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These are a few of the poems I wrote years ago.


Painting Alone

This cobalt blue
 turquoise water (w white)
I push up onto a purple shore,

it was me, just me,
and almost happily alone,
my old hands with a paintbrush
my brown eyes,

On a hot July, Friday night
      In Dallas, Texas.

Then I made the sky light green
      with a thin red line
through it. I made a world in a moment.
And I kept it hanging close to me.

1998



The Sovereignty of Death
                              

Today by the lawn
A stirring in the trees
And the upturned leaves
Confusing themselves
Quiet the elderly
Like the trees at dusk
Let go of the wind.
Yes; but then the new muscle of early spring
Went stomping
And I heard the long low groan of the dying.

Their pleas for reconciliation
Were like the trees at dusk
Quieting the breeze
In the moon-lit breeze.
They cleaned out their rooms
After they scattered the ashes of a friend
Back to their dream.
I know they smile- the dying
Was it the smile of eternal sleep
Or the trees awakening their past

Quieting the breeze,
Quieting as the moon
Quiets in the cold
Quieting as the hearts of the elderly
Quiet in the lonely cold.
Soft as a new leaf
Born of the smile of the dying?
Or was it the hard smile of early spring?

Across the lawn
I watched how they stood mumbling
Like the trees at dusk
Quieting the breeze
I watched how the day went,
Went stomping like the winds of a spirited spring
I felt empty.
And I heard the long low groan of the dying.

1996

The above poem is for Georgia, a woman I saw in a nursing home over the course of several year in the mid 1990's. She
was feisty, and bright and angry about spending the end of her life there. Her fingers and hands were crooked and curled
with arthritis but still she would reach and grin and poke the air to make a point. I enjoyed listening to her stories. She
always asked me about my life. She had a wonderfully determined spirit, but despaired at the condition of our society
telling me once…”All you think of now is money, it rules everyone’s life.” The last time I saw her she was laying on her
side in terrible pain…”finally I’m dying,” she told me, “it’s about time.”






In the Springtime

Green bright buds peeking through the mud.
They break the warm shell I constructed
against winter. And the humid wind.
The invitation to quiver insanely,
horrific beauty piercing me.
Now I'm a rage, opening my sleepy eyes
what can I offer her this time,
my friend says "Forget your fear. She’s just a woman."
I won't tell her that I'm in love with her, again.
Then more conscientiously this time,
Churning up within me, the fire to coax out new life
I am the sun, lacerating, penetrating, smoting
my life breath by breath, step by step
under the spell of fertility.
Under the spell of springtime
I die a little.

1998



Family Tree

He was charged with theft.
I believe,
he was stealing himself
from his mother,
who said,
with disgust,
you’re just like your father.

He married.
But eventually left his wife
to his son
for a younger woman
who admired him
with the wistful
hope
a little girl
has for a father.


1996





To carry a Poem

From home to someplace
not so well known

and within it
a child less great than yourself
but a child who dances
in your pocket or purse

or hold it too tight
as if it might stray

or take it out too soon
for a new friend
then watch it stumble
as Socrates said one does
when one emerges into the sunlight
from a cave  (though a poem casts no shadow)

or hold it forever in the mouth of your mother's side pocket
(though a poem is useless in protection)

or toss it about
in the wind of appeals
with your jazz fingers poking
between schemes of injustice

or set upon it, unduly, a curiosity
like a child given the admonition
"Never look at the sun or you'll burn your eyes"

to imagine it a red rose broken
or eaten by a worm, its bloody petals leaking
like a poet’s scream.

(The poem is not wrong.)

to carry it, say, from a marriage
and let the garlands and teeth pocked slippers
set in dust, until the poem does its part
and its sleeping pant becomes a song, sung through
the holes all you two together find wrong

to fold it neatly and let it go

to dance with it a moment
and let it go.

you gave it and it gave you
great for exaltation and
more great for the rage
of ruddy lines
you mistrust

leave them, leave it
like a scrape, to blow away,
and float like a paper boat
washes up on a  muddy shore  

and found by a child
placed in the sun to dry.



1995





He’s a Cat

Black as a door knob
foolish as a rainbow

don’t think he doesn’t
know when you feed the birds
or where the down goose
lays.

His green leaf hasn’t
blown in for your amusement
it’s a trick
whose uncertainty
he does not mind
because

He’s a cat.

He sat on my chest
gave me a shave
and left halfway

I sing his name
in the supermarket
and he doesn’t care  
when the sugar rain falls
or how soggy beets weep
because, I figure

He’s a cat.

Darker than you think
betting half a nickel
in the shrubs
hiding his cigarette
quick for hate
ruffled but untouched

Not a woman,
A cat.

His sack of apples
is a throne
taken for rest
given up
to caress the cuff
of my pant and
smile at the curiosity of
the August night.

He’s been called out
against the blue moon
And he’s going,
two eyes,
paper boats burning
a yellow fire
on the neighbor’s pond.

He’s trouble
because he’s
gone like a man

but
he’s a cat

1998








The Despair of Pursuit; Excessive Belief.
                              

You sit on the beach at dawn.
Feel your feet numb in the cold autumn wind.
Watch the waves march in from the seamless gray horizon.
You are dark and heavy, feeling lost, wondering why
you have not left and why he never returns.
You desire every living thing, even the buildings and the roads.
You spend your life searching. He is strong
but silent the moment you wish to hear his voice.
You grow mad at the ease with which he leaves,
You see him do it over and over. One night
You discover him red faced and nude on the patio
a pair of panties draped over your boxed mums.  
Despite his terrible remorse, the trip to the gulf of Mexico,
His promise to change, to never leave,
You don’t believe he will fill your emptiness,
You feel yourself open and fill with self-contempt.
So you lay on the beach at dawn, recalling old slights.
You are as empty as the sky. Faceless.
Your flesh sags into the cool sand.
Once more you think his addiction is a fiction,
An escape from the truth of your love. For a moment
You feel secure and angry, sure of what you will do.
But when the clouds burn off and the ocean washes itself clean,
You will have doubts.

You will lift your body and walk to the hotel room
Where he is still asleep. You will wait,
Watching the seagulls loop in the wind, sorting your broken shells.
Below a blue convertible will carelessly dash through the late morning sun.
Finally you will exhale. You will know that the sea swallows all effort,
And turns the living to foam. You will remember your father,
How frightened he looked at the end.
You will know that desire has brought you to the ocean
to show you nothing.

Perhaps you will quietly pack and leave without a word
promising yourself to live in silence. Perhaps you will stay,
and lie down to sleep, dreaming of a loneliness that does not hurt.
You will know that your choice makes little difference
that you are older, that new generations are coming
that water is indifferent and relentless.


1996








The Despair of Distance; repugnant belief

From the old hotel you look out over the ocean
blue and endless. A wave pushes over
another wave lifts and vanishes.   
On the new interstate you notice a small plot
broken, tilted white headstones
boxed by a wire fence.
You will write a poem; Urban Intrusion Upon the Dead.
You will say that death is the enduring truth,
progress the metaphor of eternal,
desire the birth of folly,
You will smile at your insight.

One Christmas, two fingers gently pull your chin
Up to meet her eyes. There was the star atop the tree
no one was drunk.

You have your beer, clever words and personal ads.
You study the dependent and injured
and run to them with your philosophy.
Above the diapers, bruises, the unpaid rent
and broken water heater
you are as smooth as a lake stone.  
You espouse technique
but are uncomfortable with touch,
You are sure that passion dissipates,
that mother is everything coming apart,
and when she has gone you will weep
imagining that now is the time for the perfect one.

The stars make shadows in the woods, in a clearing her eyes hold light.
Tiny cups of magic jewels. Her body the surprise of  darkness.  

You can not forget that communion
though you will wager your life that you can.
You will drive to the ocean and sit up high
You will write poems that you imagine are immortal
and smile at your insight.

1997






Forgotten Boy

The Fishhook pierces the flesh of his thumb
His pole and sinker sink
One handed
He rows a circle around himself.

No Man will grab the icy knife
and carve the hook away from his flesh
No boy is safe from man.

The water is black,
The shore as vague as God.

He stabs the night.
He rows in circles.

He might cut open his wound.

He should hurry less his boat
sink in his heavy blood.






Heart

Tiny
bud
near bloom
some days
silky and alone
you close
as if you might rest
on my fingertips
as if I might watch you
and wait on you with my eyes
though
silently
my lips kiss your lips
my chest kisses your heart
you expand
your arms wave like cut orange peels
your nude neck stretches for my mouth
my fingers carefully reach to hold the red-orange
breadth of your honest hips:
with forgiveness you open like rainless clouds
The river overflows,
and listening at your center, hear the color of your heart.

1996





Mud in Galveston Bay

Disorder has its place;
I refuse to hold back.
Now on our knees
in Galveston Bay
silver fish are leaping
through our tainted fingers

With her screwed right arm
She scoops up rich mud
smears her face and white breasts.
Standing in the sun
Her suit top down, black slime
drips from her hard nipples.

I can only smile;
This is the earth we
trust will not betray us;
time unlike any time
We will stay up all night
make the moon a voyeur.

When morning rises, She
Rises as I sleep and roams
the shore alone gathering
the story of death
And the pigeons pensive
Outside the railing of the
Porch of this cheap hotel,
are waiting for
a bit of wheat cracker.


1995