Monthly Archives: January 2011

“The Girl Had Been No Problem”

“The Girl Had Been No Problem”

The girl had been no problem at the start;
She was never late, she did her work, she raised
Her hand from time to time to disapprove or praise
Whatever happened in the class, a spark,
An edge in almost every session, eager to propose
That what was studied could not please
Her more, and as she rose, the breeze to ease
The burdens of her classmates–I supposed
Them all to be her friends. Then in time a rage
Came over her: she was absent from her seat,
Arrived at times so much more than late, she asked me to repeat
What had been covered in her absence. Clouds evolve, change;
I forced a meeting with the lady, “What is it you’ve discovered?”
Said she, “I may not pass this course, but neither will the others!”

“Ask Hucksers”

“Ask Hucksters”

Ask hucksters what they want and wander
Through oblivion to the source of specious theories,
Forecasts, and teapot tempests; reliquaries
That confuse Gertrude and her latest husband are set to thunder
In the index of both their worlds. The times are now aligned
To spend, to risk the whole at will. In the end, what binds
All capital are not the markets but the printing press–refined,
Its produce consigned as wallpaper in the study, and echoes of 1939
Followed closely on the air, subterfuge and incidentals
In the immanent reign of night–note the accent from the fireflies
That given space and stage enough are harmless as butterflies
And the common moth, winged creatures, given credentials
In an incremental vacuum. “Where’s the luminary of the age,”
They say, to feast his pen on renewable rites of slavery and sages?



Roses for longevity, yes! tokens of a former reign
And deep within their sacrifice reds and florist’s greens,
Are fragrances of time and place from passing scenes
Of nuance, puddles deposited from accidents and incidental rains,
And that was yesterday; tomorrow, a torrent drowning visions—
Foundlings of future stories—deliverance in blessings saved
For half a century and more, prescient tokens, brave,
Benign and lacking only guile to cut the ribbons
Of what’s left of reticence. There are dangers in the cellophane.
Please! If this then that; if inertia, stimulation
Then, of course, the sum and price of abnegation;
What the Greeks call horses, the Trojans, lethal gains.
Intentions swept aside, abandoned, rapture’s secrecy
Is hidden virtue confused with common sense and mediocrity.

“Let Me Take Those Packages”

“Let Me Take Those Packages”

Let me take those packages for you; better yet,
Let’s open them together for the pleasure
Of the moment in the momentary leisure
Of the spirit of the day. A lapis lazuli. A set
Of microscopic diamonds and a matching pair
Of pearls, perhaps. Or yet again, what flower
Speaks your mind, what rites, what planet’s power’s
Fragrance says it all? What prism’s light binds a lightning strike; what flares,
What jaded talismans; what recommends the treasures that you’ve sought?
You know, we’ll never spend it through the flight, and as the greatest diva said
One January night*, “You may have dresses in the closet, baby, but they’s lead
Will line your coffin and you can’t only wear but one!” You’re caught
Between eleisons, then, and in this world’s final fading hour,
We’ll see what we can see tonight before the wine goes sour.

*Mahalia Jackson [1911-1972] passed away on 27 January 1972 in Chicago, Illinois but it was not until 31 January that I learned of her passing and even then by accident when someone so very casually mentioned it in a moment while I was washing dishes….having no idea just what this Voice meant to me. Some of the greatest pains I ever felt in this world were somehow made bearable at the sound of that single voice, so many hours into the the night, listening to what was for me pure joy, and always, always hope…;it was a benign idolatry that always brought peace and tolerance to whatever the darker, earlier years of my life; massive funerals were held in Chicago and New Orleans, and one Nebraska boy cried that night and said, “Thank you! God bless you for all you gave me all these years!” Until this very day, almost every day, I have made her voice a part of my day…

If you can stand it and have patience with the the exceedingly poor recording, this is Mahalia as I always knew her…

“To Peer Through Glass Bottoms”

“To Peer Through Glass Bottoms”

To peer through glass bottoms, back through doors
Toward me; outward from the ceiling, the interior;
Inward from the surface of the exterior
Of all I see; I wish to breathe. No satisfaction’s scored
On golf cards if the man has never wished to play;
No records made of voyages through veins
And arteries, or through the musings of the sane
And common mind, but oh, what he may
Decide to say if only he were not among
The living. Shining there with nothing, on
High above, and riding in the jet stream, strong
In atmospheres with atoms so far flung
That scream for the lack of crowding—here or there,
A view without a window—a step to where there are no stairs.


“They’ve Played That Card”

“They’ve Played That Card”

They’ve played that card so many times: they blur
The icons, alter megabits until it’s come to be a part
Of them in triplicate, and still they’re at it. There’s an art
To all this noise, and something sinister in words
And sounds that take up so much memory
And leave so little history in the space of fifteen minutes in the light.
The antidote, the better for the overhaul, continual flights
Through manuals of casuistry and blame, the counterfeit incendiary
Of every curtain call, the wherewithal in the daily stampede to press.
The public calls for even more than all must be obvious to any least
Observer. Within the Fed, the yeast that feeds the beauty to the beast—
To hell with all the rest—with no surprise and endless repetition, the test
Of wills and willing contradictions to the golden rule, the pundit’s song,
Remembrances of frogs who inhabit ponds but moments, and are gone.

“The People Say They Want a Change”

“The People Say They Want a Change”

The people say they want a change; clubs
Are ripe for shifting gears and crowning kings
From diamonds or from hearts and while the telephones ring,
The bids are readied, cards are in; spades have flubbed,
There’s no one in the mood to compromise;
The deck is shuffled once again for luck,
Brand-new tires on the same old truck.
Promissory notes are dealt; the bids just rise, and rise,
And rise again. But, what’s this? Speculation’s brought
To automated stops on all the outbound tracks,
And while the freight departs, the passengers arrive. Dealers smack
Their lips, and rub their palms, and bids are caught
Between the speeches and cries at last of “No trump!”
Seconds later, Boardwalk yields to railroads, and everyone jumps.

“Lest Adjudged in Blindness”

“Lest Adjudged in Blindness”

Lest adjudged in blindness, we must surely know
The juggernaut will move again this week,
As highways clog, evacuation buses seek
The higher ground and  seeds of fear are sown
Within the airways, “Danger! Friends beware!”
And no one now may turn away and say
He is not moved nor moved to reëvaluate
The ground with prudence; diehards raise the fist and swear
They’ll not be first or yet a second time be removed.
But in the main, these , the very spark and fire
Among the cries, pathetic measures up for hire
Throughout the Amazon’s muds, Australia’s floods, and choirs
Of wonder at what traffic walks the streets of California,
There is the spectre, closer to truth, of the reign of Cain in Hispañola.

“An Elemental Spool”

“An Elemental Spool”

An elemental spool of being; a natural stroke, a thousand songs
The alternatives of the physic. They dote on her. She changes,
Rearranges the image sacrificed, the colours estranged with age
In time–minutes, hours, days, and weeks–along
An atavistic rhyme that begins with mother’s sweetest mystery.
She does not rest here; she gathers swollen powders till her end
Is just beyond within an arc of growth. The colony ascends
To her through ordination, acquiescence thickly veiled in delivery.
The waxen sacrifice of a madonna of the thousands’ mesh–
Annunciations in the ancient paradigm–and together compromise,
And here descends a separation: a Gaian gift apprised–
The pupa must be cloistered–the amber honeyed flesh
Is bound, an all within the space of one geometry transfixed in thrall
And while the queen is dying, yet another even now perceives her call.

“Lest We Despair”

“Lest We Despair”

Lest we despair, there are always wondrous souls
Who do not merely feed the ether, drain abundance,
Neuter actions, waste the oneness
In common bounty with dalliance in quotidian goals.
So where lies the dignity of despair, the drift, the all,
The strength, the constancy, the very point
Of light save in these special souls adroit
In what it takes to make the least at nightfall?
Benchmarks that mark a life of thought and inspiration,
Luminaries allowing shelter in shades of night are not at all
Deterred or long delayed by the earth’s rotation nor do they stall
As prey to some glorious thrall but follow through to consummation.
The globe abounds in cycles, seasons and the daylight vulgar hours,
Kenotic moons to drown the noise of madness as the midnight flowers.