Temescal (Early Poems)

Poems written mostly 1968 to 1974 (and a few in 1975), when I moved to New York. Some were revised after 1974. Other poems from this period are scattered in the sections of translations and adaptions and prose, sound, and visual poems.

i threw aaron on the hardwood floor
he stuttered at me

my brother was never born
i stuttered at him

i threw aaron on the hardwood floor
he cried and hid his left eye

he slurred his tears and
stuttered at me

i threw aaron on the hardwood floor
rage cracked his dark skin

my unborn brother cried
and hid his tongue

i threw aaron on the hardwood floor
threw him with a right

my brother’s dark and speaks for me
dead on the hardwood floor

absinthe glass
what’s passed grips my guts
with the grimace of absinthe
my right hand has parkinson’s disease
and my falcon is loose

in an iron tower
my mind goes to borneo and finds a woman
my right hand polishes her
teeth with wormwood dust

her jade mouth grips my mind
my color drains on her teeth
in a drunken blink
the falcon strikes a quail

on a pyre
wormwood duet polishes my lungs
the black woman writhes
my iron falcon sips pernod

what’s past
in the grip of absinthe shakes
my body shakes
picasso’s glass melts

and the falcon goes
to borneo

aunt sarah
after her hair went white from the stroke
the most amazing thing happened
to my great aunt sarah
her hair went gray again

we found out she was not really seventy five
but eighty three when she died
and as a child in the ukraine
had wanted to be a nurse

she was somewhere around four feet ten
and her voice got to us
in the same way as when her sharp fingers
pinched our cheeks

over and over she repeated my first words
o’ten door o’ten door
and aways brought me soft those raspberry candies
with the soft center
10 december 1974
new york city

the bard in mar vista
the bard is dry
he licks his lips he

at his gate
the bard stands guard
witing for a poem

is he east
is he west
the bard is parched
the bard knows best

his upper lip is stiff
his lower lip is slack
he licks them both
waiting for a poem

to the east
to the west
the bard stands guard
the bard knows best waiting for a poem

by the metro
rose thorns fulminate in my eyes
i give what i might become away
and some kids in the park by the metro in naples
fight for the seeds with the stinking wind

the pain in my eyeballs sucks the sun from my fingertips
i vomit my dreams in a litre of two hundred lire chianti
and some kids in the park by the metro in naples
fight for the wine with the cockroaches and black ants

the sun sets through clouds of garbage
i feel it reach through my ribs and squeeze the rose
and some kids in the park by the metro in naples
suck its heat and light from my fingertips

the sun squeezes my rose and my eye sockets freeze
i fulminate in a burst of bloody rain
and some kids mistake the rain for wine
and die of the cholera

in the park by the metro in naples
my rose reaches through my ribs
alights the wind
takes my dreams what
i might be the
sun and the cholera

and some ants in the park by the metro
get drunk on the red sun in naples

at 9:00 a.m. i
get the knx news and
edge near the radio i
edge near the howitzers and
gulp my sunny-side-up fried egg at
9:01 i
race outside and
edge the camellia
with broken red brick halves and
hear the stp ad edge
me for clean air at
9:03 i
gulp a camellia bud and
edge back inside
with stomach cramps

How thou dost glystn!
Pale bird o’ the past
Waking myne drearie eyes
With some opiate’s dream

Thy hands they
Linger! on my whisper
In a drunken moment
My soul’s musique

Gleaming as it doth
Is fixed
O terroir jadelyke
Of yer unspeakable beautie
The terror

Of tyme’s insanity
Cleaning my guts
With wormwood
And O wert thou reallie
Such a spectacle?

And then
You stared me down
Holding my hand
Vaccinated on some
Iron tower in th’
Forgottyn past

I glittered
Tossing sylver smoke
In your way hoping . . .
O don’t leave my lips
To hover beneath your bed

The agonies of our
Trancelike love
Mutilated my passions

I fought your whims
Vomiting radios
On your epileptic flesh
You castled

Left the night
In a strange country
To strangle my poems
But already

You were naked
And desperate
Returning to life’s ancient scent

Arms crossed
On the pyre over
Your stiffened chest dead

I love you for killing and
Holding me my child
So long in need of a mother
Me my man
In need of a woman of woman

Death freed your love and
love freed my death

I fear your sword
Though its body be transparent
And its blade a flute
I need your sword
Shield my heart from its song
My body from yours
Though pain sears the muscle
And fear steals my wind

I hold myself in
The self
So long in need of flight
Of wind to sing of
A body to hold while dying

Pain steals my breath
And fear holds my heart keeps my child from its song
Its song from my death

I fear my death and
Need it my death
A transparent body needs your love
And your sword to be freed from the fear of your love

And your body the flute
Steals my breath holds my body
To its heart like a mother a woman

I hide in your jade scalpel body
Hear the wind at my heart
Singing in pain

I am
So long in need
Of death
I love you for
Killing and freeing my heart

As my blood flows on fyre
Flows in the french of love
From city to city frenzied
Blown by an obtuse angyr

As my obscenities rage
Strong in fyrst born laftyr
Thy tatooed [sic] heart haggles
From sunrise to the market of fear

Chameleon shaped in the eye
Aztec looking in the hands
On yer darkling skin
The only heart I know
Spreads beneath her breathing childe

And me you emboss
With dreams medieval
While helpless she bleeds
Asleep in yer raging snows

you’re always saying things to me
which I’m forgetting
over dinner
while the accelerating subway
is shifting us into another city
in the woods
moving from tiny blue flowers to honeysuckle
to wild rose
to the smell of garbage
coming over the seabreeze

you seem to lose your voice quite often

was it in santa barbara
we met
laughing on the beach at night
was only that experience
what shakes your head today
where went the trees
or the phone calls
was the day ever brighter
than after the first time

who’s on your first bicycle these days

that summer
alone on yellow-white sand
haunts me
and when i plunge
into deep water
i never know
what comes up
to take you away

streaming the coast
morning on morning
watching the sun rise
watching your sleeping eyes
stacks rising slow curving

sailing the long coast
your maple hair liquid straight
on bronze hot cheeks
green brown eyes on yours
diving into the ocean
blue arching

night after night
drinking your sunburnt longing
cool greens cooling your white neck
small chalk white breasts
sunburnt nipples rigid

watching you in cool dreams
sleeping curvelike
by your maple body
sapling straight
breathing dream breaths
viscous indigoes

night on night inflamed
watching you undress
smooth whites and
soft reds
waist length hair
curving in a slow breeze
dreaming and dreaming and
sailing blue green waves
watching your open eyes watching
you fall asleep hot white hot longing

morning into morning
soft reds burning scarlet
screaming up the redwood coast
sleeping in the sun’s core
slow blue waves
cool blue herons rising
hunting with the sun
cobalt blue daydreams
my rippling burnt brown hair
fanning your shoulders

on and on the ancient coast
a dream ship plying an ancient trade
selling colors to the sun
cool and curved
rising from the sea

East of Palm Springs
From Ryan Mountain
You can see the Queen
Among her thorny subjects
And the Lost Horse
Her dappled mane whipping
In the silent wind
Itself whipping through the Hidden
And Pleasant Valley

Here the trees have names
Like cholla and ocotillo
And the trails are unmarked
But can be followed
From oasis to oasis through Sheep Pass
Or over Jumbo Rocks
From Split Rock
To Stirrup Tank

The flat valleys
Slope down from great
Shifting faults that streak
The weather-sculpted terrain
Some tremendous force
More years ago than can be imagined
Must have thrown the whole strange mirage
Into its present, monolithic relief

At twilight
You watch the antelope ground squirrel
Flip over the cooling sand
Probably heading for Cottonwood Springs
And there is no way to ignore the desert bighorn
Slowly trekking the rocky summits
Where extinction waits
In silence by every Joshua Tree

Here the gneiss and quartz
Live together within the bulk of the landscape
Drawing into their thin bands
And broken shapes the chuckwallas
The side-blotched lizards and the flowers
That smother or dot, depending on the season,
The brilliant, yellow-red-and-dull—brown colors
That survive and survive the millions of years

While you are here
Watching the brief but violent showers
The sun none too gently sucks
Deep into the pit of your body
Pushing into your organs for water
Penetrating your skull in search of delirium
And you may want to head for Salton View
To dream of swimming in cold mountain streams

There is a laziness here where nothing hurries
To complete its meal, its tunnel, or its nap
You are swollen with the quietness of your breathing
As you pace Juniper Flat in search of pottery
As if you know that in some future era
Someone will be looking at your belt buckle
With the same awe with which you examine
A few chips of red clay on your heavy boot

I camp near water
Near a view of Ryan Mountain
And dream of a tortoise in New England
Cemented into a concrete wall in a white
Village peopled by white
Beings speaking white
Language and white
Words like I’m sorry

The tortoise just came one day
We had no choice
And when I ask why
They can’t lift him out of town
They cannot reply but shuffle on their way
And I am angry
With their helplessness
And mine and I feed the animal slabs of meat

I will not eat and I talk
To the animal and listen
As it chews my dinner and I kick
The prison and the town crumbles
Like so much chalk
The tortoise pushing through the dust
Into a lot
And falling asleep

In the morning I take water
And head through the Hexie Mountains
Back to Cottonwood
Where the visitors are lined up on mules
And the mules are lined up in the sun
I take my water
And climb the lovely boulders
Each a mountain in itself

I then ascend a huge pile
Of beautifully curved stones
Sweating more and more as the sun
Climbs its own beautiful blue mountain
At the top I drink and I drink and I howl
Into space deep enough to hold my howl
And return it to me untainted by the smell of another
Human being and I take off my pants

I let the sun burn my whole body and lie
On the hot boulders before sweating and smiling
Going my way
In places like this
Are buried some of my oldest memories
They seem to survive
The New York summer
And the New York winter

And when the hot autumn mist
Hangs in the dreary courtyard
I go from Morongo Valley
To Yucca Valley
Along the Twenty-Nine Palms Highway
To Joshua Tree
Or by Old Dillon Road
To the Cottonwood Mountains

Although it sometimes snows at the Lost Palms Oasis
I have never seen a rattlesnake or heard a Shoshone dialect
Or seen the metates in the Pinto gneiss
I have seen the cream-white blossoms of the Joshua Tree
The praying plant that blooms in March and April
But not every year
And I have seen the small dams called tanks
For catching rainwater

There is no end
To the illusions in the desert
The incredibly clear sky
The incredibly swift storms
The incredibly dry air and the stillness ringing
With a soft, dense depth
That absorbs sounds and returns
The high-frequency voice of your own nervous-system

End of the Line
A soft prodding tone once came to me

We entered the I and Thou
High on cough syrup
Tracing some long-sought-after silence
Into which we could extrude ourselves
When words failed

Into the ground I dug, frozen,
Harder than granite

I claimed the tone as my own
Let’s-pretend notions
With which you filled my head. You
Were my dark lady; I do not
Remember what you called me. Where
Was I, then, that night, sifting sound before its time?

We stumbled, looking
For warm pliant reaches no one
Since has felt. Still it is
A soft prodding tone, heartfelt and sullen,
That talks to me from forgotten zones.

What were we about? From where
Did you arise, moan of man, black acid night? Glasses
Didn’t help when the whole picture was blurry.

I once had my own song, picked up
On the beach at Playland before Persona began
And which I slept through as the N car began and ended
Again and again.

But I slept through it and so, today, am left
With nothing but the soft prodding tone.

One tea, please, for those who remember.

5th canon
man walks in street
O rembrandt you’re all roses
these days he’s quiet
thinking old thoughts of me
dreaming of himself thinking old thoughts
and spitting thorns on my tongue
O rembrandt you’re all roses
drawing blood and shouting
ghastly ghost painter still alive
“Hey man walking in street
thinking old thoughts of no
quiet you are these days
spitting thorns on my tongue
dreaming of yourself thinking old thoughts
drawing blood and shouting
O rembrandt you’re all roses
August 1971

there‘s a black crust
between my scapulae
burning waves of fluid

year after year
the marrow stiffens
my head a tomato
on a wheat stalk
a stinking burnt tomato

my spine is dead
there’s white mold
between the blades

year after year
the black crust
stiffens my wings
spinal flu molds my head
in summer sun

in the summer sun
tomato flowers crack
open and their scent

‘Tied to fancies and rags
Splendor has its own satisfaction at heart
Instead of the Zohar, the Book of Radiance

Finally we’re here
International virgins and all
Dreaming the old teenage dreams

Fainting we skip heartbeats
Whistle memories and write songs
Together and drink to the life
That lingers
Before the bedtime kiss

The trick happens with the thought
Dead angels blacken
Sorry mad wishes freeze
Rainbows are milked
Copperware is Love’s cobwebs
Attics become streets

Always alone
Smoke disabled
Reveals Windward Venice pawnshops

Too late is a tragedy

‘Dear friend of no time
(Sun after sun
And blind yet)
Were I an angel
I would wish for no more
Than wonderful dreams
And views of ‘Him

Fragments from Two Logs
“Captain Gardiner found it much less
“easy than he had anticipated to obtain
“a passage to Patagonia from the Falkland Islands
“and was at last induced to charter a small sailing
“schooner to take him there

“We give his account of the trip”:

‘last Saturday night
naked on hot granite slabs
folding and unfolding scraps of parchment

eyes follow us
wisps of wet thin wristed ringless fingers
fan us’

“My subsequent journey was a most unpleasant one”:

‘on the beach we walk through grains of black hair
setting suns
narrow slits they call windows
monkey shit piled knee high

rainbows crackle
white vapors hang over our expedition
the paint on my rocking chair is already peeling
the first mate ran off with a paragonian (sic)’

“A few days afterwords (sic) two Patagonians arrived
to take the mail to the coast”

Here is a fragment preserved from Captain Gardiner’s wife

“Come home soon, Al, Flo and your own Boobsy miss you so. . . .”

And finally, one of the Captain’s letters that didn’t get mailed:

“I am sick of bananas . . . a Bible . . . never . . .”

From the Diary of R
A cyclic excess
Strikes terror
In the body
That finds itself
On the breath
Of the tiger
At its hunt

A faint ebb
In the heart’s
Span of life
Trespasses the plain
Deep within
A force that soaks and mires
Anchors the rivets
In the limbs

A face turns blue
In the mirror of surprise
An airtight word
Reddens a stranger’s eyes
The first vowel stings
The sling of marrow
Then on its route
A dream’s blood thickens

In lettered shadows
Fear’s chill darkens
An offering
Bears a talisman
Whose syntax burns
The ocean’s plans

gastiona dubrova (dubrovnik inn)
dentex tooth-fish
hard bed no sex
the blond at the sign of the fish

christians dig their saints to
bury in cathedrals
saint catherine of assisi
zubatec na zaru the slavic tooth fish
caterina’s yellow molars under safety glass
sixty three year old chinese tourist with jaundice
one yellow hundred fifty watt bulb
at the sign of the cross

hard sex no bed
santa maria di croce
galileo’s incisors
dante’s bicuspids
heretics and exiles
zubatec dan morning brushing
mint flavor crest

dentè tooth fishshshshshshshshshshshshshshshshshsh
served with bread and sausage and sauterne
by the blond at the sign of the fish
gastiona dubrova

aroma of clove    gaslight
bokharan textures evaporate
from an ivory pipe

I watch my ancestors float
over mediaeval canals
dark thick coils of hair
necks smooth as ice
sun dyed breasts  sleek midriffs
persian thighs and calves

the rest as i would have wished
alive  hallucinating  swarthy

aroma of clove   gaslight
my ancestors evolved
on mediaeval canals

women with flaming copper breasts
men with burning blue-black pupils

aroma of aether   arc light
dawn dehydrates my dream

i watch my blood
scatter with the piazza san marco mob
like streaks of opium smoke

when the henna’s mixed
i hear oboes howl
in thick coils of memory

aroma of cinnamon-clove  canal-light
i blend my mind with water
my life with mediaeval death

in death mask still and tasteless
sunlight dries my copper skin

in the night gone liquid
dream-powder   blue-black seeds
aroma of clove   gaslight

Three years ago I left you. After crying every day
for two months I went to Mexico to refill my dehydrated
cells. I returned to find your well-preserved body
eating space in my brain. Hoping to excrete your
presence and join you forever I ate your raw flesh.

I found your soul—a ruby bracelet on your heart—
and wore it on my left wrist. Your soul reeked of magnolia.
For a year I introduced myself as you, using my left
hand. Your friends were mine and saw me through your eyes.

Eventually the  magnolia staled,
and your friends held their noses when they saw me.

One day I took you for desert air in Anza-Borrego where
big red ants sucked their lunch from your bones. I
salvaged the marrow and ground the rest to smoke in
my pipe. The powder was finer than sifted white f1our.

The first smoke I saw the thin blue veins and red
capillaries in your face. Your blue-green eyes were
dull yellow and the smoke tasted like spoiled beef.
The smoke filled your arteries like radioisotopes and
I x-rayed your astral body. Overdosed I shattered windows
with screams and reddened the yellow bathroom tiles.
In spite of sickness you smoked cool, even sweet, sweet
with aromatic memory—strawberry sweet—and I kept
hallucinating on the powder.

My memory pouch is aromatic and cozy. The Dunhill crusty,
stale deep brown and mild. And it’s always filled.
June 73

How can I send you to the world’s rim
As your eye shadows grate the dingo’s ears
Even in the month of great rain that greens the fields
Even as the equinoxal blade drags the river mud

And how is it you ask for my voice
To uplift the bone of your vision
When season after season deer flee your rage
And the rage of your lightning. . . .
Have I not forgotten lesser men
Who threw flints and ran
From wild spirits of the range–
In heaps have I left them pulverized
To enrich the soil they later stole

Would it be your future
To feel my voice shatter your joints
As a lion cracks antelope bones–
The world’s ends hold your breath
You clutch ancient hopes yet
Like a handful of pears Death
Stalks the air in your soul

“The west wind carries
My dreaming spirit
To Eastern caves, resplendent
In treasures of the flesh. . . .”

Gross and godlike
Swimming in your father’s blood
White and blue surging
From unknown to the delta

Stuffed with those round bodies
Stuffed with yellow metal
Whiteness wrapped ‘round
Those eyeless staring vacuums

Fat egg of my mother—
Too dear to live from
And putrid enough
To die from
Breathe your last
And greet the romans

Here to grab
Those precious balls and
Crush their very source
Fierce beyond this world yet
Not of the next
Crude and shallow

Raping gods and goddesses
O Memphis wherein
At last you’re down
To the last choking breaths
Know me at last

Before the other
Annihilates the very memory
The dead have of you
And take me
Wrapped ‘round and ‘round
Unto your limestone heart

Way up
Into the very starry flesh
Beyond these cold men
And the smell of women

Out where galaxies
Cannot be seen
Where blackness shines
Where solid is translucent
And wordless
Comets gather their secret maps

I would this last favor
Ask ‘fore morning breaks
Your dewy heart
When I know that great
Sullen beat will cease
And he whose words

Already heard
Will sweep away
The cities you’ve built
For long ago that word was writ
Beyond the day that’s come around
Beyond the bounds
My mind can yet conceive

Milky Way
Moonlight bends
Past mornings
Wet and restless
Shadows fade from dreams

Thin pale faced girl
We met in green trees
Boulders touched the sun
Sunlight on your skin

We were quiet
Signs of love
Creeping up our
Spine and lips

You are soma
And blue
Sonnets of your hair
Spray my poems
With secrets
We seem to meet
Before awakening

At dawn that day
My fingers danced
I couldn’t speak
And my body flopped along
As if it didn’t care

In the end
I promise
To be silent
Meanwhile we will hunt
And you will dance
To the reedflute’s song

Bloodthirsty our time hath come
To bleach the desert bones
Lay waste to summer homes

Raining ‘tis an ancient echo
Greet heart with sigh
That by tender circ’stance
Blackens the old man’s urn
Greatly worn yet coarse
He who sitteth on dust
Blowing candles their flames
T’ward sky and on

Sad we our song sitteth
Bent ‘neath winter air
Burnt from summer’s white
What olden men in other times
Gave to autumn winds
We hold ‘til crowned with thorns

Lightning how we
With fingers bent
Glow our eyes
They gleam
Dost though hear
Their milky song

Alas tho orchids bow
To sunlight near
‘Tis many a many year
Since love’s fertile flower
Hath raised its head
To greet our outstretched hand

Now in our heart’s year of flight
In tender shoots
Dreams of light
I b’lieve ‘tis ripe
To gather seed and
Hence dispatch
Our sullen grin
To replaceth it
With waiting love

In time’s desperation
Our timely wait
Need draw its reins
Check its wildish gait
And hold the every moment
Like a precious flower
To beareth fruit on honey’d lips
August 1972

new poem number one
this is one of those all american poems you know the kind
exact realistic and personal 22 letters 4 spaces per line
4 lines per stanza
double spaced on one side of a clean white sheet of 20 wt bond one of those poems
that follows the natural rhythms of speech
we all use daily at the supermarket and gas station one of those poems
written by the together poet
without fantasies romance illusions
whose words spring from the gut and the brain the together poet full of warnings to young poets
about writing that lacks emotion or has too much the kind of poet
who lists grievances against parents and cousins
who ties up all the loose ends of childhood or Just ignores It just the way it
happens in real lIfe

this is one of those all american poems exact, realistic, but not too personal
a few commas maybe
one and a half spaced on green mimeo paper perhaps a bit unnatural of speech
written by a not too together poet
full of fantasies romance illusions and Intellectualizations about Life
with a capital L
whose words rasp and stick in the throat a not too together poet
halfway dedicated, somewhat knowledgeable
half full of warnings to other poets about bad restaurants and poems you have to study in college in order to understand
and though his parents and cousins were of various importance In his childhood
nothing has been resolved

this is one of those all american poems
about real things and real people
august 1974 venice california

nothing much
i sit on my maplewood desk chair
thinking all the softness of memory
curves like an old man’s

i strum my fingers on my leather-topped desk
all day thursday into night

i find you enmeshed in the red-violet light of my mind
i strum the visage of your long thin body

your hair still reminds me of the redwood forest at prairie creek as i reach the curve of your tailbone below the sway
and with long thrusts
sleep off the image
friday morning

On Hearing of the Retirement of My Favorite Chef
of all natural wonders
Chinese cookery is most subtitle
the art of
like Tao
by you for the four and twenty years
of my life

May your sons be prosperous and worthy successors!

pas de deux
i light a candle you
close your eyes i
go to sleep you
drink your tea with milk i
mine with cinnamon your
orgasm was sunday mine
monday we
take turns having colds

i light your eyes you
drink my sleep i
speak your monday we
take turns closing cups
and cooling sundays

i burnt my mouth on yours i
hurt myself

my eyes put
out the fire out
my eyes i
am two cactus pears

i hurt my mouth on
yours i
burnt my
eyes two embers

shriveled pears i
burn i
burn in two
one red
swollen eye

we meet
in the chilean desert
where the grey gull
lives in winter we

live off each other where
moist coals fall a
cactus grows

and grows swollen spring
red and green
and grows

lips eyes hands legs balls
i burn
one eye
shrivelled white

you and i meet
where it never rains
and i just
you and eyes
white and red
shrivelled swollen
and i and
november 1973

Poem of Adoration
what a picture
even the seasons are jealous
of your youth
and thick dark hair

why with all this endless chatter and caution
and say!
could it be love sneaking up from behind again

The arc of Mars
Rules the winter sky
Ovid’s India
Where burnt shoulders slave
For Scorpio’s daughters
Where a zither’s naked shiver
Prattles its poetics of rage

Debris from ancient worlds
Mocks passion’s saddle
Wrings a father’s blood
In parchment pools
From the pen of his lips

To prove a man
The boy
Searches his name
Hot with love’s stain
In the god’s bed
And flexes the muscles
Of his untried mortality
Knowing or perhaps
Not knowing
The epitaph already carved
By Naiads in the West

His maternal grandfather
Whose twisted bones
Lie exposed
In his hermitage
The desert
Of his last days:
Eyes of once renown
Long dissolved in the stomach
Slivers in a spinal rose

Io’s godspeed
Mad fate’s welcome
Tags the soft heels
Phaethon comes
Roaring to Phoebus
(Give me my inheritance!)
Ionized in the memory
Of that solar breath
Claims a promise
(Give me the reins!)
To walk the worlds
Between the stars
To serve the day with light
To click the gleaming heels
And sear Epaphus’ hair
(With envy)
O miserable child
Poor Io and Jove

Yet such horses as Phoebus’
Are for the whip
Of neither man nor immortal
(Save the Sun himself)
And this boy
Somehow tricks his father
To sponsor the act
Of childish foolishness


The arc of Aries
Hard on the heads
That scrape his soles
Greets the prodigal
With inhuman smile

Phaethon’s configurations
Numberless in the oracle
Spur their designs
Into the folds
Of Mars’ idle talk

But not without effort
For in his kindled rage
A comet sears Phaethon’s heart
With immortal tears
Day turns to night

Yet behold!
Phaethon’s masterpiece
(The gods’ own creation)
Outshines the splendor
Of his father
The royal Sun!

Q & A (or is it?)
this is (or is it, “here is”) what i know:

last saturday morning at 7:00 i was on the way
to la jolla canyon
(or was i just leaving the apartment?
and, can the apartment be called an apartment?)

i rode my bicycle all the way
(but didn’t the insurance pay for this one?
and, isn’t it, “cycled all the way?”)

the canyon was hotter than the beach
(maybe not for the lizards?)

i slept in a cave saturday night
(did i sleep, though?)

sunday morning I left
(though until i saw the clock later i wasn’t
sure it was morning, was i?)

this could go on
(or could it?)
the end
(or is it?)

it is
(what’s the “it?”

the end
(maybe “an” end?)

(why so certain?)

or is it “sure?”
(why so uncertain?)

i am
(are you?)

i am
this could go on
(could it?)

for my twenty-second birthday
azelle gave me
an antique brass coffee pot
which i never use

it leaks but i never fixed it
maybe i could use it
to water my cauliflower and peas

i hope she won’t mind
now that she’s changed
her name to susan
July 1973
Beethoven Street, Venice, CA

The Running Out
I rake the garden
Bonds break
Snap and
Just slowly
Pull apart
Thread by thread

Families crumble
The society separates
Into individuals

My eyes cross
Trying to follow
The families
The deaths by fire
The holocaust covering the prairies
To Golden Butterfly

Olive tinged companion
Dark uncoiled hair
You the reality of a dream

Rain and murmurs
Treating wine
You a nectar of love

A circle of believers crowding
Sucking ancient memories
You the cave of delights

From myth to laughter
You a whirling phantom

Time lost while mad
Two cloaks hiding the sun
Are we not the two
You a fragment of her

Strange the past year
Days empty and alone
Singing quatrains of Ovid
You a shadowless caress

Until now all flesh
Is wrinkled and dull
Passion but a snow covered bridge
You a rope of jewelled snakes

Remembering seconds
Moths cry our name
In the sky
You a brush paint a silhouette

Now lost in stupor
Wet with pain
Echoes without a body
I a holy man
You a hot goddess

Your storms
Streak the midnight skies
With rain and
How your wetness
Reminding me
Of summers cool with sleep
Lingers across
Your flat white belly
Shining into the sun
Its own reflections!

Were you sure
When your teeth
They ripped my heart
From its moorings
In an aztec tomb?
The surrealism pumped
My arteries free of blood

And did my brown hair tear
Beneath your hand
Forged by the sun’s
Molten hammer?
Like the blinded son
Who burnt your clothes—
I knew your terror
And you the wonder

Yet in winter lost
Atop Mt. Whitney’s spaceless look
Those eyes of clay

Your arms
Snapping cities
Filled the mountain air
With burning flesh

All for revenge you Islamic whore
The seas your tears
They find their way
Among the dead
While you sit sunk
On that slope
Calling animal spirits
As if you were Indian
With winds to soothe
A devil’s heart

Sometimes Looking at Things Unknown
I wonder
If those things
That draw spontaneous tears
Aren’t reminders
Of past doings of the soul

Yearning, a “that’s home” crying
Puppets, dance, music, words, paintings
Provoke this spontaneous sorrow
As if they contained more than appearance
The not so secret of the soul

The Spinning Wheel
the paths of change
secret whisperings
sometimes seen
in dreams and reveries
words, plans, ceremonies
meeting in land between
in the world
over this world
cellophane directions to live by
a needle
whereby thoughts and emotions
laden with grief may achieve final rest
beneath ferns, cacti, and flowers
in a mausoleum of stars

observe machinations
in the moon’s movement
distinct haloes that guide eyes to sleep
or to the crags of the mountain goat
where a twilight figure crouches and howls
like the coyote
whose fists lead the blind into light
and the enlightened into laughter and insult

dead be the man
who believes in a world apart from him
who in pride spills a daughter’s blood
for the riches of an alchemist

cursed be the lamplighter
who in forgetting kerosene for this block
will meet the shadow of his death some dark night

on the street of his forgetfulness
spin on
dear spinning wheel
let the sorcery of witches and wizards triumph
over those who see darkness
who believe any
but what they see
spin them into the rattles
of plague-ridden children
whose hearts exposed to the crows
appear cloaked in an illusory grey veil
a triumph one may hold to be his own
till ’tis too late and world be won away
by its lordly caretakers who in God’s name
hold the power of the atom
over the heads of angels

do we have strength
to rise again
phoenix after phoenix
from the ruins of time
from dawn light
from burning wood
under pots and poets
to again brandish
in temporal attitude
the sacred symbols
passed from generation to generation
ever since humans first struck flint
and sparked the heavens
with a mirror of its own primordial glow

is there time
to look beyond the leprosy that clings
silk chrysalis to ears
that once felt the pain of love
to gather forces once and for all transcend
the needle prick of birth
and with the cry of a wounded heart
descend like light on corrupt beggars
who flail us for wishing to live
spellbound with animals and trees
under the canopy of the forest’s sunset spirit
round round around the earth seven times in one second
cinderella’s golden slippers
mercury’s one face
apollo prince of the sun
a belt of fate
invisible thread of life

in hope there is still faith
in spirit three billion
for a tear from each
i would give this life
that those condemned should know love
beyond the prison of dreams

Three-Poem Sequence

1 Her
‘round my tongue
wrath wraps a hand

this life anon
wrought from days afyre
drinks th’ sun
from yer face tha’ flows
into the skye

‘twas ne’er meant
fer darkness t’ spend
on island’s tyme
ancien’ ayrs of
love’s sad rime

she called t’ me
myne eyes did shut
her voice ‘t burnt
“methinks ‘t tis
yer dream’s one eye
singing by some bluish glow”

running beyond the sun
i hid at the edge
of the world
“I’ll me take no chance
‘t fear m’ heart
and make it send
its restless beat”

‘round my tongue
wrath raps a hand

2 Poesia
Fly about me
Wizened hulk
Scab of the lord’s
Incestuous stare

Death’s early curse
Yellows your well-
Traveled palms
Their oil, sumptuous
Beneath our sun—
Golden egg of light

Then must we roll?
You I ask, upset
Laying glisten, listen:
Heart your telltale song
Shrieks, I cannot stand

Your slowing trot
And find those footsteps gleam.
My eyes they
Wet their troughs
Their iral pearls
Sink dense and deaf
As fruit picked
From a vine—barren
Fickle yet sad
Dead in autumn’s
Dawn dry light

3 Ancience
He reacheth out
From youthful hips
One arm slung
‘Round his waist

And telleth tale
In wine filled tongue
Of ancient tymes
Of spells and dreams
That in their tell
Remindeth one
Of very far
Into the past

Songs of Pan
In unknown speech
Sungeth from a bird

“’Twas a tyme
When all the things
That moved or breathed
Stood in closer harmony
Than in our tyme today

“When men kill men
And in a sacred word
Death prevails its lurking form
Sailing on
The sea’s spring storm
September 1972

To Witness
there is a soft machine
out in cold black space
that spins
on some timeless
distant axis

a soft machine
for your ways
and hers
a small hairless belly
to love you
when you’re sad
a hairy mound
to bury your head in
when you’re tired
a breath of velvet passion
to stir your soul
from its deepest sorrow

way out
at the limits of reality
there are people
who will show you their graves
lead you
into their hells
there will be colors
to spend time with
to cry for
visions to witness
flames to burn in

on lonely nights
before the moon rises
blood flows
in silver layers of the unconscious
cities of paradise are laid
on the streets of mind
in the desire for eternity
the softness of a womb
[published in Beatitude, San Francisco]

Two Metaphysicals
An Unfinished Task

Pulling a mess of words from the Void
Each a mask for another Word
The narrative felt like the Wool

Ah sweet task that didn’t Do
But riddle poor mind with Contrivance
It thinking all the while “He
Thinks this is to help Awaken
But really it is a sleeper Even
Now in this criticism He . . .

venice west venice
my grandmother lived in venice my grandmother lived
on wavecrest my grandmother walked
up and down the boardwalk she
walked a lot she
fixed me fruit and knudsen’s small curd cottage cheese
for lunch she
helped me collect driftwood for the forts i built
on the beach where the hippies go

in her pink apartment i ate jello for dessert and
sneaked soft raspberry candies from the glass bowl she
got from her sister they
walked to windward past the gashouse past
venice west past venice to ocean park to p.o.p. to
santa monica pier my grandmother walked a lot

she read a lot she read
in english russian yiddish she read
gogol pushkin tolstoy chekhov dostoyevsky sholem
aleichem in largeprint cyrillic and roman she
loved beethoven and foods
she couldn’t eat salads or spices—
all jewish grandmothers have ulcers—she
came west from the ukraine she married
my grandfather died
the year insulin was discovered

they raised chickens in petaluma
where people still raise chickens she
passed out leaflets at anti-vietnam war rallies she
cried when jfk was shot

west to venice west
venice west of
venice west of
up and down the boardwalk
up and down and when she couldn’t walk she
shook she went to bed and died

my grandmother lived in venice
my grandmother lived

why can’t i?
mess in my head
why can’t i understand anything?

mess on the floor
why can’t i find anything?

mess in my bones
why can’t i accept anything?

mess on the desk
why can’t i see anything?

mess in the kitchen
why can’t i cook anything?

mess on the planet
why can’t i do anything?

mess in my yard
why can’t i harvest anything?

mess on venus
why can’t i find a woman who thinks i’m anything?
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