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Poems from 2008
The Ant Walked Through The Door
The ant walked through the door,
Which turned into a crescent sword.
The floor heaved, it bounded, it gently billowed,
Entire oceans drained into small wormholes.
Clouds were whisked away
And left skies with stark terror on their faces.
Cars that were driving purposefully
Tumbled into the San Andreas fault.
And no wonder old people tottered fearfully along the undulating boardwalk,
No wonder love shut the slats of its concession stand,
No wonder the Warbasse apartments shuddered,
No wonder buttered toast ceased to thrill the acquisitive mind.
The cat sat in the high cabinet
The smell of salt was invisible, it rested upon the chestnut trees.
The curious automobiles came and went on their secret rounds,
And Mrs. Baum stood in her kitchen, preparing chicken.
A Quantity of Wheat
It seems that such a quantity of wheat will be sold today,
That the markets will be filled with the rustle of cloths,
The sun will beat down hotly on sandaled feet,
Storekepers will cry their wares with distorted faces,
In shadowed alcoves, men will drink sweetened, yellow drinks,
The long lines of camels will shimmer from the distance in the hot, bright air,
The pastry boy will rush through the crowd
With a fragrant tray of sweet loaves,
From the bakery to which merchants brought flour
From mills that stand silent upon the river flowing to the sea.
In the bakery men work frantically
Shaping flour into dough and dough into bread and pastries
That is carried on platters through the bazaar blazing streets,
To the homes of satraps,
To the doors of impoverished widows,
Bringing satiety, bringing delight,
Bringing the mystery of their scent.
The Moon Swiveled Around
The moon swiveled around
So that I could only see the back of her head.
How silent were the stars.
But we, we were chattering in the back seat,
In the front seat,
We flipped through the puddles,
We raced through the snowfields,
We rushed up the mountains to fields of caravans,
We hunched over and dug for radishes,
We were pursued by a beating heart through the windy downtown tenements in our dreams,
We curled in sleep in the branches of the universal tree
And slept, beloved.
The mystic moon was as clear as steel,
As tearless as glass,
As bright as a scintillating day
That waited patient and expectant,
That was the absence of all self
Except for the lumbering Jackson Pollack souls,
All of us, spattered exclamations of black, red, yellow ferment
Seeping into the sere dawn,
Our scattered colors catching on the colors of others,
The moon turned her head and the heavens were still,
And in that stillness
Our hearts were seized with stillness
And then spoke, of their own accord.
The Revelation Wasn't Old
The revelation wasn’t old.
It struck with all the force of a meteor.
There was a red fire and there was a white pillar
That was shining now, not then.
It was a time when every track is new,
When every landscape is a red fire and a white pillar of cloud.
Where is the red fire today?
Where is the white pillar of cloud?
Where is Egypt? Where is the terror of its cavalry?
(The cavalry that is real.)
Where is the glory of the constant press
Into the unknown redemption?
On the path to the sea,
Babies were still crying,
They still needed their diapers changed.
What a thing:
To see nothing on the way to the Red Sea
But the changing of diapers!
On the first night of Passover,
The Jews could not sleep.
They no longer wished to sleep.
When all of creation sleeps,
If we sing the words and listen,
We can hear that we are already singing within ourselves.
Already, we are awake,
Very busy, in fact.
Already, red fires blaze,
White clouds of smoke.
What color is your voice?
Are your words intaglio or bas relief?
Don't guess. Look inside.
See the drifting leaves of words upon your stream of prayer,
The green trumpet of voice,
The printer’s lead letters dripping indigo ink,
The granite statues of words like mountains
Among which you wander,
The white and pastel acrylic oils of words,
The stainless steel monuments with sharp edges,
A landscape of solid, skyscraper steel words.
What is your pillar of fire,
Your pillar of cloud?
What is its fresh, clear scent?
I Will Go On Eating Oranges, I Said
I will go on eating oranges, I said,
I will collect shards of tires on the highways,
I will stanch running noses,
I will collect desolate socks,
I will survey the vistas of littered floors
Comprehensively, as though I had forgotten the flute,
The gaming parlor, the ululations,
The sharp sparkle of the pre-dawn wind.
I Wondered Why You Were Breaking My Flowerpots
I wondered why you were breaking my flowerpots.
But then you knew, didn’t you
(Even if you didn’t know that you knew),
That I hid my soul there,
That our family had stored its gold and silver there,
That there the constellations hid during the day,
That God Himself hid there.
It wasn’t just me you came to destroy,
For if you destroyed these flowerpots
You could crow naked on the top of the burly hills
And watch mountains of cities slip into the sea,
And your spirit would be freed
To march down the boulevards with squadrons of soldiers,
To requisition mansions without pay,
To dance with the Swiss ambassador’s wife,
To throw back your head and hoot at the moon.
But first you must break the city of stone,
First you must seed these hills with blood,
First you must fill the coastal towns with the winding smoke
Of weariness and decay,
So that the eyes of its pedestrians will not rise from the sidewalk
As your motorcade speeds resplendently by
Taking you to dance naked in your hotel room
And sleep with the corrugated idol
Whose thin loins sing
The odor of the grave.
Suddenly It is Like That
Suddenly it is like that.
You are pulling your feet out of the long, sticky brown mud,
And you will no longer compromise.
But it is only you against a bulldozer,
And the wind and the stars are thin.
Go to the caves in the valley, shake the elders in their casques.
You need more than echoes in the dark.
You need more than youths spilling across valley floors.
You need the strength of mountains,
The bulldozers must stand with gaping mouths.
You must overwhelm them utterly,
Not with your spirit but with your flesh.
You must make your home in the streets,
You must love the mortar and the asphalt,
Or you will be praying in the corner of your home
When you are carted out with the rubble
And the winding smoke of powdered stone blinds your eyes white.
I Will Stop at Nothing
I will stop at Nothing.
You stop at Nothing too
(Robert Frost’s horse did.)
And there in the shapes of darkness,
The huge bent back of the silent slouching beast
Obscures the sight of the stars.
The air rushes up in a trice
Like a paper dancer in the flame,
And you stand like the tin soldier on one leg.
And manifold chambers open like a bright and airy origami.
At your feet the scrub whispers and murmurs,
Small nocturnal creatures.
Your nictitating membrane pops up, and
The dove of your spirit flies up on a gust of words
That are daylight,
That are a fountain of sparks,
That are a clapping of hands,
That are the night sky and its stone stars
And the marvelous humped silent huge back
Of the leviathan.
The Day Rose
The day rose.
The night flowered.
Bakeries were open till dawn,
Pregnant women glided through the streets,
Ships upon the horizon glinted blue, yellow,
At small café tables women pecked at keyboards,
Sleek seals breached the freezing seas,
Eyes gazed upon the beach.
They were incandescent bulbs,
They were tulips,
They were ancient countenances,
They were beyond number.
Mountains floated in their field of vision,
Mountains and declamations.
There is a Messiah Without God
There is a messiah without a God.
We have seen him visiting our beaches,
He commanded the waves and tar infested the sand.
He commanded the heavens
And missiles rained like stars.
He thundered at the mountain
But his voice rattled like the crinkling of a newspaper.
We turned the page, we snoozed,
Our chin bobbed upon our chest
And the air turned red and sullen.
The Rain Falls
The rain falls.
Its pebbles skate along the street.
Its white horses rear up,
Its red petals stream along the curb,
We are all in its cold, wet throat,
Lugging our book bags
In a newly painted morning.
Lie across the living room floor,
Also playing cards,
Also a camel stands at the window,
Watch out, he’s got a nasty temper.
Once, in heaven, I sat down on the park bench to rest,
The boats sailed across the pond,
That sailed upon the clouds,
That twisted into vertiginous distances,
Twisted strands of the Milky Way,
The wet nose of the wind
Vibrated, then, the larynx
Of the air,
The staircase rose
And the orange blossoms.
A Diadem of Mountains
I gave you silken rivers, rivulets of stars,
But you need a diadem of mountains.
You demand rocky terrain,
Brambles, peaks and horizons.
You seek a vertiginous dirt path,
A swinging rope bridge,
You need to hear the snow tiger
Growling outside your cabin upon the vast snow plains.
You require a troupe of men
Who will carry your bier into thick, uncharted jungles,
Where you will snap your fingers and bark out orders
In a strange, uncouth tongue
And dance your songs of triumph.
You must master the wisdom of the sailing ship
And set out into bronze mornings.
You must call out new islands and discover distant planets
From an uncharted tropical sea,
Where your loveliness is legendary amidst the island peoples.
Fierce, celebrated, all-powerful,
You must arrange great ceremonies
To which even giants will stride, from across the long, shadowed hills,
To pay you homage.
Rivulets of Stars
I threw out the baby with the bath water.
I was tired of drinking bath water.
And who needs babies anyway?
We both need to sleep,
To snore away our lives.
Of course it gets quite crowded in this bed.
I keep having to kick away guitars, old sandwiches.
I find that friend’s doorbells are digging into my back.
I curl around bassoons and double basses
So that in the morning, in the warm, body-scented sheets
I have an enormous crick in my neck.
There is so much to discover in the world--
Everywhere I have dropped crumbs of meaning.
I have left drops of my soul with so many people
And barged into the house wielding an empty wheel barrow.
I came home one evening with a packet of stars
But they all melted into a puddle when I opened the sack.
Really, when stones are rolled onto the mouths of wells,
What good are stars?
What good is light when there is no water?
And water, water shines like rivulets of stars.