made a gate
A kind of line one crossed
Into another part of the yard
From the dark hallway
Into the brilliant garden
Where in the heads of sages
There are now girls laughing
And in the cabbage stumps
Run in rows like graves
What sounds like purple
In the two lights shining
Gathering the ground

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mahler’s Valentine

A stray family of bees
Is conducting my tree’s
Last late bloomers like
Bernstein doing Mahler
Jumping up and down
But this time in slow motion
So you can see the lift he gets
And the leaves turning yellow
Between his shoes and the podium
The agitated adagio
His fingertips introduce
Until the whole orchestra hums along
And the brass think it’s spring
Though the birds have gone

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Later Valentine

What is the reason for color
Our fear and love of red
Our jealousy over green
Our anxious joy for yellow
Black and white have to be imagined
But there was always a straggling
Rainbow visionary tucked away
In a corner of the painting
It can be restored and
Though it will cost you
The value will triple
In his later works
His palette settled down
To a madder brown
That intimated ground was found
In all the colors run together

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Seeds Valentine

When the drowning amaryllis leans
In its pot of forgotten leaves
When a terror comes over the trees
So they all turn pale and run
When Venus emerges her brightest
Doffing a sickle moon
Just after the sun goes down
With a splash of red in your face
When silence dives deeper and deeper
Into immovable afternoons
How could you not want to go with it
Into death's crystal rooms
But you must stay awake
Through uncomprehending dark
Seeds full of blooms

Friday, September 22, 2017

Longing Valentine

I long not to long
But be respectful
And calm as a corpse
Just coming to life again
Feeling the first tingling
Of a seasonal change
The ground opening
To receive me
And then pull me
Back up again
On the other side of the sun
Here in this small place
With its few trees and flowers 

Warrior’s Valentine

Unimaginably worse it would be
If he had not come back for us
And dragged the hole in my body
Down the steep hill covering my body
With his under the storms of bullets
Though I begged him to leave me
Already half out of my body
Which was screaming over there
Because our fathers sent us here
To die for their beliefs
Before we could figure out our own
But even that’s not true
The truth is some survived
And became fathers themselves
Still sending off their kids

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Survivor’s Valentine

Somehow the tragedy of my life
Failed to show up I was spared
The full knowledge of myself
Though I tried to pursue it
It seemed I already knew it
As something already possessed
And lifted from me
I was in recovery mode
When aren’t we all
But it's only the fall of my life
Still lots of time for winter to come
Time to lose everything I own
See if what calm I’ve gathered
Can overcome what storm

Hour’s Valentine

Today I thought the worlds a mind
Contains must be endless
Or they couldn’t have spawned a mind
And days could go on and on like this
Full of vacillating promise
And the love of learning
Whatever you want to focus on
Or find of consuming interest
Person or war or flower
Would come to you as planned
To be ignored or desired
And your life would pass in an hour

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Few Leaves Valentine

On one side of the trellis
The vine is huge but dying
On the other side
The vine is small but growing
The green leaves creep over
Pushing down the browning ones
As leverage and support
But together it’s a kind of mess
The dead and the living dead
Obscuring not outlining
What the trellis had in mind
The top-half of a smiling mouth
One wave mirroring another
A few leaves for foam and glitter

Orange Valentine

When the fritillary comes back
To the passion vine to visit
Just a few feet away
The cat and I are all eyes
Like the postman
From another world
Dropping something off
Then slipping out the door
But for a moment we saw
His vast wings in which
We were also embedded
Bathed in their orange light
When the cat looked at me
As if to ask did you see that
Or was I just freaking out

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Filmed Valentine

To see a Vietnamese farmer
Stand beside an American soldier
Fully armed in his pajamas
To watch a monk incinerate his body
For the sake of an idea in his mind
To discuss the venality of leaders
And the superficiality of your dreams
To learn how you were lied to
For which you staked your life
Young with nothing better to do
And to see clearly the true heroes
Were the enemy their bravery
In the end that won against you
In the wrong in every way

Silly Question Valentine

Somehow both the rich and the poor
Have maintained their ancient
Practice of migrations over time
Following the old magnetic lines
Of the four possible directions
While the stranded middle class
Sits on its ass struggling
To raise its young caught
In the battle between greed
And squalor its children
Its parents its busy family life
Out on the farms of winter
Or under the sweaty city lights
Wondering why we can’t all
Just meet in the middle
Without some terrible fight

Monday, September 18, 2017

Smiley’s Valentine

If you can’t rhyme then riddle
Make the reader run like a spy
Through too much information
Unraveling some conspiracy
Of words on individual scraps
Of paper tossed away
Uncommon phrases meant
To throw you off the scent
Right under your nose
Of being led around by it
A well-oiled trick
That strangely mirrors
And obscures the plot 

Iridescent Valentine

The strange thing
As I was standing there
Wasn’t the hummingbird
Who came to drink
My bogus nectar
But having sipped
His full resting on the perch
He rose and bowed
To me his shining
Head or was it
To the sun he lowered
His brow now gone
Shining just for him

Epical Valentine

A flexible destiny can work
Backwards on eventual results
To reverse the flow direction
Of invisible curtains opening
And closing like eyes or leaves
Though often the rigmarole prevails
Despite the monumental afternoon
And the mind’s first impulse
To give itself away in a flourish
Of laughter and self-justification
But always the future leaks in
With its not having to be this way
And forever gestures at the window
That could still offer an escape
Of epical proportions for today

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Yard’s Valentine

A small pale purple light
Appeared in this morning’s yard
It was a heartening shock
Compassionate amethyst
Up against the blades of
End of summer weeds
Holding its own royal calm
Face up to the same light
That darkens the green
Somehow visionary but mundane
That speaks of suffering
That has overcome desire
Of love as the final fire

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Believer’s Valentine

A shoestring emotional budget
Was imposed on the trees and houses
A week after we arrived
Things were not dried but fried
Here in the first city of hell
Everyone who’s here has to be here
There are good reasons why
Some are paralyzed and cannot speak
Left for the rest of us to care for
The way we too must be cared for
With our own paralysis and fear
By a whole host of unimaginable beings
Who are themselves sustained
By innumerable shining lights
Or this whole summer makes no sense

Friday, September 15, 2017

Borderline Valentine

Hair grows and the nails
The skin is always fluffing off
The kidneys are still straining yesterday
While the liver dozes in its pails
Waiting for the bile to make
Another run another intervention
As if the world was inside my organs
And just a dry reflection of them
But the worst is to be cast out
As too much trouble or when
One lung says to the other
I just can’t trust you anymore
Or the red and the blue bloods
Hunker down in the fox-holes
Of the heart and start shooting

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Memory We Need Is Not This Memory Valentine

How to such little things
We’ve gotten it down
Building our waste and wisdom
What to do with what matters
To us what’s the plan
You would often mutter
The flood has a plan I suppose
The volcano must have planned
Its smallest details for months
In an almost human way
‘Mother Nature’ left home
Years ago so the rest
Is up to us fledglings to fly
I gave you a memory she said
Walking out the door
And now you must remember
Or die

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Formation Valentine

Martin Luther looks to me
Like an unbuttoned St Francis
Whose birds and flowers
Were his wife and kids
He humanized all
That piety and joy
With the guilt and grief
We’ve pondered ever since
Neither adored capitalism
Just another form of monarchy
What is faith without love
When Francis was dying
He wrote his best work
Closing the door on the middle ages
While eagerly Luther opened another
To a thousand necessary devils
Leaving behind one line
‘We are beggars: that’s for sure’

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Farm’s Valentine

The broken country farm we found
And won at auction with its weedy yards
Littered with plastic coffee cups
And years of wind-blown papers and leaves
It took us half a spring to clear
We wanted the work of simpler days
Pump-drawn water carried
To a real fire a life the land
Could barely afford to give us
I wanted to plant apples and peonies
You wanted to finish growing up
Why be here if we didn’t love
The old ways of living
If we didn’t want to touch
The center of our lives

Monday, September 11, 2017

Saved Valentine

Because I saw what you
Went through today
I had to give you my last
Pail of saved rain-water
Juicy with desiccated leaves
A few purple-blue flowers
Skating on the surface
I was saving it for my own shower
But when I saw what the sun
Left behind of your arms and face
White blooming hibiscus
That has never bloomed
I knew what I had to do
And dumped it all over you

Holderlin’s Valentine

The empty forms left behind
By the movements of the wind
Are dead as sandy footprints
And yet something’s carried forward
By the yes and no of its waves
Proud of its penmanship
In the writing of our lives
On whirling leaves and shells
Where there’s no delete history
To press no mechanical relief
But grazing on light
Like a plant the earth
Follows the sun
Leaving darkness in its wake

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Leftover Valentine

When we say it feels like Monday
But it’s actually Wednesday
Aren’t we identifying
Different personalities
And when we experience deja-vu
Aren’t we sensing something
That’s already happened
Happen again right now
A certain mood or color
Reappearing as if foretold
And when we don’t show up
For the accident that certainly
Would have killed us
Don’t we sense something at work
That’s changes everything somehow

Pocket’s Valentine

Someone laid a pen
On my chest when I
Was in my crib
All things start out as toys
And looked straight at me
Prehensilely as love does
Though I’m strangely older
And the faces have evolved
So now I always carry a pen
In my breast pocket
When it’s not in use
I think of my heart as a battery-
Charger resurrecting its ink
Poor corpse sprung loose 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ceremonial Valentine

Iced Chrysanthemum tea
Under the west-leaning tree
Is like drinking the last of the sun
A last that goes on and on
The way mums are fall flowers
Carried over into spring
They remind me of fish scales
Only turned around
And softened into petals
Growing out from a flowing center
Like a quiet hurricane
But the tea tastes like swallowing
The evening just that light
Our only medicine the night

Next Valentine

The possible next thing to do
The next impossible thing to do
Our unstable star’s rocky past
Calls for both this broken morning
Every life we start from scratch
Though our play’s already cast
With characters and the right furniture
We swim to get to the next egg
That turns to our attention
The furtive lure of glances
That says we’ve lost something
It could be you or all of you
Out there in the hinterlands
In the landslides and tornadoes
Or in you waiting to be next

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Possible Sources Valentine

I didn’t find you
In my book of birds
Or in my wildflower guide
Or even in my North American
Insects and spiders
Given to me by a clever woman
Who loved me so the pages
Of close-up moths and butterflies
Are smudged with fingering from
That summer I didn’t find you
But a friend referred me to a formula
For grief an astrophysical dead-end
But luckily by then
You had escaped all texts
Found alive among my wrecks

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Its Valentine

It stands apart from problems
Seeking the problem the mosquito
Of our desire aiming for the ankle
Or the crook of the arm
As lovers do or doctors or torturers
Where the skin can be kissed
Or perforated the blood drawn
To the surface the earth
Still frightening us so we
Try to frighten it back
With a walk in the park
A time-out on a long bench
Whatever it is it stops with you
Right now it’s staring at the lake

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Anyone’s Valentine

Why poets want to make it
A competition when anyone
Can write a poem that’s good
That’s one of its distinctions
To appear on postcards or in Homer
Struggling to reach us
His poems are everywhere in pieces
To be picked up and recycled
Or taken to the homeless shelter
Or carted off to jail
Little lines of encouragement
At least you tried
In the midst of so much
Love and terror