I am trying to seduce you.

I’m trying to block all your wants and desires,

The warmth, you convince yourself, which can be found in all those small fires,

The meals and the convivial laughter with friends.

I’m trying to make sure conviviality ends.

All your small pleasures must go

To make room for one you hardly know

But once, you knew desperately well.

Remember? You looked on love with a sad face.

Remember? Love had a voice and a hand and a place,

Which nothing you know has now.

You don’t remember exactly how

Love murdered your life.

A blue sky? Money? Child? Wife?






Image result for baudelaire and rimbaud and nightmare painting

She cannot love unless she hates.

She never speaks directly—she insinuates

Love, because hate is coming up from behind

As love and hate go back and forth in her mind,

An alternating current of electric power,

Loving me for a minute, hating me for an hour,

Missing me terribly for an entire day

After announcing, to me, who did no wrong, “please go away.”

I don’t blame her for this,

Being a fool for a beautiful woman and her kiss,

But I also know

The engine of opposites is how things go,

The world and the non-world are fighting it out.

In order to have faith, you must have doubt.

In order to love, there must be dreams

Of hate overcome, of overcoming everything that only seems,

Including reasons for hate and fear and doubt

Which burn—and will never go out.

That’s why I love her, even in her hate—

Ugly, beautiful, angry, sweet, unfortunate, lucky, here, late.


If beauty were equally divided,
Where would pleasure dwell?
To my beautiful love I once confided
Her beauty made me unwell—
Her strange sexual beauty wrapped me up in hell.
But if beauty between all creatures were equally divided
All that madness would vanish.
English would be just as beautiful as Indian or Spanish.
Every person would be beautiful alone
Without comparison; none more beautiful than the rest.
The jealousy of the ugly would cease to exist—
Love would cease to be divisive, and every ecstatic moan
Would be decided by surrender—only that would be the test.
Some would surrender often, and they would be known
As loving too often, and yet, by giving themselves away, they would be blessed.
The one I would love would hide her love; a sweet torture to be melancholy and glad.
Diluted beauty! She would hardly kiss me at all. And our love would be sweetly sad.


Beauty is not only true—but kind.

I witnessed a modernist lose his mind

Deploring what the imaginative Keats had said,

Who left for Rome—when England’s hedges were dead,

When frost lay on the garden bed—

At Hampstead—and other places.

I’ve seen the look on women’s faces—

Women who are past child-bearing age,

Proud, and still beautiful, and kind,

Because they kept beauty in their mind—

I have seen women look placidly and calm

On gardens bursting, as the highest balm—

And when they stood with lovely jewels on

Beside friends, their smiles as cold as the moon,

Coldly beautiful, since they knew in frozen beds

They would be lying down soon,

The flowers gray, no more the passionate purples and reds!

I wished I had loved them. Never

Could I—no, never—this much beauty had known

As with you! Remember our sweet moan?

When we loved in nature’s yellow-lighted chapel?

How much can I tell—

If I regret what we all regret: beauty lost forever?

Is this a frozen bed?

Its flowers with flowers that once sighed, dead?

We read modernist verses instead.

Because we would rather forget

A flower—and our enormous debt?


Image result for dead horse beach salem ma

We share the sea.

I stood on my shore and looked across the bay to see

The sea is a lot to share.

But since you no longer care,

We can do it easily.

I’ll take the waves, the seaweed bobbing,

The various land items which the sea is robbing,

The seagulls that fly from shore to shore;

These are mine, and since you no longer care,

I might take more:

Things richer and more rare:

The kayaks in the shallows

Will belong to me, and things

Valuable, which do not float: bracelets and rings.

And since you no longer care,

Candy wrappers from the jazz fair,

And the jazz notes

Over the water. The sail boats,

Smaller items we might not see.

You no longer care. So these belong to me:

The glitter in the water from the sun,

The sighs from lovers.  Shouts near the sea from anyone,

My friends now, since you no longer care.

Girls in bathing suits with long hair.

Am I taking too much? You don’t argue. You don’t dare.

I’ll take the children splashing near the shore.

And the ocean near your house—since you don’t love me anymore.


Image result for ocean painting hudson river school

I wanted  the boundless sea

Because it was boundless and I always thought the boundless was me.

My breaths go on forever, I always need another one.

I’m unlimited, more unlimited than the sun,

Because every moment I need a new breath, and every day I feed,

And in my brain are infinite memories—and every day I need

To use my infinite mind

To be infinite. Reasonable. Patient. Kind.

A minute in a day has infinity tucked inside

And inside that infinity I infinitely reside.

I wanted the boundless sea.

I knew that limit was the thing we couldn’t see

And what we couldn’t know was one. Two. Three.

And good things were impossible: Love. Honesty.

Sometimes we reside somewhat comfortably in this or that belief

But joking, or annoyed, we submit to existence, that random thief.

I wonder if I can make you understand—since I’m boundless—what I believe.

I was wrong because I was boundless—but I didn’t deceive.


How are we to know

If our lover has been true?

The sun comes up and says

See what you can do.

A shrieking bird in the darkness says sing—

Then listen to how he sings to you.

Why is the bird in darkness?

Because the sun is late.

How are we to know

When love turns to hate?

When the earth, this ball of fur

Rotates in space, and resembles her?

The actions of the orbs—can they be understood?

How is the moon good?

What does the moon do when I sleep?

Does she think of me? And weep?





The poet failed to compose the song,
Having loved her—almost to the point of wrong,
Because jealousy began to get in the way
Of anything the lover might say.
A song came through the poet’s open window one night
With a soft, creeping melody
Almost discernible, a snake made of light,
Softly undulating, insinuating itself beneath the bed
Where roses lived, to the ground’s delight.
Then a poem came into the poet’s head
As he dreamed. Nothing else happened that night.

The scent of flowers
Grew in the room during the night’s hours,
And in the morning filled the poet’s mind
With a beautiful scent, but no melody was there,
No melody in the poet’s head which reclined
Upon thick pillows—pillows oblivious to dreams.
There is no shape on the earth but it isn’t what it seems.
One window had light, but the rest
Were dark. Nothing else happened that day.

The wooded paths were long and the poet strode
Down them. He recalled the mare the two of them rode
When he and she were in love and the mare
Paused in a mist; a lake had been there
Where the poet now walked
Past where they had stopped and talked,
Past where they had put down a blanket and loved.
Put down a blanket and loved.
A scent of roses, there could be no doubt.
And the small birds wandered about.
The ruined boulevard.  Nothing else happened that day.

There is no poem but that a song can make it stay.
The poet would fail! Fail again! And fall out of love!
The day after the dream there was no song.
Nor a memory of a scent. Could a rose be wrong?


The Chinese know how to live: corrupt officials,

Seafood caught fresh from the sea,

Drunkenness celebrated in poetry.

It’s a plan that works well.

Heavenly poetry living where beggars dwell.

Poetry for drunks, the poor, the blind

So eventually all of these become refined.

Write your poetry to one who broke your heart

And hates you. Don’t throw her back in the sea.

Love her anyway. Drunk. Corrupt. And sir, don’t forget I’m here.

Don’t forget about me.




Shot out of the cannon of your love,

At first I was shocked, but then I noticed many things above.

The same inducements to pleasure give us pain.

(I’m never trying those things again)

The big picture really does makes sense

Up here, where the air is not so dense

And anger dies in circumstance.

I see you doing town-like things in town,

Wondering if you should buy that gown,

(Have I told you I’m never coming down?)

The string that solves the maze is shaped like the maze.

There is a willingness to fight

When one isn’t right.

And when there isn’t love in the middle of the night,

You get poems for days.




I will say it for you, since you cannot say

Why you love me—yet want to go away.

Love is dangerous. Love has no friends,

No kindness. In love, all kindness ends.

Except in the arms of the beloved. Then you are kind

And for a minute the body is happier than the mind.

Do you want that happiness again? You really can’t say.

Your body cannot speak. Your mind trips along a different way.

You wonder who these people are, who populate your day.

You wonder if they love you, how many of them are kind.

Now love is about to speak. It’s me.

And just before I speak, you find a way to get free.

Love is a mystery, but love can be willed

Like a poem. Like silence. Aren’t you thrilled?







Being wanted is the greatest satisfaction!

Smile! The hungry can take no action

Against your jewels and rings.

The hungry listen patiently while your beauty sings.

You are fed and satisfied

When hungrily your face and limbs are eyed.

Your beauty is all; you have no need

As long as they want and cannot feed.

Their love and jealousy will die

Only when your beauty dies in their eye.

Hunger for beauty is a desperate need.

Beauty brings wolves and wolves must feed.

When beauty is threatened and has to hide

It isn’t beauty, for beauty is beauty seen in all its pride.

Since abundance gave us light, leisure, and food to eat,

Starvation lives with beauty walking the public street,

And since her photo came to the internet,

There’s more sorrow and starvation yet.

Satisfaction is misunderstood:

It can be evil and it can be good,

But it’s always evil, with the removal of clothes,

In seduction, and passion; poor passion which thinks it knows.


Mention the place I’m from,
The cave in the forest; mention that sometimes I danced
The folk dances, the wild jumping to the primitive drum.
And that I composed sixteen modernist sonnets,
Which will have to do, until the resumes come.

Mention the places I’ve seen,
The skyscraper elevator where I waltzed
To folk dances, and mention I edited a little magazine
Containing the worst poems imaginable,
Moss-covered jet planes crashing into a futurist green.

Mention all the places,
The winding starlit stairways where jazz fans danced
The folk dances, but give them names, if you can, not just faces.
Do you know who danced those dances? Even T.S. Eliot,
Who kidded everyone, put somber Virginia Woolf through her paces.


Be kind to her who doesn’t know
What snow is; my world is under snow.

Be kind to her who doesn’t understand
The body; I found I think with my hand.

Be kind to her who thought men
Might possibly make her happy again.

Be kind to her who thought the sky
Was clouds—but-it-rains-and-why.

Be kind to her who doesn’t take
Advice. Even for her sake.

Be kind to her who doesn’t feel
At all cold; freezing to me is real.

Be kind to her who made her face
Every face; I have to think of my race.

Be kind to her who understood
A lot—but wasn’t trapped by the good.

Be kind to her who said she had
No new love because the old one made her sad.

Be kind to her who thinks the new
Is new; the old is how it grew.

Be kind to her who thinks
She doesn’t need the need she drinks.

Be kind to her who let others
Do it. I won’t do it with my brothers.

Be kind to her who didn’t love me at all
Because of jealousy; jealousy made me fall.


When it’s hot and the summer sounds

Vibrate like heat itself, you think

Maybe you are done with poetry,

Which sits silently on the page

In code, not really communicating your wisdom and rage.

When it’s hot

You reject poetry in your cool mind;

Your cool mind says it would rather not.

When it’s hot, and clothes slip

To the ground,

And reason melts,

And even fiery love turns to liquid with a sighing sound,

You intend to give up poetry, and sing

Into the ear of your beloved,

But even hearing is a mess,

Thanks to love’s distress.

No poem or song

Can heal love’s wrong.

You think, with the cool sea taking over the land,

You might reach out and take her hand,

But all those fingers are in a liquid state—

Boiling love is the same as hate.


Leaves are waving above the sun
In paintings, in gardens, in the harsh outdoors
Which afflict the eyes of everyone.

You brought me flowers, not for my hands
But for my eyes,
Eyes blind from love, not wanting its cures,

Wanting more love—more, more love. Hear the bands
Play, the heart-pounding trumpet and drum,
Every melody a penny buys

Permitted, as long as love songs are played
Electrifying the shade.

You brought me flowers and I’ll never forget
How you held flowers when we met.

Or did you? Perhaps you did not. You did not.
You chose one of love’s cures
And fell out of love with yourself, and me,
And now, yes, these days, my eyes can see.

When I glimpse you by accident outdoors
I see your legs wobble,
Your chin lags,
There are no flowers.
There is no song.

You want an unencumbered life.
You need a darling sis.
I’m satisfied to remember—what?
Nothing much. A kiss.


Don’t fix the world yet.

Its cries are my lover’s cries.

When the ship is repaired, and sails

My secret happiness dies.

Errors you see on street and pier

Keep officials busy, and these sighs

Are sad, but music, and she is here—

Who will disappear when that perfection

Due the world loosens all ties

To imperfect love, and winds blow in a new direction.

They are finding ways to make life better

So the young will mock the letter

I wrote to her a long time ago

Which made her fall in love with me, and so

I beg you, don’t change the arpeggio

To some new dance.

She will dance away, if she has a chance.

Don’t fix the world yet;

Her imperfect life is my life,

She is my mad and maddening wife—

Who loves me, and doesn’t know

How to escape me, how easily

With a brand new melody,

She could look at me, and wave goodbye, and go.





It was an ordinary conversation.
There was something I wanted to say
As I looked at her as she talked.
I got confused one day.

She was beautiful, a good friend
And I asked myself, what did I say?
Why is she angry, like she’s not my friend?
I got confused one day.

Why did a song come into my heart,
One I forgot and hardly knew how to play?
Why did I find myself talking in song?
I got confused one day.

Why did I hesitate calling,
Why did I contemplate May
And think about June and where she was?
I got confused one day.

Now it’s been years since we loved.
I understood the roads of a good way
Might be bad, but I’m glad
I got confused one day.



You read two poems at once.

The upper meaning wears a white suit,

A beautiful suit, works in New York,

Born in Louisiana, here are the black and white

Photos of the parents. Instructions clear.

Now comes the other meaning, the lower meaning,

The secondary meaning, kissing you,

Hugging you and calling you dear.

And what it feels about porn and presidential politics

And there’s a hair on your upper lip

And outside it is getting dark and I’m tired

And depressed and confusion grows.

I need to write another poem.

I need to go home. And wash some clothes.



for forough farrokhzad

She was dying of me, but I was her life.
While I heard the blood rushing in her breasts, she was my wife.
When she walked, with no place to go,
I was in her thoughts. She longed for my desire in her mirror,
As I gave her light. At her window, love made the sparrows come nearer.
Her deep sobs were anything but comical.  They were slow.
Poetry is woman’s language.
She told me I could not see her. And now I know.



Tom in Romania

Needing to say everything, I must rip away
The veil of poetry.
I’m sorry, for that day, I’m sorry.

I expected us to meet at the garage
Because you texted me suggestively.
But you also texted me you had to pee—
That’s why you wanted to meet at the station.

You changed your mind, and that was okay.
Yet I acted betrayed, like an entitled prick,
I completely forgot you had to pee,
And then I had the nerve to accuse you of testing me,
Which naturally made you furious.

Then! I didn’t call you for five days, clueless
As to what a jerk and ignoramus
I was—reading the romance novel she gave me
Which I had pulled out of my bag at the station.

That day a perfect storm of minor events: to annoy you and make you see
That I, who seemed a beacon of kindness and sensitivity,
Was just another creepy part of the creepy life
You must endure; I’m sorry.

I really wanted you, I wanted you to be my wife;
That awful day the chance to be alone with you blinded me,
And now, in horror, looking back,
I realize that day, which seemed like a minor fight, ended my life.

You exist as a great silent hole in my heart, a lack
Which is my greatest sadness. Needing to say
Everything, I rip away
The veil of poetry
Behind which I hide.
How good is poetry, even the greatest poetry, if behind poetry I died?





Ah, you will always be that egotist

Who I met, befriended, and kissed,

And all the rest, though I felt you would fall

Back into that state where you had no personality at all.

And I will always be that poet who knew

You would tire of egotism—you are, but you are not, you.

Now you’re a feel good poster of capital-letter cliché.


Surrender to the “wisdom” crap, in which all you are

Surrenders. Close the door. Adorn it with a gold star.

I will always be an egotist. I practice to be

More musical, with more harmony,

Such as you find in Cry Me A River, when the G

Chord arrives out of the B flat diminished chord surprisingly

And cheerfully: in the key, I yet move, slightly, out of the key, playfully

So in all that great sorrow, in all that wonderful revenge, I resolve

A love that I love, but also, solve

Forever. The artist—it’s me, my love—conceals

Myself, behind what the art—ah, the art—reveals.











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