past midnight, in this dark room
i inhale a cigarette
and wonder where you are
as a splintered piece of moonlight
floats along the floor
and climbs up my pantleg
my nose is burning
i feel like someone's
i feel like all the dud fireworks in the world;
i walk onto the balcony,
it creaks below me, despair
disguised as a dog
is barking somewhere; a slender
thread of purple
around my fingers; this silver cloud
eats silently the moon
as night drowns itself
i take another drag
and wonder where you are
The morning's grown dark
with storm clouds. There's just
a little muted light in this
room, water rushing through
the rusted pipes in the walls and the sound
of the wind moaning in the house.
A Baroque guitar with missing strings
in the corner.
Toulouse-Lautrec's cabaret dancers
highstep across the wall.
Shadows observe them.
I've reach the point of no return
This time with my creditors.
They call and I don't answer.
I just lie
here on the sofa, listen.
I climb up off
the sofa, and stare out this gray window
the morning is dark.
Two doves sail high against
And the mango tree I planted
years ago - the one that never
if I could just have one year
back, or a day
to sail my doom against the sun,
like a crow,
or a falcon (an hour is all I'd really
need) because there is no doom
in me, hardly any sky
left, just a candle and a chorus of black
in my head. something to close the door
on when I twist the cap
off, spill out a little medicine-red
death and scare
the dusk out of my bones.
The great Greek lion tragedy
is at hand. The quantum cosmic elements
are all converging, closing in
on me. This personality, that wailing
war, your changeling desire. The ugly
animal head of some uglier
animal Fate is beginning to show its face.
And I need to get away. And get far
away. To Paris, Amsterdam,
Berlin. The closest thing to suicide
I can think of: to say goodbye
to everything, and travel
alone. To London, or Oslo. To yet another
I need to solve myself
abroad. I need to think I can be solved
sylvan and renewed. In Venice,
or Novgorod. Dublin,
Athens. Anywhere but home,
where my heart's a prune, all bruised and old.
Dying Into Life
At the fourth bend, behind a great grove of trees, you come upon an old country
store selling fresh-squeezed lemonade, boiled Cajun peanuts, Georgia peaches.
You pull into the dusty gravel lot, step out into the broiling sun, the smell of cut grass
in the heavy air. Inside, the old man with a knife in his cracked red hands makes
small talk while halving lemons.
"Yesterday," he says, "it wasn’t bad. The rain cooled everything off in the afternoon.
It even hailed. You think rain’s loud on this roof? Damn thing's tin."
He pours the lemon juice out of the blender into a Styrofoam cup and you thank him.
Get back on the road, taking cool mouthfuls in. Not worrying about the seeds you
swallow. Chewing on the ice. You are thirsty for more than this. You drive past old
Florida farmhouses, rickety mailboxes driven into the ground, more groves of trees.
Turkey vultures circling - some dark and mystic ritual. Their shadows drop and veer
off. The high bloody sun blazes over the tops of the pines.
This is the land of the dead.
Your old hometown, and the people are more like shadows, or beasts - sad, idle
creatures, yoked to the same death-bridle, to the same unseen god, or no god. They
speak in your tongue, but it's not your language. Your language is somewhere else.
Maybe at some great distance, or deep in you. Maybe it's a movement in a symphony
you once heard, or a reoccurring dream.
Wherever, or whatever it is, you won't find it unless you let go. Of the things around
you. Of the people around you. Of your habits. Of yourself.
Look to nature, and let it be your guide. Look to the serpent shedding its skin, the
dying sun, the autumn trees shaking off all their leaves, and embracing the deathly
winter. Look at the blessing they get - the miraculous rebirth of Spring.
A Strangely Isolated Place
Feeling like an open nerve ending
touched by a slight breeze
(or slighted by a touched breeze)...
I am trying to spell out
all the underlying forces at work
in me. The sonic dump
of my grumbling mind, your voice
inside, like trembling petals
of an ancient garden.
You brought me great
jewels yesterday, and the stinging rain.
The faces of fat flowers
that bloomed so
vividly. Was I not sincere
enough? Or were you too true?
Or maybe it was the air
full of static light and great distances.
The colors streaming
so brightly from your flaming
heart to mine. The colors
of a beautiful sunrise on a beautiful drive
home - roseate, lavender, crimson,
all, quickly dying into blue.
on a moth's brittle wings
my mind hangs
fluttering among toadstools
in a crumbling town
by the sea
with sunrise, or suddenly
when the strenuous
fragile dream or lewd and sudden
a ghostbird sings
in my mind
and I sink down into a clutter
They come for me late at night.
An old prostitute. Or a beggar. Or a murderer
with missing fingers. I am home to the living
dead. This one needs
a piece of my ear, that one my kidney,
the last draws blood
from my neck.
Every night it happens.
And when they are finished
working on me, they leave me empty
a nothing in the something
of another becoming. And becoming
nothing, a pale soft light
begins to warm in me. A chrysalis morphs
into a butterfly
and erupts from my chest.
My bones disintegrate and I am
less than ash,
more than thought.
I eat the silence.
And the bees crawling on the little buds blossoming
all over my avocado tree. And the black butterfly
with yellow speckles on its wings, flitting among
the fat leaves, a little blue-green bug trotting over
one. And the oranges hanging over the fence.
And the bougainvillea drinking up the sunlight.
And the love we made back here last Sunday.
And the love we never make anymore.
It’s really just a crappy fenced-in backyard. Patches
of dead grass everywhere. Dead palm fronds.
A mango tree that never produces. Nosy neighbors
always around. I hear the whine of their table-
saws, their leaf blowers, their screaming children
all day. Only at night is it silent, except
for the occasional barking of a dog, or the highway
in the distance. I smoke cigarettes listening,
gazing up at the trees and the cloudshapes
and stars. I look up at them and dream
about getting out of here. I dream of Berlin, Paris,
and I want to let it all go. My girlfriend, my job,
this house that’s being foreclosed upon,
all its furniture and the old paintings,
most of my clothes. My clothes especially, torn
and shapeless workaday clothes, stained
and faintly diesel-scented. They remind me too
much of my job, of lonely drunken nights,
and the slave or Philistine in me. I would like to see
my clothes burn, feel the flames licking
me up. The person I've worked so hard not to be, ashes.
poetry at its best
is music without instruments
peace is death made wise
aren't borne of peace
they are borne
The art of trying
is the painful painful painful
dying of art
is the painful
is the trying
is the painful dying as
is of not
the painful of trying
is the dying
but the dying of trying is the dying
of not being
With my brittle lovecrown weaved with roses
and milkthistle, I lie down in a bath of sin.
This is not water, this is fire reverberating.
This is light and fierceness.
It's somebody's unbridled compassion
entering my soul,
like a knife, blood-stained,
the things and people I have known
canceling each other out and letting go.
And how am I supposed to know
who or what to hold? I don't. Hope
blurs to superstition. Stones
dream upon other stones and those
stones mutter oceans.
Tempest-tossed, exempt from quittance
and flower-eaten tombs.
The petrels plucked from the sky
take my mind
and fly backwards;
the hole torn out in my chest spouts
an imperishable flood
My seeing ears
and hearing eyes are awakening.
I've gotten wild with my pickaxe, trashing
everything I spent
so much of my life building.
It's been quite liberating,
truth be told.
And perfectly practical.
I can look in a mirror now
and see something.
I can look at a clock and see nothing
but a disgraceful
compass of death.
The clock in me
The hours I am living are no longer
The whole in the ecstasy
I am whole in the blood
of the grapes,
where my tragedies & weaknesses are fermented
into a stronger power.
I drain the cup
slam my pickaxe into another wall.
Somewhere under all the rubble
You don't hear it. I don't hear it. Neither the pilots
nor the stewardesses hear it. Only the man at the window
seat, in the sunlight, can hear the clashing
cymbals. Of course they are only in his head.
But he pushed everything aside
for them: his mortgage job friends
acquaintances acquiescing loves
our cannibal culture. He left it with nothing
but a backpack; the last
of his ragged belongings and his torn leaking
heart. One myth, no dance
but in this: Missa
Solemnis. Some ancient poem. A dark sea of raging violas.
flying into that blossoming fire.
You are terrifying.
All you want is to make
a martyr out of me.
To mutilate my intestines,
tear out my hair, shatter all my bones.
The butterflies fly
all around me now.
They sing upon my eyelids
& dream inside my
All this sacrifice but nothing lost.
All this dying is dying
It happens every day.
The rapture of total emptiness.
The hunter putting his rifle down,