(A Recollection of Egress)
--- The street lights droop Like loveless arms Along the avenue; And you are walking in a rage, As you have cause to do Your form is like A blade of ice that Cuts into the night And splits the frigid heart of Earth Like some unholy rite Your steps fly out into the void But groan beneath your feet, And some flakes fly About your face And mock your sad retreat; Your bitter, silent egress goes Without a reason known, Yet in this tragic rout of love, Your heart remains your own! Oh, slight, dear boy, Young walker sad, Your spirit God will keep Beyond the reach of loveless arms, Where you have come to sleep.
(To Virginia in Paradise)
--- I did not know if you could hear The words I muttered in your ear, As you were turning toward a light That rose above the tears of night I only know that things were said That gave you leave to join the dead, Where all are kept behind a door With good and ill forevermore But I am lost, as I have aged And cannot find the missing page That I would read again for you If you could hear and I could do. I know I spoke as if I stood Upon a stump of almond wood; In fear and resolution queer I poured myself into your ear I think I said that you were free To be with God and not with me; I think I said that I would stay Until my book is put away I did not know if you could hear The words I muttered in your ear; I only know that things were said That dwell forever with the dead.
Written in Admiration of Edgar Allan Poe
Who Heroically Explored the “Unknown Land” --- You raged against an iron gate Until through it, you slipped, A disembodied page of love That from life’s book Was clipped You tasted tears the angels wept; You muttered with the mimes, Who fretted in their helplessness, And bled in perfect rhymes You writhed within the worm that ate, But still the curtain closed; You were the hero of our play And this the poet knows.
(Or, The Me Most Like a Book)
--- When I would look to know myself, There is the part I see And what is stark or obvious, I designate as "me” It is a "me" most like a book That I can understand Or like a movie in my head That runs without command But I have other parts So deep That only God can see, And they are parts unknowable, For they are yet to be.
A Qualified Tribute to a Silly, But Enviable, Buffoon
Who Seems to Have Existed at an Earlier Time in My Life -- My long adolescence was The most difficult period of my life. I transitioned from the ideals And wondrous visions of make-believe To the ugly reality of learning What grown-ups really think of each other. - Worse, I had a rebellious new body That demanded my attention And always had ambitions of its own. - What I learned at home Became the subject of scorn For malicious half-wits who may Have been only a bit smarter Or “cooler” than I was. And what I had come to revere was degraded By the prurient repartee of my overseers At Henry’s De Luxe Hamburgers And many other adults who Were supposed to be role models For a working-class kid. I was on my own, and everything was up to me, Even though I lacked the resources And particularly the will To make reasonable decisions. - Many made a fool of me, But many more were made happy To see me make a fool of myself. Yet, I had something that the world envied To the point of pitiable jealousy and Blatant existential madness - The ability to live from moment to moment, Oblivious to my mortality or anyone else’s. I could jump over fences and run gauntlets With an astounding indifference To my would-be tormentors. I could fall in love several times During any given week, And I could sleep through a tornado I was an ignorant nincompoop, But I could do anything faster, better, And more joyously than I can today - I was me when I liked being me More than I presently do.
Or, The First Great Outrage – A Poem That Speaks to
How a Garden Poet Learned of the Demiurge, While Alone in Childhood & Lacking Religious Instruction -- When I was very young, I was for a few seconds, Taken from others, Profoundly by surprise: My shirt became tangled in a tree, And I was left hanging there Forever Oh, then my darkest fears Became my best ambitions.
In any lie, The smirk In any sigh, The smile that does not last, The trick in any eye The ego In the goal, The rat Inside the hole, The smile that does not last, The cancer in the mole The touch that Does not soothe, The word that Does not move, The smile that does not last, The love we cannot prove.
(Making the Best of Romanticism)
--- So, I grabbed my camera And headed to the riverfront Where all the cherry trees Grow along Water Street But it dawned on me That I had no idea If the cherry trees Were still blossoming They were yesterday, So why not today! - I was acting on the arrogance Of scarcely considered desire, Which I think is characteristic Of the pathologically romantic I believe that God loves me In an absurdly special way, And since I am so loved, I arm occasionally exempted From abiding by the laws of nature. And may presume a divine preoccupation With my needs and peculiar impulses Because I regularly confuse faith With hope, and reality with Self-serving delusion. But that day, The blossoms Had already fallen, And I ended up chatting With an angry tour boat captain Who was tired of “hauling dopes” Around Bannerman Island for nickels And had no interest In the cherry trees Or the thoughts of another. He was a very bitter guy Who seemed on the verge Of giving up on things, Altogether. Forever - And I think he was tempted To slug me in the mouth Just for being there He also hated his lazy, “****-eyed partner,” Which I took as a sign And the inspiration For a poem called, “After the Blossoms Fall.”
Having Experienced the Terrible Beauty of Autumn,
I Began to Bargain with the Powers That Be -- I ask no more than this spare autumn day – But let this day endure all days to come! For in my true love’s eyes, I see again the gleam That signifies the coming of a wind And best of all Your blessings - That pungent unction in the wasting leaves, Bleeding from the knotty arms of trees, And spreading like a painted cloak About a spent and naked form! Oh, show me, show me now Your fresh unfinished work, That I may know the life I forfeit Is not lost in vain, But brings about a good all eyes can see Oh, give to me this autumn day, And let my heart be yours again!
When I assumed the rights of airy spring,
I did not see the gift Within the gain, As I was lost in wonder With a gleam And did not seek A meaning In the main For I was like a daydream in the hills, When tickled by the eyelash of my love; I swooned in every ecstasy of Earth, Indifferent To the cause Of things above And that is why The beauty of my life Shows little more than Speckles on a wing; For I have come To envy what I see Within the one That lives The rites of spring. I Am but a Dazzling Day Remembering How the Last Days of My Innocence Were Lived Out, Sleeping and Dreaming Freely In the Foothills Near San Francisco, California Remembering, Too, How the Age of Aquarius Was a Momentarily Wholesome State of Mind That Could Not Last Very Long Because It Was Too Beautiful And Not of the Physical World --- A cable car clangs in the wharf, and there, all men are free To scatter in the gold of day and gather all they see I am the boy who spreads the news, God's newborn amity; I am a giver of the gold, the reason men are free The year is nineteen sixty-nine; the sun is loud and bright; And I am but a dazzling day that knows not of the night.