NOV. 15, '69 MARCH ON WASHINGTON‑"STOP THE WAR, STOP THE DEATH MACHINE, (as "
4th & D streets, & get that for the driver ...
Plus specifics re non‑violence
That the "new mobe" provides you;
In front of the White House, flood lights set there
So bright as to blind you....
Clasp the event shut as they used to hold lockets
Enameled like church stained glass, dark green, gold, say,
Or blue and dark purple, angels,
Wings with flame colored hinges.
Why do some trees have leaves now, others not?
Who makes that decision? * mind wanders
At meetings. Could we, unlike our
Fathers and mothers be honest?
The alternate route that stops trouble?
Front and center‑ youth, we (you)
Are leaving, always leaving, capitol
Will leave too tho' it seems solid enough
And U.S. will, to drum cadence, like a Kennedy.
Look ahead‑ yr. own funeral!
A souvenir printed as church fans on the back;
You fade out in the vein mesh
Leaf din of November,
Your funeral to the
Music you chose:
But for now-
How lights hang from a roof, how a woman's
Hair sizzles in stained glass light, how they train you
With grace in non‑violence at the Ebenezer Methodist Church, 4th & D streets.
Just to be able to start, to be able to finish.
* Actually, it turns out that it is the tree that makes the decision as to its leaves: as to color- it's a "survival advantage" decision because: (this is debated) 1) the tree needs useful chemical compounds; 2) redness is a warning sign to keep aphids from laying their eggs? (see Washington Post article from 11/3/'09- Health and Science section) I'm sure the trees also make the decision as to when their leaves leave. Now- who makes the tress decide? Just "follow the money."
from Lewisburg Federal Prison
Beating off in
The teeth of my
"Masters" in their
Guard towers (they cant
See me through
The leaves), up a
Cherry tree, the
White gobs gouting
Out like pits after
You've eaten, furry red
And I cum easy like I
Eat, shit or bleed...
Go fu k others
Clouds all noble
Overhead in white bulbs
When in prison
Says the bark,
The wind spanks, slaps,
Tugs at me, I
Spit pits free and
My eyes glaze
Adding my fizz
To the tree fizz.
(Lewisburg Federal Prison)
I want to see
How your face changes
When you cum.
What are we
Put on earth for?
When you bend over
Your breasts blade
More real than the
We kept watching
From our cells,
Couldn't reach them!
The state evaporates
As you approach, but it
Kept us here! We
Hills 'til they formed rare
Thighs, faces and blue hair.
(Lewisburg Federal Prison)
Somewhere the poise
In a stone
Might feed the poor
But not here.
Somewhere blood jasper,
Moss agate (stones you can
Find on the beach)
Comfort like money and
But justice, no
Work nor person
Clouds settle towards evening
And rose coats them
And they fire and bloom
Like scenes in
Sliced jade. There? is
Here we settle for law.
the following is a prose exerpt from The Tree Calendar and my longer prose work on prison, peace movement, etc.: it is amplified elsewhere in movement memoirs
Things started well enough for me on the new job in the laundry. For awhile I worked on the "sheet mangler" with a black Muslim who also had a draft "rap" (like "beef" meaning charge). He addressed me sneeringly as "Sir". "Sir" was a very common way that prisoners addressed each other in general, but this had the connotation of blue‑eyed devil and white oppressor. Another co‑ worker was one of the prison's foremost characters, a hashish smuggler from
I moved "up" in the laundry into the position of laundry clerk, "dogged" by my WASP appearance and college degree. I became somewhat isolated from friends in a back room with one white and a few black cons. One day the white approached me in a confidential way in the mess hall. He had overheard two blacks scheming to "take me off" which meant rape! I was alarmed. My confidante wouldn't specify the attackers, following the honored prison code. He just dropped his poison pellet, then withdrew, leaving my imagination to work overtime amidst the steam and the clanking presses. I tensed and the whole atmosphere tensed. These persecutor/victim situations would develop at any time in prison, as they do anywhere, organically, without a word spoken, through glances and gestures alone.
Was I really in danger? It isn't easy to "corn hole" an unwilling victims, I reasoned to myself. Easier if a gang is involved, I worried, but ... maybe I'd push them into one of the vats of melting soap. Probably my informer had made the whole thing up just to see how I'd react. That's what persons who were on the scene told me later. "Just prison talk," they said. I had a slight reputation as a poet. One giant frightening black guy wanted to recite a poem to me that he'd written about "reefer" (he was in on a narcotics charge). Another guy asked me to write a "nice" poem he would send to his girlfriend. There was unquestionably more appreciation for poetry inside of prison than there had been outside. It was a society of conversationalists, forced to spend time close to each other. There were less diversions than on the street. Story telling, insult trading, jokes and verbal embellishments were appreciated, as perhaps among some primitive tribes in the rain forest. Also, whether because they had more extreme experiences to describe or were describing them in prison where description was an art, and the prison characters seemed earthier or more dramatic than the white middle class circles in which I'd grown up.
The laundry worried me and I tried to get a transfer. It wasn't easy; inmate requests were generally ignored. I tried to get help from the chaplain and got "shot" or arrested for being out of bounds as I went to see his assistant. Prison movement was carefully regulated. Once in the prison "court" I explained my situation and the job change was accomplished.
But generally I learned that the "asshole bandits" didn't pick on unwilling victims. If you seemed weak they'd approach you. If you were weak, they might try to rape you. Some cons, after all, would never hold a woman again. Generally, there were enough willing partners to go around. If mast rbation by "Rosy Red Palm and her five calloused daughters" or ole "Miss Fist" got boring, a blow job was fairly readily available for all, draft resisters included, because you could pay to get one or find someone who would do it.
My mind had dwelt on homosexuality and violence since we entered prison. See Willard Gaylin's book In the Service of their County where he describes some of the abuses visited upon war objectors who had been at Lewisburg just before me. As with the homosexuality, the violence was nearby just out of the corner of your eye. Fights could flare up over very petty, ridiculous issues, a box of corn flakes on the chow line for example, or choice of television programs.
My next job assignment ended on a comic note. I had been transferred to the Warden's office- to clean and help with filing. One day the Warden mused to himself- "Hey, wasn't this guy brought into prison for destroying draft files?" I was moved post haste.
There were killers around but if they were after you, you'd probably be aware of it and they would have their reasons. As with the homosexuality, things were complicated, the usual gray, the usual in‑between. There wasn't that much blatant or irrational violence (at least that was true of Lewisburg at that time). The homosexuals I met were the gentlest of inmates.
Lewisburg was a gentle place compared to state joints where the inmates were poorer and less educated. There, maybe you would have to carry a razor in your soap when you showered, or be careful how you looked at another inmate. Lewisburg had less of "fools" (a very derisive word of the period), I thought (as if I were proud of the place). Maybe these types were at the worse federal institutions. A documentary on Lewisburg that came out in the 80's (I believe) showed that it had gone way down hill and was then a lot more violent than it had been when I was there.
Some of the killers, like Carmine Galente whom I met later at the farm camp, were calculating hit men, but most of the murderers I met were not. R, whom I met later at the farm camp, had entered prison in 1941 just after I was born. He had killed an F.B.I. agent on an army post. He had never given up hope and was a model prisoner. He was a Warden's houseboy and spent spare time attending "Yokefellow" (a religious group active in prisons at that time) meetings or tending sunflowers in a little patch out by the fire engine garage. He was the prison's chief softball umpire. He had already made parole on his life sentence and was now working on another 12 year bit. He hoped to be paroled finally to work at a half way house in
I had not suffered much physical violence for my views. The gas station attendant had pushed me around and the draft clerk at the Customs House had bopped me on the head with a paperback bible. Later, when I got to the farm camp, another inmate gave me a glancing blow on the chin because he disagreed with my choice of T.V. programs. I was on the T.V. committee that decided which programs played on the first floor day room set and which played in the basement. It was no big thing.
One ex‑prizefighter's (according to him) playful greeting to me was, "I'll crush Eberhardt's fingers so he won't be able to play the piano anymore." It was his way of saying hello. And at the time of the
It occurred to me that more violence came from the feds than from the criminals. The feds were the ones bombing
We met the famed union organizer and leader, Jimmy Hoffa, in the wall while we were there and engaged him on the issues of violence and non‑violence. You might see him most often in the visiting room and it was alleged that he conducted much Teamster business through his lawyer there. I think the prison officials had him tucked out of the way from influencing other prisoners by giving him his job in the bowels of the prison basement stuffing mattresses. He stuffed them so full and hard, how could any one sleep on them; they were rounded like giant culvert pipes.
Jimmy had a lot of experience with violence, and to judge by the number of other teamsters at Lewisburg, a lot of experience with organized crime. He would bang his yardstick down on the counter as he made a point: "You pacifists, whadda you know about organizing and picket lines? Goddamn, you're never gonna get anywhere. You need fists and guns!" Looking back I wish I'd talked with him about the Kennedys. Probably would have gotten an earful of bile, but nothing too revealing. Some later conspiracy buffs cited Hoffa as a player in the asassination.
My greatest prison story? I thought I'd play a little joke on Jimmy one day and snuck up behind him as he was walking down the main corridor. I grabbed his shoulder from behind and told him to "watch out for that nonviolence, Jimmy." A little later one of his giant goon squad members approached me as delicately as he was able in the dining room and drew me aside, confiding in his best Jersey accent: "Hey kid, Jimmy doan like being touched an, uh, doan do that again." Jimmy had enemies from struggles out on the street who were also doing time at Lewisburg, so the rumor went. Supposedly that was the reason that Vinnie "the Pro" Provenzano was at the farm camp and not inside the wall where Jimmy could get at him.
One of Jimmy's union buddies told me later when I got to the farm that he shared Jimmy's poor opinion of Phil. Phil had mentioned Hoffa in his Prison Diary of a Priest Revolutionary, describing the prestige Jimmy enjoyed in prison and the favors he might do friends. "Berrigan was a stool pigeon," this inmate allowed, "you doan go carrying stories outta here; you come in here, you're a convict first!"
Not long after his release, Jimmy disappeared, allegedly a mob hit victim. The stocky, short, bull headed man that had lived by the sword- he died by it- two bullets to the head- My friend didnt suffer- according to hit man Frank The Irishman Schirren (sp?) who had confessed to killing Jimmy for the mob in 1975 to a lawyer, Mr. Brandt who wrote about it in his book You Paint Houses Dont You, (I think thats the title) referring to the mob slang for a killing- to paint a house. Schirren, a good Catholic boy, had gotten his killing experience from World War II, where he had a job of killing prisoners. He had been Jimmys friend- but as he told it, if he hadnt hit Jimmy, Jimmy been dead and him too!
Carmine Galente, whom I was to meet at the farm, the bona fide mob hit man, later became a "godfather" after he got out. He'd "whacked" many on the streets, to hear the story, and I imagined I could see it in his eyes: they were cold and black. But in the context of the farm camp he seemed harmless enough, mixing up evening cocktails, playing handball or tending cantaloupes and eggplant in his little garden. Galente may have killed the Italian anarchist, Carlo Tresca, in the early days, but at that time I had no knowledge of this part of Galente`s past.
I mused on these who lived by the sword as, one by one, they met violent ends on the street, Jimmy, Vinnie and Carmine. Perhaps Jimmy was compacted along with junked automobiles at a mob run junk yard or sunk deep into some bay or buried at the meadowlands or as was popularly believed in the end zone at the Giants football field there. After he got out, Carmine was blown away by a shotgun blast was it as he sat smoking his De Nobili cigar, or at the barber shop? Pace Carlo Tesca.
my brother, Tim, my father, Charles, and me outside the farm visiting room- a fellow inmate takes the picture w a polaroid- I think it was Joey- the mafia guy - he also dug the contraband out of the ice maker- visiting room attendant was an important job- (a mob job?)
The din of eventful current that had roared around me for four years subsided as I moved to the Lewisburg Farm Camp. I was able to relax a bit from the landscape of issues into a landscape of interesting human faces, my fellow cons. My first job assignment was an easy one: wiping up tables in the dining room. My co‑worker, Joey, who had also just arrived from the wall, needed light work: he had entered prison with four bullet wounds to the stomach. These weren't draining properly. He was involved with the Mafia and Carmine Galente was showing him around. The two approached me, Carmine fingering the required mafia De Nobili cigar in its holder: "Nowa Joey, dis here's Ebahart and uh Ebahart I want yuse to make it easy for Joey here, uh, he's got bad health and Joey dis here's a good kid and he'll show yuse the ropes, he's one of tha Berrigan gang, you know, da priest and dem nuns and so fort..." "Yeh, da fadder," Joey says devoutly ... "ain't it a shame."
There were many pheasants on the grounds around the Farm Camp at the Lewisburg Prison where I was doing time for an anti-war protest. Hunters couldn't follow across the fence onto what was euphemistically called our "reservation". Inmates were allowed to trap them and put them in crates for shipment to sparsely pheasanted parts of
The burningly phosphorescent males looked like freedom as they scooted whistlingly up out of the corn stobs to escape you. Or sexual release with their iridescent vests for courtship displays like those of pidgeons' or the blushings of purple tetra fish- how much I missed Louise. Or they reminded me of beautiful privacy and meditation as they flew up evenings to roost in skeletal trees.
Always they were gorgeous with strange autumnal hues: coppery chests with freckles like those in the tubes of iris flowers or like the shimmering markings in an eye's iris. They had white rings round the necks ... which inmates dearly loved to wring. They were delicious cooked between the rungs of our radiators. (Prisons are kept hot; lethargy results.) To feather, gut, joint them, it helped to know someone in the butcher shop.
Winters the pheasants would sometimes make the mistake of flying over the main prison wall to look for food on the ground over steam pipes where snow had melted. Supposedly, an inmate had caught one from his cell window by dangling a pin, bent fishhook style, on the end of a line. I imagined the raucous squawking in the clear blue Pocono air (actually Allegheny air- but Pocono sounds better!)!
Mornings we dozed toward winter on our work crew in the general farm shed. The work of the year was largely done, the root cellar filled to capacity with apples and potatoes. Zillions of snowflakes blitzed the surrounding fields until they looked covered in flakes of sugar frosted cereal. The snow wiped out our vistas of the far blue mountains. We could only see the minute details of the close black and white land looming bitterly larger and larger. We could feel the full weight of our unjust sentences ... time itself an unjust sentence!
Did we deserve this? we were almost tricked to wonder, the slave's terrible question. Had we not chosen to be here? Wasn't this our fault? We would interiorize our sentences and grow to accept them, a final brutality, as the snow came in on a slant over the Alleghenies, beauty and horror together. Luckily, we war protesters were not alone, we had loved ones and vast support systems. Christmas brought us cards from all over the world, even
We took our place beside the "common" car thieves and bank robbers. Pheasants are so dumb they will enter a wire cage trap, unable to retrace their steps out of the little hatch to freedom. Society stands behind the prisoner smugly saying, "You have seen this happen to a person also." Undoubtedly many of the inmates would return to crime upon release, as we all return to the ruts in our mind which are familiar. But we not only knew the way back into society, we rejected it. And so, in a way, we were free.
Because of his truck‑driving skills Doc was prison fire chief. The fire truck for the main prison was housed at the farm camp and I volunteered to join the six man crew. It was a desirable position since we got to take test drives around the perimeter of the institution and occasionally go outside the prison to train with local fire crews or put out some nearby fires.
The local Lewisburg Township Fire Department was a sharp outfit. We did some training with them and I waxed quite poetical about them. Since they were, I believe, unpaid volunteers, I thought of the anarchist societies proposed by Prince Kropotkin which would be based on mutual aid, as I sat and chatted with them amongst the snorkels and oxygen masks, the great yellow hoses and bright shining red trucks. One of the grumpier older inmates on our prison crew questioned my right to take part. What if we got a fire at a draft board or ROTC buildings? I wouldn't try to put it out and might endanger his life, he reasoned. His objections were far fetched to the others however, since they figured we wouldn't be called to many such fires. I got into some interesting discussions with the town firemen about burning draft records. One said he thought it would be O.K. as long as we took the files out of the building!
Checking hoses and equipment on the other side of the main prison next to the placid
The crew joked about a possible prison fire and the political issues it would present, i.e. should we help put it out? Often, prison fires were set by our fellow inmates. Luckily we never had a bad prison fire. The only one we were called to inside the wall was a very small one in the Education Department, probably the work of some disgruntled scholar. It was out by the time we got there. As we uncoiled our hoses under the Warden's worried gaze, one of the gas mask boxes fell open and out spilled someone's stash, tins of pate, canned shrimp,
We jokingly appraised each situation as to possible "good days" or days of credit off our sentence that we might earn. One inmate claimed to have thrown the Warden's dog into the
Once we were called to a brush fire up on Dale's Ridge overlooking the far blue
Stories from Catonsville 9 member, Tom Melville re Carmine Galente and Vincente Provenzano and others
Tom had had considerably more relation with Tony and Carmine at the farm camp than had I. He shared several fabulous stories:
Tom described a committee formed for a memorial day picnic consisting of himself, a Jewish lawyer from
Once Carmine drew Tom aside to complain, "how come there aren't Italian bishops in the
Tom's best Carmine story he called the story of the "Irish mafia". It seems that Tom had taken on or been assigned the duty of movie picture director. Always the front couple of rows in the movie room were reserved for Carmine and his retinue. But, in a playful mood, Tom had decided to play a little joke on Carmine and, having arrived to the showing of a film before Carmine, who could afford to wait until the last minute, Tom took a seat right up in front in one of the sacred rows. The loud bantering and exchanges that always preceded any gathering of cons stopped immediately and in hushed whispers the other cons debated what might happen to Tom for this transgression. One of Carmines's men came on the scene, a forerunner to the main Carmine group, and seeing Tom in the row, accosted him in shocked tones, "What the f k are you doin here?" Tom told him thoughtfully to tell Carmine that the Irish mafia had arrived. "The Irish mafia," the runner asks and runs off, doubtlessly thinking that Carmine will have to deal with the new challenge ruthlessly. Carmine arrives and comes up to Tom, looks him over and starts to chuckle. "You!? You is the Irish mafia, dis is the Irish mafia?" Carmine pauses for a moment and then addressed the entire gathering. "From now on," he says, "dese front rows are reserved for the Irish and the Italian mafia!"
One time mob boss Joe Salerno was observed on the evening television news as he was being interviewed in
George Mische of the Catonsville 9 tells a wonderful story how he was invited to dine with Carmine and his cronies- Carmine commonly ate in his own room at the Farm Camp- feasting on various Italian delicacies which had been smuggled in (either through the visiting room- where people would hide stuff in the ice in the ice dispenser or thrown in over the perimeter chain link fence) - pastas, pepperonies- etc. George had earned respect from these mobsters for the way he had organised cons against some repressive prison regs by the feds. George sat down, but told the assembled, shockingly, that he wasn't going to eat with them- "until you invite the rest of the people in the dorm- blacks included." This advise for integration and democracy was too much for the mobsters to handle.
Fast forward to 2009
An inmate on a work crew at the Baltimore City Jail where I work has been to Lewisburg several times since I was there. On 4/7/9 we chat and I ask him about how violent it was? He tells me that- was it in the 90's: the Italians hired the Cubans to fight the DC blacks for control of the prison. Tony "ducks" Salerno? Yeh- they demanded respect. I guess the guards don't run it the way they did in my day. Lapsing into my "prison guise" I joke w him, "You're kind of pretty- didn't anybody try to f k you?" I tell him about my time in the laundry. Nah- he implies the federal places aren't that bad- "sometimes I got a love note or somebody would put a bag of cookies on your pillow"...."You were one of the Chicago 7 mob," he queries? Cute.
He goes on to tell me what is going on at the place that I work- that it is basically "run" by the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) (a gang) with the "Bloods" coming in second. He tells me the higher ups know all about this. The two groups are kept separate because they would "kill one another upon sight." (We have had more violence lately). Supposedly there is a Baltimore founded and based group of white inmates with the charmiong name of "Dead Men International." He says they are, surprisingly, pals of, "comrades" with the BGF. They are not racists like the Aryan Nation gang that, according to him, run the federal prisons, except in the southwest where the Mexicans hold the power. All this needs to be double and triple checked- the exaggeration and bragadoccio and the inability to discern shades of gray factor are large with inmates. He says that our jail is poorly run compared to many- and he's been in many- and I can actually observe this to be true! Much tobacco, drugs and cell phones come in through the young guards now working here (and the food service and medical staff) - who, after all, grew up along with the inmates in the same neighborhoods.
And in newspaper articles on 4/16 and 17- it turns out that- according to federal inditements- the BGF does play a big role in the smuggling in of cell phones, the corruption of guards, etc. They claim to be sort of Black Pantherish-i.e. in it to help the youth and the community- but there is a large criminal contingent. One inmate is cited as not having shrimp to go with his slamon and cigar and Grey Goose vodka. But I still bet it's exaggerated, poeticized, etc. I see a lot of people with the black t shirts on around.
The following is inscribed on a giant slab on the Plaza of Three Cultures. It commemorates protestors who were murdered there by troops. The protesters had been opposed to the take-over of the
"These are the friends who fell Oct. 1968 on this square:
The names follow.
And many other friends whose names and ages we do not know."
This is a translation of the poem in Spanish that follows:
"Who?" (sing.) "Who?" (plural)
"The next day no one remembered any of them!
When the next day came, the square was clean.
The main news in the papers was the weather.
On TV, on radio, in the movies there were no changes in program.
No announcements in between programs.
Not a minute of silence at the banquet.
(But the banquet proceeded)."
Coda, added by D E:
In 2002, new photos come to light-
Portray the dead, and still no prosecution-
400 dead, media remaining silent.
Upon the skull rack that is
The chac mool* of sacrifice still sits.
Vincente Fox who is the latest fool
Doles out the latest capitalist shit!
*Mexican (Mayan) sculpted figure holding a bowl for the hearts of the sacrificed.
Stela portant des inscription sur La Place a Mexico- "Tenochtitlan":
Ce qui suit est inscrit sur une dalle geante sur La Place des Trois Cultures. Elle rend homage aux mainfestants qui ont ete assassines ice par l'armee, Les manifestants protestaient contre l'occupation de l'universite par les soldat du gouvernement Mexicain a la veille des Jeux Olympiques de 1968.:
"Ce sont les amis tombes en Octobre 1968 sure cette pace./ Les noms suivent./ Et de nombreaux amis dont nous ne connaissons ni le nom ni l' age."
Ceci est las traduction d'un poeme:
"Qui?/ Le lendemain plus personne ne se souvenait pas d'eux./ Le jour suivant, la place etait nettoyee./ La principale nouvelle dans les journaux etait le meteo./ A la tele, a la radio, au cinema, il ny'a avait aucun changement dans les programmes./ Aucun annonce entre les programmes./ Pas une minute de silence dans les banquets./ Mais les banquets continue."
Coda ajoutee by moi:
En 2002, de nouvelles photos firent surface-/ montrant des etudiants tues, toujours pas de proces mais 400 bien sur tues,/ les media restent silencieux./ Sur la pile de cranes qu'est Mexico,/ Le "Chac Mool"* sacrificiel est tourjours la./ Vincednte Fox le dernier laquais,/ presente le dernier merde capitaliste.
*sculptur Maya avec un bol pour les coeur des sacrificies.
PERIOD PIECE, A HOLESOME POEM,RECIPE, AUBADE, SWIMMING YOUR BLACK POOL
Lemmee stay in your black crotch, in the
Rawness each month, my nose in
Your flower, keep my tongue in
Your soft ears, salt marsh-
Peat bog strong enough to
Preserve corpses, the
Where the changes take place; sea meets land!
Estuarial tide pools of brine wrack,
Sea logs, star fish mouldering, kelp beds.
I dredge grease
With my pole like when pa gutted mackeral
On the oar thwarts, ranks of mussel
In the black
Of your hair pool and hair pie, me gobbling
It all in...linseed oil,
Blood and cooking, olive oil,
Myrrh ick salt tears or
The cobweb that fills up a wound.
Annointed I am for the day in your oil
As painters clear brushes I step
From you enrobed in your purple;
Your black hairs sprout out of my mouth!
( cut material is: (May the women I've slept with remember me.
Some may not remember me overly much....
But they hopefully will, just a touch).
· *Edgar Allen Poes
· ** Dante quoted by Eliot
JUNE, JANE, JEAN
trying for more lightness but still too heavy, maybe in July shoot off some sparklers
You lean down from your horse, crush sage in your fingers.
Meanwhile I'm floating just ahead of the storm in my rainbow
Balloon, one fat rib of it purple,
One light blue, one dark blue and one violet
But, "Let's watch out, we're drifting too low
Towards the power lines!!" (We ought to go high towards the power lines
Which pop, snap and hum where the buzzards sit
Rise above them
And our petty differences
If we want to continue.
Propane huffs up into the sack
(Like Darth Vader* breathing, only mellower).
Then I put down, wait the storm out, meanwhile
You've gone back to the house to squush bay leaves
After rain at evening, fireflies go "bleet,bleet"
.Til night's studded with basilisk eyes like
Those stars in the poem throw their swords down **
Theyre all over the place like heat lightening.
In your tropics they take over whole trees `til they glisten throb
Like house lights douse on and off when the force
Of the flash hits the juice.
Maybe we were
Such an item but `
Stay together very long,
And Jane says,
"It was cruel when we were kids,
Pulled their tails off to make bracelets.
Like a few
* character who breathed heavily in the film "Star Wars"** Blake poem
Fall Aspens- in mem. Carl Sagan
Or dish antennas at
For that first noise
In the universe.
We are hopeful.
We could broadcast a
Statement sharp yellow-
The North Rim
Of the Canyon...
Like elks bugling
Up past Durango...
Le Allen/Reseau de telescopes/Ou l'antenne/ En forme de coupe/ A Goldstone, Arecibo/ Ecoute patenment/ Pour le premier signe des autre/ Dan l'universe. Nous somme/ Rempli esperance./
Nous pouraient emettre un message/ Jaune vif-/ Aspens tremblant/ De la rive nord/De Grand Canyon/- L'Ange Brilliant:/ Cheminent heraldique! / Resonne!!.
Comme les elans/Muggissons / "Marcato"/ Au de la/ De Durango.
FENDING OFF DEATH,
"Libera me domine de morte aeterna..."
If death could be like staying up all night
Because you need the stars to sail by,
That would be all right!
What happens next?
We're always trying to find out.
Great telescopes prowl down
Through corridors and shelves of light,
Sifting the snow mass for keys....
We listen, scratch down through the static for
(Like pentimento) voices from other galaxies. They'll know.
We wait with radio telescope arrays: blue stars
Deneb and Spica through the Hubble.
But at night we soar out of institutions
We spent all day building.
I go riding on up the beach with Gauguin into
His late palette: pinks, greens, blues.
Or I'm out swimming with reef fish,
Blue tang, blue wrasse,
Out over the cauliflower coral heads,
Like stars the fish schools circle to and fro
Frangipani blossoms, rainbow kalanchoe's
Off white petals, color smudged on in
Pale blues like anise in ouzo;
Hydrangeas suffused blue as if
Blushing, ageratum "blue tango",
Lobelia "crystal palace",
I wish I could tell you how the Snow
-in-summer trees blooms each year
Or even the magno-
lia in my back yard,
Beauty is enough .partly .
We burn down through
Different layers in the seeds
For differing smoke
'til it rises, rain on roofs, a
Rare blue melange, like voices singing...
Looking for answers.
The roads through woods I explored as a kid in
Andy Goldsworthy- Stone Wall at Storm King Sculpture Park, New York
The end of the work day at 4:30 is as close to an answer as I ever get- I go home and sink into a chair and have a beer. It's like that magic keyhole on the stone door in the children's book- the beer is like that ray of sun that, at 4:30, strikes the key hole on the door; finally I can push through and find deep answers- go through the door, my guru is urging...but I'd rather sit here with my beer and look out the window. My guru tells me to use my energy to go through the door...time is running out!
My father and mother are dead, now my death approaches. I dream that I am running from one side of a bridge to the other to watch a boatload of coffins going under, but only one coffin emerges!, mine. Memories still of places now: Hilo, for example, where rain marches punctually on up the volcano into the deep fern and ohia of the national forest, or I remember bits of music...horns sounding off stage (Mahlers 2nd)...
Every morning in Honolulu Eve laced on her violet running shoes heading out towards Wialae as far as the shopping center and up around the Kaimuki cinder cone and that big bush of yellow bougainvillea that grows behind the fire station, then back to the apartment next to mine.
Even then I'd think of death; in the evenings we'd walk up
Susurrus dove in plumeria,
Canoe practice on the Alai Wai,
The minnow bridge, the bridge of sighs,
Or like it says when we sing the mass:
The martyrs in the paradise.
CODA, some other memories thrown in
Lo tho' I walk under
Death's shadow I
Might think of
A gate swinging open-
The hinge sound
Like a canyon wren's
"Da dee bee boo". (read tapering off)
Or in Death's valley
I might think of
Carver's Brew Pub,
Three special beers,
One raspberry flavored.
A storm comes down out of
Las Truchas, "Trout peaks", mixing
Silvery light with
Gold buckwheat and pinion,
Lightening smell, ozone,
Smell of silver we painted
On models of "spitfires",
When we were kids...
Cutting fine balsa...
Yea tho' I walk closer
To death every day
I may think of travelling
The Pennsylvania turnpike
At evening, in the
Cuts down through much strata/
And rock layers
As the roadbed turns,
Down through oil soaked stone
Sometimes blue, sometimes roan.
Looking out over the Connecticut River into New Hampshire, listening to Grandma and wondering:
"If death could be like staying up all night
To watch the stars, well, or some dark flue
(Like the "Roaring Spout", Dark Harbor, Maine-
The waves boom through)?
But it's only my heart (or yours) at night...sometimes lately
I sense the big "D" coming on,
(O, I try to treat it lightly)- in my dreams
I'm back in Vermont, the Lord of all meadows
A kid with my 22
In the abandoned barns shooting up,
But in dream the barn's a shed of glass
Towering, towering, night rushes
In when I shoot at the the morphos
That juke down towards me, (I can't hit them),
Their wings morph, blue silver
And the tropical light adds velvet...
Neon, translucent, theyre crashing...
Crashing around me in slow motion...
I try to imagine a time when
We're not together at night?
I don't want to be there!- it's PITCH BLACK!!
Like the Connecticut River, looking over
It to Mount Moosilauke and beside that
Black Mountain. As kids
We might shrug, listening to grandma
Who'd repeat the old stories get them
Garbled with strange detail...
At the time it was "funny"...
TWO LATE POEMS
Ý Jardin sur le Nil
Her sillage, scent sillage
Precedes her- firm, clear:
"Iris naturelle, absolue,"
Essence of iris, obtained
"From the root, not the flower,"
An Armani" matte" or Hermes-
"Verouille a tous les etages,"
And for Ariane I'd add bitter orange,
An unblemished peel, and green mango,
Before she comes in the room...and after.
and in French: Son sillage, son parfum sillage/ La precede, clair et fort-/Une essence d'iris, obtainu/De la raceme de la fleur/Pas de la fleur/-Matte d'Armani ou Hermes/ Verouille a tous les etages./ Et pour Ariane j'aurais adjouter/ L'orange emere- un ecourse pur/Et de mangoe verte/ Avant qu'elle narrive dans le chambre/Et ensuite...
2 You may remember me
On some rainy, misty morning
Like hoping for an afterlife....
Like the old Biblical names
Come back to me- Amaranth, Pa., Bethesda....
"Angel of the healing waters,"
Or Moroni, pronounced Muh rawn aye-
Angel of delusion, angel
On top of
Disney looking Mormon temple-
Our lady of the DC beltway.
An animal in agony, its bones broken,
Being dragged to a hidden place
To be eaten- "nature's way"....
But I like to think on
How the body
Is the garden
Of the soul.
(Actually- in this Kahil Gibran style poem, may I point out that there is no such thing as "soul", or for that matter- "mind" or "spirit"- there's brain!
Zen Exercises, Poundian or Snyderian Poem
Jadeite so named
As if lit from
Within, can it
Cure, even! as
Plain green jade can?,
Or the lum-
Hold a piece tight.
Let me know.
Please take out
Your quetzal feather.....
3 Short Poems
1. (to Rumi- that mystic galoot)
An orange squeeks when you peel it
What rain means to a tiger.
2 (after Hart Crane) Black angus scald in melon fields.
3. Return to desire- that pure well.
Poem Found By the Dish Machine
Parodies and Drinking Songs
Thoughts On Poe
Aztec Mother Goddess Coatlicue - now in Museum of Anthropolgy, Mexico City 8'9" tall (the mothers! there are the ones in america- the fathers just sort of faded away- they were always "away"- out in the woods hunting or something!
Chopin's friend- Fontana, who visited America, told Chopin that Poe reminded him of Chopin- a factoid passed to me on the Piano Forum
i'm not sure there's been a good translation of it yet-i tried one i'm going to have to try to find for you- of French poet, Mallarme's curious tribute- "At the Tomb of Poe"-
it was translated into English by Mallarme himself- poorly: (i've made some changes which don't help much- i think it has some great lines- i guess you have to read it in the French!!)
"Such as into himself at last Eternity changes him
The Poet arouses with a naked hymn;
His century was overawed not to have known
That death extolled itself in this strange voice.
But, in vile Hydra voices, (they) (de note- the critics) once hearing the Angel
Giving too pure a meaning to the words of the tribe,
hearing the poet,
They charged him as always drowned in alcohol!
O clouds, o soil- eternal enemies, o struggle-
I want my words to carve a bas-relief
With which to adorn his tomb!
On that stern basaltic block that falls
From a mysterious and ancient disaster-
A warning against false charges that poets are drunkards
Now and forever after."
of course, poets are often boozers- i would imagine Poe was-
yes, i took liberties w the mallarme poem on poe:
here's Daisy Aldan's translation:
Le Tombeau d'Edgar Poe
"Just as eternity transforms him at last into Himself,
The Poet rouses with a naked sword
His age terrified at not having discerned
That death was triumphant in his strange voice.
They, like vile Hydra's on hearing this angel
Give a purer meaning to the words of the tribe,
Loudly proclaimed sorcery drunk
In the dishonest flow of some dark brew.
From hostile soil and cloud, o grief!
If our imagination does not carve a bas relief
With which to adorn the shining tomb of Poe,
Silent block of fallen granite here below
From some dim old disaster, let it be a boundary
To foul flights of blasphemy in the future!"
of course, I've taken liberties w her version- too- i can't help it- i'm a poet also
Baudelaire also translated Poe altho I'm not sure abt the poetry- the greatest tribute to his poetry is Rachmaninoff's "The Bells"
I find "The Raven" kind of schlocky- but- its rhythm alone proclaims a very great poem- a thudding funeral march-
Go stand in front of the tomb with its corny raven bas relief and ponder the words of Mallarme:
"Calme bloc ici-bas chu d'un disastre obscur
Que ce granit du moins montre a jamais sa borne
Aux noirs vols du Blaspheme epars dans le futur"
Tel qu'en Lui-meme enfin l'eternite le change
Que la mort triomphait dans cetter voix etrange"
He sinks beneath the surface like a stone,
Sidling crab wise down til buried in mud,
A gold bug thread wise through vacant skull eye down
Into maelstroms of stars. Less and less loud, the thud,
Of shovelfuls above him .... into sidereal time, the tunnel back to light obscured.....
Buried alive as he thought ! As if to keep him down, the green
Block from some ancient , obscure disaster - Vermont granite dug ,
Ripton quarried, dark green, not jadeite green, an intenser, darker green -
As absinthe, but blacker, still, like Nevermore , its dense sheen
Like shiny hair : black hair, Ligea's, Virginia's, Helen's or Lenore's.
Bury the critics alive, I say, Poe careens
Down corridors of light, more drunk than before!!
Upon the stone a raven carved, the words blur, but it's not the end.
Buried alive in our imaginations , he rises eerily, again!
HOLLYWOOD CEMETARY from Blue Running Lights
overlooking the James River, Richmond, Va.
city of Poe, endlessly burning
this poem dedicated to the memory of Suzanne Meyers- she who inspired it!
this originally posted on Baltimore's Read Street blog: Just saw the Poe exhibit at BMA (10/'09)- had the thought that western art and illustrators can't really do Poet justice- they should have brought up some of the pieces from Africa or Oceania or Mexico. Poe's terrors and fears we all have, but western art - especially American (except for Poe)-does not go honest or deep enough to capture his more tribal, hieratic, vatic, iconic, ur-text concerns. The great head of Coatlicue- Museo de Anthropoligie-, Mexico City, this art communicates what Poe was talking about- or Aztec ceremonial sacrifice knives- also in the same museum