Image result for stars in the sky

When I am to the dark house gone,

My poetry maybe will travel in hearts a little farther on.

But if I failed as a poet, I will not know.

I only hoped, and still to the dark house I go.

When I am to the dark stars gone

The bright stars, as they always have, will shine a little farther on.

This does not require hope. It’s something I know.

The bright stars will shine. When to the dark stars I go.





Crime is like love.

How can we prove

The criminal did it again and again,

And loved us, with love that doesn’t end?

The brash detective proves

That even a lover, a lover who loves,

In one place and one time,

Even as they loved, committed a crime,

Kissing us falsely under a tree.

Prove it, detective. She loved me.

She came to me of her own free will,

To be loved and love. Prove every thrill

Of the mood by that shadowy lake

She felt freely, and all for my sake.

Every sigh she made in the grass

Was for me, and the mood did not pass

When she went home to rest.

Her restlessness was love at its best.

Prove her lack of peace proved

She was mine, and I was the one she loved,

And when we met and kissed again,

It was love which did not want to end,

Whether we kissed on the mountain or by the low lake,

And she tenderly kissed me only for my sake.

And when she didn’t love me that one time,

Can you prove, that this once, love wasn’t like crime?

That she wasn’t guilty, and love didn’t pass

Away, and when later, she kissed me in the grass,

And she told me she was still in love with me

It was love that was the same as when we kissed by the sea?




During the depression, I lived richly.

During the war, I lived peacefully outside of town.

The year the crops and gardens failed,

I enjoyed sugary meals from 7-11.

When I thought about what I was doing I didn’t know what I was doing.

I wrote poetry that was not poetry.

I had thoughts about love that were not about love.

The day the towers fell I was raising children,

And thinking blindly in the back of my mind about many conspiracy theories.

Working on my Ph.D., I drank beer and played Pac-Man

At a Big Ten school, avoiding drunk football linemen.

In 1986 I had more doubts about her after she expressed herself, and yelled.

In 1996 my mind was clarified by a smoking habit, and I was more loved, albeit I smelled.

Paid to take my money, professionals had the money in wealthy days

I paid to those who were in debt to be above talk of money.

There was a huge crisis. Because it was balmy and sunny.

All politics and all philosophy belonged to one particular, silky-haired asshole.

The differences that were not really differences took their toll.

My lover and I during the Age of the Selfie did not take selfies at all.

And once, I think, my short, successful friend pushes me from behind, simply because he is small.


Image result for abstract painting city trees

You permit me these thoughts,

These hopes, these stairs, these sights

From the top, with the city trees in view,

As I depart the station. If I saw you,

Before I was allowed to know you were

My love, my maker, making all these things occur,

You, the one who is coming,

You, much more than my troubled thoughts—

I would be too excited; I would fall down the stairs.

The fact that you are not here protects me.

If I saw you, if you were to be seen, to add

To what is only my sad, daily scenery,

A light in shadow emerging below,

Perhaps between those two parked cars,

On that street, where every day, I go

On my interminable commute, my commute would be

Over in an instant, the rapid light and shade.

I am walking down the stairs carefully,

Cool but excited, writing this in my head—

Seeing you? This poem? Is that what you made?





Image result for nickel in painting coins in renaissance painting

Your brain, the size of a nickel,

Must confront ten trillion dollars in change

Every second of every day. Life

Is an endless variety of sadness and torture

And your heart keeps saying it’s OK it’s OK.

Your memory is a beautiful woman

The universe wants to enter: do you remember

How the crowd agreed with you and you felt love

In a way that swamped the embarrassing

Episodes when it was just you and him?

Your brain is amazing. It’s almost worth a dime.

But look. Here comes the coolest god:

Forgetfulness. She is never on time.


Image result for da vinci sketches of astronomy

The eye drinks astronomy
And by the perspective of geometry sees,
The universe, her children, and the poet’s unease.
The farthest star, just out of sight,
Is seen by mathematics, if the calculations are right.
The farthest star, must fall back into
The beginning, central to seeing the you and the non-you,
The big bang, where nothing into matter grew;
Relation, the soul of matter, and so you knew
Perspective was how distance mirrored time.
That was the reason, as a child, you were charmed by rhyme,
And you liked to think about where the universe stopped.
Eventually your whole definition of infinity was dropped.
Today when you prick yourself, and there’s a little blood,
You automatically think of sex and horror films and food.
You thought a little too much, and it spoiled love.
She would have figured things out with you
But you had slightly more mundane things to do.
You couldn’t keep what you were thinking all in one place;
You were writing poems; you were worried about your face.
Poor poet, you know one thing: Many things into one thing will fit;
A little shaping of this verse, and that will be it.





Image result for woman with a knife in renaissance painting

The sad is my object, and I play with it in poetry and song.

She feels sad as a subject, and feels the sad is wrong.

I was able to kiss her and want her and my poetry

Loved her, but her love was deeper, so she left me.

I could be all and everything; I could kiss her, and then be apart;

She was focused on me and me alone, but she broke my heart.

Her daily rituals and appointments enslaved her until I

Arrived to make her happy—yet she made me cry.

The man is more artificial, and has a superficiality

The woman envies; she gives up her melancholy for clarity

And renounces all which prevents the sexes from being the same.

With a pocket knife she carved into my poem, “I Love You,” the first four letters of her name.




Image result for dark grotto in renaissance painting

Cloudy sunshine emits more light than a lighted room.

Compared to nature, the mind is an unvisited tomb,

Which in darkness picks over the remains of its dead,

Traces of memories fooling itself in a foolish head.

The mind is only an eye, and, when the mind is its own subject, a subject of gloom,

Trapped by its own melancholy, and when it fights

Sad feelings with happy thoughts, it deludes itself with small lights.

The reassurances of the depressed

Repeat themselves in a skull which admits no light, no guest.

“There’s no one here!” Examine the mind,

And the eyeless discovers it cannot find the blind.

Instead, change slightly the old and visible in that piece of history we know as a day,

And make new melody with bright error inside harmony. Seek joy and knowledge that way.



Image result for preraphaelite painting

The beautiful face is like other beautiful faces,

The beautiful iconic look other faces share,

A beauty instantly recognized which the knowing cartoonist traces,

But her face compares to nothing—some similarity is there

To other beautiful faces,

But her face violates the template lovers see;

Her face, by the normal measure, should be ugly.

But it isn’t. And those who meet her more than once,

And get over that first illusion

Of the awkward and the ugly, gradually reach a different conclusion.

Her face is like the Christ, a difference the gift of God.

I, too, thought her face was strong, but odd,

A chin too prominent by the architect’s hand,

A beauty even beauty could never understand,

Not beautiful because it was her—

No personality shining through—

But a timeless architecture, imperious and pure,

A beauty not really for love—but belonging more to awe,

A face in an opium dream of lust, no cartoonist could draw.

Her face is the template of a beauty yet to be,

And not only did I succumb,

Her face succumbed to me,

And even now I am dumb

And cannot speak; wit does not belong to eternity.



There is nothing that must be said,

Despite what the vain poets say,

There is only what should be said,

And what we might have said, yesterday.

Do you hear nostalgia in “yesterday?”

That’s mostly what poetry is. That’s mostly what the poets say.

And if you are sad, you must be sad,

But I don’t know anything that must be said.

Examine all the poems, examine all the lives of the dead.

We find the attempt, and all attempts against what was attempted,

And further attempts, and we always attempt, as we should,

And if we ask for the bad, pretending to ask for the good,

The world will punish us, exactly as it should.

You should know this, but maybe you don’t,

And maybe they will tell you, or tactfully, perhaps, they won’t.

You don’t need to explain too much, or you shouldn’t;

You may hurt my feelings, but really, you wouldn’t.

But now the poet comes along and falsely says, what I have said, must be said.

I will write of love—before it is a love, before it is a love of someone who’s dead.

But there is nothing that must be said. Just say what you think you should.

Then tell me again of love that’s neither bad nor good.


Image result for lights across the bay at night

When beauty doesn’t know it is beautiful,

Because beauty wants something more,

Who dares to tell the ignorant

What ignorant beauty is for?

The response will be like the stars

Silent, in silent skies,

Or the sneer on the face of the one who has those beautiful eyes.

The additional, which the beautiful wants,

Adds more to how the beautiful wants

Secretly more beauty.

Everything is sad and needy

Except pure beauty.

When beauty doesn’t know it is beautiful,

It seems more beautiful still,

As when anger burns in fury

But has no fighting will.

“Fight me!” You cry, knowing anger is there.

But anger is far more angry when anger doesn’t care.

When beauty doesn’t know it is beautiful—

Actually, beauty not knowing is always the case;

Beauty isn’t confident, just because it has a beautiful face.

Everything can bring down the beautiful—

We all fear humbling disgrace.

Be careful what you say to the beautiful,

In poetry, or in person.

Less beautiful when it leaves its prison,

The beauty is not a beautiful person,

And wants to be beautiful again, in the prison,

Trapped by its beautiful face and eyes—

You’ve seen the mute stars look down, trapped by an empty sky.

You’ve heard the poet—the big baby—in love with beauty, cry.

Look! The evening lights of the town gleam across the bay—

Each light, a human story; but they have nothing to say.











Those unable to think abstractly,

Will hate abstractly, because feeling needs a place to go.

What is the abstract? It is emotion knowing—when we don’t really know.

We think with our feelings, sometimes matter-of-factly,

When the mundane thing must be done,

But daring insights, when we fly close to the truth, or the sun,

Turn our feelings into thoughts. We triumph in the mind,

As thoughts become feelings, when music, both beautiful and blind,

Narrows pleasure by increasing it.

Look at this poetry. It is music.

But those with no insights can only abstractly be abstract,

Can only feel the frustration of feeling, or examine dully the dull fact.

Abstraction is ubiquitous—because partial information

Belongs to expert, child, intoxicant—drunk in death, or elation.

The rush to hate abstractly appalls us. Will all the women hate all the men?

The whole society becomes infected. Madness. War. Here it comes again.

Remember, there is always a reason. Reason can and will understand hate,

Even when it’s directed at innocent you. Let’s go. It’s not too late.




Yes I admit

I’m a Darwinist in my thought and wit.

If I see the cutest face on a short woman

I think, “Oh yes, cute provides hope for

Her—hope is natural for the human—

A cute face making up for lack of stature,

And so short and tall, rich and poor, we have these choices,

But I hate them, and when I hear the chattering voices,

Shall we go to this restaurant or that one?

All the hopeful ideas and decisions,

The elections, the Darwinist decisions,

Filling up our hopeful lives and days,

I reject these human interactions

And dwell, instead on the divine.

Maybe the restaurant is closed,

The short one rejects you. Fine.

I won’t go to a restaurant.

I will wander. What people hate is what I want.

No I can’t eat that! But I expect to dine.



Image result for painter william church

for William Logan

Poetry is not a medium for painting,

Yet I see poets painting all the time.

“Let’s make a poem a painting! Let’s not rhyme!”

And we wonder why poetry is failing.

A novelist is great when he knows about whaling?

A firefighter, an expert on Rome?

Is the poet a world traveler

With a collection of maps, who just stays at home?

The poet is allowed any number of trades,

But here’s the point: how is a poem made?

I’ve seen poets plunder the dictionary

For the rarest colors—to paint a picture no one can see.

We have the color of the sky—breathtaking!

And look, the color of the sea—my heart is aching!

But now the poet has forgotten what to say.

The picture he was painting got in the way.

And while the sunset is crazily igniting,

The poet doesn’t talk. He’s dryly writing.

He believes his painting is learned and profound.

He guards the museum. He doesn’t make a sound.









Image result for air in renaissance painting

How many kisses do I have for you yet?

A thousand kisses for each regret.

Two kisses for every sigh we made,

When apart from each other, we sighed in the shade.

A kiss for every sigh in the sun.

A kiss for every decision to run,

When we thought to run was best,

From love that died yesterday in the west,

And away from love, we took our rest.

The reasons to go became too many,

And for years, no kisses; no, there aren’t any;

No kisses when I think of you,

No kisses when only a kiss will do,

To remind us both of how much a kiss

Is what we wanted, and will always miss,

Despite reasons we shouldn’t kiss,

Reasons which die next to the bliss

We felt, when sweetly, we bent to kiss.

I have kisses, I have more kisses yet

For our hearts, miserable and weary with regret—

Bodies, heavy, older, and tortured with pride—

Kissing, we’ll laugh when pride has died.

We’ll kiss more sweetly than that first day

We kissed—and kissing, knew kissing was the way.




Let me ask you something. Is it worse

When you are certain and you reverse

Your opinion? I was sure Beethoven was better,

And now I’m sure Mozart is the greater composer.

Is it good to change your mind?

And when you love her, and then you don’t, is the song

Which played in your heart still right, or now wrong?

Beethoven transported me to places

I cannot describe. But now look at these faces.

Do they care that Mozart and Beethoven changed places

For me, tonight, as I listened to Mozart’s piano concerto in D minor again?

They are completely bored. They don’t want to argue with me.

Look at them. They are bored. You see it immediately.

I want people who understand me and love me.

Maybe I’m crazy. I want it all.

The greenery. The argument. The concert hall.






Image result for abraham sacrifice son in renaissance painting

Everything that is necessary is a ritual,

And a ritual is only finished when we do it alone.

Religion belongs to our solitude,

The sacrifice done by the sharpener of the stone.

You laid things out the night before,

And then you took the other through the door.

You wish you hadn’t decided to reject

Love—but you work, and that requires respect.

If you are bored in the back of the church,

You belong to the millions who belong

To a ritual so you might escape it.

In your heart you secretly love a song,

A hit, which everyone else is listening to.

To make a knife, with a knife they scrape it

With all the patience they expect from you.

You were depressed and who knows

How you languished. But now

You are less troubled. You wear the clothes;

They don’t wear you. If the cow

Must be eaten, the sacrifice must be made.

The ritual of sacrifice is a ritual of no choice,

The symbolism of shadow is yours in the shade.

You needed no religion to remove every aspect of my voice.

The ritual is performed best by a crowd

Because in a crowd we are never free.

The performance was loud,

Unlike the quiet freedom of my poetry.

There is no ritual to an abortion. Just have it done.

Freedom is free of ritual. But, yes—once, they did have to sacrifice the son.



Image result for green jungle in renaissance painting

For my revenge, I remain young and green,

Making sure spring laughs, and the laughing mountains are seen.

For my revenge, my glad youth parades

Past your planted memories, cool and shaded,

Which your madness had piled high with grim,

Uncomfortable, monuments to him—

My rival who defeated you, his roots covered in ice,

Authority standing over the pink and the nice.

In my green buds bursting from rough, old bark

I prove sweetness won’t surrender to conspiracies of dark,

But sings like the error-free birds do,

Their coats, feathers and loves, new,

The territorial battles made earnest and enthusiastic again.

If I can be new, why should I fear old, impolitic men?

If I can be a child, why shouldn’t you take my love up

And drink from the rose’s delicate cup?

Youthful secrets know time will do

In my green immortality what this poem does to you.

Read this poem again, after a year,

Or eons, if you like. I’ll be here.




Image result for shelley writing a poem in renaissance painting

Poets who are not critics, you should take note.

The poem worthy of itself is writing critically of what it just wrote.

If your poem hates criticism, your poem does not denote,

But sinks to muddy death in pure self-satisfaction,

Seeking a reader’s pitiful, gullible, second-hand, reaction,

The flow of inspiration blocked by thick, leafy redaction.

You who believe criticism of poetry is hate,

Safely meander towards nothing, pleasing obscurity your obscure fate.

The next line is always waiting for you—but you couldn’t wait,

Hurrying to illustrate your case—a clumsily played card,

Your metaphors for air immediately turning stale and hard;

The reader falls into reading shard upon shard,

The little meaning of this standing for the tepid meaning of that,

In the most obvious gambit of resemblances,

Or, if you are sophisticated, metaphors, perhaps, which don’t quite fit,

To win the reader—but the poem? You don’t care about it.

You pursued a poem without the poem in mind.

You wrote only to them, thinking your poem, like you, could be kind, or unkind.










Cleopatra worked at my café.

Gradually she added paint to her face

And became more beautiful every day,

She got more beautiful every time I visited the place,

Which was often, because I liked the change in her,

As I did my writing—the days, the poems, a blur.

We are bored, so bored—we have to fill up the days

With meaning—that’s difficult, but we have to find the ways.

Meaning always means a challenge, the labor and stress

Of having children, a respectable job, a job with consequences.

Cleopatra was on her feet all day. I couldn’t have cared less.

She wasn’t Cleopatra, but I convinced myself she was.

Idiot dreams! Vanity! But that’s what Cleopatra does.



Image result for cuomo america was never that great

There is a certain dissatisfied type who hates

Those perceived as superior—saddest of fates!

All strive to be better, comparing themselves to others,

And some compete with love and good will, but others

With resentment, whine and hide, behind mentors and mothers.

And someone who blurts out in public life,

“America was never great” reveals at once his resentment, his pathos, his strife.

But since all of us struggle against this truth

That we are inferior, and constant proof

That we are inferior besets us each day,

We must forgive, and we must actually say

What does make America great,

And what this might have to do with our fate.

First, the obvious: a country is a home

Which we share with citizens; to roam

Among the dark hills, the wandering sea

Always implies a safe return; to be

Homeward bound is to know the great

As your place, your green shadow where loves wait.

Your home yesterday, today—this is why America for you has always been great.

Next, the martial, mixed with pride and pain,

The wars won for necessary gain.

An international war is how America was born,

A child, from a world Empire torn;

We were an Indian land worked by slaves,

The resource-heaven which the workshop craves,

And the British were this close to taking over the world,

Until comedy intervened—the Yankee flag unfurled.

Yankee Doodle Dandy boldly entered, and then,

A few battles, a contract—and the world would never be the same again,

And soon it was an America where all came

To be famous in a new and faster definition of fame.

New nations build new circuses and new devices to find

The empire was at once the consciousness of races and almost kind.

But the world will always be the same; different men

Love different women and different women love different men. The world follows the same plan,

Feeling itself as one—one creation, one message, the same man

Building the telegraph—which announces to himself the Civil War,

And a woman, seized by opium, coughs, and America is not America anymore.

The Victorian Christmas, with its beautiful lights,

Gave way to louder and quicker and lovelier delights,

And strange gods with beautiful eyes whispered to us our future fate:

“All is theft and illusion, and America was never that great.”

But let us return. Can we return? Who are we? If there is a flag that waves

From sea to shining sea, who will fight wars and take care of the wage-slaves,

And get up each morning to love what should be loved, and not what the infinite confusion of the infinite universe craves?

I look at what is not that great and I see you,

But I’m not that great either, and I’m hungry and I’m mortal, so what do you want me to do?

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, I’m a deplorable, and I’m going to make sure

You don’t get rich off government, and home will be these trees, these factories, these shady houses clinging to this shore.





My sensitivity is a blessing and a curse; I’m nice, but a snake

When the vain, sensitive things I love are really at stake.

A stolen cigarette, or a stolen love, make me lose my mind.

Sensitivity must protect itself. That’s why I’m sometimes unkind.

I write poetry, because a poem is both slow and fast—

Writing the poem is quick and convenient, but the good ones last,

And so I cannot think of an easier means to glory;

Better than bravery, work, or working on a long story.

Greatness is my aim, and I practice it with ease:

Paper, pen, an idea, twelve rhymes, a dream beneath the trees.

Then if I am confident, indifferent, mysteriously glad,

Lazy, privileged, and languorously slender—please don’t be mad.




We parted on strange, ambiguous terms;

Our love is dead, but still beautiful, with lively worms.

No goodbyes. The vindicated heart stirs the vengeful mind.

We were as cruel in the end—as in the start, we were kind.

She asked for poems, and I complied.

I made poems for her only, and to the rest of the world I died.

She secured a vow, in what up until then had been payment by me

To the world—what can we do but obey the world?—in poetry.

I made poems which before were in the shadow of a hill

But now in the sunshine shining in the brightness of her will.

She couldn’t write back, and could I now take those words back

I would, but they weren’t hers, so them and mine would be the lack.

Myself, my poems and her became one for a heart

Feeding urgent, reckless love; the alienating injury of my selfish art

Was overwhelming to her simple effort at living

And when she began to pull away, I was like my art. Unforgiving.

That is, not forgiving itself, in its effort at perfection;

I loved her as I loved poetry and myself—but acceptance means rejection,

Since replacement and death are necessary to excitement and creation;

My love and my poetry were true: all that I could think and feel—

But she was fickle; not a poet, she had the advantage; she was real,

And so she became testy and began to drift away.

And now? Our love is like the end of this strange, stormy day,

Windy, deep clouds looming, all stormy above, but dry—

Hateful peace, a Cold War, because every soldier is a spy.













The feeling without the picture

Is failure of poetry and failure of love.

Yes, we can feel!

Even if what we feel isn’t real.

If love succeeds, the beautiful picture

Makes you feel as the poet feels.

When, hopelessly, the love ends, you remember pictures

With greater feeling. Her pictures belong to you.

You’re a greater poet now. At least you feel this is true.

When feelings attach themselves to distant pictures

And the heart looks out at everything sad,

The misery overwhelms, and the poetry is bad;

You cannot give birth to pictures,

And you dwell with bitter thoughts.

This is the woman who is not a poet at all;

She used words, but she herself was the picture,

A demon picture! who made me—but did not make the poet—fall.




Image result for sunrise in renaissance painting

Some write poetry for peace,

Some write poetry to get excited.

She’s the one I love! The only one I’ve ever loved!

See where the moon smoothly joins my cause,

And now the night sky is the moon’s best friend.

And look at her face! I don’t know how this is going to end.

Some write poetry for meditation and calm,

Others write poetry for the leaping light

Which paints with fires the lawns and lanes.

She loves me, with or without poetry. But she refrains.

And yet I have such allies in the fight:

The loyal moon sneaking through lines of clouds,

The scents of flowers amassing in the night,

Hordes of sable words against sheets of silver dawn gathering,

Even at this impending hour, soothing the partisan crowds.

Do you hear me shouting this? Do you hear me writing this?

This was written as coldly and silently as a kiss.

How is it now with her and I? Does the summer answer? Do we

Have treaties and declarations yet? I’ll bargain for her tomorrow;

Breathing slowly, I march through the flowers; I charm my enemies easily.

Tomorrow, negotiating with every dim shape, I find peace. Peace is easy—

Even if tomorrow means revenge, or she, in public, fills me with sorrow.





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A beauty reading is the only thing

Which makes my heart fall at once.

When I see a woman reading, only then,

Do I want something that might happen when

Poetry comes into my soul, wondering

What women love, and the secrets of the happiest, and most occupied, of men,

And if there is a chance to embrace

The whole of her with her book. And make inquiry of her studious face.

What is she reading? She is reading this,

And doesn’t know it, until she feels the fruit of this ambiguous bliss.

They say the one who can make you talk is the one who can make you love.

But after loving, the talking ends; the thick silence accuses

The lovers. The talk piled up everything the silence now loses.

Then I won’t talk. I will let her go on reading, and this

Is forever mine: inspired by some ideal poem, or picture, or conversation, or kiss.





Image result for music in renaissance painting

Why are you embarrassed by beautiful music?

When beauty walks slowly through the garden path

Why is it your habit to look around nervously and laugh?

When Vivaldi sung by a soprano is soaring

Why do you look away? Why do you find it boring?

The mall which plays classical music is free

Of the cancerous young who clown tempestuously.

Come with me to the roof of the building, candle-lit,

Where violins combine inside and outside the music,

And be comfortable in talk. Here. Feel the air. Sit.

Why do you wish to hurry, to know exactly what you want?

Can you be so certain that beds and hotels are it? You can’t.

Is music that surrenders to music so offensive to what you know?

You can’t imagine what you always needed to imagine. Okay, then. Go.




Image result for landscape painting

A friend whom you love is the one you should love—

But some are vile whom we love, and could never be our friend—

Yet love and friendship are how they pretend

To be who they are, and so we love them.

And as those we love, whom are vile, are pretending

With knowing looks and sweet smiles, the only difference,

Among the looks and the smiles, is the intelligence

And the scholarship and the science: their love will be ending.

There will not be kisses after a while.

The friend whom we loved will look at us without a smile

And this ending is the only way to tell

That love was never love, that all was not well,

That even when she was a lover and a friend she was vile.



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Now that I’m happy and have a good life

And the one I love has become my wife,

There is no more need to write poetry.

Poetry is just me going back over me.

Poetry is my disappointment and sigh.

Poetry is my unfathomable sadness and cry.

You should have read more carefully

To understand the depth of my misery,

And then hating me, you would have been happy.

You thought I was making a successful art,

And I had a joyous energy in my heart.

No, my poetry was the affliction of an afflicted life

Because of you, and before I found my beautiful wife.





Image result for ocean in renaissance painting

After the embarrassment of love,

The lover is hated more

Than possible before.

After the excitement, they’re dumping their copies of Fifty Shades of Gray.

The most beautiful thing in the world will simply be thrown away.

After the embarrassment of love,

Love is seen for what it is,

The attempt to see the world as beautiful,

And to see beauty in yourself with another,

And now, you think, “Why did I bother?

There’s plenty of beauty which doesn’t embarrass.

People are ugly. So many ways. Inside and out.

What was I thinking? Why all that fuss?”

Vain want. Vain thought. Vain pose. Vain pout.

Part of the excitement, of course, was the doubt.

Now you sit and watch ugly people trudging by.

You can see love’s a trick of nature, since the ugly

Must breed—they need the illusion

Of love. You are now ashamed of the ocean,

And the ocean mist, and your little island.




Was it good for her, too?

I knew she knew I loved her, too,

But maybe she thought I was Tyrannosaurus Rex,

So she had to be secretive, she had to perplex,

My super cool, Obama-loving ex.

I wonder now what she is thinking.

She must be sitting somewhere, blinking,

Still with that face I loved to kiss.

But it’s the thinking we most miss.

Reading another’s mind is the jump

We cannot make: I hate Trump I hate Trump I hate Trump.

I hate Tom I hate Tom I hate Tom I hate Tom.

The air and the ocean are calm.

For a few moments I thought I knew what was going on.

Look at the stars. I hate Tom I hate Tom I hate Tom.





I loved and I loved and I loved.

They hated and they hated and they hated.

So I loved a little more. And I waited.

They were in the antechamber, and I was in the hall.

They were discussing me, and I listened to it all.

A long, innocent childhood was the center of my life.

It went on forever, until I finally found a wife.

The greatest disgust it is possible to see

Is the young acting old and the old acting young, sexually.

We make ourselves into innocents. We go into the woods.

We watch horror movies. We wear hoods.

We watch our aged mother drinking wine.

We see our old auntie drawing the line.

The motorcycle and the natural scene and the pet

And the search for central individual meaning: great.

The philosophy of the All and the philosophy of “what’s important to me”

Will never understand each other, so pour it in gradually.

They loved and they loved and they loved.

I hated and I hated and I hated.

I sent my poem to my successful friend. And waited.



Once the tax payer flow is found,

The project runs the institution into the ground,

As inefficiency becomes the lazy way

To support bad actors to be professional in the officious, elaborate play

Which needs five years to steal money in the self-righteous scheme

Which is monetarily self-realizing, but otherwise an empty dream.

The beneficiaries need five years, because the tax payer flow

Takes five years to drain before the tax payers know

They are being robbed, and when the voice of anti-corruption speaks

It is labeled racist, for daring to say, “Five years? We can do this in five weeks!”

The college imparts no practical knowledge, and the vast debt

Accumulated by students who can’t find jobs will create more racism, yet.

The adjuncts are paid nothing, and the overpaid deans know what to say:

“Our college is devoted to progress! Progress against all the racism today!”

In urgent meetings, more five year plans are planned, to please

The activist wives of deans who read books by government connected trustees.





There’s one thing I will never forget.

The insult—which the careless always regret.

Even love will not be returned.

But if you insult me, the world will have learned.

And if you offer love, but insult me, too,

And make love a form of insult, God help you.

Happy philosophy will teach you to trace

The sad lessons of the human race.

Love pleases me, and so does tact,

But there’s nothing like insult to make me act.

It’s not always clear how the insulted will get you,

But it will be literary and glorious, I bet you.

Mistaken criticism will bring out

An even better poem, which ends all doubt.

Victims cannot write poems, unless the result

Is a good poem—but a better insult.

I remember an attacker was described so well,

The poem was glorious because the poem is where he fell.

I remember John Keats and the rage of Blackwood—

Bad poets today are still insulted because he’s that good.

You took my love, and put me through hell,

But now I never wrote, nor slept so well.

You gave me reason with your hate yesterday

To love, to improve, to know revenge as the heart of every good play.

But remember, though you’re in pain today,

My hate is love and my hate, because it’s love, before the poem’s done, simply drifts away.






I see three rabbits softly bound

Through a soundless garden without a sound.

The hunting owl, dividing the air,

Flies soundlessly with soundless care.

The hunter steps in the soundless mind.

Speech and warning and singing are kind.

See the sheep, who cannot say

Why it’s especially quiet today.

Mortality, with loud breath,

Chants this poem of airless death.

Ashbery’s dead, and no one knows

Where our pagan poet goes.

Andew Marvel, whom he quoted,

Would say, but none today is this devoted

To claim heaven as the place we go

From language and its place below.

He has no poetry anymore,

Word that makes the whole world poor.

So Ashbery wanders with a smirk

In the shades of his ambiguous work.


“And the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all” –Edgar Poe

The most acute horror in our Modern Age is French.

Start with the French Revolution stench

Of Sade. The guillotine impulse of a nation gone mad,

Replacing the sad and sober reason which seeks a view from above.

My father—devoted to my mother—my father, whom I trust and love,

Earned a master’s degree in history, and was only too glad

To inform me of Uncle Ho—heroically fighting for little Vietnam

Against the United States. Patriot? My dad wasn’t even a fan

Of America, having studied Charles Beard, who made the claim

The Founding Fathers were wealthy, opportunistic wits.

Any hope I, as a boy, would love my unique country, was blown to bits.

My father hated America, capitalism and the rich, so I felt the same.

Not that I can ever defend the horrible Vietnam war

Which created the righteous, radical, freak on one hand,

The duped flag-waver on the other; divided, both sides take a stand,

Irreconcilable, like the War Between the States, breaking in two, my beloved land;

This: The British Empire’s “divide and conquer” goal balkanizes all—

So at last, the globalizing ambition of cynical empire rules all.

The wonderful French, who helped the American Revolution win,

Succumbed to the Red Terror, and fell into theory and sin.

By the middle of the 19th century France joined Britain in making

The world a collection of weak states for the taking;

France and Britain used neutrality so the Confederacy dared

To win meat-grinder battle after battle, for recognition;

Russia, freeing her serfs, was the only major state who cared

America survive. It was a cruel world the French and British ushered in.

The Red Terror introduced the world to communism—it spread

By good yet weak ideals; after the Opium Wars—Free Trade fed

China’s debilitating stupor—Britain, France pushing opium’s largesse—

During the insanity of World War One, Russia changed to Soviet red;

Mad Germany and Japan’s genocidal Second World War menace

Saw Rousseau-influenced, U.S. hating, Mao win, and though

My father convinced me Ho fought heroically for Vietnam,

It was only later I found out more about Uncle Ho.

He belonged to the Chinese Communist party. He had a French education.

The vicious Pol Pot (hello Jimmy Carter) was schooled in France; first you go to bed

With French intellectuals, then in the spirit of the Red Terror, you turn red.

When backwards Khomeini, the Trojan Horse, was wheeled into Iran,

He arrived from Paris. French Leftists trumpeted Khomeini was the man

For beautiful Persia, though he was reactionary and villainous to the core;

French Impressionism (Abstract Painting trash) replaces History Painting; a tour

Of French cultural history since the Red Terror will make you see

The intellectual CIA, MI6, of leveling fanaticism, serving the same master,

Crushing reasonable lives and free nations while celebrating chaos and disaster.

If you must to listen to an intellectual, listen to me:

Love with your forgiving and devoted heart your mom and dad.

Give everyone a chance, never go on hearsay that someone is good or bad.

Run if French intellectuals speak, even if you spill your Amercan soda, your Indian tea,

Put “Republic” in your life, remember what is Divine and what is Comedy,

Love the wisdom of U.S. law, and the poetry which sings musically.


















The crazy think people are crazy

In a ratio of how much they are crazy.

In a text message my wife called me crazy,

Recalling a former lover’s text, calling me crazy,

And I thought, for a moment, all woman have one soul, which is crazy;

Women have different shapes, but one soul, which is crazy,

My lover and my wife, exactly the same, the same crazy;

All women who love you at first inevitably turn crazy,

Just because they realize, loving you, they were crazy,

And crazy always needs to convince itself it is not crazy;

I, of course, am crazy when I think the crazy are crazy,

Because one person is not crazy; we all live in crazy

And crazy cannot exist in one person. The all is crazy;

That’s why it seemed wife and lover had the same crazy;

There’s an all-encompassing all, which is crazy.

Within this crazy only the sanity of the individual is crazy,

Because only one at odds with crazy is crazy;

The whole thing cannot be crazy; only parts can be crazy,

And that’s why, using reason with wife, lover, I was called crazy;

Unless you join in with the Crazy All, you’ll be called crazy;

The only way not to be crazy is to join the crazy.

The One cannot be anything—everything disappears in the One;

So if you act like everyone else, you are not crazy—

But also you are not interesting, not loved, not loving. You are not crazy,

Because that’s what the crazy person so badly wants: not to be crazy.

We can safely avoid trouble, or lose a fortune—if we are lazy.

Time will tell if we are lucky—or if this is completely crazy.







Calculating the odds of three birthdays in a row,

My friend multiplies three hundred sixty five, three times.

Not three hundred sixty five times three,

But three hundred sixty five, times three hundred sixty five,

Times three hundred sixty five—which is a very large number.

The bigger the number, the lower the odds,

And the lower the odds, the closer to “a chance in hell,” or a “miracle.”

We cannot take our time; we have to find three birthdays in a row

Immediately, and that’s why we multiply instead of add.

My friend said “three random persons,” but what it really means

Is “three immediate persons.” Random is not quite right.

Charlie, Doris, and Sam in our office are all Leos,

And not only that, July 25, 26, and 27, next to each other;

And these odds are what we were playfully going for,

(And now it’s a poem. But still playing.)

But Charlie, Doris, and Sam are not “random” people;

They work in our office, we know them, and there’s nothing

Miraculous about them as it pertains to their birthdays.

There’s only 365 days in a year; to find one birthday match

I would only have to ask 365 people, and August 10th

Would step up and shake my hand, so why do we have to

Multiply 365 times 365? That number is too big, isn’t it?

Multiplying is just adding very fast; multiplying is merely fast addition.

Mathematics is about speed as well as amount.

So that big number is our denominator,

Which is what we are “going into,” the size of the army we attack.

And then we replace one, with three times two times one—

Or six—as the numerator; three calendar days on either side is an easier hit.

But yes, the big number, the denominator, is too big; the first birthday nothing,

The first birthday can be anywhere—the odds of the first are three hundred sixty five

Over three hundred sixty five, or one—or, no odds at all.

So three birthdays consecutively only need three sixty five

Multiplied by itself once, not twice. But hell, that’s still a big number—

Nearly impossible odds. Difficult enough to find a soulmate,

One born under the same star as you are: 365 to 1.

And then the next factor: that life’s circumstances will be favorable

To the two of you? Then we have to multiply 365 X 365,

And we get 133, 225 to 1. Those overwhelming odds

Say you will never be happy in love.

Happy birthday. I love you. Good luck.





It was easier with the previous president. He was “black,”

So I said to myself, I’m a good person, so, of course, I will like him.

But this new one calls up different sets of judgements

Which force me to consider silently the following:

“He’s a different party than the black one. Is it racist, then,

To support him? It would be wise to hear what those who like

The previous president say, because there are many of them,

And you can never prove for sure you are not racist

And I don’t want to be seen in a bad light by many people

For whatever reason, even if it doesn’t reflect who I am at all.”

If you think this poem is going to explain Edward Snowden

Or which billionaire or which younger, beautiful wife,

Or which amendment or which tarrif to support, you’re wrong.

If you think I can just love you, if I will love you, you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.




Image result for weeping spinster in renaissance painting

There’s nothing love doesn’t know.

It is not a myth; love does give the loved a glow.

When high mingles with low

Love mingles them. There’s nothing love doesn’t know.

The science prized, when dead things do work, or go,

Is the conspiracy of love. There’s nothing love doesn’t know.

Love feels, hears, sees. Love makes the passionate blood flow.

Love makes the birds fly—love makes music fast and slow—

Love makes the moon fly over those who sleep below.

Love, when loved, says yes to all. There’s nothing love doesn’t know.

But everything can offend love.

Once offended, forever, love

To all love says no.


Image result for CIA painting and art

The critics have been saying—have you heard them?—

Art depicts truth making a collage of naked scenes,

And fiction tells truth, even when it lies.

Yes, fiction is true because, well, it’s real if you read it, or see it with your eyes.

What you see is true—whether made up, or not. The true

Is anything—even if it’s false—which has an impact on you.

So what is true? A spy for the CIA? LSD?

Pornographic comedy?

The truth is, truth has nothing to do with art at all.

It’s true the white guy, crushed for his poem in The Nation, was sincere,

But his poem lacked context. Even a polite, 19th century, audience

Would have asked, “What the hell is going on here?”

The more art says it is false, the more it is true;

The worst art announces the falsity of its reality to you.

So the greatest art, we must all agree, completely lies.

It is completely false, but sitting there, as true as can be, in your eyes.

Bad art is always inappropriate, even with its not-so-secret moral.

Life has morals and truth; art is merely the beautiful sadness of seeing,

Unless it have context. Only with context is art, love, life agreeing.

Life listens to morals it doesn’t want to hear.

You’ve had a difficult day. Let me read you this uncanny poem, dear.









Image result for messenger god

I ruined you—I’m sorry as I can be.

Love doesn’t ruin those who love,

But if you love, and try to flee,

Love frowns on that. With poetry.

Those in love are always making up their mind.

Is the other true? Beautiful? Kind?

I was true—and jealous; I knew

Those as loving as I wanted to love you, too.

I made up my mind, and you did not.

I loved more and you loved less, and there’s the whole plot.

I kept writing poems, but you went.

Poems you received, which I anxiously sent

Now languish. Lovers should stay away

From poems. Read news as poetry.

News is passionate. Poets are insulted, too.

News is good. Let the news ruin you.





Image result for dream of midnight corn field in painting

I will never express an opinion again.

She erupted in fury.

Okay then, I’ll tell you later, what’s the hurry?

If I’m alone, and it is beautiful, I will look,

And anything I like, will go in my book.

When I remember a strange dream I had,

One that makes me at the same time deeply happy and deeply sad,

As I struggle to remember it—I noticed this just yesterday—

Remembering a dream, by a dream smitten,

I struggle to remember, not as in life, but as if I were trying to remember something I had written.

So dreams have menacing, lucid images,

But the brain which lives with words

Is the brain that dreams,

And reality is nothing but light and dark

Mingling in beauty, and shaped by thoughts of schemes:

“I will make love to Ruth when she is alone in the corn,

And I will awake without dreams or disagreement. And all that seems

Will be nothing. And someone will be born.”

Or whatever grotesque ideas we say to ourselves when we are alone.

All opinions voiced will be contradicted, or marked down as vice.

And if it finds agreement, that’s a waste. To speak or love a beauty twice.




Shrinking experience is the only pleasure.

Too much for you to understand—and you rebel.

Endless vistas of people wrestling with truth

In complex urgency is the real description of hell.

The Chinese epigram of swift delight

Says drinking alone on a summer night

Surpasses all knowledge, and who cares if the epigram is right?

Later you may come to see,

“Too much drinking isn’t good for me,”

But so what? Let’s say your pleasure doesn’t come from drinking.

It still arrives when your world is shrinking,

When poetry, loyalty, music, a small square

Narrows your vision down to whatever you need to be there:

Velocity, a kiss, a promise, an eye that looks,

A thank you—to preface all endings which introduce all books

You happen to read, while waiting

For your life to start: A long, ambiguous love. A sweet, sharp hating.








I, the poem, would like to introduce

My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Prose.

Scholars say that poetry is subtle,

And hiding secrets is how poetry knows.

But I would like to defend my parents,

Who keep more secrets than I.

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

My parents understand there are things we should not say

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

Prose is long. Prose can read novels all day.

Your jokes were mean. Digression is your hell.

Prose is professional in what it doesn’t tell.

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

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

Condolences and flowers will be sent to Mrs. Prose.



The only chance poetry has,

Thinks this poem, is not that it was

Once more beautiful then,

When evening lights four summers ago surrounded

You and her in doubt—

The stranger’s echoing shout

From the darkness sounded

Like the end of something—

No, that the sound now

Which creeps into your ears

Conveys to you precisely how

Sound is where the best sights occur;

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

Sweet speech, giving up its intricacy,

As if that slow piece by Eric Satie,

Blocking out all the hullabaloo,

Loves her best, but tonight comforts you.




A woman will get her way

Because she is a woman, but not today.

The sun shines with neutral energy

On poor, downtrodden me,

Part broken heart, part headache, part poetry.

A colorful jazz boat

Remains bravely afloat,

Built by someone who hates jazz.

An ancient wood working expertise

Makes sure musical sleaze

Is bouncing off the harbor,

Lending bad taste to the traveling water.

With iambic pentameter I celebrate the past

As the mighty sun, falling fast,

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

Innocent, this child, but a child afflicted soon

By the feminine unhappiness of the darting moon.



Image result for loser and winner in renaissance painting

I’m in the game you’re losing,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and wisdom is measured by how materially

You feel and stretch your influence and interact with all.

I do this with my soul and poetry;

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

There is always your country and your body

And loyalty to these is strong and beautiful,

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

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

A place we seek to better ourselves; the United States

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

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

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

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

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

As you know, the winning like to know,

But there is a game and everything you are doing

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

Isn’t it funny how the tiniest clue

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

Because they know they are losing? And you

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




Image result for box by the bedside van gogh

When sleep gave me sleep I slept.

I never forgot what I learned.

I recalled the flame, the heat, the smoke,

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

All that vanished I kept.

All I lost, I knew;

It was inclusive and deliberate,

From the small additions to the large loss of you.

Love will give you things

And then those things will drift away

But love gave you those things,

So those things do not go away.

When sleep gave me sleep I slept.

And every dream named as lost, I kept.

When sleep gave me sleep, I slept.

I slept better and better, night after night,

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

When sleep gave me sleep I slept.

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




Image result for vogue covers 1930s and 1940s

Bob Mueller says I must hate the Russians,

So I guess that’s what I’ll do.

Well look at that jaw on Bob Mueller!

He must impress you, too.

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

And then she asked me about abortion,

And I thought she was changing the subject,

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

She used the term “reproductive rights” with the authority

Which comes from using such words. She admired my poetry

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

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

Look. On this summer day Hitler will attack Russia.

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

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

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




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