Best Poems From
(04/23/52 - xxxx)
A Gypsy Cab Author Caught In A Texas Milky Way, A Letter Poem To M. Meursault
for Bob. M.
Mark the first page of the book with a red marker.
For, in the beginning, the wound is invisible. - Edmund Jabes
And so it was I entered the broken world to trace the visionary company of love.
- Hart Crane
'A man of many false starts...'
- Opening line from the manuscript spoken about below.
Mon Cher Marcel Meursault, homo viator **,
tumbleweed rumor, post-war roamer,
son of Cain, Biblical stain in from desert storms,
Petrochemical companies flare just cross the highway, multi-lane signals of Mammon Cathedral in the Wasteland, it's neon void promises a Velvet Jesus, a Velvet Elvis to a desert kingdom of the far flung, you being one of them, now home from the war in exile before and after, returning to the beat up but beloved truck that also tells a story and leaves a stain. Black puddles beneath write the names of God:
Jake, his slow breakdown while breaking into those stately mansions of the godly rich; hard lessons of earnest Private Dodge wanting approval and love ill sought from the gold-toothed, refugee Drill Sergeant Tomaso, late of Liberia, a wannabee Jehovah with too much power over America's young game boys shipwrecked onto military shores.
This tale staggers. An overly educated veteran of the Iraq war driving his bondoed cab - the 'Great Spackled Bard' he calls it - here and there in Texas edge town perimeters of Mammonopolis where the money is compelled to dirt roads, back streets one would never intentionally drive if not for need of money forcing a military jacked, peg-legged hobo's freedom of sorts, shattered leg below the knee ignominiously left in the sands of the Shahs to make mutually agreed upon brief commitments with strangers to destinations ending with a discharge and a fare-thee-well.
Between nocturnal addicts, the usual after hour customer, arrives the graveyard-shift nightly migrants; Waffle House, respite rituals of grease and gravy, the Medusa-wigged anorexic waitress with echolalia loudly repeats every order to the ash-tipped cigarette cook, a stubbed butt on a busted lip; she repeats overheard conversations at dirty tables, customers politely pretend not to hear the gossip-large confessions of littler lives pasted Hopper-like to the diner windows glaring reflections without error there where the only self-reflecting going on is the scribbler in the pink booth perversely taking it all in, thinking, feeling, penning it down in notebooks looking for himself in those echoes with your stolen shades on, eternally cool in his capacity to tolerate what you call 'the great densities' - immense absurdities de le quotidian.
Love them. Love them all, even those monolithic chemical companies, those justly reactive radio heads, their words blown out of cab windows - 'the wind blows away our words' - heard all the way to East Coast night up on the roof under the orange sky holding your manuscript in hand, flashlight New York City, words discarded or dragged screaming from a passing car compelling compassion, curiosity, hinting a calm eye in the center of eternal return's static-pitched dispatch to the corner of Crackhurst and Waffle House and back again, all 'amor fati'. The eye observes, swerves to miss the Mexican kid chasing the ball into Same Ol' Street ('same as it ever was' - David Byrne) , notes it with caffeine amphetamine laced and traces 'the visionary company of love'- stubbed cigarettes, sputum maps coughed and spat.
Indeed. Chase that company, chemical visionaries, down streets missing a few teeth, the bent antenna unfurls a remote prayer flag from coldest Himalayas fluttering, flung from gypsy cab windows, wordless hiccups of eventing into the oblivion of the obvious - flutter-flap ancient technologies of cloth strung holey in bleak majesty, gesticulate, pleading 'Mercy' for all the species, eventually our own, obliterated by human tracings. In another Buddha tongue:
Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha
GONE, GONE, GONE BEYOND,
COMPLETELY GONE BEYOND-
Keep going with all this, the other bric a brac. Three-legged dog pants, knows only that scented tires owe him a leg up in the world. At least one. All opening lines are strung up years ago when you were that freckle in 'Father Bob And What The F*ck Land', all the books (never false starts) read and to be read written since then and now and to come during the insufferable hours, forlorn miles in the merciless cab all jib jab flap and flutter real voice about poor human choices which even at their worst vote for visionary company in those universes revealed even in glittering Texan and Iraqi sand.
It is so brilliantly human to find the diamond in the sh*t.
And no need for genius which used to mean something but not any more.
On with the boring center line endlessly dividing though broken on purpose suggesting a way to veer. No guide needed here. Fear is the drive shaft, and longing turns the wheel.
Damned good you are inspired then amidst progress's smoking mirror, like Blake, a wake-dreamed jeweler mining away in-breathed while sucking those cigarettes and lovers, the endless hash browns, along Texas highways and byways waiting for another dispatch to Bumf*ck and Divine.
The psalmist says it right, no matter the blight:
'Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.'
I await another dispatch prayer for the far flung tracers.
**homo viator means, man the traveler, man on the way,
the latin name Gabriel Marcel uses to designate the human species
especially modern, now postmodern man.
A Poem In Fragments Beginning With A Line From Berryman
[the poem begins with a line by John Berryman ending with the word 'honey']
Childness let's have us honey, flame intended,
names smeared on the glass, an accidental pane
times hands touching it delicate as trespass,
what is allowed lace of vision times want equals
at last a sum equals at last a remorse felt,
a memory - sunk into soft teas - steeping, turns
steaming said window said prints/views obscured
of nothing in particular or special, troubles only,
only of passing birds enamored of (their lighter
bones) or are they cloud and shadow? merely the
steep sun declining ashen into the Jersey side?
O come lover back the floor where we lay a'times
upon boards the cluttered clothes the depositions
times at least three and take me once again one
times infinity into your arms times two leave me
when you/we are done doing times zero a mere cypher
flown sheer up the flue into the blue ash which now
the sky is where (there is only one sky) a dove flies
into possibility of memory or not times countless
thousands times plus the time it takes for you to
exit shedding skins, shells (am a shell, water you?
you decide) times infinity into the one drain in-
to ocean reflecting blue sky of ash blew into what
remains of you on the beach bathing soft Junes,
boardwalk organ grinder smiling/sings 'amor fati'
mellifluously on as hairs their bodies follicles
delicate when under the glass espied over-spills
into o endlessly it's seams, it seems, into memory
which is already over-said overheard redundantly a
river and time, this one recalled, the cloud drift
and the river the tides beside the city both sides
is as ancient as it always was and is - in the beginning
was darkness over deep water and a word, any word
really would do form something out of deep, of dark,
of water which shapes only by outer circumstance itself
in this case a word leading up to this contraction of
bellies against each times two, and legs times four,
and lips times myriad ones gone before - of murmurs
O lover of thee I adore - I am unkindly left remembering
once was laughter spent seeking out between bodies' valleys
eternally shifting eluding capture, this, just to reintroduce
some levity for we were many day-ed times merry-merrily
played harming no one not even the mouse unmoved per-
haps, watching perhaps, still, still, from beneath the
god you insisted be excluded from all our nakedness
times one too many breaths exchanged, groped times
many ropes all our wanting the curtained dancer en-
tranced entered into upon a mystery how one could be
so, well, so marvelous and so cruel too as one wills
memory - an edge tears open: Fact: that there was love,
there was love after all I could see it smell it feel
it there dancing round the living room one holds on
to, and upon goodness worn out pulled from below down
and dark and deep such is this so it is the riddle it
is all now become since you departed, love, since you
departed I shall count backward by threes then fours
the door which once embraced you now never lets you
go no matter the black or blue tide of thee O lover,
what slips out ebbs black back into lapis, lapses in-
to what self is uttered/poured scored transparent upon
surfeit surface/faces which are even eyes which now
glaze with love lost beside the flue marked upon the
pane blue the mouse black upon the floor remains is
many, a multitude of petals times three the jasmine
unspurned at last at last/least return soft Junes the
lips of which are sometimes pink of lavender swollen
as if to kiss times three the antinomies a string of
pearls and thee O lover to me back 'splaying shyly
where the curtains sway/stand behind them the curtained
dancer entranced/entered into upon a mystery the organ
grinder smiles/sings 'amor fati' mellifluously on
A Shabbos Poem Beginning With A Line From Zukofsky - Upon Finding A Book Of His Poems On A Street Corner Manhattan Lower East
for Gerald & Shirah Kober Zeller
Lord, lord...why are our finest always dead,
prayer is oil the dead come home to
two Hassids young bring candles
for Shabbas only a few hours till
perhaps even in this cafe they
watch books gather on the familiar
corner where shopkeepers' decades
pass hurry home before dark with
candles, cares, the wares of religion,
the Book & dream, a distant land
made close by old songs kindled,
finest ones still kindred made the
stronger by fire and voices-one
mingled with Mendelssohn
and the later oranges
from traffic to street corner
1st Ave. and St. Marks now
here 'Z' is lifted up pages
gummed literally spit out
years of countless Chicklets
spat 2-per-box-a-nickle a
lover's quarrel with the
shoe-and-should what good
come of the chewing masses
hurrying home or to ferry
over river/bay to old brick
even the convent on the hill
just up from the undocking
crowd is dark for want of mercy
ramparts lift by Chambers above
African graves, the slaves of
South Ferry sentinel terminal
near ferries' toil as lower Manhattan
lights a menorah towering despite
what is now worshiped there knowing
that home, the one sought(even now)
more resides in words aflame reciting
the Name, One alone, then of
patriarchs the bearded whole lot
of them who murmur still for all
our want and next year next year
will be different for we shall no
longer be here but in Holy City
cabs blur yellow/gypsy
in angular winter light
now dazzle before Spring
when raises dead bulbs to
jonquils potted pretty in
windows, on stoops and,
wild, strayed in parks
do not, O, pass us by or over
for all our patient harping
come morrows under willows yet
we shall hang up our loves again
get back to work
honest scrub and clean
beside the avenue
stand recalling willows
and grieve still an old
yet present eviction in
the cities of men
Abandoned Train Station Near Grandmother's Grave
for Lida Harris
Then died there the rose beside the house of tin.
The track bore no train for years.
Weeds travel tendriled and
yellow rooted between trestles.
Broken vessels whistle through
shattered teeth of glass.
Only wind and no rusted train passes.
Though the scene bears dislocation,
though the brain remembers station and motion
of steam engine and iron wheel rotation
the places of old gone passing
bear no malice toward stillness.
All around mute remains remind the
occasional passer of former days;
an old snuff tin crumbled in a reverent hand
longs for the woman grasping then,
holds sweet dust beneath her tongue
as the land must hold her now where is
no whisper but sleep beyond sleep.
Weeds to the eye are sad between rails
but listening to their green and yellow belles
the rightness of their swaying displaces all sorrow.
Their distance is a distance one cannot know
but only borrow in imagination by extension
of miles, their reach is ours then, translated
green and longing, their leaves throng the
evening air, in silent clamor fling down seed
to summer's blundering prayer.