WHAT HAPPENS AT NIGHT

What comes up from the depths Is not invited.

The cold hard facts from the ocean’s floor arrive

as a host of information

like gate crashers at a  wedding

to remind the bride and groom

that sores fester beneath their fine clothes,

 

and secrets linger in dusty hallways,

bones  decomposed  in some forgotten room

undisturbed by sunlight.

 

This pale hand of guilt operates to tweak the

functioning machinery of day

so that

We are laid bare and picked apart,

 subjected to voices speaking in bewildering tongues.

 

The faces of night reflect in mirrors manipulated by

an insane projectionist, a sort of god of randomness

 

And

If there once was a whole man he has been  splintered into shards

swirling in flux under our lids.

We have slipped from brave front to the helplessness

of the dead.

 

The night examines  wounds,

 packages of grief  pulled from corners and dragged to centre stage

 that may set hearts thudding and terror to spring.

 

There is no armour strong enough to protect us

from ourselves .

THE FIRST DRINK OF THE EVENING

Margarita,

Your 4 syllables thrill, they chill me.

You are a celebration,

 a marching band down my throat.

Your lips, satisfyingly salty,

Then comes the squash of lime

Joined by a sweet liqueur.

They dance deliciously

To the overall

Tune of the agave,

Oh, agave!

Blue agave

Desert notes that brace.

I can finally breathe.

Margarita,

You are always fidele,

I am never put off.

You settle me

I need more, more of your cold love,

My dear.

I must trick out fresh cubes.

Second rounds, please.

THEN WHAT?

The grim spring of my old age

April May is a time to be born and

I sit there like a plant expecting the sun to shine

in the rain..

Where to find comfort in this world? My mother

died long ago. I should dig her up. I should

hold her close. I remember the comfort I

felt on her lap driving down the street, cars splashing us.

 Maybe if I still smoked cigarettes. The first drag

and I was a baby again. Just thinking about

it made me start to cough.

 

Maybe comfort is too much to ask.

You would have to be on a permanent drug-high

for that.  Then what? I should become religious

and put it into Jesus’s  hand. Let Him do the

heavy lifting.

What I need is a job where I can help people. Help

them what? Be as dissatisfied as I am? I am hardly

a model for others. I resign.

 

 I am looking outward, which always

causes glare.  I am going to have to look inward.

 

There is no home inside. All the rooms are vacant, dusty,

the smell of old paint, the wind thru broken windows

blowing newspapers around, hinges creaking.

It is like listening to a baby crying without stop for something.

Just need blaring away like a siren. And there is no answer.

Nobody is home. Nobody gives a shit.

The baby will eventually stop crying.

Then what?

 

At my age (72 and a half), there isn’t much room for the future.

Whoever thought I would get to half that number?  

I should be grateful for a full and pain-filled life.

But here I am complaining. I do that well.

I can complain about anything at any hour.

I highly recommend it. It is rather cleansing.

 

EICHMANN and SHAVING

 

I realized today

that I am a mass murderer,

that I have been for a long while,

and that I am good at it.

I realized this while I was

in the shower shaving.

It came to me

that I have been killing

my hair stubble,

not letting them live

for more than three

days in a row,

then slaughtering them

with my blade.

 

The aspect that I understood

most acutely

and most alarmingly

is that I do my best

to kill every one of them,

not allowing any to get away,

to live.
feeling upset if they do.

 

Am I,

I ask this dispassionately,

the Adolph Eichmann

of stubble killers?

Would I be as passionate

about doing away with humans?

 

The fact that I am so meticulous

in my task

and feel so glad

when the task is over

and I can touch my smooth skin.

A job well done!

Might I feel the same sense of gratification

after regarding a full shove into the gas chamber?

 

The difference between the two

set of circumstances

Is that I can remember

that the stubble will reappear

in a few days

and I will have to kill them

once again, will have the pleasure

of killing them with an even sharper blade.

 

Did Adolph ever wonder whether

his victims would reappear some day?

I think he might have.

BOTH EYES SEE

Will anything make me want to write this

A third rate writer in a shapeless game

Old weathered forms abound in glee

Walls thick and determined

Around me

My solitary eye is sown with stitches

Of a life well spent

 In constipated weariness

And the present black appears

As heaven sent and repugnant

My dreams take flight every night

In a whirl of penny arcades

That make the morning knife

Strike

In utter mere senselessness

Yet what does the other eye reveal

What is known about what is real

Is that I have lived and learned from you

To know love and know love

Is true

I USED TO BELIEVE

I used to believe.

I used to believe when I looked something in the eye I believed it,

I believed it was so. I trusted other things, people.

I was young and needed to believe in the other.

Now that I am old I don’t need to believe anything, not even myself.

Everything has its worth, even lies, and nobody knows what the truth of anything is anyway, so lies are the only things we may go by.

Choose your truth, but never believe it.

I know there are things that choose us, but in the end they disappear.

Nothing survives.

This may or may not be true.

I AM BLACK

I eat on black plates

I eat black food on black plates

I drink black tea in black cups

The sun shines black on me, too.

 

Black sucks in light,

meaning it contains light.

I am the Real Light, it says,

the hard shapes you see in day

disappear at night,

I own them.

 

Black is the color of sleep.

We rest in black

if black so desires,

or

black wields a whip

to keep us out,

starve us from our dreams.

 

While other colors strike poses,

play party games,

black remains serene

like an unruffled butler.

Distinguished

Absolute

A master of circumstance,

black rules quietly.

 

Black is jazz,

a burning saxophone on

the summer pavement,

slow drinks,

sex, easy and long.

 

Black is the dislocated,

sirens blaring to upset

delicate ears,

Police bullets spray,

the city is turned into

a trauma unit.

 

No,

don’t mess with black,

because black has been here

even longer than truth.

She is the Great Mother,

Africa,

the earth

that can swallow you.

 

So,

rise now,

and raise your glass to black,

in Coca Cola or in Russians.

And, remember,

everything goes with black,

it’s a well known custom.

 

SAYING GOODBYE

I wait for the summons.

When it arrives I comply

and enter the chapel.

I sit like a king removed

listening to the thin silence

draw me back into the

mysteries, and wonder

what artwork to expect fashioned

this day by the devil’s mouth,

what shapes will the body of

the snake take, whether pointed

or curved like punctuation, or rather

coiled almost seamlessly into an O.

I don’t know.

Death’s needs hold sway,

its odors must speak sweet

and fill up the air as in a stable

or a house of ill-repute.

My back arches like The Thinker,

elbows grinding into tops of thighs.

The light is weak.

Then I jut vertical to open

to give the babies passage

and kick back.

They rush to oblige, creating

a symphony, besides, dropping

plop plop into the drink.

I think, that is enough.

But no, wait, I was wrong,

another comes along to

join the song.

And yet another follows.

Oh, my! I sigh, I must’ve had too

much for dinner.

One day, I vow, I will be thinner.

At least, I’m lighter.

And now the party’s over.

Time to tidy up.

That’s less fun but has to be done.

Scroll down.

The white pages, the tugs and pinches,

the moustache all coated.

Fingers probe, scoop up the soil,

acknowledge it’s the wet season.

How much to stem the flood? This

is becoming drudgery! Pad after pad.

But look how bright we’re getting!

Maybe another roll will do it.

Finally, yes, here it is: unblemished. Pristine.

Not a hint of muck. Good as new.

I stand. Roll up. Buckle tight. Proudly,

focusing down, I lean on the handle,

and with sadness, wave my goodbyes.

LATE SUMMER

The feeling of drowning in morning light, cloud power and the dreamy skull, the promise of the blues gone forever. In the blonde blondness of the day, the caramel coated summer passing in a slow motion mirror, the trees cheerful as they sink into a yawn. It is a famous present, whispering seasonal traffic, the angle of a sun-splashed brick wall. A cityscape delirium. I exit my closet, blink orange, and I’m there, Sunday Morning by Lou Reed, and I don’t know what to bring to this last gasp of summer. It is a little like being invited to a beheading. How long will it take, will there be neck tightness, bleeding colours? I don’t know. Nobody knows when it comes to transitions, nobody’s an expert. And I don’t want to know. I prefer my windowpanes vague. I hope we can cut to the chase with a sharp blade, avoiding the tangled up telephones, the exhausting positions, the gum ache. I might be doing something wrong. I wish it were not so.

UNTITLED

Everything went dark

The screen eclipsed

I felt for your hand

I couldn’t resist

 

Your mouth restrains me

Your tone is harsh

I withstand your judgement

I stand apart

 

These years don’t matter

When you strike that pose

The distance we travel

Leaves us alone

 

Solitude in the afternoon

The sky wakes up

I wish I could be there

In a slim neat cup

 

I’m going toward something

The wind at my back

I’ll get somewhere one day

Beyond the pins and the rack

 

If this means something

If this makes some sense

You‘re in the middle

Of this whole bloody mess

MEAT

Meat is gravity

a dreamless state

pieces of death

there already in the beginning

and in all things

their essence.

Meat allows nothing to escape

and is empty of all but itself.

Meat consumes meat

becoming more meat

fleshier carcasses

duller slices of heads and legs

some younger

some more red.

The butcher is our friend.

And if we pretend

to aspire to other ends

with our many meat brains

meat guards meet us

at the door to the station

to disconnect the trains.

Fresh meat sizzles with notions,

take sides.

Lies slide from its bloodied hides.

Shapes abound.

Meat like meat likes to fry

in meat patties and on delegations

and in pairings that result in

baby meat who cry.

The meat parade began in time,

its womb the mirror, before

which we walked on air

part of the atmosphere

or flew

or were never there.

I’VE HAD ENOUGH

I’ve had enough

I’ve had enough of this road

And the stone in my shoe

I’ve had enough of me

And not enough of you

 

I’ve had enough

Of the air that I breathe

It’s painful to swallow

Painful to grieve

 

I’ve had enough

Don’t tell me no

I don’t know where to turn to

Don’t know where to go

 

I’ve had too little

Of glory and faith

Faith in something

I could never erase

 

I’ve had just enough

Time to prepare

Give me a signal

And I’ll try to get there

MARSHMALLOWS AND BALLOONS

RON’S WISDOM SALONA fictional advice column

Dear Ron,

I had a dream last night that I was floating around in a big air balloon. I woke up feeling elated and confused. What does it mean?

Confused

Dear Confused,

You’re confusing me. Do you mean what does the dream mean, or your confusion and elation? Let’s take it one at a time. You dreamed that you floated in an air balloon. By the way, why do they call it an air balloon? All balloons are air-bound or they wouldn’t be balloons, would they? It’s so redundant.

Okay, so you dreamed you floated in a balloon. Did you drink something before you went to sleep? Did you drink anything during the day? If yes, that probably did it. Floating in a balloon is also symbolic. It means you don’t like the ground and wish to be elsewhere. It could also mean you got a new pair of shoes, metaphorically speaking, which are killing you, and you don’t know whether to take them back or not.

My advice to you is to take them back and buy a more comfortable pair (soft leather, not too small, not too big) If the shoe fits, wear it. Many people insist on buying shoes that don’t fit them, which contributes to much misery.  There is also often a connection between floating in the air and marshmallows.

Think about it. Have you ever had thoughts about marshmallows?  Do you ever fantasize about doing things to marshmallows? Roasting them, biting them, gumming them? Do you buy the white ones or do you sometimes buy the coloured ones? If you always buy the white ones, do you sometimes wish they were coloured, or vice-versa?

Be honest with yourself. Be alert to possible color biases. Make sure there is not too much white in your life. You might think you are brightening up the atmosphere, but you’re not, you’re just leaving yourself open to stains. You are inviting problems.

There is a possibility also you may even have a perverted need to be stained in some way because you don’t feel you are worthy. You subconsciously wish to be besmirched. I don’t know if you are worthy or not, so I won’t go there. I assume you are a worthy person because you read my column, but even I can’t tell  for sure, so  wisdom dictates that I go no further with speculation.

As for your elation, I would suggest that you  rub the smirk off your face pronto and face reality. Did you really think you could just float away and bump around in the sky for the rest of your life? You are not a bird, after all. Don’t be so darn happy!

I could call you a coward for being elated, but I won’t. The confusion part I understand. Here you were, fading off into sleepland, never expecting to be abducted in some airborne device, and you wake up thinking how do I get home from the airport. Well, it was an imaginary voyage! You did not really go sky riding,  you are on terra firma now. I might suggest that if you want to avoid confusing dreams, you try keeping your eyes slightly open when you sleep. Clothespins often do the trick.

I hope this helped.

HOPE

I hope Alain is happy with his cat

And didn’t go out and buy a rat

I hope he’s happier still

That he’s not buried on a hill

 

I hope Eddie is okay

Not in some disastrous play

With his wife and his son

Held down under somebody’s gun

 

I hope my folks are doing good

Wherever they may be I’ve understood

Whatever transpired I can’t deny

Made me I and I will not lie

 

I hope Barbara is on her way

To becoming every day

The artist she is supposed to be

And creates herself and remembers me

 

I hope everyone in this world

Who suffers with what has unfurled

Gains relief and conquers pain

And comes back to live again

DREAM DIARY

I am in a house. Not clear if it is my house or that I am taking care of it for someone else. But it has a long hallway and off it an alcove, which is at first unseen by me, as I am at one end. At the far end of the hallway a man stands almost out of sight. He is telling me adamantly that a portrait hung in the alcove should be taken down, because something disastrous will happen as a result of it. I know the portrait and find nothing wrong with it. I remember It is a picture of a middle-aged man who has a round face and a high forehead. He has thin blondish hair. In fact, I am thinking as we speak that there may  be two of the same person hanging there, one of these taken when the man had been under the influence of opium. There is a lot of talk back and forth, but I refuse to remove them. Then I enter the alcove and am surrounded by many portraits in old-fashioned frames. Near the floor I see rows of children’s books together with decorations and drawings. When I lean down to inspect them the books begin to sing to me in beautiful young voices. I am entranced and the dream ends.

A WORD ABOUT BUSINESS AS USUAL

People should be screaming out of windows
people should be kicking down doors,
jumping on flags,
shaking like epileptics!

How is this possible?
We have
nearly a million years of human evolution
and the standard line can still prevail:

“It’s mine!”

Well,
It’s not.

You have no right to it.

A spell is on
you,

which continues
generation after generation,
an afternoon darkness,
your robotic mind
clinging to a cliff of lies.

And your mouth that spits on
anything better
and shoulders that
shrug ugly
and bellies that stick out
like eggs
.

And you want security?

This will not stand!
There is a Law that says:
This. Will. Not. Stand.
We will make sure
you understand this.
By train and by plane and by ship,
your skin will dissolve in fear.
You will breathe in the stinking corpses
of your children.
Your houses will crumble over you.
You will be availed of no
hope,
no future.
You will cry to the end
of your days
when you may finally
realize the Justice in this
for your atrocious
incomparable
stupidity.

ENIGMA (for J-M)

If it’s too good to be true

is it true,

a young man, nearly

a boy, really,

who astounds in

twenty-first century space

with jewels as words that are

louder than blame

and as magnificent

as First Love?

 

Who is he,

who writes in a third language

he met on a beach as a child?

 

He is doubtless connected

to those who spoke

before him

in the flowers of language,

messages of possibility,

all the while surrounded

in a world

swallowed by toxins.

 

If Art is a lie that tells the truth,

then he is a great liar,

a magician who spins wheels

before fortunate spectators.

 

Regardless,

Beauty is proffered by the arthritic

hand.

A HOLE IN ME

There is a hole in me that can’t be filled

I try to stay alert to everything in there

I stuff myself with pleasure

I disengage from pain

I stand in the rain 

                                                                                              

The hole I realize is an illusion

I realize this with a deep breath

That a fine hand is guiding me

Somewhere

I don’t care where

Only that it is away from

A hole that can’t be filled