the darling rosebuds of your eyes
they go in search of water

home gifs paintings
poetry about

philosophy

When you have turned away from philosophy
At some late hour, when the darkness settles
Around your tower like pages falling like petals
From the autumn of your inquiry, come to me
Then, your breath in my ear, to ponder the heavy,
Your lips on my neck, to consider the heat,
Your kisses, to wonder at the hard to keep,
Until I confess that I have done this already,
That these caresses remind me of those
From some reverie before you appeared
Reading these books of saddled prose
To a poet in a poet’s bed; come over here,
Hold me, instead, let the embrace
Of old disgrace vanish from your page.

(Portland Oregon 2009)

I meant so much to shout

I slept in the cave of five hundred silences
Where certain elusive birds have been known
To fill the night with their kind swelling
Murmur of these things I meant so
Much to shout to the star moon sky
Until my face would plump up like blueberries
Scattered from sap–stained hands
Across the frozen evergreen steeps
For the peck of cool and waiting bellies of certain
Elusive birds perched upon the knowledge
Of my heart that dared not even then to beat on
The olive branch bones of my own ribcage.

(Portland Oregon 2010)

Kidnap Me

Restore to me my textured skies, the dark raccoon
And the otter’s sheen, the brooding scene of silvery clouds
Thick as thunder, moody, silenced, cracked
And parting through the cracks,
The angled beams of God.
The frightful chill of the cresting sea,
The chill of eternity settles on me, a slick of rocks
Breaking through the breaks and a sudden uncertainty.
There is a wedding party there, upon the sand,
The gnarled driftwood bones of the land, spooky and spectral
Among the half-shells, the sweated stones and twisted ribbons
Spit up from the sea. They’ve spotted me now,
White lace to the wind and tuxedo tails, calla funnels
From an African field, a quick brushing off
Of tailored hems, the rushing forth
Of gulls. A gull’s feather upon the sand,
And to what does a feather belong? Not of the bird,
Not of the skies, or of the pine from which it fell, to rest
Among the parched half-shells for me to find today.
It is the soft gray of gulls, of small shadows and of ash,
Of nothing furthermore to weather,
The soft gray of your hair when we grow old together.

In the cool and demur of dogma,
In the folds of your mother’s skirt, the thin pages
In failing light and the curve of the planet from a far greater height
Than the height of slow elliptical birds
Upon a foam-soaked horizon, let us be the lock and the key,
An ink-stained quill and the sinking in of unspeakable difficulty,
A long walk on a pretty beach, not a soul in sight to see.
And the distance of surf is the distance of cities
From the surging spray that untangles me,
Kidnaps me and abandons me, separates me,
This salt, this water, a deep and unsettling inconstancy.

I wake to the nearby sound of laughter, the soft gray laughter
Of a quiet joke passed between girls in a pleasant room
By the window of reality. It is night and the gentle breezes
Whisper all around my head, of the slights and the teases
Of the pulse of affairs from the lullaby drums of a red armchair;
It is night, and the seasons are about to turn, and I can hardly bear
What is sure to come, my nose to the page of a late autumn,
My heart, were it yours, my plum. And I race through the end
Of a job well done, and the seasons turn upside down.
Were there ever such a thing so apparent as this,
But a moment before I know the brush of lips
As an absolute fact in a system of odds, not at odds
With the invention of God,
The blue and silver impossibility,
The faint canvas that beckons me, a natural perfection
Unburdened by the burden of unquestionable purity.
Little candies that take all afternoon to melt in my mouth
Are leading me happily away from my true object;
So it is day, and the bicycles have begun
To reason with the sun.

A terrible congestion once again befalls
The throaty girders of the bascule bridge, faded orange
Rivets and rails, unmeasured blame for the gasoline cattle
Fed on fumes of crude dead things and the rigorous prattle
Of the lunchtime mob, of timed delays for absolute growth
Under choreographed conditions, an unprecedented chance
For magnanimity between relations—I am confident,
I am all turned around, a sweat breaks upon my brow.
Below, the river is sparkling, hypnotic and crystalline,
The ample prow of a passing ship, gliding through the mezzanine,
A company of dancers twirling on tiptoes across a saline symphony,
This grace, this body, a humid and attentive dread
Should a sudden fever consume my head.

And would it be so very bad
To speculate on what’s been said
Of magazines and colonnades, of eastern trash
And western trade, of underwater ballets,
And said of things that are the same
Were they ever to be in one place? I need you here
In my yellow work zone, I have dispensed
Of my telephone, I may disappear
If you don’t come soon, I am sick
To my stomach, come quick.

It is Paul in the kitchen with the smoldering stoves,
The infinite composure of coins before domed platters of tenderloins,
The fidgeting of guests at the arrival of names,
The reticence of a large batch of cakes
To be served momentarily. It is the absence of crowds
That thrusts me into the crowd, a peerless urgency
That feeds this singularity and runs the expedition aground
The virgin shores of history, but I dare you still
To come after me into the roar and the crash and the spray,
And to say there is nothing irregular,
And in fact, there is nothing out of the ordinary,
That you find it all rather extraordinary, taken for granted
Yet completely made-up, the look of the ocean from dry land,
A map I do not understand, perhaps with a stick
Drawn in the sand as we wait for the typical fare.

This, being the end, marked with no significant surprise,
That it should come upon us with no protest, no resistance,
Without any further ambition, this, the end,
Having appeared at dinner
To poke fun at a few gaunt years
And a rumor of inheritance, a table astir
With a solemn hunger—I still remember
The violence of mountain gusts that fumbled through my paper-thin sleeves,
And your ceramic eyes, your empathy especially
To bless our bounty, a little night death,
A little public audacity,
A lively demonstration of angels and bells
And the obedience of irony to a fit of cowardice,
This, the end, having one last wish
To scramble up an obvious ledge, having gone partially deaf
To the deduction of my destiny, ennobled by a certain responsibility
To deliver me from this fantasy, to chase me and challenge me,
To kidnap me from the full bosom of memory.
Had I but the means again
To come upon the funeral of dreams,
A huddle of black umbrellas and a trembling priest,
Our father streaked with tar, I need you
To be very brave for me—
The bellow of freight trains in the night
Is invisible, the bellow is invisible, and the train
Is in the dark, and the night
Is the dark, is dark
But it is not invisible, this, the end,
The night is dark, and we are listening
With a heavy patience for the bellow of infinity.
For I know the exact hour of your earliest departure,
And I hold even then to your everlasting blows,
I know already that you must go
Before me, my God, I follow.

On a sad rainy day, I am being sent away,
And the children are gathering wordlessly
All around me. I belong to the sea,
I belong to nobody, a boy with my father’s chin
Has discovered Alcibiades, and the current insufficiency
Of works in service of rationality.
For their stead are the songs fast upon us;
Let me take you back
Among the sprigs and feathered tufts of indigenous grass,
Of turquoise waters and a serious girl with emeralds in her eyes,
Who expects me to do all that is wrong,
Who is always expecting me,
For the vanity of God.
The Japanese frivolity,
The pop plastic vacancies, you lucky
Happy dimpled toy in which we disgust of cruelty.
It is night, and I am free
To make a gift of my autobiography, in which I scream
Of diverting our attention to the rate of decline of barbarity,
As well a civic inspection of gravity,
That has never known any such shame
As in which hitherto is lying upon the ground,
Having flung myself prone to be nearer the filth
Of obscene wealth for the busy denizens
Constructing bucolic liaisons,
A curious commission that all along suggested
Without for a moment seeming to suggest,
And with no design of becoming
Either intentional or improved,
That the age of apostles cannot be touched
By the language of ships.

The look of the ocean from dry land, a map
I do not understand, my face opposite your face
As we lay beneath the salted skies
Before I wake. Just for today
My flesh, the vessel of my bones,
The gnarled driftwood sentient stones,
Is dead to the rhythmic lapping of this dial tone.

(Portland, Oregon - Sept 2011)

The eyes are twice upon us

In the factory of light, there be monsters
Who cover their eyes, their eyes being many
Are round as saucers, are filled to the brim
With warm milk for the kittens of my chagrin.

Little tongues licking, their little eyes watching
For morning’s first fog with the skies so cold,
For when the breath comes out in white puffs,
The tuck of mittens down elastic cuffs.

If there be snow, let the eyes fall timid
Upon the buried path, let sweet little toes,
Unsure of the road to the shivering tundra,
Find the road sleeping beneath frozen umbra.

Outside where the wisdom has collisions
With angels of sudden justice, with visions
Of another compulsion — the eyes are twice
Upon the things we have done in the light.

Stitching sutures of soapy skin, we suppose
There be a thing of chance, a rightful thing
Without any suggestion, without any knack
For making good on the caution of the exact.

The eyes are turned away from the scene
Of wrecked carriages, the eyes are askance
With a strange regard for metered logic
Lest we stumble on things nostalgic.

If there be sunshine, let the trees tremble
With cinnamon breezes that hardly resemble
The little wet noses that sniff, they can sniffle
All roads in light, all roads down the middle.

(Portland Oregon 2011)

strangers

These are the coldest months
Just outside my door, the air
Is waiting to hold my breath.
           I sit inside the warm and dim
           Room. I am by myself. Still dark
           Outside, the world is very big.

I think strangers cannot be kind
Because they never stop waiting
For someone they already know.
           Across the alley there is another
           Room. The television glows. All night
           Long, I can see in through the window.

(Portland Oregon 2010)

if I told you

Secret, I will come to you
In dream with only hints
That I have been
Yours since once
Upon an august time
We toppled walls
With ink. Hush now,
Would you believe me

If I told you
My father’s story
In sleep you weep,
Could I make you still
When dawn delivered
The fertile turf
Upon unpainted feathers?
Here then, a woven cloak

I stole for you
To be here always
When you wake, oh
You have slept so very long
Between spring covers, I adore
The very dust of your early pages
Unafraid to be looked upon
If only I told you to.

(Portland Oregon 2010)

Andalusia

The children are sleeping in sugarcane fields
With the weariness of Andalusia, a rush of emotion
From every which way, inexplicably strong.
Their bodies are rising from off the ground,
Dangling there, they begin to believe
That something’s gone horribly wrong.
In terms of miracles, imported seed,
The town has yet to see a season so blue —
Cold fertility, dormant, having been here all along.
Each fattened stalk, tinted as veins just below
A cellophane skin, excruciatingly thin,
As eyelids drawn closed for the singing of a song.

They are offering baptismal forecasts, thunderstorms,
A chilling gust that scares the spit off Picasso’s bicycle.
It is right for a man’s time to come,
Who talks non-sense as the skies grow heavy.
They are looking towards the mountains
For an unbeaten path and the sound of drums
Behind trapdoors. Somewhere in a draughty basement,
A candle flickers beneath the earth,
Whose little light snubbed between soft thumbs.
It is pouring down in sheets again,
They huddle around the radio, giddy, unhinged,
Mouths hanging wide open, struck dumb.

A trick has been played on the hapless babes,
Swearing their graves on a routine explanation,
Tuesdays are for tragedy —
Digging in the dirt with small hands,
Streaked with bits of organic matter,
Muffled bursts of encouragement, a strategy.
To egg on the most timid gloves
In a ring with squared ropes — one sways,
Beloved, climb back up the chimney!
A rapid advance, dry fluttering, panic,
Ditches flooded with deciduous sop,
Yonder, the fields are sinewy slick, bathed in mystery.

The children have been embraced by a tender vision,
When first the sunlight, after the rain,
There is meant to be a passing —
Down by the rock pit, the land is hard,
They are tossing in strips of flecked pelts.
An odor of damp bugs, wafting
Up the icy spine of gauzy mists
That creep forth shivers of peeping vine heads
With word that the valleys are dancing.
Miles of cane stretching out beyond the vanishing point,
Awaiting harvest as they sharpen their knives,
Pupils ignited with undomesticated flashing.

They are having a wonderful dream
With nobody in it, running through the gay fields
From a church painted picket white.
Having received the good news alone,
Clutching tight their middles, lest they be reminded
Of the fragility of rainbows when the bell strikes.
A decision has been made —
To stand upright the plane tree,
Snapping sticks before the monster arrives.
Bundles of dried straws in sweaty fists,
Some rooster necks slung back with hemp,
They fill their throats with dimes.

Rust caked on tired joints of the horse-plows,
Fast upon the crop — there is no sorrow
But a coaxed muttering of lashed bits,
Flinching still at the collapse of a nearby debris pile
That shook from the vertiginous air,
A froth of rapids in quick jerking fits.
Maiden peaks look on, caverns agape,
Suspended over a yawn of tousled land.
Immaculate in dulcet forest —
Lullaby of honeybees, vibrating perpetually,
For each tiny nib of pomegranate,
Tucked away with a goodnight kiss.

(Portland Oregon 2011)

The Great Disaster

A sinkhole has appeared all of a sudden
From the pangs of sullen restraint that stab
At air so thin a mountain could have
Maybe one small gasp
For the treacherous path
A man could likely take alone.
He’s gone walking gingerly
Where the earth gives way so tenderly
Along the rocky crumbling ledge
Of a landscape fresh from injury,
A soft overture behind heavy curtains
Wings its way towards abated burdens,
And the outline of a familiar person
Awash the brush of pale strokes
Unfolds upon a paper
Meant to do some comforting.
It’s been that long since I felt a stir,
A quiet interruption of an earnest request,
An accusation delivered in jest,
A bony finger smoothing down the hem of a blue dress.
I am not persuaded
By the chill of this hollow
Nor by any uncertain dangers
To set aside the frivolous things
Better men disdain.

There was a time I did not believe
In doing as you please, an air of calm
To set flame to some wood, a quick nod
For the understood, a serious rain
Tapping on the glass that is my window.
It’s too early for so much water,
The hard questions of existence,
Nestled still in my down–stuffed bed,
Starving for sugar. There’s nothing to realize
In the middle of the night, stampeding past
The best of dreams, the blackest steeds
Inside my sleep, another thickened scare—
Sometimes I struggle, sometimes I stare
At the fuzzy drafts left in my care,
The details of a better life,
The faint counsel of chromosomes,
In which I have always known
That such feats of determination
Were not meant to pass alone.

So it’s humble and it’s here,
A docile glance over my shoulder,
A loping down of lumpy boulders,
There, where the rocks seem older, I can feel
The inconsolable need
Of absolute perfect symmetry.
I would sooner fall upon both my knees
Than yield to the logical fallacy
That murmurs, come closer
To hot gusts rising off the rift, come here,
I could use a lift, come on,
I am racing the opposite way,
With both my fists pumping piston quick
For endless stretches of pavement slicks
That push me ahead of the wreckage.
I have yet to concede with the expectation
That soon a rescue team will arrive
To collect the parties who are still alive.
A west wind hisses across empty streets,
I am sweating off this winter.

Through that door is a place
Where I have come to anticipate
The traffic of noise as if they were days
Skipping through sculpted hedges of a maze
Aflutter with contracts that send me back
To the very beginning. What a bore
Of ivy vines left to grow by public expense,
Grabby little tendrils that cling tense
To the vague shapes of new events
Without any exercise of sense
Towards the actual direction of light.
I’m stuck in the center of a very small room,
Making a show of muscle
Before pages turned inside out, heaps
Of toppled books installed
In my vicinity to recall
What has lost the sound,
For that which first could not be spoken
Must surpass the caution of the profound.
So, hold fast the timid days—
I’m going to get you out of here,
Behind this wall there is a stair,
Upon the landing I wait for thunder,
There is a hall, two others, a bridge,
Ten thousand paces to the ridge,
Then one more dip before the leaves part,
I still haven’t the heart to say
It wasn’t me
Who witnessed the flames--Alexandria,
Bathed in ashes, never
Shall happen again.

Snow sneaks down from the pitch-dark skies
On tiptoes, casts a blanket of ice
For all things left outside,
Somewhere, a lunatic survives.
The avalanche tucked in tight
Around his poor hunched frame,
It’s still pretty much the same
From one day to the one hereafter,
I went looking for a disaster,
Up the mountain drifts of plaster,
Humming white fog, eventually
The treetops break where celestial frontiers
Reveal an infinity of stark empty space,
I found there the source of violence
To be floral in nature,
Here then was a synopsis of tantrums
To suggest a quaking temperament
In which there is only rhetoric
Between the soil and my soul.

(Portland Oregon 2011)