link to my first
illustrated ebook of poetry
fold your lips into that narrow plummy
shadow you shake and
winnow in your ways.
Place your eyes deep inside, awake, yes,
but as under
a sunny coverlet, or as under a grey bank
moss and black-orange earth, where fishes wait.
must go here and there, like they do—
disappearing in dusk.
And your ears, put them properly beneath
the soft brown eaves,
yes, with gentle
rain comes down
even through the trees.
The tide rolls in
and out again
and the trees, fog-lost, rustle in the wind
dropping their seeds plant their own friends.
to my muddy mouth
I taste the earth exhaling from the sodden
ale-drenched breath of Gaea
or drunken Ceres, queen of
and mother of all dew-soaked grasses.
you breathing next to me rhythmically.
The ceiling I know six
feet above, the sky of night much higher.
A wind blown from
some dark corner of my mind or yours
gives an almost
imperceptible flutter to the drawn shades,
bedsheets cut and
sewn by my mistress seamstress
to keep the light in, or
Do we sleep in drapes or hang covers as curtains?
will not say.
She who comes to me darkling
between the quilts, penumbral Muse of wakening,
whisperer of sunless stories.
She who takes my thoughts
like the tide merging with the impatient
stalls and swallows a mouthful of sand.
steals my sacred salt
but leaves no wave-tossed bottle.
arrives on the foam—
the black waves as a pearl does, this girl of fishes.
streaming hair slakes my thirst,
her dripping body cools my
skin and sleepy pulse.
Her clam shell and rushes are my
my mind her bower—
she has wings as wells as fins
and brings me birds to share my
birds with speckled eggs and blue.
You do not know
these things or care
asleep in you tangled hair and dreams—
would not interest you to know
of her and her handmade
fitted round her slender waist
reflecting like animal eyes from breast and belly,
pale-blue cloth and yellow stitching.
She and I walked through rooms
twelve feet tall
my paintings on every wall
her each and all.
And the old women strange to tell
to eachother of Raphael.
They huddled together like Fates or
passing among them one detached eye.
She led me
to another room—
room where you were supposed to be.
But you were not
walls were bare.
The rain will soak her
tomatoes and snap peas and rosemary bush
pumpkins that feed only the pillbugs.
She hallowed that
ground, pillbugs and all,
one midsummer's morning, laying her
sitting like some shiftless scarecrow among her
singing a make-believe lullaby that made no sense
was meant to.
She blest the pumpkins with her
scented her hair and arms with sage and dillweed
away my grave-soil beneath her fingernails.
But you would
not like her.
Your silent exhalations do not give what the
unexpectant with their gifts.
The moistness on
the pillow, unlike the rising sap,
does no one any good.
do not know why the cottonwood drops
his seeds of snow
you lie next to me.
She ate an apple in the strangest
it in both hands, squirrel-like,
paying no attention to the
only spitting out the seeds
and handing me the stem,
a childish gift.
But you do not know her
and turn in
your cool nakedness only to catch your breath
caught in your
You do not see her behind your shut eyes as I
you do not see her crawling through the window at
leaving her sleeping mother to run to me,
over my potted plants with her bare feet.
The fired clay and
black earth scattered in bits across the floor
mean nothing to
But she is real and you are a dream, I know,
she will sew my shroud as my last word to you escapes
arm and rushlight nape and
downdappled upsweep to ripe
like coral reflected through wavywater
soaking strand lying seaweed-lazy
on a throat so fishbelly
white it might
beat with the life of salmon eggs or minnow
and down again swell to midnight dogrose
tumulus perched high on dovercliff
waxing moonsoft and milky
above a plain of vein-blue
shadow shining like duskleaf and
darker still surrounded by seahorse nest
a shipwreck island
to swim and
Treszka, my little fish,
no matter what is said we had
What you become or I, or what we know,
stands against all the beards and wails of time.
will remain unpolished by any other mind or eye
sharp, no oil of paint or dust of chalk
will dull it or ground
I have been lost long years now
in your hair,
amongst your little arms and legs,
in the folds of that first
in the folds of that first dark-eyed look.
sad you were and how sad I,
lost on different islands of
Simply by sitting and staring
blacken all the waves
with bitter beauty,
float me out to
sea and drown me
in the curragh of your palms.
strange land were you quiet queen of,
what lost city of the
silent Sidhe set you up
to worhip for a day.
return to them at the end
Or will I?
a garland of eglantine
to clothe the river maiden in
build a bower of clove gillyflower
to nestle the egg of the
Sew a shirt of silver leaves
to mantle the
or golden leaves to gird the fire
sun's naked noon.
Cut a crease of hart's red leather
tool it in truest vein
to make soft leggings or subtle
for your brother on the plain.
Make a mickle
robe of black
to warm the bitter stars
and a blanket of
blue to bed the clouds
from the Sky's discourteous
Inscribe a song on the face of a stone
hinders the wandering hull
and add a line every winter
the cliffs be writ in full.
Place a lute in the den of the
til music comes arising.
Place a pen in the crook of a
and read a green poem in spring.
Form a brune
barque of dead ash and rowan
and lash it with willow twine
dress the bones of the fallen elf
and bind them in proper
Whisper your dreams to the canopied sky
is silent in thrall
the owl shall listen in constance
loyal mole shall hear you withal.
Tess, my mermaid of sea-blue sleeves
of languid bask,
blue-powder flower and three-fold leaves
your hair: dismiss the hooved
and horned who trod their
upon hard land. Keep your lovely knees
seaward side of the sand.
Float your drawings on gentle
your line winds your shadow saves—
the cloven upon the dry dunes despair.
fathom-full of airy blast—
would your fate forecast in solemn tones
and box your beauty
in a politic thought
Your apricot ears, comma brows, tarsal
are intellectual dice for such to cast.
with me, silver child,
beyond where things are taught.
you laugh and dive when I say,
To draw a pupil, dear, simply
make a dot.
you arose, all decked in blue, as toothless as the grinning
Waxing on the shiny world, haloed green, then grey and
If you of matching waxing halo, trading tones with sky
Moving arclike through the heavens, swamping every
Or olive-laden vine with your embracing
Brushing each mistral-waving cornstalk, racing cirrus,
With tones of soul-fed air and dusty whitened
If you did rise, could you look hard at such
As trades itself on you: ten million times as
worthless as the pumpkinheads
Of Paris are we, Sotheby and
Christie, jack-o'-lanterns missing
Candles and gavelling up
your buried bones. Could you grin,
As distant as that Merry
Moon who has no truck with things reflected—
Shining just for those who swallow moonbeams whole and do not
sell so surely.
Or does the Sun's corona even feel
To yawn at you beyond those crow-encircled
Does it still matter, etherized among the carpeting
stars, dancing in curvy lanes About Pa Moon.
Does pain dance
too in tripping time around such Orb.
Do the tendrils touch
that wave at us from Sky through measured frame to present
The Martyr to my cause nails me, though cause is
lost, and carries cross,
Skirting void in spiral steps,
through taxied streets, by shadowed shopfronts
and we arrive, God knows where, him all ruddy, blushing
and reeking pipe, grinning madly at the Moon rising in my eyes.
wide ripened the sky-hung lavender
red spread across the
i yellow your painted hair, mouthing kiss
pink flowering lovely like a budding
my brush touches greenly
and you close eyeing dark
was so young.
I am not old.
I was a cat once, she said.
At the park she showed me her breasts.
I do not
much like cats.
She always slams the door to my car.
she is very quiet.
How can you blame me?
We never made
Of course she thinks she was a black cat.
she wears make-up on her eyes.
She must remove it before I
Cats are not that smart.
Usually I sleep during
I like to drive at night.
Often she skips
I did not skip school.
I had nothing else to
Her family does not own any cats.
My car is not fancy,
but it is fairly new.
She crawls out her window at night.
has nothing else to do.
There are nine paintings of her in my
house right now.
Eight. I gave her mother one.
It was not
I do not know what I was before I was born.
cats are so smart, why do they get run over, I said.
not interested in my paintings.
Her breasts are quite
Cats know what they are doing, she said.
compose my thoughts.
I must move now.
The best thing about
her is her lips.
And her neck is very long.
She does not ring the bell, but knocks.
I do not drive that fast.
My children will be
The longer her hair gets the more it curls.
My best painting of her is in profile.
colors do not appeal to me.
Cats are not as independent as
I would have pets in the country.
talked from midnight until four o'clock.
I did not try to
She was fourteen.
took a sip of absinthe.
The moon shone blackly through the
"Everything has a halo," I said.
green is very hard to see.
a halo," he said.
You can go blind painting by
In Holland, Orion is higher.
Holding a brush
with mittens is funny to me.
He stomped his feet and
"The horizon is darker than that," he
You don't need white to paint a star.
wanders at night.
I can't feel my ears at all.
fog is getting thicker," I said.
When I mix my colors, he
looks back at the brothel.
"That's just my pipe," he
I think you dream, whether you close your eyes or
Why does the wind die at night.
Absinthe makes me
"Don't worry about green, worry about blue,"
A halo doesn't have to be round.
You would think
the candles would flicker more.
Next time I will paint the
"A halo must curve, that's all," he
The horizon is a colorful black.
He should be
drinking coffee, not absinthe.
Tomorrow night we need longer
He uses all the paint, the bastard.
girls, you think they are asleep?" he said.
morning the greys will look different.
"With cold feet
you pay double," I said.
In America, Indians won't paint
in a square.
Vincent paints the Dog Star like a moon.
keep my nose warm with my breath.
Green still matters, I
"Who will make us oval stretchers," he
I will not go to that brothel with him.
having a coughing jag.
But I will paint the girls.
a hellhole these days, my boy," he said.
foreground it is green.
I do not think he wants to be alive
You cannot paint the heavens like a
town of poetry
lies two-feet cold
It cares not one white
who stops among its dead
to cast about for words
touch a birch
A future corpse awalk
beware of foxglove.
(Somewhere on the Mexican Coast)
table there, that weathered wooden chair
beneath your pen and
beneath your widening, flattening
they do not matter do they,
somehow you really cannot
you there floating disembodied through the air.
in hand but rarely scribbling,
unconnected to your soaring
death or love,
looking down from up above
and grizzled thinning hairs
look much the same and
matter very little~
for after all, what is in a name?
feet are on the floor
unless you cross your legs,
knee of course, you know the score—
one crosses knee to ankle anymore.
But what are knees and
ankles when you're passing through the clouds
unaware of rainy smells and muddy
and whose umbrella goes with whose.
A sip of coolish
coffee and your reverie continues:
you ignore the waitress,
her slender arms, the menus
and concentrate instead on the
world inside your head,
occupied by only you, and now and
quite out of the blue
the occasional revealed truth or
The sun is not important
or the waves or yellow
These you can dismiss quite out of hand.
you stand sea and shore melt together,
obscured by the rainy
weather, fusing water and land.
For what is rain above the
to one who knows celestial pain—
sins of Cain, the guilt of Eve—
only asks one day's reprieve, but cannot see,
every tree and stretch of dirt or grass,
who lets the days go
But who can say who knows you well
you've created your little hell.
Only you can tell, who knows
of Job, of Ruth, of Luke and John and Friedrich
You know for you the final worth
birth versus Darwin's Beagle.
in the end no god will send
the eternal everyman's brother
reconnect your inner world with that of any other.
the answer rolls up on the sand
inside a bottle, or is
scratched by hand on the bark
of some near tree in a nearby
or is sung upon the waves,
or is painted in some
or is hinted at by the lark,
or is chirped
you will miss them, far above the prickly
pondering, if we may guess, whom to damn and whom to
Will any of us pass the test?
Who can tell~we cannot
you who miss the muddy shoe, the weathered
the grizzled hair, your own increasing derriere.
I am not a monk
I am not a monk
I am a church
I am not a
I am a steeple
I am not a steeple
I am a bell
am not a man
I am a well
I am not the leaf
I am the
I am not the root
I am the soil
I am not the
I am the sand
I am not the sand
I am the shore
I am not the shore
I am the sea
Deep and dark
I am not a field
I am the lane
I am not the
I am the verge
I am not the verge
I am the tree
am not the tree
I am the sky
not the dew
I am the rain
I'm not the rain
I am the
I'm not the water
I am the cloud
I'm not the
I am the star
I look little
not a god
I am flesh
I am not flesh
I am breath
I am wind
I'm not the wind
I am the
I'm not the message
I am the word
I am spoken
I'm not a curtain
I'm a veil
I'm not a
I'm a glance
I'm not a glance
I'm a stare
not a stare
I am beauty
I'm not beauty
I am art
Not a part
I'm not a frame
I'm not a picture
I'm a wall
I'm not a wall
am the floor
I'm not the floor
I am the ground
Fat and round
I'm not the cow
I am the horn
I'm not the horn
I am the trumpet
I'm not the
I am the blast
I'm not the blast
I am the
I'm not the music
I am the song
I'm not a house
I am the loft
I'm not the
I'm the hay
I'm not the hay
I'm the needle
not the needle
I'm the pen
Make a note
To let me in
not the beast
I am the bird
I'm not the bird
I am the
I'm not the wing
I am the claw
I'm not the claw
am the beak
So to eat
So to shriek
I'm not the
I'm the shell
I'm not the shell
I'm not the armor
I'm the spear
I'm not the
I'm the sharpness
I'm not the sharpness
With which I stab
With which anoint
I am not
I am line
I'm not line
I am circle
I am sphere
Green and fragrant
(for Karen Harvey,
on a bet, Barton
aged, aged butterfly
How slow the summerwinds you ply
land but dazed, one wing awry.
Shall you rest? Or must you
Loveliness fades, we know not why,
And fading doth
the more, like Lorelei,
Whose fleeing lines we dark
Siren's hair or fair antennae:
clarify, both rectify.
Each Aphrodite's dearest
Yestereve you cast on high
Green and yellow
Below the louring greying sky
The dove and
partridge cooing by.
You languish now before my eye:
aloft, the breeze you try—
beauty still my fears belie—
cannot end! I vainly cry.
Nor dusky moth, nor
Nor hummingbird so fleeting-shy
dragonfly, like gemini,
Their delicacy doth signify
to you, my butterfly.
When you breathe last, when down you
Your soul will rise, I prophesy,
Ethereal, an angel's
And we below, earthbound, O Fie!
Such grace can
surely never buy.
We vie to you our souls to tie
rhymes for butterfly]
am the Wandrin' Albatross
am the Wandrin' Albatross
Twelve feet the gap I plow
harrow a-sowin' the Ocean's seeds
The lowin' whale my briny
I pull the chariot of the Moon
High tide beneath my
The Gulfstream and I move on as one
bestir the weathers
Brother Dolphin leaps my prow
Sunfish eyes me, baskin'
She asks, "Who art Thou, and
I answer her, "Who's askin'?"
carry dust from shore to shore
Pollinator of the World
me the fishes fed below
By me the clamshell pearled
is not line but Circle
Hemmin' me in endless water
Am I son
of boundless Earth
Or Neptune's salty daughter?
on Hyperborean and Antarctic wind
Witness of Statian black
sand and Saba's cliffs
Of Shetland gusts and Southern Cross
shortest days and greatest Rifts
Like Ahasuerus on the
I measure Infinity tip of wing to tip
The stern of my silvery ship
thousand feet above
Sea floor ten thousand feet down
nearer Heaven than Earth
Fall but a foot and I drown
when I reach the edge of the World
Where Sea and Sky
I'll ride the tangent of the Sun
And fish the
There, they say, a bird may light
study his own reflection
In water so still and
Unstirred by fluke or fin's convection—
Deep appears a wingspan near
Cimmerian pools black as
Where Down is the only direction
Your Life-Spark the
And if you dive My Friend breathe once
do not dream the Sky
Or you will Wander with me such waves
will never tell you Why
Modern Life: The Early Years
There was time eight years ago
When I had just turned
That Poppy bounced me up and down
Upon his one good
He said, "Son, life is wondrous strange
full of things to see.
But stay away from pretty
trouble, just take it from me."
He said some things
that were over my head
But I understood the gist:
important thing, I took it—
at all costs, being kissed.
About that same time Mum took
For approximately the same reason.
mostly nasty and mean," she said,
"All 'cause of
boys, don't you see, son."
She warned me about the
men she had known
And about the man I'd grow into.
assured her I'd not as yet winked at a girl
didn't intend to.
It's odd, you see, because I knew
parents loved eachother dearly.
But when it came to the
They just couldn't see too clearly.
thought women the weirdest of beings,
A mystery to all but
Easy to anger, hard to predict,
humorless, coy, and obtuse.
Mum didn't give as much credit
As she gave to our spaniel Irene.
thought them, pedantic and rude,
Loud, dimensionless, crass
I grew into a timorous youth
As you might
My analyst blamed my lack of pluck
Mum's screed and Pop's knee-bouncing lecture.
This may be
true, I really don't know.
It's hard for me to say.
look back on my pitiful childhood
I'm at a loss, to this
By five I was already hopelessly skewed,
instincts completely repressed.
I prayed to God to save me
And feared lest He see me undressed.
showered with the radio on
To keep my small mind occupied.
I dared to look down, I felt for sure
The Fates would be
In kindergarten the girls pinched my
And tied to my desk both shoelaces.
They puckered their
lips and wiggled their ears
And made terribly sexy
They knew I was tongue-tied and heartbroke and
Hampered by all kinds of scruples.
I scanned the
blue skies for escape from my torment
But just couldn't find
They knew this, the Sirens, and lured me
Safe as they were from my come-on.
But I had no
wax to put in my ears
Or mast to tie myself up on.
sailed my wreck from one storm to another,
Scylla in Math,
To green-eyed Charybdis in Music and
Where my ego was taking a bath.
helped me a bit
By prioritizing my miseries.
The doctor and
I charted each growing complex
And graphed competing
After only four years, three times a week,
sessions (all boys) thrice a month,
I was able to say,
straining only a tad,
"Wicked thoughts about sexth, I
But my time on the couch no doubt did me
Though my cure took a beastly long while.
hours for that Oedipal thing—
a case of denial:
My feelings for Poppy, seeming so
I saw were mixed at the best—
taught me to see in my muddled up dreams
Things I scarcely
would ever have guessed.
I couldn't go fishing with Pop
Without seeing him overboard~drowned!
play golf, but I saw him face-down
In the sand, by my
And Mummy, Oh Dear, I can't bear to
The unspeakable things in my brain.
All this for the
woman who nursed me on milk
And weaned me on Pop-tarts and
In third grade I finally sobered up some,
dreams became pretty much dormant.
I could sit near a girl
with long flaxen tresses
With only a flicker of
Therapy taught me to channel my needs
dozens of useful directions:
I memorized pi to sixty-two
And learned all the Latin declensions.
mastered the mouth-harp and miniature golf,
Knew the depths of
the seven seas;
I could hum in perfect pitch the theme
Star Trek in four different keys.
I recited one year, in
Mum and Pop in attendance,
Not only the
and the Declaration of
But the height and weight of each delegate
The state from which he hailed,
The bills he
introduced in Congress,
And a summary of those that failed.
wasn't booed, exactly—
had a talent, 'twas plain—
popularity isn't conferred
By removal from stage with a
My mind was moving ahead, forthwith,
My brain, a muscular organ no doubt;
hard to find.
A push-up, a sit-up, I couldn't
Cartwheels, out of the question.
I lived on popcorn,
candy and Cokes—
and meat gave me indigestion.
My allergies kept me out of
My asthma from other exertion.
I weighed no
more than a hairless cat,
As pale as a Liverpool urchin.
ten my condition was chronic:
I hadn't a clue about
Buried under a pile of books—
memory sharp as a knife—
My passions were awfully, painfully dull,
all of my "learnin'."
I had no time for girls, those
that oohin' and aahin' and yearnin'.
Besides, the girls no
so ashen and skinny,
Tripping over my tied-up tongue
voice both high and tinny.
And just this year they got so
Girls who last year played with toys.
Wee Tess, who
used to trade me Leggos—
dating high-school boys.
It isn't fair, but fairness is
so I am told by my parenties.
In love, as in war and shopping
There simply ain't no guarantees.
I think, will be simplified greatly
In a year or two, I'm
Let Nature take over, she'll solve all my problems:
Puberty is the cure.
look just like a star-nosed mole to me
the way your soul sits
on your face so rippingly.
I cannot see past such a grand
excelling elephant's trunk in pure
excelling octopus's eight cupped
Surpassing even two-horned mug of
or yawning yap of toothy hippopotamus.
cannot look your way my dear
today or any day of
without seeing in between your eyes
or posing as
your nose, in full disguise,
or under chin, behind both
or in your pores (when that full blush appears)
je ne sais
heart or noggin
that sets my heart a thumpin', mind a
If I could paint the you within your face
hides as in a turtle's carapace
and will not show itself to
lens or eye
except when favored lover passes nigh;
that lucky Prince of Present Passion,
could somehow out of
clay or marble fashion
that soul, like star-nosed mole, in
think 'twould make a rather gripping story.
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