Like a Basket

We knew enough to begin with
but after awhile we didn't
know enough anymore so
we put what we did know
into something like a basket
with your arms for handles
& my feet to steady it in case
it had to be set down suddenly.

What we didn't tell the basket
was where to stand ...
by the time we realized
it was necessary to do so,
it had run off with everything
we knew to begin with and
most of what we'd found out since.

The general opinion was
that since the feet the basket
ran off on were mine,
it befell me to track it down.

I agreed - but since I had no feet
it was obvious someone
would have to carry me.
You declined because
you had no arms.
Love is like that in the City.

Prelude in Limbo

After passion is revealed
as a fluid medium capable
of limited transformations
in service of its
not so secret self,
a blue fish on a blue plate
looks across the table at me,
neither with much appetite
though hunger is never entirely absent.

I hear whispers.
What has been said?
I hear laughter;
a soft door shutting.

How to speak other
than through things
understood as understood?

Spirit aspires to mythic,
seemless and solid as sound,
sinking into sensuous water
naked from the crown up
touching cloud with a bald eye.

Here is a mountain.
I see that it is you
and walk around it
since it must consume
all breath to climb these things.

You, knowing more than I
on subjects of your choice,
would never think to comment.
The rage of such a silence!

I take in. I put out.
The path of inclusion
as it whispers forth a seed.

Here is a jungle.
I see that it is you
and skirt the edges
knowing how entry
transforms those who dare
in unaccountable ways.

Take this - leave that;
calculate the terrible
margin of drift...
passionate blues
and sweeter oozings,
honey and mint plucked
under an ecliptic moon.

Value For Cold Cash

This is the instant
that follows you,
the sweet modal coda
between infernal catcalls
and catch-all reckoning
where wierdling creatures
either side of twilight
bend to hear your reply.

All spending is spending
of heartbreak's finest gold;
inarticulation brought to full
fruition in the modulated wail,
spilling over of emptiness,
shaking, trembling and
the mortal rigor of thick
beatitudes obeying laws
neither of life nor of love,
only appetites and tendencies
across a yawing gap of void.

In the revelation which
peels back the scalp
and lifts the brain aloft
like a trophy awarded
in a game depending
more upon chance than
on any conceivable skill,
all spending is
spending of the soul...
and Hell is a stingy place.

As They Lean to You

As they lean to you,
the small folk inside the
picture tube or the breaded
face in the shaving window
glowering over the sink,
cutting itself while you bleed,
fronting a museum of prescription
vials, potency long expired,
brewing obnoxious odors
beneath childproof caps;
as they lean to you,
overlooked and overlooking,
lost driver's license used
as a bookmark in
a mouse-nibbled edition of
Jack Abbot's touted diatribe,
another link in a chain of lost faith
which will never be a necklace;
as they lean to you,
the missing .32 mm wrench
from the box of sockets,
carborundum skillsaw blade
and the tube of white lead
left over from a painting
which showed a skill for framing
but none for portraiture;
as they lean to you,
shards and shapes of passage,
bits for the complete collection,
replacement parts for
things themselves replaced,
hinges for where there is
no longer a door - stationery
embossed with a monogram
too formal for the letters
you thought about writing,
glass casters for a roll away bed
jammed with strands of
chartreuse from a rug green
as a field of emeralds in memory;
as they lean to you,
with the force of living things,
mute, beseeching, exuding a
kind of sentimental horror,
fellows of your escapade in time,
you wonder: do they adhere
to you from habit, sunk into
a static continuity fully
as valid as your own...
or because they love you?

Exploding Diamond Blues

Scalding steam from
a broken pipe plays the
tune of our rendezvous
from the second story of
the floor above our cellar
in the dark downstairs.

There's a saying here
in the catacombs where
the soup is stirred with
human bones and they
beat away the dark with
the soles of their shoes:
Daddy's got 'em
Mama's got 'em,
and Baby
you got 'em too...
Exploding Diamond Blues.

Hoping to ease
the cold a bit
without giving up
too much warmth,
our conversation
is to the point and
never exactly news.
We talk all night
exchanging views but
when it comes down
to decisions we never
know what to choose;
Daddy's got 'em
Mama's got 'em
and Baby
you got 'em too...
Exploding Diamond Blues.

Is it only at the point
of death we discover
this isn't a dream at all?
I know a place we can
go and talk when it all
seems too confused:
in the catacombs
on a pile of bones,
cut through to a
couple of truths:
Daddy's got 'em
Mama's got 'em
and Baby,
you got 'em too...
Exploding Diamond Blues.

Sonata #1

A person is present,
never mind if she be
water, wind or desire
departing for inaccessible
places between the worlds;

she has braided my hope
in knots of shadow with
implicit knowledge of me
I cannot hope to amplify.

She gave me this hat for
the pleasure of watching as
I cut a small circular dry place
in the thickness of the rain.

Do I see her clearly or just
extrapolate from star charts,
something seen escaping,
in the guise of someone?

What of the moment
when attentiveness yields
a little light from some
non-obvious source?
Though representation
continues as before,
that moment of meeting
seems free of the flux
like a hermit sunbeam
in a small tent pitched
at the edge of the garden
easing away to midnight
under cover of cloud.


There is no time for this
other passion
reduced to numbers
red numbers on tile
knowing how prose can
lie and how poetry cannot
although the same symbols
of nature recur, recur, recur
and how if I never see
another sky this twilight
will stand for all twilight
and how all these moons,
monumental or morbid,
are phases of the same orb
and of course there is
no other time but this,
colorless and forgotten.
Windowdressing for
the ages of a stone.

How like a winter she
became the mainstay
of my veins, appearing
to circulate - I, who
am dissolving along
with my terror, along
with my reluctance,
into the trundle bed
of the dread core
minus the thick
gravity of continuity,
prayer escaping like
a gaseous diffusion.

How might I
attest to this?
There is no way.
Association assumes
something to relate to.
Purity implies the
dross of defilement.
All light is fire and
some of it is cold.
The sorrows here
are only tears of
empty expectation.
What would be
wise to believe?
For Instance

this way and no other
except there be few
for instance alive
naturally I falter

this is also no longer
having here the result
for instance opposition
wedded in rude bliss

a step and a slide
bordering dance
in frozen motion
for instance forever

by jingle made barren
your body and mine
for instance inside
water is not wetter

contracted in distance
like other alikes
seeking its own most
nearly opposite gender
for instance heaven

Night Cadre

No one in sight, only the sound of
Hooves and horses, clattering wind,
Broken bones and harrowing cries,
Trumpets blown by fleshless lips,
Choir of arrows shot out of the dark
Striking targets that gasp and fall.

All is sonorous silence now,
Full breast of battle wrung,
Gluttonous moon in a sated sky,
Depleted stars subsiding in
Scant light of encroaching dawn.

Cold weight of helical chains
Link the field of battle to the
Arms of a foetal sun reaching
To embrace blood damp earth
Drawn like a thirsty cup
To the lips of morning.


Rainwater Sea

Humanity without allegory,
man his own metaphor,
a quality transparent
as Heaven at apogee
revolving in silence
over a broadleaf tree
where rainwater rivers
run side along side
down to a rainwater sea.

Memory of memory
resurrect the core
of original blue from
harrowing skies above
rackety rooves of tin
where rivers of ruin
run brackish with slime
and we slip on the
banks and fall in.

Last Spring - or was it
the first Fall of forever? -
candid as all innocence,
without mercy for me or
my circus of antique blue,
you were the fury of witness
slamming the door of a cloud
to awaken the sleeping sky
and wash me away like rain.

Memory of memory,
resolve this fact to a
circlet of blossoms on
the brow of the bride to be,
humanity without allegory,
unbespoken beneath
a broad leaf tree
protecting and silent
where rainwater rivers
run side along side
down to a rainwater sea.

Full Moon Café

Welcome April diners to the Full Moon Café;
wrap your jaws around knuckle roast of memory
garnished with blue headed bats castrated by
small white ladies who lie on the table for mats.

Cheer the return of the flesh wearing ghost -
refurbished and bearing the throbbing post
that tickles, torments, taunts and guides him.

Make way for Dirty Old Adam,
cold as the devil's prong and
long as a widow's memory.
Whatever he said before
assuming corpse position
should never never be
confused with a simple lie;
truth is in the telling -
the specific subject and
predicate are only a prop.

This is the way the dead man rides
thump, thump, thump,
with a shiv stuck into his hump
and his feet in a bucket of brains.

Welcome April diners to the Full Moon Café.
Maybe the wine is not so parlez-vous
but it does what wine is supposed to do:
lets you get reasonably drunk without
throwing up or going blind. Wherefore we sing:

Here's to the ladies we all adore - and to
Dirty old Adam who sleeps with a whore.
Here's to the lady with sugar plum breath
And Dirty old Adam who screws her to death.

after this
it all gets ugly -
good to stay away
hmmmm a couple or three dozen years
let Elizabeth
get on with the dishes

Adam Kadmon born of dust,
raised in scandal, wed in lust
hanged, shot, stabbed & drowned
stands arisen duly crowned.

Welcome April diners to the Full Moon Café
beneath a perpendicular shaft
of tumescent lunar light where
the prodigious promise stands erect,
topped off with subversive purpose,
red eyed and anatomically complete:
the resurrection of human meat.

Aladdin's Night Light

Caught in the zipper
heading places I swore
I was born to deny,
so little space to fly
between grillwork
and radiator -
finger jammed
on the repeat knob
replaying attitudes
I can't disremember,
transform or trash;

stealing a little liberty
to undercut rationale
for the sake of sake itself,
Aladdin's night light
casting giants against
the tent wall of the
circus of the small.

String a hammock
over the chasm and
try to get some sleep
with neither the deaf
nor dead to pacify.
If it is not your time,
nothing you do
can make it be so.
If it is your time
not even your death
can make it otherwise.

The moon is
three days dark.
Nothing more
will fly tonight.
Good Tequila.
Bad salt.


Old am I only if all time
is not one and the same,
length and whiteness of
my beard notwithstanding.

I had need of believers;
I called and they came.
To each was said what
was wanted for belief.

In salt and silver
I took from them
income adequate
for my needs.

My reserves were never large;
what could be carried running
and the sack to contain it.
Other than this I valued nothing.

I have no more need of believers.
Let them find another to beguile them.
My faith, grown peculiar,
suits none but myself alone.

I have only loved the one
who was here before me
and is further removed
than simple distance.

I peer through a keyhole
into another room where
I see myself gazing,
long into the night,
at a scrap of paper
whose words my other self
surrenders the breath of life to know.

I rattle and knock to no avail.
Stop it I cry, it has no value!
Words are worth nothing!
My double will not look up
and I cannot look away.

I have no time for believers.
My faith suits none but me.


Serve up a platter of
slight silver minnows
in white wine sauce;
lay out a brace of quail
shot from the sky with
number 9 shot and tweezers of
Swedish steel to pluck the lead.
Then bring on a slice of the
beast slayed honor intact by
Manolette in Mondrian blue,
juices streaming.

O hear the pipes of Ramadamding,
the pots, pans and kettles that sing
with squealing oil of broiled brains
sauteed in the skull of a chimpanzee.

Finger a bowl of mandible fruit,
sluttishly lush by twilight
while an Ethiopian wind plays
cherry wood viola brokenhearted
in the amethyst rain.

Say nothing of yourself
except as it relates to me.
Let me see myself alone,
in light of you, until I feel
I know you better...then
tell no more of yourself
than fails to bore me.

Remain a mystery
until the very end;
never reveal the fact
that you must kill me.
Do not apologize before,
during or after the act.
Not only does decorum forbid -
t'is not your own will you wreck.

...Portia your name
is reminiscent of water
splashing down stone steps -
or a silk scarf stolen by
a scurrilous breeze, perfumed,
still, with tender bosom heat
inspired in passing... who but you
could be my deadly valentine?

to await the consumation,
the approaching chime of
the Seraphim clock while
drifting a finger in wine sauce,
and stubbing a good cigar in
scraps of fat to savor the scent....

I asume you agree
the meal was all
a meal should be,
sufficient delight
without surfeit...

and now, padrone:
bring us a full blooded wine
from your most secluded cellar,
the one that runs beneath the
Cemetary of St. Magdalen near
la Villa De La Rosa....
then bring us the check
and prepare my cowl
taking care not to crease the hem
or drag the hood in common dust.

Attend now, Portia my fate,
to the strike of the clock,
the pulse of the ticking,
the creak of the gear.

The spring is very old,
wrought from a coil
of maiden's hair,
a saint, I'm told,
who spoke to flowers.

Time is the least of what it tells.

6 by 6

again it is the reasoned tide
well soldered to seamless
except in her pretty petticoat
lap of the last discharge
why effort is reprehensible
for more information call

dissension over slack snake
bleeding well into the wind
glorifying the asceptic wand
invested in foreign soil
slit wrist to ambivalent
keen to be saddled raw

impervious to slight
wish responding to weal
lack of erotic subtext
clawing again at night
whispered hand signals
ratio of nine to none

quibbling in semaphore
lynx among the lions
incorporeal frilly apostles
wobble in corpulent sea
soaking dry or what have you
churning in shuddery climax

full felt fury subsides
pray and become a cube
apparent wiles of weakness
chewing on breaded brick
consumed by another day's
glum tidings of grim joy

challenge but no retort
amateur bedside manner
fatted with glee of remorse
one less is half of another
concern subverts context
but no is not a number
Deuce is Good for Jacks

The problem is
5 tons of redheads.
Of course I read you
but only in paperback.

Can't say I
thank you much
but then again
secrets are just
a state of mind.

These exotic facets
prove no obstacle
to the conquest of
Everest barefoot.
Do they help?
Why ask?
It all creeps out
in the angle of a
dead man's eye.

A thousand weeks
reaching toward a
way to conclude
...or some of
the ways said
to lead to it...

Fall light
peels away.
I fear.


Nothing tonight for
the hungry heart but
an actress in tight jeans
getting more out of a coke
than was ever put in and
other creosote dreams.

The last day of winter
has left a whole string
of unanswered calls and
the threat of the equinox
lies heavy on your heart.
Seems something should
be done about spring
other than leaving the
phone off the hook.

All this inconsequence
harks back to subtle
in your master plan,
such as it is, making
much heartfelt concern
seem odd. Reductive.

So you retire to read
hoping that you and
the word can arrange
a tender conspiracy,
however brief.

Only within a context
of significant choice
does freedom merit
the fuss and bother.
Or so it says here.

The remaining question is
whether to go for anything,
considering the stupendous
possibilities of nothing at all.


forward action
until with time
begins to fall
a little music

sensible to
the anxiety of
so much need
to express

the difficulty
as it happens
lies in the ease
of rejection

like syntax
there is no
framing its law
without its aid

the shape of it
like a hand
approaching keys
to strike a chord

it is a matter of
some importance
that thought resolve
in metaphor

and that the metaphor
be flesh and that the
flesh be warm although
not necessarily tender.

As Though As If

Tomorrow has no choice.
Be its reason or its ruin.
Love's body is tortured
for secrets none possess;
only what is best forgot
seems worth remembering
as bitterness can testify.

Dowsing for a daisy
with a sprig of mint
I find only orchids
on the veranda,
orchids in the swell
of the queenly hills,
orchids on the roof of
the hothouse pushing
purple faces through
drifts of impeccable snow.

Tomorrow has no choice.
Be its reason or its ruin.
Forgive these lifelong suicides,
you who jumped in the river
with no second thought
to rescue the reflection
of a drowning sun.

That was the winter he almost died.
This is the winter he almost did not.

A year separates these things
during which reality wavered like
a heat mirage on the highway
and a clarity was conceived
owing nothing at all to vision.

Strange to walk in the old skin,
feeling the cool new coin clasped
in my own warm hand as a promise.

Architectonic Scale

Deciding to salvage
this bright occasion
apprehended only as
rare eyes in the snow
- endorsing no
blatant nakedness
in the orangery w/
prophets and poets
false or otherwise -

steering well clear of
talking clouds over
the beam of blue ash,
my own indulgence
as though of a stranger,
to discover if
love has a body &
if so, to embrace it.

Leaving my head in my hat
so it won't lose its shape,
knowing it will not be worn
again these thousand years.

Coltrane said: you've
got twelve notes in
the scale - you might
as well use all of them.
With an attitude like that
you could use your
nose for an eraser,
beginning at your feet,
leaving only a clear
outline of light where
you were said to stand.

Here is the
beginning of the book.
All lines are the
beginning of the book.
I thought I had more
to say about this but
apparently did not for
here the manuscript ends.


'C'mere' she said,
eyes flat to the floor.
'Not again' I said,
hair slicked tight
to my upper lip like
a lie waiting to be told.

'I have a good idea...'
she said, clinging
to the linoleum like
the shine of a summer
sun involved in rayon,
'...this time I'll try
to be more accurate.'

'This time and how
many others?' I say,
unwilling to be fooled.
'No fooling' she says,
which poses a problem:
I wouldn't want her
to go unbelieved.

Least of all that.

'I'll solve it' she says
and solve it she will or
die trying one time more
than the heart allows.

Too bad about certain things
which should be built better
or not at all. Like lo and behold.

Have I told all?
What haven't I told?
Who is to be believed?
No one I know. Is
this true of the others?
'C'mere' she said.

Lia Lepsis

To believe without image is a study for saints.
Give us this rag doll made of crossed sticks,
tied together with twine, to know by.

Let exotic light from this and other lives
come streaming through her button eyes.
Give them the tinge of a blue lake mist
under speckled skies so we cannot help but love her -
and play a certain theme when she appears:

You'll come waltzing if I'm not mistaken,
You'll come waltzing if I'm not in error,
You'll come waltzing with sand in your stocking,
Starfish and seaweed entwined in your hair.

Let her be pure as proof is elusive,
what we know outright and feel
no need to prove - Lia Lepsis.

Take me away, says she,
through blue studded
tassels of Damask
to the China Sea - O
carry me off
on a fair day
to Indonesia
the Philippines
to a soothing bay
with salted winds
to cool our bodies.

Call her by as many names
as she has changing faces:
Lynn O' the Bins,
Pan O' the Cans,
Ann of the North Atlantic
under southern skies.
The sea in her eyes -
curtains of iris part with
promise of interlocking lives
spoken along a water-path
under rainflowers.

Take me away, says she,
to the Mediterranee,
to coastal highways
of clean white sand,
sweet bright water,
a foreign land where
I have never been
and would like to be.

Take me to a becoming place,
waves of scarlet on glassy beaches,
serenade of rooks in the paw paw tree
under a rag red dawn.

Lia Lepsis, resplendent in string and straw,
elusiveness is her chiefest charm;
she needs no other.
Mistress of half-tears and the partial sigh,
she flies into the well like rainwater,
flies out of the well like wildflowers
in sizable swells cradled in arms of
converging seas where we gather like starfish
in minor constellations to shine by her light.

Orchid shaming glamour attends her,
rolling in mist from perilous heights
to the strum of a Spanish guitar in a
stairwell upon an Andalucian night,
bathed in lily light from the veranda.

Tick of a walnut clock;
glee of departed children
audible only at twilight,
haunts the heart like
the ghost of thunder
coiled in a light spring rain.
Lia Lepsis, spice our
triumph with sorrow,
season our meat with
salt of our own tears.
We are here to deal with
all our hearts can feel,
fearing only not to love.

You'll come waltzing if I'm not mistaken,
You'll come waltzing if I'm not in error,
You'll come waltzing with sand in your stocking,
Starfish and seaweed entwined in your hair.

Lia Lepsis: radiant, raw, projected
in all particulars by moonlight,
shears apart whatever seeks to cling.

She splits the Oak of the World to splinters
with a bolt of perfect lust, decreeing:
Kill the old stick, it does no good by me! -
while the winds hold actual hands and
dance on feet so soft they cry at thorns.

She whirls convoluted through
the core of the axis of our dreams
flaming them to erotic hush,
keening a chilling tune:
World without peace,
Grow faint and cease
To the hymn of my beatless heart.

We have not seen Lia Lepsis.
We have not seen the great fog face
from which she weeps.

Something summoned her down.
It was friendly, bright,
promising promises.
Down she came through
swinging gates strung
with budding vines to
the strum of a faint guitar,
gazing amazed as light
moved on the water,
astonished by the sun
in clarity of first wonders.

These came first: light,
wind, the primal flutter;
Lia Lepsis was not
set in the foundation.
We found her in the dew
and hid her in a sandbox,
chosen to replace the
impersonal forces we
worshipped but could
never hope to love.

Were it safe to die in Lia Lepsis,
how many would gasp a last
unfond farewell to the scheme
they know to be so entirely rude?

But death is not in her.
She never was alive.
We cannot die here.
It is where we live
and it is not a dream.

This image with
bright button eyes,
lost by a tired child
on a day long gone,
we set between
ourselves and eternity
to be our prophet
along a water-path
through rainflowers
plucked from a rag red dawn
for the world to see.

First Thing This Morning, After Coffee

Mark this for reference
lovelorn blender of
midnight color in
every unstable gender

beguiling multiple reflections
from a variety of mirrors
- gilded gothic to pocket

there are children
raised by wolves
who never learn to speak

who discern
in your words
only the meat
on your breath

shifts in perception shatter
all vessels to splinters;
no one escapes this generation
with immortality untarnished

invade the bloodstream
through soles of the feet;
lodge dangerously in the
porches of your heart

bearing bits of the
message in a bottle
you dropped into what
seemed an infinite sea

now found to be
small, circular &
not particularly blue:

your own words with
no redeeming context.

Drop She Glove

Her drop she glove,
crywent, went, went
long time than go.

Out of her cry come
knock knock knock
as sadly she roam.

Friends yak bibulous
affronting with cash,
slyly insinuate also.

She in she out she
turn up a rock to find
she glove froze erect

finger at Mars pointing
some Sunday and went.

From Here to There by Way of

Slides of adagio glimmer
up a trail of clock chime
to the thin paper dome
where I sit in your
hard red chair for less
than a lifetime and wave.

I read you in school first
and once and awhile in life.
Spilled coffee on your cover,
wine and tobacco between lines.
A hundred bookmarks could
never find my place in you
or uncurl the turned down pages.

Enduring only as
no single lesson;
cracked open to
let the marrow show -
and still the savor seems
reluctant at one remove.

But Not in Oil

The painter who hated you best
dressed you in Cadillac green,
extended your nose to your chin
with a trick of shadow and,
though allowing one eye to drift
and the other to squint as though
recoiling from some internal glare,
failed, in the end, to capture
what he most detested: devalued
your genuine cruelty into
a species of haughty grandeur.

How could the portrait reflect
you without rejecting him?
Neither of you are integral
to the finished whisper
between the stretcher bars.