Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mid-Year Valentine

Living as a fugitive
From one’s true life
As we often feel
Immensely insignificant
And yet the missing link
That holds it all together
At least as far as we’re concerned
Having a beer with you
And it’s summer-in-winter
One of those crazy days
When the cold air falls back
And lets the sun in
And the ice of yesteryear
Melts on the porch where we sit
Basking in the first warm day 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Caught Valentine

Don’t people in heaven
Synchronize their watches
Before they come down to bodies again
So they will recognize
A familiar face
However unconsciously
And be caught up short
So thoroughly seen
By a stranger
Who could be Christ or anyone
Everyone is so unique
Each his own species
But when I look at you
I don’t see myself
But someone better

Friday, December 29, 2017

More Valentine

Completely craven with regard
To the disapproval of others
In the beginning was the shameless
But I grew to dislike myself
Enough to want to leave me
A mouse in a trap
Of my own mistaking
Which finally released me
To even greater misperceptions
Awkward at love-making
Always daunted
By a further passion
If I held you
It was only
To hold you more

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Feast of the Innocents Valentine

I looked up to see the cat
But it was just a cinder moon
Rising from a smoke stack
I’d just read Hirschfield’s poem’s last line
‘Calling her children to come in from a day
Whose losses as yet remain child-sized’
When right below it I find ‘The sublimated
Forces of sex, love, money and class
Converged upon a little girl’s flesh’
In an article about another little girl
Who grew up in Morocco
‘In an art-filled house’
‘Just another species of animal’
With animal-sized losses
Following the children in

Holy Innocents Valentine

Mars in Gemini the accountant
Who fights with himself
When love has paid all our debts
But still I run the balance up
Who argues all day with himself
The one and the zero
Love adds up his taxes
The one who relaxes
The zero who faints
A muddle of gains and losses
I turn back to the trees
Where money grows into crosses
To Gemini who drops all his leaves
And stands in the winter sun
Impoverished and crowned

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Unknown/Solstice Valentine

I wanted to rake the leaves before I left
But an icy wind had other plans
We wrestled in the yard a sight
He took his share of bushels home
Somewhere he couldn’t explain
Even after so much whirling
I almost went with him
Letting go of the decision
The way love starts
And you’re swept along
For the pure joy
Of the inward flight
Airborne with the leaves
Out over other people’s yards
And down the long streets of night

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Stumbling Valentine

I’m still a little leery
Of my style and step
I’m still a little sticky
On the uptick and slow
In the down-flow
I waver warily
Cautious of injury
Given if received
Given and received
I walk out on the future often
But then stealthily turn back
Losing my way
I am here and there
The earth pulling me in
The sun remembering me

Wintry Valentine

A boy is dying in the middle of the street
Cars drive by but no one stops or comes
Of course it’s Christmas
Another haiku no one reads
Another beautiful terrible winter
I hear in static on the phone
Behind my brother’s voice
He says it’s crashing at his windows
Thuds of flakes and clattering ice
While I sit where it’s nice
And quiet and the sun shines
And yet it’s still Christmas
Or whatever you want to call it
When the sun lies down
To give birth to itself again

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Religious Valentine

Did you hear
Another religion
Is dying
Does that cheer you
Or bring you fear
The end is drawing near
The bodhisattva says
He won’t reincarnate again
Though the government orders it
Having first destroyed
All the monasteries and temples
Swept away the old gods
Except for the few we rescued
Smuggled over safely
From a prior destruction

Monday, December 18, 2017

Fallen Valentine

Some plants speak to me
But with them all I feel
An immediate kinship
They all say the same thing
Stay a leaf forever
It’s easier
Worse than sentimental
Are the coy and clever
Which leaves never are
Then they go on and on
About spring and the sickness
Before childbirth
That this is the only world
They can leave their children
When they all fall down

Here Valentine

Will still rules the world
Feeling’s not far behind
But thinking’s still
Bringing up the rear
Yet how else did we get here
But a thought following a thought
Between the Scylla of fact
And the Charybdis of truth
Too young for this life
To be time’s creature
The perpetrator
The redeemer
Still thinking of a way
Out of this mess
We’ve created

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Later Valentine (for Joan)

Vast archangels of the zodiac
With your swinging scales
Bestowing and cajoling us
We sail far past you
Out to the dark pastures
Where light is born
Where we are the dew
Of the first morning
Proud as if we created it
When you misread the text
Saying ‘Moses could only see
God’s behind’
Crashing us back to earth
With laughter
We saved for later

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Worked Valentine

You worked for it
Whatever it is
You worked hard
Even the devil deserves
Credit for that
Didn’t Job forgive Yahweh
In the end
I’ve forgotten
How it turned out
Incomprehensible suffering
I remember as a result
Of some longstanding desire
To be loved as if
It wasn’t already so
Or already enough

Friday, December 15, 2017

New Valentine

Isn’t the point of language
To come to the first word
And to receive it
In your new mouth
The bread and stone of it
You dissolve in saying it
Over and over
As the name for all things
Loved and unloved

And years later
You’re still looking for it
A god’s name or a friend’s
That first word
On which everything
Else depends

Sleeping Valentine

What I see at the threshold
Is a young woman holding a child
How could she be so bold
As if offering it to me wavering
Trying to picture what she sees in me
That love is the same in both worlds
Assuming its infant form
The original cupid reborn
Flying about the room
Not at all the nativity I planned
The marching band
The palms waving and laid on the road
But the holiness of the world
In my hands

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Right Valentine

I build an inner and an outer edifice
One that crumbles as I patch it up
And one I patch as it tumbles down
They stand two castles
Over a valley of vineyards
The way life stands between two deaths
Rescued by memory’s one light
Battery fading but still
Blinding clarity of the stones
How did I lay them so huge
And snug you couldn’t slide
My soul between them
But still they toppled
And still I call you priests and knights
Childhood was right

Rocky Valentine

Only the heavy tide of the senses
Which washes in on us
And then in sleep draws back
Uncovering the rocky shore
Of its hidden life
Open for exploration
What from the great sea
We have brought back
From the stand-still of thought
Pools of sea urchins
And stranded clams
Closing like eyes
In the shadowy light of another sun
The inner cries
Of a thousand gulls

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Forgiven Valentine

Isn’t the birth of a child
The true big bang
At whatever level it happens
Everything remembered starts over
As with the first love
When someone else is more important
And the father’s a little terrified
And the mother a little dazed

And the helplessness begins
With the first sad cries
And happiness seems possible
On the earth again
Forgiveness flourishes
Like a little bud
In the crib

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

School’s Valentine

How to reunite and gather up
The trillion pieces of the one I
Now that we’ve become ourselves
In what are we united
If not in mutual knowledge
That many things are hidden
And that no one knows
What new revelation
Will sweep upon us

The school of wonder
In which we are still
Nervous children
The maintenance
Of reverence
In our eyes

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gates Valentine

Keeping the passage open
Between here and the gate
Where a train waits
Ain’t waitin’ for no bus
Or lumbers past
Bodies sleeping in the streets
Train that is itself a derelict
Speed that is itself narcotic
Love that is itself platonic
Train of woes and new equipment
I don’t see you in your tattooed glory
But I hear you saunter past
My unencumbered gate
Keep going I can wait
Till the world comes round again

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Until Valentine

There in the mirror of my little self
My greatest self is standing
The one doing the seeing
And the one who looks at us
So we form a kind of trio
Of muted blended voices
When you add in the world
Standing on either side
Working hard to own us
Until I try to cross over
Into your striding
So purposeful and calm
You the one inside me
And you the one
Looking on

Beaks Valentine

I used to think birds were
The hidden orchestration of the world
Not the sun and the stars
But there’s a quarrel
Between words and lexicons
Where our lives are flown
Way out on the shore-road
Where our feelings sleep in a hut
Constructed of sea stones
But there are birds everywhere you go
Words flying around
Carried upward to die unseen
Clutching in their beaks
All the unsayable things
Words can only dream

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Presence Valentine

'Jealous because
You’re happy without me’
But how can I be without you
We have it both ways
Because we can
That emotional flexibility
In all things happiness
Can’t account for
But takes us wider deeper
That we can use our sadness
Against us betrays
Someone else also present
To mourn with us alike
Our old love passing
The beginning of our new

Friday, December 8, 2017

Brief History of Valentine

In space and time
Can’t we still find
The first male and female

Three sons but no daughter
Until Venus happened along
A genius among the bullies
But not even her mother could save her
With her older brother
All she had was Mercury
That uncontrollable cupid energy
Trying to keep the peace
Despite which she knew
She alone would survive
And settle on the earth

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Above Hadrian’s Wall Valentine

Oddly a mirror and a comb
Are carved on one of the Pict stones
Placed at the bottom
And just above them
Two sun-like circles
Joined by a rigid line
And at the sovereign top
A starving kelpie
A dragon-man leers
Clear lines are drawn
Between these three pictures
So it’s a vertical triptych tall and leaning
A veritable human being
As if staring at her youth
From several angles

Walked Valentine (for Erin)

Facial recognition
In their distance and
The gesture of her skirt
The grade perched against
The darkness and the void
On either side
The nunnery of old age
While he keeps pushing
His lust ahead of him
Is it a shopping cart
Or a baby in a carriage
We just can’t see to say
Something walked in on
Crept up on from behind
Picture that looks and looks away 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gleaming Valentine

I sat to watch some gods
Color in another watery day
Or whoever it is to thank them
But then I spied you gleaming
At the edge of an empty flower-pot
Clearly in distress
And carried you away dying
Out behind the hibiscus
Where the cat won’t get you
And placed you on the grassy ground
And watched you scurrying after me
I came back in a second but you were gone
I looked everywhere for you
How is it possible
Unless you flew
Your body dead
But your wings
Still new

Seen Valentine

If you see me coming in the clouds
Wearing an oxygen mask
Carrying some flowers from Mars
If you see me dressed for a festival
Leaning into the dancing crowds
Following some angel
If you see me in all the places
I would never be truly
You would have seen me
As possible anywhere
As probable everywhere
An inevitable me
You would have seen
What I see
When I look at you

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Drawn Valentine

Often I want to turn away from nature
Leave its privacy alone
Let it have its own life
But it draws me in
Welcome and unwelcome guest
To find some quiet place
On the periphery of leaves
Those thriving factories
Of air and light
Churning and toiling
Faithful to their original
Will to grow
Or where there are no leaves
Just drifts of wind and sand
And the moon is all I know

Little Valentine

These are little shards of the day
I am trying to hoard
Silica and fool’s gold
Hauled up from the night’s
Long Dream’s
Confusing conversations
Nuggets saved
The hard minerals
Of a vanishing face
Pierced through to
And dragged into the day
Not to be remembered
But to be experienced
Just once
Before it fades away

Held Valentine

I need to hold you
Not because you need me to
But just because I want to
Love’s concise dictionary
Holds only five words
But only three of them are used
So how is it possible
I could so often
Forget them
Like your name
I sometimes struggle
To recall
The other two words
Missing from every sentence
I speak

Monday, December 4, 2017

Strange Valentine

What’s wonderful is very strange
It’s not really wonderful
If it isn’t also strange
Awkward at first our littleness
At the spiral of its arrival
But then a new confidence is born
How could you not
Sit in the sun
And behold it
It’s like a whole day in itself
Wonderful daylight
Strange night
Haven’t you ever stayed awake
One whole day and night will you
Sleep through almost everything tonight

Late Valentine

I see by the bare naked trees
And the black-robed conifers
It’s December your birthday again
And the pain of the cold
Harbinger of death
Preparer of life
Lets snow into the valley fields
Like cattle to graze somewhere
Standing deep in meditation
Of course you know which
Valleys I mean which creeks
Where you can see the blood of the earth
As with you I touched something
That friendship which gives us
Back to ourselves as us

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wanting Valentine

One wants Venus to wake up
In the nobility of her lover
In the gratitude of their longing
Even if it seems impossible
And the time is not yet
Not even on the horizon
To rouse her from her dream
So she can tell us again
Imagination is a pale
Substitute for true sight
The goodness behind her beauty
The truth of its source
But please don’t disturb her
She is dreaming of us
Incomplete until the dream is over

Friday, December 1, 2017

Yonder's Valentine

So if we’re the great gods to be
The up-starts and come-latelies
Where’s our clamor where’s our muster
When our good captain calls
Always a first who runs
Right into the fire
To show that death is nothing
But a vortex and a dying pain
So happy you never died
When you come to yonder side
Having lost the use of yonder
Frightening at first
The wonder
You were a god-ling
All along 

Sign’s Valentine

When Venus comes to your sign
It’s because you stumbled again
Down to her hidden chamber
Down the winding stairs
To her underground slumber
Behind the diaphanous veil
Which a hand not yours draws back
Like a drape from a painting
You don’t believe you’re seeing
Reality seems so painted
With the colors of beauty
You don’t know
If you want to touch her
Smooth back her hair
Or kneel in prayer

Acknowledged Valentine

One decent thing
You could do today
Is make no garbage
Just sit in the sun
And give the plants back
Their carbon dioxide for a change
Breath quietly sipping the air
On a bench or on a boat
I imagine you anywhere
You want to be don’t you
Want to be I mean
Knowing nothing
As you certainly don’t
And wise to the fact
You don't

Last Act Valentine

If every snowflake’s different
How is it every praying mantis
Is built the same it’s unclear
If they’re not just miniatures
Of one great mantis god
While snowflakes vary
Into separate patterns
Of participation and release
The pure light before snow falls
And the poor praying mantis
Is swept from the floor
Into the dark of a million stars
The path his father took
And all the fathers after
As the first flakes enter sparkling