Supposing Wishes Fishes, Night a Well

9708316168_03021c6a06_k
I spoke a wish into the dark,
as if I dropped a fish into a well,
then paused for a returning sound to tell

if water caught it, not dry stone,
not dead coins only. Not a sound came back:
That wish went its own way, and left no track.

The night is long. Where may a wish not go,
when every word’s alive, and each is true?
In such a span of time, what can’t it do?

Under the hood:

Continue reading

Advertisements

o no na po wri mo

4285992318_39c699be64_bthe month of april
which is poetry month
is insupportable and ill timed
it’s still nearly winter when
words didn’t help us get by

it’s still nearly winter now
there was a season that made sense
that stoppered life that held us to
one single obligation just to last
to ride it out and not to

burrow so deep that there was
no coming back
to the surface again
that was wisdom that was
really a better idea than this

I never trusted spring
this coinflip season
spring with its rotten
ice and its seepage
spring with its alarming growths

winter was better better
to hide out better to live small
to listen to the wind
and the rain passing better
to be a clever animal

better to wait out the cold
better to forgo what sunlight was given
easier to survive then
than to live
now:

Continue reading

In Memoriam (two translations from the English)

Dear reader, I’m curious: of the versions below, which do you prefer (if either), and why?

3079020212_8fb47a5326_b

I.

They built a grand monument to the dead
And the place where the stone was quarried
Soon filled up with rainwater
And the young couples would meet there.

II.

Built to commemorate the dead
This palace stands, untenanted.

By the still pool in the quarry pit
The lovers sometimes come to sit.

 

Continue reading

In Praise of Adjectives, Adverbs, Asides, Verbal Gewgaws, Blandishments, Rhyme for Rhyme’s Sake, Flummery, and the Like: A Demonstration

Consider the alternative:
WalrusCarpenter
The sun glinted off the waves. It was midnight.
The moon was up. Everything was still.
The Walrus and the Carpenter were walking.

-Damn, said the Walrus.
-Yeah.

They walked for a while.

-It’s a lot of sand, the Walrus said.
-Nothing anybody can do about it, said the Carpenter.

After a while they met up with some oysters.
-Why don’t you boys come with us, the Walrus said.
The oldest one shook his head No but the young ones came along.

They walked for a while then stopped by a rock.
The Walrus wanted to talk but the oysters wanted to catch their breath first.
-Sure, said the Carpenter.
-Time for a snack anyway, said the Walrus.

-But not on us! said the oysters.
And the Walrus:
-Nice night, isn’t it?
And the Carpenter:
-Pass the bread.

-Kind of tough on the oysters, don’t you think? said the Walrus.
-It’s tough, said the Carpenter.
-Hard times, said the Walrus.
He pretended to wipe away a tear but he was really hiding the biggest oysters behind the handkerchief for himself so he could eat them.

-All right, said the Carpenter.
-Ready to head back?

By that time they had eaten all the oysters and it was still again.

The end.

Continue reading

10 Poems Written with a Found Pen

6064818001_214405118c_b1.

Between the gray sky and gray
earth the darkling crowds
of those who
don’t and won’t look up
swell the concrete streets but
no cement can hold back time
no built thing can support the sky and
the earth holds me, but
I hold nothing:
holding nothing
back, again,
still.

 

3936737920_1b66337e7a_b2.

I can’t even
get lost just once, I
got lost then
right away
did it again. Later
that place I was headed for
changed into another, so
I never found it.

 

5710937421_5fd9e51b87_b3.

Hip hooray for the Brooklyn Bridge!
A comic book for the Bowery Kids!
Nobody’s lost, nobody jumps,
We all stand up & take our lumps.
From here to Brooklyn, never back!
And into the great wide world at last!

 

3956711259_e645199cae_b4.

Never can remember
the endings of movies
quite right and then
I’m afraid to watch them
a second time
since what if the whole world
could come undone
just like
that?

 

3705415952_98fe4e89eb_b5.

I used to love rocks and
talk about them. Now I don’t
remember why
I thought I knew so much, why
I thought the world was all
about the rocks.
Kids, huh?

 

choppy PS6.

If the bay froze – right now, right away –
I bet those sharp gray
waves would fetch a pretty penny
you could cut up the bay, not have any
thing left but sunken wrecks and fish
skeletons, and everyone would wish
they’d bought a piece while they could
yeah, you best believe it would be a good
deal while it lasted, buddy

 

4284517865_4592d9b01b_b7.

I have this friend
let’s call her Chris I
haven’t seen her in
a while and I
forget if I owe her
a call or if
she owes me so
anyhow it’s pretty
late now
maybe in a day or two
I’ll remember
again

 

9899787004_b92cca31c1_b8.

She got her world from
Headlines, so was always in
Despair, or shopping.

 

12497919084_2faec95fa9_b9.

That creek meandering through
the grass doesn’t want
a thing and moves
always. That bird poised like
death on the bank
wants what it can
get; it doesn’t move
but once.

 

bird on coffeepot with red bg10.

This morning she was up
before me, who used to be
my slug-a-bed, my slow waker.
This morning she has
opinions, who used to
wait and see what things
would be like.
This morning as
I reached for my
coffee cup I realized
wait
this is no dream
this thing is real.

 

Continue reading

A Love Song of Alice B. Toklas

Alice_B_Toklas-1921

Mornings after, the company sleeping hard,
You were wakeful
With her arms about you
(and she asleep, not to be roused
because she did not care to be disturbed
by morning’s fitful fittings into place
till noon’s din roused her anyway
and she would dress and come down to the ordered house);
The floor cold till you found your slippers, padded down the stair
To find a brace of poets snoring on a single chair
A pair of painters sprawled upon the floor,
strange bearded men, one pic-a-devant, one goatee;
And standing at the parlor door you saw them heard them snore,
you smelled their wine and night-sweat smell,
And knowing all was well and would be well
You gathered up the moment to yourself

And let it go. No poet nor no painter you;
Yet that was something only you could do,
Let go and yet not lose,
And sniffing shuffle on on quiet feet
To go and shovel out the ashes from the stove
And put the whistling-kettle on for tea.

 

Continue reading

A Letter to the Late Allen Ginsberg

Litersf1$allen-ginsberg_s-business-card ca 1966
Around this time, Ginsberg also had what he referred to as his “Blake vision,” an auditory hallucination of William Blake reading his poems “Ah Sunflower,” “The Sick Rose,” and “Little Girl Lost.”

So tell me this one thing,
Old poet, mad saint,
What will it take to make the world strike me with its great magic?

What will it take to hear
William Blake declaiming Sunflower
in Harlem tenement?
Litany of drugs, poetry, masturbation, family history of insanity, criminal friends, jazz bars cosmic gaze smoky poet’s beard?
Is it typewriter, telegram, radio wave death that killed the voice of William Blake?
I process words, spell check, send beat poems by email. But I can type! send telegram! I seek out old radio shows, flat voices, analog tape hiss, all! I stay up all night! I embrace limitations! I cry up camp!
I sleep with many men, urge each one to grow out his beard!
I contemplate marijuana, ayahuasca, beer, peyote!
But alas contemplate as well a family unremittingly sane, professors, doctors, scientists, lawyers, old criminal friends respectable now, work for Boeing, Disney, partners in law firms,
Anyway these days you have to be good or you’ll never afford to retire you’ll have to work till you drop and who wants that?
And it’s all too easy to be good we have jazz bars you can’t even smoke in, we have digital TV, smart drugs, drive by shootings but they’re not somebody’s fault just bad luck, now it’s okay to masturbate everybody masturbates now it’s not even fun anymore, we have internet porn, mandatory capitalism, avant garde paranoia, sophisticated bigots armed with DNA and Right Guard
But we wonder what it’s all for, we didn’t tune in, we can’t drop out, we can’t get out the vote. We want something or other but what?
Only I seem to know what I want & I want what you had Allen Ginsberg
I want William Blake
declaiming Sunflower in my room
not to give answers to cosmic questions
but to show me he still can.

Continue reading

To Say

4649975676_921d2da23a_o

To say
That you could never disappoint me
Is just to say you haven’t yet
And then extrapolate.

Of course you could.
Oh, when I think of all the ways you could
Undo me! It almost makes me weep
From the sheer foolish love of what you are so far,

My true love, my millstone.

 

Continue reading

I Visit Qiantang Lake in Spring

(after Bai Juyi)

 8754250165_98c5f17d7b_k

I could go north to Gushan temple, or west to Jiating.
I could. But here… here, I am between the calm water and the drifting clouds,
Where the young orioles squabble over perches in the sun,
Where the swallows have returned, and now are harvesting the spring mud.

Unruly flowers sprang up while I was looking elsewhere,
While my horse waded through the new grass.

No, I’ll go east again, where I long to wander
Beneath the green poplars, on White Sand Trail.

 

Continue reading