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Twilight Dances is a collection of poems which explores the dark side of the human experiment in a serious lyrical fashion. In it the author allows thanatos, or the instinct toward a worldly death, take over and color many of the poems from various points of view, and people, some even from a comical perspective. The book is divided into three parts: Identity and Aspiration; People Known and Dreamed; Observations of Culture. There are a total of 140 poems in rhymed and free verse forms. The style is spare and transparent, though sometimes bordering on the lyrical and romantic. This is decidedly not a light read.
What on earth do they do there? Ok. You have women, wine, and song? Now is this constantly? You had one woman, you go to another. You can become the playboy of your dreams. Fine. That might work for how long? awhile? OK. I could take that. Then there’s the wine part. We already know that too much wine makes you need to hang around the toilet bowl the next day. Are there toilet bowls in heaven? The song? Well how many really good songs are there? If you are staying there eternally, you’re bound to run out. And who decides which songs will be played? Some angel probably. What if you don’t get along with an angel? Can you request another? They always talk about it being like a garden. Well, I now live a couple of blocks from a huge beautiful public garden. But I’ve gone only a couple of times. Then they say there are lakes. I like a good lake as much as the next guy, but how long can you swim? Is there fishing allowed? Who says how many fish you can catch? The angels, right? I’d rather be near an ocean and surf. I’m sure there are people who would like to ski. So let’s say that it would leave a lot to be desired. But paradise has to be perfect. Everyone is always happy. It’s peaceful. There is no pain. Excellent. Why not just take drugs?
We sit in opposition
Like cars gearing up for a
Game of chicken.
The wind blusters in your
Eyes, your piano voice comes
In crystals. I feel the years
Between us that have
Fallen off, revealing a hard
Skeleton of love in place.
How we try each
Other for fault! Your vanity,
my hands cut off at
The wrist. I have no
Stomach to pick through
These remains again or retrace
Plot points on the map
To here. I see it as a
Happy accident that
We have survived
Together at all,
Certainly not any of my
Doing. Was it the god
Of inertia who intervened,
limited horizons pressing
Were we not brave enough,
and if so,
Has it not taken us down
Was it something else entirely,
A flame of recognition
That held a mutual gaze
And burned everything else
And if it doesn’t come you wait some more,
It is something like fishing
Except you don’t do it in the sun.
It is not exactly pleasant
And it is not exactly unpleasant either
Why you do it
is difficult to answer.
It has something to do with compulsion
Your having to know that you can,
On that day
come up with something
That will definitely surprise you.
So you court the gods gravely and fervently
Because you know that it is not really
You at all who is going to do the work.
It is rather a chorus of Voices somewhere
Inside your nervous system
that will come to visit you,
Bringing with them words as gifts to you,
Which they offer in muffled tones or
In fits and starts, or in lengthier
Instalments that you take down
At your keyboard you hope in the right
You want to receive the message correctly
not mishear it,
And you have to learn to trust that what they tell you
Is in fact the truth because you have no way of verifying
Of course there will be at some point an overseer who
tinkers and censors
A sort of Father Figure editor
Who must get the package wrapped correctly.
But that is the easy part really because the gift is already
or in part.
Later, you and others will determine whether it was
A cheap gift or an expensive one.
You will provide your signature,
The Voices will be relegated to obscurity.
You know in your heart that you are probably
At best, an interceptor,
And the Voices will not be there to either
Confirm or deny it.
We have all been insulted some time or other in our life. And it is important that one learns to take insults well if we are to retain any measure of self-respect. When someone says to you, “Why don’t you go fuck yourself?” How can you most handily respond to that?
Act interested . Go, “Why don’t I go fuck myself, indeed?” Have your fingertip at your lip, your head cocked at an upturned angle while you say this. It is possible, though unlikely, that the big-mouth will join you in attempting to answer their own question, Or you could choose to remind them it is none of their business. Your insult to them. But the better course is to stay on the high road and not play tit for tat. It is possible that the person decides to up the ante with a more direct “Fuck you” or “Fuck off.”
Now you must clarify matters. Explain to the frustrated soul that you don’t wish to do either. Be firm but kind. Remind them that we live in a democracy, that they are neither your guardian nor your stockbroker (if in fact it is the case) and that you don’t wish to take their advice. Or, contrarily, that you may just do what they have suggested. Thank them for their tough-love manner and wish them well in their day.
If this leads to a physical threat, raise your hand and take on a stance of “Brother, you know not what you do!” in the style of Harvey Keitel, admonishing his flock in Martin Scorcese’s old movie, The Last Temptation of Christ. It is always useful to have a model in mind when you make a magnanimous gesture. It may even get uglier. If so, employ one of Ghandi’s tactics and sit on the ground. Do not allow yourself to be hurt, but don’t resist either. Do the right thing, a la the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Hopefully, a crowd will encircle you that includes a burly off-duty policeman. If that doesn’t happen, play dead, or convince the person that it is time for your nap. It is always amazing what people will accept at face value. The important thing is to keep them guessing and preferably under the impression that you cannot be bullied, or that you are mentally unbalanced and capable of untold destruction if pushed to it.
The best alternative, however, may still be the flight reaction. But usually it does not come to that. What is the worst that can happen? You die. There are worse things than death,( which I won’t get into at this juncture.) Suffice it say that even if you did die, you would know (how, I have no idea!) that you did the right thing. You did not insult back. You did not steep to their level. You acted with dignity, forbearance, a smattering of intelligence, bluff. You danced well. You went out in style (whatever that means) Could they say the same? It is more than likely that they will at some point regret what they said or did to you, or they may even become born-again and go on to years of meetings in dank basements with badly dressed overweight people .
You will have changed the person. they might never insult another person again, or at least in the same manner. You have made a difference!
He looks like a sweet little immigrant,
a Pakistani boy wading through dirty water.
He smiles a lot on walls and soothes
with his ingratiating manner.
He is said to be charming to breathless women
he meets at natural food counters and less than charming to his underlings.
Known as a pop culture icon, a go-getter, or almost something.
while inside he is:
all emptiness and fury.
He must have hated his mother a lot.
Did she turn the wrong screw?
We can always trace things back to her.
Blaming the woman is the name of the game we love.
Women as punching bags is always a hoot.
She could not be one hundred percent available, perhaps.
She is, after all, the Remote One, the Castratrix.
And this is never agreeable.
Thus she must be remade, beaten into another shape.
Everyone knows that,
Everyone sees that,
Everyone always has.