Star-stuff

All around me memories

Of buds that failed to bloom

Birds that took to nesting

On the far side of the moon-

I lie in days that hide

Between the months of May and June

I dread December snows that dust

The faces of the dunes


My nature gives me wine

And coffee cups to slide the days

One into the other – as streams

And rivers drown in bays;

Stars are not my witnesses –

They flare too far away

But in my bones their star-stuff

Contemplates the winds of change


Bones into the earth to bide –

Soon melt into the sea

Promise bound in atoms

That once bore the scent of me –

Drawn into a cloud that

Random rains another lea

The greening of the grass

The breathing of a tree

The Eyes

Who owns those eyes – like arrows

Shot from across the wall of night

That wish to slay me?


Who's eyes look up from the bottom of the well

Immune to the pebbles I drop

That beckon me to drink deep?


Who's eyes – painted on the faces of leaves

Floating past me on the icy rush

That draw me towards the falls?


In the morning light

I seek the glass to shave my face

And see that there's no one there...

On Wine

My peace is liquid – languish in these rooms

While my dust-double anticipates the broom

For two become the one on shop-worn floor

Says he: the orbit of a spinning loom


For stars are what this world of skin discards

Leaves – once they fall to earth – in wind drift shards

Far past a mere volcanic jet ejects

Dark comfort in the realm Orion guards


Peace...I know thy amplitude at rest

Sharp contrast to the lows of earthly jest

The regions of this sphere I haunt today

Tomorrow – to the cosmic cloud infest


The froth that tricks my chin down to my breast

Once held the antidote – in ruby dressed

Sore – it is now containment for the bleed

The cup today scant yesterday arrests


I cannot know the lips that call this “I”

Equate these rooms I live to where I'll die

Yet, trace a crooked orbit to this spot

With that same finger mark where I will lie

Pauvre Gerard


The reaching ocean waves

Wash smooth

My footprints – my advances

As an early morning tide flows near-

To this bare – this barren higher ground

Where I now make my stand.

My hair in tousled disarray

Upon my lips the stinging spray

As a gale off the stormy – wintry sea

Courses through my mind and soul

And bares its starkness inward to

An even stormier land.

While the wind in stream around my body

Channels past the bay

Soon shall the seas ever-present desires

Pass for want of sails –

For sails are rent and rigging stripped

And all that stands is mast

A king’s pine tall and true – yet bare

As bone upon the shore is cast

It stares intently at the line

Which blends the earth and sea and sky

That lures the strong of heart to seek

Yet reached but with the eye.

So where does man’s life then begin

His unbound pages in the wind

When each step brings him closer to – yet

Further from his naked truth?

The dunes behind now casting shadows

Day is on the wane

The sea has ebbed to foreign ports

And I a few steps closer feign.

The wind has ceased its futile blasts

My world is in the lee

Of life and love – pain and death-

Leaving time alone in me.

Oh these winds and tides shall never bring

The horizon any nearer to me

They serve to pound my memory

With those who’ve come and drifted through me.


Heaven? I wonder:

If the waves that wash this trodden shore

Collect my footprints from the sand

And deposit but a bit of me

With each tide on another land?

Shadow Lover

The shadow lover that I am

The shadow lover I've become

The shadow lover – deep yet dull

Is nothing new – so often done


Is there no test one gives one's self?

How deep am I? I cannot know –

The glass that blocks the west-born wind

Allows the orb which blinds me so


How shallow I've become? That test

Accomplished not with heat nor cold

Nor mystic hands upon my heart

Nor obligation – tithe – nor gold


The rim which bounds the universe

To Stand upon that un-reached strand –

Then outward facing raise my lance

And dare the stars to still my hand

Annie on the Stairs


These pine stairs

Were once an inch thick

Now – in places – they’re about half of that

How they held up –I’ll never understand

At first sight – I held my breath…

          But looks can be deceiving – I knew they’d outlast me.

Annie was always after me to replace them, saying –

“But, Isn’t that what you do?”

“Yes” I’d say, then quickly change the subject

And she soon gave up her asking

          How could I explain?

They were in rough shape when we bought this place

We were so young – and this house so old

And after a hard day on the job – in the heat

The dust and the noise – learning the ropes

On icy staging – in the wind –

With the snow-covered ground so far below…

          My fingers remember it all

After chores – and dinner with Annie

I’d hit those stairs and hear those familiar creaks and groans-

Each stair had its own pitch and tone

Like old pine piano keys on a world-weary board

I’d look forward to those sounds

Because I knew we made it through another hard day.

After cleaning up – I’d lie in bed – reading

Or thinking about the bills – or about time

And what an older version of us would be like.

Then – I’d hear Annie on those old stairs

Playing her own sweet melody

          I knew that the door would soon be opening

          And that I’d be putting to bed those old cares.

The kids came and grew

And stair music went from hesitant –

To playful and raucous

And more than once to anger

Yet…at the end of the day

I’d hear Annie on the stairs…

And on those later-than-curfew high school nights

When they thought I couldn’t hear

It was that safe-at-home-at-last-music

That cut through my frustrations-my fear

          And that’s when I knew Annie knew

The kids are since gone – the stairs

Are still holding up (mostly)

Every so often I tamp down a restless nail or two

A battle I know I’ll soon lose

         On these long winter nights

When I feel as old as this house

I know I’ll be leaving that fight for the next guy

          Just as long as I hear Annie on the stairs

Rings

This Earth wears a ring

Of space – ringed in space

I feel no ring

Own no rings

The connection

Eludes...

Should I pierce my ears

My tongue

My nose lips

Nipples cock-a-ring

Or once betrothed

Get give bells’ll ring

Or a child

Immortality?


This Earth – this orb

This ore of golden continuous weavings

Flows in

Flows through

Flows round my body

Self-same body wanders lonesome

As the sea

She Waits her Cycle

Large woman thirty-

Five or so – it’s hard sometimes to

Tell

Is doing needle-

Point – she waits her cycle completes

Is doing needle-

Point – white fabric within brass –

Ring the scene of which I… can't…quite…

See…

But the needle slow-ly-in-tri–cat-ly enters

Exits pulling blue – It’s hard to see from this angle

Thread to arms

Length – I

In first of three seats – she

In third – old

Newspapers – magazines stacked yesterdays

Between

As washers dryers rinse spin fluff – She

Rises – puts needlepoint on papers (reads)

“God grant me the….” Something or other

Looks inward

Through round glass view Tumbling

No one looks at her Tumbling

Needlepoint – her

Tumbling

Eyes.

.World Window

My window to the world

Specked with rain

My window to the world

Flows with rain

Bleeding drops which flow no end

To life which lingers slow – no end

The nighttime brings the rivers flow again


The shadow of my image

Turns away

The shadow of my image

Shies away

Faces to the wall it turns

Reveals no trace at all it turns

The nighttime brings the shadows turn away


Call my name the wind

In whispers

Call my name Oh wind

Please whisper

Laughing breezes blow I bend

These raindrops bleed I flow no end

The nighttime brings the winds they blow

Again

Star-stuff

All around me memories

Of buds that failed to bloom

Birds that took to nesting

On the far side of the moon –

I lie in days that hide

Between the months of May and June

I dread December snows that dust

The faces of the dunes


My nature gives me wine

And coffee cups to slide the days

One into the other – as streams

And rivers drown in bays;

Stars are not my witnesses –

They flare too far away

But in my bones their star-stuff

Contemplates the winds of change


Bones into the earth to bide –

Soon melt into the sea

Promise bound in atoms

That once bore the scent of me –

Drawn into a cloud that

Random rains another lea

The greening of the grass

The breathing of a tree

Smile

Weekday mornings before I enter the flow

Near the on-ramp

I wait at a traffic light

Like the closed gate of a river lock-

A pent up wave of potential energy

That the changing light will

Spill onto the awaiting highway.


He is there –rain or shine

His clean-shaven head reflecting the angled morning sun

Or streaked with raindrops

That find their way to the tip of his nose

And to the long moustache

That frames a toothless smile…

“Smile” – he holds a paper cup in one hand

And in the other a sign that says:

“If you don’t have any change - just smile”.


There’s a shelter two blocks away.

I’ve heard stories – the cutbacks – the confusion –

The urine smell –the nighttime terrors from

The patchwork needlepoint “guests”

Who need much more than a bed –

Yet they are all as invisible there

As when they wander the respectable streets

In egalitarian daylight

For it is no disgrace to be poor

To a point…

The sunshine is free for all


He holds his breath and dives into our wave

Passing each closed window –

Each air pocket suspended in that frothing torrent

Coffee in to go cups–donuts – music from radios –

Mascara applied in makeup mirrors

Blue-tooth headset – dissonance

The muffled drone of idling engines

To the back-beat of slapping wiper blades –

Faraway eyes riveted onto two-inch screens


Flowing through my mind I hear the words


“Give a man a fish – feed him

For a day – but teach him to fish…”


–Ah, and so the moral goes…

But with the expanding gulf of have and not have

These many able-bodied fishermen

Who dropped their hooks into murky streams

Who cast their nets into fished out seas-

Casting and hauling – casting and hauling -


– The while reflecting on grammar school lessons and laws

On going to school hungry and scared

On the often asked question “why is the boy so quiet?”

Reflecting on Civics class American dreams,

Busing – metal detectors and rock-throwing moms and dads;

Reflecting on globalization and factory closings

And fathers who lost hope and sank into the bottle;

Reflecting on Yellow ribbons and bumper stickers

Claiming to support the troops yet again;

Reflecting on the 300-million-to-one odds of becoming president

And of the two and a half million men in prison;

Reflecting on greed and foreclosure and needing a drink to cope –

Of losing hope and joining the army

To fight in a war that nobody sees –

Though the water of the D.C. Reflecting Pool is slowly – turning – red;

Reflecting on needing a needle to cope

And on what he caught when he wasn’t looking;

Reflecting on the American Dream that flowed down Wall St. urinals

And then slithered past Ellis Island on the out-going tide

In the shadow of the Lady in the westward – setting – sun.


These fishermen are now casting their nets in that stagnant pool

And hauling in lonely nights in borrowed beds

And nighttime terrors

And swirling visions in bowls of vegetable soup

At the table of the Charitable Sisters of Mercy

The sign says – “If you don’t have any change – just smile,

Because brother – I’m willing to fish”

Ruby


There is a thought that rests before the lips
Whispers quiet...do you remember this?
You may respond as if we hadn't met
But to your eye affix a memory wet...

Two lain upon the sand a summer's day
Two waves to crest and fall upon their way
While dust became the product of that merge
Deep years protect the shadows of that urge

Project upon this wall a fugitive –
Smile – to alight the darkness where I live
Though wine will set the motion to that plea
Its absence while I sleep won't rescue me

So now upon the sand my skin abrades
Made worse the sting of salt as summer fades
I pour the wine as balm into that sore
It soaks – as you have done- through every pore

Cafe’ Roma Stream

Love women sex re-la-tion-ships – wants needs etc. I ego ergo thoughts absurdity

Necessity retracing steps re-ex-am-in-ing causes effects words wounds San

Francisco womb-like July summer beginnings of ends Cambridge to North End-

Ings aging foolish self-conscious-ness fool-ish-ness “Notes From Underground”

Dostoevsky absurdly Oslo becoming ol-der-more-fool-ish-ly-in heat wave sweet

Smile tanned neck nape arms long legs long-ings thighs smooth-ness small lamp

Dim room-fan circling slowly so slow-ly sounds of the softness of lights of window to

Street – Curtains sheer – air dead dripping bed sheets bellies our low sounds the low

moaning humming whir to drone sounds (Of life?) Wine glasses wet sweet sweat

Scents of the name-less face-less aim-less living street. Risings of heat wave of

Crowds of loneliness loveliness tanned legs thighs the formless void of ageless essence

O essence! lingering smooth sensual secret wetness there here you everywhere

Wafting forever waf-ting through aim-less age-less naked eternity...

Signpost

As a Signpost


In a strange land –

She once gave me a generous gift –

A book of poetry – (fifty

Poems by Pasternak)

That – unread – stood

Vigil

On my shelf

Banked by other signs from other lands

Leaning in colorful company – dust –

Jackets singing softly songs to me

Of hope and love and lost hope

As I would pass – and days –

Through melted years would pass

Till one into the others voice

In white-noise drowned

And my eyes – once drawn to varied light

And form

Were dulled in dust

From a landscape dim and known…

Yet while some volumes slept and passed

And others wept in joy

Or sorrow-yearnings and borrowings

I remembered her summer song

From a space beyond my ears and eyes

As the cold wind brushed the panes with dry leaves –

I then took her

To my bed

And in the evening lamplight

Read aloud

The Bicycle

A small boy sits

On the curb

By his fallen

Bicycle

The front wheel

Spinning

Freely – spokes

Whirling – there is dirt

Bits of stone in his

Palms knees red


Raw

Cars


Strangers


Pass slow-ly

By and

Stare as they

Move

Away

     Through the windshield I feel

An ache

Behind my own

Tired eyes

To once again know

That

Pain

Boats

A simple, wooden, flat-bottom fishing dory

Gray, with white gunwales

A 14 footer

(If my heel to toe be close reckoning)

No name

No numbers

Lies overturned on the beach

Well up from the flood line

Tethered to a rusting eye – set

In a granite block


I walk past it most days

Since I retired and moved here

Now that there’s no one left at home


As far as I can tell

It’s been some time since it’s been put to good use.

Maybe the owner has also retired

Or moved on and abandoned it

Or simply passed away-

No one around here seems to know.


– Boats…what is it about boats?

Lately the only use it does get

Aside from being a stop-off perch

For shore birds

Is as a place for me to sit

And drink coffee

While I watch the tide do what it does

And fishermen do what they do

And the birds…those beautiful birds!


Oh, there was that one time

This past year

When a young, pretty photographer

Asked to take my picture – as I sat there

Looking out to sea

I just couldn’t do it…

She seemed… puzzled


But for boats to be boats – they need

To do what boats do…No?

Designer and builder – raw materials

The work and skill that goes in

Seems only fair that something

Must come out!

But here – on the beach

On it’s belly

Paint peeling in the harsh sun

Dry planks set to check and warp…


Something’s just not right

When a boat’s not a boat

Rainings


As my peak bears the loneliest rainings

Taunting my dreams – they shall soon lay me low

They mock me - my existence is waning

Those westward await my easterly flow


I feel you – but know not your sweetness

Probing my senses as honey on stone

I yield love to my own incompleteness

Then wend my way downward – drowning alone


Caught in a grasp then a loosening hand

From the depth of a love to the shallow

Lain on the ocean’s lone bottom – as sand

In the death of this love I lie fallow


To weak to believe I shall ever see

An end to this storm that rages in me

Eider Down

Dedicate your spring to me –


Your thoughts as Eider Down

Your belief in misty mornings

And your wish –

That spring will always be with you

Your dawns will never die

And that I will be the one you share them with –


O dedicate your spring to me


And I’ll not let you down

For you are as the gentle April rain –

Which feeds the flowing meadow grass


And bursting willow wands –

The imagination of the human race


Your summer song please play for me

Your dreams of love and joy

In melodies as soft as Eider Down

Your words will ever stay with me


As will your summer smile

As heaven floating softly near the ground


Please sing your summer song to me

And I’ll not let you down

For you are as – the rising summer sun

Which warms my fears the winter brings

As I was born alone

When love was not in season – nor the sun


Let autumn be the answer

With its scenes to celebrate

As the artist’s eye and tenderhearted hand

Move in strokes of solitude – across a velvet page

His leaves will ever fall upon his land


But – can autumn be the answer

As the sun is on the wane

And summer sounds and dreams are moving on?

O I’m in need of something that is closest to the truth

My roots are here – though I will soon be gone


I’ll dedicate my thoughts to you

Across the frozen land

And remember you as sun upon my skin –

Winters are a lonely time - the sun is hanging low

As I reach for a place I’ve never been


Please dedicate your thoughts to me

Across the whitened land

As snowflakes falling soft as Eider Down

Winters are a lonely time – and I have let you down

In search of something -- I


May never know

The Revolution

I’m returning to San Francisco

And I’m scared

There’s a price on my head

For all the times I’d been there

With you

As collaborator



I found you on my first raid

And so confessing

Pressed my lonely blade to your throat

In that North Beach summer heat -- 

I saw your flag was different

Your god -- your eyes I -

Needed to conquer your country I -

Had to have your flag

As a sheet - and to carve my name

Into your sacred flesh I loved –

You I loved...

But your English became too

Sharp – there were those

Meetings held in secret cellars

In ancient tongues –

I smelled overthrow!

I fled into exile – vowing

“ I shall return!”

But your underground became too – strong

They elected you Queen

And showered oblations –

Why didn’t they shave your head?

Why weren’t you cast out for your treason?

Were you in league with them all along

Or did I cause you suffer - ing?


There are statues of you –

Plaques – in the city square

I can’t get an audience for

There is that price

On my head I still have that tattered flag

On my bed

You can’t have that back


Ever!

The Revolution will have to do without.


I’m returning to San Francisco

I am older now...

Perhaps I won’t be spotted