It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.
When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.
There's a motionless tree
And another one coming forward
A river of trees
Hits my chest
The green surge
Is good fortune
You are dressed in red
The seal of the scorched year
The carnal firebrand
The star fruit
In you like sun
The hour rests
Above an abyss of clarities
The height is clouded by birds
Their beaks construct the night
Their wings carry the day
Planted in the crest of light
Between firmness and vertigo
by: Charles Baudelaire
N Nature's temple living pillars rise, And words are murmured none have understood, And man must wander through a tangled wood Of symbols watching him with friendly eyes. As long-drawn echoes heard far-off and dim Mingle to one deep sound and fade away; Vast as the night and brilliant as the day, Colour and sound and perfume speak to him. Some perfumes are as fragrant as a child, Sweet as the sound of hautboys, meadow-green; Others, corrupted, rich, exultant, wild, Have all the expansion of things infinite: As amber, incense, musk, and benzoin, Which sing the sense's and the soul's delight.
Silence! Oh, well are Death and Sleep and Thou
Three brethren named, the guardians gloomy-winged
Of one abyss, where life, and truth, and joy
Are swallowed up—yet spare me, Spirit, pity me,
Until the sounds I hear become my soul,
And it has left these faint and weary limbs,
To track along the lapses of the air
This wandering melody until it rests
Among lone mountains in some...
I was tired because I have a two year old
so I took some NoDoz. And then my heart flipped
out and I needed to relax so I went to a yoga studio.
And it was like the world was made of awkward
pose. And then life turned Caribbean
in a head stand. And then I passed
out in underwater aqua-
marine roses and stars. I think the teacher said “plank”
which meant I was a pirate in colorful
spandex with a nose ring and booty
or maybe it meant that the world was ending
and soon I would become very flexible.
I hope no one here is concerned. The teacher said
some poses take a lifetime to learn.
He was the sort of man
who wouldn't hurt a fly.
Many flies are now alive
while he is not.
He was not my patron.
He preferred full granaries, I battle.
My roar meant slaughter.
Yet here we are together
in the same museum.
That's not what I see, though, the fitful
crowds of staring children
learning the lesson of multi-
cultural obliteration, sic transit
and so on.
I see the temple where I was born
or built, where I held power.
I see the desert beyond,
where the hot conical tombs, that look
from a distance, frankly, like dunces' hats,
hide my jokes: the dried-out flesh
and bones, the wooden boats
in which the dead sail endlessly
in no direction.
What did you expect from gods
with animal heads?
Though come to think of it
the ones made later, who were fully human
were not such good news either.
Favour me and give me riches,
destroy my enemies.
That seems to be the gist.
Oh yes: And save me from death.
In return we're given blood
and bread, flowers and prayer,
and lip service.
Maybe there's something in all of this
I missed. But if it's selfless
love you're looking for,
you've got the wrong goddess.
I just sit where I'm put, composed
of stone and wishful thinking:
that the deity who kills for pleasure
will also heal,
that in the midst of your nightmare,
the final one, a kind lion
will come with bandages in her mouth
and the soft body of a woman,
and lick you clean of fever,
and pick your soul up gently by the nape of the neck
and caress you into darkness and paradise.
Music from her breast, vibrating
Soundseared into burnished velvet.
Silent hips deceiving fools.
Rivulets of trickling ecstacy
From the alabaster pools of Jazz
Where music cools hot souls.
Eyes more articulately silent
Than Medusa's thousand tongues.
A bridge of eyes, consenting smiles
reveal her presence singing
Of cool remembrance, happy balls
Wrapped in swinging
I like to travel to L.A. by myself
My trips to the crowded smoggy polluted by brown
indigenous and immigrant haze are healing.
I travel from one pollution to another.
Being urban I return to where I came from
survives in L.A.
Now for over forty years.
I drive to L.A. in the darkness of the day
on the road before CHP
one with the dark
driving my black truck
invisible on my journey home.
The dark roads take me back to my childhood
riding in the camper of daddy’s truck headed home.
My brother, sister and I would be put to sleep in the
and sometime in the darkness of the day
daddy would clime into the cab with mom carrying a
thermos full of coffee and some Pendleton blankets
And they would pray
before daddy started the truck
for journey mercies.
The drum of war thunders and thunders.
It calls: thrust iron into the living.
From every country
slave after slave
are thrown onto bayonet steel.
For the sake of what?
The earth shivers
Mankind is vapourised in a blood bath
can get hold of Albania.
Human gangs bound in malice,
blow after blow strikes the world
to pass without charge
through the Bosporus.
won’t have a rib intact.
And its soul will be pulled out.
And trampled down
only for someone,
their hands on
crush the Earth — fissured and rough?
What is above the battles’ sky -
When will you stand to your full height,
giving them your life?
When will you hurl a question to their faces:
Why are we fighting?
Once you saw a drove of young pigs
crossing the highway. One of them
pulling his body by the front feet,
the hind legs dragging flat.
you called the Humane Society.
They came with a net and went for him.
They were matter of fact, uniformed;
there were two of them,
their truck ominous, with a cage.
He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
you saw his eyes. He understood.
He was trembling.
After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
Years later, you remember his misfit body
scrambling to reach the others.
Even at this moment, your heart
is going too fast; your hands sweat.
The sun emerges from behind the house
stands in the middle of the street
and breathes on us
with its red wind.
Innsbruck I must leave you.
there will be a glowing sun
in the gray, half-dead forest
where we must work and live.
by: D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
OURS is the shame and sorrow But the disgrace is mine; Your love was dark and thorough, Mine was the love of the sun for a flower He creates with his shine. I was diligent to explore you, Blossom you stalk by stalk, Till my fire of creation bore you Shrivelling down in the final dour Anguish--then I suffered a balk. I knew your pain, and it broke My fine, craftsman's nerve; Your body quailed at my stroke, And my courage failed to give you the last Fine torture you did deserve. You are shapely, you are adorned, But opaque and dull in the flesh, Who, had I but pierced with the thorned Fire-threshing anguish, were fused and cast In a lovely illumined mesh. Like a painted window: the best Suffering burnt through your flesh, Undressed it and left it blest With a quivering sweet wisdom of grace: but now Who shall take you afresh? Now who will burn you free, From your body's terrors and dross, Since the fire has failed in me? What man will stoop in your flesh to plough The shrieking cross? A mute, nearly beautiful thing Is your face, that fills me with shame As I see it hardening, Warping the perfect image of God, And darkening my eternal fame.
"Last Words to Miriam" is reprinted from Amores: Poems. D.H. Lawrence. New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1916.
this maze of being
not any cry
so mournful that
the dove just laughs
the steadfast gasps
who walked through
the callow mist
dressed in scraps
the curve of the world
whose bone scraped
whose flesh unfurled
who grieves not
to greet lame
the inspired sky
amazed to stumble
where gods get lost
the southern cross
You overtook me on the highway
and took me by surprise
I did not know you were behind me
until your eighteen-wheel transporter
roared by my left flank scattering
gravel dust-clouds and my complacency
For miles I was carried in your updraft
struggling to steer while being swept
dangerously near your loaded rig
my four cylinders spluttering
in the wake of your mega-powered engine
I hugged the road knowing that one touch
of our wheels would send me spinning
across the soft shoulder chassis over roof
into the ditch
When you pulled away
your red lights flashing in my eyes
diminished as they stretched
the growing distance between us
finally disappearing over the crest
Then I resumed my old pace
took control of my own steering
shaken and out of breath but
glad enough of solitude and space
And sometimes on my lonely night drives
the long haul between the cities of my life
I feel vibration on the tarmac
a slight shuddering of undercarriage
and think I hear in the rear distance
the portentous rumbling
of your approach
My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
how to make spells.
I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.
A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.
I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.
Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.
A word after a word
after a word is power.
At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.
This is a metaphor.
How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.
In how many rooms
have I thought about you
in fifteen years?
In how many states?
In how many moods?
Knowing all the while
that you were still the same
and that I was the one
who left and the past
is past and not dead
but living and unretrievable.
Actually, you were
a shit most of the time
but so beautiful.
Sullen and unapproachable.
So was I.
You said I smoked too much.
I paid the bills
while you went off to see
your old boyfriends.
Sometimes we’d go for coffee
and sit perfectly silent,
you sketching and me writing.
Those moments exist beyond time.
In how many rooms
have I thought about you
in fifteen years?
You were so beautiful.
I threw my arms about those shoulders, glancing
at what emerged behind that back,
and saw a chair pushed slightly forward,
merging now with the lighted wall.
The lamp glared too bright to show
the shabby furniture to some advantage,
and that is why sofa of brown leather
shone a sort of yellow in a corner.
The table looked bare, the parquet glossy,
the stove quite dark, and in a dusty frame
a landscape did not stir. Only the sideboard
seemed to me to have some animation.
But a moth flitted round the room,
causing my arrested glance to shift;
and if at any time a ghost had lived here,
he now was gone, abandoning this house.
And thus the people every year
in the valley of humid July
did sacrifice themselves
to the long green phallic god
and eat and eat and eat.
They're coming, they're on us,
the long striped gourds, the silky
babies, the hairy adolescents,
the lumpy vast adults
like the trunks of green elephants.
Recite fifty zucchini recipes!
Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;
sauté with olive oil and cumin,
tomatoes, onion; frittata;
casserole of lamb; baked
topped with cheese; marinated;
stuffed; stewed; driven
through the heart like a stake.
Get rid of old friends: they too
have gardens and full trunks.
Look for newcomers: befriend
them in the post office, unload
on them and run. Stop tourists
in the street. Take truckloads
to Boston. Give to your Red Cross.
Beg on the highway: please
take my zucchini, I have a crippled
mother at home with heartburn.
Sneak out before dawn to drop
them in other people's gardens,
in baby buggies at churchdoors.
Shot, smuggling zucchini into
mailboxes, a federal offense.
With a suave reptilian glitter
you bask among your raspy
fronds sudden and huge as
alligators. You give and give
too much, like summer days
limp with heat, thunderstorms
bursting their bags on our heads,
as we salt and freeze and pickle
for the too little to come.
I wore a large brim hat
like the women in the ads.
How thin I was: such skin.
Yes. It was Indianapolis;
a taste of sin.
You had a natural Afro;
no money for a haircut.
We were in the seedy part;
the buildings all run-down;
the record shop, the jazz
impeccable. We moved like
the blind, relying on our touch.
At the corner coffee shop,
after an hour’s play, with our
serious game on paper,
the waitress asked us
to move on. It wasn’t much.
Oh mortal love, your bones
were beautiful. I traced them
with my fingers. Now the light
grows less. You were so angular.
The air darkens with steel
and smoke. The cracked world
about to disintegrate,
in the arms of my total happiness.
From: Dig Up My Heart: Selected Poems 1952-83. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1983. p.62.
One day in a lifetime
I saw one with wings
a pipesmoke blur
shaped like half a kiss
and its raspberry-stone
heart winked fast
in a thumbnail of a breast.
In that blink it
was around a briar
and out of sight, but
I caught a flash
of its brain
where flowers swing
udders of sweet cider;
and we pass as thunderclouds or,
dangers like death, earthquake, and war,
ignored because it's no use worrying ....
By him I mean. Responsibility
Against the threat of termination
by war or other things
is given us as by a deity.