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

Mercury Direct Valentine

There are valves working in heaven
A whole glandular and complex
Digestive process whereby
Juices are dispatched
When the higher algorithms
Think it and the four-chambered
Sun appearing right on time
Says yes counting off the seconds
It takes for eternity to get here
Outside you can see we live
In a great boundless body
While inside we experience
An infinitely little thing
But who’s really breathing whom
That body or this world of sense

Monday, September 4, 2017

Birdless Valentine

The day-moth climbs
From cloud to cloud
Gray with red flecks
Sparrows scour the gutters
For leftover film
Two days later
Everything’s dry as bone
The old birds have gone
The new ones wait at the threshold
Where a mountain paces
Angry as a man
When you get to a dead-end
Keep going through the neighborhoods
Or over the cliff as they say
You’ll know it’s a good direction
If the obstacles are grave

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Constant Valentine

I had to work late again last night
On my sketchy memories but this time
Got as far back as the cuneiform years
Where I usually happily get stuck
In the vast farm country of Assyria
Where we lived in an orange light
As far as the eye could see
And the nights were a living alphabet
Of messages and to-do lists
The gods were always writing
There were ziggurats to build
And bakeries and temples
Before any serious thinking
Could happen though we lived
In constant expectation of it

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Pessoan Valentine

Maybe what happened to Pessoa
Is what happens to all of us in our way
We subdivide into several
Different personalities
Our prior lives return and overwhelm
Us in our grief leaving no room
For a new life of our own
He said he didn’t want one anyway
His life was spent recovering theirs
But it’s his biography we want
To hear and to re-live with him
All that nothing they were
Becoming something he is

Darker Valentine

Unlike me he doesn’t
Like things that aren’t
Good for him like me
And yet he loves me
Because of a darker will
That rises to a thin line
Of magenta and then carmine
And finally the yellow-green
I hoped for like the light
On the first fall morning
Unlike me he doesn’t crave
And pull at things
But gathers it all up
In one embrace of love

Perhaps Valentine

A smiling man in Asia
Remembers his old room-mate’s
Memories as if they were his own
Stories of summer days at the beach
Where he had never been
In his growing-up years
I will write to him
Perhaps he has forgotten
The best days
And lives in squalor now
Remind him how often
He’d go on about the beach
Falling asleep in my arms

Friday, September 1, 2017

Last Beach Day Valentine

I sat down on the sand
With what I’d found
A salmon leaping
In my mouth
Who would believe it
When I don’t myself
The stern churning of beauty
That can’t be borne
In these broken shells
And stones that stream
In gemmy colors
When the waves draw back
I sit with my pail and shovel
Building as fast as I can

Another September Valentine

In the ecology of the soul
The interior designer
Plays a major role
If you’re going to be modern
To yourself at least
Take some water along
Ever since you got here
You’ve been redesigning the future
So now we’re all wearing crosses
I would like to send roses
To every room in the world
If only I could afford it
What soul would be lost
Once the roses waltzed in