Poetry & Prose

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A Warning:

At 70+ I've reached the point where i am suspicious of all prizes and awards partly becuz i ner got one- sad isn't it- but- all is so political- it reassures me to know that few are deserved- take o bama's nobel- completely spurious- now- if u gave me one, i might b more forgiving...i know my stuff deserves it, i know it!!

if i got one i think i might say- o u won the booker prize- yes, and i won the smoopty prize from baroness von smoopty- we are exalted prize mates- i wouldn't be happy IF I WON A PRIZE- waddya think of that?

poet laureates, poet smoreates- but there was tennyson- occasionally society gets it right- and that really makes me mad

name me poets that actually deserved awards- well- i can think of auden and eliot- who else- go on, i dare you- robt frost, yes, merwin? to a degree

i revel in the truly greats who never got prizes or even poublished (sic) pooblished, might b better-- anonymous, emily, hart

i know that the real story is hardly ever told

let me get a prize so i can haughtily refuse- it's what i'm going to do!

 

+ These poems are from the "Tree Calendar", my little chapbook from '85; (I found as I retyped these poems from the 70's and 80's in 2009, I made slight changes- no poem is finished- not Shelly's nor Keats'!) 

 Dolphin Moon Press

 Tree Calendar alternate titles were: GONE, LEAVING, LEFT, SO LONG, GOODBYE AND SO ON POEMS

ISLAND-RIVER POEMS

UNDISCOVERED POEMS BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

SEX- THE NATURAL KEY TO POWER POEMS

POEMS OF HORROR AND HORRIBLENESS

LEARNING HOW TO LET GO POEMS

POSSIBLY IMMORTAL POEMS

NOT TOO IMMORTAL POEMS

POEMS THAT WILL BE CHANGED LATER

THE HIDDEN LINK BETWEEN MUSIC AND SEX POEMS

CLIMBING THE FALLS

 

Contents: Love Poems-1,  The Coast Dreamers-2, Divorce-3,4, Saturday Night in the Tropics and so on through Eternity-5,6, Daughters of Other Suns-7, Daughters of Earth-8, Two Horror Movies-9,10,11, Ghost Story-12,13, The Cheyenne Falle as in the Wind River Breaks-14, Last Poem to Eurydice-15, The Gold Bug- 16,17,18, Prison Letter- 19,20, River of No Return-21, Spiral, Medallion-22, Ammonite, The Fossil Bell-23,24,

 

 follows the only review i got of tree calendar

"A pretty little volume, with a tree cut in the cover. And the poems begin winningly:

 

    Maybe I shouldn't say this in public.
    I thought she was dead in the back seat.
    We pushed her car into the pond,
    As it sinks this face rises
    Up in the back window...

But the follow-throughs tend to be redundant, overstated, overdone, inviting the author to please stop. "

 

                         TWO HORROR MOVIES: 1) "Vertigo"- scored by Bernard Herrman, from french novel: "             ")                                        

 I always come to these houses on hillsides-

Rock Creek Park, San Francisco.

A woman I thought dead- AGAIN...in the hallway!

A frost colored mirror with curlicues inlaid

Reflects a photo- two children,

Placed on the piano like a piece of music.

 

"I can't tell, I can't...I get

Part of the story but not all...

Allways the arguing:

"But life isn't fair," or,

"I left you? You left me!

The one who loves you now then- where is she?"

 

The turrets of these houses on hillsides,

The gables, the dormers, the one light

Upstairs never turned off.

 

"But he made you over just like I made you over!

You jumped into the bay but it was all a deception.

I bet you're a wonderful swimmer, aren't you, aren't (ital) you?!  18

 

The slight chanting from her living room;

I heard voices; God have mercy; 20

Like Sat Nams in Yoga class;

Like notes descending in half steps;

 

"Don't you think it's a waste wandering separately?

Two together are allways going someplace." 24

Maybe the music box that plays in her bedroom,

"Wie die ferne" or "lontano" 26- from a distance,

"you keep a glockenspiel in that room?

You keep a celesta in that room?

You keep a vibraphone in that room?

You keep a xylophone in that room?"

 

"Music-broom that sweeps awy cobwebs." 31

Or, the spider that makes up the cobwebs?

 

Maybe her house plants?

Swamp pulpets that glow in the dark?

"We wake if we wake at all, to mystery." 35

 

A child sweeps by, maybe one from the photo...

"Why did you take that of them- them both crying?"

The boy wide eyed, the girl wiser,

Her eyes shut, both drained faces. 39

"Then what'd they see coming?

You can tell me. You should!"

 

"It's like she puts her feet on me from the inside!

And pushes- inhabits, inhibits me.

Holding on for dear life;"

"She wants you to leave me so I'll write about it for her." 46

"Or is it possibly your heart?"

 

It's her fear of the flames." 48

 

The hall ways these houses the color of airports;

Smoked glass, blinking towers, twin towers.

Arrivals, departures...begin again allways!

 

"Then she went on to marry his brother," or,

"She's the one who grew up to."..., or,

"I told you it would happen again.

You know you should avoid that kind of person."

"She talked about it happening before it happened. 56

 She had flash forwards of a roaring,,,

I heard she doused herself with kerosene. 58

"I heard she died in one of those camps."

"I heard he set the child down, then burned himself!" 60

She stood over his body for awhile.

 

"I don't like it when the roof of my mouth starts to bleed.

If I have to swallow too much blood, I start to cough."

 

"I know I will love you forever."

Getting back together never works. 65

 

footnotes a la tseliot!!!-

line 18- from the movie "Vertigo"

20-ibid

24-ibid

26-musical directions in Schumann's "Davidsbundler Tanze"

31-"Vertigo"

35-from "Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek"- Annie Dillard

39-after a poster by Lenote Fini for "Tristan und Isolde"

46-muddled voices- I had no lovers who would want this- (certainly L wouldn't!); as to my heart and the emergency room? Jane, it I ever catch you, you had better watch out!!!

48-from movie "Affair of the Heart"

56-ibid

58-ibid

60-Norman Morrison immolated himself at the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War

65- read: "Langsam, massig, etwas zuruckhaltend", music directions in Tristan

 

 Another movie informs this a bit- "The Shuttered Room" (w Oliver Reed)- a horror film that portrays a sort of persecuted demon girl kep upstairs in the attic. Naturally, for me, this all had to do with the loss of Louise- and now she is gone forever!!! Horror films capture reality, in many ways. "What it is!!"

 

                        Þ)  Ghost Story (after the movie scored by Philippe Sarde- after novel by Peter Straub) 

 

Maybe I shouldn't say this in public?

I thought she was dead in the back seat;

We pushed her car into the pond;

As it sinks this face rises!

In the back window!

Now you're in trouble- she will find you!

 

Years later, it's winter, a snow storm...

She looms up in my car headlights.

I try to stop but there's no time.

You won't believe this- I drive through (ital) her!

Ahhn- she's gone..yeh, o yeh...now she's gone,

Yeh. she's gone all right-well, I think she's gone now.

Yeah you can come out not. OK, all clear, c'mon out.

She hangs around in your mind, huh? Yeh, but

She shrank to a corpse, 'til there was only

A straw hat over the skull or

Sunglasses but no eyes (laugh nervously);

O yeh, eyes go first- in a twinkling.

And little's remembered...the way

She's remembered's remembered.

Why should there be any papers at all?

Why should there be any markers?

 

But you say air trapped in the auto

As it sank down? an air pocket?

And she stays alive there? or swam out?

Sometimes the whole body's there coming

Towards me, stepping off like packets of

Firecrackers going off in great lists

In my head, bringing her back like

Footsteps that crunch towards you in crust snow,

Santa Cruz, Sarasota, redwoods, canals,

Swinging bridges, flashing towers ready

To pounce out and haunt you; the woman

You murdered's come back ?!?

And even her straw hat now glistens

With power, her skull fleshes out,

The grey eye film become greener and greener,

So real she almost means well to me.

Standing before me as in welcome,

"I still love you, allways will."

 

And sometimes she comes from the future.

Since this is the way it will happen again.

The moment you can't put out of your brain.

The one you wish to possess taken from you.

Time the real enemy- you swerve

To avoid her..always too late!

So your car goes over the bank just like hers did.

And the car in the pond is not heard of.

The car in the pond, yeh- there's one down there.

And the night crash on the mountain's forgotten.

Nobody talks about that around here any more.

 

Below in the valley sun is rising

Milkman comes around, grocer opens up.

And the straw hat girl works the counter.

And the young man in the car drives up.

 

last 4 lines a coda like at end of Moussorgski's "Nigh on Bald Mountain" when the sun is rising and the demons flee. But! it will happen again.

'Ghost Story" was Fred Astaire's last movie. I havd been haunted a long time by Louise- spieling out poem after poem of grief about our parting and divorce. Trying to exorcise. Then came Jane!

 

THE CHEYENNE FALLS, as in THE WIND RIVER BREAKS

 

My home is near the falls, near surf,

The rapids as past Salmon Falls past White Foam Bar,

And when I sleep the roaring's through my arms,

Like when I hold a second pillow- where you used to sleep!

A giant bell of it: "bong, bong"- the way life is here-

Rolling me up in long combers of surf-

Off-white like crab meat but glowing,

That crawl forward, one after one. I sleep

Climbing the falls, up behind its

Curtains of roaring blown by me-

Incessant, incandescent- to the cave halfway up

Where I find my heart missing already

For centuries.. Lorna Doone's gone and now you.

Other losses I can get over, not this one, why should I?

For the falls slant and the beach curvwes away-

Some rocks glow under black light-

Tail of white deer flashed, is long gone,

Idaho silver, the Coeur d'Alene mine abandoned...

Like wind blows out curtains in a million old rooms

Water fashions a new lover to lie next to me.

I'm glad it* will turn into a headstone.

I hope it doesn't turn into a headstone!

* she?

 

I wanted to be drenched in the sadness...like Rachmaninoff.

Certain words wanted to make it into the poem but couldn't, so as a courtesty, I'll list them: flechette, crevasse, Versailles, hiss...hisss

                                            

                                                        Last Poem to Eurydice

                                          

Riches starting to come my way again...

Possible lovers to want me....

Want me to sing...it takes time, it takes time....

But March comes, all that gold stuff, gold things,

Increasing the gold til it all sings.

Love will come by the summer.

Laminates of gold, gold wrenches,

Tooth inlays and onlays, how Hundertwasser painted,

Yeat's poem "Golden Apples", Dave van Ronk sang.

Maybe a muse but more likely some

Warm, humid peaty sourish smell of real

Sutters creek*, twang, ren, fiddle

Vein of them heading off into Sierra.

I'd pan all the way to Mt. Hood looking

The back creeks for the calmness

Before they start singing, the sluice way

Down the gate rungs, Multnomah

County, Sonoma, Sonora, Sonesta,

How you linger, yeah I see how

That memry comes up now, begins to

Take shape, how it lay there

Like an ore seam; now I know where

It lies, where you lie- the riches.

You be no further than here, you descend you

Between me, having become where

I look now and again just for singing.

 de- photo taken over in Hamden looking west naturally -that Van Gogh yellow again- as winter approaches

                                                        The Gold Bug

A truck climbs the grade

Towards your house

Over on the interstate

Through the woods or,

A jeep up the back road; next-

Gravel crunches in your drive...

Around dark when the peepers*go:

"Bee boo, bee boo", but they've stopped!

As if waiting and watching (winter woods

Just that quiet,

The a stick "tocks") and

So it approaches,

 

All in dreams it

Walks toward you, through

Oceans of forest.

Meerbaume, Cenozoic,

And it arrives

Like the gold bug fell

Through an eye

Of a skull onto

The treasure!

Bald gold bug (Calichroma

Splendidum) with the gold

Like some fretwork

On its back,

Like the yellow

On Box Turtles

Can look frayed

But it's real

Carefullly marked

On the shell

If you look close-

Shows sun eddies to blend into

The wood floor),

Presence, Present!

Like a conch!

 

How the coquis*

Call to each other

In Ponce,

Puerto Rico, how the

Spaniards

Came up the creek looking and

You know what they told them?

What they tell you: that

"You never know what

You've got 'til it's gone", but,

You never have anything

Anyway- anything

Had its choice and

Its freedom and

Besides it goes

The same way

That it's coming.

 

YOU HAVE THAT!!

 

What you have's

In the Balkans where

Dance steps change

Just a little from

Village to

Village; here

The men hold their hands thus,

And there- thus, and

You get to

Keep having

All this and

It don't go

Nowhere

And you know it!

 

*  small tree frogs that sing in concert

 

                                                     Coast Dreamers

 

Safe from all harm they sleep

Just back from the shore in coast cypress- 

Propped up by wind and fog,

In cocoons made of fog- with a fine nap

The color of pewter in the black green.

Fog sweeps back and forth- intense, caring!

The children swing there, some upside down

As the ripen like ginseng, marijuana

Or datura trumpet lilies-some spin

To the "music inside us that hears music",

Dreaming of abalone and jade, of sea otters

Just off shore where they sleep

In kelp beds holding them still

As a raft; the seas sweep them

Back and forth like the children, brushing

Their fur down with kelp streamers;

The kelp settles the waves 

In time to the moon for the sea breathes

As you do. "Don't I know you? Why are

You crying? What's the matter?

Choose what poser comes, you'll be there; the fog burns off

Adnd the otters fly upwards like dolphin.

Amd the children fly up too beginning

Their bright day in the silver spray.

 

SPIRAL, MEDALLION

 Noguchi- "Momo Tarn" at Storm King Art Center

 

A face, places,

The "inside" of a tree

You stand looking up into-

Sieves, a cache, basket

Of light,

Or a tree putting its limbs out

Step after step

Into YES the great spiral-

Your home and your smile.

 

AMMONITE IN A RIVER, THE FOSSIL BELL (After Bach, Partitia for Keyboard, #  3, Fantasie)

 

 

Storm King Art Center

 

Kempt it beds

Into rosette tact,

Shale holds the

Blue welts up

Towards particularity

Near fact; the

Sutures close

For order

Turning under water

As law mulls into emblem.

 

Leaves teem over,

Dishevel down

Like noise...they stir

Up water

Possibility

And guess in green

Until the current

Joins their spiel,

Divvying without a seam

To ruckus that will numb

And move to heal.

 de photo at Frost path- a path near Frost cabin with poems at appropriate points- is this the West Running Brook? - leaves over a streem- just what i'm talking abt in the poem-

 

In these soft cauterants

The rock wheel turns;

Tulle foam shuts dent

Upon its rings-

A mold

That spreads and spins

By froth

And pain

To keep the spell-

A fossil bell.

10/15/09 I'm a little worried- so my poems have a bit too much of me and I in them- uber confessional a la plath and lowell- well- at least this one doesn't! 

Storm King Art Center 

(returning to poems in Blue Running Lights)  

 

                                              THE DIVORCE

 

w/ apologies to Sidney Lanier who wrote "The Marshes of Glynn"

 

            The partner just right for you

            Just passed you in the supermarket;

            You didn't get to meet him/her tho'...

            S/he was a couple of aisles over.

 

            All I wanted was a "rock and roller",

            A blithe spirit, could get into

            Fantasies, just a bit moist

            Like fresh coffee or driving

            Straight thru' to Florida,

            That avenue of cedars just before Savannah

            Down 95, then the

            Long tidal marsh part,

            River refineries,

            Stacks lit up like Christmas;

 

            "That bride lady's

            Dead, Mistuh Dave",

           

            I'd hit this part

            Before dawn, in blue grey

            Wife and son, a fine milk smell

            Like cedar drawers inside,

            Was a magical thing like

            The "Marshes of Glynn" or some bullsh t.

          

                                           CAVALRY, CALVARY

                       

            Sometimes the faces

            Of the women I'm close to

            Seem like saviors:

            Mom, wife, others...Sophie Scholl*

            With her brother

            Before their arrest.

            Tossing leaflets into

            The lobby.

            Faces remind me

            Of evenings and purpose

            As we passed through the "quads"

            Between dorms at Oberlin,

            College: learning/home/haven,

            Supper spoons tinkling...

            To the library at night,

            Surrounded by blue elms; or to

            Dr. Borngiorno's

            Dante class...

 

            They remind me of Scotland

            Or Denver-

            That great wall

            Of mountains, 

            After the long plains, a promise:

            Sarah, Canaan. 

            The road climbing, it gets cooler.

 

            Their warm bush of furze under grey wool,

            O let’s make it plaid,  

            Mendelssohnian heather.

            Violet tines of the thistles

            We grew up with

            In Vermont yet,  gold finches

            Among them.

 

            The faces of women

            In a room by the piano,

            I think of them snapping

            Beside me, bright guidons....      

 

                          

                                    

                ANOTHER POEM WITH VIOLENCE IN IT

 

             She stands at ready to one side;

             She holds a knife who used to be my bride,

             Wonders, so this is what men do to men?

             I push him to the floor

             Who was so "heavy into" f   king her before

             (I heard them c  ming all the way up the stairs...)

             (I planned to be there, waited at the door....)

             (I like the pain, I want some more...)

 

             Shift scene, cross-cut, I'm running in the woods again.

 

             It's autumn or spring. Oh, isn't it always?

             The sky all gorn*, the trees bleed purple.

             The falling leaves or budlets asking, who-who-who (read tapering off)

             The stupid, bullsh t thunder clouds black blue-blue-blue...

 

* Wallace Stevens type word

 

                                                           PLAIN SPOKEN POEM

                                                              sort of a vilanelle

 

Underneath it all I realize, I'm afraid!

You? you want to incorporate me, go on tingling forever...

It seems your genitals more complex and delighted?

 

I worry alot, e.g. driving along,

I'll wonder what if my brakes fail,

How best cushion the blow, on that guard rail?

 

I worry a lot, I worry some more.

Most of the time just wish I had it made.

Underneath it all I realize I'm afraid.

 

I hate it when we finish f   king,

Especially if I've reached far down to c m,

Now that the lust's gone, guess what starts filling the hole?

 

More lust, yes, but also the anger, the sadness.

Then comes old age- death at the core.

I worry alot, I worry some more.

 

Sometimes I arrive at my/our own deepest c ming.

Something says, open the door, open the door!

I worry alot, I worry some more.

 

Who's calling? For an instant there's calm, then

They start over: Mr. fear, Mr. loss, but where's Mr. Find!?

See why I fear f king, fear getting laid?

I realize underneath it all I'm afraid.

 

some (more recent poems) after blue running lights, after the publication of it in 2007, more current stuff:

 

                                      Poems of Unremitting Horror and Horribleness

Serial Killer- Jeffrey Dahmer 

His father insisted that he open that one box-
(With head/genitals inside)-his method of mastery-of complete control.
"I suppose we all have our secret thoughts."

A guard sits near as Jeffrey Dahmer talks-
To Stone Phillips of MSNBC- mask of normality over all-
As the serial killer reveals much- unlocking shocking locks:

How he came close to caught- the dessicated rock-
Hard corpse part in its barrel, (dismemberment played a role-)
He needed to keep these zombies near, he needed that control.

I think of Nixon, Bush - their "acceptable dishonesty" as they kill,
And how we all compartmentalize and put away the secrets...
O so heavy- know there will be reckoning, long to be caught!

America's serial monsters- some blatant, others not,
The things unsaid- of sex, of death- of controlling, icy mothers. ghoul-
ish fantasies as lust builds. makes a mock

Of reason; that first hitchhiker, once drugged, the first soldier in Iraq,
And Bush would have to kill again-the "frozen seas within"* he’s more and more cold....
The control we need, perfection, the monstrous avatar grows old.
"I suppose", Jeff says, " we all have our secret thoughts."


Kafka- "We must take an axe to the frozen seas within us."

Serial Killer Theodore Bundy 

  Two Portraits of “Patients”- w quotes from Vergil, Thornton Wilder, MacKenzie Phillips


 The six year old talks to some 10 different beings-
 " Sycamore ,  the cat"- "400"  tells her to "do bad things".
 
The clozapem gives some ability to resist ,  the seroquel
Softens it, but doesn' t seem to work too well!
 
Dear Lord- give us some  place to lay our head!
The pills aren't working- not at these milograms !
 
Voices take over, "you're only as sick as your secrets."
But schizophrenics  don't even have secrets!!!
 
Sleep's fitful, torture, torture until the end.
( But she  does have Betty- a schizophrenic friend .)

           interlude at the Group Home


"Cornelia de Lange" not a rare flower- a Dutch pediatrician
Whose name is given to a rare affliction

At the group home, Rhonda tells me about "Bobby":
"He's in "attack mode' when he's crouching, bobbing......

But don't use the broom against him, it's against the regulations.
"Severe to profound abnormalities, facial dysfunction"

He cannot speak, just mews or cries, what is he saying?
Dear Lord how is Bobby today, did he pass or is still living?

In your sweet world? I value the restraints we trained on.
Luckily, Bobby's small, he can be sat on! 



Dear Lord, what of the love that Thornton cites
Can Bobby know, he has such bad nights!

There are back wards you do not want to know-
About today- today with its flame skies and brilliant snow.


But: the love will have been enough...there is a land  for us
Of the living and a land of the dead.. " preposterous-
 
 ly,  jewel green colored moss between the  sidewalk cracks ?  how to cope? -
 "A bridge between the two"? , the moss seems special,  brilliantly..it offers hope.
 
The "land of the living"  can be hell- and then you die !.
 24-7  hours attention required  of the parents , they've considered  ways
 
Out.  Wilder writes: "Soon we shall die,
Loved for a while and then forgotten..."  I
 
 And in that land of the dead- - no more loved ones!.... then
 What about his "bridge between two"  lands ?,  
 
"And the bridge is love"- the"only survival, only mean -
 ing"  . The little moss takes on a special sheen.  
 
And Sycamore - good kitty - special friend.
The moss, the sycamores, cool snow up until the end.
 
"Human misfortunes touch us in the end.
And, "There are tears for misfortune" and, except for Bobby, lovers, friends.
 
 
 
 Impressions: the movie:  “Hellraiser Part 2”

 

>
>

Fairy tales? My father didn't believe in them either."

A rorshach of blood on a mattress,

A modern skull trepanning- piece removed, "a

Traumatized girl"; "she witnessed

Her family murdered"....the cenobites?

Could they really exist? O I hope so!

Good and evil in a box with raised ridges,

Beaded ridges- the pieces of which

Were they fitted together

Would click like a poem and give meaning!



"You have to destroy that mattress;

Julia could come back like Frank did..."

The box like Piranesi prisons most of all

Like Escher- the intertwined staircases?

Elevators going down- below Maintenance level

Below Basement- there are floors

Where patients never stop screaming!

Far below: "Am in Hell- Help me",

Inscribed in blood on a wall:

If I taste your blood would the Pinhead

Possess me? Destroy the mattress!

 

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