Thursday, August 31, 2017

Medicinal Valentine

You can’t drink the medicine
Until you’ve swallowed the poison
The medicine alone can act as poison
On the infant heart which is the station
Where breath and blood meet up
For a lover’s assignation
And a heated conversation
While the trains pull in and out
And the world swirls around them
But the heart is like the queen in chess
Or the taste in food
When she’s taken off the board
No food is good
The king waits naked and afraid
Behind his ramparts and his pawns

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Flooded Valentine

She would be vacuuming today
Except for her house got flooded
A phone would ring somewhere
And a few cars drive by
Like the last weeks before Noah
Tried to convince her about
Global warming and
The earth-ship he was imagining
Might not be such a crazy idea
One large enough for the supplies
That would be needed
For such a long voyage
To the islands of common sense
For the few left
Who would want to go

Your Muddy Feet Valentine

You were my braver half
The one the gods preferred
Thus pain was joined to suffering
The crucifixion goes on so long
Without anticipation of what’s to come
But the bottom of despair is touched
By your muddy feet and you rise
From blood into sunlight
A being of air and dew
And even for us
Impossible creatures
You make it possible
To go on to braver days

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Between Valentine

Between the hard drinkers
Of my father’s generation
The sex-addled thinkers
And my daughter’s cohort
Of sex-addled drinkers
And careful thinkers
You don’t have to imagine
What was going on then
A few witnesses remain
But what if each generation
Was like a species of birds
Or a species of bears
Becoming extinct
Only to return
In the fall

Monday, August 28, 2017

Debtor’s Valentine

The cost of being me
I can’t possibly repay
A sea of bills and IOU’s
To names and businesses I don’t
Even remember anymore
One here for a summery fall day
Sailing apparently the shoreline
Of Chicago extra wind in our hair
Which proves I didn’t completely
Imagine that though clearly
I had no idea at the time
How expensive it would be
But worth every penny and prayer
Just to be there

Ready or Not Valentine

To really feel ready for life
I mean how does one prepare
Pre-existing suppositions and all
Remember when the world
Was covered with forests
And you could breathe like leaves
The first thing is to remember
That feeling I tell myself when
Life is hardly ready for me
So much left undone
In preparation for my birth
Even under questionable conditions
To get me through to the other side
Ready or not life and maybe even
Bring something back from that forest

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Paul’s Valentine

Holier than thou
I would try to be
But you would
Always beat me
Like when you sat up
In the dead apple tree
Above the sleeping lake
With our little brother
And I took your picture
Which in time became
Stranger than time itself
A drying puddle after rain
Leaving this stain
I left you there
To live our lives apart
Is there a greater mystery
Brother than a heart

Saturday, August 26, 2017

King’s Valentine

For the millionth time
We must free ourselves
From another mad king
When will we tire of this
Broken record history
Nice beat but you can’t
Dance to it though
You must fling your arms and
Feel how dancing is the next
Walking this time on air
And you can’t just stand there
You wonder how much we’ll regret
Not acting now
Before the madness goes to seed

Lady’s Valentine

Swept along by our karma
The beautiful lady of mercy
Calls out to us with her silent gaze
After so much good advice
What can she do or say
After we’ve gone and married
The beautiful lady of no mercy
Swept along by her own karma
Dragging aboard the drowning
Into her tiny vessel of hope
Until the weight of her mercy
For so many bodies
Drags her down
Into the depths of mercy
Where no mercy is found

Friday, August 25, 2017

Survivor’s Valentine

Our whole lives
Are being filmed
The true reality show
In the head of a wise old
Cinematographer and survivor
Of a holocaust that’s happening
Somewhere always
In your face or in the background
Of his perfect copy of your life
Which will be handed to you
At the moment of your death
Sometimes we catch previews of it
But can’t believe the meandering script
Working so hard for a happy ending

Arrival Valentine

When I put the sky
Back in my head where
It belongs I remember
Looking out over the hills
And valleys of our crimes
Hiding in the beauty of the earth
Yes I was flying with you
Toward the country of your exile
Or liberation you weren’t sure
Which configuration of hope
Would lead you to an exit
A new life in any event
For which we’re all searching
But for me remain
The old goodbyes

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Enough Valentine

If knowledge were enough
Don’t you think we’d be there by now
We’ve grown pyramids and cathedrals
But can’t explain how
These forms appeared
Or even how they made the colors
Of the glass windows
Or put such stones in place
Conditions change the mathematics
Stays the same
But they used numbers as a tool
And were not captured by them
Knowing knowledge was not enough

Feast’s Valentine

Some things you boil them
Till they’re soft and then
You mash them
Some things you enjoy
The chewing of
But who is this other ghost
I’ve invited to my feast
Of onions and potatoes
I’ve already swallowed
Him and all he knows
We who are always wanting more
Sit down to our simple fare
Peasants of a great lust
Given over to the gods 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Secret Valentine

The freedom to deceive
Which is no freedom at all
Always starts with the beleaguered self
Who calls upon his last defense
To run and hide
We lie how frequently
To protect the truth from speaking
Not because we don’t know
What it would say
But because we do
Something in us
Always knows
What’s true for us
And most of it’s a secret

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Aftermath Valentine

Maybe the sun
Is really a deep reservoir
Collecting all the cosmic light
It can gather from the heat
Of its own planets and stars
And the shards of far constellations
And raying it all back
There’s something so
Motherly about it
And now even more generative
And reconstructive because
Of the combining effect
The momentum it brings
Stirring the pot what's rising
Depending on what falls

Monday, August 21, 2017

Watching The Eclipse Valentine

Slowly the sunlight dims down
As with clouds except
There’s a kind of glow
On things as if some
Powerful being stepped
Into the stream of living
Light and crossing over
Cast his shadow
On the other bank
Where of course we’re watching
Trying not to look directly
At him with that great
Bag of fortunes and
Misfortunes he’s returning
Which we're all trembling to see

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer's Valentine

Summer used to be so recognizable
Sauntering down the twilit street
After her long work-day cleaning
Gutters and putting green
Smiles on Everything
So Everything would work out right
And she could just lie in the sun
Growing further and further
Upward and outward
Until the Perseid showers fall
And a few cold nights
Would bring her back
To our senses the scent
Of her descent
In the crisp light
A young girl asking you
If you want your receipt

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Eclipse Valentine

When the dark side of the moon
Faces the sun full on
And gives back all
The nights it suffered
On his behalf burning
In the coronal fire
Something about it
Touches everyone on earth
A grand canyon of the gods
Opens up some
Leap across some just stare
At the invisible damped down
With safety glasses and cold beer

Friday, August 18, 2017

Once Been Valentine

I see over time my little yard
Has taken on a slightly
Metaphysical patina
All the allegories I mean aloes
Bloomed and were gone
In just three days
And conscience I mean
The variegated Bishop’s Weed
Hints I might have killed
The orange tree which
Is dying from the center
Plants are moral creatures
After all like the mountains
Where they surprised us one spring
Hillsides full of blazing wildflowers
What we had once been
And would be again

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lost Valentine

When the poem leaves me
Bites my ankle and walks away
I feel the aloneness it promised
Without the comfort of its love
I drift off like an oarless boat
Or one of those logs the waves
Finally throw up on the shore
From last week’s storm
I mean it no harm
Every morning I bring it
All the scraps I can carry
From the lost night-world
Though by the time I get here
There’s hardly a mouthful left
And that runny and unclear

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thief’s Valentine

At first I had to
Steal from heaven
What could I do
I was starving
For a piece of bread
Would the master
Of the house not show
The mercy I would have
For him but when
I was caught
They let me in
Let me wash
The pots and pans
Let me fan
My embarrassed angel

Waiting Valentine (for Pam)

Of that divine heredity
The faces of the world
I can’t get over them
Except for one who always
Hidden in the crowd
Looks straight back at me
Then disappears my only
Sense it’s someone
From the future waiting
On the corner of Roncesvalles
And King Street from where
You could almost see the lake
Which is the first thing
I remember falling in love with

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Assumption Valentine

So pure she ascends
Bypassing purgatory altogether
Having made something of her flesh
She runs straight into the sun
Essentially all light
After a whole day
Of listening to the prodigy
Her child was becoming
Which every mother
Hopes for in however
Confused a way
Look she’d say
Doesn’t he have
His father's face

Monday, August 14, 2017

Safe Valentine

Think of the moon
As the rear-view mirror
On a speeding world
Where we can see a light
Increasing or decreasing
In the darkness behind us
Which assures us
We’re clearly being followed
And not just by the past
Glimmering like the empty road
Lit by one bulb between us
But then the light disappears
And for a while the darkness
Makes us feel we’re safe
As we drive on alone

New Moon Eclipse Valentine

In retrograde
Mercury stumbles
Over sleeping Mars
Gets smacked in the back
Of the head which makes
Venus laugh you know
The one that says you’re mine
Just wait till Saturn gets home
Our planets are always arguing
About us they think we don’t hear
When all along we’re doing
Whatever we want
Impossible thinking won’t
Betray us we feel
If we take it far enough

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Forgive Me Valentine

These days whenever I see
Another human being
I immediately want to be
Him or her if only for
A fleeting second
Or what feels like hours
Our eyes lock and unlock
As if opening a safe
Or the cage of a full-grown lion
Or once the tabernacle
Of a child where she kept
The life she would not live
Sometimes I plunge right in
And unnerve you
Life that is also mine

Soul Science Valentine

There’s the faith of the religious
And the religion of the scientist
But how be both
Skeptical and appreciative
Of our own research and memory
Stuck in the time when
Religion is science’s crazy
Girlfriend and science is
Religion’s abusive boyfriend
Which can only end
In self-forgiveness
Or despair or both
Better to despair
And be rescued
By a friend
Than love alone

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Legendary Valentine

Remember the time
Our dear earth was
Nothing but water
One giant drop
A tear or rain from
Another spring
We set about exploring
And so working to amend
Yesterday’s lost voyages
We forgot our own star’s
Future as a stone
Sunk in a cup of light
Passed from one hand
To another

Friday, August 11, 2017

Nostalgic Valentine

The first thing about writing
You notice is you chip off
A piece of darkness you detach
A shadow-form from
Its object where the light
Can’t get through
As if electrified and held there
But when the words left their home
In music and lived abroad
With gamblers and harlots
So the metaphor flows
Don’t think they weren’t
Often nostalgic and self-pitying
Long before they found
The good sense to return

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Apocalyptic Valentine

A day on which you see
Two hummingbirds
Sharing the same flower
A tree sleeping on your house
A strange stain on the patio
That looks like something
Mated with the urn
The garbage truck (it’s a Thursday
After all) smiting the alley
A sense of futility welling up
In an empty stomach
A day on which you see
All the people who brought you here
And who remain with you
Pleasantly and unpleasantly
Waiting to be recalled
The day you’ve been waiting
To thank and be forgiven by them all 

Middle’s Valentine

What freedom is to adults
What equality is to youth
Economics is to children
In our time we have reversed
The paradigm of Chartres
And Compostela the delusion
Of a prosperity separate
From everyone else
Like this morning opening brightly
Then quickly covered with heavy clouds
Because what the sun brings
Isn’t enough a stab
Of fear went through me
But I squelched it
The truth seldom lies
At the middle of things

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Floor’s Valentine

On the hottest days in the desert
The heat goes on like Moses
Not stopping for the night
But going up into the mountains
So there’s no escape but forward
Into a tremendous dreaminess
Washed by circulating fans
And palm trees in the darkness
Looking more and more
Like high fountains spilling
A starry elixir
That dries to a vapor
Before it can ever
Reach us here
On the desert floor

Valentine to a New (Yellow) Flower

In a way you could say them
Form and sound them out
The childhood of each word
The thing it pointed to
And the idea of yes
And no so simple to know
Something but can’t say it
Even if you have a mouthful
Your learning leaps
And bounds you
Into standing and hard trouble
Decisions over the adequacy
Of your balance
Becoming thematic
The pure music of words
Producing their effect
The music in which you sleep
Adapted to the depths
And heights of hiddenness

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bright Valentine

Light of lights
Help me now
Graffiti on a cloud
Of freight cars
Shuffling by in moonlight
I never have my camera
At the right moment
At four in the morning
Memory and dream
Merge gradually into feeling
The train is lonely because
I couldn’t catch it
On the empty street
The moon and I get re-married

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tribute Valentine

Of course our relationship
With our angels is co-dependent
But mostly in a good way
Though once she had to let go
Of the bicycle before I said so
Though that was a long time ago
Still one of her greatest lessons
I had to teach myself everything
And she could only watch
And cheer and to think
Every day she would put down
A clean white tablecloth
As she still does
And say here beloved
Come and eat

Years and Beings Valentine

If all the religions proclaim
God’s brand name
Either none or all are equal
In that they all try to remember
A living spiritual world
That no longer seems to exist
Having forgotten so much
And what seemed obvious
To Buddha and the Greeks
They never spoke of explicitly
Were condemned when they did
But how believe in God today
Without having to experience
All the intervening years and beings
From us to him just to get to
The little cell of one self

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Taken Valentine

One lives one’s life in fear
Of being too poetic
Or not being poetic enough
Think of outer appearance
As a kind of pose
The world as model takes
Up there on the platform
Of being noticed in passing
The best artist leaves
His canvas blank
As truly expressive
Of the shock he took
At beauty’s hands

The Poem of Your Life Valentine

What life wanted for you
You did not want for life
So much repulsed you
And drove you into yourself
So it was hard to feel alive
Which is most of what life
Has to offer that exuberance
So when love turned
And actually spoke to you
As an equal and a friend
You knew your life
Had emptied into something
That would never end
However it goes on

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Working Valentine

To sit for another morning
With your cat and your coffee
Your last imaginary cigarette
And notice the world is awful
Riddled with miracles
Looking like yesterday
But it’s not it’s brought
A whole new set of miracles
And disasters even more
Skillfully interwoven to reveal
If anyone’s looking today
Another world at work
Just behind the shine
Trying to break through

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pluto Square Valentine

Seeing’s purpose
And pleasure
Is to get beyond
The personal but
In a personal way
The coincidence of
Poetry and philosophy
Dying on the same day
(fake news) (urban shade)
These are the arts of dying
And must periodically succumb
To their own magic spell
Die and start again with I
To keep it real 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Useful Valentine

At least get
Something useful
Done I keep
Telling myself
Keep trying
To imagine what
That really
Might be
In a larger
Morning a more
Commodious afternoon
So that when night
Crosses the yard
And enters the house
Ready to work its shift
Of dreams and nightmares
You at least can say
I fought I tried 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Reality Check Valentine

The cat is chasing a lizard
Run for the wall I yell
She’s already removed his tail
But I’m not that wizard
Who can save his life
As soon as he’s in pieces
She’s in peace the reward
Was in the victory perhaps
Not the spectacle of death
Now a doze under the hibiscus tree
Still cool from last night’s rain
For me only the words
Are real when I look up
It’s all Pissarro and Monet

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Music for August Valentine

As soon as we could
We ran out into the world
With no idea how the gods
Would come into our bodies
The way music enters
Instruments so the sense
Of being played depends
Entirely on the note struck
A wholly spiritual experience
At first which settles
Into major and minor tears
But in the beginning
There was only singing
One note held at a time
For billions and billions of years