What else, not shown by lights,
what leans back in shadow,
touches & moves from afar,
leaves a print by chance,
call it history, call the world
an effect of what does not plain
travel city streets.
Where are her legs? Hers is a butchered
torso, riding wheels across the dusky
bridge, humming as the swamps pass,
she wears leaf-shaped earrings &
carries thin books for companions,
I just wonder where her legs are,
& amaze that any flesh long
survives the years at all.
Figure where the magick &
the artillery cross, riddled fields
of golden beam, lean-limbed creatures
feeding close, while kings plan the blood
needed to move maps, what lost
when the Empire recks too many
voices. Reck better what remains when
long since the last bones fallen.
Music twists new sugars from
ripe debris, pulsing iron streetlamps,
sentiment for a voice in shapely
remain. Shifting faces, some sweet hours
of moonlight's easy wane. Yet some
still wait a melody, a man's long death
in an old house, his memories the
fine thing of love & delusion. A woman
tends her stripling, ducks old wants
in the child's bathwater, makes him
splash & laugh. Others too, countless,
by the species, by the fallen soldier, in turn.
The tinker spoke of space serpents
& burnt young bodies in years to
come. He showed the cameras
his formula, his plan of numbers
for saving us all. Sweating, sad,
fearing the microphone, he talked
on hours. He was nearly sure, & hated it.
There, a puddled route away,
no dreams of blood on canvas,
just away! No music struck
from fragging bone chips. Away.
A housefly licks the key in the hand
who won my fame. The rain
shudders those framed hills &
all passes the hour away. Now
trickling, now gone. A buzz, a break,
now trickling, now gone.
vii. Still Raw Wound
[Mark Tansey, "Study for Sea Change,"
oil on canvas, 2005]
It went with the day, was going,
was nearly gone, but that
day, sun by moon, smoke by fear,
wave by missile, stone by flu,
it went, the streets of skulls, children too.
[Ansel Adams, "Moonrise, Hernandez,"
gelatin silver print, circa 1948]
Sun by moon, windows let my
nocturnal furies out, burning
paths through crosses & sagebrush,
marking God's time as cruel
Papa fading, marking mankind's
careless suck on the world about
to break, & from those white mountains
& from that red-eyed sky titan
will come relief. I rock & quake
& chew my thin salt soup.
[Harry Bertoia, "Dandelion,"
gilded stainless steel on
marble base, circa 1960]
World bides its wicked, its pain
makers & flesh eaters & greedy
beasts for time & dirt. World
bides the sudden scatter of good
blood, of wasted fruit, of hurry in
praise & slow in vanquish. World
bides, world loves, world seeds 'where,
world is home. Dreaming you are safe in all.
x. Two Dreams
[Émile René Ménard, "Brittany Seascape,
pastel & chalk on paper, 1890]
In the second, a 'scape from
my nights, my secret sleeps,
running, posing as carnival statues
in traveling mutant shows,
a very long dream, woke with
my head cracking the window
& artillery lined up on the motel
bed. She'd gone.
In the first, what contained
the other & gave its sickness,
what hollowed my plan of numbers
to save the world, I sat by
a motel window, a humbled Mexican
elder, the music leading me
on that dark moonbeam out,
through blood & brush, & old lusts.
Not the bird, but the memory of its sunrise
flight found in glowing text, a thousand years hence—
"And only a red mane flickered in the abyss."
The poor man waits his hour of fame,
his flaring moment when every lost
night in drink & broken sex, every foul
master given a kiss & a salute,
& the touch of sunset beauty
& soft friendly fur & lamenting croon
quiet enough to undo your fists, makes
you remember what you work hard not to,
when all of it will come together & explain.
Reward. Waits, as though his suffering
a cause, debris ripe upon their new
spark & bloom, new kissing melody,
not the wicked of waste patient for an
arriving light. Waits, all his life's blood
on this dreamed hour's canvas, & how its final,
telling stroke nears! So close, tells his friends,
each sodden in his own liquid cursing hour
of hope. Night passes, common stars & frost
by the freeway, their disillusion arrives kindly
in diminishing breaths.
xiii. Crossing Flesh Through
One stood foul & slow among the
quick-joyed numbers. One could not
nod & loose his old want, gnashed. Again.
One disbelieved in nothing & preached
it to the wires & walls & grey beaches
untroubled & empty.
One struck the music, again, struck
the music, waited, it would come,
first the echo, then the reply. The chorus.
The discord as another tired for a
new quiver of notes, slab of colors
culled by a new spade, a new hour's
distinct yowl to the cosmos, I exist!
All of this exists! I hurt! I want!
One nodded, let go, knowing there were others.
Would they remember? None assure
which deep bites take the years & the distance.
Would anything remember? Like the
motel window remembers last night's storm.
xiv. Tough Flutters
What's true is coming trouble, what's
true is constant ferment. Chased down,
half-dead, pulled into the brush. No
next. What's true is the passing beat
of any truth, any great swinging spectre
of rage & light. What's true in this hour,
high & solid & good, is crumbling, emptying
to another's brief throne. What's true happens
always, gives way only to itself, spitting
yeas & denials equally in bitter, golden abundance.
xv. Some Eat Others
Some keening croon for a god,
a science, a sweet faith's sting true.
Why ferment, why breath, why dream.
The wisest book warns "Some eat
others" & shuts hard. What crooning's
best fruits, its fair healing to wounds?
Or wait letters from a lost, fond year,
what comes the old wants, bitter
bones, still tangled smolders. Why
ferment, why breath, why dream. Keening
for a great swinging spectre blowing
out rage & light, for more explain than
each new squalling flesh on a stick,
the best little bite back the years &
the distance. Why ferment, why breath,
why dream? Some eat others. No
science, no faith. What heart's newgrown
starlight from beggaring world for its king?
What difference between carriage's angry
push & several muddied blouses?
What difference between old men easily
debating war & the bombs made for
market noons? If a beggar looks close
at you, is this sacred or shameful new space?
Talk of love, talk of empathy, rant on
the burning blankness through world's
old heart. Confess indifference, cry ignorance,
keen to being less than a stripling in
first night's squall. Eat the new pill &
care for a shining hour or two.
Some other night in giving arms &
the world a fine sweet to be enjoyed
slowly. Past dawn believe something
salves the closest wounds. Changed for
every change, every new broken high,
every bed, why unloved, alone.
Tonight someone suffers. Must a sage
exhume to say you suffer too?
xvii. Self Leaves Effects
What remains, what secret juice from
mapless street corners, dusky in old light,
how it mattered, how it persists,
call it nothing but a dream's chasing specters,
push it to a small room filled with other
blood canvases, dread grey through tarred windows.
Memory of a memory, colored absence,
humming silence, the tap of old squalls,
readying. What high smiling night dreamed
this hour, & what coming hour dreams now!
There were skulls of shacks, charred
autos, desert light spiking corpses.
The questions thread my path & their
answers golden come in music, restless
with flesh & wounds. What remains residue
of another hour's try to breach, its arc
through the universe, bright, fierce,
letting go but slowly, & even now.
Tonight someone suffers. No water,
empty bowl, two pillows for one head.
A sack of cold coins, a palsied try
reading wise leaves. War where once
a city, now the markets burn, neighbors
blankly clutch for what remains.
Blood & breath skein all close, your life
a weaving each to all. Someone suffers.
Turn away & there another. Turn again
to scrap free of what bonds, hearts
crossing loins, shared mystery of want
& water. Tonight someone suffers.
Walk, then run from that keening croon
for a god, some far place of rest.
Return, in your time, to this hour,
a gift of colored glass, elixir's glowing
test, a wide open eye in love, now. Nothing
divides us but the walls hands have made.
Tonight someone suffers. No wall, empty bowl.
Kind solitude become angry, a crooning
corrode. Yours to bear another's music,
& another's, bear many musics, til a
break, a clear shine, til what else reveals.
The night a tired mother, her prayer
for more coins & sleep. She thinks in
numbers & feels in concert with her
striplings coos & cries. This room
is blaring about God, about belief,
a code, a key, sad endless war.
A window of dim neon & fine
stars, currents of dust, of salmon,
a green flicker tapping through the
cosmos, she listens, her child
dreams, dark diamond eyes, they
dream, cascading white petals, new way.
Dis-illusion as greater head leans to
lesser, daylight's borders grey & go,
hands rest near, stars a whisper
off, silence rises before sun in
these strangest hours. One shifts, &
the other, new day's seed bursts.
xx. Sentiment is Rust
There was an hour, rising a brilliant
shaft of hope, homeless as a wild goat,
become, it seemed lastly, a pure heat
stalking heat, careening petal without
stem or soil. Dreaming by movement alone,
glad hustling the days & miles, ever singing
my bright cage, strumming its bars
& calling this my music. Sweet velvet
blindness, hopeless preaching my path.
A touch, another, nights crying wide
to starlight on earth. A touch, another,
then none. Hungry as a wild goat,
an hour passed, many hours. Countless
barking my songs, next tome, breaking
vessel, worse ruin. Many hours, I stretched
on, how choose what to let crumble,
which to call soul & all other rust?
What tonight is blithely letting go?
Bones of days restless for bury, let their
dirge in shadows fall. Let their shaft
strike my beast within, let the old blood
burst, let these new hours consume.
The rivet of every cause looses, no matter
how high the wall, how massed the men,
how cruel & right the lead temple's tome.
Looses, air bites through, an hour, another,
many breaths, wrong ideas take their hold
a gentle lick at a time. Sin softens,
becomes familiar, the poor, the outcast
shift nearer, stay. Eventually a new
high wall, next wrath of rivets, will
roar beautifully, will last forever, awhile.
xxii. Comfort's Fable
[Claude Monet, "The Manneport Seen from Below,"
oil on canvas, 1883]
Tide chips, time chides. Rift from the cosmos,
from yon stellar intent, the leggy rock crushes
through sea, through onyx reaches to a
floor no man may know. Knowing not what
man does, but what he tries. Tide chips,
time chides. The endless water of years gathers
finally around limbs & heart, & everything goes.
xxiii. Wish's Promise
[René Magritte, "The Tempest,"
oil on canvas mounted on board, 1944]
What rises two remains one.
The brilliant hand may sing til it forgets.
The burnt leaf may rest forgetting among countless.
What rises one flesh ever remains.
The sea challenges the hand to make as well.
The mountain regards the leaf puny, careless
time's lesser pet.
What rises from a single cell, single thought,
first gesturing act, ever sources whole.
The hand will return, the leaf will
remember, the web is story & returns
all to dream. The sea will swallow
itself, the stars will croon their last
light. What rises two remains one.
What rises two listens, comes, joins all again.
[Pierre-Auguste Renoir, "Dance at Bougival,"
oil on canvas, 1883]
Nothing salves the closest wounds, however
flesh heats pretty & hearts beat fine.
The distance from joy grows inward, pathless
track to a nameless consume. What comfort
in memory is not new light but steady
breath, then to now. Some sweetness in forgetting.
Was it Cambridge? I think I
remember. Yet what shade's measure
between remembrance's curling scent
& nostalgia's stink? I ask like an
answer's to be made or found. There
is little but blood & consequence.
Was it Cambridge? I think I learned
little, maybe nothing. The years from
this courtyard to yonder sea. I wrote
musics til wallet gone, breaths left.
Now return to these tables & trees in
their electric stars. Bells ring. Little, nothing.
Is it Cambridge? midst broken branches
of endless war, I ask. Or just fear,
another tide, dark tickling music about
loss. Wounds pale, blood within strides on.
If I lean in will a final word grasp
my face & move my black stick?
Is it Cambridge? I am trying
to remember. The lamps, the sirens,
the striding skirts & beaus. What
shade's measure between this hungry
night & a thousand others on
these bricks? Blood & consequence.
It is Cambridge. I know the books
& money well. I know the clockpiece
titan yonder & the stroll of rich ass
below. The line of taxis, the piss
of tramps, the puzzle among chessplayers
& their laugh, grumbling resolve.
This is Cambridge, my old love, my
clearest shivering melody for a
pup's leaning years & perhaps an old
scholar's to come. I came a thousand
just to see tonight if so. A look, a kiss,
release. I remember, fine, & move on.
The mystery is survival, tough
the flesh & heart enough to bite
a little, release a little, learn each
hour's how. The years trench love's
plain truths, chip & take in strands,
ideals, bleed, break, mend, make.
The mystery is hope, again hustling
up faith in new sun & fruit,
in the brilliant breaths of music.
Another wanting torso, arching ache, hope,
near, mapless, another heart nods
& smiles its notice, despair, sleep, rise, mate.
The mystery is desire, stroking a live
piece of the world for pleasure, for effect,
desire, grawing moonlight on lone winter's
shore, sweet bowl of prayers, for time
enough to breach the blunt divide of
space & blood, colors, touch, music, wish.
The mystery is dream, closest to freedom,
to death, where all bloods clean &
rain the skies, where the broken softs
& lessens, each hour a new mystery,
what bravest to do? Find heart's inmost
den, wake many wants deep from daylight.
The mystery is mystery, naming that
spire God or cracking that fine ass,
mystery, how breath can bark, sing,
can say quietly: crush them now.
Mystery more in kindness binds & love consumes,
countless the books nor their men can explain.
Want is trigger, want is release, clue
& code to what not shown by lights.
What other, lighter world is dreaming
you tonight? How far from maps
kings move by measuring blood?
Trigger, release. Shade of young palms,
shaking currents between new couple
on a grimy bench, how far from years
will trench love's plain truths? One hand
learns a new one, begins to forget another.
A midnight scholar reaches far back
for a kinder frame to the world & its
gods, how chase its new sugars, how shed
its shapely remains? Learns history teaches
little but some dreams butcher others. Trigger, release.
What not shown by lights, not tonight
nor a thousand morrows. Lovers' bench
empty, scholar nears in dream his best hope,
even the king rests gentle for an hour.
World mulls kind the villain & stripling alike.
Gives breath like song for all. Trigger, release.
xxviii. Notes to a Later Morning
There is no cage but perspective.
Two bodies crash on a distant road
whether you exist or not.
Sunny morning centuries ago a woman
sang, her son slept in the folded clothes.
No cage but history & presumption.
Branches crystal snowflake hung
with new meat, bound to no hour.
Happiness is pleasure in presence. An empty
field glaring hints through dream's door.
xxix. Blind Torso
Soft, yield the world, lose nothing,
bright in lash, sweet in tongue,
cool as a friend in sickness & song.
The worst comes, & comes new, world
bides its wicked, yield, with pretty ease,
lose nothing, you'll still bury with the rest.
Yield the world, soft, nothing lost,
in lone hours your best glowing text,
what not shown common by lights.
The worst comes, sometimes sweet
in tongue, a cool, wicked friend, soft,
yield, fine music in a sheered heart's hour.
Lose nothing, yield the world, soft,
perfection yearns you be its slave,
its losing bitch, its close to explain,
its magick shudders by your need to know,
your fury to raise & do. World's still stretching,
by dream & fist. Soft, yield. Nothing lost.
xxx. Not Peace
War becomes common one day, pain
another scrub in the yard, despair
an eventual way of easy breathing.
Embattled dreams a yea to the worst
of it all, & a question: when did wish
for the next become want of what lost?
This is not peace. Calm bearded fanatic
& his stained leaflet for every downtown
soul, artful tracing a web of ending,
a delicious nightmare of the saved
& the soiled. Not peace. A clumsy knock
back at him & he cries free speech
for one & all! til the cages ready.
Tonight in the avenue glare & strange
pressing bodies, the eager chew of
hours, dark tickling music hues the
air with its lyric about heart's rootless
tangle, angry refrain about empire's
pathless source. This is not peace.
War becomes common one day, its news
blithely told from one sheered heart
to the next. Kindness ranges down from
shared drink to relaxed fists. From a
calliope of faces like the sky's sparkling
pool to maps of borders & waiting slaughter.
This is not peace. What lost? What next?
What mending waits for each & all?
The way is called dis-illusion, say again,
walk the humble path among shifting men
& common ideas. Reck the tallest wall & how
its indefensible hour nears. Great glaring
tome, too, ivory & gold, god to minions &
artillery, later come its burn, blind smiling dust.
The way is called dis-illusion, that
any heart finer than its bowels, that
any golden vessel of faiths not some long,
subtle hustle for sweet young meat or
a begged home beyond the soil. Not to die
another ragged man buried in undone vows.
The way is called dis-illusion, waking hour's
new brutal reports, no bridge of glass high
enough for silence. All passes, & passes again.
Everything shits, everything's soil. What comfort
in breathing, a meal of warm bread, safe
nest, laughing voice, music & starlight.
The way is called dis-illusion. No despair
a distant flame might not distract. No ecstasy
a street corner & errant carriage might
not crush. One night we drink & eat & roar,
swaying masters of the great feast. Another
broken, world again a blunt, endless cage.
The way is called dis-illusion. Dear flicker
of a radiant hour, that letter, her stroke,
tonight's lullaby. Memory of a lilting shadow,
trace of voice or pur. Now awake in the dark,
a few shapes recall the world. Exhale, return.
Everything's shit, everything soil. All's blooming despite.
xxxii. Waking Hour's New
Everything to dust, no less.
This hour's rosy light, lashless song.
A turning face's known smile, some ocean's
deep mapless explain, the preacher readying
Tall man in war, still a boy's green fields
in his mind.
All's blooming, everything to dust, no less.
xxxiii. Moving Hard
Nothing goes away, nothing returns.
A blind face still turns, moaning for more,
moaning to break.
The hour when youth snapped, when
mystery became hustles, years minutes.
Moaning for more, moaning to break,
for a glaring love's ceaseless pitch,
for an end to beginnings, & a cease
to all ends.
Nothing goes away, nothing returns.
Not to meet again in flesh, I will
sate you all in dust.
xxxiv. News from War
Small bombs half-made lie among
icons & manifestos. In the other room
a lone singing, self remembers & soothes self.
Once, at a signal, we too hid our children
under the family's prize piano, listened
to small heartbeats impossibly quick. No more.
The singing stops. Listens. Picks up
another clay dish. Resumes the song
about a forgotten town, in flames.
xxxv. One and All
Not demand of world an answer &
thus not build an answer's world.
Hunger, not cloak it like a slattern's bauble.
Fear, what it does not teach or tell.
Death, the hard rift in any explain.
Or wash free with the stars in morning light.
xxxvi. Cadmium Skies
All alone, all suffering, yes. All is suffering,
yes, so one suffers. The great books preach so,
of men with glaring swords & hard, clean faiths.
They cry, they roar, their prayers rise on
burning swine & well-stoked women to bursting
skies, fists gesture the forests, mountains,
challenge legends of the seas. They fall too.
All alone, all suffering, yes. Great books preach
of men resting astride harems, among their gods,
dreaming toward what will alone can do.
They fall too. Whisper in spittle, breathe in
drowning gasps, reach a last time toward
the glare, falter, know. No happiness
in loving the bars, endless singing their song.
All is suffering, yes, so one suffers. Each
will choke blind & pass the hard rift,
its burning blankness, past what great
books may say. Music of an open hand.
What the chirps & morning light gave hint
when, in glistening hours, nothing explained
& all shone without a net.
Soft, tend the croon of bones. Reck the dust
running these hours, crossing new blooms,
a life's spark among squall & demise.
Wish for what next. Want of what lost.
Fine new torso yet sweeting, soft, draping
rosy light, how smiling gestures spied,
a turning word sugar's thoughtless gift,
through flesh loosing a fiber at a time.
Nights blowing wide of a thousand pink
splendors & frail, forgotten shades.
Soft, again, let what to come not cut
through this great hungry cry. Arrive now
with unmade questions, more ready in
yesteryear's coming salmon dusk.
Breathe, breathe twice, mix your hours
fine, invent your god's strength sole
by lesson of how last it goes.
xxxviii. Demise: A Wish
Better than deathless kingdoms of men,
bury me in the wordless glare,
burn me & my every raucous page,
puff my ash to woods & stars;
Let me out of man-dreamed eternals,
little faith in men unbound by mortality,
all it gods & heavens will still garb in
commandments & roar with primal bloodlust;
Burn me in the glare, let specks
of my being feed tree or star or hungry
trout, so much the better, not to die
another ragged man buried in undone vows;
Bury me, burn me, the desert I scatter
will remember, the sea sweet a touch
to what I was, stars & woods will shine
on because once I shone; and, if not,
there's a pretty idea to a short, hard being
& a long, windblown forgetting.
xxxix. All Night
What cracks the world of its central
tangle: whither bound? Or what flesh
remembers when none else, markings
of lost hours & tumbled vows?
When still a fine new torso, faith sums
in a sparkle, a chase to the water,
sugar's fresh excitement. Dreams squall
through in possibles not eternals.
New love comes in rosy shade, lashless
song. Mercy what flesh remembers
washes free with stars in morning light.
What cracks the world's tangle is
how & again it cracks, & does not fall.
xl. Near Memorial
We remember in the movement of hands,
a voice from another room,
one holiday, maybe two.
The years were music, food, & plans.
We remember & learn to grieve.
Grieve, to remember better.
xli. Always With You
The way is Dis-illusion, & the flames
will dream your nights, & the rose petals
will consume them. Wherefrom, reck
the great tomes, guides whereto, but scant
explain a fine torso blindly burning hours
to excite & know. Way is dis-illusion,
ever many musics hum & away, cries
from rooms where some eat others,
two claps, want's strap, now sun again
& a meal in silence. Is dis-illusion,
the sands corrode tracks laid by kings
with gods for eyes & worms for will.
Dis-illusion, breathe twice & again in this
gallery of painted skulls. Awkward rose
petals, delicious in gait. Canvases of men,
long mixtured with dust. Voices sniff voices,
music of a dreaming hour's passing,
hours & musics hum & away.
The way is Dis-illusion, no man will
gaze upon his world & wish to know this
well. Burn the pages, burn the skulls,
the sand, the petals, the canvas itself.
The way is Dis-illusion. Nod & burn the canvas itself.
xlii. Full Moon Over Desert
Tonight I am mortal. Know the starshine
will outlast me, the high desert scrub,
the long chasing wind. Some last day
will come, some sad or sudden hour,
& what next in soil or sky or else.
Tonight I am at peace with all this,
riding a full moon into eclipse's grasp,
going & gone in many but a few ways.
Neither the suffering nor its explain,
books glowing in shrines nor scented icons.
Tonight I can only think: empty the
temples of men. They welcome when
they should push along. Empty the temples
of men, whatever's been learned, whether
it's enough. Take prayers & praise alike
to the woods, the surf, to the desert
under full moon. I am going in my
hours because all go, I am remembering
what shined days & what only blunt lust,
fine-grooved hustle of a deep gene's idea.
Give up the gods as child's scrabble for
a safe place. Empty the temples of men.
Yon clearing shaped like a temple
in full moonlight, pass through,
once, twice, push along, no place
to catch & slow.
Remember till its shades & sparks,
without meanings or ends, a beat,
a breath, what touches each
to all, brighter with empathy.
Sometimes a nest to step around,
a sudden furred head above ground,
regard but little know its ways,
little know even closest kind's.
The morrow & daylight hours men
shape like gods, reck us all gods
in every dim & blaring gesture,
fine & funny, soil to sky.
Best remember what shades & sparks
seen in this moonlight, what passed
through no explain. Best remember
step kind around the nests.
xliv. Tumult's Fine
[Jackson Pollack, "Sea Change," oil on canvas, 1947]
In the moment before, there was
some other, lesser furor. Two memories,
at least, one of massed clouds in childhood
pending a summer storm, the other
of an old relative dying, spittle & wrinkles,
tears & obscure regrets.
There was a dream, a blurred flash of a lost
friend, his angular face shook, gentle
blue eyes looked defeated.
Then chaos. A world changed, what left
of the old drying blood, a single day's
headline. Still, breathing, still on earth,
much will return, tangle with the new.
xlv. Yonder Fear
[Dale Chihuly, "Macchia," Blown Glass, 1986]
Cup of liquid glass, would you
drink it? No longer mortal, now
a melting, cooling star, would
you drink? Warping into a ridged
wordless glow, would you trade
the human world for a perfect
sheen, smooth rim to luring
depths, an ocean, a sky, perfect
fragment explaining one speck to all?
[Georgia O'Keeffe, "A Celebration," oil on canvas, 1924]
When all below was gone
there still was sky. We collected
the many clouds, wisps & fists
of them, named & grouped the
dawns & dusks because we were
still men & women. One day a rainbow
& lightning, it all came back.
Even dreaming that night, nobody spoke.
xlvii. Last Night's Question
What first catches the beast's reck,
crushed bloom's scent, stretched blouse,
maybe a weightless laugh frosting
the night's air? The beast recks,
by spy & sense. What news here? Again
something fecund ripes the square.
Never mulls the subtle or gross ways
of want, this world a cage more
for its beauty than its foulness. What
gain in knowing close the bite in blood,
in standing full moon & daylight
both before racial imperatives?
Perhaps the beast lopes into chase,
with honied words or an hour's prized
trinket. Perhaps beast & beast settle
in an electric silken manger & passion
torches their coupling into a new beast.
How to explain it, what the years mean?
Genes & chance number up the world,
between extinction & the long cry
for a familiar god's knowable craft.
What was it, what was it, those hours
between scents, what between the chase
& the cage? What else haunts blood & bones,
& talks nightly in dreams? Are cock &
cunt alone enough to bone up the world
& drive purpose through its wide, wild flesh?
How to explain it, what the years
mean? Some eat others. He nods
at the numbers, signs, notices the gulls
shat the windows again. This high up
even. Nods, signs, better numbers soon.
Some eat others. Dreams are blood &
bone, maps & harvests, moving glance
of a pale slip, a smile luring with
centuries of force. An ache as it turns
aside, want's hustle buried high & low.
Dreams are blood & bone, skinny up
gods for comfort if little explain.
Mystic shades of winter dusk on city
streets. Distant torrents roiling high
plains. Touch of flesh to flesh, cults to why.
What the years mean? Shine, ache,
what strange lasts. Hurry laughter,
nearly & almost, nights sugared hours
long with arrival & consume, the many
forgetting rest. Some eat others. Blood & bone.
xlix. Work of Years
Who I was is who I am yet
who I am isn't who I was while
blood wilds streams through rock of years
& even the brightest thing in the night
is fading with a hunger nothing tame
can hold back nor wild can maintain.
Does the heart eat its way out at
last, & men simple call it death?
Do bones fall to forever dreaming
without days to divide & distract?
Who I was & what I am a beggar
scholar's work of years, faith of glass.
Hard want to make, to possess,
to twine burst an unknown hour's knots,
undo the collision of breath futile heated
with diminishing figures, unknown torsos.
Reck the empty temples, woods of
a single tree, oceans at war, great cry
for more violence at a continent's distance.
Burning villages on private maps, not shown
by lights, not what I was, what I am, who you are.
l. Late Requiem for a Brother
You stood up, shaky, ignorant of the praise,
a lost year, a lost child, one day died
a careless death.
To remember your first steps, new hours,
ambers you in victory, despite the rest,
spite the rest, wild thing, now you rest.
li. Tameless Hours
First is music, & I don't know why.
Men breathe together, hearts beat
close, love & fear swoon each high
& low, the reeds & crickets play the
wind, birds gossip & mate with whistles,
there is music, first, mystery's thrum.
Or maybe dreams, how they wantless
occur in man & beast, how they
lawless urge, tug a body closer to its
hid cavern's wish, a heart to the
great open air, empty a long dear cry
of its stones, of any fist's strength to stop.
Then there's want, or perhaps first
of all & then else follows. Toward warmth,
feeding, coupling, maybe a word or touch
that seems a moment to arc from
cradle to cradle, strike wars & wakes,
shared breath, close beats, prison & tomb alike.
Of course there's the learning &
madness some get in twining the exotic
molecule or rarer seed. Through certainty's
clouds, through hard kings throned
in sunlight to reveal beautiful dust,
nameless blows off, dance now, dance now!
None of it explains, just clanging lights
in a mind's skies, no more to work
with than tools in ground that may
or may not be, show me the spell
or devilling conjure can say other certain.
Tonight an old village burns. Everything goes.
Stray planks, all of it, stray planks
on a wide foam, fingers cling, call up
myths or guesses to travel the hours.
Tales of hid nests burnt in a bolt,
a jaw's snap, an old blood vessel damned
breaks & finally goes. At dawn a young voice sings.
Neither despair nor hope proof of the other.
lii. A Dreamland Narrative
Find music in a sheered heart's hour,
peculiar thrum in aching blood,
sadness descending rhythms, music
when warmth & light gone, shutting doors &
grim knowing. Bruised apples, the dented wall.
Some eat others, slowly, because they can.
Nod, burn the canvas, let Art sparkle
back to air, uncollect thought, unremark
color, the raising shape in flesh & nature,
sweet & suffering view of pine & cruisers.
Burn its matter & its every reason.
Some eat others, & get hungrier for it.
Genes & chance number up the world,
why one man eats his meal in shade
& another in tower. Why one man nods
& another is shifted. Why one man cuddles
his God in coins & another cries out.
Some eat others, with bullets, with ideologies.
Yonder a clearing shaped like a temple
in full moonlight, all may pass through,
none may stay. Some bring a long siren
of wishes, collected in pages, girded in
prejudice & artillery. An iron path & its result.
Some eat others, of their wills, of their mysteries.
Find dreams are blood & bone, maps &
harvest, the flesh of every heartstrick
hour's bony question. Would you be sheered
& chuted, or would you dream, perhaps know?
What music does waking life's days partly make?
Some eat others, because they can, because
they will, because you still sleep dumb.
liii. Roseate Hours
Blood & consequence, what else, maybe
youth's ravages of full moonlight for
a desire's answer, or that moment
years later, tossing a stripling laughing
through autumn air, through something
waning within. The dying moment itself for
what least hour now remembered might have been.
Blood & consequence, heart's dearest
treasures in raw old frames, great
calls for new brotherhood, or centuries
of marching faces with God in their
chambers, & a thousand thousand
grey & roseate hours alike when
bodies needless cry & fall.
Blood & consequence, the room ruby with
candlelight, a small pink radio smiles &
reports the next war, rooted dumb helpless
in the hidden mystic singing math twining
all, preacher & scientist, symbol & molecule,
king's powerful, dying fist & eager virgin's
shade across a tavern's earthen hilarity.
Blood & consequence, the years scar
the night's every glance, each fine
& careless word, dreams unheeded gruesome
with hard, strange counsel no sage
has spoke. All chips at faith til one day
a mound of ashes in a far gone world
or a work no man denies & nature might allow.
liv. Revolution By Night
Nothing goes away, nothing returns.
A smart cheek's sheen by ruby lamp
& what the wish years ago to admire & know?
How faith lets go, a lash at a time,
replaced by cloakless melodies in the wind,
by questions in the spines of broken books
& answers scrawled above dive toilets.
Want sniffs by, on streets, in cars,
dogs the eyes, the directionless reaching
hands. Nothing gone, nothing returning.
Want roots pink & black deep, rears
high between broken walls & their
lover fists, in dear, fragile gone hours
where blooms scattered poor, pale rooms.
Nothing going, nothing returned,
a beast of empires built in the fetid
nest of that equation. Boys are clad
in steel & pushed off in columns,
girls dress it tight & roseate, smile
shufflingly til a jaw nods, leans with a word
Preacher in his garden, hums with
his god & does least harm, dying king
hugs his mother's old book of pressed flowers,
nothing returns, nothing goes away.
Some hours form this life's raggy fringe,
its known paths where woe fought
the day, the many wars within.
Nothing returning. Nothing's going.
There were distant lights where
a faith taught a love or a god or
a fine, subtle dream dwelled. Nearer
is the cold dawn spray of rushing highways,
the papery hand of old kin passing,
the lapping violet drown of new love.
There was a night, maybe two, when
moonlight crossed intention, when a face
drew near & the great hid wings
of the world opened out, gestured, bid,
bid again! And you looked, decided, went,
or held, believing through your hunger
that other such nights would come.
Nothing's returned. Nothing's gone.
Want is ancient & this setting hour new,
moves to build, change, destroy, moves
without prophecy or history, moves all.
Crazed various thing, how rat's meat tastes
to a starving tongue, how jewels soft glow
an eager virgin's breast in satin moonlight.
Crazed various thing, ferment, breath, dream,
may burn your city to prove a faith's word,
burn the seas themselves, no answer, no escape.
Crazed various thing, what electrifies this
dominion of dust, blows through a thousand
centuries, all matters, all passes.
Want squeezes hand & heart with urge to
possess, swallow & consume the laws
of men in blaze & renting cloth.
Crazed various thing, what drives the blade
into molecule's depths, what builds great
edifices from which kings cry for final war,
girded by preachers knowing a tender god
kisses fine this cause & then all to the tankards
for courage & fecund thighs of willing slaves.
lvi. Night Riders
I heard an old love travelled across the country after she left me,
became a lesbian, found her way into new bedrooms by a picture of her
nude, new crop-haired, smiling in a bathtub. Her father disowned her,
Beauty is sexual! The old bigot cried,
& his ragged school still echo the lines.
I heard another love got to be a mama, gave those haunted fingers
& crooning thighs to a bleating newborn, & I wished her well,
remembered that fine ass on another night, begging punishment
Beauty is sexual, the old bigot leers from his tall hill,
eye the way each book in the pile tips him a bit higher.
There were others, each burning deep inside lace or cotton. Each
calling some hour love with me, finding in my eyes or touch
carnality's best path, its blind blowing wash to new seas,
its ferocious beast's answer called God.
Again, if possible.
Beauty is sexual! The old bigot still among us, still wanting the belt
a little tighter, still right about nothing much that matters.
You were years ago, & you, & you. But you'd know me yet,
I ride the same chaos you bore those nights, I still believe
in that look each of you gave me, the one that said human history
was emerging, caterwauling from your breasts & belly, & its cause
hid in swamps & stars I'd cry & never know.
A man hits the world new with big,
dumb fists, roars music for a sweet,
reckless want, wild heart's heat.
He drives his years hard, mates, spreads
a fruitful seed, laughing, gives from what
he has, learns from what he knows.
She'd told him, "pray to me on your
darkest days, to the lord & to me,
look up, remember, believe, & pray,"
& the man prays when the days warp
& a fist won't solve, & a song little salves,
he prays, & keeps his legs moving.
When was it that wish for what next
became want for what lost?
When did your hill begin to descend,
lesser shimmer at a farther view?
When did you cease thinking of new hills,
when did sentiment's poison finally take?
Come a later time, some winter's sterile hour,
the man passes, broken, breathe, relax,
dream now & gone. Is he taken to his
Christ now, his mother & all the saints,
or new soil for the next man testing
young muscles against a stronger world?
In a far city, I dreamed too, your son,
waked suddenly, blue, no answers again,
but comfort tonight that you are now
past both knowing & its lack.
[Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, "Dancer Seated on a Pink Divan,"
oil on canvas, 1885-1886]
You call the world an effect, how it leans in,
for a touch for a coin, something in purse
or pants. Sometimes trades back a heavy
promise called God, or a sate of loins,
or loneness, maybe a song in green.
Worse, does not lean in, the hours pass silent
on a carriage, in cafe, a park, muted barks
through rented walls. Which, then, you ask,
grows a heart kinder again, unclenches
those still-grabbing fists no longer a babe's?
I adjust these straps, look around again
for something, for the beauty you seek
for the rage you feel. I pose for you
because I cannot dance. I love for you
because the world gave me this body, &
this heart, & little good explanation.
I dreamed you'll find it underneath,
response to the preacher waving his tome
& pointing to a sky rigged with explain.
Underneath, where the pretty faces &
spangling nights devolve to plain chaos,
to flesh's consume & sure decay.
The hungers & their statuary, the music
equal to deep manless jungles &
the onyx fractures of urban despair.
Underneath, tickled in unsure thighs
& muscular gestures to the stars alike.
The pain, neither source nor explain.
Ecstasy, where not fruited on one smile's
tree. Answers, without need to sum &
cohere. Underneath, I dreamed you'll find
why this war, & the next, why men roar
& wish to call it language, wish to call it
song, wish to call a later hour revelation's,
willing living in time & law at all.
I dreamed you'll find it underneath,
a comfort will not abandon you in
your hungriest years, will assure you
that no man's hand forever clouds
the skies, & that indeed he roots
like all in the same bloody muck.
lx. In Strange Service
"What purpose?" I ask the Beast in dreams,
when we'd prowled & pursued each other
while. "To what purpose?"
"Some eat others," he growled. "A butchered torso
crosses the bridge to her door at dusk,
removes her parcel of fruit & lays by her weapon,
her walls silken with thoughts for revenge,
& memories of every cat, & the dead teacher
who was kind, gave her what she wanted,
many books, tender hours, & compassion."
He lunges but I escape, no cry, little fear,
one room to the next, one year then another,
he follows but calmer. "World bides its wicked,"
I reply, "their shifting promises to salve &
reveal, draw plain the gentle scarlet path
from hearts' old trenched lusts to fine temples
of explain to prayer's electric ride up
dark moonbeams & final burst of happy flesh."
"Tender hours & compassion!" he roars to shake
the labyrinth's countless floors, where
some torsos laugh & ride harder, hearts
blindly touch & gnaw close, & others
kneel for the manacle, the cruel tongue,
hope that best high begins sunken low.
"What passes while simple faces watch clocks?"
as he departs me. "What better hustle than
any king's great cry to war, luring gestures
to easy superiority, any preacher's offer
of a God that favors one over another,
than to cast a stripling squalling into this
world with no better explain that what his
answerless race can offer?"
"What purpose?" I roar at the Beast when
later I come upon him drowsy with sup,
something sweet & taken held close. "Why ferment,
why breath, why dream? Why want's rootless tangle?"
The Beast circles me but does not lunge
again, now knows the peril in this. "In every
hour since the night she fell, she arrives
in the clearing shaped like a temple
in full moonlight, now a wanting half-child
again, dressing for his every pleasure in
glaring new love's ceaseless pitch."
We clash as I try for his sweet prize,
without his strength I can only sing &
sing again, wake the hour's tenderness & compassion.
"Nothing divides us but the walls hands
have made," he told her that last night,
burning private words into her hips & shoulders,
with candlewax & her seething blood & night's
frankest juices, as she lay before him
a wide open eye in love, soft croon of bones,
moaning & crying their nights a blind
blowing wash to the sea.
"What purpose?" I cry again to the
Beast as he urges me nearer, we share
our sweet prize now, enough & more.
"Nothing salves the closest wounds," our
prize thrashes & sighs. "Happiness lies
in loving the cage, endless singing its song."
She cries out from the deepest star
within her dream-torso, whole & hungry,
the Beast licks as I stroke, her singing
now louder, the temple of moonlight
roars & shakes all the secret worlds within.
We let her go slowly, softly, to what remains
of her by daylight, an old vessel damned
to finally go, like faith, a cringing lash at a time.
"To what purpose?" I whisper to the Beast,
as we haunt & howl these nocturnal
caverns & corridors. "Little but blood &
consequence," he replies & the old bones
tearing & framing his chest seem nearer
to burst. "Stray planks on a wide foam,"
he continues. "Tonight an old village is burning.
Her death is long in the old house,
her memories a fine thing of love
& delusion. She watches her life in
reverse, regains the legs he would kiss
& say strode through his heart & made it
strong, the maiden's hips they would
ride when the scarlet hour was theirs to share.
"Many books, tender hours, & compassion,"
she whispers through her sick blood to
those who tend her like an old carcass.
The cold room bleats of a code, a key,
sad endless war. The Beast comes to warm
it in music, in memory, how once
she undressed half-turning, smiling, slowly,
as her new lover writhed & fed on
how her flesh prayed the light.
"Nothing goes away, nothing returns,"
she says softly to the image plunging
between her thighs, breathing slower,
the years curl together now, she is
newer, the world still above its many clouds,
back to the hour when he returned
& closed the door, two soft hands to take
her gladly one last time, a dark blade
for his failed try to bring her with him
from the world, its prisons hid deeper
than earth in every heart, consume them
together in dearest love's going morning light.