Friday, December 14, 2007
A warm December rain relieves
the unattended silent night,
in the withered garden weaves
its carpet of reflected light.
All our distant instruments
describe a wilderness of sky,
another desert testament,
a lunar hermit’s arctic cry.
Yet night is shivering on the lawns,
splashed in scintillating shards,
as light older than the sun
relaxes with us in our yards.
The stars we follow never seem
to take us where we want to go;
our camels start for Bethlehem,
deliver us to Buffalo,
in which inclement weather we
discover just enough to stay,
as rumors of nativity
are lost behind the frozen gray,
and winter travel’s such a danger
that we settle to await the thaw,
and stumble on a little stranger
lying in the golden straw.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
It’s pleasant here among the dead,
here beneath the ancient trees
that drift and whisper overhead,
to stroll the polished privacies,
these aisles and avenues to which
the sleepers never thought to come;
young or old, poor or rich,
all our roads meander home.
I love the weather-blackened smiles
of pensive angels, the ghost of mirth
at those who come to reconcile
Forever with the rooted earth,
but I come for dates and names,
to see the slow erosion cull
chiseled edges, as earth reclaims
her stone for proper burial.
“AMANDA,” a small one says, in rose,
a participle unadorned:
“Beloved,” her curls and calicos
are here for centuries to mourn.
Down the hill, another one,
chipped out and carved by hand,
with a horseshoe nail: “INFENT SON.”
To see it is to understand.
It’s why we came, no? It’s clear
that not a single thing will stay
for very long, our works, our fears,
our very stones will melt away.
All we make our mountains of
is chips, shards of earthenware.
Nothing will be left but love,
as insubstantial as the air.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Joe used to
say, Kid, live
fast, die young,
and have a
corpse, which I
knew he’d got
from some old
of black and
broads and bars,
but that's what
used to say,
and he did,
the last part,
the less said
but, as he
to like to
say, two out
of three ain’t
Friday, November 30, 2007
We couldn’t live without them, lies,
could we? It’s difficult to see
how we’d meet each other’s eyes.
Our lives are lies disguised by v.
Do Aunties really have to know
the strict proportions of their derrieres?
Can’t we let our bosses glow
at how we tremble, how we care?
Of course they don’t. Of course we can.
This is life, not Sunday school;
if Daddy isn’t Superman,
to tell him so is merely cruel.
And if your war is going wrong,
why get the people all upset?
Just sing a patriotic song.
The dead won’t tell. The dead forget.
Monday, November 26, 2007
When the music ends I think to change the station,
but sit in a flood of Spanish from which I pick
a word here, phrase there, finally
submerged in the bewildering velocity,
ten again, riding, watching your thick
wrists nudge the wheel, fingers quick
with silver levered from your oiled machine
to Puerto Rican voyagers on Riverside.
At lights you turn and make your toothpick
bounce to “Ach du Lieber Augustine,”
the one whose bus I wait all week to ride.
Thirty years you drove, well or sick,
your iron horses. You were immortal. There was
no zero in my young arithmetic.
But zero is, and finally Christmastime
was the last stop. Sleep, deep and dreamless,
descended on a long day of rain;
you folded into silent night, humane
and bitter passage, unheralded, unless
the angels sang somewhere to give you rest.
If so, I didn’t hear it, and I drove all night
to see you in your glossed mahogany.
But it wasn’t you, the satined, overdressed
cadaver, mummy under muted lights
which yet betrayed the wooden forgery
by earth inherited, by clergy blessed.
We put a good man in the ground.
We told each other it was for the best.
We packed your things away that afternoon.
The top drawer fell to me: a silver chain
on which two broken pocket watches hung;
two old Hohners, G, one sprung;
a squat Sir Walter Raleigh’s which contained
your last few years of slugs and foreign change;
a safety razor, three-piece, brass, Gillette;
a new Norelco dusted with your hair;
two vials for Parkinson’s and two for pain;
some collar stays; a sleeve of cigarettes.
I smoked, thought: This is it? Here
one day, the next a box of stuff?
You whispered, framed in regimental gear:
“The Ritz it ain’t, Kiddo. But enough’s enough.”
Friday, November 16, 2007
I'm happy--and a bit incredulous--to announce that Opening Chapter will publish a book of my poems in the new year. Details are sketchy right now, but I'll let you know more when things clarify. Meanwhile, I can only say thanks to those who made it happen. You know who you are, and--fair warning--so will everyone else when the thing comes out.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I notice, putting pen to paper,
the absence of a line behind
the chased bill of my trusty Shaeffer.
There comes a certain peace of mind
to find the line I tried to write
has dried to powder overnight.
Less to cancel, less to think,
less misgiving and mistaking,
less for postage, less for ink,
less back and head and belly aching.
I’ll print a whole empty book,
buy myself a Meisterstuck.
Friday, November 09, 2007
We were young once, and knew
everything there was to know;
if life was shifty, we were true,
if we were callow, we could grow.
And grow we did, until we knew
a ghost of what we used to know;
but life was shifty, that was true,
we’d seen it in the video.
And more and more of what we knew
conflicts with what we think we know,
and now nothing rings as true
as what we knew a life ago.
Kid, watch it. Don’t be too
quick to doubt the things you know;
most of it is wrong, it’s true,
and the rest simply isn’t so,
but if you haven’t got a clue
that’s at least a place to start;
the needled rose will point you true,
the compass gimbaled in your heart.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The woman runs in a grove of firs,
red warmups a contained flame
along the plotted corridors,
face a mask neither tame
nor wild, a static ecstasy.
Beyond the needled hush lies
a meadow with an oak tree;
a square white house justifies
the thin, deciduous, autumn light.
A tire swing gathers the sun,
leaves caught on its inner bight,
where her eyes fix as she runs, runs.
Something in her progress might
suggest pursuers or pursuit,
but not the barest hint of flight;
only an air of resolute
abstraction, cool, suffering
suffused with eagerness, disdain
for what the next strides will bring,
as if pain or the end of pain
were waiting just beyond the rows,
as if grief or the end of grief
might wait in the swing, the meadow,
be caught in the veins of a spun leaf.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
What if, one
sun soaked, most particular afternoon,
that treacherous forsythia there
should shrug from its complaisant splendor
into flame? Should flare and thunder
with Immense authority
the safety of your belly, face in the grass)
upon current and immaculate credentials:
who but demons wheedle in
This protocol observed,
lose your shoes.
(your most mollifying modulations)
what on earth could bring Him to your
(His) humble and unworthy garden.
Say something nice about His light,
the diamond edge of His cast shadows.
He likes that.
forgiveness for the rucksack of sin you dragged
into the world by your belly. Show Him the scar.
Then, scorched pure by His
consuming grace, be just: do not
omit to thank Him for His
It may now
be proper to most obligingly inquire
what He might require of His servant
(you.) No frivolous visitor,
Good Landlord, He never comes
without His itemized agenda.
He’ll tell you.
that to His purpose you are the optimum instrument.
You might be asked to build some small apocalypse,
or become the vessel of transmission
for some entirely new disease.
True, it may only be time to
clean the ovens.
No matter what,
accede. You can’t outrun His awful will.
The only possible alternative
is to cast yourself forthwith at the heart
of His redeeming fire, dare Him
to spit you out alive: turn
the hose on Him.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Three does, at the corner
where the arclit
hexagon had stopped them
far beyond their tracks
to puzzle some meaning
from the hieroglyphs,
watch me scrape along
the pavement with my face
turned toward the moon.
So still are they,
hidden in the brilliant
of municipal light, so
acutely do they mime
of the air surrounding them
that I only see them as
I step off the curb.
I freeze, but before I can ask
what they could possibly want
from our metallic streets,
our steel trees that sing
with the rain, commanding
YIELD, or CAUTION, or STOP,
there is suddenly just a riffle
of hooves on warm asphalt
fading into the air.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
The veil between the worlds is wearing thin.
As October hobbles to its chilly close,
the spirits slip their summer discipline
to haunt our porches in their parent’s clothes.
Monsters jostle demons in the streets,
the walking dead are jolly as they rot;
it’s difficult to say, of those we treat,
who might be whom, and who may not.
But soon enough November falls in place,
with a question no one ever asks:
what kind of creatures would we face
if grownups finally put away their masks?
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
The word, defining, muzzles; the drawn line
Ousts mistier peers and thrives, murderous,
In establishments which imagined lines
Can only haunt. Sturdy as potatoes,
Stones, without conscience, word and line endure,
Given an inch. Not that they're gross (although
Afterthought often would have them alter
To delicacy, to poise) but that they
Shortchange me continuously: whether
More or other, they still dissatisfy.
Unpoemed, unpictured, the potato
Bunches its knobby browns on a vastly
Superior page; the blunt stone also.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Now the helicopters come,
now the abracadabras
of the great abscission,
as the trees spin down
their summer architecture,
provision and shelter
for their germinating young,
fuel for the fires of autumn.
Watching my daughters run
with their recalcitrant kite,
breeze a straggling lamb
behind, I wonder why
I feel so strange lately;
why now, when everything
showed signs of coming
together, I should look
down to find my hands
involved in such confusion,
such an inchoate music
of kite strings and leaves.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I took the conch down from the shelf
to listen to the sea,
but at my ear a silver elf
sang my name to me.
A voice of silver, high and wild,
no human throat could form,
as if an ectoplasmic child
were crying in a storm.
I held it there and strained to hear
a message, grammar, sense,
but just a syllable was clear,
The carols of the Lorelei
cost sailing men their souls;
the Sirens’ fetching lullabies
peopled Grecian shoals.
I put it down; its whisperings
could charm the curios;
I knew that there are certain things
it’s better not to know.
But the voice was never in the shell,
the voice was in my head;
fires of heaven, fires of hell,
I followed where it led.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
At long last I have in my hands Bill Liversidge's new novel A Half Life of One, and a beautiful thing it is. It is currently available through Amazon. Do yourself a favor.
We are trying to arrange an interview with the author, but he remains, as always, elusive. No doubt there are better avenues to publicity than this humble blog, but we will persist, and we hope that eventually he'll be convinced to come have a chat. His picture is below. If you see him, a word in his ear would not go amiss.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I used to come in former days,
to watch your dazzle shame the sun,
to listen as you’d paraphrase
the legends of leviathan.
Once I thought I understood
your idiot metronomy,
hoped your ceaseless murmur would
but now I see a tattered bird,
a parrot raised in distant lands,
squawking language never heard,
that neither of us understands.
I would have liked to learn the trick
that whittles old glass and stone
to gems the lucky children lick
and barter on the journey home.
But all our charmed summers go;
the children put their pails aside,
voyage slowly home to know
the cunning harvest of the tide.
Friday, October 12, 2007
We write what music’s in our hearts
in manuscript of blood and nerve:
to wrap the primal fish of art
no lesser parchment serves.
None so plainly signifies
the variations we observe:
iubilate, track of fly,
oratorio of gall,
heavy metal lullaby.
Composer, fiddle, fiddler, hall,
we count the quavers, score the parts
to songs we learned when we were small.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Once we were young, and knew
the monsters in the dark were real,
waiting there among the shoes
and shirts for another juicy meal.
But we lived and learned, most of us,
that shadow phantoms were the least
of it, that sunlit dailiness
could hold more terrors than the beast.
Now, old, we tardy scholars
serve our demons bread and broth;
we gossip with our midnight callers,
but dread the dusty kisses of the moth.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Love is gentle, love is kind,
love is all things positive;
love can devastate the mind,
vaporize the will to live.
Would Jack and Jill be mad about
themselves absent their gnarly hill?
Would love be love at all without
its coiled, embrangled codicils?
Love’s unrequited, to take
the common case to be the whole:
one oblivious to the ache
that permeates the other’s soul,
a torture reason doesn’t ease,
that logic’s powerless to move;
it's one of love’s vagaries
that only Darwin could approve.
But lightning strikes. People do
meet, and do reciprocate
affection all the time, it’s true;
then they re-evaluate
relationships already sealed,
weigh the pain of leaving with
the anguish yet to be revealed,
the dismal facts against the myth.
Catastrophe in Camelot
could have been avoided had
not Guinevere and Lancelot
usurped the love their vows forbade.
Think of Helen and her boy,
the city sacked, the useless dead;
they traded happiness for joy,
got love’s choruses instead.
And then there are the noble souls
who do resist the sirens’ song;
they learn to sleep on glowing coals
but rarely hold out very long.
Resistance only makes it worse;
passion waxes when denied.
Love has methods to coerce
The only mystery is why:
clearly, love’s a losing game.
Ask the pretty butterfly
about the flower in the flame.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
The initial chat had been upbeat enough,
but still, the callback took her by surprise
because the competition had been tough,
a drill of hungry-looking Ivy ties
whose calfskin attaches were nicely scuffed.
So Jane was leery, facing the gray VPs,
two flannel walrus and a worsted moose,
who didn’t seem to doubt her expertise
so much as her promise not to reproduce,
to keep a handle on her ovaries.
She swore that kids were nowhere in her plan,
would never be, even unforeseeably.
She swore to be as bankable as any man,
and the interview concluded quite agreeably,
though the odd remarks about her tan
and the news that she was possibly a ten
made her disbelieve them when they said
she was still in the running as of then,
and maybe just the slightest bit ahead.
They’d be in touch. So long. Thanks again.
She bought two papers on the way uptown
because she had some extra resumes
she thought it couldn’t hurt to spread around,
a polished recitation of her works and days,
worth about an interview per pound.
But in a week they thrilled her with the news,
and though the piggy only yielded ninety cents
she shopped away her unemployment blues,
scribbled checks against her next month’s rent
for a calfskin case and new cross-training shoes.
And that was the last we ever saw of her.
None of her usual contacts had a clue,
except her new personal manager
who knew from watching her accounts accrue
that she couldn’t conceivably be happier.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Sedan de Ville
Oliver Kingman wheels regal his shimmering stretch
into its place of honor by the door, eyes
the Bug at the foot of the lot with something akin to fear:
all these years of running his place he's always been first,
and now some flextime freakshow comes before
the sun is up, burning the lights, as if he cared
about the flow of work or man from day to night,
or rituals of keys. Mister Kingman pushes home
the magnificent door and savors the solid thunk
of his enameled dreams, squints against the sun
rising in his chrome, thinks of Cadillacs to come
as he heads into the place he built with his hands, a man
with places to go, a man with appointments to keep.
Bloody with morning,
low in the red eye of sun,
squadrons of Nissans.
Caught like a fly in the amber of morning
the janitor eases his deuce and a quarter
to rest in the first of the unreserved spaces,
sits with his radio, drinking the last
of his breakfast of beer. In back of his mind
is a certain unease with the ghost of the previous
owner (a soldier more hopeful than wise,
who’d bought the impeccable ride for a woman
more trying than true) whispering mile
after mile of adulteries into his ear
from a government grave in the wintery earth
of Detroit. At the start it seemed fortunate past
all his dreams: a woman with money to burn
with a car that was everything rolled into one.
But of late he'd begun to have certain misgivings
at how it appeared to betray his intentions
whenever the voice in his ear became lulling
or frightened him more than he usually was,
how it reached for the shoulders or hungered for speed
or was simply so smooth that he found himself drifting
to sleep at the wheel. He poured his libation,
went to his duties, with only a glance
at the glittering thing he'd escaped, saw only
its blank and implacable beauty returned.
In black ten-gallon,
blue jeans, hand tooled boots, ambling
from trusted Honda
to his opulent corral
in the Xerox room,
a faithful reproduction
of the golden west,
riding an eastern pony.
He is a vision
of some lost nobility,
a hint of mislaid
character, backbone, poise. Then,
in grey ten-gallon,
grey jeans, boots, another one,
from another Honda, grey.
Driven madly through the dawn
from condominium to panic,
the junior salesman pushes in
between desire and consummation,
sweeper and boss. Dashboard strewn
with foiled antacid, he sees in Kingman's
lacquer Kingman's lackey, unaware,
despite his various degrees,
that the space is empty by design,
if unofficially, owned
by Kingman's secretary, Suze,
high school graduate,
who as he sits pulls up behind
and taps the horn of her new Corvette.
Puzzled for a second, finally
he understands, in time to see
her smile dissolve like windshield frost.
Backing out, he smiles across,
a new offense, sees his future
curling from her chromed exhausts.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
In the end, his mind wasn’t right,
if it ever was. It was clear,
as he put his jeweled soap to flight
from the city’s summer parks and piers
that he was no longer there
with the rest of us, that he was one
with the iridescent membranous air
his wire wands stole from the sun,
the huge, oscillating spheres
in which a hundred others milled,
the tetrahedra stacked in tiers
until the twisted columns spilled
their remnant droplets to his feet.
He was perennial, a fixture,
his nest of wands, pans, discreet
tip jar, his secret mixtures
jugged, marked with painted runes,
but he imperceptibly became
as sheer as his diaphanous balloons.
We didn’t even know his name,
still less where he might live, or how,
what kind of life his small and few
contributions would allow.
He charmed us, that was all we knew;
we were blinded by his art.
An ephemeral phenomenon,
he drew the music of his heart
in films of air. Then he was gone.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Two brass monkeys
one brass bitch;
devil to pay
and no hot pitch.
stuck in a ditch;
devil to pay
and no hot pitch.
devil to pay
and no hot pitch.
at the switch;
devil to pay
and no hot pitch.
All the monkeys,
which is which?
Devil to pay
and no hot pitch.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Charles Tombe lost his wife;
the black angels swoop and drag.
His Rose, the flower of his life,
has strangled on a plastic bag.
A goat, she was his complement;
a truer heart was never born,
and he was never so content
as when he took her by the horns.
Her face was all an impish smile,
her sweetness brightened all his days,
at night she warmed their domicile
with her endearing, woolly ways.
Their love had been discovered by
her former owner in his field,
and in Sudan that means you tie
the knot: the banns were quickly sealed.
A modest dowry was assessed
by the local judge who married them;
their marriage vows were duly blessed
by clergy, law, and cherubim,
and all went well for Charles and Rose,
though life was hard and times lean,
would still be well had not her nose
been drawn to polyethylene.
But do not mourn for gentle Rose,
nor Charles, who’s not a man to worry,
all earthly things come to a close,
and she became a lovely curry.
Monday, September 24, 2007
And now the hedge crawls with roses.
Neighbor’s getaways, they smear
the sober privet, little lips,
calling in little pink voices.
Listen. The neighbors are laughing about it.
They sit on their pressure-treated altar
rattling tall, aluminum teas,
toast their luck at being themselves.
Meanwhile, their roses flee,
weak, unpruned, gone to foliage.
Listen. You can hear them purr,
soliciting, mewling love.
Oh, it’s wonderful here. It is.
The ranked pools of iced tea,
the decks of impeccable, rotless green.
All this. Roses, too.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
If nothing else, Nothing’s plentiful.
The universe, to modern thought,
is full of it, a veritable
cornucopia of naught,
the matter that we take for All
a scant fraction of the whole,
including what we choose to call
“dark,” the mystery casserole
of particles we haven’t found,
grit we posit “Somewhere,”
lest good equations prove unsound.
Still, we know there’s Something there,
though even Something’s mostly not:
everything we see or touch
is virtually empty space; what’s
truly solid isn’t much.
Nothing grows at quite a clip:
the universe is fast expanding;
but sweet nothings from your lips
are truly Something, notwithstanding.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
A pointy-headed potentate
declared His closet out of date,
commissioned robes to be designed
with His divinity in mind.
The tailors ran Him up some stuff,
none of it nearly good enough:
to Him the breathy silks of China
whispered hints of something finer.
On pain of death He set His drapers
weaving bolts of silky vapor
and they did exactly that:
they brought the jaded plutocrat
a suit of air and stroked and fussed
until He was completely trussed
in nothing but His own belief,
wafting a matching handkerchief.
Light of Heaven, thus arrayed,
decreed a royal cavalcade
to show the population just how
comely was its sacred cow.
And so He rode His gilded chair
among the thronging thousands, bare,
while everybody played it cool
and noticed nothing. Enter Fool.
“He’s naked!” sang our barefoot boy;
“We’re history,” mumbled hoi polloi.
Anointed only gazed and said
a single quiet sentence: “Head.”
Someone took it from the street,
put it gently at His feet.
Awed, we watched His raiment flowing,
the silken grandeur of His going.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
It’s difficult to trust the trees,
the way they whisper each to each
in sibilant conspiracies
that almost verge on human speech.
Their daedal, implicated crooks
appear to watch us as we pass,
poised to catch us as we look
for roots that slither in the grass.
“We’ll be back,” they seem to say,
slipping gaudy colors on;
but man progresses day by day:
with any luck they’ll soon be gone.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
You are sitting in your chair
cadenzas of smoke in the
sun. I say the day
is too beautiful to waste.
You don’t answer,
but in a few seconds say
“It’s too beautiful
to stay inside. Let’s go out.”
Walking with you quietly
at dusk, I say how
brilliant the sky is in the
west, but find myself
alone, gaping, turn to search
for you, until, at
my blind elbow, you say how
brilliant the sky is
some spring evenings in the north.
Then, in our news-printed sheets
I listen to your
breath, careful not to wake you,
conjure faces from
the ceiling, but in a while
you mumble something
I don’t quite catch. From the edge
of sleep I say “What?”
You, awake now, say “What? What?”
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Let’s walk, beloved, weary girl,
through the massed September glory
easy in the careless whirled
couturier memento mori,
let’s smile in fall’s face.
Let’s find a snug place
in this divine deciduous fire,
learn the leaves’ abiding grace
in letting go to tumble higher,
learn to ride the appled air.
Let’s find a place and settle there
to watch our larking children go
imperiled to the world’s affairs,
and watch the maples gather snow
with ivy woven in our hair.
Monday, September 10, 2007
In Mantua a busy building crew
unearthed another Neolithic grave,
which in itself is surely nothing new,
and this was like most others, save
that this one was inhabited by two.
Two who must have loved each other, by
the look of them together; they embrace--
their bones--like living people where they lie,
her slender fingers cradling his face,
his arm around her in a long goodbye.
Posed thus, they lie in state, our own,
youths, dead before their teeth were worn,
dead, but not by stick and not by stone,
whom ancient spirits thought it right to mourn
with the lovely interweaving of their bones.
Whether sacrificed or dead by chance,
they never thought to see the sky again,
could never ken their present circumstance,
but we see in them a talisman,
the dancers folded to become the dance.