“point me to the man—I’ll find a crime.”

No evidence of a crime is evidence of a cover up of a crime.

Since you never said you hated me, this proves you hated me the whole time.

Since I suspected you of hating me, even as we kissed,

Now that you have reason to hate me, I must examine evidence I may have missed.

The poet cannot hear the deep state. Unofficially, official innocence is drowned.

Them have a mind which can read a mind to see where your betrayal is found.

You were guilty, even in the beginning, of hatred towards me,

I understand your hate, I do understand it—despite your love—retroactively.

And of course I suspect you, now, of even more crimes.

Love? Love? No. These are doubtful, suspicious times.

You don’t need a final image. Justice? I’ll show you how.

I’ve got her on the phone. Get out of my office. Now.






Image result for sun low in sky winter

In December it is evening every day.
The horizon fog holds the sun from dream to dream,
And the dream of evening is where we stay.
Winter is for the wealthy, who go away.
The final, bending solar beam
Makes itself comfortable in the one dream,
Which we saw when night and summer welcomed in eternal day;
The glaring sunshine knew
Sorrow quickly, and things mourned were few.
I remember we rhymed December with remember.
The memory of one dark December
Is forgotten now, or I never knew.
I’d remember every December, and if I knew how, I’d remember you.
December’s dark streets and empty trees
Are lights and delights now for these.
Memory is a skill for the not so sorrowful who write:
A helpless, flaming purge against eternal night.


Image result for man reflected in store window

Perfection imperfectly seen

Might seem skinny, or fat, or in-between;

Perfection, imperfectly heard,

Might sound desperate, sweet, or absurd.

And a poem is ruined by an incorrect word.

Into the mirror goes the brave and iconic,

Convincing her to love—but it comes out as comic.

When I saw my reflection suddenly

In a city window, I knew it wasn’t me,

My slump, my visage, my mystery.

Is imperfection reality?

The imperfect tends to remind the heart

Imperfection will be at the end, if it existed at the start.

If you are paranoid when you fall in love,

Your paranoia will be greater in love.

Perfection imperfectly glimpsed

Will teach the sad to sadly convince

Himself that hope is an accident

And her love for him is not quite what she meant.

There is more trouble I never see

Than your face showed to me—

I remember how it spoke to me of my sorrow imperfectly.






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What if I want to think about it that way?

That you said this, or that, just to see what I would say?

That you had one talent, and it was this:

You kept secrets from kiss to kiss;

You never told me what I wanted to know

Even when we were intimate. What a show.

You sold more tickets to me

Than I could buy; my frugality,

My philosophy, my gallantry,

Paced for hours outside the tent,

In agony. And then in I went.

You were the one I wanted,

Because you were the one I wanted,

And you made it like it was no big deal.

You understood perfectly

How profound the philosophy

That says knowing wants what it wants,

More than anything that is real.



Image result for crucifixion renaissance painting detail

You shouldn’t be happy,

And yet somehow you’re happier than me.

And now you hope I’ll make you happy. We’ll see.

I know the stupid are sometimes happy,

But I can’t make myself stupid. I’ve seen. I see.

This could be a huge mistake. Expecting happiness from me.

You seem to have what you want. And God! you write poetry.

Life should crush your type. And yet you’re happy.

Maybe I’m bitter—but I have the right to be.

I’m realistic. I’m not a dork who writes poetry.

Life has been a real shit show for me.

I think your luck is about to end. I see

You gave me a card and wrote me a poem. Really?






You cannot say what you didn’t love.

When all is gone and only this poem is left,

How will it help if this, too, is bereft?

All is gone. So let this speak of love.

It was love you wanted. You know

Inquisitions always lead to lies

And fast love hates love that’s slow.

But now that you have lived, the same living dies

That made you live. If you love

A poem, that poem must speak of love.

Now let me tell this poem to do

What cannot be done. Love you.



Image result for movie audiences

She cheated on me. In the movie—

Not in the book—the loving pages

Lovers of literature will always preserve.

Editors and publishers’ wages

Will forever cherish our love.

Lovers of love will make our book theirs.

If you fall prey to the movie, you get what you deserve.

The producer of the film wanted the film to reflect

His soul—not a beautiful one, with all due respect.

The soundtrack was popular, and the movie sold.

Our serene love would have left audiences cold.

The Oscar award which everyone prizes,

Was pinned on the actor twisting in his surprises.

But read the book. It opens with the following:

“One day I saw a woman wearing a T-shirt

With one word in large letters—

Maybe it was stupid, or maybe it wasn’t that bad,

But why did it seem inevitable

That she—wearing a shirt with the word, SOUL—turned out to be sad?”



Image result for great battles in painting

All we loved,
And thought we loved, we did not love,
Because not one moment remained.
Save it with your poetry, they said.
We can’t have it, but at least we’ll have it explained.

All we knew,
And thought we knew, we did not know,
Because not one moment remained.
Leave it to history, they said.
Set it down, at least, though it never gets explained.

All we did,
And thought we did, we did not do,
Because not one moment remained.
Leave it to circumstance, they said.
What’s done is done, and cannot be explained.

If I loved
And thought I loved, I did love.
Can you believe it was this that remained?
Quickly, I kissed you. What else needs to be explained?




Image result for still life with sunlight

What if my poetry is vanity?

It must be. For who writes my poetry but me?

And where are you located when I write?

Does it matter? What does my poetry know of sunlight?

What does my poetry know of you and me?

Who tells me what to put in my poetry?

What pretends to be the bright day inside the cloudy night?

My poetry. That means something isn’t right.

And now what pretends? Is that not vanity?

What does my poetry really know?

Can we discuss that later? Here’s the door. Here’s the world. Let’s go.



Image result for manuscripts in renaissance painting

Bye, poems, bye.

What’s the point. Some guy

Will say the same with less.

Bye, poems, bye.

I must pick you up

And read you again, after I cry?

Bye, poems, bye.

The instructions were long. I still couldn’t fly.

Bye, poems, bye.

Why did I think my

Efforts would do?

Bye, poems, bye.

They’re black ink. He’s colorful and sly.

Bye, poems, bye.

I hated. I failed. They thought I was shy.

So I wrote.

Bye, poems, bye.

These are nothing. One glance at the sky

Is more.

Bye, poems, bye.

Want to read them, and buy them? Why?

They’re less than all.

Bye, poems, bye.

She likes stratagems and torture.

She’s speechless. She’d rather die.

Bye, poems, bye.




Image result for secret person in modern painting

Don’t believe it until you see it, and yet

You won’t believe it if you disagree with it, I bet.

Even the whole video depends on who sees it.

The world does not belong to what or why, but who.

It hinges on the lover, the judge—it doesn’t matter, really, what you do.

If I know exactly who you are,

The shadow will cover up, or not cover up, my star.

My poem is not for that creep over there.

If the Royal committee rejects my revolution, I don’t care.

I fall in love with you, unthinking.

Only me beside you keeps the whole thing from sinking.

What was done? Why was it done?  What matters is who.

It’s not the circumstance, or even the love. It’s you.





Gradually we hate what we loved

Since love cannot be loved alone.

Every land that stretches out next to love

Is dry; nothing but dry stone.

All that sleeps and wakes next to love

Is not love. You cannot find

In the dust of the adjoining land’s dry air

One thing which resembles your mind

When you were young and loved everything in there.

Now love is only one of many things.

Just a sigh. Just something that sings.

Love still makes the same sounds,

But now it’s surrounded, not a force that surrounds.

Remember? Love loved in your sight and breast.

Love was the reason, and the reason for all the rest.





I am beautiful, I don’t need to sing.

I don’t need to practice notes, harmonies, or words.

I am beautiful. I exist, like the birds.

I am beautiful. I never listen to the owner of the store.

Owners aren’t necessary. The customer wants more.

It drives my lover crazy—she sees me lying around,

And I’m really not doing anything.

Maybe, in my silent mind, I’ll find a beautiful sound;

Dreaming, I’ll find an eye of fire, and, with its tip on fire, a beautiful wing.

My invention will die. She will plunge to the ground.

She doesn’t exist for any other thing.

She will fall with a beautiful sound.

A million souls find her, while I’m sleeping.

Some pay me cash. A few of them are weeping.







Women want to control men

And men receive this benefit again and again.

As mother pleased the boy

The goddess Kali wraps the man in joy.

The man loves the female form and face

Solely, and wants its beauty all over the place.

Falling upon the woman’s breast,

The guy finds his rest of no rest;

He finds the childhood he lost,

For a manhood of infinite cost.

The sad trips which lead to death

Lead to romance and the uneasy breath

Which lingers around a tree

In the forest of infinite poetry.

Why should the man fight and die,

When bound, he can live a lullaby?

Women, afflicted, need to control

The wandering male soul.

But Shiva can’t be pinned down

In the law, in the convenience of town,

Which last night he burned down.

The man becomes a woman to escape

The woman. When he looks at her

It could be love. Friendship. Film. Rape.

The authority wants to know what the woman wants to do;

What male of exact authority has she been talking to?

The man is now a woman who is now a man.

She controls himself as best as they possibly can.



One day my lover. The next day she didn’t say a word to me.

A coward? That’s okay. That’s what we want. To be free.

To be silent, if we want, when someone says “Hey! Answer me!”

The best relationship is when you don’t say a word.

There’s nothing to say. Resting by sun and leaf and bird,

The meadow winking and wandering below

With blossoms covering the valley as if the blossoms were snow,

Sunlight almost scientific, looking like honey kept in a glass,

Its resemblance to science almost scientific, as it lingers in the artistic grass.

She wanted a silent, professional, equipoise.

She feared poetry, memory, talk, baths, noise.

Her sudden bursts of anger over nothing, I tried to figure out.

My Innocent questions she perceived as calling her honor into doubt.

I couldn’t remember the formula—when a girl gets mad

When there’s a faint hint she is, does this mean she’s bad?

I was sickly, affectionately, in love with her. I loved her well.

But this meant I wasn’t able to figure things out when it came to her too well.

Gently accused, does the virgin get angry—or is it the whore?

Well, it’s long over. I don’t really care anymore.

But yesterday I saw a wise Indian woman speak in a video,

And what she did was brilliant, and now I think I know.

She called a skinny girl in the audience fat. Universal laughter.

Called fat, skinny smiles. A self-worth lesson easily known.

If my irritated lover was secretly a whore, it’s good I found out after.

Now let her be angry alone.







Image result for nesting bird in renaissance painting

I was not the top of a thick tree.

She built her nest low, but she nested in me.

I know how much I loved. I know it wasn’t me.

I was only the lyre.  Not the melody.

I was not the wind, which came whistling from afar.

I was only an eye, captured by a star.

Use science. Science doesn’t know

My love. But I know.

She wasn’t worth loving. But I know well

How she’s heaven

To my uncomprehending hell.

I was not prepared, nor was I right.

She was the glory. She was the light.

I know how much I loved.

But it didn’t do any good.

She was the bird who chattered in my wood.

She was the life my body waited for.

No. She was going. I was the door.

She was the fish who struggled in my lake.

Now she’s the breath in every poem I make.

She’s the name I cannot say.

The instrument must die. But the song will stay.




Image result for mountain view italy

The worst poets are the poets.

Here they come. Looking for money.

James Oswald III has some.

Workshop your poems with a mountain view.

Oswald’s retreat. Make it new.

Do you want to buy my book?

Look at my face. No. Don’t look.

A poet says scientists are flawed

And human, fishing for money, too.

Oswald waves him off. Let’s see your manuscript.

Fees collected. Now the foot is on the other shoe.

After so many loves, and my experience,

I write poems three by three, and two by two,

For James. Charming man. Wouldn’t it be

Lovely if we were closer to the sea?

The books. The retreat. It’s so tidy.

The women are serious and drink tea.

Thank you. Fuck. Only whiskey for me.

To break into a dance for a mountain view

Somewhere in Italy. Breathe the air.

Bats at dusk. There’s poetry there.

Have you seen the alterations to the view?

Do you want mountains? Or will the poems do?




Think of life: millions of hours, and yet you stay the same!

For years you meditate, try to love, yet always, who do you blame?

Yourself. But I love you, introvert misanthrope!—you made me see

That I, too, hate people; that’s why you got to me—

Why you got under my skin as no one else did.

I was always the nice fool, shy as a sheep as a kid.

When I couldn’t talk to people, the fault, I thought, was mine.

I thought I lacked communication skills; I would gulp wine

To loosen up. Now the truth flashes on me: people are swine!

If life is a game of chess, I look five moves ahead;

But others always taught me: knock over the pieces instead.

Dreamy and sensitive, I found people boring and rude,

But I thought I was slow; I thought the problem was my attitude.

I’m nervous. The room is crowded. I know what I need to do.

Ignore the smiling faces. Find the honest, frowning face. Find you.





We’re all poets, but poetry is the worst part

Of ourselves: mawkish, declarative, the inner coming out like a fart.

Disgustingly clever, airy, vain,

Presuming to change the world, insane.

We’re all poets, but some are wise.

Poetry lives in the hatred of the poetry. In the eyes.

Poetry is her, whether she fails, succeeds, or tries.


Image result for sexy bot

“what I had before” —old blues song

Yesterday, when reading the news

I suddenly realized only conservatives can sing the blues.

Look at my hand! My hand was praised once by my love.

I heard that someone manufactures a beautiful leather glove,

And clothes are good. But not really, when you’re in love.

I skipped the laundry and the chores and didn’t bother with a hat.

I just went out in the wind with my love. She likes that.

We went out to an old farm and touched the back of an enormous pig.

We are drawn to the bar life because nobody wants to be a prig,

But these days I lounge indoors for the entire afternoon,

And then have a single smoke, dreary and sober beneath the sober moon.

I hope it stays this way. But with death involved, you cannot know.

The architecture of old New England houses, boxes in a row,

Look solid, and even colorful, as old houses go.

They have a dignity and a practicality and cozy by the sea,

Where old America began. It’s okay by me.

Where a plantation stood in Georgia, rural dogs run free,

Just south of the Jefferson mall, on interstate 83.

But all these details… When everything amounts to good

Then everything is good. Criminals can do what they want.

I would smile a wan smile and look away. If the bullies taunt,

Their rhetoric will eventually cease. But if they took my lunch,

Many problems can be solved with one good, well-aimed punch.

You don’t get many chances. So don’t miss.

When you punch, punch, and when you kiss, kiss!

Yesterday I heard a pitch for a sexy bot.

I hope it stays this way. But I know it will not.



Thank God I’m safe. Free of lamentation—

Now that I see

She’s not the one for me.

Oh God, had she been,

I would have had to cross the sea, and I cannot swim.

I’m safe now. Love would have meant

An hour or two of kissing and then wondering where she went.

When I saw her from the back, her long hair

And her tall shape made me prepare

For love everlasting, but when she turned around

I saw her face was a little too round,

Thank God! I knew then there would be no insurmountable trick

Of children, the broken life in the night, worried sick,

When the night crawls and spreads its alarms

As we hold the infinite child in our arms.

I knew there would be safety; there would be no way

For the visionary lightning to wake me, though I had slept all day.


Two gloves, a left and a right.

Only the fool doesn’t get it right.

God is peace. Then a note from Mozart, and a little bit more.

Following the concert, we run home to bed.

No ambiguity and nothing to dread.

Good is nothing. And a little bit more.

Evil is everything. Birthmarks on the whore.

If you had a body like that,

What would I think of your soul?

Everything runs from the world as a whole.

Ignorance leads to irritation, and then attempts to be boss.

Democracy is bitter, bitter about its loss.

This is my republic. No one tells me what to do.

The simplest laws would look good on you.



Image result for kiss and cigarette in modern painting

I went down to poetry, with quiet thought,

Finding, but not finding, what I sought:

Ambiguous cigarette, ambiguous kiss!

Is it possible poetry can give me this?

What do words mean? What do words mean in the end?

Now that I have my poem—is it mine to send?

Or is this a sentiment caught from long ago,

Which is not mine?  Can you let me know?


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How can there be a sexy face?

Sex is something done in private.

But here is sex in every place.

Let’s cover the face,

As we cover the other parts

Which render and distract so many hearts.

God help me, I cannot stop looking

At her eye. It’s like smelling bacon cooking,

Everywhere! Sizzling bacon invades the nose,

Where morality doesn’t live. The scent of the world wears no clothes.

And neither does this face, whose eye

My eye catches. Sex is more than a dream,

As common on her as perfume, or a sunbeam.

And yet you want me to be moral; you want me not to say

What the whole world dreams, and what I would like to do today.

The only way morality exists

Is if we live in the past.  She lived long, but never kissed!

I have everything I want today.

Don’t ask me why, Rosalinda. I will not say.









Image result for t s eliot

We never see the sun.

We only see the sunbeam.

We get but a glimpse of the true, romantic dream.

The wisdom of Socrates and the old Romantics

The Moderns never get.

Tears of—laughter—made Byron’s face wet.

There is a world of nuance the Moderns don’t know—

Beneath the black, the humor, of Edgar Allan Poe.

Romanticism is not what the Moderns think.

The Dark Lady wasn’t a lover. But a pun on black ink.

Romanticism is not alive with flowers.

Romanticism is the dungeon and a moon, seen in the window, one night, for a couple of hours.

And if this makes you sad, go ahead, be modern. Whatever that means.

A cough in your forties?  England by way of Italy in your teens?

Romanticism happened. You never saw it. That’s what it means.






Image result for pyramus and thisbe

Women are wise to hate men’s jealousy;

The jealous man loves the woman

Through a standard of beauty loved by men.

A man wouldn’t mind if a woman loved him this way.

If she loved him through a female standard, to him that would be okay.

But why, when a woman sees her man is jealous, does she run away?

Men embrace judgement, the contest; they have a keen interest in the game;

Men see life as binary; life is either split, or everything’s the same.

The mathematical reality of life is binary;

Reproduction, the binary split of replication fascinates the man—

He loves himself—in his son, he loves life—in poetry.

To her, nothing is worth replicating;

Jealousy to her is death; she rejects his standard, his hierarchy, his plan.

She transcends life and death in non-death. Nothing, to her, is worth debating.

The woman, wiser, knows binary in life means death;

The woman is content in a way the man is not; she is self-enclosed and whole.

So the sexes are different—different not just in body, but in soul.

So when I wonder how it was

With her and I, the question,

Why love is jealous, should be: why is jealousy love?






Image result for blue sky in renaissance painting

Alarmism has turned off my alarm.

The rooster crows as I walk with my dog around the farm.

Now I sleep. A world inside a world is safe from harm.

Among tall trees, a lush, fantastic, garden,

Three hungry bees for every flower.

Sunlight, you are my radiation, my danger.

Something hand-written is handed to me. Could anything be stranger?

The world looks the same as it did in my first hour.

The world can take care of the world.

I feel safe.  Is this odd?

Have I slipped into madness? Or did I find God?






A poem is a joke with a dry punchline.

You looked into a divine future that wasn’t.

Let’s say she loved you, but now she doesn’t;

Love’s not funny, but maybe she never did.

A poem fails that cries. Better to kid.

Better to say the bricks that rainy night in the square

Were mirrors in the evening glare

And find a joke in that, that could be hiding there,

A memory of something a little weird or funny,

Her attempt at humor, your lack of money,

Whatever kind of makes sense, but is sort of odd;

Speculation or comparison to God

Is good for a laugh without laughing.

I want that, but that’s not what she’s having.

You fall in love with the crazy ones. Why is that?

There’s a mad excitement which lights the eye,

An interest which is close to enmity,

Which few can broadcast. I saw it in you

And ha ha ha—you must have seen it in me, too.

Now get ready for the punchline:

The gleam that gleams in the gleaming wine

Was the whole delicate thing in sum.

Get the poems from your desk. Patricia said you were fucking dumb.




Love that’s stupid is not love.

Love is betrayed most by love

When it loves, but loves stupidly.

Love discerns the enemy,

And doesn’t let the enemy in.

Love that’s stupid isn’t love. It’s sin.

She respected the fear of her boss,

Which would have been OK,

But that’s all she cared about.

I loved her. That was my tremendous loss.

That’s how I lost my way.

I was stupid. There was one

Who loved me and loved great art,

But I was stupid and pushed her out of my heart.

Stupid always seems to win. Why?

I loved one who didn’t love me.

When we love, why do we love stupidly?

When we love, we shouldn’t be stupid.

But look at all the things, when we wanted things, we did.

When you sell the worthless, it isn’t profit,

But its opposite.

Love that’s stupid is the opposite of love.


I made her crazy. The broken heart

Learns to be crazy as its highest art.

After she talks to strangers who look at her and smile,

She thinks, I’m crazy, why did I say that, he thought I was crazy all the while,

And the stranger who leaves her thinks, she is totally mad,

She’s crazy. She’s crazy. Too crazy to be happy. Too crazy to be sad.

When she’s alone she decides again not to think

Of me, and succumbs to memories, at the desk, at the bureau, at the sink.

She talks to her family and her friends while thinking of me,

And into her dreams I waltz in fateful horror and pornography,

And she sees me—and otherwise cannot see.

It is usually enough to hate and blame me for what went wrong,

But then she imagines a bird in a wood singing a delicate song

And then she sees me approaching with a poem on my tongue

And again she thinks of me, and wishes she were young,

Long before she met me and I smiled and then

She it made it worse and now she thinks of me again.

She wishes she had a spade, a garden with dark soil deep,

And into the earth she crawls, a young girl, who falls asleep,

And when she wakes in the morning, the quiet butterfly

Makes confident noises. And nothing else comes by,

And she escapes, at last, my blue-green eye.

O here comes the madness, oh let it start!

Madness is the only thing which soothes the burning heart,

The heart he heated with his voice and hand,

When the cold blue sea sprinkled the respectable land.




Image result for american soldiers in arab village

Every ethnicity has a soul,

But only the poet has a soul that is whole.

If I could be an ethnicity, which one would I be?

None. I would rather write poetry.

I could be a Chinese nerd, and love beauty unselfconsciously.

The men there are either severe or nerdy,

And if you are nerdy you may still love a beauty,

Since millions—how sweet!—of the men are nerdy

And the Chinese women don’t care how men look.

Beauty in China is measured by how well you read a book.

The Italian men have swagger in their soul

And fight over their beautiful women to feel whole.

The English men are brutish and sarcastic,

And in response, the English women are sarcastic, too.

The German man is thoughtful. His dreams are fantastic.

The Pole shrugs. The Arabs shower cigarettes on you.

Russians share feelings, the friendly Africans flirt.

The Frenchman is theoretical, the French woman, rather curt.

The Spaniard prefers a mysterious smile, the Irishman, a song,

The people of India are jolly, but intense, when they prove you wrong.

Americans? This mixture hasn’t been around for long.

The men are arrogant, they look around

At the world they rule, which America recently found.

A miracle, I was raised a poet here. I write poems for Cupid,

Not for these—they’re either feminist, or stupid.








Image result for abstract painting of a crimson curtain

Choose safety or love.

If you think it’s safe, it’s not love—

She only pretends to love you.

The more you love her,

The more she turns to safety—

Where paintings and words are a blur.

I know, because she reached out to me

When you thought she was loving you.

I was ugly. Tomorrow came to her safely

Because I didn’t love her. She had no doubts. She knew.

You only want to be certain,

Now, in your grief,

Why she disappeared behind the curtain

And what she does behind the curtain now,

And if love is love, how

Love can hurt and betray all love.

The problem is, you want to be certain

If she was certain

When she disappeared behind the curtain

And was she running from love?

You loved her. She was certain.

And yes she was.





Image result for disdainful witch in painting

When you lose love, the experience of kindness is painful.
You’d rather have them back, disdainful.
When you lose love.

When you lose love, everything seems trivial and mild.
You’d rather have them back, when things were wild.
When you lose love.

When you lose love, conspiracies prevent a love that’s new.
Life looks backwards. Rumors of them are everything to you.
When you lose love.

When you lose love, you knock on the door of your tomb
Which was their house. You wish you would die soon.
When you lose love.



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When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Join the mainstream.

Independent thought is a dream.

Like what other people like, and you’ll survive.

The end of philosophy isn’t truth. It’s staying alive.

There is nothing beyond conformity.

Conformity is how we live. Poetry

Has no soul. It’s only vocabulary.

You! Say something new and leave the pack.

You won’t be coming back.

Write to us. Tell us what you find.

Is it useful? Good! We want to be useless and blind.




Baseball is more interesting when runs are few.

Love is best when I don’t know. And so I love you.

I whiff when you throw fast, and when you throw slow.

I love you, anyway. You just never know.

To guess fastball, and win it all

1-0, with a fly ball almost foul, that just makes it over the wall.

To win you with a poem, or something stupid I say.

A kiss. A wish that reaches you from far away.

Never mind the dinners and the wedding ring.

I like it when you don’t think you can but I tell you, you can sing.

You don’t believe in yourself. You never do.

You get upset at nothing. And I love you.

You made me hate you. But I keep on loving.

I was nervous, but my mind keeps moving.

Two strikes, two outs. You don’t smile.

I once thought I could hit a baseball a mile.

But you throw too hard. I can’t hit you.

I just stick my bat out. I steal. That’s all I can do.

Bring it. Hate me. I still love you.

Baseball is more interesting when runs are none, or few.


A ravaging storm of rain and wind,

On the final Halloween weekend,

Empties the streets of this Halloween town.

Witch’s hats are blown by the blast.

The ghouls of hell are gone at last.

The Christian preachers tried their best

To shame false gods in Halloween dress.

They laughed. Now nature’s wind and rain

Brings normalcy back to the streets again.

Normalcy is my God, much more

Than the harrowing spectacles of Christian lore,

Priests with their earnest, “Be good!”

Or more sly: “Find religion in pond or wood.”

(Just give me exercise and decent food.)

Discipline establishes space and room

For me to know a certain serenity in gloom,

Chaos, betrayal, misfortune.

Calmly, I light a cigarette in the wind.

A cigarette brings me closer to God.

Not “a smoker,” one smoke and I feel odd.

Tingling, I feel the need to shit; I fart;

Relaxing the body is the best medicinal art

And the secret to sex. I felt relaxed with you,

But the problem, of course, was you; we always feel

Troubled by others. We know only the self is real.

Sometimes we doubt the existence of our mask,

But the true self will never tell, so please don’t ask.

I smile. How to explain normalcy to you?

A Marxist, you want to change the world. How best to feel

What I feel about the rain, the wind, and the leaves falling?

Is that your phone? Someone’s calling.

Better take it. A cigarette, like God, changes your view

With a feeling, a small feeling which has nothing to do

With the view, but changes the view.

That’s all I need to know of God. Or Marx. Or you.






Charles Adès Fishman and Smita Sahay have compiled an heroic anthology of poetry.  Veils, Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women; Kasva Press; Fishman, Sahay; Ed., 2016, 555 pages.

The topic of rape is a horrifying one.  It will not take long for readers of this anthology, readers of manners and decency, to be completely horrified and aghast—the systematic, contemporary, and worldwide brutalizing of women and children is not a dainty subject.

In this remarkable and necessary anthology, brutality against women is often told starkly, in what is essentially prose incident and prose vignettes—poetry sometimes takes a back seat, or poetry comes to the rescue. The topic hinders poetry. Poetry, in this atmosphere must fight to live and breathe.

Either the horrific incidents themselves do not allow poetry to come anywhere near, or the poets, brutalized by the incidents, or stung by the terrible news, are too traumatized to produce poetry.

Weaponized gossip is occasionally the go-to strategy, especially when the incidents occur in more middle class settings. It might be teachers using papers written by their students. One poem begins (and notice the pure prose):

The part-time teacher sometimes has her students read their English IA papers in front of class. She has not read them yet. She asks for volunteers.

A beautiful woman stands in front of the class and reads a paper in which she states that her husband beat her…

Judy Wells “The Part-Time Teacher Sometimes Fears For Her Students’ Lives”

Veils, Halos & Shackles does not get mired in one kind of politics; the perspectives come from everywhere—they are brief, but numerous, and the poets also add prose remarks to their poems.

This book, I am happy to say, has great documentary worth.

The poems tend to be the quick, through-a-keyhole type of horror—not the long arc of fictional, Stephen King, horror. But this is, unfortunately, very real. There are things here you would never want to look at, but which poetry somehow must tell—horror in sad, banal, mundane glimpses.

Poetry almost feels superfluous in recounting these terrible incidents. Poetry, like civilized decency, is ashamed, is tactfully silent, as the suffering unfolds. Unfortunately, or not, Veils, Halos & Shackles only sometimes has poetry. To be true to its subject, this was necessary.

The Socratic injunction against the danger of poetry was not the paranoid ravings of an old man. The best poem about a street fight will feature neither the street nor the fight.  If the poet is weak enough to believe that a poem on a street fight is all about the street fight, then street fighting will win, and poetry will lose.

Is there history, or science (why is there brutality?) or politics in these poems?  Yes, and no.  There is no systematic effort to present science, politics or history.  Yet the nature of the subject—and the poets in this anthology are from all over the world—make it impossible for these poems not to be, in some manner, political and historical—if not scientific.  The anthology has a fullness, in this regard, and is an important record, if only for that.  The editors have done a wonderful job in making this book feel like the world.

But does the subject itself hinder the pleasures of poetry?  To some degree, this might be said to be true.  The more we are appalled by a vast, society-wide problem, the more merely a reaction to it pains us to such a degree that even if the reaction contains understanding, stretching upwards into art, we find it difficult, if not impossible, to have anything to do with that reaction at all.

Poetry walking into the fires of the world cannot survive the fire—if it does, it’s not poetry.  Or, so many instinctively believe.

And if news of the horror needs to be spread, let something more efficient, like prose, do it.  Poetry is the end of existence, not the means; it is the message, not the messaging service.  We should spread the news some other way.

The poet, when reporting contemporary, dire, emergencies, naturally begins to talk in the more urgent, and plain accents, of prose.  It can’t be helped.

Prose can be three things, and only three things.  The truth. Story. Propaganda. Poetry traditionally avoids all three of these, but during an emergency, what is called “poetry” tends to follow the dictates of prose.

Poetry, as it is mostly written today, then, can be three things: The truth. Story. Propaganda. The third is perhaps the most common, since it’s so easy to mix up the first two, and the confusion between the first two ends up, often, being the third, even when the attempt at truth and story is done with the very best intentions.

Propaganda is best when it disguises itself as concern for the oppressed.

The message of concern only advertises the triumph of the wicked, and the end result is just more winning for the wicked, as the innocent are frightened and the good are demoralized. This is the danger. Men are hated. Then men become worse. The illiterate brute fears nothing in front of the ineffectiveness of poetry, which is nothing but unintentional propaganda for what they do. Shelley warned of this, pointing out that poetry has a higher calling, creating love and beauty itself, the true poetry avoiding the problem of the dyer’s hand, stained by reportage of the very horrors poetry must fight by other means.

Many of the poets in this large anthology, about 250 of them—and many are widely published—are aware of this danger—poetry which reports oppressive behavior may give cheer to the oppressor, since poetry which replicates the helpless tears of the oppressed is exactly what the oppressor feeds on. Because of this awareness that weakness breeds weakness,  a few of the poems in Veils, Halos & Shackles urge the women in abusive relationships to murder their oppressors.

The reporter and the poet are not the same. The world needs both. And they should not be confused—when they are, propaganda grows like mold and problems multiply. Rather than be a helpless reporter, the poet offers brutal advice, but this unfortunately fails; it only deepens the sense of helplessness and despair, in which our world, and the attempt at poetry, founders.

Then there is the acute problem of symbol and metaphor—we think, without thinking, that metaphor is the soul of poetry, and even a figure as illustrious as Aristotle thought it so; but when we describe the disgust and terror of this topic in other terms (symbols) the poetry’s gain is the world’s loss; the problem remains, as it is simply given another name, and so despair actually deepens, and poetic wisdom mocks itself.

History, story, journalism, and statistics, are the moral lenses typically offered when widespread brutality occurs—poetry adorns, pleads, humiliates itself, digresses, sketches, symbolizes, paints, condenses, and gasps in such a manner that the very brutality which is the enemy now emerges grinning, in a new guise, not chastened; the oppressor, once banal, is now decorated with the laments of its victims. Poetry cannot harm it. Poetry, by its very nature, does not operate morally, but with faculties more sensual and ironic and complex, such that mere brutality has nothing to do with it at all.

Despite this, the editors have found poems which are stunning examples of poetry, avoiding the trap of harm, venality, stupidity, hunger, and menace breeding more of the same. The editors have still, despite all we have said, produced an important and bountiful anthology. There is hope for humanity.

Here is a poem from Karen Alkalay-Gut, which we meet early in the anthology—arranged alphabetically by author. The variety of the poetry in this anthology recommends it. This poem by Alkalay-Gut is rare for its pure accessibility and brevity.

Guy Breaks Up With A Girl

Guy breaks up with a girl
she tries to kill herself
girl breaks up with a guy
he tries to kill her

either way it’s her fault

This sad tendency is true. The difference between the genders, in that nebulous state of impulsive human desire, where the male oppresses the female, describes the whole subject of the book in an instant. What editor would not want to include this poem?

But what of men who die from love? Or where no one is at fault? What of this?

Or what of the men who would never say if the man “tries to kill” the girl it is “her fault?” What of this?

A poem is not a poem when it leaves itself open to indignant prose responses. Poetry does not belong to sad tendencies. Especially when they are objectively expressed.

Are all women self-effacing, and all men murderous? The poet is not a statistician, who furthers the news of cruel probabilities.

In “Guy Breaks Up With A Girl,” the subject triumphs; the evil, in fact, triumphs, not poetry.

On a certain level, this is the best poem in the book.

On another level, it is not a poem at all.

Here, then, is why this piece deserves a look. It describes the gulf—on two levels—which is the sorrow of us all.

The gulf between men and women—is it real, is it wide, is it imagined? How real? How wide? How imagined? Is it from birth? Is it from society? If it’s from society, does that mean the individual is innocent? How we answer—or do not answer—these questions—is how we write poetry on this topic.

It seems to me that women should never hate all men. If this horror is to be overcome, shouldn’t women fight the horror with the percentage of men who are good, and also hate the wrong?

Linda Pastan, one of the better known poets in the anthology, writes a poem with the same sentiment as “Gut Breaks Up With A Girl:”

On Violence Against Women

when Adam took
that second bite
he said

you’ll get what
you deserve
and spat out the pits

and led Eve
in lockstep
from the garden

and oh
the sweetness
of blame

down the ages

Unfortunately, Pastan is right. Blame is sweet.

The truth of women wronged is such that perhaps I am too fastidious to speak of gender theory and society and poetry and blame; I should recognize it is the topic which is more important, even as I quote Shelley. But I trust the reader will understand what I am saying.

The following, by Sampurna Chattarji, is my favorite poem in the anthology; it does not shy away from the topic—none of the poems in this anthology do—but it manages to embrace the topic and its profound terror without succumbing to what it works in. It has a deeply informed subjectivity; there is no straining after reporter’s facts, there is no general bitterness, which causes so many poems to run aground. It achieves poignancy in the simplest and truest manner possible.

As A Son, My Daughter

When you grow up,
you will be a healer
loved for your smile
and your sorceress skill.
You will be a composer
of concrete dreams,
songs of towering glass.

You will be the one
to split the gene
and shed light
on every last particle of doubt.

You will know numbers so well
that you will reject them all
save two,
for they will be enough
to keep you engaged endlessly
in running the world,
efficient and remorseless,
a network of binary combinations.

When you grow up,
you will be all that I am not.
Wise, patient, with shiny long hair
and good teeth,
radiant skin to go
with your razor intellect,
as brilliant as you are beautiful.

You will be a wife
and a mother,
your children will be
brilliant and beautiful,
exactly as I see them,
perfect miniatures
of all
that I am not.

I brought you up as a son,
my daughter,
fierce and strong and free.
But now, now
that you are, have become,
all that I am not,
you are too fierce, too strong, too free.
Your hair is too short.
Your absences too long.
You fear nothing.
You frighten me.

The paradox is that poetry can speak of the horror of women brutalized, both systematically and randomly. But poetry escapes blame; it escapes its subject—or, rather, it elevates the subject, which is a paradox, since the wrong, the horror, cannot be elevated.

The miracle is not that that Veils, Halos & Shackles, a poetry anthology, contains no poetry, but that it does.

Wrong begets wrong. And poetry must conquer this begetting, not just the original wrong.

Men, hurt by women, for whatever reason, often rescue themselves by retreating into a “man’s world;” men’s escape from women is expressed in the following “humorous” bumper sticker: “Wife and dog missing. Reward for the dog.”

Diane Lockward saw this bumper sticker on a pickup truck in New Hampshire, and she came up with this fine response, a beautiful, redemptive and poignant poem, “The Missing Wife:”

The wife and dog planned their escape
months in advance, laid up biscuits and bones,
waited for the careless moment when he’d forget
to latch the gate, then hightailed it.

They took shelter in the forest, camouflaged
the scent of their trail with leaves.
Free of him at last,
they peed with relief on a tree.

Time passed. They came and went as they pleased,
chased sticks when they felt like chasing sticks,
dug holes in what they came to regard
as their own backyard. They unlearned
how to roll over and play dead.

In spring the dog wandered off in pursuit
of a rabbit. Collared by a hunter and returned
to the master for $25, he lives
on a tight leash now.

He sleeps on the wife’s side of the bed,
whimpering, pressing his snout
into her pillow, breathing
the scent of her hair.

And the wife? She’s moved deep into the heart
of the forest. She walks
on all fours, fetches for no man, performs
no tricks. She is content. Only sometimes
she gets lonely, remembers how he would nuzzle
her cheek and comfort her when she twitched
and thrashed in her sleep.

What woman—or man—could read this poem without being profoundly moved?

Another major theme in this anthology—of perhaps the most important topic of our time—is that the aftermath of abuse is as terrible—perhaps more so, lasting a lifetime—than the abuse itself.

Bruce Pratt’s irony perhaps makes the point the best; his poem “According To A Spokesman” begins:

Raped, beaten, and thrown down an embankment,
left by her three male attackers for dead,
her injuries are not life-threatening.

The truth is that the “injuries” are always “life-threatening.” Sexual abuse of any kind destroys lives, innocence, and every part of life, once and forever—the defense against the wrong after the wrong has happened, cannot speak, unless to dismiss the wrong—but the wrong can never be dismissed, even if the person, in certain instances, bravely escapes the worst effects. The morality of the issue is such that nuance is not possible, and since poetry excels in nuance, translating a wrong into poetry is the most difficult task there is.

Hina Panya’s remarkable poem, “The Gallery,” gets at the sorrow of the anthology’s topic by having a mother in a gallery opening of her son and stopping in shock before a portrait of her own battered face, a memory (she thought) her son was too young to remember. The poem’s three stanzas use first person, third person, and finally second person, in a very effective manner.

Rochelle Potkar’s “Friends In Rape” attempts a strategy we only occasionally find in Veils, Halos & Shackles—the poem uses the point of view of the abuser—the poem inhabits the “logic” of the male friend’s thoughts as he decides his “brimming love” needs to connect him to his female friend: “Should love not translate?” “Maybe she is just shy” “Doesn’t she smile at each one of your jokes?” “I will be gentle”

Potkar’s strategy flirts with danger—drama illustrating wrong by allowing wrong to speak, concedes too much; it enters that realm where Milton made Satan too attractive. If the entertainment industry gives us villains who seduce, in dramatic fashion, as the audience is forced to listen to villains’ “logic,” or even view villainous audacity and energy, wrong may ultimately win. On the other hand, Shakespeare allowed Iago to speak freely, and who can say this was not a good idea? We are tipped off to how evil works. Potkar is doing us a service; after all, the poem is called “Friends In Rape,” and so I think she is wise to show us what the “friend” is thinking.

Kirtland Snyder’s poem “Intimacy” takes arms against the ‘historical violent male conquest problem’ head on, in one of the most impressive poems in the book, with heroic meter and blasting rhetoric, a sensitive message that swaggers to make its point.  The poetry, as poetry, is strong in a 19th century sort of way, which Snyder obviously intended somewhat ironically—but it’s impressive as poetry, nonetheless.  The message, however (the poem is addressed to a sword-wielding, penis-wielding cartoon of a man) is a bit overblown—neither civilization as we know it, nor the successful male, belongs solely to the sword and penis, if at all, as the poem will have it. Stereotyping, which Snyder chivalrously uses to bash the stupid, bullying male, finally helps no one. It doesn’t reduce violence, it doesn’t increase enlightenment, nor does it produce very good poetry. But Snyder’s poem, considered purely as pyro-technics, is really good in parts—here’s the first stanza:

If you’re lucky in life you will learn to love a woman,
you will learn to keep moving inward on the long journey
to the heart, your most audacious enterprise,
like trying to find the source of the Nile with the Nile
your only map, a living watercourse through a dark
continent whose deepest wellspring you will name Victoria.

The superficial theme eventually kidnaps the poem, but it’s a great poem, nonetheless.

When the majority of the poems are not painting savage incidents which make us turn away in helpless disgust, they occasionally sing out a will to survive, advertising the strength of the woman who survives. Do any of these poems—which address the pain of rape and murder and abuse explicitly—cure the pain, or reduce the suffering, of any of the countless victims? Certainly, writing poems is better than silence. Certainly, it is better to share.

This plague of women suffering must end. All must be vigilant. Men must learn to love. Only through love, and through words informed by love, can we enter paradise.

If you purchase only one book of poetry, please purchase this one.

—the Scarriet editors, Salem MA 10/22/2018





Image result for a tomb at night in renaissance painting

The women have no eyes and the men have no ears,
When it comes to love. The man doesn’t care what the woman hears:
Songs and poems belong to others—songs are not what the man fears.
The woman will listen to a song with her whole heart,
Contemplating its meaning, tearing every word in the lyric apart.

When the man first starts to speak to her of love, the woman knows
This is the moment to listen with her whole being, and be still.
To listen! The man thinks: what a strange way to be beautiful.

There is always something missing in the universe.
Entropy belongs to love and love always makes things worse.

The man wants the woman inside his eyes.
He feels uneasy, precisely because she listens well.
The man wants to look, but when she listens for the prize,
He doesn’t know what to say—and looking at her listening, is unable to tell
How he feels, or who she is. She hears
Hesitation. Loss. Because women have no eyes. And men have no ears.





Image result for girl trying to read in renaissance painting

From the unknown emerges what the known was meant to be.

A carefully scripted version of a perfect me.

Take my word for it, these words

Are as unfathomable as sea birds

Flying very fast across long seas.

My idea could be an idea of an idea that pleases,

But if the poet is irritated by any little thing,

The idea will be a flight without a wing,

A perfect arrow which parts the air,

Which you thought you saw: an idea of here. An idea of there.

How fast it traveled! Did you see

What it was? That could have been me.

Poetry is a translation from a language we don’t know to one we might.

I think you have seen those symbols when the symbol is a symbol of mourning in the night.


Image result for socrates in the woods in renaissance painting

To not be popular, I made a bad recording of my song,

And sent the recording to only the best philosophers

Who knew a sad ballad when they were young;

All I find interesting, is a little bit wrong.

Because I slept well, I slept late, and to find the quiet day

I had to hurry, and looked a mess,

Before the morning, singing and misty, slipped away.

I love Nietzsche, but disagree with Nietzsche, nonetheless.

I sincerely hope you’ll find my praise, when I love you, sincere,

Because I’m jealous and hate everybody down here,

Except when they mind their own business and behave;

Rebellion disgusts me—do laundry, clean, cook, work, eat, shower, shave,

And save your pretentiousness for one more gullible;

I care what you’re doing, not whether or not what you do will sell.

If you are too successful you’ll face expectation’s hell.

I expect you won’t love me unless it’s completely unexpected,

And we can be safe and unpopular together,

Our sweet irrational love a sexy description of the weather,

In a copse of oaks and elms. The good love is when lovers are neglected.

You discerned my song was good.

Hidden, we spoke openly at last, because we hadn’t, and because we could.

But there is more to who we are.

We are good, too; we’ll make plans for a distant planet and star.

Don’t forget the hoary, bearded philosophers

Were young and vain once.

They knew their vanity,

And then became philosophers.





Image result for girl admiring boy in renaissance painting

I want to say no to him

Because he has the feeling that all

Will say yes to him. He’s beautiful and tall,

And neither a woman, nor a man,

Can describe him; if you knew

Him for a minute, you would want to hold him, too.

But I don’t think his kind

Deserves to be happy. I feel kind

Towards him, but I hate him, too.

He confuses me, and I think this has probably happened to you:

Jealousy makes you hate what you should love.

But since love is unwise, isn’t it? you trust what combats love

Even if you begin to doubt yourself, and you don’t know

What in the world you need to feel.

Is God, and the stupidest emotions elicited by God, equally as real?

I see it in my thoughts, wherever they go.

I want to make him miserable. Watch me, friends!

I will say no, I will say no, I will say no.

He will see me proud in my new shoes. He will know how the story ends.






You add the numbers. You be the secretary. I’ll please the boss and get fat.

You make sure things are running correctly. You do that.

The swearing-in ceremony was boring. He’s upset. Thanks to you, it came off flat.

The ceremony needs more peaches next year. You do that.

You’re lean and hungry—and good with figures. So don’t be a rat.

I’m the lover, here, got it? The books must be clean. You do that.

Isn’t our boss handsome? A little boy, really, a puppy to my sexy cat.

I’ve got this. He needs me. You make it work, please. You do that.

I’ve got a million things on my mind. He stood. I sat.

How many lives do I have now? Oh you’re the best, dear. You do that.


All that crawls, walks and flies,

All that is beautiful, and more beautiful, dies.

Love that shoots up in flames of love, like fire,

Dies in the fire burning and dying, dies in its own desire.

We thought love would last forever, but knew

Even as we loved most intensely, this wasn’t true.

We argued—Romantic versus Modern—an argument primitive and wild,

The oldest argument—for and against the child.

There on the stairs she stood.

Beneath every sky I knew she was good.

Long futurity, the only repair for the question of death,

Was ours to kiss, the mouth, the lips, inside the lips, and the breath.

We kissed on the stairs, and more stairs, to escape the eyes

That might see us. But the love that sees itself, still dies.

See the love in the moon, the moon in tempestuous skies.

We had questions and arguments. I said only the child

Makes fires over graves, and turns horror to the responsible and the mild.





Related image

Your pajamas were made a thousand years ago
In the cool, etruscan shade,
By people dreaming of romance and sex.
Are thousand year old thoughts of love needlessly complex?
Add cold weather and bring in the heater,
Cold culture, the Pinot Grigio, the speculation on Tyrannosaurus rex.
Is it the closet or the stock exchange
Which is needlessly complex?
They cover themselves in virtue because the letter
Of the law is in their purview—but is this better?
Cost and rationale are what Rosalinda expects.
Is the spirit of the law needlessly complex?
Rosalinda is nice to animals.
We note the law form, the dog poop, the ex.
Selling improvements, we see we are punished especially today
By the needlessly complex.
We know it is really about the gossip, the acting,
Not the nudity or sex.
I can’t believe she loves him! Is she blind?
What notes did the oboe play? May I hear them again?
Rosalinda makes no sense. Nor is she kind.




Image result for poe baudelaire and cigarettes

When we write a good poem

It is we who write the poem

It is we—it is really we—even if it seems me,

Solitary, glimpsed, standing beneath a tree,

Smoking in the cold rain,

Is the one writing the poetry.

I write because I don’t like pain—

None of us do, and there’s that “we” again—

And poetry finds a way

To make a poem from pain for you today.

The secret is, a little poison is good,

And this is what the poets have always understood.

The best thing for me

Is the cigarette of toxicity

Because a little poison is good.

This is the secret poets have always understood.

When the leaves fall, and the air turns chill,

We contemplate what it means to be ill,

But when mother gives us sugar and carbohydrates

We love with our tongue what our inside hates;

We do not know what’s happening inside

Or where the slender lovers hide,

But when poison flies into me

I understand what’s going on immediately.

Everything I feel from the cold rain

Pushes the poetry out, as a cure for pain.

It was sugar—not cigarettes—which made me insane.

I thought we loved sugar, but we

Grew into wisdom; we cannot be

Poets, if we lie about the house and eat;

We go, instead, to dreary places where meat-eating smokers meet

And we talk of all the ways we

Write poems. This is exceedingly interesting to me.






Image result for porter square cambridge

The beauty of the particular scene,
If there are streets, or not, or the streets are picturesque,
Doesn’t matter. The artist finds shadows and certain perspectives
And makes great photos in neighborhoods where no one would want to live.
Every space on earth, bare or not, has vistas.
Vistas with their length, their laws of vision, entice the eye,
Making even this crappy part of town interesting in all its views.
Don’t trust art—or should we call it art? Don’t trust the eye
Which makes near and far boulevards crowding but stretched in the eye
In the morning when fog surrounds the sky—those cheap white buildings
Appear nice in the distance. Do you see what I mean?
Vistas are beautiful, even if there is no beauty to the scene.
The mathematics of sight is more
Beautiful than art, the mathematics of vista finally forgives,
And makes this ugly stretch of the world beautiful—
Where nothing wants to live, but lives.



Image result for orpheus and eurydice in renaissance painting

To not have love is to have love,
Because everyone knows love is desire.
Love you don’t have, but want, is love.
This is why I seem cold, with my burning fire.
I have love. I have you. Because I have desire.
I do burn. And my burning is so hot
I cannot show it. I seem cold. But I’m not.
I have love. I have desire. I have you
Because I do not have you now.
I had to have had love to not have love,
And to not have love is to have love.  I wondered how
You were cold. But I don’t wonder that anymore.
Love is to not have love. Love the god does not have love, I’m sure.

To know love we had to see a body—
Bodies the only object of human love.
So bodies are the basis of the process
By which love is more when having is less.
And so bodies always fade when they are loved,
And the face loved shows a mysterious distress.
Bodies are the gateway to desire;
Bodies obey the disappearing law.
Bodies turn away and say goodbye.
You loved the body. Now it must die.
In my mind is the volcano of the past.
Desire! Desire! Only desire will last.
The longing madness loves the most.
Love sees the body. But the body is a ghost.
The body is not real. The love we hold
In love, is what we held.
I saw her on the other side of the hill in the mist and yelled.




Image result for sad lover in modern classic painting

Your attitude is terrible. No,

That’s not it. You are all attitude.

You know, all one sees now are relationship

Videos on the “narcissistic” personality,

On how exactly men and women love differently.

Those psychology films are wrong. He lost his grip,

Hart Crane, the poet. And went over the side of the ship,

And in the rolling, gray waters was lost forever.

But you’re nice; you imitate Wordsworth,

And write careful poems, defending the prickly earth.

Meanwhile, you anxiously watch those videos

Invoking your narcissistic ex, counting your woes,

Trying to figure out how men and women are different,

And why love fails—crazy sighs within excrement.

You haven’t had a thought since two thousand three;

You read political articles, which agree with you, eagerly,

But if you saw words that at last could save your soul

You wouldn’t touch those words with a ten foot pole.

It’s not that your attitude is good or bad.

You don’t think at all. That’s why you are sad.

He’s a narcissist, and, of course, she is. And the sorrow

Alters, depending on whatever one happens to imitate tomorrow.

There hasn’t been an original thought here

Since the bikini. Since beer.

To know how much crowds hate crowds,

A crowd has to be in one, because alone,

The crowd inevitably begins to miss its favorite jerk.

But at least you get along with people at work,

Serving the crowd—which deceives itself inside its misery.

Have you seen a child, imitating

Everything—everything? All everyone is,

Men and women, are big fat jerks, all the same,

A great imitation and mockery machine,

Taking revenge against authority

When Wordsworth wouldn’t let them do this or that.

Two things exist: Blank imitation. Blank infinity.

Feel your way. Things seem to stick up, from the page, or the canvas, endless and flat.












Dear Rosalinda. Stop coming into my café where I write poetry

Wearing leather. Your black boots with elaborate buckles? Excellent.

“I don’t want to see you if I can’t have you” is not what I meant.

That sentiment is boring, and in bad taste.

All the work you did on your appearance shouldn’t go to waste,

So go ahead. Let’s see your jacket and your combed hair.

I’m writing poetry. Go ahead and look good. It’s only fair.

Just want you to know I’m noting every particular, the sound

Of your voice, the way you hold your hands, the emotions

Which play across your face, the things you say, how much you seem

To want me, or don’t want me; I notice these things confidently

As if I were in a dramatic, egotistical waking dream.

I can write poetry when the café is crowded, I don’t care,

Rosalinda. Or that other café. You can go there.



Image result for laughing in dutch painting

Teasing is a psychological state which is crucial to understanding human nature, and yet, as far as I know, it has never been given its due.

Teasing is ubiquitous—most of us tease, consciously, or impulsively—but teasing is also highly ambiguous and complex—part of its nature is to disappear into other modes—humor, cruelty.

But why does teasing fall completely below the radar of social science? Apart from its hiding capacity, the most obvious reason why teasing as a legitimate psychological category eludes researchers, scholars, and distinguished and credentialed pedants of all stripes, is that teasing refuses to take itself, or others, seriously—therefore it naturally eludes all serious study.

The pithy remarks of an Oscar Wilde belong to the comic stage or the quotation book; serious scholars shudder at the idea of Wilde’s teasing wit upending their authoritative conclusions. One of teasing’s many manifestations is wit, destructive wit—the enemy of science, philosophy, and religion. “The best way to resist temptation is to give into it,” laughs Oscar. Teasing is walled off—even as it promotes wise laughter—from the wise investigations of the pundit.

I will now give teasing the prominence it deserves.

Let me posit the two most obvious modes of human behavior and psychology, which occupy the opposite sides of the behavioral spectrum—fighting on one side, and cooperation, affection, or love on the other. We’ll call it love, for simplicity’s sake. Hate and love. The fighting impulse and the loving impulse.

Teasing, as I see it, is perfectly suited to connect the two, to occupy the third, or middle ground which partly interacts with hate and partly interacts with love. Teasing, as is well known, and which I have observed above, is an extremely common behavior which covers a great deal of ambiguous psychological territory—teasing can be affectionate and humorous; we tease those we like, we tease those we want to like more, and we tease those with whom we feel extremely comfortable.

Teasing can be neutral—we tease to find out much a person can take, and this can be part of just getting to know a person, though it can seem invasive, even if it’s done out of friendliness or curiosity.

Teasing can also be vindictive, insulting, terrible.

And teasing can seem cruel, even if this is not its intention.

We would expect nothing less of this far-reaching cloud of ambiguity which unites hate and love.

What is life but a tease?

The mature soul understands the tease of admiring and desiring things which we both hate and love—the teasing mixture.

The craven person and the child don’t deal in hybrids—they only love or hate.

Maturity deals with the hybrid, and is resigned to being teased constantly.

The immature person viciously avoids being teased, and takes a sadistic delight, quite often, in teasing.

Teasing, then, is good and bad.  Which should be expected, since hate sits on one shoulder, and love on the other.

Teasing rounds out love and hate as a three-part psychology—and teasing, itself, exists in three parts, friendly, neutral, and hostile.

Satire, a form of teasing, can run the gamut from hostile to elevating, depending on how it is seen; satire can be a nasty political weapon, or it can use literature to gently seek truth.

Poetry, which today is mostly officious and uptight, once indulged in the sweet rivalry of teasing.  Who can forget Byron teasing the poet laureates of England, William Wordsworth and Robert Southey?

“Go little book, from this, my solitude!
I cast thee on the waters—go thy ways!
And if, as I believe, thy vein be good,
The world will find thee after many days.”
When Southey’s read, and Wordsworth’s understood,
I can’t help putting in my claim to praise—
The first four rhymes are Southey’s every line:
For God’s sake, reader! Take them not for mine.

Teasing has this most important property: the ability to defuse hate (because it is comedy) and the equal ability to defuse love (because it is ridicule)—teasing can lead to war or love, with cunning or accidental, suddenness.

Teasing can be sweet and appropriate, or embarrassing and clumsy, depending on all sorts of psychological, material, and personal skill factors, both natural and learned.

Is it any wonder that ubiquitous, ambiguous teasing belongs prominently in the middle of the two most defined poles of human behavior—the fighting impulse, and the cooperative one?

Further, teasing is a directional indicator—it can be an intellectual vehicle to move towards love, or an intellectual vehicle to move towards hate. Or it can simply exist for itself, a buffer against hate to “keep the peace,” a buffer against love to “remain grounded.”

Most of us, in fact, live in the ambiguous state of teasing all the time, with a cloudy, occluded, semi-curious, bemused view of all those “higher” issues that escape teasing, and make life serious, or thrilling, or sublime, or tragic. We giggle at the serious, and feel protected, and rather content, in our “teasing” bubble, as we stay clear of serious hate on one side and serious love, on the other, each pole dangerous for different, and perhaps similar (!) reasons. Teasing is a highly effective means to deal with hate—to ridicule what we dislike, so that we laugh, an effective way of dealing with our own anger and dislike. And satire is a way for us to safely contemplate love—aren’t comedians, with their worldly, urbane personalities, genuinely wise when it comes to the dangers, extremes, and follies of love?

The danger is, that if we laugh too hard, we will never love, again.

Just as if we hate too much, we will never love again.

It may be comfortable to always mock, but teasing is also wrapped up in fear. Teasing is real; it is not just an occasional strategy.

Teasing eclipses love and hate. Teasing also eclipses real feelings.

Some people never reach a state of sublime love—it’s nothing but Romantic poppycock to them—the goal of love is merely a sad, or perhaps an amusing, tease to them; either they have no partner, or, if they do, it is a lover or husband whom they don’t quite love—but they tease them, sometimes affectionately, sometimes cruelly, and these feeling-states are really the best they can do, so vast is that middle ground of teasing, hovering between hate and love.

The thing about teasing is that it allows us to tease, but it also teases us.

In this ambiguous, granular state of continual confusion, in the middle-ground, teasing mode, we glimpse the warrior and the lover, truly sublime figures who truly live, dimly, as in a mist. The teasing state really doesn’t know anything. Teasing is an attitude, not knowledge. Teasing has no true feelings, though it has a general sense of what they are, since it exists beside hate and love. In the teasing state we ridicule all those who take life seriously. We intellectualize, but in a fraudulent manner. We know ourselves to be frauds. We only know small things at small moments. All we can do, with any vigor at all, is mock.

The whore has no philosophy. Those completely without love, the whore and the recluse, represent the two extremes—the whore teases; the recluse is teased.  The whore and the recluse are both anti-social. Society finds it difficult to function if there are too many of these in their ranks.

And those with extremist views (who politicians cynically weaponize) become even more extremist when they are teased about their views.  When someone tells you that you are wrong, that is one thing, but when someone tells you are wrong as they are laughing, that is another thing altogether.

Teasing, in itself, is neither good nor bad. It is a highly social way of behaving—it can mollify, it can lead to friendships, but it can also incense and enrage.

A recluse shies away from teasing.

A whore loves to tease.

It is a cliché to say the whore is stupid, but it’s always true. All they can do is tease. They laugh at both hate and love, and this is their intellectual position, the intellectual position of all who remain in the ambiguous state of mockery and bland, mindless, ambiguity.

To the whore, all intellectuals to them are one person: Woody Allen, a guy who talks very fast, in a high voice. If the Woody Allen makes them laugh, they are OK, but if the intellectual should turn “serious,” the whore only hears a high voice talking too fast, and nothing the intellectual says when the intellectual is being “serious” matters, or makes any sense. Which is probably true, since most intellectuals are frauds.

The whore sees men in three ways; they are either rapists, or a Woody Allen—who might occasionally amuse them by making them laugh—or finally a man with a hairy mustache, a nice stubble, who mumbles in French, in a deep voice, and has a big jaw and tiny eyes (see! I tease) whom the whore perhaps wishes to sleep with. Of course the man with the mustache, whom the whore favors, is not a real person, as unreal as the whore herself—a mere collection of errant atoms—who teases, and is teased, by a reality that remains shut to them, in their ambiguous state of mockery and stupidity. There is nothing they can know, and their “philosophy” is “we cannot know anything!” The male equivalent to the whore is the cunning, ambiguous, fake-intellectual man who is determined to tease the whore whom he is attracted to—to give her a dose of her own medicine. Knowledge is absent. Everything is impulse. All intellectuality in this realm is merely teasing, to give oneself a temporary, mocking, advantage.

There is nothing wrong with living in the teasing state—it is where everyone, except the psychopath, or the genius, lives. It belongs to the sad, charming smile of humility; it resides with humorous affection. It is a guard against extremes. It is the mystery in which we dwell with a smile.

But life is not truly lived, or experienced to its fullest, obviously, if the middle ambiguous, teasing realm is the only place we live.

What we mock aloud in polite company could be what we truly hate and abhor, but it could be just as easily what we secretly desire.

Mockery pushes aside everything, the bad and the good. Teasing can just as easily kill love as mitigate hate.

What remains in our hearts as secret, inarticulate, unspoken, mysterious desire will be forever vanquished by the mockery of polite company, by the stand up comedian, by the “common sense” prudence of smiling, daily life.

How can we truly live—not vicariously, but in ourselves—the beautiful, the good, the passionate life?

And how can we tell the difference between “ourselves” and whatever happens to be filling ourselves up, and needs to be ridiculed away?

We cannot.

The only way to know if something is both real and good, is by its ideal existence, as glimpsed in, and through, the beauty of artistic wisdom. The test of what you love is if it is immune to ridicule and mockery.

Two obstacles commonly stand in the way when a person attempts to reach the beautiful and the sublime—the impulsive mockery of the whore, and the cunning mockery of the fraudulent intellectual.

You will know the good by this: if what is bad mocks it.

I recently heard one of our contemporary sages (Alain de Botton) speak on the subject of love to a large audience. As a so-called philosopher who writes popular books, it was apparent to me after a few minutes why he has more notoriety than most contemporary intellectuals; it could have been the educated English accent, but I think it was more due to the fact that his lecture was more like stand-up comedy; he had the educated audience tittering as he spoke of love, of which he was, of course, mocking, as a quite impossible, and rather imaginary thing. The target of his mockery was Romanticsm, which he claimed sprang up in the “middle late 18th century,” with its emphasis on love as “special feelings” that mysteriously claim us when we happen to meet our “soul mate.” Romanticism, a view which we still have not escaped, according to de Botton, Romanticism, a response to arranged marriages of the past, based on property and such, was a nice thing, he acknowledged, but it was doomed to failure, since seeing love as the joining of two “angels” who are “made for each other” would inevitably lead to disappointment and probably lead to adultery. We all contain “crazy,” de Botton said, and he got a big laugh when he suggested the following wedding present: the bride and groom should exchange books which outline exactly how they are crazy and impossible to live with, up close, and in close quarters.

Because he’s a fraudulent intellectual, he neglected to mention that Romanticism was espoused way before the 18th century—one quickly thinks of Plato’s “Symposium,” of Dante and Petrarch—but more importantly, his description of Romanticism was superficial and naive, taking platitudes of synopsis scum which rise to the top of the ocean as the truth of the matter, all so that he could have a target set up for ridicule and mockery. Talking very fast, like most intellectuals, he had to be a Woody Allen—be funny—to get in good with his paying audience. At one point he made fun of Keats’ death by consumption at a young age—early death was a convenient way to end the silly love experiments of the Romantics, don’t you see? Right. Ha. Ha. And the audience, not embracing his words, but the whole attitude of mocking cynicism upon which his lecture was based, obediently laughed.

The Romantic poets, Shelley and Keats, did not naively believe in lovers as twin “angels;” their poetry is full of beauty and despondency—the anguish of the true lover in the face of whorish artificially, as personified by cynical, whorish buffoons like Alain de Botton, with their educated facades.

I only allude to this talk on Romanticism because great poetry—and the major Romantic poets are exemplary—is perhaps the best way to escape fraudulent intellectualism and the continual prison of mockery and teasing, and move closer to genuine philosophical interest and the life we wish to passionately live.

But the prison (and herd-like safety) of the teasing realm is not something that I can say I have escaped. I do not mean to set myself apart as a true intellectual, or as one who has achieved genuine love.

We are all finally trapped by teasing.

Something as primitive as our own bodily pain we feel cannot be mocked. But it can. The reason I might feel a tremendous pain in my nether regions as I hurry to find a restroom is precisely my pain letting me know I must perform this duty.

But were I later to recall this “pain” in front of my peers, as part of a more elaborate story, or not, the atmosphere would of course be one of laughter.

Mockery cannot be escaped.

Were I, myself, to claim that I know love, or that I, myself, am not a fraudulent intellectual, even within the bounds of a self-conscious essay such as this, I would be ridiculed and mocked.

As I should be.

We are always more teased, than teasing.

And hate and love do belong to a misty distance, a tease of a true passion we may never know, or need to know, or be worthy to know.








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