Odds and Ends

choke cherry
on the choke cherry tree
in my yard clustered dark
red choke cherries ripen

red-orange robins wait

soon unworldly chirping
as the tree is stripped

The Curse on the Musician Killers
In the Cambodian Genocide
to pol pot and the others
who murdered the musicians
may your souls wander forever
hungry ghosts
in a living burning hell of misery, suffering, and torture
of your bodies and minds
may your organs rot and explode repeatedly
may worms eat your brains and your brains regrow and be eaten
and may even your decomposed bones shudder with pain
again and again until the end of the time
and beyond

no there is no compassion for you
in the grave or in the next life
and in further reincarnations
no chance to make amends
to burn off karma
no one is praying for your soul
no bodhisattvas
this is your fate through eternity

darkness lit by torpor
i do not think
i will ever love again
cry again
sink my teeth
into thighs
the coast is clear
all night all right
i do not think
i will rise again


in some deep
nameless interior place
the scent of mandarin
orange overwhelms
seems tangential
i take flight
over badlands
in some deep
very interior
everything takes

the scent of badlands
is dusty bland
i am bored
with life
in some deep place

and what if
what if the other side
confronted me
naked after my ablution
after a lifetime
a lifetime of fatness
distant from the ecstatic center
the center of light
center within center

could i withstand
hold up to the onslaught
the attack of inward reflection

and what if that sheer light
poked through the skin
through the covering
the outward manifestation
of that agonizing quest
the search for radiance
nighttime tranquility
quiet among the crickets
the honking cars
the painful noise at the corner
the intersection of broadway and
and columbus

and what if
interminable among the rushes
the spreading wild grasses
pushing toward the horizon
overflowing the banks
of every ditch
each canal
as if on the lunar surface
on the desolate moonscape
facing away from the sun
away only to suddenly turn
turn about into a month-long morning
as if the universe had just
begun had only started to exist
at that moment
a concussion

and what if i could not withstand
the magnitude of the light
felt i had to experience
not just tragedy but more than enough
for any lifetime
or perhaps raised a family and lost
and raised another and gained and then
facing the blinding white night
forgot how to write poetry
and simply sat blinded in the last patch of tallgrass prairie

the summers were so so hot
the winters effectively mild
so that in holding off
this preternatural change
about to inflict my life
i opened the gates of paradise
and paraded insensibly through
the streets of hell
unable to fully comprehend the meaning
of life as it finally revealed itself
swept away by mundanities of the sort
i always despised
yet through it all pursued
the persistence of memory
boulder, co 9/3/92 about 11 pm thursday evening (possibly written in 1968)
louisville, co
rev 9 6 19 4 pm

Everyone Else
The rest of the world is happy
I am not

Everyone else has children
I do not

Other people marry and stay that way for years
My longest relationship is three years

Other people smile on Shabbat
I mope and grimace

They believe in God and praise God
I don’t believe and so cannot praise

They think God is female
I don’t see the difference between her and him

Other people know themselves
I have been trying all my life

They know what is real
I do not

They are sure of themselves
I question myself when I go to sleep and as soon as I wake up

Rasam says he’d rather be lost
Than sure he has found himself

Fortune Cookie Says
You will be pleasantly surprised soon.
You are a person of imaginative yet honest intentions.
Now is the time to broaden your scope of influence.
The art of relationship is all in the appreciation.

Going with the flow will make your transitions in life so much easier.
Your high-minded principles spell success.
You always will live in interesting times.
Character is to man what carbon is to steel.

Never bring unhappy feelings into your home.
Present your best ideas today to an eager and welcoming audience.
You soon will be surrounded by good friends and laughter.
A huge fortune at home is not as good as money in use.

Really great people make you feel that you too can become great.
You long to visit Samarkand.
You will find comfort in a new relationship.
Desire, like the atom, is explosive with creative force.

Follow your honest beliefs to stay strong.
You have the ability for accomplishment.
Get ready to do something daring.
Those who dream most, do most.

Your happiness is before you, not behind you. Cherish it!
You will become more passionate and determined about your vision.
A dream you have will come true.
Only tears can bring a dreamer back to earth.

You maintain a sense of balance in the midst of great success.
Luck will visit you on the next full moon.
Your relationships could be under stress, so sit back and wait.
Prosperity makes friends. Adversity tries them.

The greatest danger could be your stupidity.
Sweet memories are the paradise of the mind.
Someone you care about seeks reconciliation.
Stuff happens. Your response is what counts.

You’ll be chosen heir of a kingdom in Europe.
Pass for now, the risk is too great.
The rainbow’s treasures will soon belong to you.
If you had a penny for every kind act you do, you’d surely be a millionaire.

Leave your boat and travel to firm ground.
Pleasures await you by the seashore.
Share your abundant humor with others.
Fortune cookie says: Look up an old friend if you’re feeling down.

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.
This is a great day to handle those real estate matters.
Your present plans are going to succeed.
Someone will give you a diamond the size of an egg of undetermined size.

Romance is just around the corner.
You long to see the great pyramids of Egypt.
Give a kiss to the person sitting to your right.
Constant grinding can turn an iron rod into a needle.

Prosperity makes friends.
Adversity tries them.
You will provide value without money.
Going with the flow will make your transition easier.

Enhance your karma by being kind to everyone you encounter.
Money speaks a language everyone understands.
You are headed in the right direction. Trust your instincts.
Pass for now, the risk is too great.

By hearing, you will learn half-truths only.
If you have no critics, you will likely have no success.
Behind an able man are always other able men.
A woman who seeks to be equal with men lacks ambition. Ouch!

Constant grinding can turn a needle into an iron rod.
Give a kiss to the person who sits next to you.
Your luck has been completely changed today.
Your destiny lies before you, so choose wisely.

The time is right to make new friends.
Money speaks in a language everyone understands.
Someone will give you an egg the size of a diamond.
This is a great day to handle those real estate matters!

You soon will be surrounded by good friends and laughter.
Sweet memories are the paradise of the mind.
Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of life it may occur.
La imaginacion es mas important que el conocimiento.

You will be coming into a fortune.
The hard times will begin to fade. Joy will take their place.
As soon as you wake up in the morning, look out the window.
Those dark clouds always will be gathering.

Keep your eye on the ball.
Ignore the splats of rain on your windows.
Kiss the great pyramids.
Then and only then crawl from under the covers.

where am i
going i do
not know
where i am
going do i
need to know
when i do not
know where
i am going

House of Chance
friends do not abound
i cannot locate them

within a heavenly framework
like a flamenco singer in search

of a bench to dance on
day and night my friends

experience the side-effects
mismatched sounds whatever that means if anything

swirling through space
like small stones

hurtling between the slats
of a house of chance

in my deepest dreams
a lovely child knows me
i do not remember her name
a woman i know ignores me
today i have lit two candles
one in my bedroom
one in the dining room
along with two sticks
of sandalwood incense

The Lilac Scholars
We met by the lilac garden
In the summer of no regrets
Multiplied our visions
Until we reached the habanero of death

She loved to paint herself fucking
Yaqui power animals
It was her Talmud, her wang dang doodle
Her version of day and night

On our first date I knew she was wrong
Her top was too low, showing cleavage
Of a kind never before seen in Colorado
She had an edge rougher than broken diamonds

This was the time
And land of the Lilac Scholars
Whose tears flow
August 16, 1999

Looking but Not Singing Like Bhimsen Joshi
This morning I woke up
looked in the mirror
and swear I saw Bhimsen Joshi
staring back at me
yes the famous Indian singer

Singing a song
to an incarnation of Vishnu
in a temple in Pandarpuhr
the transformation is now complete
except for my Jewish soul

The hair is the same
the same dour look
even though he had two wives
at the same time and I
not even one at different times

Bhimsen Joshi
though handsomer when younger
more honored when alive
whose funeral drew thousands

The only problem is this:
I may look like him
but cannot sing like him
in fact cannot really sing at all
so that’s where the likeness ends

what’s made
from the fox and fits
the hand what grows
wild and controls

Tenfold Qasida
We go from sea
to desert in a flash
ten of us
on living ships

An oasis here
is a kind we have not seen
certainly never
in our lifetimes

Venus and Jupiter
unite over the hilltops
water in the ravine
swirls past palm trees

Moonlight permeates
our dreams
longing for the four
stars of our youth

This miracle of life
now to be contemplated
seems to empty into endless sands
like an unseasonal flash flood

What does it all mean
as if we really could know
and if we really could know
would it matter?

Nostalgia shoots across
the sky like a comet
floating down
like dandelion seeds

We appertain
no more than dreams
of the beautiful virgins
the prophet promised

Or of our wives
and lovers awaiting our return
watching waves break
the figments of our imaginations

The oasis only seems
full of people only seems
full of water only seems
what we dreamed

On our backs we wade
into the starry night
feel our way along the silence
setting along the edge of

An old rose garden
long since forgotten in the murkiness
of our ten-ness from crown
to groin, groin to crown

Twenty eyes stare out
over faintly invisible tops
of palms singing in slightly
stirring night air

Where are we now-
here distant reverberations
hearts pounding
in recognition

You maker creator
first and last river running
sea rising falling
watery awareness like a third eye

Why did you bring us here?
Whose emanations are we?
Or fantasies or projections
of limitless something?

Around camp coyotes howl
flies dream snakes
lie motionless in holes
beasts of burden sigh on cold ground

Who knows who really knows
the nature of the fire burning
deep in our hearts
that leaves no embers

Who are we truly will
we ever know ourselves
or must we prepare for
the rest of our trek?

Across a vast landscape
that is the Mojave desert
patterns of meteorites glisten underfoot
as we tread time’s dry riverbeds.

Text on Shoes (Fear of Fitting)
There are different types of shoes:
Long ones, short ones,
Wide and narrow ones,
Ones that fit perfectly except for the narrow heels
And the way they smash the right little toe,
That are ample around the balls
But whose heels slide up and down. There
Are shoes light as a feather
That rub in all the wrong places, now
There’s the rub. Shoes
Whose lasts are too many, too few,
That last too long or not long enough or not at all,
Through which the laces are hard to pull,
Or whose laces are strangely twisted, too short,
On the long side, seeking to be cut off
So as not to strangle the heel or get caught
Like Isadora Duncan’s scarf in something moving
Like a bike pedal.

There are shoes made in China, brands that have one
Model made in the U.S. and all the rest in
China, everything made, or perhaps just assembled,
In Vietnam, God only knows what models they use
To model these middling models,
And there are brands within brands, as in,
“Oh, so that brand is owned by that brand,
“What’s the difference?” “Oh, there is” comes the reply,
And so one must accept what is
Except what isn’t, in that sometimes Zen
Is the best way to brand the whole shoe business
Unless you just want to shoo the whole business away.

There are shoes that are white, gray, and other
Easily dirtied colors, and I am lucky this year
That other colors exist, existentially and in reality–
For example, blue, gray, black, and variations.
All told widths are now in, thank God,
For those of us whose arches have fallen,
Our doctors have archly told us,
Or whose feet have simply–or not so simply–grown
Longer and wider with age
Or from the gravity or gravitas of life. And did you know
We often lengthen in our sleep, and if so,
Perhaps our feet shorten, fatten, and re-arch,
Though to no avail since some of us
Whose personalities have become arch with time
Cannot walk through the day
So it really doesn’t matter
Or maybe doesn’t really matter either.

There also are shoes for people whose knees knock,
Are splayed, or who are knock-kneed,
And for people who spend their day knocking on door knockers,
Knocking up or getting knocked up
Or perhaps whose knockers are knocked out,
Splayed, and like those old, tired feet also need extra support.

But back to shoes:
Some come in wide or extra-wide, and some do not.
Questions: Do different shoes from one brand
Fit the same, regardless of color and sole? Yes and no,
Since once you find exactly what you want,
It’s no longer made or indefinitely out of stock,
The stock expression of many a salesperson,
If you can find one, even
Though somewhere extras must be available, so
You check store after store, but all you find are
12D or 13W or 11 1/2EE, or whatever, forever,
But never the elusive size you just bought six months ago.

Perhaps regulations would help. Or perhaps they would just
Discourage those occasional oddities that happen to be
The shoes you do fit or that fit you. Still, periodically,
You check for revival of your shoe–
Maybe they are playing your shoe
Or maybe shooing your play–
Or make the rounds of stores, hopeful,
Hoping you don’t need to advertise or bid on the Web.
But what about custom shoes?
They’re so expensive you’d rather not,
Except in a pinch, because those $800 ones might pinch too,
No money back guarantee, or wear out,
Followed by the wearing out of the maker. Then again,
Does the Maker ever wear out?
Five years ago I was an 11D, usually buying too-small Nikes. Then
Graduating to wide, giant Adidas, then extra-wide Saucony, but
As these brands have stopped expanding or been shrinking choices,
Narrowing the options, so after size 12 there is almost never a 12 1/2:
All the sizes are shorter or narrower so that I can no longer find
The 12 1/2 4E or 13 4E that fits and all I can do is thank my lucky stars
I am not some kind of a giant who needs, say, a 36 double D–
In a shoe size, I mean.

I have tried them all
In stores for runners, athletes, and cyclists;
Department stores and shoe stores, stores
That take returns forever with the receipt,
No returns, that give only store credit,
That put credit on the store credit card, on your own card,
That take no credit card or at least the one you have,
That need a receipt and, to their credit, don’t, whose
Policies allow you to try the shoes inside, outside,
For 30 days, 90 days, or, again, forever,
As long as you bring them back clean,
Their preciously ill-fitting product.

What about buying online, you ask?
What about it?
Big-and-tall stores? Same deal. Something happens
After size 12. Free
Shipping both ways helps with the process but does not guarantee
The fit.
Trainers, walkers, runners, racers, trail shoes—the choices are endless,
More and more I speculate that soon
I will be unable to wear any of these shoes,
To wear any shoes at all:
Look for me hobbling along on beaches
Around the world unable to leave the sand for solid ground.
Ultimately all are the same: they do not fit.
The shoes, that is–not the beaches.
You then can call me a son of a beach.

you say i say you say i say
you say
i do not really see you

i agree
i do not really see you

i say
you do not really hear me

you say
i do not really see you

you say
you are sorry for any pain you have caused

i say
just tell me what you think of my poetry

you say
i do not really see you

i say
just ask me how i am

you say
i do not really see you

you say
i am so blinded by my hurt i do not really see you

i say
you are right i do not really see you

all i want
is for you to ask me what i feel

you say
i do not really see you

i say
help me really see you

you say
i do not really see you

i say
just tell me who you are and i will see you

you say
i do not really see you

i say
just ask me something about myself

you say
i do not really see you

i say
you’re right i really don’t see you

you say
i’m blinded by my pain and don’t see you

i say
you’re probably right

i say
you do not really hear me

you say
i do not see you for who you are

i say
i don’t

you say
you didn’t tell me things

i say
maybe if you did i would see who you really are

you say
i really do not really see you

i say
if you let me maybe i would

you say
i don’t see who you really are

i say
you’re right i don’t

you say
you don’t see me

i say
we agree on that at least