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Pompeii

Rich city on the Sarnus, comfort of
Commerce and ease of prosperity,
Abundant food and sun, did you not
Find lives full of work and pleasure,
The heat of lovers, the cheer of friends,
The happy noise of many children, your
Days bright and soft and flowing like
Gossamer spun from Mediterranean
Cloud, each moment as fleet and
Fragile as a kiss on a sleeping cheek,
Though durable in succession; and
You trusted and dreamed until the
Hammer fell not single but legion,
Making death a universal grief and
No one to mourn, the light dazzled
Water of your happiness choked in
Ash, time made mineral, and your
Stone ghosts come to haunt us with
The cataclysm of our everyday lives.

How The Day Began

I dreamed I was young and could sing. My
Voice not this three-note croak but mighty
Sound and how easily my soul soared from
My lips into the vibrant air. Then I woke up
And I was old and had no song, just these
Words, grey dawn and no soft sleep again,
Grief so strong that even I thought the old
Coconut of my heart would split and spill
Its little milk. Outside, the trees in shadow
Were mystery and the traffic noise mystery;
Mystery my hands and mystery my teeth;
Mystery the tasks of the day and mystery
All the days gone in mourning. The radio
Broke into a pitch and I rose to silence it.
Might be a cup of coffee is the fix? And
I heard in my mind my grandmother say
No complaining and my father Find a use.
My mother said Be kind and my wife said
Remember your mother. God said I made
You a soldier who goes to war with himself.
Call Me Son of a Bitch and ask My blessing.

I’m delighted Philadelphia Stories published one of my poems. The art below combines the page with the magazine’s front-cover masthead.

Down the Shore Poem art compressed

Two Dead Rabbits

Do you pity us? Our bright eyes changed
For bright flies, our soft faces ravaged by
Remorseless sport, slaughtered but not
Eaten? We do not pity ourselves. We are
Beyond pity and cruelty and mercy and
Questions and answers and frenzies of
Meaning. We are absolute fact. We would
No more argue with death than you would
Argue with beauty, the sun on the tall grass,
The wind rolling the green fields like the sea.
When you pity, you pity yourself. When you
Speak, the words are yours. We do not need
These things. We sleep in the perfect peace
Of indifference.

The Desert Soul

If my soul is a desert, it is the
Blossom desert of spring time.
If my sky is black without stars,
It is the deepest blue of the dawn.
If my skin is tough wax and spines,
It will hold secure the sufficient rain.
If I am dry rocks hammered by the noon
Heat, small flowers grow there like grace.

On 57th Street

Do not think because I walk slow and
The world reels fast, or because my
Soft voice is destroyed by the metal
Detonations of the demolition truck,
Or because I can no longer brave the
Noon sun without my broad hat and
My black glasses, that I am not here.
Do not think because I no longer have
Lungs to laugh through the lunchtime
Roar, or lips always hungry to eat and
Kiss, that I have faded to pale shadow.
All my flesh may be ghosting away but
My step on this sidewalk is more solid
Than yours. You’re too busy living to
Notice much of anything. I feel to the
Molecule what this day, this light, the
Noise on this street, what my eyes and
Mouth and beating heart and the ache
Of the worn bones in my feet are worth.

The Grief of the Sunflower

How
I rose,
Genius
Of summer,
On wings of
Yellow flame.

Now how heavy
My barren head,
Bowed to my weary
Breast with mournful
Thoughts of September.

Matisse’ Studio

I marked
These reds
On this canvas
In a place and time
Now forgotten by all save
A few dry scholars. But these
Reds are proof of my living hand,
Colors as alive as the taste of warm
Wine in your mouth.

"The Red Studio" by Matisse from the Museum of Modern Art, New York City

“The Red Studio” by Matisse from the Museum of Modern Art, New York City

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