I, the poem, would like to introduce

My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Prose.

Scholars say that poetry is subtle,

And hiding secrets is how poetry knows.

But I would like to defend my parents,

Who keep more secrets than I.

Scholars say poetry is more subtle—but that’s a lie.

My parents understand there are things we should not say

And the poem is trouble, and needs to stay out of the way.

Prose is long. Prose can read novels all day.

Your jokes were mean. Digression is your hell.

Prose is professional in what it doesn’t tell.

Business and politics know this, because they have something to sell.

But the poem will blurt out the truth in front of your very nose.

Condolences and flowers will be sent to Mrs. Prose.




The only chance poetry has,

Thinks this poem, is not that it was

Once more beautiful then,

When evening lights four summers ago surrounded

You and her in doubt—

The stranger’s echoing shout

From the darkness sounded

Like the end of something—

No, that the sound now

Which creeps into your ears

Conveys to you precisely how

Sound is where the best sights occur;

Isn’t this where poetry has been hiding for years?

Sweet speech, giving up its intricacy,

As if that slow piece by Eric Satie,

Blocking out all the hullabaloo,

Loves her best, but tonight comforts you.




A woman will get her way

Because she is a woman, but not today.

The sun shines with neutral energy

On poor, downtrodden me,

Part broken heart, part headache, part poetry.

A colorful jazz boat

Remains bravely afloat,

Built by someone who hates jazz.

An ancient wood working expertise

Makes sure musical sleaze

Is bouncing off the harbor,

Lending bad taste to the traveling water.

With iambic pentameter I celebrate the past

As the mighty sun, falling fast,

Brings the smooth night, where I will make a child at last.

Innocent, this child, but a child afflicted soon

By the feminine unhappiness of the darting moon.



Image result for loser and winner in renaissance painting

I’m in the game you’re losing,

And by winning—such are the rules of the game—

I (winning because I’m sensitive) feel the pain of your losing,

And you, loser, are angry and full of blame;

Your anger is why you’re losing; thankfully I’m not the same;

I’m winning because you’re losing—another rule of the game.

We have an alchemy, we affect each other, we are interested

In each other, and will be until we are dead.

Love and wisdom is measured by how materially

You feel and stretch your influence and interact with all.

I do this with my soul and poetry;

I don’t need to pick you up in a car, or call.

There is always your country and your body

And loyalty to these is strong and beautiful,

But the world—your soul—has another place to go;

It might be Athens, the academy, Socrates or Plato,

A place we seek to better ourselves; the United States

Is the present day Athens, the place where the world seeks its soul,

And the world is one—the ether of the world moves as a whole.

Loser, you live in my world, and all the poets reading what we do,

Hear the sighs I make while I’m writing, but I’m not writing anything to you.

I don’t need to do anything to know what you are doing;

As you know, the winning like to know,

But there is a game and everything you are doing

Is in the game everyone is in. So I know.

Isn’t it funny how the tiniest clue

Can tell you everything about a person who is hiding everything from you

Because they know they are losing? And you

Win, because you are doing something so obvious, no one notices what you do?




Image result for box by the bedside van gogh

When sleep gave me sleep I slept.

I never forgot what I learned.

I recalled the flame, the heat, the smoke,

The ash, and, in the dark, everything that had burned.

All that vanished I kept.

All I lost, I knew;

It was inclusive and deliberate,

From the small additions to the large loss of you.

Love will give you things

And then those things will drift away

But love gave you those things,

So those things do not go away.

When sleep gave me sleep I slept.

And every dream named as lost, I kept.

When sleep gave me sleep, I slept.

I slept better and better, night after night,

Each night, better in my memory, and better, much better, the light.

When sleep gave me sleep I slept.

That little box by my bed? Look and see what I kept.




Image result for vogue covers 1930s and 1940s

Bob Mueller says I must hate the Russians,

So I guess that’s what I’ll do.

Well look at that jaw on Bob Mueller!

He must impress you, too.

A woman on the internet asked me how I could support Putin.

And then she asked me about abortion,

And I thought she was changing the subject,

But one cannot change the subject these days; everyone is suspect.

She used the term “reproductive rights” with the authority

Which comes from using such words. She admired my poetry

But she was deeply disappointed in me, I could tell.

Didn’t I support abortion? Oh that. I said I did. What the hell.

Look. On this summer day Hitler will attack Russia.

It’s there on his To Do List. “Kill millions.”

Rise from bed. Shower. Breakfast. Kill millions. It’s what we all must do.

Pick out your favorite hand bag. Your best evidence. You come, too.





Do you really want to hurt me?

Of course you do.

Love needs to be mean.

What else is new?

Love needs to drift into other feelings,

The kindly pastor have other dealings

Than with the passionate son.

When the musician pauses, and the music

Has to steal away,

Into a theme of slower tempo which the wood winds play,

You will know why—when the music’s slow movement is done—

The opening having been the best harmony you’ve heard today,

Making statement after statement in the key of E,

A key which now has you thinking differently,

The forest, though old and green, will never quite be the same.

She would bring you here and call you by your name.

This is better than people: a solitary seat in mid-spring with the hazy sun

Spread out above you, and here she is, she is the only one,

Who lives for you somewhat tenderly and indifferently.

Legs pressed together, she whispers, “Do you really want to hurt me?”

Before she gets up to go.

It is never necessary to be on time, you know.






Beautiful fake news. Poetry.

Senstive and fake. You and me.

“Since he left me, he’s not worthy,”

Says the rose of best selling poetry.

Beautiful, 60s angel! Joni Mitchell!

Senstive, lovely, and totally fake:

“They took all the trees and put ’em in a tree museum,

And they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em.”

You are beautiful, you sweet and lovely mistake.

Don’t tell me I don’t love trees. I love trees.

Don’t you see? It’s fake news. Fake news is the real disease.



Image result for dionysias in renaissance painting

Take me to the very brink of desire

Where the fire is hot, but I am not killed by the fire,

And the beauty of limb and breast and face

Makes me lose myself, but not in disgrace.

Let me stay intact, even as the parts

Of me scatter, as if there were a thousand hearts

Necessary to love her.  Did you know in these times

Professors recommend against poetry that rhymes?

Don’t worry, I don’t believe the experts,

Or what they say about hearts.

Give me two contrary moods together,

Dionysian madness and Apollonian cool;

The only way passion can last forever

Is to mix the judgement of the priest with the love of the lowest fool.

Kiss me in the two extremes.

Meet me in white light; embrace me in dark dreams.






Image result for trees of endless bird song in painting

Now I understand

The endless grains of sand;

I understand why

There is endless sky.

I know why when I walk along,

There is endless bird song,

Why a lake is not the last lake,

And why forever and infinity are not fake.

It is so you can be;

Of all, you a possibility;

And away from all that hurts and kills,

We can walk the endless hills.




Image result for rosalinda in renaissance painting

I need to explain my obsessive love. Nature makes women passive,

Yet in control, slowing the aggressive rush of the foolish male.

I’m not aggressive. Okay, no big deal; let the women be aggressive.

Nature lays down the template, but not all obey.

Nature, wise, knows to leave open more than one way.

There are males so passive, they have children

With women they do not love or pursue.  But “have children”

Is what nature wants—aggressive women are fine, then.

But many males are aggressive, to a stupid, reckless degree.

The average woman is strongly passive, and takes no interest in me.

Women prefer the meaty guy, solid and unwavering,

Nature’s model most conductive to solid, common sense breeding.

Me?  I’m as skinny as a girl, and can’t make up my mind.

Nature has varieties, but also creates kind for kind.

A certain kind of moody, aggressive woman pursuing me

Had been the sum total of my romance and sexuality.

Enter Rosalinda. She is my obsession. Can you love one forever?

How did she defy the infinite combinations?

How did she make it so that beside the millions I love only her?

Rosalinda! A story for all people, and all nations!

Desires and children pour forth, but there is only one love like this!

Rosalinda! Rosalinda! To say her name. Only her arms. Only her kiss.

Only her! Only poetry and philosophy for her. Rosalinda.

All my troubles come from this: aggressive women leave me cold.

The aggressive woman who nature decided is right for me

I accepted. As nature’s male, I accepted nature’s women—

But I never loved aggressive women. I was passive,

And I was unhappy in my passivity. Rosalinda made me bold.

Rosalinda, modeled in nature’s perfection, was strongly passive,

And drew out of me, by slow degrees, my male aggression,

Which I had never known. And like all obsession, Rosalinda,

In the way her passivity madly enticed me, was what fate had to be.

She knew I was passive, and Rosalinda was incomplete, like me.

Rosalinda had the gift of passive female genius, proper to entice

Any aggressive male—she was beautiful, passive, and not too nice.

Her passivity was perfectly designed to feed my fire, and my desire

Was fed by her—who showed me her charms, oh charming fires of ice.

I was made aggressive by her, who was passive, and she knew

In her discerning passivity, aggressive wasn’t something I could do.

And though nature made her passive, as the most desirable women are,

Like me, Rosalinda was different. Rosalinda loved under a different star.

Beneath her natural passivity, Rosalinda was aggressive, and so she

Was not fully happy. She caused me to love, but couldn’t quite love me.

Unkind fate. Rosalinda was not equipped to complete nature’s plan.

She did not want children. Rosalinda had the gift to attract a passive man,

And turn him aggressive—which nature wants males to be.

But Rosalinda’s refusal used love to punish the passive side of me,

And her perfect female passivity, even today, deeply unsettles me.

I, the passive one, loved her aggressively. She, the aggressive one,

Loved me passively. Oh Rosalinda. Look what we have done.

Rosalinda has wasted her genius, alone, barren, and sad.

I grieve for Rosalinda! Though with poetry, desire, children, I should be glad.



















Image result for the doubting poet in painting

Why are there these obvious truths we somehow never see?

Why don’t you see the obvious, which is terribly obvious to me?

Why do you court ignorance, and not study the history?

Why dance a certain dance and not ask, what is dance?

Why do you think you know, and never give yourself a second chance

To better know, to winnow, to sort, to observe, to enhance?

Why do you practice such certainty?

Why do you fear doubt, which is your greatest friend?

Why are you certain there is no God and everything will end?

Why do you receive and receive, but never think to send?

When I was bullied in school, I didn’t say a word,

Because I believed that bullying was absolutely absurd,

Like fighting yourself—so I crept away and wrote a word,

And studied it, and wrote a poem I called, “Absurd.”

And showed it to my father, who couldn’t figure it out.

I said it was a poem, but he frowned in complete doubt.

He asked me about the bully. The real bully. The real lout.

He told me, “If a bully picks on you, put him in his place.”

He said, “Protect yourself. Punch him. Wipe certainty off his face.

Poems…? Listen, they won’t change the human race.”

And that began my poetic career;

I questioned poetry. As I am questioning here.

Distance, indifference. Middle distance, beauty. Up close, fear.

Haven’t you noticed beauty in a person disappears up close?

A face is beautiful, until you just look at the nose.

I need perspective, discernment, measurement, dose.

Why would you fail to experiment? Why would you fail to question all?

Not study love like a scientist before you wound and fall?

And finally, why would you play a tall person, if you aren’t tall?

It all doesn’t come from you. Life exists in a certain way.

Limits exist. Know when to rebel, and when to obey.

If the sea and the wind and the sun say so, stay.

Why are there these obvious truths we always somehow ignore?

Because they are hidden by your thoughts? Because they don’t reassure?

Don’t look for reassurance. Look for the one

Thing so obvious you don’t see it. You’re not done.



Image result for man writing in modern painting

I hate to be the one to say this,

Since I am a woman in the body of a man,

And if the poem says this because it can,

Please don’t be offended or sad,

Even with your smothering mother, your absent dad;

I think you can sympathize and understand.

This poem just came to me; it wasn’t planned.

If you listen to this poem’s opinion on sex,

Try not to think about your mother, father, or your ex,

And your husband, is that him in the next room?

Dead to the marriage, writing a poem in a cloud of gloom?

Try not to think about anyone, and let me state

It wasn’t your fault, it was merely fate

That you fell in love with a woman hiding

In a slender, tall, regular-looking guy you had fun deriding

As Woody Allen, intellectual, yes that’s me—

With anxious parents, finding an outlet in theater and poetry.

I never had surgery to get woman and man

To belong to my soul; all I use is metaphor and a certain inner feel,

And with my slender hand, occasionally turn the wheel.

It’s ironic that only the pretty feminine face—

Oh fast moving, pitiful, dying human race!

Looks good in the haircut of a man.

Don’t try to be beautiful; beautiful can only do what it can.

The woman wants only two things from a man,

Kids and a good salary—she’s miserable without these

And also miserable if she doesn’t know she wants these.

And the man is miserable for the same reason, unless he writes

As the most unhappy being

You had the good fortune of reading—or seeing.











The human is a ridiculous species,

Pushing out babies as it pushes out feces.

The definition of the soul?

Simply that which understands the whole,

And with this understanding forgives the whole sorry mess

Of being human in the ignorant brevity of its acute distress.

Men are hard-wired to conquer, build, kill,

And love pathetically in accordance with fantasy and will.

Women are expert at fooling themselves and others,

Which they must do, to love, to become mothers,

Hand in hand with the creepy, unworthy example

Of calculating, indoor males, wholly selfish and not beautiful,

Or the rugged male outdoor type, running off to climb a hill

Or kick a ball; propagation never meant to fulfill

Anyone, but necessarily pushing onto a future state

Otherwise empty, beating into submission children, hate,

And all the impulses which desire blindly seeks,

So in a whole lifetime, the sum of happiness is a couple of weeks,

When in delight and trust we find bliss here and there

By accident, joy in the face of necessity, so rare,

The whole enterprise such a doubtful, aging mess,

That the hungry world, pressing down, forces out a yes,

As we curl into wakeful sleep with a little music, fast, or slow,

A worrisome vacation beginning, and that yes meant no.



It was your fate not to know
She was at the airport.  You had to go
Right away. And you didn’t.  She almost didn’t wait,
But you’ll never know she was there, and not to know this fact is your fate;
The others think it’s a tragedy you dreamed,
And did not know. But only ignorance will be redeemed.

It was your fate not to know
She fought for you. To you, it looked like nothing but a distant glow.
But the enemy and the flames almost broke through the gate,
Which she defended for you with the energy of hate.
She almost died for you while you dreamed;
But let that go. Your ignorance will be redeemed.

It was your fate not to know
She had been waiting for you, not him.
By chance, you secretly observed her lingering below.
You made the wrong assumption and assumptions grew
Into truth—but truth only for you.
Insults sprang from that mistake. You became a mistake that dreamed.
She’s justified in hating you now. But only ignorance will be redeemed.


Image result for milky way

The shape of a hand, the hip

Which swings beneath a dress,

The smoothness of a brow, an upper lip,

A plea marked by intelligence and distress,

An eye which sparkles in our direction,

A nonchalance, a hidden desire,

A face, which after friendly inspection,

Intimates a wild and daring fire

Might give us comfort beneath cool trees,

Or warm us listening to music together in bed,

Or make deciding which positions give us ease

A thing to love, or a rapturous kiss, instead,

A laugh which we find easy to return,

A hope, heaven imagined mutually,

A decision to stay, to agree, to turn

Another way and still love that other way greedily.

The sweet revenge of a deep wrong,

Justice in tears, in a heart, in a song.

Things which make us love go on forever,

The origin of country, the history

Of race, the flooding of a particular river,

The ancient slavery that today breaks free,

The respect of children and family,

Attachment to nature, fate, brave modesty;

All things make us love.

The turning of the moon below us, the silent stars silent above.


Your biggest mistake was hating the normal.

Well, you didn’t know what the normal was.

And so your rebellion was unwise.

You confused eccentric costume for the normal and its disguise.

Since the language of music is universal,

The more popular the music, the more normal,

Since humanity, in total, is by definition, normal;

There is no other way to love than to be normal.

To hate the normal is a fruitless obscurity—

A desolate, inarticulate, poverty,

Hating beauty, happiness, profit—in idiocy and envy.

There is no way to be successful, in social relations, science, or rhyme,

Than to please the normal, in the most normal way possible, all the time.

If you think the normal lacks idiosyncrasy and passion, you are wrong.

You are tedious and crazy. Everyone loves my song.




Image result for george martin in studio with beatles

After failing auditions, George Martin

Decided to take them on

Simply because they were funny.

Really? How does that translate into love songs making money?

Are comedians good musicians?

Perhaps. But these lads had failed auditions.

It turned out Martin was right. He knew

That humor is generally bold and smart,

Can tell a story, and humor hides a broken heart.

Humor also covers the hostility of rivalry

And transforms it into love. He could see

The fierce kidding of rivals, John and Paul,

Might be the impetus to conquer all.

Humor likes surprise, finds a way, is pliable.

Martin, knowing his own musicianship reliable,

Felt, with empathy, he might engineer

Success, with patience and a ruthless ear.

Finally, and this is perhaps the best

Advantage of humor: the studio is a test

Of patience as one produces a song,

Singing, playing, writing, recording can all go wrong.

Humor keeps one going between takes,

Between all the faking pop music makes.

“Do you want to hold a penis?” as they wait.

Time and work is important to make a band great,

“Do You Want To Know A Secret?” is heard

And loved. Not the 32nd take, but the 33rd,

And the engineer erased what didn’t sound right.

For George Martin it was a hard day’s night.

In the beginning, doubt. Love Me Do

Was Paul’s. Not bad. But they all knew

They had to do better. Nothing is easy.

John stepped up with Please Please Me

Because he knew he could do better than Paul.

“Last night I said these words to my girl,”

Had dramatic immediacy; John had won.

This song would be their first number one.

But George Martin—who made the prophecy

That it would be number one—with empathy,

Did not reject it, but increased the tempo,

And it all went well. Until humorless Yoko.








She will hate you until she is dead,

And the burning moon will always be red

Unless it fly up in the blue,

Pale, white and oblivious to you.

Why is it red? It shines through the atmosphere.

Hate and misunderstanding are here.

The moon like a terrible omen,

Helpless and red, like a dying Roman,

Symbolizes the silent hate,

Of her, your enemy, who lies in wait.

The worst enemy is one you loved,

The worst enemy is one who loved you.

The worst enemy is one you kissed,

And you held in the act of love.

Love turned to hate is a terrible crime,

Oh God! To be resolved only in helpless rhyme!

Your love who graced the night

Now loves someone else, in spite.

Your love who graced the day

Is now an enemy, who will never go away.

The moon, the end of a cigarette,

A symbol of passivity. You must passively regret.

Nothing hates like love—see now how it hates.

Sad, the parting. But now the hateful enemy waits.

The moon burns like a cigarette end,

The red ash of a heart—who once loved you, and vowed she would always be your friend.















Image result for sun through fog on the river

You enjoy smoking by stopping,

So when you come back to it the nicotine kick is new.

You tried to explain this to me

In terms of love, when we were lovers, but I just felt insulted by you.

Now I know you were right.

Of course you were. You were my delight,

Even when you were cruel and stayed away,

And I wondered, non-stop, why you had stopped, the whole day.

I thought. You didn’t. You were always right.

The ridiculous truisms in a love song

Applied to you. How were you never wrong?

Here I am the poet, pining, trying out the love song.

A good poet is always stopping:

A thousand edits in every line.

Look at how many seeds are dropping,

To fall, to die, to grow, to lose their way in the confusing wine.

It’s good to stop many times. The painter’s great

Who touches and re-touches. da Vinci and canvas equals a long wait.

Of course I haven’t stopped since we stopped,

Even though it was well understood

That we stopped for good.

Careful discussions and plans were dropped.

Stop. Start over. Stop. Revise.

Think. Don’t think.

Life does not cease. Even when you close your eyes.











Image result for sun's corona

Everything is our prison.
When in your doom, you fall,
Ha, think how it was Newton who knew it all,
Who discovered the universal law,
Not one thing—everything kills you in purple, white, tooth, and claw.
There is no individual thing.
The talented know an old giant book when they sing.
Not one girl, but all love, all things pertaining to love
Trap you and make you cry to God above,
“Help me! She broke my heart!”
Well that’s because she knows the art
Because the art is practiced everywhere:
The secret of it is wrapped up in every girl’s hair.
Everything—not her—makes you despair.
Everything, not your mother,
Nursed you. Everything. No other.




Image result for little mall with restaurants

Today, on this boring day,
More information is flooding your brain
Than your life can possibly contain.
A song you’ve never heard, which could have been yours,
Comes from some restaurant,
Fleeting images suggest and hide all you wanted and want,
The afternoon light reflecting off the floors,
The strangers, bored, hanging around,
All that in your eye and out of the corner of your eye, is found,
As you get your coffee, bored out of your mind.
You live in your narrow memory. Wider, and you would be blind,
More, and you would stand still
And listen, much longer than you could, or will.




Image result for dream shadows in black and white photo

She called me “Graves” in a dream last night.

I forgot she used to call me that.

She was sometimes romantic when I served her food.

I was always romantic; she was rarely in that mood.

She had a smile that was angry underneath.

She had beautiful eyes and beautiful teeth.

When rivalry in animals is seen, we are not surprised;

When we see it in our lover it bewilders us, disguised.

She once sent me a text out of the blue,

Which said only, “I love you.”

She knew how to hint, tease, to evince

Despair. I saw that and I’ve never been as happy—before, or since.




Image result for moon and tumbling clouds

The one I love isn’t loved. She

Doesn’t even read my poetry.

Strangers read my lines,

Knowing the what, but not for whom, it pines.

She is behind a wall

And doesn’t care for me at all.

If this is the definition of hell,

Perhaps I know suffering well.

Full of self-doubt, she doesn’t find

My love for her in her mind.

Human beings want to make things right

Every day and every night.

The mother bird wakes, sings her song

In the night, with no idea she is wrong.

The couples enter the restaurant

Oblivious to my want.

The one I love isn’t held. Or adored.

She doesn’t hear my voice, or the chord,

Or the pitying sadness I sing,

Longing and sadness invading everything.

She and I see the same moon, the same sky,

The same tumbling clouds sweeping by,

Hear the same news of the same tragedies,

Know the same temperate day which dies,

Feel the same night which is too cold,

Note the same trends, new or old.

We lie awake, pondering the same fate,

The same advancing death. We both wait.

We both walk and talk and laugh

Almost on the same path.

She is behind a wall

And doesn’t care for me at all.

I love one who isn’t loved. She

Is my Shakespearean tragedy.

Every one needs one of these

To really love. So please,

I don’t need your feeling, or care.

Pity her. Oh God! She’s right there.











Image result for man smoking cigarette alone at night film noir

Drunk on a cigarette and the night

I had a thought like a white light:

Love is wild poetic thoughts in the mind.

Love is neither physical, nor conversation, nor being kind.

Love is wild poetic thoughts in the mind.

Poetry is love and love is poetry.

Love travels by the mind and enters me.

Longing for her is not enough,

The dream of her dream loving, is love.

When you see the poet lingering and alone,

Smoking a cigarette, and still as a stone,

You have seen love. Do not fear

That stranger. Love? It’s here,

In wild poetic thoughts of the mind.

Love is neither physical, nor conversation, nor being kind.

Love is a god. And when the light goes on

The mind understands she was wild and she is gone.





Image result for books in renaissance painting

By lingering on her eyes for a moment too long,

There followed a relationship that was completely wrong.

I read that eye contact is better than personality or looks.

Thank you. Stupid books

Reading led me to believe I understood a lot.

Wrong. A theme is merely by its own themes caught.

After book learning, I was set free

In a life without books. Tragedy.

I ventured into her eyes with advice that was good.

A lettered atheist walking into God.





The Left has an agenda you’re not allowed to touch.

Feel. Please don’t think too much.

Sacrifice for others, and the others are here.

They are not far away. And enemies, too, are near.

The enemies are not others. They are very much like you.

Almost exactly. That’s why there’s so much work to do.

The enemy could be your father, the enemy could be your son,

Not helping others. Ruining all the work the Left has done.

Lesson One: Do not trust the United States.

A country excludes others. Exclusivity hates.

Enemies talk American history and love American laws.

They are not others. They are enemies—against the cause.

For them, America belongs to British history and that whole thing,

The enemies love patriotism, the bullshit of “sweet liberty I sing.”

Taught to resist ‘divide and conquer’ they love the United States;

Enemies love the ‘one fits all’ symbol. One symbol, many hates.

The enemies hate all others—the Left must remember this.

Enemies are known by symbols, by the flags they kiss.

Enemies hate all others—they love themselves, and God.

Note the love of symbols—the hate for anything odd.

The worst symbol of the enemies is Life, which makes

Them oppose all excuses for any action that takes

Innocent human life. Like all ideals, this goes too far.

There is no ideal. Only the other makes us who we are.

But the Other of the Left is an empty symbol, too.

Enemy or other, I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do for you.









Image result for flowers in shadows in renaissance painting

The beauty I can’t have is this moon

Which will sink below the horizon soon.

The air of this June evening by the ocean.

Big roses. Trees. And my emotion.

The beauty I can’t have is tall.

Excuse me. I have to take this call.

Okay. It was just her telling me again

How inferior I am to other men.

The lovely women too retiring leave me cold.

The women who haunt me are beautiful and bold.

The beauty which is private and hides

In me but disappears with the tides,

With the days, which dwindle into dark

Dreams. The green, shadowy park

Of little paths of flowers bending to bees,

The pollen clinging to their furry knees.

The perfect bodies of whores in porn.

The light when I was born.

The beauty I can’t have is her,

And all the loves in the world that were.

The only beauty I have is love, which she

Gave me once. That’s the beauty which belongs to me.




Aiming at the truth, I forgot to do something,

And for someone I loved, this failure to do

What I forgot, had more meaning than even the true.

It showed a character flaw

More meaningful than my solid jaw,

More meaningful than the poems I wrote

To her, or the red envelope with the love note.

It hurt her, and she never did say

What it was, and I didn’t realize what it was until today.

It can take a long time for the truth to manifest.

Even as you aim to be good, it can ruin all the rest.

Once I bought one plum and I should have bought two,

And one time I reached into my pocket for pennies and I had too few.

But when someone scrutinizes you

And is struck by what your character doesn’t know,

Every mathematical formula will not help. You better go.

And I could still be ignorant. I wept. I worked out. I re-read

Every word of this poem. What was it that wasn’t said?





Image result for lovers in renaissance painting

The attraction formula is simple: 1 + 1 = 2. When two people are mutually in love with each other, the happy result is 2. This happens in the beginning of love.

What eventually happens, as most people know, however, is one feels more attraction than the other.  There is nothing that says attraction must be equal, and we all know it often isn’t, especially with the passage of time. Attraction is fickle and involuntary. This can be expressed in the following way: -1 + 1 = 0.

1 = a healthy amount of attraction, or love.  A -1 indicates the person who does not have any attraction for the other person in the relationship—they may like them for all sorts of reasons, but they would prefer not to have sex with them.

Many long-lasting couples have a relationship whose attraction formula equals 0.

These relationships last, and they can be quite happy, because both are willing to accept 0 as the result. These couples are good, honorable people, and they make a kind of secret concession, realizing that everyone can’t be forever attracted to a person as they were when they first fell in love.

It helps if family and friends think the number is a 2.

But 0 is far more common, even though it is kept secret.

The total can never be more than 2, since two are physically and psychically incapable of love totaling more than 2.

But there is an interconnected dynamic which rules attraction, and this is why -1 + 1 = 0 couples are so common.

There is a strong tendency for attraction to be unequal, and the inequality itself creates a self-feeding dynamic in couples—the one who feels more attraction than the other begins to experience doubt, and the gap widens as mutual awareness of the gap, and subtle reaction to it, widens it.

Once 1 + 1 turns into 1.5 + .5 (remember the total cannot be more than 2) the inequality tends to widen even further, as the one who feels less (.5) attraction begins to feel uncomfortable by the 1.5 of their desperately attracted and jealous partner.

Even though 1.5 + .5 equals 2, a much larger total attraction factor than the 0 of many stable couples, the 1.5 attraction felt by one half spells trouble, since it is more than the “allowable” 1, half of the maximum of 2 when both are attracted to each other equally.

And further, the momentum of 1.5 + .5 will probably head into 2 + 0 and even 2 + -2 territory. The 2 is compensating for the -2 to an extreme degree, and such a relationship cannot survive this kind of unequal momentum. Momentum is more important than raw numbers.

The number 0 is stable, as long as 1 and -1 remain steady opposites.

The unlucky lover always complains—when I’m indifferent, they want me, but when I want them, they are indifferent. This is a natural law. It sometimes corresponds to gender differences, but not necessarily. The law is common and powerful and can be seen in -1 + 1: if one is attracted, the other is not, and visa versa. Why this law?  Who knows? It certainly keeps things interesting.

But why aren’t there a lot of couples who are .1 + .1 or some such combination? Because of the unequal momentum factor—it is rare for 1 + 1 to diminish step by step in equal amounts.

This is why the greatly unequal 1 + -1 is so common. It is due to the natural unequal law. The -1 is proud that their partner is sexually attracted to them, even though they cannot reciprocate.

A 0 + 0 is rare, since there’s no attractive dynamic to keep either interested, or flattered.  Why should 0 + 0 be a couple at all?

1 + -1 is more common also, because a 0 is a saint, a rare individual so enlightened that they escape the attraction/repulsion dynamic entirely. The 1 + -1 couple manage to combine as a 0, finding enlightenment through and with each other.







Image result for impressionist painting

Drones separate them, the happy combine work and play.

On the secret to happiness there’s really nothing more to say.

In matters of genius and love, the formula is the same.

Lovers combine and share. The miserable divide and blame.

Broken souls and hearts, with their broken hearts and minds,

Give short answers; the happy sail upon whatever the conversation finds.

No forbidden topics for the happy; no secret shame in their past;

They converse on anything, and make the conversation last,

For they were good when the world began, and they will tell you how

Their childhood flowed into maturity, the love then finding the love now.

The happy have only one sorrow; the unhappy are all around;

I remember her bursts of anger. I was afraid to make a sound.











Father’s Day is Mother’s Day.

She allowed me to be a father

With her permission and her love—

Which I hardly deserved, a callous nobody.

All daughters deserve praise on Father’s Day.

I became a father because of them,

Intentionally or not. Father’s Day is Daughter’s Day.

Fatherhood belongs to women who are not mothers.

Had they flirted with me,

This callous nobody, moody and alone,

Or given me bad advice,

I had not become a father when I did

(It only took a moment)

And maybe I had never become a father

(Foolish to disparage moments).

We praise intentions every day, but in truth

Wild, unknowing fate and chance is all,

And fathers are moments inside moments inside moments.

Father’s Day is Everyone’s Day,

The best of many days, a great and holy day,

And many wild and joyous celebrations

Should occur, except farty old men are disgusting at parties,

And men do not party well, and fatherhood not at all.

But no solemn marches, either, please.

Attention to fathers fallen or dead

Puts too much emphasis on the man,

When Father’s Day belongs to fate and women.

Father’s Day is Permission  Day.

Without her permission

My children would not now be waking up

With hope and expectation, which is all life is.






The trouble with the good is, in people, it’s utterly mixed with the bad.

Your neighbor, with his lawnmower and his published ethics, is absolutely mad.

The mother, of unassailable virtue, who sends a book to her grownup son,

“How To Be Good,” insults him and herself, attempting to love everyone.

My mother is bookish, the son thinks; the bookish spreads its blight

Of pedantry—ending in the minds of the silent, who think, this shit isn’t right.

Those who spend their lives writing really have nothing to say,

And those not prepared to listen already are on their way.

This poem, with ten sails, flying, chases you down, in vain.

The poem fails with its craft, when the poem should have been plain.

And yet, had the poem said clearly what really needed to be said—

Too late. The one who wanted to hear it is dead.

“Oh, fuck it” says the genius, the genius not understood—

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Mozart never said, “Be good.”





Image result for dracula

A good man is hard to find.

One day he finds you.

And you don’t know what to do.

Your father was not a good man,

And all those creeps certainly were not.

But the good man, too, makes you feel caught.

You want to go. You look to prove

What you already know:

He’s a bad man. He’s just slow.

You’re unable to connect

To his love and respect.

He must be a fool.

So you leave him. That’s the rule.





Image result for ropes mansion garden salem ma

I saw something today,

Or was it yesterday? Far away.

Silly nature, with her bees and flowers,

The sexes mingling during appointed hours,

Breeding nature in wild disarray;

But I want only her to stay.

To love one, and one only.

To be queer to all women, but not quite.

To long for Rosalinda every day and every night.

To be gay, but not quite.

To love one, and only one.

Rosalinda! I am almost gay. Is this alright?



Image result for hills in renaissance painting

You cannot serve both poetry and fame.

A poet is a whore to now—or always the same.

If you want your books to be read

More than you love to write, you are dead.

If you seek fame, you are not you—

Poetry must be the only thing you do.

The great poets had no wills;

They didn’t ask others; they went to the hills.

Keats and Shelley did not need prizes.

They walked out and watched sunrises.

You must be able to review

Yourself—if you need help, poetry is not you.

If you listen to the siren call,

“We’ll make you a poet!” you won’t be a poet at all.

Some poets have no doubt,

And from the first line of the poem you can’t get out,

And those poets can be very good,

But they don’t need to be understood.

Better the poet who is divine

In doubts, and overcomes those doubts in every line.

Judge me: do I succumb to gossip, bitterness and fame?

No, read carefully—I love her. Only love is to blame.







Image result for woman portrait in painting

Near and far have personalities.

Far is melancholy and peaceful.

Far is thoughtful. I like far.

Once I met someone who was like a distant star.

Last night she was in my dream,

Sitting at a desk, at work or prison, doing nothing.

Each morning I arrived hoping she would be there.

She was more beautiful than in life—

Even though she is beautiful in life—

Because it was a dream.

I am now haunted by this dream.

Near has a distinct personality.

The smallest item on the face

Can fill you with joy or disgrace.

The slightest change can fill you with fear.

I don’t like near.

“Excuse me, Mr. Graves, can I see you in here?”



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Who is everybody? And why does physical appearance mean so much?

Except when it means nothing at all?

And the former judgement we had of looks makes us feel petty and small?

And we settle into an appreciation of the mind

And affectionately we touch

The small and deformed hand

Of a lovely soul, and know ourselves to be kind.

Who is everybody? And is it their story which matters most,

Or is there a certain spirit which makes them who they are,

Ineffable! Details of life cannot change their unique ghost,

Their soul unalterable. Conversing with them, glimpsing them from afar,

Hello! There you go! Harvey Goodfellow Wintergarden! Yes! Here you are!

And whether you find them in bed, naked, or see them age,

Or grow angry—never sadder than when Harvey fell into a rage!

You know them stamped forever as no one but themselves.

The posts on the pier—look, they are stiff and unmoving—

But in the water—my perception of them!—they are like the water, gently moving.

Who is everybody? When we hear someone for the first time, speak,

The physical—as voice—takes revenge, and it changes how we perceive their physique.

Who is everybody? What is the mystery of everybody? Who

Does cruel things? Oh God, cruel things! Just because they are you?

This picturesque landscape contains ancient houses and a bee.

Who is neglectful? Gentle but neglectful? Forgetting life? Me.

The girl looks at her phone, gets in her car, and drives away.

You thought you knew her but you don’t know her at all, today.

The physical is revenge. Movements in your mind. Like the planets. Revenge!

Who is everybody? They are standing in a circle, like the stones at Stonehenge.












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She told you, and now you are telling us

In poetry which is helpless.

Every thought earns a thoughtless reply.

There’s no philosophy which does not its opposite imply.

Is there no conviction? No certainty?

You are pretty. Yes, old. No, thirty.

She can say whatever she wants to say.

To yourself, you will contradict her. But not today.

For once you would like a piece of philosophy to stay;

You want the truth to be stable, to be what it is.

There was a hint in an earlier poem she wasn’t real, and you were alone.

After this poem there will be a quiz.


Image result for mob with torches chasing frankenstein

Frankenstein and King Kong

Were like all lovers: wrong.

Horror is a love and love is a horror.

We are not good enough to love her.

We are beastly. We take her by the hand

And the rivers rushing are the color of the land.

We are hungry, and we walk with her at night,

And we do things and say things and we are never right.

She wants a nice meal. She wants money.

We are the bear in the woods sniffing honey.

Like a sketch by Dürer, we are the skeleton,

Thinking of death beside the smiling maiden.

Rooting for love. Because love always fails.

Along the bay from the restaurant we watch the sails.

The monster, who would be a lover,

Is hated by the mob, the conservative mother.

The rocky path leading from the castle to the sea

Is secretly familiar. Love, too, eluded me.

I can’t change the channel. I have to watch this show.

Horror. Horror. Love is too slow.

I don’t want to do this. Please understand.

I got down on my knees. She told me to stand.

I knew I was handsome, a better poet than Jim.

And yet when I loved her, she was thinking of him.

I loved, I loved. They were rooting for me.

But I was a monster. They felt pity.

In the clearing, where the birds touch the ground,

Snakes feed without making a sound.

Oh gods! Who look down at us from above,

The immortal can root for only one thing: love.











Let us make a careful study of insults! says the learned man.

All of us insult another every time we can,

By not listening for a second or two,

By speaking of love, but out of turn.

And by insulting myself, I once insulted you.

When the sun received the smallest slight,

It shocked half the world: night.

Insulting is like breathing—it’s what humans do.

Insult is why there’s torture and why great cities burn.

Just like people, insults are fat, or white, or small.

An insult may resemble a flea, a fire,

A god—beautiful and regal and tall.

An insult can be very beautiful—when to be

The most beautiful was your desire;

An insult can be something not insulting at all.

We must study insult, then, and see

Why insult is the public and secret heart of humanity.

They say, to avoid insult, stick to facts.

But the truth is deeply insulting. Reality is an axe.

They say the worst insult is based on race,

But the motive may have nothing to do with the shade of the face.

If you are in love, be ready to be insulted.

Insults are accidents. Love was not consulted.

Insult in love can make us frightened,

And love’s no help—the insult is heightened.

And strange, the worst insult is, “Let’s be friends.”

Friendship is beautiful. But not when love ends.


Immortality” —Diotima

Everyone knows the beautiful will be loved, no matter what the beautiful do,

But if you look a little closer, Rodrigo, you’ll find this isn’t true.

If you don’t love, you will not be loved.

The one who admires you—

Because you are beautiful, and a good person, too—

Wants your love more than he wants you.

And to get your love, resorts to designs, strategies, confusions,

And hate will creep into love, since impatient love demands illusions,

And desire naturally thinks of horrible schemes,

To make love love in a faithless life of unequal dreams.

Do you believe love is possible, the great beauty making up her mind

To love you, but there is always something missing, something not right,

Isn’t that true, Rodrigo? Why was she, why were you, so angry? So unkind?

Remember, three is the magic number in life:

Soft shoulders, bony shoulders, muscular shoulders.

Or the maiden, the wife, the ex-wife,

Disco, punk, and the ballad. To organize, you need only three folders.

Souls of gold, silver, and clay.

The ugly, the beautiful, and the most beautiful far away.

All good people live and fit into three:

Innocence, drunkeness, and then a new and wiser sobriety.

You love them, they don’t love you—these comprise the first two

Which afflict us all, Rodrigo! You love them. They don’t love you.

But if you want to be cured of all misery,

Let me tell you of the third. Listen to me.

The beautiful is not loved the way people think.

The poet’s eye possesses beauty more than any man with strong arms can.

No beauty is possessed. Beauty is poetry and madness. Drink

All beauty and throw the cup away.

The third is God—who doesn’t want to be a man.




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To be a happy, attractive woman is impossible.

You must be a painter—so that your face

Brings out, and combines, your kind features with subtle grace.

You must be a poet—so that your voice seems

Not only intelligent, but a cloud of speechless dreams.

You must be a dancer—but your dance

Must move sweetly in every circumstance.

You must be neither too young, nor too old.

You must be modest, but also devilish and bold.

You cannot be clumsy, or rude, or crazy, or any

Of the million, subtle, things which make us ugly!

You cannot be too large, too thin, too spotty, or too small.

You must be able to love, and love one, and if not one, all.

Nothing is more attractive than the attractive which can pine

Madly for one. Attractive love is greater than wealth or wine.

Some cannot love; love is not a casual thing; maybe one loved before,

And cannot love again. If there’s no love, what is attractive for?

The pain, when attractive is attractive—but not for them,

Ruins happiness. Attractive must always worry about them.

Yet the attractive woman has no obligation to love a particular guy,

But if the attractive is attractive to the world’s eye,

The unattractive need to be respectful and aloof,

And let the attractive seek a more complex love,

Not monogamous, private perhaps, or public, practical, difficult,

Who is to say? The happy, attractive woman will harm

Everyone who tends to jealousy, seeing the lucky on her arm.

Finally, attractiveness is always dying.

And what if you, the poet whom she loves, is lying?








Image result for orpheus

Can someone with a big, thick, neck write poetry?

Or is poetry for the weak and skinny?

Race or gender is not the issue;

It’s a matter of fat and muscle tissue.

Can someone with a big fat ass

Appreciate “The Leaves of Grass?”

Can this American with a huge belly

Love the poetry of Shelley?

Amy Lowell, it’s true, was fat,

But was she a poet because of that?

Amy Lowell’s soul, I hear,

Was lighter than the atmosphere.

Edna Millay was lighter than a feather.

Poetry floats and falls, like parts of the weather.

Amy Lowell had the Lowell name,

Good for a little poetic fame.

Talk of the weather. Words of woe.

Anyone can be a poet, you know.




You should note this poem is easy to translate.

First—and maybe, not last—I’m an American.

All my lovers have been assimilated immigrants.

I, too, am an assimilated immigrant—

I was born here, but my soul is from another place.

I get along with neither builders who carry guns

Nor credentialed academics—to them, I’m kryptonite,

Because I’m the better poet, and the amateur, too.

As a blue eyed, straight, white, dude, I assimilate

Daily because of all the dislikes I have,

And to those who push the “other” in my face: screw you.

Poetry will save the world—poetry is what we must do.

Those who don’t know poetry, squirm like worms underground;

If you have millions, you are but a worm covered in gold.

And communists, get over yourselves,

Because everything will be bought and sold.

I know poetry will save the world. I like Christianity—

A beautiful religion which says “do not cast stones”—

But I would happily be a Muslim, if I could remain a poet,

And seduce through the robes just looking at the eyes,

But secretly, for I want to respect the fathers and the grandmothers.

I prefer not to insult in my poetry. I would rather tell a bunch of lies.











Image result for bird flying away in the sky

Some think lack of punctuation means poetry,

When it really means the reverse.

If you have to guess about the smallest thing,

This makes the poem worse.

Poetry is not a trick of not quite understanding;

Poetry is understanding at its best.

Poetry is not a blur of wings,

But those beautiful wings at rest.

And when poetry gets up to fly,

Since wings were never meant to stay,

You will see exactly how it flies,

And know exactly how sad you are, as you watch it fly away.





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To steer between hate and love is society’s expectation.

Yet love and hate form the part of every nation.

If to love women too well is suspicious,

If to love God is considered superstitious,

If to love your nation makes you wrong when it is,

If to hate everything which opposes your loves—

If all these feelings and thoughts are wrong,

I will reject love and hate, if only to get along.

But should I find a woman who loves God and country,

Who lets me love her heart and all that I might see,

I will love her, and neither hate nor love society,

Nor God, nor any, reserving for her my loyalty.


Image result for sylvia plath

Life is unequal. There are more stars than the moon.

Love comes sweetly too late, or excitedly too soon.

Earth has a greater day when summer warms the night.

He finds joy in the winter. She finds joy in the light.

She—my love—was sexy and aloof,

But I—I wanted proof

Of love, while she could love, and not love.

After love, she sought the mundane,

While loving her, always, made me always, insane.

The madness of love belongs to only one—

He seeks the stairs—she needs the sun.

Up in the darkness, flying around up there,

He looks for her—different, because a little more removed from care.

We can understand the yellow, and say exactly what we mean,

But she frowns and turns away and wants more green.

We can be stable, or we can lose our minds,

We can run to meet the day, or slowly pull down the blinds.

Unequal! I loved without end, but she, only for a time.

She was one of those

Who worried and fretted in prose

While I sang—and died—in rhyme.

Moods are unequal—some rise to genius with wrath

Mixed with love unequally, like poor Sylvia Plath.

Or one travels out, into the cold day

And drowns in the warm rain, like Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Poets will love poets, but they always seem to miss,

Meeting in a strange dream, too strange for the simple kiss.

Shelley sailed outward, in a dangerous boat,

Leaving her within, coughing with a footnote.

One played a trumpet sadly in the shadows, here,

Promoting tears in them—but never for her, a tear.

Some want to love in the spring, and some want to love in the fall.

Some want to love too much, and some, not at all.

The world is unequal. Protesting for equality,

She lost her head to one who lived aesthetically,

Who pointed to the whole face, who quoted Edgar Poe:

Progress is useless. The light is better than what’s below.

I accepted the tragedy of asymmetry—I knew

She would always love me, and I would never have you.













Image result for lovers embrace in renaissance painting

Twenty five minutes can reverse years—

When you have been dull and good—

And turn them into tears.

Twenty five minutes can wake up joy

That for months slumbered and hid.

In twenty five minutes you can find

Love in the body, a whole affectionate mind.

How and why were those previous minutes untrue?

Look at what twenty five minutes can do.

In twenty five minutes, see what can happen:

The hands, the glance, the eyes,

A word or two at twenty two minutes to one.

Darkness for a thousand years.

For twenty five minutes the sun.






Image result for dappled greenery in painting

Contradicted by the unseen,

Being right is mean.

Correct, stumbling in the night,

The stupid want most of all to be right.

You are right. This poem is bad.

And I write it because I’m sad.

The hills have green and dappled sun.

I remember when you were the one.

Inspired, I held you near,

And told you I loved you. I was clear.

I love you, as the sun shines on me here.

You are right. And always were.

You are right. And what does that mean?

You are right about me.  And her?

She was wrong. Very wrong. But unseen.



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