My favorite poets are Lucia Perillo, W. H. Auden, Adrienne Rich and Thomas Hardy
Favorite quote: "That man's silence is worth listening to." --- Thomas Hardy
There was much in her madness to draw us in.
Poetry was payback, electroshock for readers,
collusion between self and the culture oppressing women.
Rebelling against the limitations of a woman's sphere,
seeking refuge in career, a feminist before it was chic,
writing poems as a poultice against death
lurking in the shadows of a conflicted mind.
Sylvia, what was the dialogue you had with Death?
He deceived you in the mirror,
made you tremble at the foot of the stairs,
hissed from the potatoes in the kitchen,
till you sought solace in the oven's jets.
You were an artist out of time.
It's safe to come in from the depression now.
He sits atop the fence,
a transient from the endless circus,
eyeing a prickly pear cactus flower.
Meditating its ephemeral beauty,
he asks the eternal question:
Fleeting flower of yellow and pink,
is the will to charm still there?
My son, how could I not
be charmed by your
exquisite roar, followed by
the delicate blooming of your innocence?
Then remember me that I
may remember our predicament!
Lingering above this desert the first rains of winter,
streets greasy with oil/water/rubber cocktail.
Vegas spruces for the tourist onslaught,
bettors eager to lay their Superbowl favorite.
For a weekend the nation marches to a singular drum,
hotels swelling with the faithful to this Neon City.
The Champion stealthily concealed behind the mirror
through which no tout, nor soothsayer may perceive.
The press have lain out every faceted interview,
now only the true believers need worry beads.
This poet shrugs: for him the game has little meaning,
he looks instead to the clouds overhanging the valley.
Bring on the sacks of Sunday, the pass of phallic objects,
there will be snow upon the Redrocks to chill that morn.
To ghosts which walk about our imagination,
we have surrendered counsel, yielded consolation.
They are the souls of the might-have-been,
kindred bretheren yoked to our liquid center,
who've never endured the pain of intelligence,
never walked the bed-of-coals of perception,
yet, they have wisdom nestled on ethereal neurons.
To semiphores which count a poet's unused resources,
written in the higher code of life's metaphor,
iteratively substituting words to distill a truth,
a single universal life experience upon which to dwell,
all taken from myriad axioms of cerebral ecstacy.
This is writing, Suzanne, and you have tasted it, as well.
We are craftsmen in the medium of language,
poets following the involuntary way.
"One whose name was writ in water" is the epitaph that John Keats requested be placed upon his gravestone.
In those days all thinking took place in his heart.
It had no favorite suburb, no shelter that was home,
emersed, as he was, in the Sahara of humanity,
memories of only former places through which he'd drifted.
Yes, there were women, storms of passion, brevity in bed.
Today, they only took him back in time,
reconstructing scenarios more of actions never taken.
Bedposts were bivouacs to the nomad.
Here in the desert water assumes a circumstance,
the nomad becoming as fond of it as ambition.
Here silence need not be kept at bay, rather welcomed in,
though it looks down upon him in displeasure.
Out there on the horizion he hears a sigh,
a mother tongue corresponding to his own.
Her chamoisy cape
announced her artistry
to have known better.
Her Mona Lisa smile
spoke in tongues
with insouciant disregard
merely amusing playthings.
Her Eva Hathaway affair
flailing into arms
of the one man
buttons from oblivion.
As a teenage boy I used to fall asleep at night
listening to the graveled voice of Ernie Harwell
fashion for me word-images of the exploits
by a band of superheroes called the Detroit Tigers.
In those semi-lucid moments before slumber,
I could see the shimmering outline of my destiny:
you see all American boys are meant to be Tigers.
So imagine my confusion, when I fractured
the right talus bone my Junior year of high school,
even putting on weight around the middle,
where no athlete worth his pin stripes would gain.
My karma had begun to take on mass.
I began to acquire knowledge, as the only perceived defense
against some parallel universe impinging upon reality.
Oh, I had everyone convinced, even my keenest teachers
believed I was destined to make my mark in scholarly pursuits.
But no one saw the crying ego of one meant to be a Tiger,
nor how that bottled up the emergence of the Man.
Never reconciled, the Man curled up in fetal dormancy.
Lifespan became synonymous with interstellar drift.
And every encountered star of knowlege was dwarfed,
having long ago collapsed of its own gravity.
Still the heavens of knowledge are auspicious,
so I looked outward, when all the answers lay concealed within.
Only as my life left the outskirts of occluded reality
did I then begin to inherit from my instinctual id,
begin to listen to disconsolate internal voices,
who had known me all along, perhaps better than myself.
The thing is ... the stage has long been set on middle-age,
what props lie about are encrusted with patina,
laden with a dust impossible to gauge or preempt,
made worse by the lack of cast, save one.
Neither Beckett, nor Pinter, could have absurded this.
So, when my acts strike you as quixotic,
when I cut with a penknife through propriety,
it's because I finally remember what it meant to be a Tiger.
--- Dr. Walter Bishop, Fringe Division
It was my best friend who asked me
what I'd choose to be in my next incarnation.
Honestly, she caught me completely off guard,
intellectually dumbfounded by a prospect
I'd never considered, nor felt I deserved.
That night I wracked my brain searching for
a suitable chakra from which to derive an answer.
I know she believes everything is renewed,
so, deferring to her convictions,
I chose a jaguar, as suitable for my solitary way.
She's always had a knack for surprising my existence,
deflecting the metaphysical, steering for spiritual shores.
I recognize this power she exudes, though she dismisses me.
The jaguar I'm evolving divinely subsumes her virtues,
is cognizant of the heroine from Mumbai ashrams.
I'd like to tell you I hear rumblings in the sky,
that there's a certain path beneath my feet,
but my destiny eludes all outward signs,
striving for that inner love that has no name.
Toss away sheltering umbrella,
Seek to samba triumphant in the rain.
Edit dramatic doldrums from the novella,
Relate an easy tongue of the urbane.
Call a friend as helpful lifeline,
Castle Queenside for defense,
Debate the speed of light with Einstein,
Let love be your sixth sense.
Swim out through the breakers,
Surf the hurricane back home,
Reject the quackery of fakers,
Let rain cloud be your geodesic dome.
Villafy politics of standstill,
Wink the lowlands of the moon.
Pitch an idea to the gristmill,
Sing impromptu to typhoon.
Meteor streaks an onyx sky,
thoughts vaporize without a tail
Words have seized the winds,
usurped control from ideas
Page absorbs a mutant slang,
lines malinger with an attitude
Inspiration silhouettes reason,
unblemished by banality
Grant language mellifluence or
condemn the poet to monologue
Lost are themes, jewels of a lifetime
separated by melancholy vicissitudes
It had been one of those enervating days,
when officialdom and red tape paperwork
had sucked the yolk and marrow leaving only
a dullness that yawed the ghost ship of her frame.
She decided not to cook, as much as
payback for her ordeal by proper channels.
And so to the "Toilet Bar", cafe of choice
for malicious villagers, though rarely women.
The men folk hardly stared upon her entrance,
by now they knew those leopard skin boots,
that packed a wallop they grudgingly took
stock of, then returned to their cheese and wine.
This was her quarter of salt cod with cream,
prepared by owner Paula and daughter Carolina,
the only other women tolerated amongst the chairs,
that smelled of tar and testosterone.
Lacking collars three tumbled to the stony street,
drunken mechanic, one armed plumber, peg-legged sailor,
the kerfuffle amusing her, their wicked aunt,
another Lagoan night that shimmered out to sea.
I would like this life of endless
Greyhound time schedules to cease.
What self-inflicted alien abduction
tore me from the valley of my birth,
leaving me to wander empty streets,
each the branch of a coppiced maze?
I grow weary of quotidian fastfood buffets
downed with the aid of espresso baristas.
My legs have lost the muscle-memory
that strode the river cliffs with no regard.
Time to end the sleepwalk of forty years;
rejoin the forward guard of Iroquois.
It's a feminine eye that first detects
absurdity as a condition of existence.
In the deepest resources of my unconscious,
in that place where ego slept in the nude,
I knew she saw through me like
Roentgen X-rays of my soul.
Ultimately, it was my pride that
caused us to fly in different ways;
burning love had poured
from the lamps of our bodies,
shrouded in mystery,
like the day of a king or
more adroitly the nights of a queen.
We had found identity, yet
all signs of subtlety,
any shred of relationship,
were forfeit to the pale mackerel sky.
The sand is perfect ripples undulating to the bay,
as the 6:00 A.M sun flashes open a sulfur-eye,
yawns and apologizes for its January warmth.
She emerges her tent, much as she has entered the world,
naked, but filled with wonder and an attitude.
The glassy water winks her an invitation,
morning's blank canvas beach
etched only by random footprints of seabirds.
Taking advantage of the serenity,
haltingly slipping between the waves,
her skin bristles, subsumes cool ocean freshness,
surfboard bobs obediently at her side.
On this planet we have friends, who
pose no questions and pass no criticisms,
who the more they trust, the less
we can afford to make a mistake.
Like a pat of butter skimming a hot pan,
she lolls blissfully on the board, soaking up scenery,
heedless to the approach from the rear,
yet, sensing she is being watched.
Dorsal fins break the water's surrounding skin,
as a pod of bottlenoses dance and play,
pretend to be oblivious, as she floats within their sights.
Their presence startles, still, she quietly observes their folly,
willing them to come ever closer ...
Her outstretched hand beckons them to
circle with puppy-like curiosity.
Arguably, the perfect couple is a mother and child;
babies do more to females than make them mothers,
they bond them in a sisterhood of knowing recognition,
to which others need not apply.
Coriolis swirl of scarred dolphin bodies evades inquiring fingertips,
eye of the alpha-female fixed intently on the floating visitor,
who in turn looks back in shared wonder ---
between two mothers of the Earth, a psychic trust is formed.
The bottlenose rolls a streamlined fusiform body,
revealing a smaller version of her own,
tucked safely against her white underbelly.
The sun was racing Apollo's arc, as they silently
slipped beneath the plane and were gone.
She knows they've been fending off shark attack,
wishes for a way to fend off trawlers with gill nets.
A singled tear rolls down her cheek,
trickles off the board to merge with salty blue beneath,
reaching compassionately for her sister in the sea.
Concinnity of rapid motion in balance and proportion,
round the ballroom, like the synchronized frequency
of vibration in a crystal quartz. Whirling contortion
of bodies embraced in movement's revealing intimacy.
They are partners. They are dancers. They are lovers
wantonly stoking libido's hot glowing embers;
promenade affirming keen awareness to the vigors
of the steps, footfalls and technique of its pretenders.
Gown and tux attired, passionate accessories to the cult;
merengue, fox-trot, rhumba, abandonment's fertility rites
to gods and goddesses, danced with such elegant result,
they are immortalized in time --- divine service to the night.
The hiker cannot dwell there long,
concealed on a high gull-lined cliff,
overlooking the grey of the Sound.
Framed in a solemn March day,
two curiously juxtaposed species hold her gaze.
Silent as a fawn she watches
a black wolf beneath her arboreal outpost,
hunched in the fashion of Asian street vendors,
observing the other creatures.
Great humpbacks frolic in icy waters ---
spouting volcano plumes of spray
that catch the freshened wind ---
riding white-capped waves,
till entropy dissolves their mist to atomized brine.
Whale-song, too distant for the hiker's gentle ears,
comes rolling in tsunami-like
to the aurally attuned wolf,
which cocks its head and nods
in musical agreement with the odes.
Then little lupine brother
rears back his head and howls,
so sorrowful a moan, as she has ever heard ---
answering his water-brethren,
hunters of krill upon the seas.
Giggling at the incongruity of this lone celebrant
singing pack-songs to leviathans,
she hurries on her way,
lone wolf herself returning to the pack.
Sisyphus compelled to roll his boulder,
the poet who attempts to reconcile
what he knows with what he feels,
sensing even in compulsion
his stony effort no match for gravity.
Knowledge transmuted into feeling,
feelings obverted to some new knowledge,
a seismic process that rolls in waves,
peaks of insight, troughs of mental block,
all to foist a new perception upon the world,
squeeze perspective from the driest fruits.
What devilish irony to be admired,
for verse most often misunderstood,
philosopher and virtuoso to a tone-deaf audience.
Camus concluded Sisyphus
was happy with his lot in life,
but a poet continues to paint strange landscapes,
never content with color schemes,
ever niggling for that undiscovered pastel.
From just a shadow on a charnel-wall."
--- Elizabeth Barrett Browning -- Aurora Leigh, bk 1 (1857)
her fantasy fulfilled
she guides him by pack-horse
up the craggy mountain trail
restrained by his inexperience
their destination above
her beloved secret valley
river far below, a faded blue memory
spying snow-coned peaks beyond
she fights the urge, for his sake,
to gee her horse the last few feet
almost there, past the jagged rocks
gap's a beckoning finger now
welcoming her home
so many years of separation
the valley bursts upon them
a composite of wondrous sights
compelling her to bring him
quickly through to hallowed ground
how many times she had returned
she turns to him, a stranger here
only he deserves her secret place
watching his face
seeing elation and her radiance
mirrored simultaneously in his eyes
an expanse of horizon
mountain, aspen, florid fields, and water
nature's precious jewels adorn the vista
dressed with utmost care
to steal the unsuspecting heart
she leads him into the meadow
overlooking the turquoise cirque
cool waters in which she bathed
naked and contented
when last she'd journeyed here
meadow flowers cloak
the blanket she spreads for him
her fantasy fulfilled
his body framed against the sky
-limitless as their love- and
boundless beauty in this valley
The artist chose concrete to sculpt The Kiss.
Playfully made the woman taller than the man,
his gaze uplifted, filled with total captivation ---
lemur eyes, mustached smile, desire unmistakable.
Her arm about the nape of neck, hand caressing cheek,
certainly she cherishes him, intentionally stokes his passion.
Concrete the perfect medium for immortality.
This image implanted firmly, as I take my morning walk,
when it hits me, somewhere between Key Bank,
7-11 across the street, and John Deere lawn equipment,
why it is, women place such importance upon relationships,
why they love us, despite flaws numerous as wharf rats.
They have an unremitting need for romance.
That's what the sculptor knew and finally I do too.
Put on the old LPs tonight, Alex,
from a time long before you were born.
Top of the queue was Petula Clark
belting out Don't Give Up,
defiant as an alley cat in a street fight.
Remembered how in her heyday,
she'd been forced to conceal
the fact that she was married.
All performers being mysteriously
virginal in those days.
Thoughts segue several years
to my time in the service and
a female lieutenant who was my OIC.
Served a 20 year career,
but never knew a finer officer.
She realized leadership was saying
the things that made you want to follow.
Just after making captain,
due to pregnancy, she was forced
to terminate her service career.
Today, women routinely travel in space,
perform extreme surgeries,
one just might become president.
And somewhere in the tenements of NYC
a young poet spins metaphor
straight from the streets and the cosmos,
constructing a world in lines
we'd all wish to enter.