Poetry doesn’t exist to give you prose. It’s this other thing. It is something that has to do with the sound of words, the sound of letters, the spaces between words, letters, how words connect to the mind and to the throat at the same time.
when I ride give
me not a saddle
but the force of
my thighs and salt-
wet hair rubbing
moist threads from jeans
let me not ride to
save myself from
walking but to
fill with wind and
thunder as we
gallop pressed so
close hooves and
breath are mine
Thank you to the editor of Something Like Homesickness for first publishing this poem. Thank you N. Garvin for your beautiful photo of Charly.
Caught between Kerouac and Marilyn spawned in me the language, fearless pain as my mother, wrapped in mink, walked the edge then past as I watched then ducked smashed shards and men wanting to be sucked, degenerating the innocence of life and saints and promises made;
and where is Christ, the Buddha, ohm mani padme ohm when thousands of children die each year in America alone at the hands of their parents caretakers life-takers, when fathers teach their daughters the art of Kama Sutra, how in all this to distinguish any act as wrong, when killing millions in moments preserves the American way and what of generations born in winds of mushroom clouds,born without limbs or eyes to napalm women,what harm in being sucked by unlined skin—
the brain numb too short a time, too soon the blackout ends, too soon Marilyn raises her skirt, her breasts, her legendary grin, too soon barbiturates and lithium and caffeine caffeine—can’t sleep, won’t sleep, bring in the kid—she won’t remember anyway the feel of heels and calloused palms, slip between her unfledged lips like snow, like angel wings, then retreat to the oblivion of drink. What’s sex in this rhythm of hate and fear, in the mutual acceptability of mutual destruction? The Buddha uncrucified cannot exist.
And I know these people, this violence spawned of invisibility, sexuality hiding fungal lingams of death, sublimating the need to think of consequence when consequences surround us not of our own making—why control ourselves when we ourselves have no control in this atomic-Ku Klux Klan-raping world of sawed-off shotguns in the hands of eight-year-olds who need a fix, a blow, enough to know they are alive, enough to dull the tense despair of being alive
but this is my world too and the bombs of mutual annihilation have not yet dropped and I do remember the jazz-nuanced hipster world that spawned me behind Marilyn’s angel grin concealing desperate dreams turned nightmare horrible, and I
we carry these in symbols of anorexic models and crucifixions to bars and steaming baths and schoolyards filled with meth and smack, bliss only in the mind, the body sharp-edged and clutching.
Yet under these streets flow fresh-water streams—chip away with hammer and nail, dig through phlegm-stained concrete with fingers till whitened bone shows through, dig for water to wash us clean, past wanting more cars, more clothes, more love than we feel, dig for truth beyond lies that tell us drugs and sex, shaved heads and tattoos, fast tech will save us for only we can save ourselves yet if each self is saved we will save the world.
Thank you to the editors of Squaw Valley Review Poetry Anthology 2012 for first publishing this poem and to the community and poets who make Squaw Valley Community of Writers such a rich and fulfilling experience.
CONFESSIONS OF A NATURE LOVER
Back then I was going steady
with fog, who could dance
like nobody’s business, I threw her over
for a leaf that one day fluttered
first her shadow then her whole life
into my hand, that’s a lot
of relatives, this leaf
and that leaf and all the other leaves
hung around, I told her
I needed space, which was true,
without it I’d only be a soul,
and no one’s sure that whisp
is real, that’s why we say
of real estate, location, location
location, and of speech,
locution, locution, locution
and of love, yes, yes, yes
I am on my knees, will you have me,
(from The New Yorker May 14, 2012)
It starts with the heart’s pulse
nourishment from other as if self
before we’re spit into this slip slap of blue
indifferent ground that shatters bone
if we fall too long
yet sometimes hands, like whispers,
rustle through loss’s deep well
to retrieve silken strands
rewoven then into something like wings
that expand beyond the contraction of loss
and whisper through the dark
you are not alone.
Thank you to the editors of 5AM for first publishing this poem.
Collies, gold and white fist strikes
Running beside me palms slap
As I explored foot slams
Orchards of oranges and owls, me against the floor
Beaver dams hands rip
Abandoned in summer. heads off my dolls
Polished maple posts legs spread
Stretched sheer white lace forced apart
Over my head, by arms wider
A walk-in closet than my thighs
Held handcrafted horses, I can’t speak yet
Stuffed elephants and bears. can’t say no
Chestnut horse, nurses jab needles in wrists
Flaming in the sun, cold fingers bruise me
Neighs soaring in the wind, asthma restrains me
Swift as a kite muscles tear
To ride away as I lunge
On. for air
Thank you to the editors of The Sonoma Mandala: Literary Review, Vol. 17 for first publishing this poem.
Assemblage horse by Dickens.