A collection of 140 poems by Ron Kozloff is featured in Edge of Humanity magazine.
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.
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,
Black and white is cold,
The bare sky a smudge
A bird passing overhead and
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
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
He is as stuck in place as a tree,
No step available in any direction
Outside the realm of history.
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!
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,
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:
A gust of wind catches him on the cheek.
He thinks he will wait.
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.
When I speak of my heart
I describe a
Factory after hours. Light from
Illuminates the dust
On the machinery
and faces, like rags,
lay scattered throughout,
ghosts of family, friends, lovers,
Each one is given is their due
and passed over.
In this room, the temperature
Remains tepid, static.
A placid, windless vacuum occupies
Is this a comfort zone or a cell on
Is it the bottom of the night where
We hide from blood, from fire, an
Asylum from the living
We are beside ourselves or behind,
in a perpetual, pervasive
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,
I can see it all too clearly.
My heart is a room.
I have no use for certain rooms.
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
I am blue not gray
I am just made that way
I will just fade that way
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
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
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.
I am the sexy beast,
a sad clown
the constant wall
of repetitive repetition.
I’m a house in Missoula Montana
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 pain caves his brain
Like fast anxious fire
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…
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.
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
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
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
I don’t even know
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.
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
Here and there
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
You like the old coins
I drag from my pockets. You
say they are worth something
to you. Here.You have them.
They are worth more than
they were a moment ago.
There is an old hole on the other side of the rainbow
that you drop into
with all your dreams
and schemes and successes
to be consumed drastically
in the intestines of an anonymous animal
on the way to getting born again
your new old predicament.
You sat in the centre of an iron ring
glass houses and jewelled windows
As clean as porcelain.
Your German brain made everything
You heard children’s cries in the wires of
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.
You are there
You have fallen into legend,
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
The intricate designs so finely wrought,
Miniature kaleidoscopes of thought,
Mathematical mirrored light.
You were a worker bee, alright.
Your name rolls off the tongue
You were so young
Marilyn Monroe with an abstract eye,
You won’t ever die.
Lies flat or lays flat
Not a living thing on his mind.
Up or down like a pancake.
Down is better,
A tunnel into disappearance,
Space under the floor of the pillow,
Carpets of form.
The one consolation.
Neither hot nor cold
The neutral state
No body no taste.
Up is different.
The sky’s the limit
A network of pinpoints,
And crossed out plans,
Inhalations and breathed out
Was she there?
Who was she?
Then spirals occur
Her face again becomes a blur.
Everything infected with her.
Your head sits on a rock
And you’re tired.
But you don’t turn over.
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.