Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve

It’s five years since she saw
a mountain lion walk in our backyard
and the next day we saw his paw-prints
big as dishes following a slender deer.
Hard December then,  mild one now,
a little sheet of ice that just won’t melt,
salt, and step careful. No beast left,
we have to make do with music,
that subtlest of all animals,  fangs
in harmony.  Lydian mode, footsteps
start on F above middle C, then
see what happens.  The Greeks
thought this luxurious, naughty,
Asian attitudes, tigers, drunken gods.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Outtake from STEPS

Can’t help it. Just hear different from you.
I’m always listening for the heart and the god,
the lust for splendor and the splendor of lust.
Even when you tell me that’s just dull passagework
while, say, Schubert is fumbling for his next idea,
I hear the thighs and belly of the stumbling man,
a boy really, half-drunk, shouldering towards
the ever-elusive Friend, the one he wants to worship
and go to God with and touch.  The Friend is
always hidden in the music, ahead of where
I ever am.  That’s why I guess I’m bored
by music that knows what it’s doing,
where it’s going. Professional, tafelmusik,
the academy of inoffensive technique, skeletons
dressed up in costumes from the opera house,
the one that always burned down yesterday.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

K.L.I. 1936-2015


The last Freemason died today
carried with him
into the Familiar Strangeness of afterlife
the secrets of unsatisfiable yearning
pothos, from which
his architecture grew.
From absence alone
he made deep song.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

from CALLS

A bridge to nowhere!
Stagerite, explain myself
in thy book I looked in vain

and so they closed my eyes on me
now I must write
what I would read

and all the stories start again
and never end.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

from CALLS

Be arbitrary.  Be anybody.
The world of capital
forgives every choice

just keep choosing.
Only the hermit is villainous,
probably verminous,

disagreeable, old.
All the wrong things.  He
of all men is not arbitrary.

He has chosen nothing
and nothing has accepted him
as her bride.

They live together
anywhere far away.
Sometimes I have dared to climb

the easier rock slopes of their abstruseness,
could even hear them talking from far off,
a man saying nothing with all his heart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

from CALLS

twice I was a Christian
no matter what they said
I loved him because he is a door

he said, because he knew himself
better than I knew me,
when knowing is the same as being

Enlightenment is not about light
it’s about ment, the mind
behind light and anything else

Monday, July 20, 2015

from CALLS

Last days.  I feel you love
we are only still beginning,
Eden in the rearview mirror

closer than it appears.
We are beginning.
Every archaeologist knows we just woke up.

There seems a pressure in the air
that silences the ears.
Crickets or tinnitus who can tell,

we are newborn always,
immaturity is my sword and shield,

Sunday, July 19, 2015

from CALLS

Lady, did you see my fugue?
It ran this way,
it said it was finished and I believed it,

it took advantage of my credulity
and ran away, this way,
its nature to flee and mine to follow,

did you, Lady, hear my fugue?
It favors underbrush deep ravines,
hilltops, ruins, crowded streets,

it knows more names than it can touch,
it tries to wrap you in its changes

Saturday, July 18, 2015

from CALLS

For there is anger in the human world
and hymn tunes don’t help
need a bolder potion,

ah, I have made a mousetrap for the moon,
now I am him but who cares,
a new slant on every story

but nobody cares,
that leaves me free
for alternate alchemies galore

next year I’ll catch the sun
and pin her to the door —
why not, it’s the house that speaks, not me

Friday, July 17, 2015

from CALLS

Escape the consequences.  Born big
or born small, it is your genius
building you out and out and out

from the thought you are.  I, Paul,
a citizen of Rome,
tell you this, do not conform

to the system, but renew instead
your first mind.
The mind that makes you

Thursday, July 16, 2015

from CALLS

...It seems lunacy to me
to spend your days
going up and down the staircase of yourself,

gymnastic delirium.  And to do it,
Valéry cautioned, armed to the teeth,
lunacy.  Better be hollow.

Hollow Earth theory should really mean
there is nothing inside the body,
just a central sun peopling vast emptiness.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

from CALLS

how precious the sky is,
it keeps us safe,
the trolls inside me can’t handle light,

only in the parking lot understand
the meaning of the place you’ve been,
mall, market, club, cathedral,

all the cars roasting in the moonlight
for all you know having the same dream.
Be different.  Look up and dissent.

Nothing lasts up there,
the words dissolve in mind
and we are meek water again —

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

from CALLS

You never know the distances
love must travel
those who dare to speak of love

as if we all know what it means
yet must be told
over and over again

by voices plodding through time
soft as marimbas
in a beastless jungle

Monday, July 13, 2015

from CALLS

No punctuation darling
it’s so overdetermined,
nothing lost between the words

let them breathe themselves.
As in a chapel
no gap between the building and the cup,

you drink the architecture too,

Sunday, July 12, 2015

from CALLS

is there life beyond oxygen?
seems such a simple thing to ask
the temples come crashing down

isn’t that what Samson was
a blind man’s question
that broke the building down,

say the word and the city falls.
You go to a surgeon to get something out
go to the movies when you haven’t seen enough

why do you write me the letter you do
if not for the only answer I ever have?
Write the words down and follow them home.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

from CALLS

We live in the age of names —
sticks and stones will break our bones
and names will surely kill us

because there is no answer to a name,
it deals a fatal silence.
It says John.

But what about the word on the other side of a name
it names an action or a thing,
isn’t it fatal to say arise or a rose?

Thinking crash lands in a name —
but something slithers from the wreckage,
free from depiction, beyond the boundary,

a hint, a yen, a glint, a go.
And it begins to know.

Friday, July 10, 2015

from CALLS

Compliance is sensual,
it’s being with rivers
it’s riding time’s back

and being friendly with the night.
I hoped I was listening,
dawn a spasm of gentleness

pale through trees —
the witches have done their work again
and foiled the bosses a few more hours

look around, look all around
they whisper, watch us
rinse into the sky what is not color yet

watch and do nothing but be.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

from CALLS

I could sit here and hunt for dawn
comes easily these days
or sleep my way to Jericho again

Where Moses’ daughters rise
a cunning school for love’s diplomacy
and otherworldly wisdoms all combined

they let me in some nights
let me interrogate them
in my broken Hebrew to learn how,

just how.  For they know everything
again.  Small school all white adobe
shadowy within, we see by skinlight,

read by the light left in our eyes
by years of looking outward.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

from CALLS

You can tell he’s near the end
he’s starting to make sense
abbreviate the obvious!

The leaf covers itself with gold
I call it dawn rain birds in a bush
things that mean little last forever

lost on the railroad like Bruckner’s hat
found on the shore like a baby seal
I can show you pictures of the world,

priest carrying the sacrament to a dying man.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

from CALLS

I pressed the eject button, put myself to sleep.
And there you are again,
lost brother, woman cousin, inconnue.

So many animals in my zoo
with me, and I who own the lot
live in the smallest cage.

Jone’s Bienenkorb and we have heard her hum.
He said, and I supposed the lecture ended
but I was still talking:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

from CALLS

then something happened
and beauty lasted longer than itself
and gave us to think.

There are not many roads to silence
and music is the sweetest of them
though the longest

with pretty girls and boys along the way,
fangless wolves and paper forests
a pirate ship in every bathtub

and no more war.
I touched my hand
I wondered who it was.

We don’t have to know all the names
but they all are blessing us at once —
what else is a name for?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

from CALLS

It’s all a fugue and everything
has to come
again and again through all the doors.

Look out all the windows,
sleep in all the beds,
hide in the cellar and run out over and over

because that is the nature of nature
the minute you let it
turn into the oldest music.

There was no music before Bach
or maybe Biber,
just people being beautiful out loud

then something happened
and beauty lasted longer than itself

Friday, July 3, 2015

an excerpt from CALLS, a long poem in progress

Byzantium rises again,
post-Abrahamic, luminous and blue.
Am I the last pagan or the first?

Open the Questionary and slip in,
they’re all there waiting for you
and you are their only answer

Charlie Chaplin eats his shoes
St. Apollo hides the moon
if you listened more I’d talk less

isn’t that what witchcraft is,
your skin slick with Oil of Listening

Monday, April 20, 2015



And if it rains we say some other thing
and if the sparrows drown out timid raindrops
there’ll be some peace at last in this cartoon
forgive me my investigations a bee has to live
the drones hum around the hive those artists boy-band poets
I’m just the wrong kind a man I couldn’t find
honey in a honey jar how strange the world is
all contents and containers and a bird going by
knowing no more than less
voices of the cyclists wheeling past
chatting loud as if they’re standing still
the slender miracle of mind we all can hear.

I climbed in winter up Glastonbury Tor
stood in the ruins of St. Michael’s Chapel
peered up through the roofless tower to watch
the original star from which we fell
you and I slept together on the Hill of Tara
peaceful in cool summer
right beneath the Stone of Destiny
we live our little times apart
Himalayas blue flowers too
where is there for us to think
but this half-acre hot summer
birdsong almost too many leaves
very green, this place, here.

No lingering slumbery rubato flaunted coda
without slowing down it simply stops
Stefano Greco plays Bach’s unfinished fourteenth
he has a theory I guess I never understand
I think silence is the best philosophy
those empty minutes that we long to touch
I fill them here with ambrosia
a sappy word that meant in Greek what does not die
life, that limitless cliché
o love me as much as I love you
you can do it if anybody can
you are the only one who understands.  


Saturday, April 18, 2015

HEART THREAD 321 & 322


A troll is not a little thing it’s a living stone
a stone that knows how to move
a stone with hands and only the huldra tames him
or so I read in a book I wrote
I found it on my phone faces made of shadows
light itself is made of their soft fur
they’re all around us their breath the thunder
all summer I’ve been translating from the birds
now who will be my dragoman
and guide you cleanly through my cloying text?
it’s done already! you’ve read and understood!
what else is there to tell but the sound of it?


All that’s missing is the rain of gold
on Danae’s spread self, the blue flower
clinging to your fingertips the crow calling loud
right overhead to tell me what’s what
the time has come he says kairos
like a glee or a gospel anything you choose
long as it has a tune in it
the watchman on the roof stirs in his sleep
the trees wake up and tremble at that song
you wear your clothes woven from the stars
I know who you are but with all
my talk that’s the one word I won’t say.

Friday, April 17, 2015

HEART THREAD 317 & 319


So what if her skirt is made of flowers
his skin was made of ocean
people grow old with what they hold
all that holding hurts
pain of a violin how can I sing with something in my head
the pale arm that calms me so many nights
all a step away from mania
where does the sound come from you rub on your strings
consider the pain of all I give you
is all forgiving blue light of the other
fills the whole body the way sound fills the ears
only this and nothing else. 

The bowl of night beleaguered me
then airless dawn we read about in books
written by frustrated selfish young men
there is always air enough for women
even poor Salome here I can breathe! but night
had other plans and other selfish men
the one who wouldn’t kiss her one who killed for kissing
o it is strange to be a woman in this world
to have made all this then see it turn against you
boy by boy until the mean old men enslave you
I wish I could do something to change or help
but I’m a habit man mechanical like all the rest.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

HEART THREAD 315 & 316


I can’t help it if it tells the truth
the weather’s like that, breeze and knees
there is waiting to be done because the world
subways are so old-fashioned
we are children when we go down there
blue light in the Clark Street tunnel
the hardest is to be now at all
broken branches where the deer browsed
I think of winter and of Scamander
the river rising to rebuke us
the gods of everything for everything’s a god
not us though we’re on the other side of that. 


In the completion things get in the way
until it occurs to her they are the way
then she leads me to it and you too
the other side of everything and here we are
I have to talk like this I am a voice
only what we say counts not what we do
he said and climbed the rain-drenched slope
into a Chinese dream he never wanted did he
why all those fan-fold books peonies and lexicons
of course he wanted to go there provided it was here
only the voice moved drifting over the hospital gardens
old man weeping on the marble steps.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

14 April 2015

I keep waiting for something
to crawl out of my right ear
and spread its wings and flutter
loud around the house crying
this is what you’ve been
listening to all these years
for I am music and a living thing
dangerous and beautiful and
who knows what else I bring?

Monday, April 13, 2015

HEART THREAD 313 & 314


She was in him all the time
Rosa peregrina pressed between the pages
so much talk the morning mower
break into an art beyond commodity
you pilgrim rose that took his hand
led him to color alone and left him there
while she herself stepped up inside him
castle of palaver beauty counts
on one finger the ruby of the setting sun
we live again because we mistake
this art too beyond the financiers
life belongs really only to the poor. 


Poverty is permanent is to live in a physical world
endlessly interdependent dependent on each puff of breath
each stone you stand on your will contingent on the molecular
even if you think you’re not just mirror neurons
just the habit of acquiring speech
because it doesn’t lead anywhere
it perdures or seems to as long as you do
the world has never abandoned anyone
up to you to leave the world
naked towards the riches of the unconceived
I love you she said despite all this I tell
oiled wrestlers grappling with the moment seems.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

HEART THREAD 311 & 312


Accidental purposes of Delta music
on that day women chase men or seem to
they shall handle texts and not be harmed thereby
they shall preach the good news without knowing it
old battleships with concave prows
plow into tropic harbors bring truth home
tapa cloth and Charlie Chan and Maori skin
everything written was written to be forgotten
forgotten deep into you and ripen there
nasturtiums a little peppery in her salad
mud fights in Oregon knishes on Pitkin
if you think these are random think again.


Children in the cornfield who are you now
furtive actions in the furrows
who knows what eating really does
two children lying side by side
hieroglyph of the space left between them
every relationship makes its own sign
whole world a museum unknown curator about whom we fantasize
theology philosophy history and baffling pre-dawn dreams
where we are always in a far-off city always trying to get home
so this planet must itself be the distant town
the stewardess won’t let me on the plane
must be the fiery angel she drives me off with an ear of corn.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

HEART THREAD 309 & 310


So we’re back with love and not much else
greatest of all seemings unless you fall in it
we’re back with love it springs us forward
into the kindness of our only hope the yellow of the rose
where no one lives and all love rises
to spell the billion stories that we tell
all their theology old comfy car
Packard or a Panhard on its way through the sky
all roads lead to home
that’s all you have to know
a little knowledge and some gasoline
smile brother you’re almost there. 


Who threw the switch that made the water come from hydrogen and oxygen
someone had to be the spark
is it you who look at me oddly sometimes
as if surprised to find me there beside you
who could the spark be but the other
we come from ocean but where did it come from
who else is ripening down there now
ready to crawl out as we did and take our place
asking questions of the howling wind
playing their flutes in the desert
and like us always trying to remember
where we came from and why?

Friday, April 10, 2015

HEART THREAD 305 & 306


So little said and so much waking
salt meadow hay best mulch men say
I’ve managed to know nothing but what I can speak
the van is at the door it’s all just weather
sitting here alone with my hibiscus tree
the written evidence tells against my life
my father by the cellar door painting grey
everything waits for us below
an image worthy of your eye
the end of the pagan world was the end of the world
nothing learned nothing lost
I marvel at the emptiness of me. 


So it can mean a little or a lot
a billboard on a vacant lot is all my Hollywood
and see behind it how the lovers chance
it would be Ancient Greek if it had a goat
but wisdom does not wear a cloak
the afternoon is longer than the night
or so the bird explained
a language half sound half color
all things intersect in you
all the silken raptures of the couch
rainstorm in the desert
from great pain some red flowers after.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

HEART THREAD 303 & 304


They must know their bodies well
since they have nothing else to know
knowing never stops
it’s time to come back from the underworld
just as I am just as I am
backwards always is everything
no age but awareness
give us our animal back
sex is an accident on the road to truth
take off your shoes for this is holy ground
the feeling that your body is
there is no other world than this.


A poem is guided meditation
mild propulsion of the written world
when it stops the process it launched sails on
knowing the mind
clear light between the names of things
between the things the bright between
the new the fresh the uncontrived
your mind finds by itself
sacred absence in the core of you
all the holiness and shadows pass
maidens and heroes and sunlight on the sea.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


                                        for Susan Rogers

the ship all the hard-
won inches of her
to be a boat
a boat from someone’s
hands uprisen,
prompt to the water,
        a wherry
she calls it, one woman
can scull this thing along
I call a ship
 because it leaps
along the river soon,
soon, she hopes, so many
hours hundreded away
to knit this wood together
to be a boat. 
   Her ark
against the dangerous
                where we abide
bound by gravity
full of fear about that lucid
luminous water all
round us, all we have left
of the first America,
before we did to the land
whatever she flees from
into the beauty
that is always moving,
that touches everything it passes,
waits now for the slim
vessel that will know it well,
this hand-made animal she weaves.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015



You want to translate Homer I want to write him
all new all over again all shining and no war
no more war and the pale cheeks of men
pierced by no bronze prong and no fire
walks up and down the corpse and the hymn
that grieves for Linos turns into the Ode to Joy
a cliché has no memory it plugs a leak
even Homer nods well I can snore as well
and pour the beauty of Helen and Diomedes and Kassandra
back into the ordinary dance of day
and we will know each other in that company
proud abashed a little silly full of soul.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

HEART THREAD 300 & 301


Something like a breeze through people green as trees
this is your moment mother
before the flowers come and go
a life of gentlest waiting
like the hibiscus for its bee
a bird will do, anything I can say you to
and love a little while, the mild
adultery of objects fondled then set free
there is some moment in the stillest things
we learned in the sacred tedium of Sunday Mass
eloquent silences between the words
when the priest stopped mumbling and held Something in his hands. 


But God is more personal than sex
when the outside and the inside are the same
a horse you never heard of comes rushing from the mountains
the comfort of enough against the ecstasy of more
o horse you cry I will not ride today
but he thinks otherwise and there you are aloft
the two of you above the hills beast and human
who knows which is which a fable no one ever tells
vanishing in blue distances song fading
nobody knows nobody knows I hear the dearest voice
laughing at the effort I put into doing nothing
a snowstorm of images around a freezing child.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

HEART THREAD 296 & 297


Religion is to dance as prison to the Constitution
the underside the got-it-wrong the social trap the money
when all the great ones said go to yourself in the empty place
quiet room or vacant tree
sit there silent till you know
know enough at least to help and how
and know that we all need you
yes I need you to be, tree behind you now
you walk around the world
hinting how to take the pain away
we make for each other and ourselves
now put that in your organ and play on.

I am not the only one who I am
the others need me too
the lighthouse turns out to be the moon
raspberry bushes replete with thorn
make me doubt the sweet real things
flesh and its discontents, pink tongues
on suburban buses o I have lived too much
too little time and bring it all to you
that word again the queen of implications
sparrow hawks and midnight hens
you taught me all the names of birds
I’ve had to do my forgetting all alone.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

HEART THREAD 294 & 295


Old pens old friends the given always gets
hand it to me we say and hand it surely is
weather of a distant city breath of your mouth
transhuman rhapsody suck on your finger now
o you everything you beast of a million leaves
make me listen to your touch
also spoke sorrow after joy to mingle
red sky at evening leave your grieving
all you lost is safe in Amitabha’s glowing land
it is good to console better to unmind the sorrow
who are you to lose to feel to grieve
answer me that you Trinity scholar and rejoice.

I’m translating back into my mother tongue
what I heard in the high mountains
what I learned under the hill
earth gods and mind lords and me in between
a haggard buffoon with a bottle of ink
o sail me to your island ever after
pillow me with stillness till the fever eases
then I’ll take hold of autumn skies
and bring them onward with a sheen of rain
to cool the counsel of an angry world
gets hotter by the day as if all scriptures
give us one mandate to conquer and to kill.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HEART THREAD 292 & 293


That was good kyning they’ll never say of me
I lost Caesar on the way to France
a slim-hipped nation on a crowded bus
Europe is always on the march I want to sit still
buying a dictionary brought me closer to girls
I was so young I believed in what I read in what I said
even if I didn’t believe a word of what it said
I was a boy with a penknife looking for the bark of a tree
to carve my name in and find out who I was
the trees were quick in those days and I was slow
so I remembered music Mahler mostly
and pretended it was you talking to just me.

So much for me, life begins when you forget
and live by feeling through the world of will
that angry place of plastic and aluminum
commonest elements made hard and not to eat
so feeling is your blade young man
keep silence till you get to say it
spoken silence is the richest meat
and nourishes the clarity inside
all those layers of you till I get to me
and always always the other way round
Leipzig the fugue trapped in the organ
I opened the creaking door and let it out.