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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

One Valentine

Come and stand with me
Under the Chaste tree
When it’s loaded with sky-blue
Blooms and above us
A million bees
Gorging on its nectar
Like the head of an infant
Sucking contentedly
What’s their business
What’s their hurry
That wings are speech
And everyone can talk at once
And not miss a word
There being only one

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sleepless Valentine

I’m always instructing myself
I approach myself pedagogically
As a somewhat recalcitrant
Somnambulist now you’re going
To do this now you’re going to do that
But we try to have fun with it
Both of us feel how we’re building
A human thing between us
Which is where the heart bursts in
Like someone who’s been dancing
All night in love with the music
Dazed with joy and passion
While we’ve been working
Sleepless on a new equation

Pebble’s Valentine

The roar of butterflies
Not to let one’s inferiority
Overwhelm one completely
When the irony of the world
Is that we can be so hard
On ourselves about matter
Forgetting the mineral
Is the residue of the gods
The peep-hole of a mind
Living in unity with all things
And not to let that overwhelm
One either picking one’s way
On both sides of one central pebble
We know must be there

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Same Valentine

If we could have a true feeling
And a worthy knowing
Of how completely
Surrounded we are
By love we would
Already have let it in
To the black holes we are
Simply the way the sun rises
From the bed of its lover night
After their long adventures
We would grasp time like a brother
Or a sister not seen
For sixty so-called years
Strangers yet our childhood’s
Were the same

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Warning Valentine

The sparrow’s warning
But the cat’s asleep
Here at my feet
The dog across the street
Barks at nothing authoritatively
The hummingbird loves
The hibiscus but comes
To the empty feeder
Stares at me and flees
The morning can barely resist us
I think of moving the trees
That one over there
Would look better here
And the sky too would alter

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Always With Us Valentine

By whose authority
Is the shadow cast
But by the light itself
Working on us long hours
As any laborer must
The stern faces of the poor
The fleshy faces of the rich
We must think our way
Out of this
Hoeing the long rows of slavery
That look like lettuce or strawberries
Or piles of money
But by whose authority
Who says it’s so

Monday, May 15, 2017

E. D.’s Death Day Valentine

Right behind the gate
The path bricks had to be
Taken up but were laid
Back down badly to prune
The orange tree’s
Protruding roots
So everyone who enters
Stumbles slightly there
But on leaving
Just where the kiss is given
And received
The feet remember
What the heart forgets

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Home Valentine

If death is the only real
Thing on the earth
And love his deft companion
Such a beautiful woman once
You get to know her
It’s just a few feet
To stand in her sunlight
But the darkness is cooler
Or to stand behind the light
And let it lead you like a plant
Into its intimate weaving
You can see what the sparrow
Is thinking with that bug
In its beak waiting on the roof-edge
How will I ever make it home

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Epic Valentine

The epics of our lives
If we’re sticking to the texts
Grow awry to great wrecks
This world is so strange dear lord
And I know you saw that coming
And planned ahead
Because ultimately it’s all
Impossible to imagine without you
I refer to the young man
Who changed his name to Justify
Both on and off his rocker
I refer to this black bird
Chasing a hawk nipping his tail
Feathers right now high above me
The two making crazy circles
And lemniscates in the blue
I refer to me and you

Friday, May 12, 2017

Time’s Valentine

Does time eat us
The way we eat time
With a dash of bitters
And a good red wine
Time is a carnivore
Have another slice
To dip in the blood
But how joy visits the body
Alone in some room
Of that time knows nothing
Nor does he-she-it
Value enough or comprehend
Only later what’s going on
Time tries to turn the body
Into a theme park of diseases
And we must not let it

Pleading Valentine

The young man with no muffler
On his red sports car likes attention
He can’t get enough
Every morning at six o’clock
He explodes our sleepy street
Just to tell us he’s alive
Still alive but not sure
What for yet so yes we pay
Attention as if spell-bound
Sitting up in our beds
Pleading with him
What do you want youth
We’ve not already given you
The world and all is yours
Take it and let us sleep
Till your return

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Known Valentine

All my sources
End in you
All my endings too
I have known you
Since you were a hayseed
Snagged in the hem
Of a goddess’s dress
Since you were blind to love
And thought it was a curse
To be put upon this earth
A penance you must pay
And all the time
You were teaching me
Never missing a day

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Paper Valentine

What has been made
Of me and what
I have made of myself
These two like the glue
And the stamp
On the envelope
Of the letter hidden inside
But what if there’s nothing
Written there a blank
Piece of paper
Folded twice
Once for what has been
Made of me and once
For what I made of myself

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sudden as Light Valentine

In some part of the morning
To mate and separate
A call comes in from Unavailable
Love is a perishable thing
All day I cloud-gazed
Those enormous after-rain clouds
Wondering if they were lifting
From our lives as well
I was not just standing here
Under the torn-up pages of time
Floating overhead as if
I couldn’t see them looking down
At their reflection in the stream
Love is a perishable thing

Monday, May 8, 2017

Delusional Valentine

We may all be delusional
In our own unrivalled ways
But there is good delusion
And not so good
You can’t get around it
In case you’re still trying to
And anyway how could it be
If not based on some reality
The persistence of some truth
Evil as usual dependent
On the good for its success
In muddening the waters
Yesterday a ten year old girl
Released herself from the jaws
Of an alligator by punching it
In the nose no delusion
They shot the humiliated alligator
And the girl went home

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cannot Valentine

I cannot say these things to you
But my angel can
She is my chosen messenger
We’re at one another’s command
And she can bring them
To your angel
To share with you
At her discretion
If she would recommend
You hear them
Since only angels speak
What cannot be said
But is immediately understood
These things I cannot say to you

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Anyone’s Valentine

Narrow befogged phony
Our lives have been
Beautiful beyond gratitude
Beyond belief at times
How many births already
Before we finally get it right
Before it all goes back to light
But now the secret’s out
Struggling in the open
To be seen by anyone
Brave enough for the truth
And now there’s no going back
Once and for all the lock has turned
And darkness itself is slowly dying

Friday, May 5, 2017

Dove’s Valentine

Why can’t we stay
Why can’t we stay
Over and over
The mourning dove
Asks herself and us
After all she loves it
Here on the earth
Despite her gift

For mourning
We want to stay
We want to stay
She murmurs
And thus the mourning
Must continue

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Squawking Valentine

The semi-automatic way every day
Fills with things that must be
Done today and will either
Get done or left for another day
Time is the thrasher with his hooked bill
Scratching in the long grass for grubs
Always busy on task yet elegant
Until he tries to speak just squawks
But thinking is listening to many voices
Not just your own and asking
Out of what heart
Could such a cry be issued
If not to warn of time’s
Worst harm to kill
The timeless thing
With things to do

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Butterfly Selfies Valentine

Here is the culprit the Gulf Fritillary butterfly
Laying its eggs on the leaves that hatch
Into caterpillars which completely devour
The vine ultimately killing it
And then those same caterpillars
Curl up in little blankets to sleep it all off
And wake up weeks later as butterflies again 
What???  Science says 'life cycle' 
This is like a card trick or a display
Of proficiency by some god of the seasons
A picture of how matter is transformed
Which is like a kind of breathing a magic code
Made commonplace like electricity
So no one notices it anymore how every
Material thing is born as a work of art
And must lose itself to find itself again

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Valentines Facing East

All these houses
Turn their backs
Like rowers rowing
Eagerly into the west
Right up against
The blazing sun all day
Windowless block walls
That breathe the heat
And hold the cold all night
So to really see the sunset
You have to go outside
Into the yard or the street
To catch it in the distance
Because inside all you’d notice
If you noticed anything at all
Is a brief trout light flickering
On the opposite wall

Free Spirit Valentine

A spirit can only be a free spirit
If it is conscious of its own true nature
Of its own real self as a particle
Of the gods not as a right
To intimidate other free spirits
But as a summons to lighten
The load to lift the barriers
And hindrances to freedom
For all species and forms
And yet it’s what
Must still be won
By each of us alone
The certain knowledge
I’m the only one
Who constrains me
The only one who can
Or should set me free

Contractual Valentine

As it is written in her contract
This cat will only drink water
From the bird-bath in the yard
So one more reason
To keep it overflowing
Inviting to one and all
Forms of light and movement
To what will we be loyal
If not even to the earth
To her real animals and plants
That our pure selfishness
Not forget to water
and feed them every day