BEAUTY IS NOT ONLY TRUE BUT KIND

Beauty is not only true—but kind.

I witnessed a modernist lose his mind

Deploring what the imaginative Keats had said,

Who left for Rome—when England’s hedges were all dead,

When frost lay on the garden bed—

At Hampstead—and other places.

I’ve seen the look on women’s faces—

Women who are past child-bearing age,

Proud, and still beautiful, and kind,

Because they kept beauty in their mind—

I have seen women look placidly and calm

On gardens bursting, as the highest balm—

And when they stood with lovely jewels on

Beside friends, their smiles as cold as the moon,

Coldly beautiful, since they knew in frozen beds

They would be lying down soon,

The flowers gray, no more the passionate purples and reds!

I wished I had loved them. Never

Could I—no, never—this much beauty had known

As with you! Remember our sweet moan?

When we loved in nature’s yellow-lighted chapel?

How much can I tell—

If I auspiciously regret what we all regret: beauty lost forever?

Is this a frozen bed?

Its flowers with flowers that once sighed, dead?

So we read modernist verses instead.

Because we would rather forget

The flower—and our enormous debt?

 

 

 

WE SHARE THE SEA

Image result for dead horse beach salem ma

We share the sea.

I stood on my shore and looked across the bay to Beverly.

The sea is a lot to share

But since you no longer care

We can do it easily.

I’ll take the waves, and the seaweed bobbing,

The various land items which the sea is robbing,

And the seagulls that fly from shore to shore;

These are mine, and since you no longer care,

I might take more:

Things richer, and more rare.

The kayaks in the shallows

Will belong to me, and things

Valuable, which do not float: bracelets and rings.

And since you no longer care,

Candy wrappers from the jazz fair,

And the jazz notes

Over the water. The sail boats.

And smaller items we might not see.

You no longer care. So these belong to me:

The glitter in the water from the sun,

The sighs from lovers. Shouts by the sea from anyone,

Who are my friends now, since you no longer care.

Girls in bathing suits with long hair.

Am I taking too much? You don’t argue. You don’t dare.

I’ll take the children splashing near the shore.

And the ocean near your house—since you don’t love me anymore.

 

 

 

 

I WANTED THE BOUNDLESS SEA

Image result for ocean painting hudson river school

I wanted  the boundless sea

Because it was boundless and I always thought the boundless was me.

My breaths go on forever, I always need another one.

I’m unlimited, more unlimited than the sun,

Because every moment I need a new breath, and every day I feed,

And in my brain are infinite memories—and every day I need

To use my infinite mind

To be infinite. Reasonable. Patient. Kind.

A minute in a day has more infinity tucked inside

And inside that infinity I infinitely reside.

I wanted the boundless sea

Because I always thought the boundlessness was me.

I knew that limit was the thing we couldn’t see

And what we couldn’t know was one. Two. Three.

And good things were impossible: Love. Honesty.

Sometimes we reside somewhat comfortably in this or that belief

But joking, or annoyed, we submit to existence, that random thief.

And you can’t tell anyone what you really believe.

Your love and your art were wrong because you didn’t deceive.

 

 

 

HOW ARE WE TO KNOW?

How are we to know

If our lover has been true?

The sun comes up and says

See what you can do.

A shrieking bird in the darkness says sing—

Then listen to how he sings to you.

Why is the bird in darkness?

Because the sun is late.

How are we to know

When love turns to hate?

When the earth, this ball of fur

Rotates in space, and resembles her?

The actions of the orbs—can they be understood?

How is the moon good?

What does the moon do when I sleep?

Does she think of me? And weep?

 

 

 

THE POET FAILED TO COMPOSE THE SONG

The poet failed to compose the song,
Having loved her—almost to the point of wrong,
Because jealousy began to get in the way
Of anything the lover might say.
A song came through the poet’s open window one night
With a soft, creeping melody
Almost discernible, a snake made of light,
Softly undulating, insinuating itself beneath the bed
Where roses lived, to the ground’s delight.
Then a poem came into the poet’s head
As he dreamed. Nothing else happened that night.

The scent of flowers
Grew in the room during the night’s hours,
And in the morning filled the poet’s mind
With a beautiful scent, but no melody was there,
No melody in the poet’s head which reclined
Upon thick pillows—pillows oblivious to dreams.
There is no shape on the earth but it isn’t what it seems.
One window had light, but the rest
Were dark. Nothing else happened that day.

The wooded paths were long and the poet strode
Down them. He recalled the mare the two of them rode
When he and she were in love and the mare
Paused in a mist; a lake had been there
Where the poet now walked
Past where they had stopped and talked,
Past where they had put down a blanket and loved.
Put down a blanket and loved.
A scent of roses, there could be no doubt.
And the small birds wandered about.
The ruined boulevard.  Nothing else happened that day.

There is no poem but that a song can make it stay.
The poet would fail! Fail again! And fall out of love!
The day after the dream there was no song.
Nor a memory of a scent. Could a rose be wrong?

THE CHINESE

The Chinese know how to live: corrupt officials,

Seafood caught fresh from the sea,

Drunkenness celebrated in poetry.

It’s a plan that works well.

Heavenly poetry living where beggars dwell.

Poetry for drunks, the poor, the blind

So eventually all of these become refined.

Write your poetry to one who broke your heart

And hates you. Don’t throw her back in the sea.

Love her anyway. Drunk. Corrupt. And shit, don’t forget I’m here.

Don’t forget about me.

 

 

SHOT OUT OF THE CANNON OF YOUR LOVE

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Shot out of the cannon of your love,

At first I was shocked, but then I noticed many things above.

The same inducements to pleasure give us pain.

(I’m never trying those things again)

The big picture really does makes sense

Up here, where the air is not so dense

And anger dies in circumstance.

I see you doing town-like things in town,

Wondering if you should buy that gown,

(Have I told you I’m never coming down?)

The string that solves the maze is shaped like the maze.

There is a willingness to fight

When one isn’t right.

And when there isn’t love in the middle of the night,

You get poems for days.

 

 

I WILL SAY IT FOR YOU

I will say it for you, since you cannot say

Why you love me—yet want to go away.

Love is dangerous. Love has no friends,

No kindness. In love, all kindness ends.

Except in the arms of the beloved. Then you are kind

And for a minute the body is happier than the mind.

Do you want that happiness again? You really can’t say.

Your body cannot speak. Your mind trips along a different way.

You wonder who these people are, who populate your day.

You wonder if they love you, how many of them are kind.

Now love is about to speak. It’s me.

And just before I speak, you find a way to get free.

Love is a mystery, but love can be willed

Like a poem. Like silence. Aren’t you thrilled?

 

 

 

 

 

BEING WANTED

Being wanted is the greatest satisfaction!

Smile! The hungry can take no action

Against your jewels and rings.

The hungry listen patiently while your beauty sings.

You are fed and satisfied

When hungrily your face and limbs are eyed.

Your beauty is all; you have no need

As long as they want and cannot feed.

Their love and jealousy will die

Only when your beauty dies in their eye.

Hunger for beauty is a desperate need.

Beauty brings wolves and wolves must feed.

When beauty is threatened and has to hide

It isn’t beauty, for beauty is beauty seen in all its pride.

Since abundance gave us light, leisure, and food to eat,

Starvation lives with beauty walking the public street,

And since her photo came to the internet,

There’s more sorrow and starvation yet.

Satisfaction is misunderstood:

It can be evil and it can be good,

But it’s always evil, with the removal of clothes,

In seduction, and passion, poor passion which thinks it knows.

MENTION THE PLACE I’M FROM

Mention the place I’m from,
The cave in the forest; mention that sometimes I danced
The folk dances, the strange hopping to the primitive drum.
And that I composed sixteen modernist sonnets,
Which will have to do, until my resume come.

Mention the places I’ve seen,
The skyscraper elevator where to an Ezra Pound poem I danced
The folk dances, and mention I edited a little magazine
Containing the worst poems imaginable,
Moss-covered jet planes crashing into a futurist green.

Mention all the places,
The winding starlit stairways where shadows danced
The folk dances, and give them names, if you can, not just faces,
Of those who danced those dances, even T.S. Eliot
Who kidded everyone, and put damn Virginia Woolf through her paces.

 

 

BE KIND TO HER WHO DOESN’T KNOW

Be kind to her who doesn’t know
What snow is; my world is under snow.

Be kind to her who doesn’t understand
The body; I found my brain in my hand.

Be kind to her who thought men
Might possibly make her happy again.

Be kind to her who thought the sky
Was clouds; it rains and I ask why.

Be kind to her who doesn’t see
Advice, advice that’s freezing me.

Be kind to her who doesn’t feel
Brutal cold; freezing to me is real.

Be kind to her who made her face
Every face; And I? I have to think of my race.

Be kind to her who understood
Nothing; I am trapped by the good.

Be kind to her who said she had
A new work; an old one made me sad.

Be kind to her who thinks the new
Is always new; I hate I saw and grew.

Be kind to her who thinks
Water hides; I am the water she drinks.

Be kind to her who let others
Sort it out; I am speaking to my brothers.

Be kind to her who was better than us all.
Her name is jealousy; jealousy made me fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN IT’S HOT AND THE SUMMER SOUNDS

When it’s hot and the summer sounds

Vibrate like heat itself, you think

Maybe you are done with poetry,

Which sits silently on the page

In code, not really communicating your wisdom and rage.

When it’s hot

You reject poetry in your cool mind;

Your cool mind says it would rather not.

When it’s hot, and clothes slip

To the ground,

And reason melts,

And even fiery love turns to liquid with a sighing sound,

You intend to give up poetry, and sing

Into the ear of your beloved,

But even hearing is a mess,

Thanks to love’s distress.

No poem or song

Can heal love’s wrong.

You think, with the cool sea taking over the land,

You might reach out and take her hand,

But that, too, is in a liquid state—

Joined to the liquid world by love—

So warmly in love, love is the same as hate.

 

 

 

 

LEAVES ARE WAVING ABOVE THE SUN

Leaves are waving above the sun
In paintings, in gardens, in the harsh outdoors
Which afflict the eyes of everyone.

You brought me flowers, not for my hands
But for my eyes,
Eyes blind from love, not wanting its cures,

Wanting more love—more, more love. Hear the bands
Play, the heart-pounding trumpet and drum,
Every melody a penny buys

Permitted, as long as love songs are played
For us in the deep shade.

You brought me flowers and I’ll never forget
How you held flowers when we met.

Or did you? Perhaps you did not. You did not.
You chose one of love’s cures
And fell out of love with yourself, and me,
And now, yes, these days, my eyes can see.

When I glimpse you by accident outdoors
I see your legs are too short,
Your chin is too long,
And there are no flowers.
There is no song.

You want an unencumbered life,
A sweet, darling sis.
I’m satisfied to remember—what?
That we had bodies. That we liked to kiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T FIX THE WORLD YET

Don’t fix the world yet.

Its cries are my lover’s cries.

When the ship is repaired, and sails

My secret happiness dies.

Errors you see on street and pier

Keep officials busy, and these sighs

Are sad, but music, and she is here—

Who will disappear when that perfection

Due the world loosens all ties

To imperfect love, and winds blow in a new direction.

They are finding ways to make life better

So the young will mock the letter

I wrote to her a long time ago

Which made her fall in love with me, and so

I beg you, don’t change the arpeggio

To some new dance.

She will dance away, if she has a chance.

Don’t fix the world yet;

Her imperfect life is my life,

She is my mad and maddening wife—

Who loves me, and doesn’t know

How to escape me, how easily

With a brand new melody,

She could look at me, and wave goodbye, and go.

 

 

 

I GOT CONFUSED ONE DAY

It was an ordinary conversation.
There was something I wanted to say
As I looked at her as she talked.
I got confused one day.

She was beautiful, a good friend
And I asked myself, what did I say?
Why is she angry, like she’s not my friend?
I got confused one day.

Why did a song come into my heart,
One I forgot and hardly knew how to play?
Why did I find myself talking in song?
I got confused one day.

Why did I hesitate calling,
Why did I contemplate May
And think about June and where she was?
I got confused one day.

Now it’s been years since we loved.
I understood the roads of a good way
Might be bad, but I’m glad
I got confused one day.

YOU READ TWO POEMS AT ONCE

 

You read two poems at once.

The upper meaning wears a white suit,

A beautiful suit, works in New York,

Born in Louisiana, here are the black and white

Photos of the parents. Instructions clear.

Now comes the other meaning, the lower meaning,

The secondary meaning, kissing you,

Hugging you and calling you dear.

And what it feels about porn and presidential politics

And there’s a hair on your upper lip

And outside it is getting dark and I’m tired

And depressed and confusion grows.

I need to write another poem.

I need to go home. And wash some clothes.

 

POETRY IS WOMAN’S LANGUAGE

for forough farrokhzad

She was dying of me, but I was her life.
While I heard the blood rushing in her breasts, she was my wife.
When she walked, with no place to go,
I was in her thoughts. She longed for my desire in her mirror,
As I gave her light. At her window, love made the sparrows come nearer.
Her deep sobs were anything but comical.  They were slow.
Poetry is woman’s language.
She told me I could not see her. And now I know.

 

NEEDING TO SAY EVERYTHING I MUST RIP AWAY

Tom in Romania

Needing to say everything, I must rip away
The veil of poetry.
I’m sorry, for that day, I’m sorry.

I expected us to meet at the garage
Because you texted me suggestively.
But you also texted me you had to pee—
That’s why you wanted to meet at the station.

You changed your mind, and that was okay.
Yet I acted betrayed, like an entitled prick,
I completely forgot you had to pee,
And then I had the nerve to accuse you of testing me,
Which naturally made you furious.

Then! I didn’t call you for five days, clueless
As to what a jerk and ignoramus
I was—reading the romance novel she gave me
Which I had pulled out of my bag at the station.

That day a perfect storm of minor events: to annoy you and make you see
That I, who seemed a beacon of kindness and sensitivity,
Was just another creepy part of the creepy life
You must endure; I’m sorry.

I really wanted you, I wanted you to be my wife;
That awful day the chance to be alone with you blinded me,
And now, in horror, looking back,
I realize that day, which seemed like a minor fight, ended my life.

You exist as a great silent hole in my heart, a lack
Which is my greatest sadness. Needing to say
Everything, I rip away
The veil of poetry
Behind which I hide.
How good is poetry, even the greatest poetry, if behind poetry I died?

 

 

CRY ME A RIVER

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Ah, you will always be that egotist

Who I met, befriended, and kissed,

And all the rest, though I felt you would fall

Back into that state where you had no personality at all.

And I will always be that poet who knew

You would tire of egotism—you are, but you are not, you.

Now you’re a feel good poster of capital-letter cliché.

BE GOOD TO YOURSELF. LEARN FROM MISTAKES YOU MADE YESTERDAY.

Surrender to the “wisdom” crap, in which all you are

Surrenders. Close the door. Adorn it with a gold star.

I will always be an egotist. I practice to be

More musical, with more harmony,

Such as you find in Cry Me A River, when the G

Chord arrives out of the B flat diminished chord surprisingly

And cheerfully: in the key, I yet move, slightly, out of the key, playfully

So in all that great sorrow, in all that wonderful revenge, I resolve

A love that I love, but also, solve

Forever. The artist—it’s me, my love—conceals

Myself, behind what the art—ah, the art—reveals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THERE IS A GREATER DESPAIR

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There is a greater despair

Than being sad here right now.

The nurses and soldiers can tell you how

The massacre made so many unhappy.

Others somewhere are sick and not feeling well.

You cannot imagine what it’s like

To be away from everyone, in a prison cell.

There is always a greater despair

Somewhere over there.

These painful facts are so unkind,

I cannot possibly keep them in my mind.

My mind is entirely made of you.

This is what my mind is, and what it likes to do:

To think on happiness as it pertains to you.

I am happy now, but I was happier then

When I loved you purely and wasn’t jealous—

Alas—of your sickening obeisance towards other men.

You rejected me—who loved you—because I was jealous.

On a scale of five my jealousy was a three—

But once you asked, ” I want all your poems to be for me.”

That’s how true love is expressed: in jealousy.

On a scale of five my love for you was a ten.

I saw you today, quietly miserable, and thought of despair,

The kind that says: I will never be happy again.

AFTER THAT LONG PAUSE

After that long pause,

It felt like we had nothing more to say;

Acutely, I felt the separation,

As if now you and I each belonged to a different day:

I said something, and suddenly you didn’t want to say

What was on your mind,

And I felt you were making me seem unkind

Because you were unkind;

I wanted to like you, but now I saw there was something in your mind

That didn’t want to talk to me, that was unkind.

These pauses kill relationships every day.

That pause. That one long pause.

And now I don’t care what you have to say.

 

 

NOW IS THE SAD DECLINE

Now is the sad decline
Of everything that’s mine:
The frozen ground that was my hope,
You, who I held onto, and the rope
Swing that sang over the valley,
Its green more green than green,
A vista that is ours, but never enough seen,
Or that evening when, smiling, you called me into the alley
And suddenly kissed me,
The bright, sumptuous apartments
One could glimpse into,
The boulevards fading; you almost saw them, too;
The bricks haphazardly leading into the park
Where we laughed before dark,
And then, when dark, as we did often,
Hidden, the kisses came more often;
And weren’t you surprised by the fame
Of the day? The day was always the same,
I knew, the same this time:
Not quite the same, a forest of pine,
Rain, desolation, sunlight, and then, decline.

 

 

THE ELECTION IS ALWAYS

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The election is always between the living and the dead.

Bill Clinton or Vince Foster? I vote for one in my head.

I love conspiracy videos. Human nature is really dark.

The nice ones end it all in a Civil War memorial park.

The bad ones succeed, but finally, who can blame

Those who see death and save themselves? You would do the same.

Whistle blowers always have that frightened, nerdy look.

Success is sex. The sexy steps the cruel and sexy took.

Vote for the voting record when you cast your vote

In democracy’s dark booth. Forget the song in the long coat.

Don’t listen to conspiracy videos, no matter what they say.

Let the dead and the lonely go. Look the other way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMY IS NOT ENOUGH

Amy is not enough; I also want Sue,

Stella, Laura, Beatrice—because I can’t have you.

Stoop down, read the whole list, and if you’re not there,

Stooping has not been in vain—not listed belongs to the list of care.

What stays only is what stays with me.

O Look about you, if there is no sign of me,

Read! I am secretly signaling you in my poetry.

Read carefully the whole list

Of muses—whom poets pretended to have kissed.

The fact that you don’t see your name

Pleases me: your absent love is how I will build my fame,

And your knowledge that you don’t exist

Is how everything that lives loves—by being missed.

No! Not Amy am I missing.

The world doesn’t know you’re the one I’m kissing,

If only in my mind—

Where poetry lives—for you—who was unkind.

 

 

 

 

NOW IT’S DONE

You’ve read Cosmopolitan, the tips on sex,
The clothes and lubricants are yours;
You’ve purchased the right perfumes,
You’ve wandered through the hotels and the hotel rooms,
Rejected the handsome (they were bores),
Quickly dispatched the guy who’s now your ex,
And settled on me.
You’ve read the books, seen the movies. Now you’re free.
You present yourself in silks, casually.
Now what am I thinking? What do I see?
This is the component of love which troubles you.
You cannot read the mind of the one you love.
You may ask me, or tell me, or guide me on what to do,
But what about careless thoughts in the mind?
A conversation which proceeds carelessly?
I’m face down. I murmur something French and sing-songy.
I want to tell you something, but it comes out uncomfortably.
I’ll be a poet. Now what am I thinking? What do I see?
What is your inclination now? Right now what do you think of me?
What is the heart of this? Is it liquid? And what is poetry?

YOU’RE FREE AT LAST, YOU’RE FREE AT LAST, GOD ALMIGHTY, YOU’RE FREE AT LAST

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You’re free at last. Get away from my face.

You’re free, and all attachments of every kind are gone,

No more, no more, the slavish pleadings of my gender and my race.

Get out. Take yourself from my sloping lawn.

No more will I kiss you, or take you in my arms

In the international context of warnings and alarms.

The sheets are washed.  Our souls free of wet disgrace.

Free is free. Gatherings not measured. Platitudes are gone.

You wanted to be free. You are free. Leave me.

Stop thinking I will come after you.

The world is large. She told me what to do.

 

 

 

I WILL TELL YOU OF THE BLUE BELL

We all copy, for words
Are less than actual birds.
We make a mark
And there is Shelley’s lark.

O joyous marks! What joy they are bringing.
The alphabet is singing.

I am flesh, and compared to words my flesh is real.
Yet my body is a copy which dies.
I do not own. I am nothing. So I steal.
Stealing is copying. Copying is the only thing that’s real.

We all love
Symbols, like olive branch and dove.
We learn to be accurate; we learn to spell.
We learn to love. And now I love too well.

We are lonely.
We know our loneliness well.
I love myself; I love my own light,
But hell is dark because my own light will not light hell.
My eyes are beautiful and they tell
Stories, but my eyes do not light even a small hell.

I will tell you of the blue bell,
An intricate flower
That tolls the hour
In a dark, imaginary, garden of sighs,
Which waits, like all of us,
For the sun to rise.

 

 

WE BEGAN IN SPACE

We began in space, but it was time

That made us joy—and grieve.

You wanted theirs to be your rhyme

And I wrote to you so you would believe

In poetry, as well as me. Now that you have read

This, which one do you think is dead?

Poetry is ever hopeful someone will read

A poet’s highest need—

Will do more than read

The now of its ending

After its middle—which was then,

But think of its beginning.

And fall in love again.

 

 

 

 

 

THE FACE

The face grows old so fast.

We can’t look down and see our face

The way we can our hand.

We need an event to see our face,

We approach the mirror and there’s our face

Like a performance in a play.

There’s our face, thinking. Now what will it say today?

 

When I look down and see my hand,

I don’t care if it looks the way it does.

It’s my hand. It has unique curves and lines

But it’s a hand. Not my face.

 

What if we carried our heads at the end of our arms

And there they would be, plainly observable,

And we could study at leisure our heads, just as we do our hands?

Wouldn’t that be horrible? After all, faces are not hands.

Faces, when we suddenly glimpse them, make us sick.

A face fears, and that fear barely understands.

 

 

 

SEA OF LOVE

I didn’t know what music was, not yet,

Not until I heard how the two of them met

In a large lagoon under the moon

And the poems in their books got wet.

There’s been many sleepless nights because of things I didn’t get,

Sleepless nights, because of things I didn’t understand, or couldn’t understand yet.

But I remember when highbrow made lowbrow her pet.

It was the strings in You Don’t Own Me which drowned her voice

And then I no longer knew. I no longer had a choice.

It might have been one chord

When I found the Lord.

 

 

 

 

WHAT SITS BEHIND THE EYES

What sits behind the eyes?

More eyes. They watch the insects of the rain flitting.

O wash of colors and recriminations

Which sat once, with you and I—and are still sitting.

What sits behind the eyes?

An object looked at in a garden

Which now gives you a withering look.

As the line in the poem approaches.

As the metaphor waits.

We decide it goes in your book.

What sits behind the eyes?

The unkindness of the mind,

Which filters and laughs and hates,

To preserve itself—and a small chance to be kind.

 

 

 

TO BE UNMOVED

The world is a sea anemone reacting to stimulation.

We react to stimulation. Our reaction creates stimulation.

This is both reality and virtual reality, plain and simple.

This is why the addict of the video game

Is no different than the conversationalist, the lover, the mountain climber;

They are all the same.

A poet has never offered one opinion of interest, but his poems hold

An apparent secret and everyone believes he—the unmoved—is profound and bold.

In the poet’s stupefying love,

As passive as a wall: the heavens roll in your heart like planets and stars above.

Oh, new friend, should I have been sad, today? Thinking how simple life is?

All it is, is this. The sun kisses us. We kiss.

 

YOU CAN INSULT ME

You can insult my country.
I am not my country.
But not my poetry.

You can insult my gender.
I am not my gender.
But not my metaphor.

You can insult my race.
I am not my race.
But not my book case.

You can insult my vocation.
I am not my vocation.
But not my radio station.

You can insult me, sweet and mild.
But not my Oscar Wilde.

 

 

 

I CAUSE LOVE

t brady

I cause love,
Though I, myself, am not loving.
I give no roses.
I am not love,
I am what love exposes:
The mind, uncomfortable; a vain thought; a sigh;
Or the look on your face when you see my face and smile before you cry.

I am the fog which dreams, the fog the silent harbor encloses
On a summer evening when the water is strangely bright
And the scene and the boats illuminated as the night
Gets ready to fall, prepares for tranquility and beauty
To die, and you love what the beauty discloses.
You don’t remember me.
You remember all the poses.

 

 

THE ONE MUSE I KNOW

The one muse I know
Makes my inspiration come and go
In forms of various shadows and light.
Ah, the one muse is my highest delight.
When you see me talking to you
It is only because I see her too.

The other women walking nearby
Were surprised when I turned to them with a cry
And a greeting, with excitement in my voice.
But no, you weren’t the one, you weren’t my choice;
She was in the shadows and saw
All the shadows I spoke to:
She saw the two of us speaking: myself and you.
She, my highest delight, my muse, was quietly nearby
When I greeted you with a smile and a cry.

THE PROLIFIC POET

The prolific poet is never trusted,
Like a beautiful woman—isn’t she too beautiful to give her beauty to one?
(Yes I know that beautiful women are truer than most
But we can’t help but see a beautiful woman as a ghost
With ghostly desires bursting from the brains of everyone.)
The prolific poet is never trusted.
Many beautiful poems coming out of you so quickly
Indicates a treasure that is not yours,
And you are, in fact, less than a man,
Not because you can’t do something—or skillfully and carefully, you can.
You are giving birth as passively as pain that roars.
All these poems! You are dreaming a desirable birth
To everyone’s everything. And so to everyone who is not everything you have no worth.
Just wait. One day your great poems will be taken out and dusted.
Until then, you are nothing. For everything is nothing—if it can’t be trusted.

YOU SAW MY COMMA, YOU SAW WHAT I SAID WAS NICE

Commuter Portrait

You saw my comma, you saw what I said was nice;

The shouting world that you see has nothing to do with me,

But I, at least, can prove to you, with the way I write,

That I am kind, nice to kiss, and safe—even sweet to be with at night.

It really is true that we have nothing to do with the world,

Although we are in it. The unseeing world

Has been manipulated against its will,

Or not: maybe the whole world meant to do it this way,

And the world is exactly as it should be, every day;

Though we don’t believe this, and I don’t believe this,

And please just kiss me—and do me a favor: don’t believe a single thing I say.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

For Ben

What do you do in the twilight, when there won’t be any sun?
When every bird is darkness, and the birds, to their dark mother, run?
When every song is darkness, and all that was dear, and holy, and still,
Remains so forever, covering all you perceived, when you gazed, at valleys, with hope, high on the hill?
When every silence is eternal, adding silence to the silent flaw
Which demands more silence, because they fall down there, with each silence, each silence, the law?
You hear the crumbs and pebbles fall to ever lower levels in the dark
Until you cannot hear them. The pages are gone.  The book is gone.  And the lark.
When the earth is your parade—but she is the one
To make the shadows come up from further shadows,
Interspersed with light—remember a day’s summer in the park?
And she loved you? And brought her hand
Into your hand…?

You are dying. I understand.
I’ve been to that darkness, too.
The same shadow that covered me covers you.

 

THE LOVER WHO REJECTS YOU IS THE CRUELEST GOD

The lover who rejects you is the cruelest god.
This cruelty you expected all along:
When you walked with her, when the two of you listened to a song,
It hid under everything you two felt and said,
In a love that made you warm—just as now you wish you were dead.

The lover who rejected you practiced long hours
To reject your eyes and reject your flowers
And to be cruel so much to the point
Where you knew it wasn’t you loving,
Because confusion presented a scene:
Knowing love made mad a love that was green.

You look at him loving her who is loving you.
Love is too loving. Love doesn’t know what to do.
Love is here, and there, and you are no longer true.

You cannot control desire, leaping into many,
And more, and cannot stop seeing, thinking and feeling.
You push the blankets away and you writhe and you look at the ceiling.

But the orgy ends.
And cloudiness is a love. And a sunset cloud a sunset sends.

And then, a calmness pervades.
The madness ends. The grass swallows up the shades.

And now you ride a leafy stream onto a silent lake
And see only her. Only her. You live—only for her sake.

Or at least, that’s what you think.
The ground is soft.  She knows you will sink.

And then, a calmness pervades.
This kind of madness always ends. The grass now has the writhing shades.

MY POETRY

My poetry, there’s no help for you
Now that she—my love!—tells me what to do.
I had a good idea for a poem yesterday;
A good poem!—she looked at me and it flew away.

My poetry, we need to talk.
In the sunlight, by the sea, we’ll walk.
Lately I’ve given up your lying
To think of her; you’ve heard me sighing.

My poetry, you haven’t got a prayer
Against her; she is Iranian. And rare.
She has a full head of dark brown hair.

My poetry, I am happy. Please don’t despair
If you are not good.  I will always care.

My poetry, there’s no hope for you,
Except when I repeat what she has to say—
And when she stops looking at me I may.

 

 

LOVE NOTHING

Do you feel nothing for me? Can this be true?

Is this why you run from me when I come into view?

I’m a philosopher. I philosophize about you.

I don’t think we love a person—we only love what they do.

This is why love is a paradox—we think love unites

Two persons—but love kills the person, even as love delights

In doing so—the dog who loves is the dog who bites.

The fact of what the other person allows you to do—

Sex—is all one can ever love. Yes. I’m sorry, but I never loved you.

I only loved that you gave me sex. And this is always true

For everyone. Love is nothing but this.

We never love the lover. We only love the kiss.

This is why you adored me, and suddenly saw me as a lout.

You don’t hate me—you hate love.  You found out

The terrible secret: great love contains great doubt—

And when all doubt finally disappears

The truth makes us cry the bitterest tears—

Love gives nothing. Love is nothing. All we can do is fake it.

I have nothing for you. Here. Take it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLOWLY, LOVE LOVED

Slowly, love loved.
Quick had been my desperate desire—
But slowly love loved.
I stood by a dying fire.

Slowly, she decided,
With limitations, to be mine.
She loved me a morning,
Or an evening, after wine.

She came to me slowly,
Covered, in public streets.
This is how love hides desire,
How secretly love meets.

She made me wait for days,
Then came in a covered car,
Watched by no one,
Under a yearning star.

WHEN SHE AND I SAT

image

When she and I sat in the park,

More silent than talking,

Famished past dinner time,

Sacrifices to forbidden love

Companion to the kisses

In the breezy dark,

We loved and had love.

When others finished walking

Past, we kissed again

And made a game of it,

Or love did—we were never sure

Where love ended and we began.

Tonight I came back, feeling the years

Melt. The small park we knew the same.

Then I saw him, a familiar stranger,

A silent part of the scene

I had forgotten. He never made a sound.

He never looked around, the stooped old man,

Who came with a plastic jug of water

And watered the plants. Who was he?

Until then memory had not harmed me.

Now, seeing him, I fled, and burst into tears,

Running from her. Our love. The years.

 

HIT SONG

band

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby I’m gonna leave you

I did not have sex with that woman

Baby, baby, baby, I’m gonna leave you

I did not have sex with that woman

Baby, baby, baby I’m gonna leave you

Leave you in the summer time

Babe, babe, babe, babe

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

I’m so emotional right now

Or if the fetus isn’t loved

Those are the real criminals

Those are the real criminals

Those are the real criminals

Babe, babe, babe, I’m gonna leave you

Leave you in the summertime

With a dead sound on the final stroke

With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine

Number nine

Number nine

Number nine

Meer Meer Meer

How do you like it

She was always putting things out of the way.  She was putting things off.

Dying all the time

Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t

Atrocity no one sees

I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

Baby you got me down on my knees

And now the news

Come on baby light my fire

Light my fire, light my fire, light my fire

Do you want me to love you

O the shark has pretty teeth dear

Dear dear dear dear

Babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe

How can you mend a broken heart

The harmful rays of the sun

Ahhh

Ahh

Ah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CREEP FACTOR

Good comes out of evil and evil comes out of good.

The American people are faced with the following—we see it coming and cannot avoid it:

Either Donald Trump or Bill Clinton will live in the White House by early next year.

The creep factor has never been so high, or so visible, in the American republic.

And yet, if good does come out of evil, the 2016 presidential election will give us all a powerful, unavoidable lesson—things associated with ambition and leadership have a very high creep factor.

This useful understanding will hit us hard: those who live and work in a modest, humble, manner for themselves and their loved ones are the true owners of themselves.

A great, unspoken backlash against creepiness will occur.  Millions of Americans who quietly view the horrid spectacle unfolding in front of them will feel that the greatest virtue and the greatest happiness is honesty, hard work, good taste, intelligence, modesty, ingenuity, and kindness.

This is not to say that one cannot feel a certain pride—for whatever reason—for a particular candidate: this is not a lecture against whomever you might favor; this is not the point of this essay, and as much as democracy always seems troubling, this is okay—what we are merely trying to point out is that the general feeling of creepiness and revulsion and disgust Americans feel right now, in the summer of this election year, in reaching a fever pitch of mass recognition, will trigger a healthy purging, a new and radical appreciation among the American populus of real virtue—and this virtue will naturally and quietly grow tremendously in value.

The creep factor is a safety measure which protects us against wrong; it cannot be intellectualized away; we know it the way we know the smell of sour milk.

The creepy does not have to rise to the level of crime to be noticed—and this is what makes it such an important warning device, and also why it belongs so powerfully to both social relations and aesthetics; it is not ignored, because it can’t be, even though it is often pushed under the rug of public discourse.

Now, the creep factor does interact with libel and slander, and, if there is a question of facts—and we are falsely suspecting creepiness based on hearsay—this obviously is an issue.

But this is something which cannot be denied by the individual who feels it.  It doesn’t have to smell (alluding to our earlier “sour milk” analogy)—it can be known without a doubt even as “the creep” in question denies it, has supporters in high places, has respectability, is liked by many, and even has certain admirable qualities.  The creep factor is something we feel in our bones, even as it flies under legal or public detection.  It can be sensed, even if there is no “smell” at all.  The “creep” can play victim; “the creep” can play all sorts of games, and these games, even when they gain “the creep” public support, only increase the creep factor in our eyes.

It is safe to say that because of the choice we have for president this year, one does not have to get into the pros and cons of either one of the candidates to simply and factually state that, in total, the creep factor of public life in America has never been so high.  We can bemoan this fact, or we can see the good in it: it will lead to a healthy backlash against creepiness in nearly every corner of America.

Some will argue that when creepiness reaches a tipping point in our leaders, a tipping point in public, followers and private individuals will feel the urge to be more creepy, as well.

This may be true up to a point, but the creep factor, thanks to the current election, is so pervasive now, and is felt so significantly in the body politic, that shame and disgust will set in to such an extent that great numbers of citizens, without thinking, will turn in the other direction.

And, as we said, the creep factor affects us—who are not making judgments in a court of criminal law—rather in a social or aesthetic manner; this is the luxury we have as citizens free of the creep factor ourselves: we judge with our more gentle feelings (acute—but gentle) and not in full-blown rage, or malice.  Creepiness is not the same as crime—as when, for instance, a tyrant murders citizens in full view of all and the cowed citizenry’s inaction becomes a license for more terror.

The real and harmful violence of nations (including those of the United States) is certainly a factor that may overlap with a leader’s or a country’s creep factor—but it’s the very nature of the creep factor to belong to the aesthetic realm, occupying that crucial area between warning and harm; the greatest pain and ultimate doom has not yet occurred, and there is still hope.  Without the creep factor as a warning, the human race may have been wiped out long ago.

The creep factor is not conscience or morality; it works at a far more sensitive level, the place where flowers cast forth their delicate perfumes; the place where very small children shyly cling to the necks of their mothers and hide their faces; the place where a secret heart beats loudly, almost in spite itself, for the deepest, sweetest, and purest love, in the throes of the kindest and sweetest ecstasy; and in the place where the superior edge of the musical or poetic genius is felt, and understood, and known.

The creep factor can manifest itself in countless situations, and those who desperately cry, “Creep!” may very well be full of creepiness themselves.

Just as we are not “taking sides” on the election, neither are we “taking sides” when it comes to men versus women—or any of those other divides which divide.

The creep factor can go either way.

The creep factor moves, as delicately as any poem, in the invisible air.

 

 

NEVER THIS

 

Looking deludes you, and those emotions, too.

Women’s magazines present faces

In a way that acknowledges those faces

Free of blemishes are vital images,

So that, for society, the illusionary is true.

A pretty face is like a flower, which is

Banal, not interesting, and hardly new.

Poetry uses metaphor—one object is placed beside another:

Do you want them doing that to you?

Hamlet has to be described exactly,

Or he won’t be emotionally true;

He won’t be able to speak in the word-sea

To the sea of the audience. That cannot be.

But there is one thing that doesn’t delude you—

Except for echo bouncing off sky and ground—

And what I’m talking about, of course, is sound.

Sometimes you don’t know where it’s coming from,

But it’s the most actual thing, when found.

There’s many illusionary empires: empires of kiss,

Empires of intimacy. Silent empires. But never this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I PUSH MYSELF TO THE LONELY EXTREME

image

I push myself to the lonely extreme,

Where you—and you—and you—are a dream,

Where every councilor and flying cousin are known

By my poetry alone.

Where every drink and dream contains a pill

Of my extremist will.

Where I go down to the pit of hell—

But one more cigarette will make me well.

They say I shouldn’t rhyme so much; it’s not sincere.

But music kisses plain speech; if trumpet rhymed with fear,

You would find some interest eventually.

Define poetry? A purity of wait-and-see.

Hope is despair that’s free,

Freedom: despair that hopes.

You’re an idiot if you assume others are dopes.

Everyone has imagination. Once, a poem said “kill”

And one died for the rest of the day

Not certain if it was real or play,

And the authorities granted she was frightened to death

By a word whispered by a poet’s breath.

How easily poetry can fill

The vanities with vanity.

Modernity is Dante on the window sill.

Did you read my poem at all?

Did you read my poem and fall?

That’s not what I meant at all.

Not life. Not agony. Not at all.

Breathing life into the whole street

I walk and look and obey my fate.

I focus my mind like a laser beam.

I watch sports for a minute. For the rest of the day I dream.

Comparison, the better and the worse,

Is what human life is made of, of course.

Every second, you compare top-shelf.

My smile wasn’t perfect. So I hid myself.

 

 

 

MY REASONS

My reasons for hating you are in tatters.
All that mattered, no longer matters;
Love has taught a lesson well,
Reason can reason you into hell.
Return is the only reason for seasons;
Love has worth
Only in rebirth;
My reasonable love wants no reasons.
Give me your hand again.

It is true we are nothing; the station,
The travelers, the train.
Life rumbles on without love, without you,
And no one knows, and only the heavy train is true.
Crumbling stone, mute distraction
Is all there is,
A hopeful kiss
Is imagined when we take no action.
Can you give me your hand again?

We float, invisible, through it all,
And the same birds to the same birds call,
And no knowledge of you and I.
A film is a film that matters.  Pictures for pictures cry.
We are invisible by mountains and streams.
When I glimpsed you,
You glimpsed me, too,
But we are silent as dreams.
Will you give me your hand again?

No, it is true, I am not the same.
Our unhappy story is full of shame,
And maybe death must come, after all,
Leaving no memories on the wall,
A wall cluttered, and slippery with dust,
And you go past,
And I leave, because nothing can last,
And we go, indifferently, as we must.
Oh God! Give me your hand again!

 

LET ME BE HONEST AND TRUE

Let me be honest and true.

I am alone, and still madly in love with you.

No one can define poetry,

But I think it is love and honesty,

And from that, follows a truth, which can be said—

—The truest that lives in any head—

Where all the secrets lie

In a vast, ghostly landscape,

Who come out to play in dreams

And so poetry only seems

To be about seeming,

But really it is about truth that is dreaming

About what honesty can do.

I am alone, and still madly in love with you.

 

LOVE IS HORRIBLE WHEN IT ENDS

image

Love has no way of knowing what it is,

Because it is so many things:

Lips, songs, the words to songs,

And the soul that listens when it sings.

 

Go—desperate lover, lost, thinking over

The endless disorder and discord of grief—

Into life which assails you: tears, tears,

Misunderstanding, tears drowning your intimate belief.

 

Love has no way of knowing if it comes or goes,

Or whether it loses or wins—

Love is horrible when it ends.

As it begins, begins, begins.

 

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