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guild houses wrinkle in canals
bicycles ring as they rush past
tulips dapple tiny window frames
the city murmurs at this early hour

Van Gogh's paintings swirl
through my head the last
to paint true transcendence
cyan yellow black black crows

advance a street
I weep in Anne Frank's house
I have been marked by horses
tied to the saddle as they forded
the Colorado River chest deep
in currents carrying me away

I have disappeard in a cloud
of ponies painted black and white
I shudder at their muscular flanks
they nudge me into the corral

I have cheered as a Palamino
pranced down Main Street
my grandfather grandly on board
beauty integrity his hidden strength

I have wept as a horse has died
unceremoniously carted off
will I find him in my glue
will I force the old man to answer Why
I followed her down the Spanish Steps
her pink dress billowing in the wind
she was Hellenism in motion
the tireless grace of youth

in the plaza I dashed into Keats' house
a mausoleum of dead Romantic poets
and their ever-living verse death masks
decorated the shelves as Byron and Shelley

rose in shadow a lair of brotherhood
rife with premature deaths and ill-lived lives
I peered into Keats' life mask looked up
and in the doorway languid Nike in pink

I handed her a new volume of Keats' odes
she smiled hollowly set the book aside
and searched for wings to flee human contact
missing a head her ancestor guards the Louvre
a gusty north wind races down
the littered lanes of this concrete jungle
we call home I turn my collar to cover
my ears wish fulfillment brings no warmth

I hear her singing against the gale
her tooth-riddled mouth opened wide
as she hits the high notes she wraps
her ragged shawl around her neck

memories of a glacial chill shivers
my bones I turn for shelter but find
only brick alleyways marred with paint
my anxiety inflames my blood pressure

the old woman shuffles my way her shoes
taped to her toes a 16th-century barefoot mystic
is she lost in divine love does she contemplate
the soul's ascent can she levitate to the stars

I daydream of her castle its moat full of frogs
she is St. Teresa of the Avenues and rules no one
do I approach her offer her aid genuflect to her cross
rain pelts my poncho as she sings the aria of the lost
nexus of pain
journey of waters
webs of betrayal
nature's lost self

meandering rivers
indigo lakes
translucent streams
pylons of pines

climb the rocky staircase
pinnacles snag the grooming sky
light ascends recedes stalls
in layers of deepest black

from the moon winds batter
castles of wayward kingdoms
domains of reason & will
empty stretches of desire

step lightly your boots will soak
much to do merely to survive
art brooks no compromise
paintings end where canvas bends

if mountains are spirit their climbers
must mime the density of matter
better to grasp the burro's tail
than to pack out your gear alone

You descend through night's black skies
an elongated bullet suffused with blue light
from your window the cityscape lumbers awake
like a crab side-stepping fires of flotsam

Your soft shell flashes with pinpricks of stars
plucked from your earth-bound parapets
no one says "castle" or "torches" anymore
yet how you long for the glow of the past

Generators churn energy to seal you
to brothers in arms guarding the runway
your ears pop as you widen your mouth
and swallow the moon hanging by a string


How you love this desert blanketed in sand
how you wrap it around your troubles and sigh
how it obscures the mist of your crab nebula
how love outlasts the sky like a fresco

Reach across the aisle to your sister in chains
plumb the depths of her quiet revery she knows
what light obscures she knows the cost of darkness
tell her night slakes every thirst in the romance of light

The crab sleeps half-buried in sand it stirs only
to shift positions even sleep cannot ease its pain
you know now that this flight remains in shadow
O how light loves the drama of our checkerboard lives
Li Po bathes his hands
in the Yellow River
-- How the calligrapher
tires of brushwork

Orange Koi nibble my feet
water lilies roil on the pond
-- I will race solo again
to the open wine cave

Wavy mountains push past
the earth's surface
-- Only Tao sustains
the ten thousand things
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