EPHEMERA

What do any of us leave when
we leave this world except a
blemish, that is, a smear on the face
of Time that may appear further along
in the sphere of  someone else who recalls
its authenticity in the form of say a word, an
image, a remark, a posture of body that enters
likely by Chance thru a corridor of Memory in
association with other factors  or none
and then passes on again without us really
having had anything to do with it at all? We live on
despite ourselves in pieces and our fame,
justified or not,  prevails.

IN SEARCH OF A TORTURED PAST

I wish it didn’t have to be like that.

At least for the purposes of creating art,

A comfortable childhood is unsatisfactory.

But mine was, it seems just that, and

After having just reviewed a stack of

Old photographs I come away with the

Impression that I was a much loved, happy

Child.  Now how to account for my miserable

Adulthood?  I have to blame it on something,

Don’t I?

A WINTER LANDSCAPE

Black and white is cold,

Correctly cold.

The bare sky a smudge

Forbidding entrance.

A bird passing overhead and

Disappears.

The air as quiet as stone.

In the middle distance

In a wash of absence

A figure appears like a solitary

Hair on a skull.

The camera intrudes on

a man

In a long dark coat standing as

Still as death

Surrounded by impersonal space.

Vacant eyes stare into a glass world.

 

Where is the garden, the apple tree?

Where is the touch?

This might as well be the moon

Or a planet of silver

Remember the smoke

The grim parade

The separation,

How?

 

He is as stuck in place as a tree,

No step available in any direction

Outside the realm of history.

 

They promised.

Oh, well…

 

Nothing forms on his face.

By force of habit a machine still works

Inside of him and he shifts with its engine.

 

The other side.

 

Brief glimpses of a hand, his mother’s,

The dress she wore on his twelfth birthday.

He is blowing the candles in a picture that was taken

Of the event.

 

It is possible!

 

Below

looks as inviting as wool although it is made of snow.

Then his view is pasted over with streaks of black shutters, like when the eyes

Blink too fast and the thought disappears.

 

An ocean opens with a sigh, there is fanfare and happy applause

on the other side of it, a choir of ruddy faces cheer like summer,

breaking down the cold

 

At last, an opening…

 

There is a rustle of excitement in the notion as when a gift

Is being undressed

But the body still resists. The machine will not give way.

It is frozen in its atmosphere.

 

What if the package is empty, she is not even there

There are no swimming souls either

It was all a mistake made by apes?

 

You are left with bats’ wings instead, and motor complaints,

Vinegars

And graduating degrees of spirit ache.

 

What if they keep you awake?

 

Or nothing, much like this and less, and you have no way of knowing:

Eternal discontent.

 

Not there.

A gust of wind catches him on the cheek.

He thinks he will wait.

THE CELEBRITY

Celebrity figures invade the dream lives in the dullness of us, incoming from WIFI zones and boredom channels. The slick images of glamour lay claim to our delicate private spaces, our individual inner worlds, lodging there like squatters, spreading the virus of appearances. The gleam of the celebrity figure is what used to be the bauble in the child’s hand that fascinated and then was relinquished. What the child has discarded, the adult now absorbs through the media, marketed by the celebrity and their environment. There must be a constant bombardment in order for the celebrity to be successful in their quest, which is desirability. It is important that the child’s mind in the adult remain engaged. The celebrity is salesperson as well as product, which ultimately serves to establish the sanctity of the system of the marketplace and the vaunted appraisal of its goods.

A ROOM

When I speak of my heart

I describe a

Factory after hours. Light from

Half-open windows

Illuminates the dust

On the machinery

and faces, like rags,

lay scattered throughout,

ghosts of family, friends, lovers,

enemies.

Each one is given is their due

and passed over.

 

In this room, the temperature

Remains tepid, static.

A placid, windless vacuum occupies

The air.

 

Is this a comfort zone or a cell on

Death row?

Is it the bottom of the night where

We hide from blood, from fire, an

Asylum  from the living

Where

 

We are beside ourselves or behind,

in a perpetual, pervasive

Shadow land

 

When

There are wars to be fought,

Children to be protected,

Skin to be investigated

 

All outside the

purview of this room.

 

Yes, outside, far away,

Nearly nonexistent.

I can see it all too clearly.

 

My heart is a room.

I have no use for certain rooms.     

I TRY

I try so hard

I try so hard

I try so hard to love you

 

I try so hard to live with you

I try so hard to know you

 

I do not know you

I cannot rule you

 

Fact

 

I am blue not gray

I am just made that way

I will just fade that way

 

Now

 

The lamp’s down low

How low will it go

 

Into the dark

Our natural space

Our silly place

 

I try so hard

To win the race

To end the race

 

I try so hard

To find my place

NIGHT

The fat brain can’t get up today

The slow familiar dead end crawl

Nothing appears at the gate

The clock doesn’t move at all

Faces come stop and stare

Through the very vast night

Birds have gone to sleep for good

The wise limp instead of fight

Within this dreamless ancient place

 Music sour grates on everyone

Behind the door something waits

To  make a move and overcome

The children don’t exist at all

They shoulder guns and strangle dolls

They have never known another place

Where monsters don’t make the calls

While phony women shallow men

Pretend to dance a pantomime

They kiss the air and then themselves

They make a dash on a dime

The anesthetic must soon wear off

On all these wild-eyed toothless men

Who carry around a human form

And hand you a poison pen

The future must appear some day

Even in this airless room

When people will scurry out to see

The lost ambiguous forgotten moon

NOVEMBER’S CHILDREN

The way November falls on you like a bleak vision,

The way November rolls over you like a bone crushing incident

The way November empties you like a vampiric spirit.

November dances toward the precipice with gloom.

I love all her dead children blowing away in the wind,

such loveliness waving goodbye, opening the door

to the frozen heart of winter.

Blanket me in white.

Let me sleep a thousand years in your vault.

MY PINK IN RECLINE

I am the sexy beast,

a sad clown

facing

the constant wall

of repetitive repetition.

I’m a house in Missoula Montana

broken inside

my pink in recline.

My mailbox is clogged,

My friends are nowhere to be found.

What to wear to my tragedy?

The young girl’s cheek is hot,

I can’t even find her jacket in my closet,

I thought the worst, that I would forget it.

Skull folks always fear public perception,

I donate earplugs, the virginal haircut to them.

Horizontal hunters number their disappointments,

Under the lamp, a matchbook coffin.

THE SKY ANNOUNCES

The pain caves his brain

Like fast anxious fire

As

Outside,

The afternoon sun shines .

Nothing particularly untoward

reported . Only

A sense of the already been ,

The old islands of thought

Punctuated by angry siren swells,

stick figures and

Sweating somersaults of gloom…

But

There is a place and

There is a way that is

Better than possibility, the far-away sky announces

To this wreck it addresses

Whose head’s in the closet

In search for a bonnet

And  a perfect drink.

The light moves fractionally  (his head now out for a peek)

Yes, movement opens to a room in his parched

Brain, the pain subsides fractionally, and he hides for a beat

In  a synapse of reprieve  between his words.

‘Reshape this worldview ,’  the sky announces:

‘All is empty argument,’

Blinks the blue cool eye.

AUTUMNAL BLUES

And, yes

Around us everywhere

The golden note

Autumnal glory, as you please,

Messaging the possibility

That ease may arrive

All dressed up as Sunday.

I lay in wait for Godot

With the same stumbling quality

With no ideology

No compass, no certainty,

All the spiderwebs that lead me here

That left me here bereft

The question marks looming

The leaves used up

The casual way they spread.

Perhaps I am dead

Like them

I had a home once

Where I belonged,

Now on my own I beg

Something miraculous must come

Yes, like the glory around us suggests

We are something other than

Appearance dictates

And presses so hard against

The thin film to

Evanescence and escape

Only motion and peace

And no suffering in the end

There is so much time to contend

And I am so tired of calling for

Something

Something

I don’t even know

What anymore.

BECOMING

Sleepy in the afternoon,

sunshine bleeds thru my high windows.

Thank you for the transfusion this morning,

the digital dots that you connected,

as I sat by baffled by your sharp eye.

I felt like a statue (if statues could feel)

next to you and I was somewhat comfortable

with it. What is it about me? Have I become

totally redundant with age? Girls look at me now

with smiles that feel like charity, and I am

grateful for it. I thank everyone of them profusely.

Was it the aged Peter O’Toole who in a film begged

a girl for permission to sniff behind her ear?

I laughed then, but now I don’t! On the way out

modesty becomes us. It’s really all we have.

CRACKS

Between the cracks I live

In a world between worlds

In the space between words

Like a twilight dance

A summer romance

A part-time dude

Someone who knew

The secret clue

That slipped away

Between the cracks

In memory in fact

It is what it is

It was it will be

An encompassing view

Both eyes well lit

On the party prize

That says we never die

Don’t try don’t stress

It’s here in nothingness

Between the cracks

Between the acts

Below the world

In flesh and blood

In skylight swoop

Beyond despair

Here and there

And everywhere

HOW IT HAPPENED

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.

But

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

Against motion?

Were we not brave enough,

and if so,

Has it not taken us down

A step?

Or

Was it something else entirely,

A flame of recognition

That held a mutual gaze

And burned everything else

Away?

SYLVIA (for Sylvia Plath)

SYLVIA PLATH

Sylvia,

You sat in the centre of an iron ring

distilling

 glass houses and jewelled windows

As clean as porcelain.

Your German brain made everything

An equation.

You heard children’s cries in the wires of

Your womanhood

And pictured horses tearing you

Limb from limb.

Why the auto-destruction?

Was Daddy calling out to you

From another region?

Did you have

A little girl’s need to sit at the feet

Of a killer?

Did you want star-power,

Your books sold on a scale unimaginable?

You always loved the feel of a winner.

Sylvia,

You are there

You have fallen into legend,

Biographies abound

Pale college girls sing their lipsticked praises

To your heartbreaks and your gilded monuments,

To Ariel, the Woman God in the Bible.

The yellowed pages of your poems

Still startle,

The intricate designs so finely wrought,

Miniature kaleidoscopes of thought,

Arctic inventions.

Mathematical  mirrored light.

You were a worker bee, alright.

Sylvia,

Your name rolls off the tongue

You were so young

Blonde bombshell,

Marilyn Monroe with an abstract eye,

You won’t ever die.

THE HORIZONTALIST

Lies flat or lays flat

Not a living thing on his mind.

Up or down like a pancake.

Down is better,

Down –

A tunnel into disappearance,

Space under the floor of the pillow,

Unlinked widespread

Carpets of form.

 

Practice sleep,

The one consolation.

Deep.

Neither hot nor cold

The neutral state

No body no taste.

Soundless music.

 

Up is different.

The sky’s the limit

A network of pinpoints,

Thought smudges

And crossed out plans,

Inhalations and breathed out

Despair.

Was she there?

Who was she?

Then spirals occur

And

Her face again becomes a blur.

Everything connected,

Everything infected with her.

Your head sits on a rock

And you’re tired.

 

You’re tired

But you don’t turn over.

THE ANGELS OF MAY

The angels of May make the seven

gray steps down and enter the clean sunlight.

Along the sidewalk, they move in pairs or in clusters

In solidarity on their way away from the severe

dark building where they learn to be good citizens.

 

In the ripple of Spring, in their plaid wraparound

skirts, sharply pleated, worn (their choice) up enough

to reveal burgeoning limbs caught between hem and

long socks, there are glimpses of the quality of

destination explorers have gladly died for: These are

perfectly in bloom art flowers!

 

Now, at lunchtime, they wave and frolic, dash and

dive, giving up squeals of  glee and bursts of temper

in gamely fashion under the city branches, some on swings

kick at the sky with outstretched legs, as if they wanted to

leave the world;  some sit in groups on the grass in bonding

arrangements, making sisterly gestures, at ease in their abstractions,

and on this oasis,  what secrets shared,  what plans hatched,

what crushes formed in their eager young hearts!

 

And when a silent bell sounds it is time to put down the recreations and

return to the cold building where instruction is bought for future advantage

when they will  be harnessed to their adult woes, although for the time being,

 they float automatically in procession, resigned to the remainder of their day

 like angels in the afternoon.