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Michael Hoffman Mar 2016
Gotama was unlicensed
went to graduate school
in caves along wide rivers
eating one grain of rice a day
seeking the happy place
where great beasts live
and tall ships anchor firm
on still waters.

Christ laughed at thin laws
refusing to be defined
poured glowing love
all over the Pharisees
and that’s why
it is so sad
some therapsts
forget about the soul
spewing insurable diagnoses
for imaginary pathologies
ignoring the rare pearls
of each heart
logged into their tight sad files.

Rumi cut a lovely poem
into his thigh with a dagger
and loved when people read it . . .
so honor that sacrifice
and never
insult your days
by depending on those
who invent litanies of sadness
looking for broken places  
in your psyche.

When the counselor asks for his fee
reach inside your chest
pull out your heart
hold it before him
say nothing.
Michael Hoffman Jan 2016
She stands in the kitchen
slicing vegetables again
gazing wistfully
through memory's window
to a sharp winter day
with that sweet carefree man
when they walked the seashore
haloed by salt breeze
clinging to each another
laughing at the gale
promising everything
always and forever
but like every night
her reverie fades
no talk of love, no seashore
no crisp air, no calling gulls
just the smell of roast beef
and the droning voice
of the man she settled for
igniting once again
a deep sad rumbling
from her heart’s basket
of buried dreams
as the house begins to shake
and kitchen floor cracks open
its hungry maw gaping
swallowing her whole
helpless in an avalanche
of potatoes and paring knives
with sharp edges
like the teeth
of her resignation.
This replaces THE CUTTING BOARD.
Michael Hoffman Jan 2016
Her transition ritual
between lovers
a masterpiece of denial
took at most
a week
before the rebuke
about what a ****
he was
and how dumb
the other was
and let me cook
the way to a man’s heart
always the stomach
until one man
an older wiser sort
told her
I don’t like potatoes
and you’re too cruel
I am afraid of you
and will not
be staying
for dinner.
Michael Hoffman Dec 2015
Santa Claus is 100% pure love
his heart does not divide
the starved and homeless man with his tin cup
from the wealthy politician in his black limousine

nor does Santa ever blame
the frightened small town girl
who paints her lips and struts unsure
down hard dark streets

Santa Claus remembers his own mother
and weeps for the lonely karma of octogenarians
diapered in wheelchairs along fluorescent hallways
abandoned by the ones they birthed

our great elf winces every time
he feels the crocodile's fearsome jaws
drag the wildebeest down
while the zebras flee

he prays relentless sailors
stop harpooning the great breaching whales
and hears the grasses scream
when bloated oilmen pound holes
in the prairie dog's kingdom

he regrets that schoolteachers lie
about what a great man Columbus was
and why the Sioux, the Apache and the Arapahoe
were incapable of evolution

he knows you don't need a bicycle helmet
to ride downtown for ice cream
knows our legal system is for sale
knows surfing is Neptune's brave ballet

Santa delights in the spiritual joy emerging
when patients see angels hovering everywhere
before doctors scream psychosis
and numb what they do not understand
with sad needles and leather restraints

his reindeer are the dreams of the spastic child
who knows he will never run
his sleigh a zero carbon emission vehicle
and his great heavy bag carries
the sweet prayers of the Jew, the Christian
the Muslim, the Buddhist, the Hindu
the Gnostic, the Wiccan and the existential humanist

on the night before Christmas
Santa dreams that all the cars and trucks disappear
and every freeway grows trees and flowers and grass
where everyone chats and meanders and strolls
and vendors sell SnoCones, apple juice and pears

because Santa Claus is just doing
the one thing he knows how to do best
on a long winter's night
to bring some light to a world
that races toward extinction
while the butterfly sleeps with the lizard
and the children still believe
In honor of Walt Whitman and Alan Ginsberg
Michael Hoffman Sep 2014
In the next place
Everything's there
That isn't here
Like  free flowers
On every street corner
And little shops
Where everyone is forgiven.

In the next place
Nobody feels alone
Because everybody's heart
Beats at exactly
The same time
And the rhythm
Fills the air.

In the next place
The sun rises
Twice a day
And the espresso man
Stops at every house
So even sleepy heads
Are sure to marvel
At the light rose sky.

In the next place
There's a depot
Where all the people
Who were lonely before
Arrive to throngs
Welcoming them
With hugs
Singing hallelujah.

In the next place
The new people
Get so much love
They forget
To be afraid
And finally understand
That in the old place
Nothing had to be
The way it was.
Michael Hoffman May 2014
My man-o'-war lies anchored 
silent after crossing endless seas
as I stand on the gangway
bathed in midday heat.
The olive trees on the hillsides
grown ten times taller 
since I left you here
to seek my worth
in battles with strangers.

Heavy coats of chainmail
have worn maps into my shoulders
those engines of the trickster's axe.
Though no man or beast has won me
not a queen I have not taken from her king
I still fear to stand before you 
unarmored and vulnerable
before your patient inexorable love.

Your pure love 
is my greatest adversary
yet you carry no sword.
You challenge me everywhere
yet you sail no ocean.
You know I am weary
yet you do not mock.
You have simply waited
for my hard road to end.

My heart stops
in mute surrender
as I lift off the last battered chest plate,
undo the sterling braces from my legs
steel falling like glass
around the pirate's helmet
tarnished at my feet.

Though a lifetime of war
has crippled my gait
I run with reckless abandon
to that open door 
on the welcome street
the place I left
for no good reason
where you have endured all these years
holding the only blade 
that can sever
the lover from the rogue.
Michael Hoffman Mar 2014
My love says she likes me
because I'm such a great deipnosophist,
a sanguine fellow
whose susurrus musings
crepitate with a farrago of meanings,
a  protean and hortatory munificence
that brings her to her knees
in delight.

I adore her as well
for the beatific rapprochement
she accedes to
even when we expatiate
on and on about things mercurial.

Yes, I will always adore
her lissome acquiescence
to the inexorable germanity
of the simple fact
that we're simply
head over heels
for each other,
if you know
what I'm trying to say.
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