Monday, December 20, 2010

Time Is

Time is a balance beam
on which i do the unwitting dance of earth and fire,
time is a tunnel,
time is a road on which
i have no choice but to travel
until death arbitrates the end,
time is a ferry
on which the captain knows
nothing of destination,
time is a passageway in which
only the present shows some evidence of clarity,
time is a bridge
crossing the swift currents of change,
time is an escalator moving steadily
through the chaos that is its birthright,
time is a tight rope
on which i balance all my more precious illusions.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baby is Coming

Baby is coming!
there are signs,
there are implacable rumors.

Outside our hands are cupped,
one singular tiny expectation,
shadows all actions and concerns.

Being made in spirit and in blood,
awaits the nuances of the calling earth,
we care not for fearful passage,
only anticipating magic.

A Single Leaf


A single leaf
carried by nomadic winds
across thirteenth avenue,
caressed by the nakedness of traffic,
longing for a bit of earth
to fall into.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ellis Island

From Italy they came,
all their possessions in cloth bags
and battered trunks,
their family, their village, their culture
even their language discarded.

My grandparents held those
destined to be my parents in their
 comforting embrace,
piled into steerage like
mindless chattel,
holding on desperately to
everything of meaning,
bound for America.
Weeks of travel over horrific seas
exposed to all manner of human ills,
body against body
with no room to move freely,
filled with fright,
propelled by longing,
driven by desperation
longing for a better life
in the land of dreams.

Those with enough metal to
survive the transit,
spied the haunting image of the
great lady of the harbor,
they wept,
they cheered,
they applauded,
they embraced.

There to disembark on Ellis Island,
a mammoth of a building
that swallowed them into a great hall
where they were processed,
registered, stamped and examined
for the signs of disease,
for evidence of mental instability,
for anything that could delay their
entrance to America

Hungry for labor to
propel the great  and insatiable
dynamo of progress.

I am a child
of these new-world adventurers,
one hundred million Americans were
launched from the seeds and eggs of
those who made that singular journey
into an untried and wholly unknown future. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Four Brothers

Four brothers, hopeful, and determined,
with life's expectations
still bound up in a destiny
too distant to imagine.

Four brothers,
sons of immigrant parents
in a land full of bigots and opportunity.

Four brothers,
honed to the violent streets of manhattan
where "dego" was the tune of their derision.

Four brothers all whose
songs have been played,
whose dreams have come and gone
like the boisterous wind. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Art is Carnivorous

Art is carnivorous,
art preys mercilessly
upon the artifacts of culture,
digesting them and
ultimately spinning the remains
into dream-like consequences
that magically join
in grand coital reverie
with the human heart,
art keeps the hope of life alive.

Friday, December 10, 2010

When Black Iron Meant Something Besides Extinction

Black iron stood in the sky
holding up the trains as they roared overhead,
momentarily disrupting the rotation of the earth,
mother was there in the kitchen
near the turquoise plastic table,
she so meaningfully adored.

Out on the fire escapes on gray mornings, we dangled,
below, earthmen went berserk,
rock n' roll dawned over us,
and the world gave birth to the portable radio.

We roamed the streets for matches,
like tireless matadors,
days came and went like snakes,
the plaster cracked,
there were no moorings,
only idle escapades of laughter.

We vowed to make our escape.

I returned to find that the boy had died,
killed by circumstance,
never again to see his father
scorn the air outside his window,
never again to feel that steel-gray madness.

I buried the boy
beneath the glass and rubble,
i left the a stone for him to lie under,
i longed to know him better,
but could not afford to linger.

Who Knows

Who knows what
the moon holds
in its cup of wayward sand.

Keeper of pale luminescence,
drop down your ladder
free this feeble soul
from the wealth of its transgressions.

Voyager on the the crest of
idle and nocturnal dreams,
rescue me
from the heart of indifference,
from the ache of sorrows unnamed.

The Ship of State - circa 2010

The captain was once a young man
filled with pride and great ambition,
he is black and the descendent of slaves,
who were once chained in the cargo hold of
this very same ship,
who were drowning in the
sea of their own despair.

The captain still stands proud,
though his hair has grayed and is now
less assured of the
future of this expedition.

He sees before him a tempestuous
and unforgiving ocean,
he has assessed the condition of the ship
that is no longer so nimble,
that is bereft of the repairs necessary to
maintain its course and keep it
from disaster.

The captain has taken great pains
to warn his passengers of the dangers of neglect and
the need for concerted action and
caring resolve.

On many a morning,
when the seas were particularly treacherous,
he has called out,
“Beware, we are need of repairs,
we can not sustain this level of decay much longer.”

Some did listen and rallied to his efforts, but
the owners of this great and failing enterprise
were made restive by his impassioned efforts and
feared that they might have to relinquish
even some small portion of their wealth and power.

With their money in hand,
they resovled to intervene and
planted fear in the hearts of many
who were made uneasy by the
color of the captain’s skin and his
intelligence that was far more
formidable than their own.

And so it came to pass that a
rebellion ensued,
not only were the rotted timbers left
to fester on the beleaguered ship of state,
but the ship itself was plundered
and the suffering increased in unequal measure
while the owners not only experienced
little change in status or degree of comfort,
but actually added to their illicit fortune.

The captain is not alone in his endeavor,
but wealth and greed have triumphed.

This is no victory to be admired,
for it will hasten the steady decomposition of
this unsteady and neglected ship of state.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Dance of Time

Present glides without effort
into the chronicles of the past,
future always elusive
always within reach but
whenever my feeble arms encircle it,
future becomes present and
glides without effort
into the chronicles of
all that is no longer.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

There is a Cataclysmic Beauty in Every Moment

There is a certain cataclysmic beauty in every moment,
a certain dream-like way we have of propelling ourselves about.

Two heavy glass doors of the bank each bearing the word push,
a priest and his ministry watching
as the local parishioners steal the paint off the rectory walls,
a patrol car turns a corner at sunset,
two old men in the park accost each other with chess pieces,
one lonely candle burns in the temple,
on the desert a gun is raised and yet another
viewpoint is extinguished.

A man and his lady: their shadows jerk and spin,
an empty bottle of gin,
factory smoke,
in harlem, glass is pushed out of windows
in preparation for summer,
a sprawling restless suburb spews out its traffic
towards megalopolis.

Space and stars and the cosmic wind-eyed poets
and admirers of faraway things.

Rushing wind of tree light amber
carries wild ponies along the crests
of fiery dreams,
capricious captains of wayward sails and blind wood bearers worship visions of god and the chaos he engenders,
the seasons mark the weathering of earth in time's embrace as
homo sapiens tentatively walks its surface.

Light transfigures the islands of the sun
in the voluptuous ring of fire where
vulcan maintains his kingdom,
the earth sails round and round in its arc of heaven where the greeks once nimbly held the rudder,
sail on sail on proud earth though your rulers be forsaken.

Two guitarists at the window by the night,
the moon glides gingerly over the sounds of humanity,
the air is filled and we awaken to it like gypsies,
blood and violence both rushing over sanguine dreams,
the hypnotist and his magician hand in hand in the alley,
the highway motions, the sea distorts,
and the heart empties its vessels.

Brick upon brick,
the worn patterns of the ancients,
the brooding whispers of the virgins of the clotheslines,
sunday morning newspapers,
and the hock shops.

Moon glides into the vault of the sky,
frog cadence pushes up into the still air
beneath the cloth of darkness,
oblique shadows briefly interrupt the moment,
life stands like a calamity above the birth of spring,
a lonely scotch broom catches the air by the side of the highway,
two billboards disguised by nightfall wait until dawn
to capture the eyes of motorists who have
forgotten the majesty of trees.

Words are caught and vaulted into the morning air,
the sounds they impart to the wind land on nothing in particular,
solitary bodies move in jaunty strides to park benches
where bottles of wine leap out of hip pockets
into fish-like mouths and ultimately
into brandied circulation to deliver
a vital numbness to perception
shrinking time into a
singular cup of liquid tension,
cavalier gentlemen with their lives' works packed on their backs,
stake out their concrete niches,
men of past and future miseries
dream of other worlds to take comfort in.

The ebb and flow of foliage under time's capitulation
comforts the earthbound with its familiarity,
the short gray tedious light of winter with its long damp nights
and the rain streaking across wet windows,
the obscure moon and creeping inevitable cold
as it lurches along the ground and
permeates the seasoned wood of the house
and swells itself into the bones and the space of the room.

The idle hermit-like croaking of a frog
who forgot his hibernating ways,
the deer who descend from secret habitations to taste
the fallen red fruit beneath the apple trees
always with ears funneled to catch the faintest sounds,
the rain, the infernal rain,
tempering everything with its relentless rhythm.

Sad, sad william moves along the black monument
bathed in the unsettling mist of midnight air,
he moves along its polished surface with a trembling hand
searching for the names of his dead comrades,
the great capitol looms nearby but offers no solace.

On finding the chiseled memory of his friends,
on feeling the recognition come at last,
sad, sad william wings his heart skyward
in unabashed joy!
relief at last to a burdened spirit,
his tears sing of a lost generation.

Life is a chain of light and dark,
brain shapes meaning from escapades of form and shadow,
without night there is no detail,
no delineation of beginning from its end,
no respite from the merciless truth.

The morning stretches across the household trash
and an old crumpled newspaper on the porch,
it is winter and the snow being not quite so unfamiliar
falls with both rapture and cunning,
the dew on sleeping eyes,
the spider
its fly in web near stone,
there is a plane in the sky overhead
and the thoughts from it descend upon
a forest of robust illusions,
on a lonely mountain in California,
astronomers from the college are
trying to capture the sun in a mirror.

Ice is melting in the river,
time is polishing the rocks and slowly they diminish themselves
so that the wind might release them from the burdens of gravity,
sand releases the desert of its heat,
the stark white ice of mountains,
the towering ice that spirals beneath the breath of intellects,
the cold hunger of nations chasing the empires
billowing in their heads,
the dance of heat and ice beneath the moon's escape.

The street cleaner,
his cracked lips and parchment features,
cigarette dangling among the smoke of private thoughts,
the bus stop,
the gas station,
the doors of stores and restaurants are opened,
morning coffee waits patiently in kitchens
for men stumbling out of their werewolf dreams,
the women and their silent bravado.

The town lies in its contradictions,
a candle and mirror to a bewildering age,
nearby, the mountains cradle their momentous glaciers
silently catching stray planes
whose pilots failed to measure
the proper attitude of retreat.

Humans with their thinking and planning
remain solemnly in their shelters
as the wind marks its way across the prairie,
the cows and cattle graze,
the sun finds its way to a hillside
where it plummets and ignites the watchful clouds
to a final charcoal finish.

The world is a place of cycles and
unfinished remembrances,
churches are built and once a year
the messiah climbs back on his cross
and once a year the pilgrims seek their admonitions,
droughts come and go,
calves fall like timber in heavy spring blizzards,
the romans came and left highways
and a certain yearning for architecture,
flowers and flies and tumbleweeds
all have their seasons.

Bells in their stolid churches,
old people walking upright
like the old reeds they are
keep memories of their children
in the air above them as they move about,
gather themselves at noon on benches
where they exchange both rude and pleasant things.

Children are too much like their parents,
and parents so much like their kin
that there are always petty crimes and jealousies,
and to every family there are born upstarts
who hold up mirrors, mockingly,
but, there is always laughter.

Old kingdoms fall stubbornly
and death is usually premature,
delight and tragedy mingle at the borders,
but, there is always laughter.

Humans carry the ghosts of many tongues
and the dormant remembrances
of the great forest and the endless sea.

The woman pushes out her first born at forest's edge,
a young fox looks on with a kind of recognition
of the majesty of the event,
she caresses her baby and reignites the essence of her race,
the engine of life continues.

There is a certain cataclysmic beauty in every moment,
a certain dream-like way we have of propelling ourselves about.