SINCE I FOUND LOVE

Since I found love
As a continuous dream continuing with thoughts of you,
I found the love we began grew
In new ways strangely and sweetly—
But not happily or completely.

I find that I love
The flowery paths we used to take,
When the sweet flowers by sweet winds would shake
Perfume of flowers into the air;
As I gradually lost the memory of your kissing,
As I breathed, on my own, the flowery air,
I found a deeper love, deeper than kissing,
A love for a beauty that doesn’t care
That I am walking there,
Or that I am pleasantly aware
Of those flowers we loved,
As this evening I breathe the flowery air.

When you were here,
There was too much care,
And when you were sweetly near,
I was always afraid—
Even when you kissed me in the scented shade—
That one day you would not be there:
A fear, proudly, but fearfully, I would not share.
Because we walked, like a dream, these paths together
It is almost too good to be true
To find a love I love that does not require you
To be here. Do you feel this, too?
Perhaps it is different for you.
I don’t know. Did I ever know you?
Could you walk these paths without feeling sad?
I was sure this would happen to me,
But without you, I feel—strangely, excitedly—glad,
As if I were loving all that time, and you
Were only the excuse to love this quiet beauty,
This loveliness of the world, and this pleasant view
Now makes me think of you,
But not with sorrow;
My love for you does not need you.
I am glad we loved, but now I look ahead to more lasting loves tomorrow.

GOD NEVER MENTIONED HER UNTIL SHE WAS ILL

God never mentioned her until she was ill.

No one discussed her until she died.

I was not allowed to be happy; I learned of her precisely as I cried.

My eyes were streaming as I found out

She had been; too late to know—all that I knew was in doubt—

Doubted the mountain had gold, doubted the river beyond was wide.


God made poetry from her life as her bones were lying there,

As storms raged, and every beast hid in its lair.

People huddled from the cold, complaining of the legendary weather,

And the world, I feared, would forget her altogether.

His poetry, I hoped, would keep her alive, but I wondered

Why His poetry was obscure—had the fates blundered?

Why did her cloudy illness and tears

Move God, the poet: what of her happier years?

Happiness? Everything is revealed in time:

Desire had been her illness. And oh my God she had been mine.

LIFE IS A LIE THAT TELLS THE TRUTH

They say the poem is a lie that tells the truth.
But life is a lie that tells the truth
For life is full of error, leading us to believe she doesn’t love us
When she does. Her actions were meant to deceive, for life deceives in love.

A poem is a truth that tells a lie. I write the truth: I love her.
But love is large, and she and I are small.
Hurrying to its conclusion, the poem makes sure we are not seen at all.

THE BEE GEES

I want to listen to Lana Del Ray all day

And the Bee Gees most of the night;

Or is it the other way around?

I never get music right.

I know the coolest music that no one else knows,

But that’s useless; what’s the point of an unknown rose?

You can’t win when it comes to unknown roses—

Or other people’s eyes, or other people’s noses;

Something about good taste and something about a bad smell

Interferes with sight, so we don’t see very well.

To protect ourselves, we close our eyes on the back of the bus,

But when we get there, we open them—and everyone’s laughing at us.

I walk downstage to the music of the Bee Gees,

Vanquished by trivia!  The aromas of teas…

I HAVE ONE MOTHER

image

I have one mother, who bore me long ago,

From her I came, and from her I still go

Into all that is not mother—into all that she

Hopes I will create, as she created me.

Creation is a burden, and creation is a woe,

For much happens by the flesh that we do not know,

And I went from my mother, hoping that she

Could let me go, and yet not forget me.

That is our sorrow! That is our fear:

That what made us then will not love us here.

O, let my thoughts be consistent and clear.

Let sounds that rebound make sense in my ear.

What began my life, please see it through,

No dream! but love that lives forever in you.

 

BEAUTY IS NOT FOR EVERYONE

Beauty is not for everyone.
First, how would ugly work get done?
Second, how would the ugly ever be loved?
Third, beauty must be found.
You will not see it just lying on the ground.
And who understands its cruelty?

Say beauty belongs to me
And beauty will always stay.
Lie to me, and kiss me
Extravagantly.
See? This is almost beauty.
Back there, when you felt something, what did you surmise?
Kiss me, again. But this time close your eyes.

 

 

 

THE POETRY THAT COMES TO ME

The poetry that comes to me

Is the love that comes to you.

But first comes the love,

The sweet, sweet love.

The line invented by my mind

Is the praise that comes to you.

But first comes the love,

The sweet, sweet love.

The eye that finds my eye

Is the look that comes from you.

A love, they say, can die.

But love is all I do.

Always in love, and always free,

Because the poetry comes to me.

MY LOVE IS DYING

The fiction writer, to acheive the dark comedy of life,
Does best in simple, transparent language to draw that life,
Careful not to intrude on that life
With fancy language or opinions, letting the facts of that life
Do most of the work, like a painter of still life.
No artist, using life, can compete with life.

Life contains endless material for the artist
Who does not find it necessary to invent or feel or think.
A million reporters for one poet: everybody’s a poet, wink, wink.

The Instagram photograph is the new art.
Snap it. Ten thousand pixels: each the perfect singing part.

The picture is laughing, the picture is crying.
Literature—lovely literature! is dying.

The death of a beautiful woman is the most poetical topic, said Poe.
And the best topic for fiction?  I believe I know:
The unhappy beautiful woman.

We are disgusted when an ugly woman has sex.

When a beautiful woman has sex, we are torn,
Since we are happy if we are having sex with her,
But if she is having sex with someone else, we wish she were never born.

If the beautiful woman is not having sex, the harsh division vanishes;
We are no longer torn; we are content to read the fiction
Detailing the unlikely: a beautiful woman’s chaste sadness.

Love produces so much unhappiness
That unhappiness is how we see—the shadows of sorrow covering life,
So love, in unreal ways, might be tolerated, and in very small ways—even for a moment!—loved.
Sex penetrates our consciousness, disguised, and understood, by other means;

Inscrutable chastity!
I read what you wrote, to find out what beauty means.

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW

The hill has water running down its sides
Beneath the pansies and forsythia
Where the hyacinth bends, and the slender cunning
Of the iris no longer hides.
Spring is here. There is no more snow.
In case you didn’t know.

My mind has love running in and out of it
Where desperate thoughts of flowers
Vainly strive with thoughts that kiss my thoughts of you
Where the butterflies flit.
You’re in my mind. You will never go.
In case you didn’t know.

There was nothing reasonable about last fall
When the trees heaved down their leaves
And the wind blew cold upon the dying hill,
Which was not ours at all.
But spring is here. There is no more snow.
In case you didn’t know.

ANOTHER’S HAPPINESS MAKES YOU SAD

Another’s happiness makes you jealous.
And so you understand
Why sorrow comforts you,
And sorrow comforts the jazz band
You love to listen to.

You sigh. You know why
Sorrow in every song is the best thing
And when you clap your hands, you sadly sing
And sing of sadness more, and to cry
Is your highest happiness.

Everyone who knows us,
Knows no one should be jealous.
Jealousy is worse than sorrow.
Happiness leads to jealousy, and more jealousy tomorrow.

I have seen every genius fall,
Sighing, into a wish there were no happiness at all,
As jealousy (born in hell!) makes a heaven of sorrow.

WHEN MY HATE LOVES

When my hate loves, it is like love, in fact:
Love is the feeling, and sex, the desired act.

It is not like adding love to cause the hate to sleep
So one can make a show of politeness to a creep.

It is hate actually loving, and hate loves like love;
Hate is what it is, but love is what it does.

Love can be aroused by an identifying pity
Which makes us ache in a sweet melancholy—
We don’t love their perfection, but their faults;
We rejoice that love does not run, but halts.
Love halts right beside us.
The bus breaks down and we get on the bus.
But what notes faults insults.

So merciful, identifying love breeds hate—
The lover learns the hateful truth too late:
The one who kissed us is suddenly irate.
Sweet love is changed to injurious hate.

But since love was the original intent,
Hate loves, despite hate, despite resentment;
Love hates, driving the confused lover mad.
But hate loves, so the heavens are glad.

There’s no escape from a hateful love like this;
Love hates as love, teaching hate how to kiss.

It doesn’t matter what we feel, or what we do.
Hate tells hate to hate us if we hate you.

 

YOUR DIVERSITY IS CONFORMITY

The boy raised in a suburb, white,
Learns in school his heart is blacker than night,
Life is large animals eating small;
Not sin, but God’s City, the terrible loss, the terrible  fall,
He learns, he learns it all.
Vaginas have a great deal to say.
He listens to vaginas talk all day.
Vaginas are here. And they’re not going away.
Did you write a poem on a vagina today?
He learns he took something, and must give it back
To the world, his daddy, and his daddy’s daddy, the fault and the lack.
The old science and the old erection,
The old knowledge and the old protection,
Are dead, say the new Chairs, the new Head.
But nothing, when you look around, is changed at all:
Buildings and rockets and marriages and laws
Weigh heavy on the landscape, the economy,
Customs, play, manners, money, no pause
Of the world’s activities can be discerned. Everything is lovely.
And when the boy, now a man, receives his degree,
He assumes, with some debt, all the old knowledge,
And forgets what the vaginas had to say in college.

 

 

 

 

WHO SAID LOVE

Image result for taj mahal

Who said love is like money? They were right.

When you have a lot of it, you keep it out of sight.

The only time you spend a lot is when you need to get

What someone else can give you—but not quite yet.

I’m still making payments on the lovely house

That is you. A house, lovely, but quiet as a mouse.

Our two houses stand, indebted to each other.

How rich we are, in being poor for each other.

You have paid as much for me, and you, too,

Owe millions, with kisses the bank misses past due.

Love makes us poor, swells our debt

For a dry floor, a bed that’s wet.

Love, to be love, must be spent,

A kiss coming by a poem sent.

My mortgage is by your mortgage always due.

You must pay me love that’s always owed to you.

 

 

 

 

I KNOW HOW SHE IS BEAUTIFUL

image

I know how she is beautiful,

But she doesn’t know.

I made her beautiful when I loved her.  Love gave her a glow.

But where has her beauty gone?

Today I saw her, with yet another fashion on.

And now I think I know.

My love gave her a confident glow,

Which made me love her more, increasing that glow

Until she became truly beautiful, so neither one of us could know

How she was beautiful,

Since beauty always is its own reason for what it is,

Nothing more beautiful than beauty that simply is—

So she began to resent her beauty as the reason for a kiss,

Beauty the only reason for what beauty is.

You want me, she said, but beauty is not just for you,

And I believed her. The law of beauty. What her beauty said was true.

Even though we loved, I feared, in our love, what she was about to do.

One day, for no reason, she became angry. She said angry things to me.

Perfect beauty is a tyrant, and she was now acting tyrannically,

Not knowing what she was doing, and neither did I;

Her anger was baseless; I had nothing to say. Beauty caused love to die.

She was as beautiful as ice and now came the inevitable goodbye.

I was so in love with her beauty, I was timid and afraid.

I had no moral strength. Her hate grew: this dude just wants to get laid.

Love was undone by the beauty it had made.

Now she visits the beauty shop. She attends to parts. But beauty escapes her as a whole.

She is no longer beautiful. Today I glanced at her, and the whole truth flashed upon my soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY SECRET BOOK

At the beginning of my book
Is an argument which deserves a look.

Which do I love best?
I believe it is her lips—
They sometimes received my finger tips
Shyly, as I told her how much I loved them.

Her modesty was deep, and deep would I go
In loving her, to prove
The depth and sincerity of my love
And kissing her lips was one way to prove my love.

The first thing I loved was her arms
When we were friends. It produced no alarms.
A tiny rash caught from the farms. It produced no alarms.
It was a joke almost: “I first loved your arms.”

But then—I wanted to kiss her lips,
Especially on leisurely nature trips
When lovely things were all around;
The trees, which some have called beautiful,
Or the grass, the fresh air, the reasons for the trips
Were many, for nature is lovely in sight and sound—
But my focus was on her lips
And I would kiss her by bush and pond
When the hush of nature was all around.

She amazed me, and sometimes I would stretch out in unbelief upon the ground
Trying to understand when she said
She didn’t think her lips were beautiful; she would make some ordinary movement with her head
And look almost angry, as if my praise
Were insulting, as if her lips did not haunt (I lost sleep) my red nights and days.

Or was it her breasts
That drove me, to the greatest degree, absolutely mad?
The thought of her entertaining other guests
Made me jealous beyond imagining; nothing is worse than love forced to be sad
The more it ought to be happy—
What should be swelling, and proud, and sticking out
Turns morose and sappy.
The proud lover becomes a trampled-down lout.
I would pace at home and talk to myself when we didn’t go out.

But let that go. For now I know her eyes
And their shy, happy expression are the highest prize
Among all the things about her; if anything dies
Mournfully and beautifully in my memory
Most poignantly, it is those strangely wise and beautiful eyes—
Her eyes speak what cannot be spoken;
And when nature sleeps at last and nothing natural can be woken,
Her
eyes! Oh their sweet look
Will occupy the final sentence of my book.

If interest in my book slips,
If all that talk of eyes and breasts and lips
Seems too much, let me touch her lightly on the arms.
Look at that little rash. Read of that. Or simply touch the book. That will cause no alarms.

A SMALL, HIGH CLOUD

Once love reaches a certain fever pitch,
It’s an embarrassment to everybody.
Imagination explodes in dirty jokes
And life becomes pornography with clothes on.
Banal phrases like “doing it” take over the mind
Until the only solution is icy austerity,
And the frowning and the hate
Which makes it tumble down.

Kill love! Kill sex!
Kill poetry! And please kill my sexy ex!
Give me a sex-icon who lives on the moon.
Make sex impossible. Not something that might happen soon.
Please tell romance and song to shut up.
All I need is a wooden cup.
Send me on my way.
If you love me, look for me.
I’ll return as a small, high cloud one day.

 

 

 

 

THE TENDEREST HEART

A sensitive Plant in a garden grew —Shelley

The tenderest heart
Loves the tenderest plant!

Her heart feels grief
If harm should come to the smallest leaf.
She is sensitive—beyond belief.

Isn’t this what you want she should want?
To feel and want
What has no want?

The tender plant survives in the dirt.
She stays in bed—to not get hurt.

No matter how the poet implores,
She brings the tender plant indoors.

She waters the plant every day.
With your third eye, you might want to cry this way.

 

 

BEAUTY IS WRONG

Beauty is wrong
For being rare.
How can we share
If beauties are few?

Beauty isn’t fair.

I felt terrible loving you:
You were rare, and you knew.

Beauty changes from what is
To what we do
In order to please more than a few
And then everything becomes a blur:
A piece of abstract art—
Beautiful! Wait. Is that you? Or her?

But beauty is only beauty because it is rare;

No, because I saw a million beauties there,
A million beauties drowning me in beauty,
Beauty the whole reason for my mind,
Beauty the sole reason for desire,
Beauty, the sun, with its engulfing fire,
Dwarfing our earth and its little air,
Beauty in little places found everywhere,
In the sea, with billions of beauties swimming there,
Yellow and orange fish, fins waving like mermaid hair,
In sea-light creeping down from slippery upper air,
Mixing with the blue light and the green light,
So I thought, “is it really true that beauty isn’t fair?”
Were you the thing I wanted? Were you there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

SINNING

We all do what is right
In the middle of the night,
Or in the day; we do what is right,

As we think and as we calculate;
It is right to us—even if we hate
As we feel, and with feeling, calculate.

Some perceive what we do as sin,
Some, outside, looking in…
And they could be right:
Everyone loves themselves in the middle of the night.

When we discover one we loved
Has, in secret, sinned, we feel betrayed;
Forgive them; in their hearts they were right;
And fear them not; fear the one who sins in the light,
Right in front of you—and is not afraid.

 

ROBERTO CUPUCCI: FASHION POEM NO. 2

“He [Cupucci] designs as though for an abstract woman, the woman we never meet.” –Alison Adburgham

Born in Rome, Roberto Cupucci,
More splendid than Cartier, Cardin, or Gucci.
Roberto took the dress world by storm
With warm colors and warmer form.
Roberto Cupucci, give me a kiss.
I never knew fashion could be like this.
Hold me in your arms, you designing man.
I will give you my pleats. I will give you my tan.
I will give you my secrets and the softness of my skin.
Your radiance is something I am comfortable in.

I never thought I could wear a dress like this.
But the abstract is never amiss.
Hell, there is nothing like a great perfume
When you enter a room.
I do mean great, because there is a smell
Which haunts more than memory itself can in an old mossy well.
Roberto? No. Do not let them see me, Roberto.

And later, in the garden—ah, smell that garden—what shall we do?
Roberto Capucci, come closer! I want to talk to you.
I’m thinking of sitting on this couch
, at last.
Norma Kamali was the secret to my past.
Taffeta prince, I think I can be
Loved, if I march in Rome’s army,
Loved, I know, by at least one,
Who will glimpse me under the orange sun.

WHEN I WAS YOUR SLAVE

When I was your slave, and everything was seen through you,
My needs, and my mind, I hardly knew.
I studied you, to please you, and I became you, pleasing you,
Which pleased me—
For some reason—tremendously.
I did not choose to please you,
Or choose to take pleasure in you,
And certainly it was not you
Who forced me to please you;
What was it then, which made me a slave to you?

We know others by what they do,
But ourselves, by what we crave.
I couldn’t stop craving you.
And now that we are through,
I think on those needs of mine, and that mind of mine which I hardly knew,
When I was your slave, and everything was a mist or measure of you,
And I still don’t know anything. I don’t know what to do about you.
There is still the world. Ah, there it is. A view.

J. ALFRED PRUFROCK GRADES PAPERS

Do I dare to give an “F”
To my student, Amber Luck,
Who does not give a fuck?
I’m always out of breath
When I lecture them on death,
And my eyes trail the floor
Discussing poems of amor.
Do I suggest an “Incomplete?”
Shall we privately meet
To correct the wrongs
She imposed on Song of Songs?
Do I consult the dean?
All four of them, and all green?
Who gives a fuck
About Amber Luck
Who cannot write?
And yet—when I lie in bed at night,
Letting poems run through my head
Amber is the name, instead.

Tomorrow I teach World War One,
And all the slaughtering that was done,
And how it afflicted the minds
Of brilliant poets like me,
Who pull down the blinds
And weep alone in the nursery.
The war inspired poets to write “fuck,”
And I will make it clear to Amber Luck
That her attitude belongs to history.
I don’t see her as a mystery.
I only see her as a student in my class,
Another chair and another ass,
As the dean of recruitment and enrollment says.

FASHION DESIGNERS AGONIZE OVER THESE QUESTIONS

How can we make the Mae West look fashionable again?

What’s the secret to dressing short men?

What is the perfect pair of underpants?

How can stiff clothes add to romance?

Fabric or form?

What if you love layers, but it’s far too warm?

Where is the model that will make our work?

What if the handsomest one is simply a jerk?

Where’s the collar for the fat neck?

What’s the fashion for a small, wooden deck?

Why won’t anybody wear that?

What if my smile makes my cheeks look fat?

How can we be chic and affordable?

Where’s the dress that will cure every ill?

Why do colors hate?

What if they are gone when you are fashionably late?

How much of my wrist should my sleeve show?

What about the hideousness of my elbow?

What if there are too many parties?

What if there are too many fabrics?

What if there are too many arms?

What if there is war?

What if they don’t want to wear that anymore?

What if they laugh at our bottoms?

What’s the relation between feet and hat?

Why shorts with hairy legs?

Why low sandals with cankles?

Why unshaped hair?

Why too much cologne?

When did that look ascend the throne?

 

 

 

THE WINTER WE DID NOT KISS

The winter we did not kiss
Was a winter from hell.
I hoped, hoped so much more
Than I might hope to tell.
The winter we fell in love was warm.
Hidden blossoms did not mean any harm.

The winter we did not kiss
Icy silence fell.
We are taught not to tell too much.
After months, frozen by love, we say, oh what the hell,
And we confess to ourselves
All we promised to ourselves not to tell.

I hoped; hope was stronger than all
I might whisper in heaven, or shout in hell.

I hoped you and I would kiss—
Not because life is terrible, not because of this.
But because love misses love
More than anything else anything else can miss,
Whether there is snow,
Or the weather knows or does not know,
Whether the light is low in the sky,
Or the same train in the rain goes by.

A POEM IS NOT WISE WORDS

A poem is not wise words.
If you want wisdom, you would not ask the birds
Who fly from tree to tree;
Neither should you expect any wisdom from me.

Nor would it be wise to write a poem to you.
Others, not meant to read it, might see it, too.

The birds have strategies.
They fly in shade to avoid death.

The males are beauties,
But brown the female in the brown nest.

The birds feed their young,
Who fly after the song is sung
And during the singing
Cheat death’s crouch and leap
With speedy winging.

No one thinks this wisdom.
It is fear, in quick bright eyes.

Yet some might call the birds wise
Who fly above us in the skies.

LIFE IS A LONG ROOM

Longroom london

Life is a long room

With something happening at the other end

Which has nothing to do with you,

But which you watch, unnoticed,

Sipping your coffee, settled back in your chair,

No one, you think, paying attention to you,

Some small event

You may end up remembering more than 

These casual participants will;

Often sad to think how little people remember,

Yet this is part of the glory of memory, finally,

Is it not? What you remember, so it makes you cry?

A small crowd has gathered,

An elderly lady in a yellow coat;

They are petting and admiring a dog,

One of those handsome hunting dogs,

Noble, quick, anxious to please;

The conversation is dictated by the visible, outdoor life,

Solid animals, old houses in suburban neighborhoods at the center

Of old power and influence.  Was there music playing?

You know how much is out of reach,

How much slips away, how empty

Is your heart that knows.

TOO SHY TO TALK , HE WRITES POEMS; TOO SHY TO LIVE, SHE TALKS

In the wasteland of the winter garden,
Words on a rock remain;
Dead vines fail to cover what the flowers did,
A sentimental poem carved in a rock
Announces what the garden hid
Spring and summer and fall—
What did the poem say: did she care at all?

But this was the poem’s theme:
She did not care.
But now she does, in winter’s dream,
Death forcing love to love the cold and bare.
She made her heart hard. She talked.
The poem was right. She did not care.

POETRY IS OLD

Poetry is old, and God is old, but older still
Than even God, is institutional will,
Is professionalism perched on the shepherd’s old hill.

The professional points to the paper,
Telling artist and lover what to do.
No love here. Yes, we mean you.

It has nice clothes and a nice demeanor
But beware—there is nothing meaner.
It will send millions of souls to slaughter
As it discourses on the properties of water.

Revenge is sweet,
But even sweeter
When mingled with kisses.
She went to meet her,
She called her in.
When did professionalism begin?
It tries to cover up—but becomes—sin.

Professionalism is sexless and more powerful than sex.
Whatever is sexy, the sexless wrecks.
Love is a pitiful, awkward dance.
Against professionalism it hasn’t a chance.

There was rock music,
But what came later?
Curatorial corporate music
In a glass elevator.

Professionalism killed Mozart
And Michelangelo, too.
Eliot wore a suit
While the bombs flew.

Professionalism is clever: It precisely creates
What publicly it hates.

The priests were evil,
But universal God was good.
Professionalism’s priests
Have no God;
Professionalism is God, understood?

Michelangelo, broken by the gulag,
Modernist, paints a soul with a rag.
Soviet? Yes! So what?
What kind of art do you do?
Manage investments. Professionalism is coming after you.

INSULTING LOVE

A stare is an insult,
Although it be filled with love,
For if the rain comes,
It has to come from above:
He has to say hello,
He has to state his case;
He can’t just make her wet
By looking into her face.

She might feel his love
And really want to play
But when you look with love,
There’s very little to say.

The body is excited,
The grass with the dew is wet.
The love shimmers.
Perhaps you’ll talk to her yet.

CLIMB DOWN INTO THE CAVERNS OF SLEEP

Climb down into the caverns of sleep.
Kiss limbs you’ve never kissed.
Laugh at sorrow—at the comedic, weep.
Desire what you never desired,
Look for what you never missed.

What you cannot know
Creeps up on you at last.

Sleep is warm, maternal and slow,
That her children, the dreams, may be bright and fast.

When you climb down into the caverns of sleep,
Beware; this depth may be illusion
And your fate, which seems serious and profound,
Is only sleeping on the ground:
What you love is neither important nor deep.

MOURNING BEAUTY

Desperately, I prayed:
Ease the pain, but don’t let the memory of the sweetness fade.
Nothing sweetens like love:
Nothing hurts like love betrayed.

I used my poetry to seduce
And I was burned for playing—
Now my poetry’s words
Are only used for praying—
Black ink appropriate
For everything I’m saying.

I do not mention love,
Or beautiful eyes, or her, or me.
I pay homage to old buildings, old people,
A path leading to a river, a tree.

WINTER IS THE SEXIEST SEASON

Winter is the sexiest season—
When I get you by the fire, you won’t need a reason.
But let me list a few, as I am holding you.
The luxurious dark comes on with only a brief nap
And night, arriving early, allows us to unwrap
For bed: to remove the clothes from your secret shoulders
And put my toes upon your toes under the bedclothes.
The snowy wind hisses and blows against the window—
How many reasons? How many reasons are we missing?
Think of some, a reason will come, as we are kissing.
When the year is warm, we see too much.
When death’s around, I die for your touch.
In summer, too much is seen.
The sexual isn’t green,
It’s the color of your skin,
When you are out and I am in.

THAT WOULD BE YOU

That would be you,

Thinking the thoughts and doing the things we all do.

Sitting by yourself looking down

At the pretty world with a pretty frown.

And you and that nose,

You think you’re very pretty, I suppose.

I said you were pretty.

And I would be one who knows.

SHE MAKES THEM BLUE

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After casting about for a long time for a name for themselves, they came up with “Jefferson Airplane,” which meant absolutely nothing. –The New York Times

Public places for secret lovers are few,

But minds can go anywhere—

And they do.

The erotic is the only thing that’s true.

It is because of her

That I say hello to you.

O cruel hierarchy!

O feeble poetry.

The unmentionable is the only thing that’s true.

They have their wives and girlfriends—

But they think about her, too.

I’m thinking of her

As I say hello to you.

I wish I could describe her face.

But why? To further advertise my disgrace?

Do I need further proof so you

Might know why she makes me sigh—yea, me too?

Don’t start. We shouldn’t talk. What do you want me to do?

They play guitar far better than I.

But the best songs are poetry,

And album names, and names of bands, too.

She Makes Them Blue.

 

HISTORY IS A SEQUENCE, NOT MORALS

History is what happened after what happened.

Morality and love wait their turn in line

With slavery and murder. Your country

Is good or bad depending on what is president;

Who is considered good is dependent on who you are talking to:

The Christian inside-out, the unfaithful Jew,

The heart-sick Muslim, the movie-going American,

Who secretly has the hots for you.

The road map shows a road that winds around

Towards the sea,

Where a band of Salem merchants made history.

Good cooking is the secret to good marriage;

She was looking for salad ingredients

And he was looking for a rhyme, dreaming, distracted, by the salad bar.

There is a kind of ordinary life which defies the drama

Of TV crime shows, romance; I would like to inhabit that unpretentious life!

And cook for you in an ordinary marriage.

What can we do if Washington owned slaves?

Or not enough died for the cause? This is what happened

When I stood for a moment at the salad bar

And dreamed of history, and the soft underbelly of things.

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN A WOMAN TURNS INTO A MAN

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When a woman turns into a man,

Can she do everything a man can?

When a man turns into a woman

Does he know more about the human?

Or is the sex the only thing we see?

A new type of sexuality?

Do we hunger for a new type of touch?

Do we sometimes touch ourselves too much?

Do we think about ourselves in the mirror,

Always wishing our loveliness were nearer?

Is this why we withdraw our hand,

Saying goodbye to love forever?

One day we will understand

The sea, the tropics, and the frozen land.

ROMANCE

Is Romance a dance

Born not to last?

So we find ourselves

Mourning romantic things in the past?

Is it doubt and forgetful death

Which lends charm

To love—a charm in every sighing breath

So charming we forget the alarm

That is sighing in company with love’s sigh

So love becomes indistinguishable with death?

And we don’t see the sorrow—beautiful sorrow!—in her eye

Which makes her eye beautiful

But is the very sorrow

Which will fall in love with sorrow

And say goodbye?

I’m afraid it is so.

One left me, even as love was at its height;

We had spent many a delirious night

In each other’s arms,

And when, in disbelief, I asked her,

In icy tones, she said: “I don’t know.”

Love melted into sorrow.

I fled to madly analyze the past.

She smiled calmly on tomorrow.

YOU CAN’T STAY HERE

Get out of the womb,
You can’t stay here.
The cozy nursery room?
You can’t stay here.
Did you think that death
Was the only thing to fear?
Goodbye, childhood,
Innocent childhood,
You can’t stay here.
A troubled child, sassy and wild,
Too brassy now to kiss away your tear,
Changing to a woman,
You can’t stay here.
Get out, get out!
You can’t stay here!
Did you think that death
Was the only thing to fear?

OFF THE VINE

Fruit off the vine
Is like a line
Of poetry.

You slowly grew
And so you knew
Of poetry.

Poetry is time.
Time, here’s a rhyme
Of poetry.

The fruit must drop.
The line must stop
For poetry.

What is the line
If not imagined
Pleasure to see?

And to hear—
If poetry’s fear
Made the poet lucky?

I feared poetry
In my younger days;
The music plays

To insult poetry sometimes
With its rhymes.
But speech will get its revenge
When amid the hullabaloo

You say, “Did you know I love you?”

Then music will seem kind,
Sweet food for the blind,
And you and poetry
Will be of one mind.

I WENT TO VIEW THE GALLERIES

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I went to view the galleries

And I left with a woman on my arm

Who some painters used to see—

Will this do some harm

That she is now with me?

I don’t paint. I write poetry.

 

Now the painters talk.

I get to kiss her silently.

 

I view her eyes in various light

Of days’ moods dying into moody lights at night,

But her eyes have their own light

If day drowns us, or beautiful night.

Her eyes don’t need to look at me. But they might.

 

The length and shape of her produces delight.

The painters never get her beauty right,

Not understanding perspective or the light

Which drops in shadows on the long days

Of love’s torture, to sweeten our gaze,

Loving love in the umber haze.

 

 

 

 

 

THE INSCRUTABLE

Inscrutable the lake, inscrutable the trees,
Inscrutable the voice which sounded like a breeze
Intimate with love, and its mysteries,
Like a melody springing from melodies,
Or one memory living in a heart broken
By many memories,
Not one of them spoken.

The dinosaur crept in the lake and waited,
And when global warming’s ice age had abated
And we were allowed to be human again,
The fire built to please all men,
The lake, frozen, protecting all women,
With fish below, how far below,
Swimming stratas increasingly slow,
Descending in a beautiful ratio—
The dinosaur rose, looking pitifully human,
Naked outside, scientific within,
Surrounded by the lakes and trees
Inside the poem of melodies
Crashing against the side of a successful shadow.

FIDDLESTICKS

Sanity stands apart from poetry,
Viewing my pronouncements with disdain,
But if I should sing a little song,
Sanity may yet smile, and not think me wrong,
Not think poetry is entirely insane.

Yes, we wish we were inhabited by gods,
But the gods have left us alone
To ourselves, to ourselves,
To strive for a barren throne.

Sanity has something to do
In the parlor, at the store;
So this poem is over.
I won’t be singing to you anymore.

But later, in the evening,
When she is tired and needs to rest,
I will sing to sanity softly,
And she’ll love poetry the best.

 

VALENTINE’S DAY POEM: WHEN WE SIGHED

The lovers are silent and in a hurry.
Words are from hurt, and worry.
Words are from sorrow and fear of death,
When limbs are weak and weak, the breath.

But when we sighed in those distant rooms
There was almost joy in those glooms.
When we courted with our words
And sang to each other like birds
Or were silent for hours, hoping with fear,
Love was actually here,
Hoping desperately deception
Was not hidden in love’s’ reception,
There was a joy in this,
That, in hope, was almost bliss.
When I was courting,
My poems did their best reporting;
Oh God! those hopeful sighs
Were almost paradise.
Now that selfish love is gone,
Beautiful thoughts still linger on,
Now words are our greatest friends,
Poems, of sweet beginnings, and even sweeter ends.
We say to ourselves, with a sigh,
“Eventually a word will happen by,
One, by this sweet occasion fit,
And it will be love when I am saying it.”
The thought is what carries us through the life,
Since thoughts are words and a word marries us to a wife.
Words comfort us out of the air
When nothing but heaviness is there.

THE DAY IS RED, THE DAY IS FADING

The day is red.
The day is fading.

I would have fought for you,
Though you had been my enemy,
Though you had been untrue—
For when I love, I love
And nothing else will do.

You kissed me slowly.
I wrote poems to you.

“Take me for your own,”
Was all you had to say:
I would have taken you

In the light of day
And carried you away.

But you were like those girls
Who don’t know what to say
When the loving one they love
Is standing in their way.

You thought about the others—
The others? Love which filled the years
Will pass. They will be puzzled by your tears.

TO ______

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The one I love wants to talk—
I hope she wants to talk of love;
I hope she wants to talk of kissing
And the silent stars above.

The memory of her kisses
Cannot be wiped away
By love, by a conversation,
Or by a song I heard today

That tells of a broken heart
And the pain that comes from love—
Despite all the kissing
And the silent stars above.

MY LOVE NO LONGER BELONGS

My love no longer belongs to your life;
But your love to my life still belongs
For my happiness. For my happy songs.

You have given my love back.
But I still love you: I do not have that lack.

My love no longer belongs to you,
Your soul, or all your soul knows it must do.

Love made your life too precarious,
Too fateful and too serious.
Calmly, you move back to old, slow habits;
And you will grow old, and the years shall run like rabbits.

No need to run for that illicit train
Or present for love’s inspection your body and brain;
Now you can relax while you dream.

Now you can put on makeup for everyone, not me,
Who made paramount you, and your beauty.
Now you can just say anything, again,
And impress billions of men.

Who wants to be confined?
And to make matters worse, we pined.

Love really was a pain in the ass.
It had its moments, but let them pass.

What was it for, if not for children?
It only takes a moment to make a child
So then it happens you can never be wild.
You were getting old for them to have been,
So love fed amusement, flattery, and sin.
The pleasant illusion you had of me
(Of course) couldn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Women love jealousy, because they are turned on
By sparks of social comparison;
This jealousy the man has to rise above;
Indifference to the woman is the secret to success in love.
And its downfall, as well.
No wonder passionate love is a kind of hell.

I learned this too late
(I don’t know how I survived the first date)
Because I was focused entirely on you—
Or maybe not. Maybe I had some genius for indifference, too.

Who really knows?
Maybe you got sick of the shape of my nose.
Or maybe you had anxiety disorder
And you couldn’t handle me crossing your border.
I doubt it. It was the jealousy
That finally did in you and me.
I dug in. So you had to flee.

But your love in my life still remains:
For my songs, for which I take such pains.

I CARE WHAT BEAUTY LIKES

I care what beauty likes,
And what beauty likes is hate,
For when beauty finally loves
Liking is too late.

Beauty noticed long ago:
The standards of beauty are severe.
I kiss her, I kneel before her;
But beauty loves distantly; she doesn’t love what’s here.

Beauty made me jealous;
I was blinded by my fire,
A flame she loved too much:
Shame overtook desire.

Now what can she say
To family and friends:
Here is my life
And here is where it ends?

Our love was not heroic.
It’s easy to be distracted:
This is why she erred,
And why I reacted.

THIS POEM IS NOT FOR YOU

 

 

I’m sorry you have to read this.
It is not for you. What you are reading
Is me writing to somebody else
Who has a mouth I want to kiss.

There is nothing for you here
And not in the sense of false, or true.
You have no context for what she and I do.
In every sense this poem is not for you.

If you saw my love in a picture
You still wouldn’t know.
There is just something about her…

Am I wise to let this go?
Should I have more faith in language?
But that’s precisely it—I do.
I am using language to make an important point:
The impossibility of this poem being able to say anything to you.
It is her mouth I want to kiss.
You will have to be satisfied with this.

 

 

 

 

JUST A WORD

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I examine the picture with horror,

A photograph of one I loved,

A photograph marking a place and memories

With others, all having little to do with me.

Yet, because of the intimacy we achieved

It has everything to do with me.

The more we try and make sense of sex

The more it seems absurd.

My eye caught fire from her body and face.

Only poetry saves. Please, just a word

Of kindness for her before I die in disgrace.

She is not smiling in the photograph,

Nor does the picture capture the beauty

She had all those times when she was kissing me.

She and I hate being photographed, not because we are ugly—

No, she’s an exquisite beauty, but smiling naturally isn’t easy;

She’s sad, even miserable, and when she laughs, she laughs bitterly.

Almost religiously, I hate images, but the cruel smile

Of Cover Girl femme fatale is what my poetry uses.

When I ask her to smile for my poem, of course she refuses.

 

 

 

WHEN A WOMAN HATES

 

 

 

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When a woman hates,

There is nothing worse for a man,

For there is no creature on earth who can hate

Like a woman can.

When a woman gives love

From her soft breast,

Unsentimental imagination soars.

Inspired, the poet finds no rest

In love’s poetic task

Making obscurity so bright

The critic doesn’t need to ask.

Darkness and obscurity

Loom when the woman doesn’t love.

Light shines in every crevice

When she does.

 

 

 

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