6 x 36 Nocturnes

series one, #19-36

xix. 6/12/2000 Art Institute of Chicago
Georgia O'Keeffe, "Red Hills with Flowers,"
1937, oil on canvas

What burns in you is beauty.
Beauty burns in all creation.
Here you are, first & last flower of the world.
There you'll go, joining other dreamers in those hills.
There you'll be, now fully a dream, beyond knowing's
        fruitless toil.


xx. 6/12/2000 Art Institute of Chicago
Edward Hopper, "Nighthawks,"
1942, oil on canvas

All alone. All suffering. yes.
coffee in a diner 4 a.m. gleaming urns.
dull eyes. outside not a yell nor a mumble . . .

Open the door, Betty! Don't wait for your
        date, he likes the gloom.

Don't wait for that lone man who eyed
        the folds of your red dress & nodded.

Betty, don't wait for the patron either,
        he prefers closed doors, would cover
                the windows & extinguish the lights—
                        if he could. If it mattered.

Perhaps this is your fate, your mission,
        the meaning you need.

You care, Betty. You care beyond good
        & bad, beyond safety, beyond love,
                beyond the words & the glances &
                        these dour souls here, make a
                                break for it, Betty, smile, mention
                                        the powder room, smile at them
                                                all & in the vacuum, the few
                                                        moments, do something to
                                                                that door
        do something, a brick, a garbage can,
                do what you've wanted to do all of
                        your life, stop waking up wondering
                                who & why, hurry now! A cigarette
                                        & a cup of coffee make a short
                                                watch to go by, hurry, yes,
                                                        do it! Leave your purse, it
                                                                will be their clue that you
                                                                        aren't ever coming back.


xxi. 6/12/2000 Art Institute of Chicago
Jackson Pollock, "Grayed Rainbow,"
1953, oil on canvas

There is no answer.
There is sadness & morning light.
There is the need to mount, to have,
There is need to receive, to contain.
There is no meaning.
Morning light accumulates until
        it no longer exists.


xxii. 6/12/2000 Art Institute of Chicago
Gerhard Richter, "Ice 1-4,"
1989, oil on canvas

Deep in the world's woods
on the morning of the day
when the world ended,
a soft sound, flesh, breathing,
other noises followed, then
stillness again, the woods slept.



Deep in the world's waters,
toward noon of the day
when the world ended,
no belief as ever in sky & land,
fear of light, perhaps of change
too. Nothing is named or divided.



High above the world
at dusk of the day
when the world ended,
shimmer & cloud, the silence
of paradise, of perfect



Down in the heart of the world
near midnight of the day when the
world ended, all was well, all
was calm, change, decay, growth,
illusion, beauty, the pyre was
ready. Tonight's ending will be spectacular.


xxvi. 6/16/2000 Harvard Square
Au Bon Pain Cafe, Cambridge, MA

A thing not word, a word not thing,
            the universe hardens with a
burning ambivalence.

Music. Power. Fecundity. Time annihilates
            light annihilates mystery annihilates
that which strays too rhythmically

til buried in flesh & words. Flesh & words.

            There is no answer. Here she remains
immaculate & young. Cutting air with blood.

There is no answer. Find the trees,
        nuzzle the wind. Learn how to accept.
                How to nod. Disappear along the
                        path home.


xxvii. 6/16/2000 Harvard Square
Au Bon Pain Cafe, Cambridge, MA

The fury of existence. Happiness no limits.
        Night, once again, night, always.
A pair of shoulders better to be part of
        fleshes twisting musics than thought.

Thought is for aspiring species.
        True manifestation for cogitating angels
comes in reunion with bloody-backed

                        Daily ignored the howling bookends
of existence in favor of the mortal hustle.

Merge your blood & hers & the earth's, merge
        them anew in a depthless agony. Learn.
                Learn what she knows alone at moments
                        when from her cunt squirm eyes, a face.


xxviii. 6/16/2000 Harvard Square
Au Bon Pain Cafe, Cambridge, MA

I listen tonight for one true note. I hear
        everywhere coins, clatter, asses dropping
into wooden seats.

I am disappearing even now, before the
        grime of my trainride, the prayers
for soft voice, the spewy careen into Dream.

I know nothing now because I distrust
        knowledge, all is water, perfect,
unknowable, all is dream-breast, life
        resumes again dryly every morning.


xxix. 7/8/2000 On board New York City-
to-Indianapolis Greyhound bus

Maybe in a moment revelation
        maybe after that extinction
Maybe twisted with this moment here

Maybe first everything, then nothing, is clear

Or the kind of yes that quickly buds doubts
Or the kind of no that winks & dances past midnight

What will the gathered faces tell you?
Several things you need not know?

What will the music be when you've
                        finally sucked the flame?

What will you become when you've
                        finally shed your bed & name?


Tonight could be the night
                        of revelation & extinction

Don't ask the trees. Don't flood the fields.

Become the music again
It will bring you home. It will burn you down.

Something soft too. Something soft here lacks.

Tonight could be the night when
                        what reveals, what extinguishes,
Partners, mates, makers of the new coming.


Extinction, revelation, the way the morning
        light careens off hidden pond, the way

the night urges the soul to play or charge,
        extinction & revelation, the turnpike's truths

gull more every day with solutions of plastic
        proclaimed by prophets of wood.

Somewhere tonight love is freezing into habit.
Elsewhere tonight love is melting, laws over & gone.

One lifetime nearly concluded wheezing onto
        the bus, a metal walker, seat warning
                ahead to the final bed & the coffin.


I've been waiting to love you all my life.
But now the mirror must urge me to cease doubting.
Tonight I am travelling to you, I know that.
Revelation, extinction, water for the hopeless.

Will you still be cherry when I get there?
Will I?

Cherry Hill, New Jersey on a night heavy with
        revelation & extinction.

Full moon flirty shows one buttock tonight.

If I don't find you soon there's be a new wisdom
        will be time for me to school in.


Revelation & extinction are just fancy words.
Pretties for the brain. Cigarettes. Chewing gum.

Watching her dance that night opened nearly
        every door.

A rainbow the other day, its blank belly
        filled with bolts, what more? What else?

This world is fat with miracles & woe,
        fat, with fire, with pain, with chocolate,
                with mace, with crowds around a
                        water bowl, with solitary lords rich
                                with echoes & bottled time

Revelation, extinction, how the blood is readying
                        to come wildly.


The freaks will never own the world
        they preach of another, deeper, proclaim
            how things shall be when they dance
                when they smoke

when they board the crowded midnight
        bus smiling, friends to all, friends
            to any

The freaks know revelation & extinction.
        Cherry tomatoes in a window garden.
                A pocketful of photos from the
                        mountain festival.

Stories of ghosts known & remembered.
        Songs for you, tonight, it will
never ever be here again.

The freaks will never own the world
        because they find extinction too funny,
                & revelation too obvious. You
        can't sell a freak the city & its scripture
                you can't scare a freak with threats
        of denial. The freaks will never own
                the world because they keep running
        away shouting "What world? Which one?"


xxx. 7/9/2000 On board NY City-
to-Indianapolis Greyhound bus

What will make the alignment hold?
Cease, release, stop seeking to know.

What have I forgotten, what has blurred?
Laughter ever floats, ever renews.

What will come of this confusion, this frenzy?
A full moon, dancing shadows, fire all night.

I have no guesses left. I feel old.
Nothing is what it seems. Stay still. Let the fuck go.

When will come the splendor present curves—
Stop. No more. The trees will not blink.

Today. Tomorrow. Silence. Music. Mystery.
The rainbow's blank belly full of bolts, miracle at
        a train station last Thursday night.


xxxi. 7/12/2000 Deer Creek Music Center,
Noblesville, Indiana (Phish show)

Despair: Life's burns, busts, blastholes—
Hope: what remains thereafter, straggles on, sometimes ecstatic—


xxxii. 7/15/2000 Polaris Ampitheatre,
Columbus, Ohio (Phish Show)

He is the man who walks around &
            asks "Why?" I follow him these days.

"Perfection is a come-hither whore" he
            says. "A mirror image really. A shadow.

"Best pursue the combined clan of doubts,
            remorse, fear, part companions to,
                part wardens of hope."

I met him after a night of dreaming
            in which I remembered again I can

I was sleeping in the trees near
            carnival in the field by the town
                which had burned the afternoon
                        before the carnival had arrived.

He was sitting spine perfectly straight
            against an oak eyeing me queerly
                as I slept in my sleeping bag
            outside my tent within which
my bag of notebooks & suitcase of barter books
            resided dryly, dearly, like children

"I used to make butterflies," he said,
        "Eager & flitty, but that was when another
kind of world was more in evidence,
            when some things were easier, when
                    some of us were learning
                how to arrive home."

We didn't begin to travel together
        right away. I didn't know what
            he could do for me, I was
        in no state to truly help anyone else.


xxxiii. 7/15/2000 Polaris Ampitheatre,
Columbus, Ohio (Phish Show)

The moon has confessed its
                full beauty tonight
I think: "All is Family"
                at the concert, tripping

All is Beauty, too, I remember
                like last night's dream
remembering I can easily fly

Full moon manifestation
All is Family.
All is Beauty.

In tonight's dream you will
                remember how to fly.


xxxiv. 7/16/2000 On board Cleveland, Ohio-
to-New York City Greyhound bus

"You don't truly embrace what means most
            to you" he said, making butterflies leap
from the midnight flames, "No," he continued

"you sit in a dark room watching every night's
            pink & gold sunset through an imagined
window" & he walked into the woods for a time

            leaving me to suckle off these thoughts
            their pleasure, their pain

"I want to write a book called Why?"
            I explain again to his absence
"I think it may help. I'm nearly ready
            to begin."


xxxv. 7/16/2000 On board Cleveland, Ohio-
to-New York City Greyhound bus

Somewhere She sits on a hillside
        of pink petals. She is healing an
old man who's recovered his sight,

& has discovered himself alone in the world.

I'm not ready to watch her engage
        touch to touch. I can only listen.

The breath of concentration. The whistley whisper
        of love.

"Heal me too" I want to say to her but cannot.
        We are strangers save in dreams.

The hillside's pink petals are where she
        urges the old man to begin. "This is family,
right here," she explains. The old man listens

more than looks, still, tis his habit. He
        smells the scent of her long hike, is pleased
that young girls still smell like beauty &

        power. Her words rest in his ear, aural
light, memory, regret, joy.

"Heal me too" I want to say to her but cannot.

Vision rises, colors & bells, dreams become
        part tree, part flame-flecked stream.

Dreams & we know each other & I
        call her wife & sister & mother &
mate, enemy & teacher.

she calls me similar names, & laughs,
        & plows through my skin

a funky bitch, a carnal friend
lover made of blood & mud
teacher with teeth
mother with hunger
sister with glee
enemy til the spasm

mate in joy & grief

"All is family" she tells the old man
        & he nods, weary with all of these
colors & dimensions

"Heal me too" she wants to say to me
        but cannot.


xxxvi. 7/16/2000 On board Cleveland, Ohio-
to-New York City and New York City-to-Boston
Greyhound buses; finished 7/17/2000 Diesel Cafe
Somerville, Massachusetts

Tonight I will disappear along the path
        home, evaporate finally, leaving my
bones & body to continue what I choose
        not to abide n'more.

Tonight goodbye to breasts & bellies,
        to want & strain, to cowardice,
to lawlessness, to hollow coins, to repression,
        to the best of it all, to futility

What remains a holy emptiness,
        the persistence of mold,
still hungering for a crevice of treasure,
        a secret burning city of bliss,
an invisible forest, happy fleshlessness—

I have only these words to summon
        You. Panic. Jettison. Whirlpool.
Modulation. Pain. Silence. Cessation.

I dream of flying. I dream of You.
        I do not wish to disappear just yet

He laughs & says "Regard your own hand,
        boy! Can you claim even to understand
its magic? Do you understand anything at all?"

No. I understand nothing. Nothing at all.
        I flow & stagger blindly.

Somewhere You writhe & wiggle too.
Somewhere Your secret language hints
        at my name. You ponder symbols
that somewhat resemble me.

I cannot disappear along the path home
        tonight. I cannot yet disavow You.

He laughs again. "Believe in everything
        still for no damned good reason.
Faith. Children & lunatics. One or two
        preachers. Artists who limp & bleed
and flail but fight on. Yes, boy! Fine!"

You've known none like me. I'll be
        your first & last. We know each
other already in dreams & silence.

Something already between us, not yet
        word, nor yet shine, yet
beyond shadow, no longer blue fancy

Something from somewhere, wreckage
        of a dream, a remaining bliss,
a residua, word made flesh made
        word made flesh, a ring of echoes
round the universe, a glance that began
        a thousand centuries ago

mirrors of fire before time began to
        contrive its noose

an unfound door in an unnoticed wood
        by which the bus careens before
its crash, every day, forever thoughts
        of the last kiss, the next dollar

a floating passage spent with a book
        called Why?

How often have I disappeared along the
        path home! Who arrives in my place?
Who will You meet when Your equation
        rolls me into Your life?

How will he be at loving You? Will he midnights
        when sweat & bloodybacked conversation
think even then about evaporating? Will
        You hold him tight with teeth til he yowls?

Will You & he, known as we, claw in
        some dawns, become useless with words,
finally settle to prayer with Preacher Sunrise
        & the Butterfly Overlord Flaming Harmony
Chorale? Butter pecan ice cream? Bourbon
        with shots of LSD?

He says grimly "You've got a mind like
        a bagful of penny candy, Son.
Go ahead. Give her bouquets of ecstasy
        & annihilation. See how long she stays."

There's more, o a terrible amount more. I've
        chosen to survive along the path home &
this means trouble for I have my demands

I have something to offer I'm going to keep
        offering til someone accepts

Words. Wounds. Laughter. Lawlessness.
Fingers that know how to rile & flow.
Tongue bearing a trey of dangers.
Skin with seething pores.

Warm breath flows over me from
        a universe strange, growling,
curious. A riddle curled in sleep.

Will our love reveal the something
        that willna desist, will I lay at
last calmly not just with you but
        among the forever legion of your
sisters, our sisters, more than sated,
        more than empty

trusting again, as once, in the breast
        & the belly, the gleam, undulation,
yes, the undulation I have painfully
        witnessed in each of you diminishing
from me across the ridiculous babble
        of my years, trusting again that

the milk is true, the sweat honest,
        the moan numberless, the thought
instinctive with laugh & memory, what
        more can I demand of thee, young love,
how can I be of more annihilating
        service to thee? Could mere fucking ever be this fun?

To play one true note. To nail You
        among the dense strews of a
dryly rotting haystack called Reality.
        To demand your answers bear a few
            words along with the usual flecks
& touches. To play one true note
        & watch you dance, cyclone, fury,

a mind, several, many, all, watch
        you devour air, watch you near me
where I lie, prone & stiff, take me
        without softness, without regret, without
emotion, the animal in you has
        etched your cheeks in pigs' blood,

what You do to me is about existence
        itself, the pain involved crude & effective,
the tightening sun above quickens Your grind,
        You've gone now beyond female, beyond
wife & sister & mother & nurturer & whore

there is no pretty purpose left in You,
        no morality tattooed on Your breasts
from the many centuries as chalice
        & property, preying on me You feed,
sating me of weariness & seed You pray
        neither vanity nor shame as truth releases Your blood

Seeking, finally, to remove the I
        from here & hereafter, neither I
nor We, no He, no She, at last an
        ending that all may become possible
again, the teaching grid visible again
        in every growl & vine, above all

the glowing dotted roof of the cosmos
        impossibly high, the floor down
unseen below, creatures again, nameless
        & divine & native to this mystery &
miracle, walking, hunting creatures
        dreaming by daylight, unable to distinguish

a branch from a kiss, a memory from a
        claw, a word from a deed, all
the lands & waters alive with these
        creatures, neither risen nor fallen
but floating, wiggling, saucy with moon-kin,
        ferocious to learn from weed-gurus———

Tonight, my love, & thus I approach You
        each word scrawled on a dry leaf of mud,
the madness & magic of anguish & anticipation,
        how I approach You by flare, by crackle,
by retch. Tonight, my love, approaching You
        shedding sinews & blue fancies. My music denses & readies.


On to 6 x 36 Nocturnes, series two, #1-18

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