Other lives matter, completely different from your own,

Who never send you music on your cell phone,

Who never develop secret crushes on you,

Who don’t do disgusting things you do,

Who never make a peep and quietly pay the fee,

Who navigate icy rivers for glory,

Who feed thousands from a golden throne.


Other lives matter who are long dead,

Who never come near you or enter your head,

Who you never discover on the internet,

Who you know for a moment and then forget,

Who die minutes from you with strange cries,

Who had the most fascinating eyes,

Who are gone forever on some strange highway fled.


Other lives matter who rose in the spring

To be loved liked summer on a summer’s day,

Where summer breezes, around tree and tree and tree, vanished, dying away.


Other lives matter that you never heard moan,

Because they sang another song, and lived on their own.

But the other life that matters most, a life never spoken, broken, or known,

Is your life, you, strangest of all lives, you, standing by your shadow, inviolate, alone.








I have never—nor would I ever—cheat on you.

You let a small suspicion take root in your mind, where it grew and grew and grew.

Christ said we cheat, if we cheat in our mind.

Outwardly pure, we can still be unkind.

There is no escape. If we were deaf, dumb, and blind,

Jealousy would still haunt our souls; and jealousy is so unkind.

I told you I would never sleep with her because she had fat arms.

And that was the end: I was unkind—in your mind, you had fat arms.

Since we broke up, a year has gone by

And I only now realized why.

How does love between the sensitive work at all?

Give me blue skies over an island. A parking lot. A wall.



Aphro herm 2

When love was voluntary,
And lakes dimmed their mirrors for the moon-lit sky,
And twisted trees were planned by twisted vines,
I could see, by your whisper, by a few poem’s lines,
Whether you were actually mine,
And my heart, by my heart, could soften,
Or be heartless—like a cruel heart with too much wine—
Whenever I wanted, and, if I wanted,
I could dissolve my whole love in one warm bath,
And it would fade, and disappear,
And slip, like a snake, away, without sorrow or wrath.

Ah! When love was voluntary,
And lakes took their time to reflect the sky,
And rivers decided when to be rivers or grass,
I could decide to decline; I could decide to pass
On your grateful face breathing on me, alas,
And clay would voluntarily soften,
Or harden in a hard din of brass;
I could remember what I wanted to remember
And never, never bring you to mind,
Whether you had broken my heart harshly,
Or kissed me and been kind.






The problem, of course, is sex.

Here’s what the Trojan war

Did: is Helen, the beautiful Greek,

Kidnap victim or whore?

This is not what peace knows or expects.

When you are too humiliated to speak,

Out come the weapons. The weapons talk, instead—

Weapons invented by the tongue-tied geek

For the brutal male, who loudly counts the dead.

Today’s War of Islam is a simple one:

Lands where the women are more beautiful than the men

Are going to get invaded again and again.

Have you seen women from the Middle East?

Heavens! Even the eyes are a feast.

The Middle East wants to hide its Helen,

Because love is a problem when the woman is a “ten.”

The West is different; its women are not pretty.

Have you seen Sarah Jessica Parker from “Sex in the City?”

The West, short on beauty, promotes sex and freedom.

Modesty? Veils? Allah? The West doesn’t need them.

If the West, which insults Islam, had its women hide all,

The West would never have sex at all.

So pity the West, and its desire;

And the world: aflame with God, and make-up, and pride, and fire.


We hesitated to publish “The Problem, Of Course, Is Sex,” because we felt it would offend—precisely because of the sex problem identified in the poem: the author of the poem is a white male, and, in a look-ist frenzy, perpetuates cruel and fraudulent stereotypes in the poem. Yes, as the author of the poem, we admit on a superficial level, the poem does this, but this is only by way of illustrating what is perhaps the chief problem in the current Muslim crisis—the aggressive Puritanism of Radical Islam—for who doubts the rapacious, misguided morality of the Taliban, in its wounded-pride, religious, purity, is not at the center of the whole, crazed, passionate terrorist grievance? It is the Greeks losing their Helen, a society’s sex-pride massing for war and revenge, and willing to sacrifice their children for it.  Is this not it?  Meanwhile, the war-like, invading, divide-and-conquer, bullying West, casually tossing off shows like “Sex In the City,” celebrates license and freedom—which insults the invaded people’s soul every day. The Islam crisis may ultimately be about oil and geo-political strategy. But we feel it is also about sex. At the very least, sex is what drives the signing up, and blowing up, for the manic, righteous, revenge-of-rape/rape-revenge cause. To reduce geo-political complexity to rape is a poetic trope; poets sometimes understand the crude and simple truth of a very complex issue is, indeed, the truth, despite the complexity of the issue, with its minefield of offenses to polite society, a polite society, in this case, which has smoothly and professionally committed massive wrongs. The insult to Western women in the poem represents more bitter fruit, a furtherance of the revenge-wound. As with the vengeful Hamlet’s madness—once a wrong begins, who knows where it will end?






True love is competition and hate.

I got tired of loving what was great

And now I love a dull and helpless fool

Who understands my rule.

I prefer a wooden post

To what others love the most.

He was so attractive, I wanted to die.

I can’t actually love that. Let others try.

There is sadness, which causes tears;

Fear this not. This is common. Beware the weeping produced by fears.

You can make it. You can retire in a few more years.

You can get out, forget love, and avoid those fearful, fearful tears.

Admire love from afar—belong to that greater world

To whom love belongs—there is no girl

Who can possibly love that man.

Want is a shadow. You want. That doesn’t mean you can.

Do you know what great poetry is? It is music for ears

Just like your own, but drowned in fearful tears.






Wounds of love are always warm,

Wounds of love will never close.

Love is not a battle or a storm—

Oh love is worse than those.


The woman is affectionate.

This is why she runs away

From true love that lives at night

And smiles during the lonely day.


Wounds from love are deeper than

Those made from the knife.

Love creates hate; wounds from love are deeper than

Wounds from life.


Uncle, you are more like my father than I am,

And they say you seem more like me than him.

They say we are just holograms of projected embarrassment.

None of this is real. I was going to write a poem

But then started to read and got distracted.

Who knows where this poem is now, uncle.

No one likes you, uncle, but I do.

You manage to embarrass everyone and I see

How we all have our pitiful illusions

And yet we can’t help what we are. Like you, uncle.

You are an uncle, and you can’t help that.

We are what the world creates of us.  You write poems

In all different styles that wreak havoc among poets

Who stick to their chosen styles and low key rhetoric

Because they don’t want to embarrass anyone!

Humiliation is suicide! Puncturing others’ illusions,

With your immense talent, uncle, you see through

What others see and do, and you do, you do, naked shoe.

But you can’t do that, you mustn’t do that, uncle.

You have children. You say things. Your poems

Make fun of poems others write, which others take seriously,

And the horror is, your poems are much, much better than theirs.

You are going to destroy the world, uncle, with your wit,

And your everything! But I’ve seen you weep, I’ve seen you suffer,

Uncle, I know how on so many levels you think further than the rest.

Now where was that poem I was going to write?

It was going to be great, like you. It was going to be the best.





A small part of Islam has made the West vexed

With bouts of terror and hatred. When Muslim pride is rubbed raw,

When Islamic pride, embarrassed by the Westerner, over-sexed,

Terrified embarrassment having nowhere to hide,

As Western invaders break Allah’s moral law,

Stealing not only oil, but soiling the essence of women and young—

(A far cry from a quaint National Geographic photograph of camel dung—)

A secret internet sharing of shame travels far and wide

Among shamed, humiliated Muslim hordes,

As British Empire surrogates, U.S. and Israel, throw fuel on the fire

For further control which an Empire affords;

And add to this, the manipulated Sunni/Shiite mire—

You have what we have, and the desire to stop it

Cannot stop what drives it—too many parties do not want to drop it.

Blame Churchill and the British Empire.

Let China and Russia put out the fire.

The U.S., with its befuddled liberalism, and sex,

And freedom, and right-wingers, will only perplex.

Westerners should just stand back.

The West made the Sunnis mad in Iraq.

Oh man. Godless Japan. Can you make Hello Kitty toys attack?



Let this poem stand in, let this ill-tempered poem be

My reaction to the tragedy.

Why ill-tempered? Because no sorrow

Lives, except that which I borrow.

A poet doesn’t put on displays,

And is true never to one occasion, but to all our yesterdays.

My nerves are bad. I will feel sad tomorrow.

I know I will. I will feel sorrow for myself whenever I die,

And that will be real sorrow.

I don’t feel sorrow now, so why should I try?

Yes, that’s right. This is honesty. Do you feel the true, lyric I?

Blame it on my muse, who hides in the real shadows,

Who, as I make my way to this poetry reading,

Might be around the corner—I might see her with someone else;

Nothing I see on the news can compete with her,

Even those I see on the news who are dead. Or crying, or bleeding.

Distant from me, the experimental poem, a flag’s color,

All that’s public: blah, blah, blah, buying and signing and selling books.

Blame ill-temper on love. I feel ill, I feel strange things where no one looks.







It is ridiculous that I am so happy.

The one who loved me, now hates me

And her vast change of heart

Has ripped my tiny world apart.

Mine is a tiny world, since it centers on me—

Is this why I am ridiculously happy?

No, the world punishes the self-obsessed.

The world has its demands, and sends us many a guest.

There are guests in my home—arrogantly

I wish them away. More demands come from me.

All it took to cure my sorrow was an understanding from you—

A stranger who lives in my vast world, and now in my tiny one, too.




Since I left the human race,

To its vanities and rude mistakes,

To its sad search for sweet good taste, and grace—

I learned what love is, and what it takes

To love—how love wants to look at a face

That has meaning and a truth to tell.

Humans are simpler dogs—a sentence has less nuance than a smell.

We are not barred from truth because of its truth

But because of the courage it takes to tell

The truth, without shame; shame knows us—and we know it well.

I loved you like a dog, and I miss your smell—

Wrong and shame are what I miss; everything I cannot tell.



The leaf has fallen from the vine;

Cold winds blow. You are no longer mine.

But, in truth, all that exists is the fact of ourselves;

The other one is just an idea,

Who we are—our desires—is the only thing that’s real;

The other is just an idea.

True, we can only love ourselves in someone else;

An idea is how we love, how we lift above our corrupt desire

And find the light, and see things, beyond our fire.

But loving ourselves—through another—is not to know the other;

We love ourselves through them, but don’t know them;

We clasp ourselves; and though the other is what we hold,

We hold ourselves, no matter how bold

We peer into the other’s eye.

This is why love is lonely, and lovers, when most in love, cry.

To love you made me understand: there is only I

Loving, and knowing, some idea of you—

Which I still love! I know myself! I’ve come through!

I know the truth! Though you are gone, fair idea! I’m still loving you.

The leaf has fallen from the vine.

But fill my glass, again, with wine.



Whole milk is best,

And then there’s choice, which screams for skim,

Which demands water instead of cream;

Just to have a voice, just to have a choice.

Skim is not even healthy. And choice is only a dream.

We waste our life because we have to have this and that,

But you look great in simple clothes, and you don’t need a fancy hat.

You can choose God, or you can choose him—

And since I found you, the only face who makes me glad,

I live the best and only the best, and now I know that choice is bad.



If my Supreme Religious Leader were Howard Stern,
I could have understanding and pity;
My husband! There’s something that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down. I cannot abide forbidden love.
I am good—but sometimes I burn
For the sighing pleasures of Hades.
Every husband, who is a husband, is Khomeini
So it is better for the president to be Khomeini, too
So my heart can never be false to you.

I cannot ride the train, magically in love,
And depart from him at our separate stops—
Night after night, day after day, my heart rises and drops!
I want safety and love inside one family.
None, none, none can ever be free.
I want a smiling god of mercy and pity.
I don’t want interference. I don’t want to flee.
I want the simplest kind of privacy.
I don’t want walls between family, and friends, and everyone I know.
That was death: to hide inside the realms that sigh and cry to him don’t go.



If I had not loved before,
Today I would not know how.
I had to write the poems that failed
To write the good ones now.

To know how much I love you,
She had to make me cry;
She had to kiss my lips,
And look into my eye

With a passion nearly your own.
Then-— she had to leave me
So I would be alone—
Not caring for the rest.
Then I’d be ready for you—
You, who are the best.

You love philosophy.
You are a poet and a beauty,
And you believe in beauty.
Now when I write poems—every poem is for you
You are not only touched—you understand them, too.

She didn’t know poems! She couldn’t experience
Love. Knowing you, I haven’t thought of her since.
All thoughts of her have been deleted,
Her brown eyes, by your brown eyes, defeated.


It is a sad fact that beauty is sad—

That she, whom I love, whom everyone loves, can never be glad.

Sadness makes her beautiful;

Her beauty makes her sadness more beautiful still.

In her beautiful eyes, I see weariness, that it might rest, climbing to the darkening top of a beautiful, darkening hill.


Her sadness—some see only beauty—is the reason why

Light loves her beauty: her shoulders restful and still. Her inward looking eye.

Sadness is beautiful,

Hoping to be saved by millions of eyes,

Hoping to be drowned in light;

Hoping that if beauty loves her, the shadow of her sadness flies—

But there is no saving kiss. Her sadness never dies.


You, and he, can look at her, and she can, and so can I,

And she can say that she loves you, but that will be a lie.

Melancholy knows the love; the love that melancholy knows

Sleeps. Who will dare to wake her, and ask her to put on clothes?




In our review of Mazer’s latest book, The Glass Piano, published on the first of November, we tried not only for a review, but a Criticism, and reflecting on our words, feel a certain remorse.

In the most recent number of the Battersea Review, the critic William Logan wrote, “the critic is a Diogenes in a world where everyone is Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.”

How true! And no one feels this as acutely as ourselves (save perhaps Logan himself)—because we have taken to heart in our criticism the simplicity spoken simply by the honest Edgar Poe: “a criticism is simply that—a criticism.”

And one cannot, if one is a critic, escape the necessity of wounding others even if one is writing a positive review.

We loved Mazer’s book—but in our review we had to kill a great deal that was not Mazer.

Was it necessary to praise Mazer by killing what is not Mazer?


This is precisely where the heart of critical intelligence resides—to say anything worthwhile, it is necessary to contemplate everything: no value, no good, no judgment, no insight, no understanding, stands alone.

Insight does not live in a vacuum, and no poet does, either: a bad poet is bad next to a good one, a good poet is good next to a bad one—no matter how politeness, or the discursively half-baked, might say otherwise. Mazer’s worth is meaningless without asserting what Mazer destroys. The Hindu religion has a Destroyer god; all major religions feature a God who is wrathful; even in the kinder ones, such as Buddhism, there is a philosophy that counsels denial, rejection and casting out. Religion does not make us obey—the world makes all religion (and all philosophy) obey the trope of destruction, in order that the world be understood and known. There is much around the heart that must be removed, before the heart can be seen. There is much of the one world that must be lost before the one world can be embraced, loved, or known.

Addition (Actual Creation) has, in the beginning, already been done by the Deity-Past; subtraction is how mortals proceed. Man, if divine, if creative, if artistic, resembles God the Creator—in reverse. Since you are mortal, if you don’t hate and destroy, you cannot build and love.

Nonetheless, we feel bad that we had to smite the non-Mazer in order to lift Mazer up.

Any time a critical judgment of any kind is made, it offends many poets who love poetry and participate in poetry on various levels—in the spirit of Everything.

Everything, or Everything-ness, is, precisely, for all these poets and their friends, the essence of poetry.

All we have said in this essay, and all we said in our Mazer review, to winnow away the non-Mazer, is, to these poets, the poets of Everything-ness, an offense and a horror.

For them, poetry is that which embraces Everything. The critical faculty that winnows, destroys, rejects, qualifies, judges, and defines is counter to everything the Everything-ists hold dear.

The Everything-ists believe poetry is poetry so far as it is able to be everything and imply everything and insinuate everything by using everything—and rejecting nothing.

The two views—ours and the Everything-ists—are oil and water. The two views are like matter and anti-matter.

They both belong to the category “poetry,” and yet they could not be more different.

Until this duality is really understood, poetry as an understood practice will be a great confusion, with no center, and a hard exterior, bashing in skulls, wounding egos, damaging philosophy, and creating an army of polite but sore-headed hypocrites.

For the Everything-ists are wrong. Poetry may seem to be for, and about, Everything—but the claim to this is specious and inane. It doesn’t matter how many famous or semi-famous poets you name-drop.

The bad poets must die.

If Ben Mazer is to live.

This is literally a matter of life and death.

We sympathize with the Everything-ists.  We understand what a temptation it is to embrace their good will, their pluralism, their kindness, their laisse faire, their cow-munching-in-the-meadow complaisance.

Why does Scarriet defend the wolf?

Just as Everything as a poetry trope is an illusion (the Everything-ists do not actually embrace Everything: only its idea, which is quite different), so the accusation that we defend the wolf for the mere sake of destruction is also an illusion.

We want to save the Everything-ists from destruction; their position springs from good will; but in terms of poetry, it makes no sense—and therefore, in the long run, it actually hinders good will and good poetry.

To say more regarding our sorrow at offending others would be superfluous.

We have apologized too much already.

So we will hurry on to the main point.

Mazer’s poetry can safely exist in the category, Everything.

Our criticism of Mazer cannot.

Nor can any poet—even the species, everything-ist—write a poem using Everything.

So in actual practice, the Everything philosophy or aspiration is bankrupt.

All poets and all poetry already exist in the universe which defies Everything.

A poet who rhymes, for instance, reduces the pool of words available to him or her.

Any topic or theme chosen, automatically reduces the material available to write the poem, and the better the topic, the more the available material will be reduced, until the greatest topic will simply be the poem itself.

The well-read poet, to be original, has less available to say, precisely because of the voluminousness of his or her reading.

Remember what we said about “subtraction?” That it is the only avenue open to us? In every case, all poets, before they begin writing, severely and inevitably reduce and winnow, making war at every point against the only “enemy”—Everything.

And so the Everything-ists are seen for what they are, at last: nothing. They do not exist. To be non-critical, and to embrace Everything, is to embrace sand in the wind.

The Critical Faculty is not different and apart from the poetic impulse which writes the poem: they are the same.

To write a poem is to decide what you cannot say.

If you are saying whatever you want to say, you are not writing poetry.

You are not writing poetry unless you have first prepared a vessel which restricts what you can say.

The mind of the poet is not what writes the poetry, but what makes these ‘restriction’ vessels. What fills them are the random impulses of the unconscious everything-ness transformed by one of these vessels—which is the actual “poem”—a “vessel” that is not “read,” but which is, in fact, the poem, and which did, in fact, make the poem.

What makes these vessels excellent, in every case, is what they restrict, and on how many levels they limit how, as well as what, may be said. 

The Everything-ist who writes a poem of three words may exult in how much is intimated by those three words. The process we are describing—building by subtraction—may seem to them, triumphantly, exactly what they are doing. And it is proved by the fact that their poem is only three words! How subtractive is that?

But the folly of the Everything-ist can be easily seen. One does not simply subtract. This subtraction is a pitiful shortcut to glory. One must first build a unique and complex vessel of subtraction.

Every excellent poem is excellent in this way: the interest of the subtraction-vessel which generates the poem. The Everything-ist abhors the subtraction-vessel, for this involves a great deal of reading, a rhyme scheme, an effect decided upon which is original, all leading in the mind to a massive amount of reduction, discrimination and subtraction, so that several aspects of the world must be fought with and conquered—and this runs counter to the temperament of the Everything-ist, who loves agreement for its own sake, and a fairy-tale, naive belief in “the new,” which arises benevolently out of a naive love of “everything,” when, in reality, originality is possible only through destruction and subtraction, which is the only avenue open to the wise who would truly imitate God—in reverse.

The truth is, the real poem will far more likely “say” one thing with a hundred lines, rather than a hundred things with one line, or even one word! The former is always preferred, for reasons that should be apparent to the true poet at once.

Great poetry is a fanatical pursuit: it really doesn’t help to know a hundred things half-well; it is far better to know one thing well—and not know anything else.



for c.s.

My morning is your evening:

I think, I worry—as your day’s cares float away.

My evening is your morning,

My dreams, your day.

When morning light blinds me

And Boston trains noisily run,

Your Calcutta sky dissolves

And whispers, There. That’s done.

You live near the warm earth’s middle;

I, near the top, on the other side, and far away.

Electric storms connect us,

The internet’s continual day.

Electric telephone,

Busy luminosity—

The world buzzes.

Am I busy, or lazy?

Let the hurricanes come

And push the warm air here

As winter darkens the crowds

Of this cold holiday year.

We celebrate in costumes

And jackets and candles and snow.

You put away your sari

And miss things which I don’t know.

The earth lies between us;

All we have is mind

Sniffing electric evidence:

Are you good? Am I kind?

My poem laughs—it has always been this way.

Always distance; always night chasing the day.

Always this! always this!

What is far, close; and the close, far away.






Why are people ugly?

Because otherwise sex would drive the human race mad.

Ugly people having sex isn’t sexy.

It isn’t sexy. It’s sad.

That’s why the truly sexy are miserable, too.

I want to be your friend. I don’t want to sleep with you.


When you told me I was sexy,

It just made me self-conscious and confused.

Sex is too serious. Are people meant to be eaten?

You were honest. But I wasn’t amused.


It always offends the ugly

To bring sex to the feast.

Everything that eats—

And gets fed on—is a beast.


Food should be beautiful—

Bathrooms and sinks, too;

And yard implements and gardens,

And everything but—God, please not you.







“Love is an accident” —old saying

What misses us—is not—you and me.

Desire is slavery—and you and I are free.

How did this warm evening find you and I together at the entrance of the park

Where on beautiful warm evenings we once held each other in the dark?

This is a warm evening too,

But warm evenings—no—everything—is forbidden now to me and you.

You and I accidentally cross paths going home

By the same way, and I hurry on, and do not dare to look at you,

But it makes me feel things, and I’m sure it makes you feel things, too,

Having been here many times together, and now each of us alone.

It is late October and the growing darkness and the first autumn freeze

Makes tonight’s surprising mild air—and by chance, seeing you—a night I will remember,

More so than when our love was fully expressed, and your head lay gently upon my chest—remember?

Before I reach my door, still thinking of you, I linger in front of a large tree sighing in the breeze.

On high is a bright white three-quarter moon

Moving on to fullness, and I make a wish because of this, that we might be reunited soon,

Though I’m not allowed to have thoughts like this

Because desire is slavery and poison lives in a slave’s kiss.

What misses us is what kisses us—the solemn world of the outdoors, nature and her man-made park

Where we worshiped everything from dawn to dark.

Isn’t it strange, how the more we ought to remember, the more of that we ought to remember, we forget?

And here, where I glimpsed you only for an instant, here, by this poem, memory will pay its debt?

The poem’s idea: a mild breeze and thoughts of you are enough to make me glad,

As I stand in front of the moon and a tall tree rustling, and hear you speaking. Am I mad

To think the park misses us, and wonders where we are? That nature felt our love

And this is what misses our love—not reluctant you, not selfish me?

Desire is slavery—in my mind I keep seeing your dear face—and you and I are free.











I remember when my country was young;

Day-time World Series—on television sets in store windows—watched by everyone

Who shrugged off assassinations and other black-and-white news

With candlelight dinner and stereo.


Now my country is password-obsessed, corporate, and cold.

Now my country is old-person stink surrounding trivia-obsessed youth

Who are older than the old.


Art covers up everything that we would like to do.
This is your painting. And here—over here—stands you.
To acquire that skill takes a certain amount of work.
You gave up. In your soul the lazy spirits lurk.

So this is your painting. It will depict you when you are dead.
And that is the point. You—over here—just want to be fed.
You allow dress-makers and stylists to decide
Thanks to your painting, what death will never hide.

You belong to nature, and nature seeks to make another,
But not you—you want no child to grow old like your mother.
You, yourself, are the beginning and the end,
The reason for art, and nobody’s friend.



What did you do on Poetry Day?
Did you look at someone you love—and quickly look away?
Did you write a poem, and feel awkward doing so?
Awkward—because of what all bright days and all dark branches know?
Were you able to love one moment—a single moment—that flew,
A moment, like a dream, which loomed up like a rain cloud, and sighed, in front of you?
And because your moment was sad, and yet happy, you felt in your heart what that moment knew?
Did you peek in your heart, and find out what was true?

Did it tell you poetry’s secret?  That poetry is love from start to end?
That love lives secretly in perfumed paper we send?
Does love make you uncomfortable?  Well, that’s okay.
You are not a poet. The muse does not love you, anyway.



Observe, as you lounge in one place,
At some busy café—you, too, will be disgusted by the human race.

The picky ordering, customers unsatisfied;
The nerdy college couple who kiss each other’s hands with loud smacks;
The slovenly old, with old-person smell that attacks;
Severe young men whose severity is impossible to hide
By expensive haircuts. Women have more skill in appearing

Tolerable to judgment’s discerning;
Nature wants to breed, the female needs to appeal
And that appeal is always a step ahead of learning;
Still, one can see the insanity that creeps
Through young women’s brains
Who must navigate the rot of fruit and meat and grains.

A cute dog is tied up outside,
This changes nothing about the colored hair and beer-bellies inside.
The weak chins, the wide jeans, the postures indicating ruthless wills,
The faces, unpleasant, resembling various animals.

The only exception to the hideous parade
Are children, who good people, in an act of goodness, made.

These dear ones make me rise above the place
To admire the city, the world, my face.

You, with the muscles and tattoos, if only you knew how ugly you look—
I suggest you throw away your Harley and read a book.







Here at last, I make my confession:

I never cared about any of you—

I chose poetry as my profession

So nobody else could tell me what to do.


Restaurants, stadiums, fancy clubs,

Expensive cars and beautiful snubs,

Car crashes, suicides from broken loves,

All the shit of the world; getting old,

Death, I turn all this shit into gold

With a stubby pencil, a scrap of paper; I hide away

To conceive what you have to slave over every day.


“How was your weekend? The concert?” It was great!

No, it wasn’t. I’m happier and went to bed at eight.

You need to appear happy.  Social lies. I revel

In the truth. You struggle to find your level.

The concert wasn’t “great.” You lie. I know

As you run down the street, late for your show.

Writing poetry cannot be stopped

By businessmen, or time, or love that flopped.

I have a rock concert in my head—

You paid a hundred bucks to get a headache, instead.


Your actors and your infrastructure, the research you do for your book

Has no interest for me. I, the poet, enjoy every moment. Take a look.

I also experience things; I love, I love to throw a ball.

The difference is you experience things partially; I feel it all.


When I think of a line and reach for my scrap of paper and pencil number two,

I feel as much desire as your costs and burdens bring the useless desire which burdens you.




I can no longer hate and love.

No more of this casual dating.

Loving the one you hate is a prison.

There’s a beauty in simply hating.


I can no longer hate and love

Like Catullus, whose single book survived. (The world wasn’t waiting.)

Optimistic women and their rules,

Their pop culture—I find their desires grating.


Hating one you love is the worst emotion one can feel;

If there’s love, hate inevitably enters, because fear

Of losing one you love is real;

Nothing prevents the tainting of the beautiful;

Whatever is beautiful produces the horrible;

Beauty and sadness are twins; God, a golden tear.


I can no longer hate and love,

So goodbye, love, goodbye.

I had a million poems for you,

Intricate and opposite and sly.





Kindness is advertised, and I am told,
Kindness is better than desperate love, desperate and bold,
Or passionate love, inquisitive and sly.
William Butler Yeats has said that a kindness will charm
Even the mad, roving lover’s troubled eye.

Courtesy, Yeats said—his best poem quoted to me by a cautious friend—
Is how my daughter must be chiefly learned—kindness and courtesy, the shore
Where wave-crashing beauty comes to its ship-wrecked end.

We were so bold to love, and we put out on the salty sea,
A sea of confusion and tears, the sea now seems to me.
But though I lie, hurting on the beach, kindness is a what, not a who;
I do need kindness and courtesy; what Yeats says is true—
But the kindness I need must come from you.








“Einstein For Beginners” will never work.
A little information makes you look like a jerk.

Do you remember what you were doing
When you first heard of light-years?

Do you remember what you were doing
When things changed for everyone?
When you looked up and saw
The eight minutes twenty seconds old sun?

Did things change for you?
Of course they didn’t.
Poe discovered the Big Bang. Nothing is new.

Do songs originate, or soothe your fears?
Look at the light, shining on your little dears.

Songs make us love, cry; then, broken-hearted, we listen for even more tears.

Is now impossible in a very big place?

What is now to a distant star?
Already in the past. That’s what you are.

Was that a moment ago I kissed your face?
I’m thinking about love and the intricacy of careers.

I would like to do mathematics but I don’t know how.
I feel the sun on my face—
I feel in the vast universe there can be now.

A little bit of heat. A little bit of glow.
Your love for me. That’s all I know.


When love died, and they removed my heart,
I asked them, upon waking, Did you get it all?

I loved her, winter, spring, summer, and fall,
A memory for every type of love: I see them all.

The winter when we fell in love, it was warm,
Warm for winter, and not a storm.

When spring brings the first warmth creeping,
I see us among flowers, and then I start weeping.

When a summer rain hits the roof of my car,
Or the roof of the house when I lie in bed, there we are.

The warm kisses. I wish I remembered them all.
Our love was like a second summer in the beginning of the fall.

Winter’s coming.  Oh my heart! I hope they got you all.
Otherwise I will die—of cold—in the dark and cold—that grows in the fall.





The jealousy of the ugly

Forbids you and I.

The morality of the ugly

Prefers the beautiful die.


Beauty belongs to nature. Kurt Cobain—

Remember him, with his hurt and pain—

Said, “nature is a whore.”

Yes, she’s unfaithful. She wants more.


Beauty takes many tries,

But that’s what nature wants and gets.

My mother has no regrets

When she looks into my beautiful eyes.


Children. A problem that explodes.

Morality ages each day. But nature reloads.



I have a theory that you will be more difficult
If you have a difficult name.
When I kissed the two of you, whose names were the same,
Whose names were very common, I knew
Humility, not difficulty, would be the theme from both of you.
And I was right.
We took turns, and pleased each other throughout the night.
But her? With the difficult name?
She kissed me once. Once.
Now love is no longer praise, but blame.



I always knew poetry
Was sentimentality
Which only the dearest hearts expressed.

Philosophy is cold,
But not the heart that is distressed.

It’s not that poetry sings,
Though sentiment is close to song;
Poetry sings the heart when the heart knows the world is wrong.

“But the world is not wrong,” she said.
“Is the cloud that covers the sun a lie?
The world is not wrong.”
And even as my poetry sang,
hilosophy coldly told me why.



“When I get you alone…” –old song

Love desires privacy.
I understand you less and less
The more we are intimate.
I see more of you in rumor,
Less of you in the eye.
Privacy demands more privacy.
The public becomes a spy.

How bitter to find
Love is not a picture
You bring home
But a picture-spoiling mind.

I know you less and less.
Your public beauty
Is a private guess.
I would know you,
But beauty is an intimacy that owns—
Covering to undress.






Enter picture. Exit poetry.

Enter flattery. Farewell truth.

Enter crowds. Goodbye muse.

Enter vanity. Patience, adieu!

Ugh. This poem is crap.

It was my eye, not I, who fell in love with you.









Love does not need my help;
My poems can be quiet now.
All that I asked them to do
I got through kisses, anyhow.

There’s more than enough sky
For stars— see? they gather above
In layer upon layer; what poetry finds
I found for real, later, when I was in love.

The quiet teenager feels
All that is necessary to feel,
So that’s not exactly what I want
As I admit this isn’t real.

There are many ways to love,
And quiet love is usually the best.
Love does not need my help.
Kiss. Then we’ll rest.




To live is to be in error all the time.

My poems are mistakes

Saved only by their rhyme.

You shouldn’t think I know what I am saying

In these mistakes, which surely are a mistake to write.

I write them for you, who are not mistaken.

Nor your kiss. Nor this night.



“The void is blind but has a mind.”  —old poem

This guy doesn’t have much to say.

But he’ll listen to you, even if you talk to him all day.

Stupid is smart.

The beautiful offend the ugly more each day.

Kindness pities the ugly—kindness works hard, so more ugliness will stay.

Stupid is smart.

The universal void has articulation—the something that comes from nothing, mere talk.

What really happens has nothing to do with what we say.

Consciousness of the void, of death, is painful; if you see me taking a walk

And talking to myself, that’s the poet mixing articulation with pleasure,

The hope and joy and beauty of lonely love.

Stupid is smart.

To think about truth (the void) is painful.

Consciousness as poetry is simply pleasure mixed with talk.

But pleasure made articulate is beautiful and what is beautiful offends the ugly.

The ugly conquer at last—their ally, the void.

Stupid is smart.

I was beautiful and articulate and loved you, and you dumped me.

You were beautiful but you saw ugliness closing in.

You were beautiful but you knew ugliness would win.

Stupid is smart.

That’s how you broke my heart.




You strove to be good. And then you met me.
I measure myself by how much I can see.
I saw your hands and feet
And all your other things.
And found them sweet.

I heard there is a land where those like you
Must hide the foot within the shoe,
Where love is covered from head to toe.
Is this wisdom?  Or a desire to know?

Which tree are you in the wood?
Which singer in the choir?
I was knowing you only to know
The desire to know desire.

I love you more than what you are.
I also love what you represent.
I love your hands and feet
And also you, dressed in white, under a white tent.




Poised between her and her:

One who is here and one who is gone.

One switched me off and this one switches me on.

The one who switched me off was one I loved dearly.

The one who switches me on?  I see her a bit more clearly.

I think of the one who is gone

As a wife who wasn’t a wife.

She was a catch that wasn’t a catch,

A life that wasn’t a life.

This one here? The poet? Poetry cannot be steady.

She might leave me any day. Possibly

Today. But what is a poem? I am ready.






The design of the vine.

The light on the girl.

The ancient, ancient, ancient, world.

Some need to drop their clothes.

They don’t have one of those:

A lovely face with a lovely nose.

Some need to expose

Their sad, angry vanity.

They lose their clothes—and their sanity.

But this one has a face

More beautiful than disgrace.

This one has a face lovelier than

Things others might do to a man.

This one has a body, too—

Which plays sad music.

Maybe she will play for you.



In our vista, love argues with nature.

The long look begins with you.

Everything that belongs to a view

Begins with your eyes—a looking which love longs to look at, too.

Love begins with a looking heart,

And if the view expands, and love gets as far as art,

Love resembles those paintings which fulfill

Every standard of beauty, they are so beautiful.


To be caught in paintings,

Framed by the foreground’s overhanging leaves,

Green and brown undulant hills in the background—

Would you like to be in a Van Gogh painting?

Is a love a love which always has to be?

Always spies the eye which this vista found?

Even as identity is a sameness which grieves?


If love must be love, which always must be,

So the lover can always know you—

Half-way between here and there,

He will always be late as he comes past each door.

And there: far in the distance are smudges: the poor

Who live poorly, and do not love anymore.




If I’m in a really good mood, and feeling super confident,

I look at everything which other people worship and adore

And say, “Are you kidding me? Who needs that?”

And without getting into the details of what I ridicule—

Every authority, every cherished belief—

I think you’ll agree with me that it’s easy—you’ve done it, too!


But now I’m going to take this cynical detachment and aim it at you.

You’re a selfish fraud. You lie constantly to yourself and others about many things.

See? You and I know how easy this is, and we both know it’s true.


But hyper-cynicism is the most useful state of mind,

Much better than being obsequious, agreeable, cliquish, or kind,

Because it allows you quickly to get to the heart of the matter.

You can be ignorant about something for years when you fawn and flatter.

When you stand in ignorant awe of something, you never know,

In your worship, what it really is; but when you ridicule beauty and genius,

Your malicious mockery falls into passionate imitation-–the key to knowing it,

And soon, you are playing Mozart, or you are beautiful, and then you are ripe

For fresh ridicule, which is the secret, you realize, of all knowledge.

Love grows (it does!) as you go deeply, unashamed, into your own vanity.

It allows you to love another’s vanity. Hate. Love. Imitate. Make fun of me.

I said I was amazingly confident, and this is true.

When you are depressed and self-loathing, you despise everything, too.

But this is different. This is not illness, where you push food away;

This is the best love, the best poem. Love like glue.







The only thing worse than no attention

Is too much attention.

And love is that perfect compromise

Where all the attention that would be too much

Lives only in the lover’s eyes.


Yes, you had a certain flair.

But now the only compromise

Is when you watch TV,

Giving it attention while knowing your attention doesn’t matter.

Was it more difficult with me?


I think that woman is the most profound

Of all the creatures.


Hers, the love my heart found

The more I examined her rural features

As she was examining mine—

In sweetest, cunning secrecy,

With careless, smiling modesty.


How can my description convince the wise

No beauty equals hers—the beauty of her love for me in a beautiful woman’s eyes?

How do I describe her passionate fire

Without describing my desire,

And her desire, which makes her eyes unique,

So that my desire describing her desire cannot possibly speak?


Tell me what I am supposed to say.

She talks. She is beautiful. She walks away.


There is no woman, no star,

Whose light cannot reach me.

The universe is made of something

Which is nothing, which is far,

And whose light is the light

Which shows me a small light in the darkness of a car.








Do bees sleep and forget their hive?

You stroked one’s fur until slumber

Woke in him what dreams remember.

I do not forget you. A bee’s purpose is alive.

In their humming there is no tune.

Oh! But there is a violin! There will be one soon.

You and I enjoyed a music as only one

Sound could be enjoyed, as two

Could be folded into one. It is fled.

We listened in the hush of a midnight bed.

Your kisses were tender. It was then I knew.

I think it’s possible this bee’s dream is you.



We don’t love what flatters us.

I could not lie to either,

Though I tried, telling her,

Who was not smart,

“I love your mind!”

And telling her, ugly as a fart,

“I love your body! Can I kiss your behind?”

So none love me now.

Lying is best. But I don’t know how.

So, what can I do now

But take revenge in poems

Which say, fuck it, here’s the truth?

I can tell it because I am its truth.

Only we are the truth, and the lies

Everything not us; even our eyes

Show copies, so nothing original

Exists; only we, ephemerally beautiful,

Coy and partial, stuck in time and place

Are real. Nothing else. Not a trace.

So this is the truth, because it’s me;

The sole attraction of my poetry.

I can only love the physical;

The physical moves me to love, not you;

And that’s why I’m helpless talking to these two:

She, who is smart, I do not love,

Though our talk is delightfully witty,

But then I am stupid with this one,

For I am smitten by the pretty.

And never have the two lived in one.

I’m blinded by the physical.

So who the hell am I, to praise the sun?

I fail to love all things. Even my poetry

Fails. It divides me.



As you examine the ruin of your life,

Which, in your mind, you call yesterday,

A once-happy past that brings you sorrow,

In a present that disappears,

You understand—as you count your tears—

You will only be alive tomorrow.

In your yesterday, you always are,

So in its death is all your life.

In this moment, vanishing,

You glimpse tomorrow’s star:

Strange place! where you shall die,

And forget this moment—which made you cry.



There is a kind of all-knowing, beautiful person

Who is certain—their beauty proves it—that we are all alone.

To them, a conversation always has a different tone.

When they see pictures of couples, a certain smile

Plays across their lips; they think: She’s going to leave him for a while.


Are you beautiful? And harassed? Don’t you feel alone?

And when you talk with someone, do you hear a different tone?

The sacred is not safe when you come into view.

It’s painful to think, isn’t it? that everyone’s untrue—

And the proof is in their eyes when they’re alone with you.


To complete the picture, you have no children.

Religion sighs. Tension swells. God inquires of his angels,

Angels in hell, angels in heaven: Is there anything we can do?

The heavens remain serene and beautiful. There is no help from heaven.

Then one leaves the one they love alone with you

And you prove what everyone knew.

Ever since you were a little girl, you heard it in their tone.

This is what beauty proves.

Everyone’s alone.












I, too, find this world mean and ugly.

When I am sad, it is sadly beautiful,

But this is a passing mood, and not the truth.


Accidental verdure trailing across the top of an industrial fence outside the train

Can bring a momentary feeling of reprieve: heroic verdure!  Then the entire stained world seems okay.

This feeling lasts as long as I am sad. Beautiful moods attach themselves to sad ones.


But I find no beauty at all when

I dwell on wronged and fallen humanity, and how asphalt and trash

Are the essence of every city, and cleaning and flushing is an operation

That never ceases, and human loneliness and its bewildering pain

Afflicts even the sweetly innocent who try

To be good and tender before the very door of truth.


Inside that door, which is iron and spotted and gray,

I sense eternity, whose darkness is our darkness,

A rich, beautiful darkness, which never quite goes away.



The writer types types.
And typos!  The darling little typos!  Bambinos!

I had a crisis this morning and thought (as I typed my typos)
There are no people!  Only types.

The interesting woman has only three choices in men:

The dullard. Boring, boring, boring.  No way.
The braggart. No way.
The weirdo.  Interesting, but cannot be bragged about: eccentric, not publicly accomplished.

If the weirdo is cute enough in his weirdness and not too weird in a threatening or excessively weird manner,
She may go that way, and give this weirdo her love.

But this doesn’t seem particularly fair to women.
What kind of choice do they have?
The world is not a nice place for women.

But obviously, the lesson is:

Types are the only thing shown.

And the only type which has any validity is you.

Writers type types.
Writers attempt to make types interesting and beautiful.

Writers are trapped in types as they type
Even as they try to escape them.

This is what I am desperately trying to do
As I type these types (without typos) for you.



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