A Card For the Birth of Day
i remember when my son was born

at 1:30 in the morning even pain is unclear
i talked with my dog and drank bitter whiskey
was comforted that now i had someone who'd
cry at my grave

what is the memory which you were never told
that covered your first moments?
these, i guess, i'll never know

i've known you only in a fourth birth
that one reserved for lovers
who die on the delta of your belly
as darkness overcomes the flames of their tongues

deserted by his mother, i touched my son
under a steely violet fluorescence
(they say it is good for his skin)
he grabbed my finger & smiled
i'm sure he wondered who the hell was i !

apart from you, as only closeness can divide
i find a desire ashamed of its intent
to carry you within my muscled chest
and nurse you on the milk of my heart

deserted by me, who will touch you
who will fondle you and rock you to sleep on their belly?
is there another, a shadow in the night
who will child you away from me?

this day, take a memory from me
find it encoded in the embrace which lingers
and the tears of desiring
which only my dog now deigns to lick

i remember when you were born

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A Normal Man
I asked your mother
why you are so crazy
after all I am a normal man
with normal wants and simple desires
to whom you say, "Let's dance!" "Let's sing!"

I asked your old lady
was she like this always?
did she beg to read the bedtime story upside down
have you act out the tale in the pictures?

were you such a mysterious child
like the adult who prays only in her shower?
did you let the ants hold wild nights on your arm?
were you the kid who kept losing her books
as she scampered after butterflies?

I held this inquiry in an ample room
I left your mother many moments for response
but she just looked at me
with eyes that stole the strength from my heart
and whooped, "Let's dance!" "Let's sing!"

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Another Day, Another Darkness
though I had sworn in Sweeney's bar
that I'd find you in my bitter whiskey
I kept losing you at the bottom of my glass

(thanks to ole Mack the bartender
I kept finding you again
atop each amber shot)

what was it I told him that night
as each muscle of my mind melted
did I remember to mark the list
of betrayals and breaches of promise?

did I cover all in general outline
or did I convey the clarity of footnotes
the height, the weight, the color of their heads
the socks they left behind,
the weekly tokens left from Holiday Inn rendezvous?

did I deliver the indictment with rising passion
or did ole Mack ask the stenographer to repeat
my last stammering phrase?

they leave their shadows on my pillows!
I echoed into my empty glass
--ole Mack poured another shot--
I bellowed the Litany of the Offended
with gesticulations, incantations and assorted
of a soul too long in solitary confinement

somewhere along the stools
a sympathetic clairvoyant grasped the vision
of my liquid dissertation
extended to me the numbing phial of her perfume

as I lay here next to her
face still shrouded by the dawn's late darkness
I feel the freedom of betrayal
snicker at the hot leaded pain of my tears

I can hardly wait to hear
what ole Mack has to say

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A Simple Tale
they told a simple tale
which they knew few would believe
yet their hearts could not deny
what the eye refused to see

who can look at a man
so ugly in blood and pain
smell the fragrance of a rose
and ever remain the same?

for the story is so simple
that it defies the tests
of minds made sharp by questioning
everything about my quest

yes, you have asked me to tell you
why I believe in this way
but I cannot answer you
I can only say

touch the ugliness within me
feel its breath and taste its wine
if you love me still
I am sure he was divine

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A Time Together
(for Pat)

the path which stood before them curled beyond eyesight
no majestic clouds parted to reveal a guiding ray
only their hands clasped gave courage to their steps

the path would tease them
with lilac covered alleys of no exit
entice them on with escapes to hilly tops

in the bright midday sun where shadows lose their luster
bewilderment would arrive on a bird's song
one would rush ahead heedlessly swelled by the tune

at twilight stones would glimmer messages
their breaths would whisper incantations
drawn from the visions of moonless nights together

each day was so unlike the rest
joined only by the common loss of the sighted path they had trod
as each morn brought a discussion of maps over coffee cups

except for messages left on leaves in wormbitten code
only their prayers brought comfort to those whom they left behind

let us celebrate the curling path
return the distant echo of their name
"We are the lovers! .... Come, follow us, if you can!"

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it is but a moment
that we are given
to gasp at life
to gasp at death

moments piling on moments
as in between the gasps
we cleverly measure out
the space between the minutes on the clock

one moment i am free,
the next i am prisoner
committed to a dervish of marrying seconds
sentenced to a platter of moments in a cage
released to an unstoppable clutter of measured events

it is in the moment that some say we are
fully holy, irredeemably redeemed, forever damned
it takes no longer, it takes no less
than a moment

one moment you were there,
the next you are in here
with baggage and furniture being delivered at 2
unashamed that you forgot your toothbrush and comb
laughing at my embarrassment of your presence

why won't these moments ever leave me?
lose themselves in the wash of hours and days?
confide themselves to the duty of newspapers?
why do they linger and linger and linger?

one moment began it all again
one moment began the wake
the old Irish wailer moaned her tune
as I watched you walk from the room

it is but a moment
that we are given
to gasp at life
to gasp at death

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There is a mystery in the morning
as shadows rise in moon's last light
and I take your hand within my heart
leave the dark embrace we are as night
on the pillow first touched by daylight

It is the daytime which loses this memory
of the spot wherein we are one

It is in the bright light of midday
where no shadows linger in my heart
that your hand caresses the darkness
of my dream

It is the daytime which loses this memory
of the spot wherein we are one

To you at the border of shadows I come
with useless eyes and numbed tongue
I seek the healing touch of but your ragged hem:
all I want is
but to dream with you again

It is the daytime which loses this memory
of the spot wherein we are one

The mystery of the morning lingers
as hours play with sunlight fingers
a song so musical I cannot hear
a love so endless I cannot bear

It is the daytime which loses this memory
of the spot wherein we are one

BELOVED! you have gone but never left
I taste your messages in every breath
of kisses which rise from dreams
to linger and then redeem the daytime
memory of the spot wherein
we are one

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Everywhere But Especially L.A.
They carry pain in a quiet way, here

The streets are babbling
with an almost monastic quiet
A sign language odor lingers
adrift from tongueless mouths

Under the streetlights at midday
the shadows outline corpora
strewn like cold spaghetti
their red sauce a fare for priestly tastes
hic est .... hiccup! pardon me
(lets not be rude!
decorum of the dining room
still survives here.)

They carry pain in a quiet way, here

Across the Southern Sky
the star key is sounded
a clavicle plays a chord of hollowed music
the children dance with their fingers
no lips to hum the tune

They carry pain in a quiet way, here

No crown of thorns
No cross of wood

Simply, the looks from
the ones not yet took.

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Family Members
newspaper and magazine stands shout out comfort
laying thick blankets of truth and beauty in black & white
upon the corpse which stands in the foetal line

boldness itched the young man's eyes
he felt like an eagle perched to fly
it was only the tv image which denied
the liquid prisoner on his thigh

piercing like fire in a bowl
she sought a field, a plain, somewhere to go
undrape the frenzy within her soul
rip the sky into her fold

the day was quite ordinary, the clock never stopped
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Humps, Rockies ho!

They could be anything
warts on the brow of a snoring moloch
whales frozen in diving and rising
keynotes on a cosmic score

What are those things?
which play with wisps of clouds
obstructing the horizon with aesthetic contortions?

I drive heedlessly towards them
losing the dark road to tunnel vision
lurching up the first incline
eager to reach a clear spot in their heart

But where when shooting through their inside can one see
the allurements of their profile?
I am lost in stones and boulders
adrift in a sinuous drudgery of mountain climbing

Why is the perceived so different from the seen
as glass cuts the finger which fluidly strokes
a figurine's enticements?

Why must I live afar
feeling so real only in my daydreams?

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(for James William McClendon)

The face that I have seen
bedazzled me with eyes
splattering images of lives
evaporating in rushes towards the sun

It was as if joys and pains demanded his face
be etched by the soul's chisel
so that no pretense, no "trick of the eye"
could be his

This is a man of no cheap comfort
who has tasted the vinegar in palatial wines
one who has made sacrament of a sword
thrust in his side
a man who has died and earned back
a place in the sun

I have espied him slacking his thirst
in sylvan pools
I have been touched by his shadow
outlined by the Son.

I stand before myself as I read his message
"....are pleased to announce..."
and I cry for this man of heart
I hear the crackling sounds of his yearnings

I accept his gift
that in his re-borning
I too am married in his loving.

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Karen, 1983
I met her again
in stable times
amidst disappearing tracks

she brought distilled odors
of intemperance
with lashings of memory

I stood as a gravestone
at attention
while etchings ate at my body

she laughed (as she had before)
fits and starts
surrounding herself with sparkle of spirits

I embraced her
between the yawns and the tears

she met me again
in stable times
amidst disappearing tracks

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Maine, Minnesota... a church yard
i saw my mother weeping
tears to nourish stone flowers
on a grave mouthful of space

i saw my mother staring
witnessing the eye dance of granite blocks
in shadows at joy's midnight

i saw my mother wandering
hands kneading the twilight
with the leaven of the moon

i saw my mother slumping
heaving the rhythm of the tides
at the moist spot where ocean is sand

i saw my mother buried
alive with her twice born life
in my heart near the pain of conception

i saw my mother
my mother

my mother

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The messages were left at the desk
no signature was required
the colors spoke what had to be said
white for forgetfulness, black for memory

willing i took the elevator and sought my room
the papers danced betweem my staid fingers
the absence of perfume drew me on
curiosity was victor that day

i read amidst the alphabet of forgetfulness
that my train was late
you had journeyed south.
a tear died in its root.

i read amidst the alphabet of memory
that you had not studied the ancient tongue
my sentences had journeyed north
5000 bursts illuminated.

i placed your black and white
atop a pyramid of fluorescence
i knelt in rebellion
fearless of all your colors

deep within this memory
i watch the cart and its uncertain victim
disappear into the desert
to bear what others fear

as daylight saunters
amidst my cold draped skeleton
the moon celebrates
the child of our emotions.

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My Son's Hand
they want to tell my son
that the world is no longer any fun
their tale is quite brief
but it lingers on in grief

"Do not begin to live" they state
"For death owns the real estate"
"Nothing around you is any good,
Would be better if you were born a slither of wood!”
i watch his eyes as the fear takes hold
his slight lips the words tightly fold
a rigidness grips his every muscle
and his heart--i sense--is filled with trouble

yet the man in the boy refuses to settle
for brief stories without any mettle
he stares at them and shouts
"I will kick this evil out!"

their grief is not relieved
such courage is foolishness they believe
yet my son walks with me hand in hand
it is our love which will save this land

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On a Sunday
When they come in the morning
ask me why I loved you
all I'll have to give them are
the words I failed to love you with

I took a piece of a leaf you touched
I bound it round a stone
I tied it all with three breaths I stole
before your trusting eyes

You asked me why I loved you
but you never said a word
your hand did all the talking
as we envied the freedom of the birds

yes it was a warm and cloudy day
two lovers meeting by a tree
whose shade belied the hearts afire
with a love that laughs beyond the grave

as we talked about so many things
the wind betrayed a truth
that time will never free us
nor words give fullness to our hope
too many others claim our hearts
few offer love to help us grow

if life were only Sunday mornings
wherein our souls commune
if the world were full of lovers
our hope would blossom in the afternoon

yet as i sit where you have left
a fear moves my heart
for bits of leaves and little smooth stones
even with a lover's breath
are no magic for our times

Oh! but let me not deceive you dear
these words shall not fail my love
let them reveal that you have pierced
my heart with musical eyes
cast hot fear into my yearning bones

Listen! I'll love you ever beneath the tree
I'll never lot a cloud pass by
until I steal three of its strands
to wrap my prayer of stone and leaf
sending it on the fire of my love
to find you, wherever you are.

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On the Expense Account, Again!
are the bees to blame?
or do we indict the ants?
surely these precursors, these ancients
argued the case and won their just verdict!

"It is Wednesday ... this must be Denver!"
with its Peoria, Illinois Hilton
and Los Angeles freeway imitations
tuned to a scale pandered by MIT

only Boston and some improper arrangements from the past
bear the history of executed architects and planners
hung as Quakers once were on the Commons

is it true, as one ocean merges into another,
that credit cards are the frames of this world?

"Let's call Room Service—and find out!"

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our children will ask "Why?"
and "How come?" and our answers
will never fully satisfy

our past days will mount
as testimony to rationalization
embarrass us with our surrender
to feebleness

"If you believe, why didn't you ... ?"
"If you loved, why didn't you ... ?"
"If you desired, why didn't you ... ?"
like chinese wall posters, in time
they are pasted over

but at the grave they will whisper
"Who was it he/she really loved?"
(who is that creature bound by parentheses?)
"I hope she/he is happy, now."

with footsteps muffled by the noise of the world
we are delegated to footnotes
in textbooks of irrelevance

unless we scrawl our children
other lines to rehearse

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Satisfied at Breakfast
in the dark he walked
to ask logical questions of the magician
"Your wonders must mean that you are a god
for A+B always equals C, isn't that true?”

"Such is true," the magician answered
"but more so true is that you were born of a woman
and that unless the spirit of woman births you,
you will not truly understand
that C always equals A + B."

these words of logic greatly satisfied
the ignorance sought under the dark sky
so Nicodemus readied another clever question within his mind

"B is C minus A, as always it must be,
so tell me magician of the wind,
only flesh can have spirit and thus
a spirit have only flesh, isn't that true, too?!"

"truth again," the magician exclaimed
“resides in A being always C minus B,
so if you disbelieve that be not dismayed
for the things in heaven are known only on earth
as earth is the stuff the heavens are made of."

as the dark equated itself into the dawn of light
(as it always must be, isn't that true!)
the logical man went home to his breakfast
satisfied that truth questioned will always
find its rest in logical answers.

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Show me your heart!
I am in need of a friend
for once again that time has come
when the world has become undone

do birds drop from the skies where you live?
bringing messages of hearts afire
with ageing desires for a warm embrace
a cup of coffee, a toast with tea
a greeting from he to she

is it really all this simple?
that to unfold the world
I need only pause a moment
look deeply into your eyes

Is that where flowers are born,
the filth of pollution washed away?

I want to ask someone
a priest, a friend, that man with the gun
is it really that simple?

that to live in a world not undone
all i have to do is release
the sun within my heart
take a message from a friend
"Yes! I love you, again."

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Swanee: Proclamation and Response

If the world were but a stone
I'd carry it as a kid's treasure
glance, now and then, at the merriment
of sun spars dancing off its face

If the world were but a tree
I'd picnic beneath her leafy veil
wonder far beyond her spire
with no fear of insecurity

If the world were but water and sky
I'd float between on dreamy clouds
conjure up a world of play
become mother to night and day

If the world were but child and child
I'd dance and  laugh and conspire
to draw a heart four miles wide
giggling without embarrassment

If the world were but ...

This primal ember in her hearth
would quench itself upon her tears,
roust out all her misted fears

Yes, Swanee, like the river erupts
commingling cavernous root and mud,
blind mists and ancient blood
to set free a form, a shape
wilded by love, yet
stooping to gently kiss a face

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The Divorce
you sat there like an Ambassador

from one of those interminably small nations
which only National Geographic exposes to shcoolboy eyes
but you brought a message which rocked my world

you had no proper papers nor aide de camps
but you carried the moment with a strange authority

i doubt if the proper world would find it impressive
that you had irreproachable authority
derived from the mastery of powerlessness and motherly love

yet as i listened to your between the platters
of seaweed and raw fish
i sensed that enough witches had died,
that now your nation had deemed to risk visibility

as they disappear in Latin America, you said
so they must appear somewhere
other than in a mother's heart

i know now that your problem lay in a simple confusion
you speak words with mirror meanings
to a people who read only left to right

who knows the victory garnered by accepting defeat?
who feels the strength in the surrender of the powerless?
who accepts love as the gift of being violently seized?

i understand your words
(Ha! your magic did not transform me into a toad!)
yet i am as perplexed a male tonight
as at the moment i saw you god spitting forth our child

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The Ninth Month Symphony
as a virgin-bearded youth
i chuckled with Minnesota frostiness
at Horace in his Odes jeeringly enticing
the artful nymph to prime his pump

embers, he said, are to be held sacred
for from their memories fire spews forth

i read between the lines,
saw the mists of eager breathings
on the old sage's face!

within my loins i tattooed his ode,
waited eons for the maid to approach

how was i to know that the minstrel
sight read by sign language?
i was caught in spotlight nakedness
in the darkened room

the nymph moistened my reed,
floated forth the tune of ancient wantings

as ole Horace must have, so I trembled
with the bass contralto,
quivered with the soprano's pitch

when has such ancient memory
in full arrangement
been conducted forth from the embers of my yearnings?

as if again the virgin-bearded
i was sculpted into a figure
of astonished pleasure,
violated at every sense
during our first ever symphony

when has my sense of powerlessness
been so rewarded by a peace
which wrapped me like a child
just before the moment of birth?

it is this agedness in all its impotency of fear,
this peaceful powerlessness of the virgin-bearded
which drop as cloaks from my soul
as i dance to this minstrel's alluring ode

as Horace in his graceful gesture
gave her seed for children of the spirit
so on the wings of my breathings
i will charm one daughter, one son
from your delicious ears!

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The Piano Player at Ferns
I saw you among grandmother's fine porcelain
in your place, studiously assigned
aureoled by spars of ice crystal and silver gleams
planted in your pottery pot simplicity

such refinement of ore and sand
betrayed an artistic shiver
while your form bore the robust play
of deftly thrown delight

I could hear the sounds of glass
tinkling and the chatter
of knives and forks
which despite their purified character
were but mere tools for the mouth

Your sound was soft as the leaf
which laps air,
the impulse of your weight
in my hand
took me back to my innocent days
when every random thing peered at
a magical face just around the corner of my eye

As you sit amidst such practiced manners
I laugh at the joke,
am anxious for dinner to begin

to pour you into me

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The Triangle
(for Debra and her mother)

i have come here to sit with you, dear mother
(i am sorry that i must sit alone)
i bring your favorite things to share, dear mother
(please know I will never leave you alone)

what are these memories we are to share
of skinned knees and teased hair
the times i came to you for evening kiss
oh! so many forgetful pains I cannot list!

i remember oh so well the day i broke my bone
(see, he'll call me on your bedside telephone)
i laugh when i see myself in her and she in you
(don't panic, dear, please sleep, he'll come at two)

oh! mother dear your sleeping face is battered
by oceanic tides and forests shattered
i see a vision in your lidded eyes
yes, i know that through me you will never die!

what can i say in these brief moments of respite?
(he's coming, mother, i am sure, tonight)
how can i tell you all i want to say?
(this man, forgive him, lives on the other side of the grave)

this pledge i seal upon your lips with balm
i will, like you, refuse the calm
i'll seek the storm, the drought, the crystal snow
you'll live within me as my music grows

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Time Between Moments
you asked me to wait, and I waited

the bus which is always on time, is late
the lady with briefcase and tie checks her watch,
once, twice, in a dance of expectation
an elderly woman who has punched a clock
for more years than her childhood
looks at the cracks in the cement,
heaves a sigh of relief
that there are no children here
only folded newspapers and empty coffee cups

my thoughts escape with my eyes
towards the billboard advertising wines
and I curse myself for my timidity
burnt by candle flickers

I do not want this day nor any day
you have entrusted to my patience
I am anxious and begin pacing
between the warming stalls

the warmth of your embrace, your softness
I have washed away with innumerable showers
I have brushed your breath from my hair
I have begged for the baptism of forgetfulness
while in my bath

what is that stocking-cap man doing now?
I left him with ten years on his patience
he shook my hand the day I left,
said, "See you around the block, kid."
I laughed, back then, I had no idea
that he was a Doctor of the Heart

a large black ant tussles with a queer
form of matter,
I move my black shoe to let him pass
why does he remind me of Jesus on the Way?
why do I feel that he was sent by
Joseph of Arimethea?

I examine each of these daily companions
whose names I will never know,
I snicker at the pain we each foist
upon ourselves, we slaves of the counting house

the bus arrives and the pecking order is assumed
watches are relieved of their burdens
as spaces are filled with forms now set
in their appointed places

I dream that the day is over,
that this is the bus which will take me home
for Lock-up and Count

my heart is your prisoner,
your call the key to my parole
let this, however, be the word I speak

you asked me to wait, and I waited

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What? #1
Is the brain a flower?

both unravel a seed
seeking a shared light
sharing a searching shadow

each rests when twilight tires

so, What is the Answer?

Is the flower a brain?

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