Best Poems From
(04/23/52 - xxxx)
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
After Folly - An Aging Poet Addresses One Who Wanders In Mountains Remote
'Now I've broken my ties with the world of red dust;
I spend all my time wandering and read all I want.
Who will lend a dipper of water
to save a fish in a carriage rut? ' - Han Shan, Tang Dynasty, China
There's a hairy Moses in the distance counting pocket
change to give to the ferrier, coins that fit the eyes.
I'm hanging at the back of the crowd. There's manna
enough for pockets. My Red Sea is long parted but old
Pharaoh's got a new army. Each day is a scrape in the tents.
Prayer and fear is sustenance dragged further out by pillars
of fire. A volcano rumored to be God publishes 'Mandates for
a New Junta', led by a well-bred stutterer (prototypical politician,
it seems) . In odd limbo there trail reluctant murmurers.
That 'Golden Calf 'Incident' was a silly mistake,
an overreaction, but there were agreements made
at the outset, sealed in blood, first born sons threatened
or worse, guaranteed real estate for dairy farmers and
bee keepers, oodles of milk-and-honey futures, money
to be made in hopefully greener pastures. Now it can
be said with certainty, a 'promised land' comes with
big catches - I've exchanged one for another, same
mistake - the barbs are plenty, mostly mistaken people
thinner than scripture loudly staking claims to land
and deity in long meander.
It's a luxury, sure. Some choose to wander. Some don't.
Water is scarce in deserts. Wheels are few but for
chariots of war, not many ruts though there's thirst aplenty,
not the bounty promised before the journey.
A penny for a wet tongue.
I'm of that hung up crowd forced to flee, a victim of unleavened
fate, or is that too Greek a notion? The question begs asking.
Unintended impertinence must be forgiven. That's the theme,
right? the long march of history, that of redemption in time though
each and every has an opinion. Can't be helped. Much to explain.
All's a seeming washed in blood.
How passing strange is life in old age overwrought by
too much thinking. All is not yet lost but merely tossed
and scrambled in this ramble where etymology is everything.
And good boots. I'm then to poetry and books a-sundry,
an attempt to keep a horizon. Above it. Not under but
the dip is soon enough. Humor with others is still intact.
Alone I manage to laugh out loud.. After a life of folly so
much frivolity empties one out. I cry out in the night but
remainder to Silence.
Old friend, I've been reading zen, the 'death poems' and
'Sayings of the Desert Fathers, ' in many ways the same.
These orient. One can still lift a head up amongst the stars
while swatting flies, be silly, for what care stars at all
but for eyes, maybe they're wanting to be seen?
Reading remote poets and prophets purposefully hiding
out to 'draw nigh unto' is ironic, remove the eye of the
perceiving other and it will show up upon the sky, mountains,
all things between, universally; perhaps even TV screen static
between channels links here/now with beyond; easier to
be in subtle presences sublime than these lumps in solidity
which are the material, a hard father's boot-steps on the stairs
just out the door sends one packing, a shy Desert Father
beneath his bed to hide, a wilderness of sorts.
From there I pray,
'Abide with me, Father,
give sons a safer world,
bring them gently into it'.
Many sons are ill-prepared,
'not yet, not yet, ' they bray.
I'm flung further into the fray though I sway up 5 flights
of stairs, long in exile, dizzy with the street, the human
beauty and brokenness there, all those flower pots in
windows, on stoops, the blossoming tree brightening
between darker bricks to truly dwell. It is for me, a shy
son, to see in spite of big chunks missing or torn out,
to remake the world as it always is for angels long to
be bread to dwell in our finitude. To them, then, I am
'the Dude', a daffodil in my lapel, gate of heaven and
h*ll open at the end of the block. I skip forward singing,
'La La La, ' poems a'pocket. If questioned at the gate
I'll blame you, meandering still, granting permission
the entrance to boldly storm.
Between St. Marks and the horizon my fingers still work.
Amir, Prince Of Treetops, Now Sleeps In His Bright Yellow Room
perhaps you are
a bee sleeping in
the heart of a flower
the stone of your
sweetly upon a pillow
your little hands
open into bestowal
while you sleep
the sun ripens
plums into honey
upon the little
feet of the bee
a child screaming
you carry his
cry to parks
declared war on
yellow and pillows
all plums are
exile yet still
in a shrub beneath
the golden window of
the girl you must
love in secret
you smile and
and the walls of
state and of the
local god are
down truly one
still the powers
that be refuse to
see blood and dust
though the lemon
trees at Ferdosi's
tomb are opening
kingdom of justice
through bitter tears
little bee now
sweeps the little
room of its heart
the muezzin calls
fly away all to each
his dutiful prayers
bee too flies
honeys the feet
of those who would
kneel to be closer
to the Friend
whose Voice is
sweet in the halls
the streets the
friends of the
Friend of Mashhad
they do not know
that the bee up
is busy keeping
they do not know
that the child
sleeps whose hands
are gentle bestowals
one two three
at the top of
**Mashhad is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. It is also the only major Iranian city with an Arabic name.
Mashhad is also known as the city of Ferdowsi, the Iranian poet of Shahnameh, which is considered to be the national epic of Iran.
Bessie Smith - Powder Dancing On 3rd Street, Chattanooga (Circa 1971)
Already the river begins its sweat.
April to September I'll be on the porch
Come sunsets listening to cars in the
Dark and you, remembering the flour
On the floor** and me and Willie in
Stocking feet dancing till dawn,
An old man down the street come
To drink on my porch sometime.
You were singing one night
While we drank and he just
Had to dance and pulled me,
Reluctant, skinny ass kid
All over the floor that night.
But my feet did dance.
And the flour stayed down
The whole summer long.
[**In the Jim Crow South
in juke joints for blacks
sometimes powder or
wheat flour would be strewn
on dance floors and couples
would dance silkenly gliding
barefoot or in socks..
To read more about this read
my account of it on poemhunters
titled, 'Now Heart - Some of
What I Remember When I Listen']