Sunday, May 1, 2011


An emulation of love, a desire
which is familiar but not to her
keeps her here. With me or you
she is an actress whose auditions
are prepared to shock the audience
even if their not listening. These colors
in her hair know me somehow, and you
would know them too as a piece of death
that is simple. Simplicity of sight
and a want to be with others is nothing
but a fool's logic and her
bylaw. Keep me for days she says, as if
the men returning on the subway
want to be there. In this life Elizabeth
would return to you, the vaginal return
and Saturn's pull are announcements
of stops the train no longer uses.
A policeman stops her on the platform
and tells her of wanton fish in the deli,
and a sex that no one wants
to pull off; she would answer him
with a stare of decades he
hasn't lived through as the train
shoots by. This stop has been closed
since the forties but she waits for something
that has nothing to do with her.

Friday, April 29, 2011

THE WINTER BORN circa 1984

(author's note, this is my first attempt at a longpoem. It was the basis for my later work Fear of Butterflies)

To have humanism we must be convinced of our humanity. As we move further into decadence this becomes more difficult. --Thomas Pynchon

Tradition is only the history of failure.
As things happen world is and we are not
the rapid color or unfinished stanza. We swing
around loose trees as they swing
in earth's cadences. Here it is, I said,
here are the dancers naked around the trees
and us. They could dance with pieces of world
and we could cross the living room.
In transparent time it snows everywhere, I said,
as it was snowing when we held
watch to our children's faces.

        She reaches for an apple in winter.
        She cannot be disturbed. I recall snow
        and it returns for this occasion, but it
        does not fall, it cannot
        retrace the steps of our descent.
        I think of you in her place;
        I think of you in my place
        with vines purely wrapped around our nervous
        systems. She jumps away. She is
        standing now smaller with the streetlight
        and sleeps in counterpoint to our divinations.

              Hanson the Clown is sleeping
              in a world whose earth
              is only a passing fancy. He stumbles
              through our lives finding his heart
              under the bleachers. He is spotlight
              and is buried along with our illuminations.
              We, you and I, see him not
              as a tornshirt mannequin of our generation;
              lime burning behind us, we are only to him
              a regiment of tightrope walkers, changing little
              while they move from ring to ring.

I hold my watch to a child's face.
I hold your eyesight with the watch between.
A wheel too familiar turns through
a blue line of sky. You are gone.
Now the world outside loads language on the wheel
and it turns to a poem no one had written.
Like an arrogant ballroom with music,
no one's poem is white to the air
as it is rewritten. There you are, I said,
and you stand behind the last hedge
to copy what everyone would copy.

      She wakes and walks aloud
      to the first window as light
      disappears into light. She is trusting
      the passionate fading of stars
      and is alone as the sun is alone
      with night behind. She is thinking
      morning as it opens
      under the street's blunted light.
      She is seeing weather start around her.

           We are moving from ring to ring.
           he is moving through us, lives
           within his red circles around his sight
           of us. He sees through a series of wires
           patches and randoms
           of greasepaints we would imagine
           and cannot. Hanson thinks
           and those thoughts become the accusations
           we could live with. He is thinking
           as it rains through the parking lot.

I copy what you might copy.
You tell me of a quiet accident,
an accenting of words found at best
near the bookstore. I said
Why is there a foreign world. Why
is there earth and air, water and fire,
and a distinction of relationships?
Why do they sleep under automobiles? You said
Look at us in this angle of candlelight
through the large window.
Look at us looking at the others.

      Arrogance of a neutral color
      weather of various origin and she
      stands on the sidewalk
      to hold them together. She is imagining
      us, thinking that we would think
      not of her and her incarnations of light
      and dark around our primal world.
      She is dreaming and we dream for her
      a world without cacophony
      on an earth without geography. Here it is,
      here is the setting for your current life.

        Winter comes to Hanson to find him
        with the family. He is drinking again,
        they would say and not
        like a family but like a group of
        fish, swimming away from the dead
        mackerel. He is drinking. The circus closed
        down years ago and he
        cannot dress for the occasion. He cannot
        think and not think of their limitations
        and his here, under the angels
        of Weinachten. he is drinking.

Why are you afraid of the window
you said. Why are you not looking
at others whose lives are certainly
interesting. Look at the way she decorates
the tree, not like a tree, but a winter
away from her, a winter without evening
but night. Here it is, I said,
here we live and not live
in various living rooms. Here.

Tradition is only the history of failure
we'd say, and look to the outside.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


(author's note, this was my first published work from when I was in high school)

We wave at others
Apologetically. The harm that lives
With us, like a promise of sleep
And good money, stares off into the blue air
While nightmares become,
For the six-year-old behind the wall,
Home for darkness
And this life. We walk into the ground. Others
Cannot follow us home
And do. We must have met there.

The wind becomes warmer
And Wednesday spreads over the airplane
While down here eyes turn toward the echoes above
And are happy. Maybe
Winter will end soon, with
Explosions of color where the dead stood
Afraid of something. The whispers on the parking lot
Become the only framework to run from.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WORSHIP circa 1986 a part of the dream she is wearing stockings,
dark, as her Theda Bara eyes were dark and silent.
Raising her leg with a motion like wind I kiss
the tips of each toe with a breathless touch.
Their movement under my lips were at turns
basic and complex as a watch running just slow enough
to reflect humanity but on time enough
to be perfect. The movement to her arch
may have been measured in hours or seconds
or in the wings a young bird begins to use
for her first flight from home. Her calf muscles
began to tighten under my lip’s caresses, ever
so slowly I encircle in tongue motions
the inches of sinewy silk encased skin with a smile
matching hers, eyes meeting, closing in unison.
Behind the knee so soft, the silk moving, tightening,
then loosening her calf closes to my back
drawing me nearer to the origin of the lives
that would come one day. But not now.

...‘More?’ in dream I would whisper, or wish I had,
she moves with a silence saying yes
as Molly Bloom would have said in the book
I forgot to read for class next morning. Thighs begin
a slight dew drawing through the silk, the sweet
salt of her mist coating my mouth like
a thin primer of paint placed to canvas before
the masterpiece would be created. The motion
from silk to skin mid thigh was seamless, a perfection,
a transition from the work of eastern moths
to the work of human evolution ever changing.
She moaned slightly, on cue, a symphony of one
each tone measured through years of experience
but tempered as every new performance
would humanize it. I moved, as a mouse to food would,
silent, wanting, finding sustenance in her deepest self.
The mouth I speak with meets the mouth
she loves with, a uniting, her legs
wrapping my shoulder like a present
the gift of her quivers, her tastes
the nectar of her passions becoming mine
forever as I am born in the light passion creates
and donates to every morning. the next part of the dream she is nursing me,
I being reborn in the light of her quivering brilliance.
Not milk but emotion feeds me each kiss
from breast to breast I envision my life;
each part, each phase, years become moments:
first toy first kiss first disappointment first renewal...
First Light! The sun draws me from the dream,
the woman beside me sleeping in peace
a soundness as still as a star would be.
Always there, always shining. I stumble in awakeness,
bed creaks with my humanity moving
into culture into identity, the day’s pending realities
blurring and un blurring as I fumble to water
to awaken what dreams would quiet and create.
I look up, hanging with a smile behind me, face
wet with cold water and surprise:
her stockings.

DEPARTURES from 1981, an early piece

for Judi Baba 


There is a sandstorm
and a mermaid.

We were putting away
the hourglasses

and counting
places at the table...

how many there were!
and how many

were caught in the sand.


She denied the feathers
of harder crows. They
walked away with the silverware


for bad movies

we pretended...
skating across our excitement

just like that--the
push off--the

penalty box. We
were ready.

Our white socks
were ready.


Gone from the table,
expected by
someone with large eyes.


Later, the weather
soared pat the station wagon

and rested.
Our best lives

passed the alkaloid
tests--red paper

falling into blue
around us. Like

the mermaid. Like
the sandstorm.


Handsome, she thought,
growing models of named birds
in the backyard.


Or the lack of it.

We could have waked away.
The expected

were hand-me-downs

covering worn
surrounding day. The air

was cracking
into white angles.


We swore
at the green shadows
following us. As always.


on the bridge

of the rented maiden ship
we met few

prospective survivors.
We were ever-so-festive:

ours were
gabardine lives

of severest blue.
The grey mon dieu of pennants.


Even as we speak
apricot trees are dropping
large nested pheasants.


is in season. Every

summer we walk
this on out

over and over.
When the intervening world

hands out tablecloths
would we want

stripes? Would we
want the mermaid?


We counted
the hourglasses. And the mermaid.
And the sandstorm.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Lightning strikes like bad news and is gone.
A photograph may hold it, keep it fast
a voyeur of sorts, collecting quick
a fury dispersed and ragged
defusing the moment into specks of unconnected color.
The tree struck by the bolt never feels
the basis of it's electricity, the overhead mechanics,
winds random buffeting driving power below,
into unknown targets white light pinpoint and finds.
Rain comes too, an afterthought of sorts,
a dream that amazes & terrifies before
it's gone. Darkness fades into lightness
slowly, the rain abates and returns as mist, subtle
touching briefly, then gone.

On the tree a cocoon shakes, opens slowly,
the brown and olive wings of the moth begin
their slow assent to reveal the eye like marks
her wings display. The ancients believed these moths
were allies, Angels of the dead who return
in moments of trial to guide us
away from the unhealthy spirits of ego & chaos.
The moth moves slowly at first, it’s body
heavy with reality; the wings too new to hold
a wind in control but they grow to
feel and rise above the air in a moment.
Freedom becomes her instinctual target, the light
she heads toward above glowing bright then dim
as clouds obscure sun’s passionate fire.

No one owns the sky.
The planets & stars do not come
with deeds of title. The moths and butterflies
belong to those only in the moment they are seen.
Possession is not the way of all things. Only
humans limit themselves this way, a mantle
of sorts, carried with discomfort and yet
all too present. We define ourselves by what we do,
not who we are, running with fear from others scorn,
we censor ourselves to degrees so deep we cannot
recognize the backward image in the morning mirror.
This is folly of our own arrogance, our fear of separation
from the basis of a nature we were taught to control
but can’t. No one can do that. You

have stepped above those foolish definitions, the
possession of others as a tool to fight our own
shortcomings. The ancients had many words for love,
paternal, romantic, sexual, familial, all were different concepts,
not wrapped in one word or one sad need to grasp
what was never meant to be grasped. You are right;
you are the moth whose eye marked wings
carry the body of reality high above us frightened
animals. No one can own you entire.
No one can own anyone entire, yet that pursuit is always
the lingering foolishness that keeps us away
from the deep passions the knowledge of others
would build in ourselves. Fly, always fly, little Angel,
touch here only when the land feels no storm from above.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

DENISE circa 1997 an old piece with a colorful story


They say that only children dream in color.
The world doesn't strike them, they are
sailing away and towards them
the deepening innocence that only fails
when earth becomes world and world
does not become us.  In their dreams people touch
like a kiss or the sound of a calliope:
it's off-key rhythms forgiven to anticipate
the sweaty-hued clowns of their personal  circuses.
For you it may have been the ice-cream man:
the summer rituals becoming a flower
picked for its discrete charm or maybe
because we want to remember it
before it remembers us. The things we want
reflect not our immediate desires
but rather a passage through which
the call our histories could take
to bring us home.

Your mother may have known that, too: in a tavern
we unwrap our facades, our definitions
of who and why, the indifferent differences
that keep us away from ourselves
and each other.  She may have thought of you at school,
plaid pleated skirts and the nuns running
and running away,  the furtherance of God's purpose
or their innocence long found and lost
keeping them going.  She may have seen you at twenty,
miniskirted and knowing everything,
reefer, boyfriends, the angst felt and not felt
for the passing of childhood or the games
not played or won or lost. She may have seen you at thirty,
young mother, the nervous confidence
and your children's tears caught fast in an instant
and held like buds on a young tree
planted in the heart.  She may have seen you
all at once,  in a colorful dream
when she left.

When my mother died 13 people came to the service
not speaking to each other; a real or imagined
past, slights of rejection and anger,
the noble ignominies of a lost faith.  I learned
to love from friends, lovers, the distant stare
my generations taught me gave way in inches
coming back like a poor relation taking
the best and worst from me.  Loss becomes something
like a collection of insects, flying around
as we take and lose what is valued
only when something is given and found;
we miss those most who touch and hold
the fragile dragonflies of the heart. 

And here we are the products of our selves;
what we are given is what we will become,
what we will become is what we have given
and kept, our identities only the ill-fitting masks
made by a tailor who lost his shop years ago.
In you it's the eyes of your children, your friends,
the momentary touches of color our dreams should have.
Keep them always; they will show you an infinity
that will come as a kiss when it finally happens.


Saturday, January 15, 2011



The Senator was drunk. Stifling air would hold fast
in the too small too large room. A nation in fear
he would hold it’s reins with authority but shaking;
the incompleteness of his completeness becoming
a weakened arrogance of a sterner power flying far away.
The eye of the world near him was a heavy box,  grey,
slight steam rising above too bright lights and one man,
pushing the buttons and pointing now here now there
now into the realities of those who would watch
as natures predators flew outside, oblivious.
Sandra brought the man coffee, watched the sweat
of the Senator glisten, a light that truth can only hold
mocking his drunkenness like a shadow running fast
and away. She thought of her aunt from Germany coughing,
her little niece Micky, the world that the little one
might find herself fighting and winning as a daily balance.
The Senator muttered, slurred his importance,
dreamed of drink and a home in history’s humble hall
where he’d never mesh with the furniture.
It was a question of decency here, a failure of culture,
a wanting too greatly to grasp a moment
that could never belong to anyone.

Sandra marveled at the Technicolor. The young man
would not, cold war lust raging through this newly minted
adult, bursting as a too full balloon, he would wander
through the miles between his knee and Sandra’s.
The film was a road show picture, the wide screen
painted with colors artificial and beaming bright and Sandra,
awestruck, became part of every camera move, every nuance;
the dreams of the director becoming her own.
Splashed in the dark water of Burma, the prisoners
building the bridge for an enemy of one. Tapping her foot
she would mark the rhythm of every edit, each actor’s cue:
how one day she would do this, build a story from acetate parts,
hurried scripts and multiple moments repeated.
She could see the lights go up, dim and fade;
gels in place and the sound to speed she’d make
performers act and move in perfected balance, 
or near so; an art manufactured with money and fame,
films would be her wings now, an opened cocoon,
she would fly over the patrons and laugh. The young man
was bored. He wasn’t getting laid tonight.

It was hot in the little box. The nervous man
knew what was expected, every question scripted with
proper answers and nervous stutters. Sandra held the script,
directing matching girls in perfect outfits. The men upstairs,
puppet master like, electrified the wires that would open
 grey box eyes to a world of voyeurs, dreaming
too hard here’s where they belonged.  The picture the box brought
came into their homes on artificial light too real and new.
The nervous man’s brilliance became their own;
lessons in school remembered not as a context
but as a siren song they could embrace without guilt.
No one knew what he knew. No one knew
what he didn’t know; his show of stammering intelligence
only a classical farce whose actors remember lines,
never proofed, never listened to. This song of ignorance,
a cacophony of ego without self, world without Earth,
brought to you by cosmetic dust and cigarette ash.
The “Applause” button is pushed with a sexual lust;
the response hoped for but never completely met.
Sandra motioned to the host, wrote his thoughts
on large cards cuing his offhand prepared comments.
It didn’t matter it was a lie; it was a lie
that could be believed, could be packaged and sold
like cigarettes, tonics, cosmetics, death.

Chicago air blew cold across the sanitarium. The cemetery adjacent
seemed to wait with the patience of many small trees whose leaves
fell too quickly with deafening passivity. Sandra held Micky’s hand
loosely, not wanting to hold her fast but like a kite
whose air fueled dips and turns cannot be altered below.
Consumption consumed Micky’s mother all too quickly now,
in gasping broken English and mended German she told her
teen aged child the available world is never
a complete picture. Snapshots of rivers and gaunt elms,
each broken, mended, broken further but somehow remembered
would fade away into dabs of grey where humans
once stood.  Micky bristled at the alcove’s mounted butterflies;
a childhood trauma forgotten but ever present--bright wings
brought dark tears to her, each momentary life
splayed open and pinned to a board like
a promised kiss delivered by the wrong person. Micky
would be in Sandra’s care now, bringing with
old toys and new clothes, Micky would take her life
into another’s; her mother now bound to wheels and gasps.
The nurse took hold of the mother’s chair, drew her
to the sun room as its light disappears into darkness.

Snow began to build around the greystone block.
Foster Avenue trolley wires would click, spark, power
the gawkers in green behemoths passing the cameras and men
scared of questions and fumbling for their answers.
Sandra held the microphone aloft like a fisherman, waiting
to catch the nuanced truth in the official lie; the unexpected
expectations of honesty becoming a dance of fish
Sandra would try and fail to catch. Wind heavy and wet,
the young girl Lorriane would bring her coffee, agree
with Sandra the director took the shot too tight, too little
humanity in the picture. He ignored her; he
didn’t care for the voice of a tech in whispers doubting his
view of the real unreal scene. Police were stealing here;
homes, warehouses emptied of their fullness by those
who took trust as a liability, a bad penny to be passed
through the machine of human innocence, vending
the sadness of those to whom trust wasn’t
just a word to mix with others to fill the spaces.
The director became angry, Sandra became
a target for rage and his own ennui. He sent her
away. Two days later he was gone, the oven door
open like the paw of an aging tiger.

State & Rush meet at a point, a park of sorts, littered
with lost men who wonder where they’ve been, where life
would land one day & if they would be there to
greet it. Sandra and Lorriane crossed the park with worry,
quickly as if pursued mice with an unseen cat in tow.
The club’s lights streamed just ahead, the comic nervous
waiting for induction or heroin, either way
a plug to fill the emptiness he thought controlled him.
Their dates tagged behind, drunk, stuttering,
stumbling through their lives like beached fish flopping,
graping for something they would never feel.
They opened the club’s door as the four turned to one.
The comic smoked heavily, filling his lungs with gasps
of heat with a slight dash of light. He said the word:
cocksucker; all eyes opened wide, a hidden desire
became manifest in nervous twitters, their wishes secret
as they danced across the listeners minds. He said it again:
cocksucker. He was stopped this time, the law
would not allow this expression of secret guilt
and desire. No one laughed then.