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.
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.
Write about it.
Write about what?
Find an” it” and write about it.
This is it.
Then what can we say about it?
That it’s here
I can’t see. It’s too dark.
What can we say about the darkness?
And you don’t know where anything is.
And It’s on my shoulder now.
Yes It’s heavy, isn’t it
It’s gone now.
A little light, then?
Yes but it’s still hard to see.
Maybe you need glasses.
Which it is it now?
There is only one it.
Everything is possible in darkness.
It’s too dark to see.
In frozen light there is nowhere to go. You have stopped and everything around you is static and distant. In this glacial landscape, you have been severed from all rivers of possibility, from blood communion with the living, from breath itself, and there is the overriding sense that it has always been this way and probably always will be. It may be that you are already dead and that you possess only the critical awareness to monitor your state. You obviously cannot change anything about it. Your body still functions as always: you eat, sleep, defecate. You speak, listen, and move from place to place, or rather you watch yourself doing these actions as if you were watching an actor on a screen , that the agent is someone else, someone you hardly recognize. You feel nothing, except for the occasional stab of disgust, which is not even unpleasant because it fortifies you against any emotions. If there is desire, it is for oblivion. If there is a will, it is untouchable. There is nothing out there that beckons . And there is no inside. What becomes of a surviving corpse, you may wonder. This will one day be determined.
Powder sky framing softly exploding bursts of whiteness and the cinnamon brickwork and the murmuring, grumbling city machinery and the empty stomachs and heart that cannot be sated and pains that have become housebroken and the boredom factor at high- grade fuel and the ever-present hunger for work, the peace that work may bring.
I had a broken tooth
And we were talking
And you were so bashful of yours.
You always come back to me
When my face is covered.
The tinkle of ice cubes into the tall glass.
I felt my tooth recoil in back
And hide like a mouse.
But it never touched nerve.
Why do you always talk of silly things
In the midst of my chaos?
You were so colorless before the event, so perfect that you passed through our field of vision unnoticed. You would always be there, though left unappreciated for the many functions and movements you performed in the world. Then the fire, then the blemish as an aftermath that put you on the map. You are now marked, dignified in your ugliness. You have acquired history, a sense of having lived and suffered, which we will exploit as an added feather in our cap.
The package wears a bow-tie. He smiles at the clock. He can’t go anywhere or do anything because packages don’t move on their own and there is nothing that moves him. Being self-aware, He observes himself as weight. Gravity is the rule that owns him. Repetition is the game that plays him in a slow, evenly paced drip that marks time. More accurately, it is the clock that changes position, and the smile indicates nothing because it has been pasted on, it signifies no particular emotion. It remains perhaps because it relaxes his face and has become a habit and habit is what keeps him. He notices his chest, a block heaving, and sometimes gets lost in its momentum. In moments like this he goes away and then returns . He returns to the same place, to his body, to the repetition, to the arena of pain. Everything is old, solid, unchanged. He listens to his body, to the noises that wash over it in a functional , predictable sequence- the passages, the objections, the causes and effects, the tedium. He tries to listen for something different and then concludes that it has all been done just the same as it always has, in eternal, concentric stasis . He remembers, he still can remember, the sun, the moon, their dance in light and darkness. The clock moves once again and the past spins out as well with all the unreality of soap bubbles. It could be another mind that invented it. The mind means nothing, can’t be trusted to produce anything reliable. He is his body: Limited. Immobile. Circumscribed, as if spirit has been extricated leaving a corpse that is watching itself. A stone watching a stone, watching the clock move over frozen time.
Time moves subterranean.
Why did you appear last night in a dream
from so long ago?
With no invitation,
you lay as you always did
resigned and useless
in order to unbalance my life.
Obviously, you are alive in me,
a sorry memory
that I still can’t manage to swallow.
The human mind is relentless
at what it wants to get.
When there is a pay-off, don’t worry,
It will be there in one way or another
To turn over the earth for its desired worm.
Your call will be returned.
You’ll be called “sir”
There will be bells and smiles at your command.
The whole world will tickle your fancy
Till the worm is there in the hand.
Then it will be farewell and good luck
And see you soon, maybe,
Until the next worm is wished for.
Self- interest is a funny thing
Because it makes people into things.
It makes us a hinge on the door
To someone else’s gain.
I’d rather be called something else,
Let’s spend some time together.
Let’s have mutual pleasure.
What’s -in it- for- me
is a nowhere strategy
That subtracts from our humanity.
Animals that care for each other.
Your gain is mine
Mine is ours,
A communism of the heart
In a time when the heart has become
To transcend the fear of losing,
Because you have given.
There are just rewards before heaven.
A life of me and mine
Is less than satisfactory.
So find your generosity.
(This is not a plea from
An ad agency.)
I just told someone something
I am sure will kill me.
In the end I will be dead,
But not dead enough to regret
What I said.
Yet what is the good of truth
When you come down to it?
It glares, it smashes your head against
Your most tender parts.
Its reverberations last
Well into the next dilemma.
Making enemies of even the kindest people.
I beg for release…
Being ground down each new day,
Knowing it will end
End badly, probably,l
I am paralyzed and the only thing I can do
And worst of alI
I have no idea
Strange sounds are the last things
When the bird died
She was so long and lithe
Hung from her French door.
And the world sighed,
‘Why? She had everything.’
Everything is not nearly enough,
There is nowhere to go from there
No real air,
Everything marked up with checks
To convince oneself this is a life.
I suppose we convince ourselves,
We must. Otherwise
Hell meets us face first
To declare the worst.
How to survive?
She tried , but she
Is no longer alive.
So many people have gone away
And you’re still here.
So many people have had their say
And you’re still here.
Do you know where they are?
They’re all in the next room
Waiting for you.
I am waiting for something,
Waiting for something to emerge
For the leaf in the wind
to divulge its secret
In this ground-down residue
Of a failed experiment.
At the wheel in restlessness
The signs that pass
Say nothing in earnest
The right books might as well
Have been written in Braille,
There is not a shred of evidence.
I cannot dress up in the past
I cannot rest
Until I find out
Whether all of this
Is not just a nuisance
But a test.
I will not have it burned in
That to love is sufficient.
Is the moment of birth equal to the moment of death?
I am inclined toward this thesis
Death is such a long process.
Will I wake up in the end
Or will I be oblivious?
In actual fact, this
is a matter of indifference
As long as I am not made to come back.
It is just that
Success has been less
Than the failure I’ve had.
Though I have no regret,
In the final breath
Failure is all we get.