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The New Year looms,
a blank page
awaiting the first
wondrous words of winter.
The poet sheathes his pen.

The poet sheathes his pen,
an instrument of imperfection,
awaiting the first
incisive inspiration
of the looming New Year.

The New Year looms,
the depository of the past,
awaiting activation.
The poet sheathes his pen,
practicing a passive role.

Practicing a passive role,
the New Year awaits
consecration: December 31st
whitewashed of all its sins.
The poet unsheathes his pen.
The clock stops for no one.
Sunday turns to Monday
turns to Sunday.
Endlessly absurd days.
We eat heads of grain
as if they were candy.
The mothering earth,
fecund, flush with seasons,
brings forth a bounty
for the husbandman
and squirrel. Worry
wilts beside abundance.
light infiltrates all
rocks resist nothing, fall free
hoodoos spawn squat spires
This constant vigil,
mercilessly endless,
is but an act of love, I know:
headlights blaring
through the broken dusk,
sickening heaps of flowers
crushed and soiled upon the seat.

Sorrow weighs down upon us
like handfuls of newly spaded earth
begging to be tossed.

The smell of earth, warm and moist;
and no one is there.

The mourners tent is empty.
We have arrived too late.
Kneeling then, penitent, prayerful,
to touch the soil.

I trace my finger
over the epitaph engraved
on the hollow-white

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.

The limousine door
catches up the evening light.
Along the window's edge,
subtle hints of black and gray appear.

A long, soft cry
on the wind --
or is it the wind?

We answer with our undying act of love:
Christ lives in me.
William Blake and wife played Adam and Eve
In their English garden, totally ****.
His neighbors were shocked and morally peeved.
Such escapades proved outrageous and rude,
Till his poems made his scared public believe.
He showed their mind-forged manacles were crude
Facsimiles of mankind’s true freedom.
His strategy, both Romantic and shrewd,
Found Eternity in sand’s finest sieve.
The doors of perception caused him to brood
On the spirit’s want in a world bereaved
Of sustenance. Infinity: soul food.
From Heaven and Hell, he would never leave.
Adam and Eve romped, always without shoes.
Our true name cannot translate.
Soon we will become complete:
Adjectives, no longer Proper Nouns.
At the peak of highest ecstasy,
so prettily pleased with herself,
she sinks beneath the surface sea,
gripping tight, like a book from a shelf,

her silver mirror, the perfect thing
to admire her perfect form.
Her virginal gown rises in angel's wings.
Her face beams beauty's eternal norm.

How long can she contemplate
herself before taking a breath?
Absorbed by her image, she satiates,
floating gently upward, away from death.
sun streams through the sheers
orchids cling to fragile stems
cat roams through shower
I welcome the new year
in all its vagrant glory.
Absurdity may follow in 2019,
or a blissful beauty unimaginable.

Either way, we remain at fate's mercy.
Either way, our choices seem anemic, naive.
Yet that is not how time transitions:
It opens ever-new fields of fresh possibilities.

I must commit to plow those fields,
using all the strength and courage I can muster.
Everyone faces the same challenge:
Any clear path ahead wallows in obscurity.

Is this new year really happy, as they say?
Am I only kidding myself that I can choose?
I see a lonely road before me, full of pain.
Even so, I welcome the new year again in all its glory.
The Ancient Mariner slaughtered
this ungainly bird around my neck
like a bridle it directs my days
like a talisman it breeds only doom
the poet acts the marksman
his words aim at the all-seeing eye
to blind it of foreknowledge
to skew its vision toward the western sky

Only the bird hears my words
recited like a child's rhyme
only its wings mute my voice
flapping recklessly on deck
the music of my verse turns to spleen
for the ****** masses who assault me
the albatross a mere distraction
an impotent symbol useless and puerile

The bird's plaintive cry resounds
as the measure of all poetic voices
why speak when you can fly
why land when the weight of the world
propels you forward atop faded alexandrines
you can goose-step from height to height
or slosh through the gutter swishing music
into broken light spying feathers at your feet
biting the bullet of your humiliation
plotting the evil in all things
orange dragon clouds
swirl in the dusky, baroque, winnowing sky
the once brilliant day dies within me
still I cling to a rocky pinnacle        alone
Circles of rope, white, grey and bilious, squeeze around
Wetterhorn Mountain’s chest, leaving only its angled
forehead in sight. Like the tail of St. George’s fiery dragon,
the clouds sink into stone, ******* down their grip
until nothing is left breathing, until nothing is left. Stone
emits a feeble cry of fear and trembling. The dragon’s
tail squeezes tighter, intent on suffocation -- severe oxygen
deprivation above timberline.

Rain is the Sancho Panza to the mountain’s Quixote;
the circles of Dante’s Hell mirror the clouds’
constant clinging below the pointed, harpoon peak.
You can climb this mountain as in Purgatory, but its path
is polished to a slippery ***** from the clouds’
constant rains: such a dubious, deadly affair. Only St. Georges
persevere here; only the holy ones manage not to stumble
on the bulky, slick rocks.

Rain is not a baptism, but an ablution.
Rain threatens the clarity of the day. Rain threatens
the clinging of the day to the present. Always, such rain will pass.
Puddles in post holes, precarious ascent to the cloudless light.
Rain clears the path in hindsight but nurtures the future to come
quickly, like cacti with brief, brilliant blossoms.
Let the thorns be your payment for grasping the blooms.
Shivering, I stand alone
inside a sleepy railway station,
looking for a train that never comes,
watching as my spirit comes undone

From the ceaseless clicking of the clock,
the senseless ticking of the watch
that weighs my body down.

Behold how the mortal earns his fate:
There is always time to wait.

No sooner does time expire,
than it rises up to sire
its progeny again.

Shamelessly self-seeking,
it wrecks our days reeking of narcissi.

Gaze into its plate of polished glass
and watch your phantoms pass.

They punched their tickets late.
There is always time to wait.

The Flame of Life arrives on a second-class coach.
He eyes me, careful not to reproach my sensibilities.

He comes to cauterize my wounds of time,
but worries I might swoon or mind
the excessive heat.

Perhaps he’s right; I’ll change the date.
There is always time to wait.
i have watched herds of buffalo roam free and unassuming around me
their majesty and inheritance innate;
the earth could but tremble when they moved so slowly

and i have seen elk in groves grazing docile like cattle,
their flanks thick with sinew, their heads lifted and turned,
carrying antlers like a crown and destiny

but this,   o this is something new:
i have seen alaska come tumbling from her eyes
bright and flickering like a candle in amber

i have fallen through those amber eyes that turn away quickly
from my face
i have come tumbling from her eyes
to speak:

"there is always hope

i have climbed the mountains of the West
massive, endless, and blue
forsaking the common trail so well-known and so well-defined by
stones painted orange   green   like shrines
rising high and far apart:   forever forward

and i have dug my hands deep into rocky  hillsides
to stay upright and have fallen
to go where no man ever was or will be
trekking cautiously through smoky forests and snow
always higher, gaining so much ground steep and sloping
until both air and trees spread thin
and i would stop  

yes, i would stop
to listen to the wind blowing hard through the pines below
clouds would cover me:   they could go no higher
and i would breathe, with my whole body,
the silent serenity of solitude and half-frozen lakes

time had no meaning here; there was but one day always
and in the afternoon it began to rain
silver beads of water, like tiny clouds
froze upon my beard and glasses:
i could not see nor speak

the darkness would grow cold and numb and cover me
a blanket without warmth

the night afforded no apology
i could not be distinguished from it
i do not remember becoming part of it

part of it shivering beneath the stars
shivering into dawn

i could find nothing there but strength pure and flowing
from within
it was here i built my dream in homage and wilderness
so high above the earth."
having spoken

having spoken
i see my days come tumbling from her eyes
and i am tempted
bright and flickering like a candle in amber
i am tempted
to smear the dripping wax warm upon my forehead   over my body
when it dries it will be tasteless and intoxicating
yes, smooth like wax
like amber
O America!
I wander through your golden-red fields.
Vines with still-green grapes snake toward the sun.
Just how fecund you are!

Kick-started beauty lays me low.
Prairies burn with the fire of desire.
Judge me fickle in my allegiance to you.
How little I sense of your natural glory.

Great basalt stones border the ocean.
Vapors of cirrus clouds streak the sky.
Down the beach-packed path I stroll.
Every starfish clings to life at low tide.

Untold riches remain stubbornly unseen.
Great waves of brine bathe the shore.
Xanadu basks underwater.
Atlantis skims the floor of the sea.

Beyond every seagull, a screeching cry fades.
Mountains suddenly beckon inland: a sea of stone.
Setting my sights eastward, I take the plunge.
The slopes and peaks call to me; meadows blossom.

Here, on my way, I exult in your massive splendor.
Who can ever be sated by your majesty?
Nature mesmerizes. I renew my pledge to you.
Alphabet poem, 23 discrete lines.
the amethyst jewel
lies coolly on her forehead
bright beauty of death
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
First, know the exits;
stage left, stage right.
The play may be much
longer or shorter than you imagine.
Be prepared to bow out gracefully.

Next, know your lines.
Make them authentic, real.
They reveal your character,
for good or ill. Never deliver
them halfheartedly or dully.

Next, polish your actions.
They keep your audience on its toes.
Act naturally but with modulated emotions.
Melodrama has not been invented.
Lugubriousness is simply in plain bad taste.

Finally, study your author.
Is he smarter than you? Or does he
merely have the creative power you lack?
He moves you according to his whims.
He judges you on each day's performance.

And remember as you rehearse: There are no second acts.
The color fields shimmer
in yellows and blues.
Rothko’s ghost lingers nearby,
wearing his snappy, green
editor’s eye-shades,
studiously red-penciling
every word that a painting is not worth.
He labors in Limbo because
he took his own life,
even though he did not believe
in an afterlife, or in Limbo,
or in laboring endlessly
for redemption.

The color fields waver
in primary hues.
You can see the suspended
movement in great stationed,
feathered rectangles, electrified by,
shivering with, transcendence.
Van Gogh believed in it.
So did Chagall: Angels,
on the order of Rilke’s
terrifying beings from
a realm of suffering higher
than our own. They hear
our cries as shimmering rectangles
of color. Pick a hue, any hue.
Any hue will do.
Deceit is the deceiver
who tarnishes our golden words
with the blood of angels.

It is a diamond blood, hard enough
to etch a tattoo on the iron in our soul.
A mendacious message
that even poets cannot read
without swooning.

Deceit deceives itself,
stalks us like wounded prey,
until we lie down,
dead weight, to read no more.

We cannot see what follows us to
the chambers of the underground.
Does deception supplant sanctity of mind?
Who harvests the center of the soul?

Deceit deceives deceit.
Meaning we have lost all meaning
except for poems written
in angels' blood.
(After Sartre)

There’s a sorrow that overcomes us all.
There’s a sickness that never can be healed.
Within itself, existence casts a pall
That no one can remove; the cover’s sealed
Into the searing consciousness of all.
Its attributes can never be repealed.
They inform freedom, forcing us to call
For a meaning and value we can feel.
Death makes the veil of nothingness to fall
Over all the choices with which we deal.
We can’t escape this burden or forestall
Making ourselves the judges of what’s real.
It’s a problem that suffocates us all:
We solely pick the cards that we must deal.

Diaphanous dragons disgorge a deluge of diamonds
into the shadowed crevices of cumulus clouds.

Ruby-red sapphires overpopulate the glistening sky
like carbon-hardened locust: gorgeous messengers of the gods.

The Earth wears a crimson helmet, shielded from
the odious absence of ozone above the North and South poles.

Near Minneapolis, John Berryman's wizened body shatters
on the frozen riverbed below the Washington Avenue Bridge.

Angels weep to see him jump, as he waves a vaudevillian goodbye.
The sapphires blanch, then turn an angry, violent violet. Black holes ahead.

Shakespeare and Mr. Bones **** on mortality's skimpy
skeleton of life. Will this broken body be resurrected?

Does it deserve such distinction? Better yet, does its daring,
drunken destroyer? Four hundred Dream Songs nod yes.

Berryman toddled ticklishly toward the last traces of transcendence.
Love & Fame broadcast how terribly his faith failed to trade

daily delirium tremens for the mysterium tremendum.
The God he prayed to demanded a syntax pure, plain.and perfect.

With jolts of jest, He jimmied paradoxes into koans. Berryman
howls for the sound of one diamond scratching the outline of his body on ice.

He left a legacy broader than liquor, lechery and the love-struck ladies.
Lust seeded his fallow lacunae and lazily broke his wife's heart.

Scholarship scooted him to the squeamish, secluded top
of his Shakespearean class: Signal student turns trusted teacher.

Poetry cloned the Oklahoma clown in him. No successors,
no schools, no savvy peers, save Lowell. his fellow manic-depressive.

He dreamed songs of hilarity, humility, history, dehumanization.
Poetry proved serious business until it learned to laugh at itself.

Sapphires crackle under the weight of the creaking sun. They spin a kaleidoscopic rainbow of colors onto Berryman's obituary. Somehow, he has won:

An irreplaceable jewel of the sky.
I stripped the gold from Agamemnon’s mask.
I scoured Clytemnestra’s black heart.
I wiped the blood from Orestes’ sword,
and made Mycenae’s throne room my own.

I promised Achilles no mortal man’s life,
then I felled him at Troy by my hand.
We gods turn out fickle; we heedlessly maim
man’s fortunes, his women, his land.

Do not trust us.
(AfterTintern Abbey”)

Years have passed under
The aegis of tedium.
Years have passed with
The lamentations of time.
And again I behold
The ancient sentinel
Spanning the shallow straits
Of the Gardon River.
The arches rise stalwart
And stolid, standing in
Mire against history’s
Gentle currents.
Rising high above the handful
Of tourists who have come to
Gawk and play.
Once carrying water as far
As Nimes, the troisieme etage
Still flows, spilling spirit.
We walked across it alone
In years past. The aegis
Of memory.
Pont du Gard beams in
The late, slanting sun,
A monument to engineering,
Ingenuity. Block packed on
Block, supported by the art
Of eternal geometry.
Euclid’s legacy; mortar
No necessity.
Sluices slide past skimpy
Sandbars and reeds.
Brilliant blues, silent
Witnesses to the genius
Of Rome-conquered Gaul.
Pont du Gard is a Roman aqueduct that still stands intact over the Gardon River in Provence in southern France. When you visit it, you can marvel at the mastery of Roman engineering. Beaming in the late-afternoon sun, the aqueduct is a wonderful sight.
Beauty affords no comfort
When you lie miles
Away from the nearest castello,
Where the owner serves
50-course dinners
For 50 euros apiece.
He hums Puccini
As he dishes the ravioli,
Recommends strong red wine
From an earthy clay pitcher.
The white tablecloth drapes
My lap. I dare not stain it.
He is missing a button,
Hits a high note, leaves
And returns.
Filled to unconsciousness,
We down the fiery limoncello.
Good for the digestion.
Good for scouring the esophagus.
Beside us a former
Olympic swimmer stabs
Her potatoes.
Her children stare down
With distorted faces, inured
To the feast,
Imagining a beast
To torment.
Their potatoes grow cold.
A Puccini aria plays in my head.
Lucca, his hometown, looms
On the star-spewed horizon.
Even beauty is no match
For la dolce vita.
Fog shrouds the dark hills.
Gray sky, gray autostrada.
Rome shines ancient light.
This haiku is about approaching Rome at dusk. The title should be italicized
We die of ennui and boredom,
blind to the cosmos’ resonating
with a revelatory repertoire
of marvels and wonders.

Our spirit intermingles
with Spirit, history’s unseen
hero, pushing the dialectic
forward to its inevitable conclusion.

Art is no easy accomplishment.
The Muse descends in silence.
We listen for her secret command,
shaping words into the integrity
of the poem. Spirit imprints spirit
on the open page.

Spirit rises with spirit to the realm
of the Titans, muscular poets
crowned in laurels and draped in multicolored
sashes. They have shown how
willpower can decode the Muse’s
cryptic command, and how poetry
is eternally reborn.

We die of ennui, boredom and blindness.
The cosmos enriches itself without us,
counting billions of stars, not hundreds
of poems. Consider the Muse like
the Delphic Oracle: Ignore her at your
own peril.

She knows that glory awaits
the courageous. She knows that there
are laurels enough for everyone.
Poetry hunkers down behind
the freshly finished facade
of language; each link to the lexicon
lovingly chiseled into the smooth,
grey stone. Here, precision reigns over all.

Vainly held in place for the length
of a reading, the facade glides
toward a shimmering white dot
on the horizon.The perfect poem, perhaps?
Here, perspective precipitates all.

Like quicksand, a marshy morass
of words ***** at the poet's feet
as he strains to match
the facade's pace, stride for muddy stride.
If he succeeds, pride will power all.

Poetry is breath, inadequately lodged
in the poet's ever-shrinking body.
Reading wrests the silent syntax,
inhales form through its viscera, exhales
metaphor and rhyme. Like becomes like, becomes all.

Critics aside, the poem thrives as a living organism;
it breathes itself far beyond the face of the facade;
it swirls into the stratosphere, flying
straight toward the cosmos' breathless edge.
Here, the getting of wisdom is all.
I sit weary is the grey, shadowed corner of a monk's cell.
My ragamuffin clothes fit me well.
When I read, the neurons in my brain fire out of control.
They erupt through my conical hair: helmet for space patrol.

My body language belies my intellectual yearnings.
Literature invigorates me: I blast off without earnings.
Ideas, images prove their own reward;
rockets, like Quixote's windmills, form a vast horde

Of cosmic challengers, who meet me face to face.
There is no lonelier place to land than outer space.
All this, of course, comes from a tattered book.
Stop reading, and I can take a long look

At my isolated setting, scattered but safe.
I feel the innocence of Earth's first waif,
who leads me on through page after page.
I am a stranger still to the atomic age.
Yes, I am late for the wedding ;
my car was hit
at the fifth intersection south
of the church. I apologize for
the intractable circumstances
of life.

But time has no meaning
for true lovers. There is only
the Eternal Now,
the Eternal "I do".
We have wrapped
ourselves in its
glittering blue.

we have said our vows
in private
sotto voce.
Already we are One.
Blue light turns to night.
Brown grasses begin to molt.
Red trees: Spirit soars.
The vines have turned the color of the season —
as red as the wine their grapes will spill.
I peer back up the hillside into the circling sun,
an infinite swath of yellow. Below it surges
Homer’s wine-dark sea, repeatedly, endlessly, effortlessly
spreading. Except the sea is never red in Greece or Italy,
or even in France, where I stand amid a sea of wine-red leaves,
in silence, under the sun, holding back the flood of invaders below.

From the crumbling wall of the vineyard,
I survey the village of Riquewihr in all its medieval splendor,
gorged with tourists like an unfortunate goose
gagging on grain forced down its gullet:
foie gras for the shopkeepers, who crowd the cobbled courtyard
in all its chaos and cacophony.
“Sample a macaroon for free under the ramparts.”
“Buy a reproduction of a one-of-a-kind watercolor of the bell tower,
built in 1291. (Only 400 Euros for the original),” the artist says.
“Reserve it now for Christmas.”

His stocking cap needs cleaning, I think.
I eye the village fountain, the half-timbered shops, the claustrophobic
stone houses, brightly painted, squeezed into walls like tiny fortresses.
The artist tells me how hard it is to make a living —
the global economy his impenetrable wall, which holds back a flood
of buyers from Germany, China, New York.

I decline his offer to buy and climb the steep hill out of town,
the wine-dark hill of the vineyard.
This is what it means to inherit the world:
to stand apart, high, distant, above the sea
of other tourists, just like yourself, who yearn to stand apart,
just like yourself, laden with bulky guidebooks,
just like yourself, looking for the perfect souvenir, just like yourself,
the one that will sit perfectly on their mantle. Just like yourself,
they seek a memento that will remember for them — remember
all they could have had if only they had had the village to themselves.
If only you had had the village to yourself, to make it your own.

On this sunny afternoon, the village is my own — for a moment,
from a distance, awash in gray-blue shadow. Only the vineyard beams:
isolated, fecund, teeming with dreams; ever gaining on the harvest;
angling closer to the giant wine press that will spew the scarlet juice
at my feet, the earth turned the color of blood.

I resist the urge to pluck a baby cluster of grapes, nestled safely
beneath a leafy wave of this wine-dark sea, these purple berries
springing from the ground: so many earthy bubbles, born to burst.
Le terroir in French: The dirt makes all the difference.

A handful of soil would prove the perfect souvenir, nest-ce pas?
sitting pretty on my mantle. The dust and debris would blow away
day by day, like ashes spilled from a funerary urn,
the sacred remains of my travels.

Let me be buried, then, in memory of the fertile furrows of Alsace.
Let me push up this hillside, along its ample paths of abundance;
its ripening rows of fruit; its wine-red passageways through leaves
and vines, steep and luminous; the sea of blood yet to be pressed
from the soon-to-be-crimson grapes.

“Does this vast vineyard hold any secret worth journeying halfway
around the world to find?” That is the question I scribble in the dirt.
“Does this village? Does this vision? Does this ancient, failing wall?”
Even if the answer is “No, no, no,” I shall reply, “Yes, yes, yes.”

Yes, let me be buried in Alsatian soil as a lasting souvenir.
Yes, let me lie here, as I stand: free and upright,
lighted by the autumn sun, unchanging, set apart
to revel in the marvel of red blood seeping into the soil
Yes, let me make this stained patch of dirt my own.

The vines have turned the color of the season —
wine-red, wine-dark, blood-red.
And I have turned the color of the vines,
in silence, under the sun, holding back the flood.
We travel through our lives, hapless and lost.
No pathway sets its course before our feet.
Yet we push onward, whatever the cost,
To chase after mirages, vast and fleet.
A void of understanding spells our loss.
We fail, groan and grasp; our destiny meet.
A lack of clear-cut meaning makes our cause:
We await a revelation so sweet.
Many roads lead to callings at no cost;
Which one to choose seems a quest for defeat.
Absurdity creates a fray to toss
Such callings to the flames of these mean streets.
A void of understanding keeps us lost.
We follow random markings at our feet.
The sky wavered orange and gray,
as dusk settled over the Mayan ruins,
the Yucatan scrub land, the cooling
tiles of the archaeological villa
outside Chichen Itza, where we stayed.

I sat poolside, contemplating the fading,
fiery orb of the sun, musing on Kukulcan,
the sacred cenote, the Mayans' murderous
ball game, their majestic pyramid,
and rows upon rows of chiseled skulls.

When suddenly an epiphany engulfed me:
I saw my life come together as a perfect whole,
from beginning to then, and it showed one thing
only: that I would be and remain a writer. My soul
rose in ecstasy. I have never failed to feed it since.
I take my paradise
Where I can find it.
Sacred or secular,
Stationary or ecstatic.
Penitent pilgrims pack
The width of Las Ramblas,
Marching headlong toward
The burgeoning square
Of Cataluyna, scurrying
Forward for fountains and buses
To whisk them away
From themselves.
The burden of identity weighs
Heavily in each backpack and bag.
The sun brilliantly burnishes
The crowd, beaming with
A child’s hunger for toys.
Nothing changes
Except the country beneath
Your feet.
Tourism is purgatory
To the undirected.
No map, no plan, no
Rescue from impulse.
All roads lead home
Whence you came.
Before the closed
Doors of the cathedral,
Catalans circle, lift arms,
Hop, twirl and dance.
Raised hands
Signal liberation, unbrokenness.
Separation sends an inferno
Spiraling downward, singeing factions
Of language and race.
Yet a divided Spain paints
Its face as united,
Coyly cooing behind
A splayed, perfumed fan.
The perfect picture
For the uninitiated cruise
Ship crowds.
We cool our heels at the
Statue of Columbus,
Still ready to sail
Under mistaken,
Prevailing winds.
O America!
How far you drift
From these tapas bars
And tainted streets.
How far from the graffiti-
Filled neighborhoods.
No space uncovered.
The gritty lust for color, figure
And form.
Self-expression turned
Tourists queue to grab
Their fair share.
All is exotic in Mediterranean
Gaudi erects his towers
In wavering waves of
Nature and faith.
Inside Basilica La Sagrada Familia,
Construction workers
Slowly hammer his corner
Of paradise into place.
Christ hangs naked
On the cross.
A sacred blue light soothes
Our burning feet.
Once, in the moment, struck still and silent,
Shadows creep along the hills toward dusk.
Crows blacken the sky; the leader pilots
The followers toward the clouds, fine as dust.
The moon sports a halo of mist, piled up
To sweep across the star-splayed night, which must
Uphold our dream of a world less strident,
A world where truth is beauty, beauty truth.
Prescient as he was, Keats saw violence
As nature’s faulty mechanism: rust.
If not in poems, then in his own demise.
There’s no glory in death, ****** upon us.
But in the moment, scared, still and silent,
A darkened beauty slithers toward dusk.
My Beloved glides through the room in light.
A flick of her hand, shadows dispense.
Her form beams shapely, vibrant and bright.
One sharp look wilts my world, weak and dense.

She is as fragrant as hyacinth at night.
She turns 'round; my willpower’s spent.
I reach for her arm; she’s fast in flight.
No coquettish flirting to make me wince.

Her inward freedom exposes my plight.
I am lovelorn, hard stricken. No defense.
Rising skyward, she claims heaven, her right.
Living earthbound, I maintain my poor sense.

Still, I yearn for her beauty: heart's light.
My pursuit is authentic. No pretense.

-- For Laura
Desolation, smoke and ash.

The world and its relentless, restive urgings
are not enough.

The edifice of order is too ephemeral,
the tenuous bonds of meaning
too easily razed to rubble
beneath the nihilist's gaze.

No doubt, the end is assured for all,
prolonged by believing,
hastened by the wait,
but coming just the same in fullness:
the fat, swollen belly of death.


Or is it not our calling
to struggle for exemption,
to defy the violent course of history
and its pitiless lack of purpose?

Is it not the triumph of the will
to rise above the ruins of time
on wings of wisdom,
to sing and dance, to sup and celebrate
the marriage feast of laughter and the absurd?

Surely, necessity can be resisted.

Who, then, will dare to tear against
the bruised, battered earth
with new-honed tools of abundance?

Who, then, will dare to seek out
the sweetness of day
that whispers and beckons from the one, true dwelling?

Who, then, will dare to begin?
Ignore the Tao.
Mountains remain mountains.
Moon remains moon.
Infinity in a grain of sand,
raw silk, uncut wood.

Man sweeps earthen floor,
mindfully makes jasmine tea.
Everything is as it always was.
All confusion shattered
in the clear light of being.

Sasquatch stalks
the Washington woods.
I lope through low-lying
bushes in search of huckleberries.
The purple-reddish stains on my fingers
are as real
as the grumbling in my stomach,
or the solidity of these mighty pines.
The “small rain” begins to seep
through the atmosphere.
It will not wash away my stains.


I do not believe in Big Foot.
He towers, an outsized legend of the forest.
A Nessie of the woodlands.
A mythical creature created
to satisfy our impoverished imagination,
atrophied by the ever-encroaching
artifice and sterility of the human world.


Soon, the mist turns to big rain.
Clouds blot out the sky.
Dusk turns to night, hours early.
Thoroughly soaked, I
will seek shelter alone.


Mountain folk recite encounters
with Big Foot like happy-to-be-frightened
children around a campfire.
The scariest tale is always the next to come.
Twigs snap, branches break, pine cones are crushed.
We all listen, acutely alert.


Gorged on huckleberries, I will sleep tonight
beneath the pines, solitary,
curling up safely in the contours
of a giant footprint.
I can hear the leaves hit the forest floor.
Dare I dream of conversion?
Dare I dream of belief?
Earth and heaven yield to each other.
Points of light reflect ancient eons.
Stars recede billions of miles away.

Pond turns to a canvas sprinkled
with specks of white paint.
Celestial expressionism.

Infinity reigns throughout the universe.
Eternal patterns swirl in water and sky.
Billions of starry lights create a canopy.

We live between here and above.
The One shines down mercifully upon us.
The pond pours back its dazzling glory.
emerging from
shadowed kiva
ladder rises
piercing light

sandstone heat
heat of ruins
old world heat
heat of grains

height of heights

glow to

silent scrawl


boot soles

as gems
secret rites

spirit dwells
shelling beans
water's weight

unhunted trail
path untrodden

of thorns

white cloud
of blue
blue sky

aching light

for meaning


of rock
and stars


to touch

hand print


all time
Grief becomes you.
Your wan, tear-stained face.
Your razor-sharp finely cut dress,
black shoes, black pearls, black hat, black veil.

You were cavalier in life,
cloying with black at death.
the black rain
pushes incessantly
the window

great dull gray streaks
the ephemeral sun
pallid false reflections

ridiculous faces
touching ***** white
wisps of clouds

a narrow
uncertain light
falls heavily
upon a page
I have written

crossing out
an unneeded,

the room
is illuminated
with a golden
bright appearance

reflected in
four varnished

of the table,
which catches my eye

I look at it
and the faces melt

the whole room is like that
nothing left but great dull gray images
even the cold ridiculous sky
is like that

this diminishing light;
I can no longer write with courage
Poetry wrestles with pain,
holds on tight for art's blessing.
The blue of a glacial lake lures the hiker to its shores.
He shivers from the water's icy touch.

Reflected on the lake's mirrored surface,
blue mountains rise to the sky.

Sky, too, is blue, a paler version,
burned daily by the sun.

Blue impasto cakes the canvases of Van Gogh.
He marries blue to yellow on his sacred color wheel.

Wallace Stevens wrote "The Man With the Blue Guitar."
It is a modernist classic. Who reads the poem now?

Joni Mitchell sang "Blue" -- Songs are like tattoos/
You know I've been to sea before.

Bluebells, blueberries, blue wings on the jay.
Who says this is not nature's true color?

The dead turn blue before they creak into rigor mortis.
Blue eyes shed tears at the loss of the living.

Blue sapphires glitter in the blue-blood world of high fashion.
Blue blooms the hue of life. No one blinks twice at it.
The blue man with the blue guitar
no longer plays things as they are.

Things as they are are not so quick.
Blue men of substance aim, then kick

against the ****** of six-beat bars.
The bass line rumbles near and far.

Half-notes turn whole. Another hue
spews discord, then chords of blue

sprint beyond us as we are. And we
ourselves compose the tune in three-

quarter time. Harmony orbits a billion stars,
slingshots through our world of blue guitars.
stacks on stacks of books
knowledge encrypted inside
who will crack the code?
Purple clouds at dusk.
Canyon walls darken with age.
Elk graze the roadside.
I must change my life.
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