Monthly Archives: December 2013

Chrysalis

They have made peanut butter,
roofing tar and wood into diamonds.
In the 1950s, look it up.

If a woman in stiletto heels
can puncture an oak floor,
squeeze oxygen hard enough
and it becomes a metal,
shiny, slippery and iridescent.

Electrons go where they shouldn’t
like soldiers crossing into no mans land,
shaking hands with the enemy
and eating sandwiches together.

Who doesn’t change under pressure?

Methodists become pirates.
Anarchists become legislators.
Paul fell down and found God.

The poor know this.
The rest of us
just haven’t found our anvils yet.

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Indecision

Indecision is an itchy pair of pants.
rubbing against your thigh.

Carrying the weight of the future
Is a heavy burden.

Far away lakes dream
of holding less,
of releasing the spring flood
all at once to the marsh.

Standing on a street comer,
waiting for the light to change.
There is little time and it is a long way.
Go or wait and change your plans?

Butter or margarine?
Marry or keep looking?
Let hate set up shop in your soul
or wake up?

Indecision has the balls of a fly,
but you my dear, are a race horse.

Either way you are ultimately sunk,
but the scenery is better on the horse.

Tattoos For the Mind

Poems are tattoos for the mind.
Poems are serpents eating their own tales.

Poems are haunted portraits of the saints
floating above the sumi-inked waves.

Poems are riotous, mad flowering blooms of innocence
and serene figures of mystery
standing sentinel in the jade green bamboo.

Poems thunder the importance of quiet truths
and scent the dark landscapes of desire!

When have their detractors erased the smallest poem?
Could the Peronists chase Neruda’s Cantos into exile?

Could the US courts put Ginsberg’s Howl back in the bottle?
Can Putin imprison Pussy Riot’s Punk Prayer?

Poems do not justify their existence.
Does the dawn blame the night for its daily absence?

Where the Street Ends

Stillness.

Empty water in the trees.
Pine needles listen in.

The summer woodpecker
who thrums the telephone pole
In front of my house

has left a hole
the whole world crowds into,
collapsing the distance

from birth to madness
into a walnut size pocket.

A lone urban coyote
sniffs the night air below the pole

and continues his evening rounds
unhindered by justice

and beyond wild
in his solitude.

The Orchardists

Aaron Copeland and Anton Chekov
were orchardists and winter brothers.
How I love the flavors
in their unique hybrids!

Copeland’s winey apples of sound
burst with the smell of the prairies,
the tang of clean labor with horse and wagon
and the cider-drunk hoedowns
in farming towns along the Mississippi.

And Chekov! Grafting the luckless
and misbegotten with the divine ordinary!
I can see him in his study turning
a pear of an idea in his mind over and over,
examining the imperfections.

Ah, there it is, he says!
Masha shall confess to her sisters
that she is in love with commander Vershinin,
the one with the suicidal wife:

“My sisters … I’ve confessed,
now I shall keep silent … like Gogol’s madman.”

And that new strain gets passed down through the ages,
full of the hope and despair and life’s troubled journey
and yet surrounded by love and greatness of heart.
How can one not be filled with their joy?

Mining the Moon

So the Chinese
want to mine the moon
–for helium, no less–
to fuel fusion reactors!
(You cannot make
this stuff up.)

I watched the moon tonight,
membraneous in its
swirling ocean of stars,
rising between the houses
of my street like Lazerus.

Pulling on its sky oars,
setting sail without compass or map
as it always does,
making its way
across the window lattice in my bedroom
to landfall
behind the hills to the west,
its sizzling molecules of helium
intact for the journey
tomorrow.

Some Chinese engineer
will see it shortly
while pulling off his pants
after a long day at the computer.
Setting his glasses on the nightstand
in a pool of silvery light
after a dinner of dim sum, no doubt,
to dream of landing a mining rig
or an armchair
or a circus tent with baleful clowns
on the rim of the moon’s biggest crater
and looking up to watch the earth rise
bluer than any tide pool
full of writhing anemones
and awkward ideas.