Biography of Warren Falcon
From The Encampment Of Heartstrife, A Sampler Of Poems As An Autobiography
But first some disorienting epigraphs, schizoidal schema to declare the matter of the mutter:
Mark the first page of the book with a red marker.
For, in the beginning, the wound is invisible. - Edmund Jabes
There is another world, but it is inside this one. - Paul Éluard
This is withholding art,
evading disclosure, declining
to give itself away. - Tiffany Bell
I think poetry must
I think it must
stay open all night
In beautiful cellars - Thomas Merton
I don't believe in the other world
...But I don't believe in this one either
unless it's pierced by light.' - A. Kamienska
turns in on
the bone bruise
The one eyed
flicks and claps
as he will and is
his lips moving
does a spider make
a darker corner
no sight needed
only sense and silk
- W. Falcon
" Violent light of the wheat, we were growing old and dying young.
When it rains, you don't ask how many raindrops fell. You
say it rained.
Lots of rain, many semi-colons- the cell will teach you all.
This blue world. Unattainable- stranger than
by what unmerited grace we were allowed to come see it.
Deathrow born and bred, and yet
this blue world, stranger.
Anticipate a year of total unresponsive silence.
Include a stabbed self-addressed envelope, if you ever hope
to see your sorry work again.
Sadness, grieving: you will get over them, don't worry.
That's the problem."
- from Franz Wright's Entries of the Cell
I just want to say to you, Franz, " Because the soul
is a stranger in this world" ,
such blackness I have traveled through all night, and
you I have made my peace with the Atlantic.
And returned, I slept, one hip wounded, a new name to be announced at a future date
bearing a significance of which I can only wonder
derived of a bruise that I have often sung, of swift and terrible deity grasped. It grabs back, refuses to relent but is bargained with and for, leaving one bent, limping, a worshiper forever.
I can wait for the meaning if it ever arrives. My legs hurt too, treading air the ocean long, tired from such distances traveled with strangers all around, so many,
so many, I had not known that desire had undone so many,
I am still cool upon the pallet on the floor in a darkened room, curtains closed
upon the ceiling [a shard of light] scores mandalas of earth tones
(another Atlantic, its hidden floor, perhaps its ghost?)
man made above me asking for my blessing, meaning my honoring, it moves to the top shelf, the volumes in ancient Greek, Biblical,
textbooks for learning that tongue college days - brief spark then nothing, the voltage gone, dead as Aramaic and Koine,
remembered light only. - W. Falcon
And now come poets each century heavier than
before, heavier than the other few, this new one too,
only bards, a real few, to bar, board up the big gaps
O great light gaping, torn off, oft thee sung,
slung over shoulder, hauled, the burden,
o the load
it is now become. - W. Falcon
“Let him not be another's who can be his own.”
Refugee from the American South.
Now loud-but-reverent-mouthed in
New York City.
Leave the world to the scoundrels!
As I get older, my relationship to ground is problematic. Balance is no longer an assumption that delivers. Is it the room that leans or is it me? My sense of place has never been too pleasantly real or here (but for parentheses happy-enough and for these I am indeed thankful) , and place has been and still is found more in sound, a very early childhood thing, in what I hear by ear or eye when I read. Totem in this my life is the book and it's associated familiars. And now, older than I have ever been, which is a painfully obvious tautology standing long at the urinal waiting, waiting, a poem may arrive more quickly than other flow, poetry has taken on an urgency which orients me, grieves me, and leaves me somewhat in relation to light though I burn the midnight oil to work a poem from the darkness, and my eyes can no longer focus...but, it's ground work. Gives some heft, makes some meaning.
Still, can't say I have traveled light. Not really. But heart's the better for the journey forced, pockets full of pyrite.
Soon be ground myself, though.
Here, on one fountain of a mourning mind,
I have been taken up into grief, the strange
relief of clouds. Soon departed I shall be
once again returned to disquieted prayer,
the proud monk to his rites rejoined
such are covers for disjointedness.
There, almost within reach, the blossoming
tree brightens between darker bricks to truly
dwell. It is for me a shy son of mists to see
in spite of big chunks missing, lost, wasted,
torn out, that the Celestial World is not as
it appears to most, It yearns for much needed
hardness for spirits without shoes still long
to be bread that they may dwell in our finitude.
Dear uncommon friends, Old Strand, and my zen
quill and pen-ners of the East, imbibers of tea
and samsara, cackling cocks and hens in the locked
and guarded shunyata pens of the world -
you all have become wholeness-itself by now.
I am reading reading crowded pushed your many
years behind me hoping I may gather what you
all have found in the dusk where the trail ends
at the highest peak.
Ruffling all your bright feathers your KATZ
chorus clucks/crows up from the black frozen
What is there to be found?
Black Rooster, blind,
scratches all dawns. - W. Falcon
still in this night I am turning
and turning on the hard pallet
these old pages that I have turned
now over 40 years in starry exile
as if my tongue could matter less by day
than my thoughts could mean more by night
these constant companions the good few
who lend voice to all that goes on
inked between and upon ledges high and in
canyoned depths what continues seen or not
such are strayed
ponies bending their heads to
finer blades tender shoots green or in winter
without complaint chew brown tufts brittle
shadowing snow and a pair of boot tracks
veering off and up or down
alone trail into other fields or
upon remote peaks
a traveler's companion
On with the boring center line
endlessly dividing though broken
on purpose suggesting a way to veer.
No guide needed here.
Fear is the drive shaft,
and longing turns the wheel. - W. Falcon
...the great sins and fires break out of me like the
terrible leaves from the boughs in the violent spring.
I am a walking fire, I am all leaves... - Edith Sitwell
Childness let's have us honey
flame intended, names smeared
upon the glass, an accidental
pane, hands touching delicate
as trespass what is allowed
lace of vision.
One touches the other which touches me
I am become a massive bird
a wobbling kite of tallow and tin
a bruised three-blade fan
petroleum kisses over
massive cables between coiled
legs, those others, of mortar,
of hot metal glow
the handsome welder, masked, sings
into the retina of his dark glass
how entwined with bridges
a bloated form of tangled
how lips chafe
gently the many
I am uncovered, thin, bared upon thinner
sheets the man-ripped to many images,
torn into, landscaped to former curves.
No longer do I grieve enclosure, touching
only myself, delivered from layers.
What begins to be, earth swell, breaks
root-room open to blood means.
All hurt now stings twilight quaked into being.
Your breath falls upon me now, taut, sinew,
bruising hands, purple insides flare warrior nerves
to unknotting surprise.
Lines, veins, strung between Pole Star
and First River Mouth, an embedded ruin uncovers in milk floods.
Touch gently first what has been too long concealed.
Hard touch congeals once was telling mud remolded into
“Not again. Not yet the bleeding Centurion.”
Wield roughly then through gates too long shut.
When I cry out, do not mind. Blindly ram. Do not stop.
Magpie, my keeper, is flying.
I suffer the happy travails of indigent withers,
a later paramour whose eyes do what thighs
no longer can. Young men stray in the redder
door and, thank god, are easily distracted,
thank god, the erotic slights of hand, thank
god, the scented smoke, the velvet-covered
mirrors drooping unnoticed; they depart the
happier minds touched more than diminishing
crescents of flesh.
I have broken my back lifting
all these my loves up to heaven.
I was reaching for god then - not your fault - a lavender
boy early befriended by crows, already resigned to what
was given and what was to come, a softball between the
eyes, your attempt to guide me toward those diamond
thighs which, you often repeated, were everywhere waiting.
I blink still before you, head down, focused on 'Lion's Teeth.' **
I am your hard mystery, and soft, not so fast for I am fat
and cannot round the bases quick. I am your inherited meek,
a burden to shake into a sliding man furious for home.
At four I pluck a wild strawberry you point to.
All authority and accidental grace, revealing much,
still dew wet, sticky to the touch, opening sourness
deserves my frown. You laugh at my dawning smile
for its sweetness slowly yielding, a surprise gift
for what will always unite us, your fear that I will
suffer, too, your fate, untended desire gone to wildness
brought low beneath branches, slow embrace of
cradle-gentle boughs entangling legs and light
between the greater shadows,
and shadows shall win the day.
upon my chaste return, sunburned,
churned by the Atlantic, I will have
discovered a haunting sound again,
an animal music of the air, the lungs,
screams really, gulls falling by arrows
of blue which, blue, saturate sky and
sea to learn the heart again
to learn the heart again
avoid the narrows
at the island's end
where feet are easily
mistaken for doves and
large currents beckon
compel them to descend
But only one,
nerved cord, by
heart and heat
sky nor pliant
dirt deny but cloy,
hand in hand require
only dissolution of
the Old Masters'
tyranny by Numbers
born of even water
into mists, continuously
reft from Given,
riven from Dream,
such freed from
virtual into literal
placenta and spleen,
striven history reshaped
redeems a value once
consigned to Hell-realms
confining dark thoughts
With heart will I
to Guatemala go,
there a Mayan lover
do some good,
to active volcanoes,
with creatures strange -
and one fountain send where
I need to go
On our broken boat the harsh light will not break.
We see our day clearly as we can.
Tell the night, now it's here to stay, that
once I glanced the sleeping youth, legs against the wall,
felt a pall descend upon us here,
this boat lancing the bay waters darkly.
Some to books then, the priest to his sad, effeminate stare.
I can no longer envy those of the black cloth
so bend and tie the shoe.
We shod our feet against what long loss of motion,
eyes downcast or boldly returning the stare?
Beneath each eye there's some familiar look we refuse.
We map our way to sleep in the palms of shy or frightened hands.
that salt adheres to the palm
proclaiming only this
that purchase requires both
sweat and the one hidden pearl
of scraped touch
much there is in the hand
beneath the thigh the grit
burns smooth the groove
where you lay
A gardener dressed in bright red work clothes is planting tulip bulbs nearby. Looks like a tulip himself. Old tulip petals stack up. Stalks. See, his hands moving slow, gentle. Why, he's singing into dirt older than cities. Either he's in love or I am.
Roots splay up gray reaching for his eyes. That's love all right.
A young woman rolls up her short sleeves to her shoulders so that the sun may warm them. She's fair. Arms red as her hair. Already. Almost. Her eyes are closed. Face up toward the sun.
I hear the rhythmic squeak and grind of a swing behind us, a child's little feet are kicking high as the swing climbs. I know that. Don't have to see it.
Glimpse a yellow cab passing on the street disappearing behind the yellow sunflowers.
Cricket right on time starts to insist in the shrub to our right.
I think but don't say it, Poems to a Brown Cricket. Hello Father Wright**.
What's not to praise...
I, on the other hand,
have lain down with
My tent is worn out.
Stains mark love-cries,
some blood where tongues
were ground down to root words,
utterance hard pounded,
soft tissue torn letter by letter,
tender verbs opened to pain,
that which is paid for more
than alabaster embraces
and this strangling of waists
My tent has drained more
of love's body than a mortuary.
Life, dear Barcelona, is sweet..
One endures long enough to break through thunder,
a taut belly, a smooth place for lips to land.
One may reach a Pure Land which has no logic,
the tedious seasons of a long life endured.
Still, one gathers names of each joven prince
passed beneath loving, yes, arduous hands.
Again, upon Kingfisher's wings I blow these kisses,
this music, your patient ear awaiting the purist pearl,
for you were once the bequeathed, escaped girl
without fear of oceans, this one between us which
now must be overflown to reach you.
- N. Nightingale, Empress of Contrails
That one day the book shall be written,
Odysseus come smiling through the door.
That I shall live forevermore free of provision,
be delivered presently into good, rich life
and unto the richer world, my Lover so long
turning turning turning in distance away from,
yet to manage a caress, a smooch which
neither dismisses nor fully embraces.
It is I that am and shall be erased into this
Love which shall then in time be erased as
well in the greater Sun, and that Shining
too shall be erased. Then we shall all be
scattered, or I shall be only, embrace by
embrace, toward erasure no longer effortful.
I sift draft by draft rough toward world
now slowing in spite of parentheses these
provisional postulations of 'the good life'
to come. Eventually. There is only this
that I am living now. And my hands feel,
even perhaps are, strapped to this wheel
that turns me as turns Beloved Earth,
the Sun, too, each dreaming
near to but apart from each.
My reach is
here on my tongue,
in my fingers here
grasping words from mind.
I am ever behind in this chase,
now am further from Love,
Space, than ever
though my heart
is swollen from
Still, World, accept my blessing.
I send this message aloft on kingfisher wings
This, just to
for we (loves)
were many day-ed
we merrily played
harming no one,
not even the
still, from beneath
the god you insisted
be excluded from
all our nakedness
x 1 too many breaths
x many ropes all our
now you, love
are new memory
x all the x's
besos as kisses
the black or
back into lapis
lapses into what
faces which are
eyes which now
glaze with love
beside the flue
glaze upon the
the lips of
x 3 the antinomies
& thee O lover
bring all them
back, so many,
to me now
'like unto like'
but do not say it
my forbidden simile
one is not immune
to jealous couriers
who would come
Rice paper is thin
tender words never
tear through ink
Wild tears fade
sure words to guesses
murmurers with desire
feels the better
Whatever became of Majestic,
his harlequin shoes,
his suicidal crocuses?
When did I marry Lonely?
but fell kid-hard
backyard empty clothesline
silk slip one pin down
Dip shyly in brick shadows
I sing to knees now
Beyond Manhattan Bridge
sudden heat lightening
a good night with cool rain
old vinyl Nyro
done with song
“Poetry, alas, grows more and more distant. What commonly goes by the name of 'culture' forgets the poem [or distorts it into 'popular' dissemblances]. This is because poetry does not easily suffer the demand for clarity, the passive audience, the simple message. The poem is an intransigent exercise. It is devoid of mediation and hostile to media.”
- Alain Badiou, “Language, Thought, Poetry”
& so seeking
the thick tome
of half century
blood & steel
snort into green
hope in spite of
all that has gone
before in spite
even once a year
other holy days
gone too, wild
for gelt “all melt
open it up
opens to its
the poem there
at the breech
HOWLs as do
I/we all (just
to remind) when
the blue water
flame over an
as the faceless
& my/our own
burden for blades
drop fall still
hard upon me/us
as does the mid
mad century drop
fall into this
I hear Blaser
from the room
of the living
the in-breathing forced
the out breathing stretched
extending into air & irony
“The clown of dignity sits in his tree.
The clown of games hangs there, too.
Which is which or where they go -
the point is to make others see -
that two men in a tree is clearly
the same as poetry” - Robin Blaser
DESIGN - FABRICATE - INSTALL
the subject matter
is not new
& not the sorrow
old as the first cave
bearing first fire
in human hand, the
expiring artist torn
from blank sky to
an expectant wall
a herd there
one day we too will
fill the earth as
hooves have done
capture sun & be
& so come to such
an edge of ruin
Heavy let me pass
lets me pass I
limp up 4 steel
steps push in to
the Way of Peace
take my usual place
settle rattled by
icon image & pewter
vision of what
is not any longer
there the wear of
a half century not
to compare that of
20 centuries past
what can last or
come from all that
so sit me hard down
upon the wood get
to the book at hand
the known & the new
mystery which emerges
from the white plastic
packed in bubble
wrap which is a
before the tree
is trimmed the
grim task to sort
each broken globe,
from the survivors
(I AM ONE) so sad a
mystery still remains
how they do break in
darkness stored in
attic high untouched
by light, my hand,
the supple hold of
green limbs everly.
I cannot toss them
away (pretty all the
more because pitiful
I AM) any-old-way
so take/return them
to the woods where
the tree is yearly
cut/trimmed & so
scatter them upon
the needles' brown
those the welder makes
just out the door now
kneeling as I have knelled
(once & do still) a fat
boy betaken by mysteries'
brokenness & safe return
to pines though
hard on supposes
& orphan spheres
I adhere to a bard or
two the good few of words
& what of them of absence
be made though presenting
Rodriquez 13 kneeling
Erotic stance w/
pewter hands the
welder removes his
mask, stands, a
handsome face w/
gold teeth unbroken
as ornaments were
once & forever
broken - eats his
past his truck I
notice the side
then of it says
DESIGN - FABRICATE - INSTALL
I think: the history
of religions is this
just, only the sign
reads MODERN STEEL
not Postmodern as it
now should to be precise
true to an age bereft
on Stagg Street thrust
once again into Christmas
- deer & such - though
Celtic too - Cernunnos
snorts from forests rough
deeply onto a green where
sits beside a silver stream
an orphaned god abandoned
carved upon stone with bronze
(before steel) but still
(the god is) stone fearing
it is no longer
real yet sentinel to
“an archaic authority” (Julia Kristeva)
Let me then work
my poem (all of
them) around in
what can be said
without such drama
of centuries past
& to come
lines ending in Stillness
a suggested Vastness from
which each comes/returns:
Cave - Image - Sky - Expanse - Singular Branch & Many
Plenty Are Stillnesses Advances Even In The Rot The
Dissolve From Clot Toward What It Is Or Was & Always
Proper-Name-Enough-For-Me - STILLNESS
I am taken with such at which
I stare which holds my gaze with
shades of It & of Itself, that is,
is a death or like unto it -
or in need of It (Breath) now
having been only once (Rilke)
who (it seems) becomes/relents
known form though (It is) returned
or re-rested to Itself beyond Christmas
and yet and yet
the kneeling boy
in the evergreen
the shattered orn-
aments ever gleam
the needles' net
a permanence enough
gold-leafed & trumpeting
from “Poetry's Dark Night” by Jacques Maritain
“Each time the human mind puts itself to a difficult task, it begins its conquest of new fields and especially of its proper spiritual universe by bringing with all this a certain amount of dis- turbance, of disaster. The human being seems to become disorganized; and sometimes in fact it happens that crises of growth end unhappily. But they are, in any case, crises of growth.
At the time of Gerard de Nerval and of Delacroix, this is what happens: so much had people examined the consciousness of art within themselves, that they ended by touching at last the one consuming thing crouched at the depths; a thing which art does not enclose any more than the world encloses God and which takes us beyond all sense of where we are going. The moment arrives, in the course of the 19th Century, when poetry begins to take consciousness of itself insofar as it is poetry. Then, in a few decades, there is a series of discoveries, setbacks, catastrophes, and revelations, the importance of which, it seems to me, cannot be exaggerated. And that is only the beginning. This contact with self-awareness, this reflexive spirituality was needed in order finally to deliver poetry among us. I think that what has happened for poetry since Baudelaire has an historical importance equal in the domain of art to that of the greatest epochs of revolution and renewal in physics and astronomy in the domain of science.
I suppose that Baudelaire's situation would be described with sufficient accuracy if we should say that he appears to be in continuity with the best in romanticism by the deepening of the consciousness of the art, but that in reality he marks a discontinuity, an enormous transformation, because at the same time it is of the poetry, it is of itself as poetry that poetry achieves awareness in him.”
“not to be named is to be lost in light” - Blaser
Spicer told me once from
the other side
while I was humming
Edith Piaf about
a rosiness so very
well o're the real
the spice garden
the backyard spread
before the orchard
on our personal
never once climbed
so enamored of the
bees at work
their Queen of
the Hill (Duncan)
and the Apple
not to be
or any other
May to come
permitted at last
to the meadow
with Robert (here too)
enjoined me to leave
Cryptics For Cripples And Cantors
“The rest, ” he sneered, “are
matters not concerned; broken Maker or
broken meter the world wags on,
not one stone
in the House
'How Much Longer Shall I Be Able To Inhabit The Divine'
- via Ted Berrigan via John Ashberry
qua qua qua
sisk boom ba
near the corner
but o not I
not I when
the clot broke
no help at all
as I stood pale
pale, paler still,
bleeding out from
upon a tailor's
wall, he too
no help at all
call the cops
It closes me in
again to recall
qua qua qua
amongst the forgotten roses
where one is hungover in the
supposes with which one perpetually
begins, that one can never finish
like this, pissed, which goes on,
which goes on and still on,
“I can't go on but must (adjusting
the truss) because I am losing
my hair and so on and ever on”
dot dot dot into eternity should
one believe in such, but one may
use the idea of such, eternity
-go forward or behind, wince at
the word - living in the blue rind
of sky crumbling onto nether
shore where relentless waves
tease relentless wind disturbing
a lone relentless tern tracing
uremic rims of foam.
Shall I call then eternity
a home for shells, a curve
in space? disgrace myself
yet again with belief, any
one, believe that such shores
are a where after all, a place
to shelter, each wave somewhere
by someone or something counted
as is every hair numbered
counted still? they fall as
do waves into crescendos
rainbows should the sun
so shine for what is left
to comb of shore and hair
is a disturbance of
the forlorn redactions
of what is perceived,
felt, spilt upon the
and so I must wear a hat but let us not go then
you and I patiently into all that but when come
time proper, a hair fall caught in a shaft of sun
light, the endless comb over undone, wind blown
upon the shore, then we shall speak of it sure,
now then here then
remembering too the chaffing bloody garters
“Folded and reserved, the modern poem harbors a central silence. This pure silence interrupts the ambient cacophony [that masks our banalities]. The poem injects silence into the texture of language. And, from there, it moves toward an unprecedented affirmation. This silence is an operation. In this sense, the poem says the opposite of what Wittgenstein says about silence. It says: this thing that cannot be spoken of in the language of consensus; I create silence in order to say it. I isolate this speech from the world. And when it is spoken again, it will always be for the first time...This is always why the poem, in its very words, requires an operation of silence.”
- Alain Badiou, “Language, Thought, Poetry”
...quiet blue interior, Our Lady stands
firm too, graceful, veiled, lightning
strike all around, roars outside nothing
against palpable blue softness, the Host -
firm suchness upon Old World table, flowers
fresh poised in ecstatic trance, golden
mouth Chalice open full of shadow,
hungry mouths to feed
...enter a child a school boy soaked
bare feet uniform darker blue stain run
rain-wind-storm sheltered now the Virgin
place cool upon feet, where is this school
unseen on only road the way to las grutas
...bow before the Host, genuflect small
delicate hands palms white kneel on creaking
wood kneeler kiss fingers holy traces
...I have come from afar
from godless City enveloped in
my own importance trapped my own
motions no purpose knees or hands
now come to monstrance find this
muddy miracle with marigolds
...sun breaks through, child walks
tio's house I follow tongueless, a
burro 2 miles mud, flood, to caves,
springs, boy Anselmo out front, little
heels press little pony grey, one
eye brown the other blue, Golondrina,
his name, The Swallow, do not ask why
beneath the bluing sky flush with bird
song in waters red we tread on
me a distance behind
...arrive tearing springs caves erupt
full dark overhang a place for prayer
not for my knees but Anselmo's on black
root kneel holds hard to a limb “don't
fall in” I shout suddenly shaken nothing
within to hold to
All are barefoot there: beasts, boy, self
...returned little chapel blue
an offering for Our Lady - muddy
shoes - receives all things
arms outward extend blessing
blue cool shadows quiet there
where mud may me dry
In chipped vases
altar flowers bright
Done with City
Which goes first?
The All Blue
two Hassids young bring candles for
Shabbas only a few hours till inflamed
prayer begins as sun sinks to night
prayer is oil the dead come home to
perhaps even in this cafe they
watch the books gather on the familiar
corner where shopkeepers' decades pass
hurry home before dark with candles
and cares, the wares of religion, the
Book & dream, a distant land made close
by old songs kindled, 'finest ones'
still kindred made the stronger by
fire and voices-one mingled with
Mendelssohn and the later oranges
Ramparts lift by Chambers above
African graves, the slaves of
South Ferry sentinel terminal
near ferries toil as lower Manhattan
lights a menorah towering despite
what is now worshiped there knowing
that home, the one sought(even now)
more resides in words aflame reciting
the Name, One alone, then of
patriarchs/saints the bearded whole
lot of them who murmur still for all
our want and next year next year shall
be different for we will no longer be
here but in Holy City finally gathered
cabs blur yellow/gypsy
in angular winter light
now dazzle before Spring
when raises dead bulbs to jonquils
potted pretty in windows, on stoops
and, wild, strayed in parks
do not, O, pass us by or over
for all our patient harping
come morrows under willows yet
we shall hang up our loves again
get back to work
honest scrub and
clean beside the avenue
stand recalling willows
and grieve still an old yet present
eviction in the cities of men
I remember the first time I heard Villa Lobos -
in college, thanks to Elaine, a library copy and a suspended moment at the dorm window watching fog pour up from a deep Tennessee valley, socked in again, which often happened on Lookout Mountain, weeks of thick late Autumn fog, gray white-out cloud-light leaning into the unlit quarter, philosophy books stacked, Pre-Socratics, Church History, Clement, Polycarp, Gnostics (I realize now that I am one) wind howling just beyond the pane, the un-modulated whistle of said insistent storm playing the Castle In The Clouds in fierce Sinai song, Bachianas Brasileieras, No.1, conducted by Villa Lobos himself, nothing short of revelation that my too young to be so weary self had no idea existed but upon hearing within pinnacled gale, then, nothing could prevail against my landing oriented-at-last by mostly cellos and fog spinning in the Brazilian folk rhythms I would spend my entire life descending toward, stumbling forward, misstepping after, 'my kingdom for a macaw, ' become a slack-jawed shamanista entranced by dirt, green overhang in forest din, daily feathered by birds all kinds in twining limbs above.
No romance involved with all that now, I am an almost old man more rapidly untangling string by string, out-cello-ed in the end, and yet again, by an innate longing to land, go under, dwell within, peaking out, over strung, finally done with Polycarp and company, at one with my Hopkins book still, sufficed - Terrible Sonnets to accidental Grace - rendered, I yield, I am peeled layer by layer to pomes penny (p) each glottal stops and 'soul, self, come, poor Jackself, ' be advised once more, 'jaded, let be, ' while not forgetting to go with Lobos rhythms, leave 'comfort root room' finally escaping John Calvin's dire and doom...'let joy size At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile's not wrung, see you'-
and raise you One.
Leave Taking, After Matsuo Basho, Circa 1978
“There is a blessed fidelity in things.
Graceless things grow lovely with good uses.” - John Tarrant
Expecting more rain.
Not yet light though 6 a.m.,
night still over the barn.
From the porch, high wind.
The moon, a corner of it,
rides comfortably in clouds.
Clouds moving over mountains,
their night work -
some rain in the buckets.
things feel their boundaries,
robes of autumn rain.
Back to bed,
Noises in these old walls -
mice search for food or string,
bird stretching its wings.
Soon these things I must leave -
wood smoke, frayed rope coil,
finger prints on faded walls' wrong color.
Last flights -
on the sill
gently waving webs.
A fertile shelter.
Many nights I have wrestled here.
Some mornings have
broken into me like thunder.
I have shed skin after skin.
These I leave behind.
Some warmth they may
provide for the mice,
rags for the moths to eat.
I note now from yesterday the grace of
animals that have held me in their long gaze.
Llama looks up from her evening feed of field greens.
Sees me. I wave (silly enchanted human) making loud
smooch sounds, a call for her to come to me which she
does, walking slowly, blinks through a mist by long
eyelashes purled rising silently while I read my book,
foolishly head down, in the midst of all this gratuitous
beauty springing slow surprise - veiled field, wet,
soft, an unexpected llama looking long at me,
taking me in,
raiment mist at the hem of the darkening woods.
Requisite red barn, old, leans against the ribbon
of ground fog hovering, a wire fence almost invisible,
gray wire in white cloud between me and that cloud
and that great llama attracted (I like to think)
by my kissing sounds, her ope't eyes
wide and bestowing near me now
the small head always tilting one side to the other,
little mouth a posed curiosity chewing like a child,
the long graceful neck, shagged soft fur thickly flowing,
disappears into tall grass.
I am victim of my own infatuation for all
my lip smacks and cooing and waving of hands,
one more fool for love fooled yet again.
I note here for the record that I have actually lost
the desire to chase, at least outwardly; rather, my
chase is inner (as always) .
I think that stars are cold in their enviable far
light, unattainable bottles lined up, glinting totems
on altar shelves, pretty behind a dark and mysterious
Bar that is open all night. I need their remote stellar
indifference, their inhuman capacity to be undisturbed
by anything other than gravity, and something-somewhere
light years close-enough going nova. Then are they affected.
For now I remain, rather, a simile then a
metaphor then, really, a black star - energy
trapped, still I must be smart and good-looking
enough in yesterday's Autumn field, and this
memory all aroma and chirp, to attract such
unexpected and unreasoned animal grace.
I read now a yellowed manuscript, an old chase,
an itch returned red, inflamed, my own words
writ 30 years ago sitting on a cold stone wall
by the frozen river, West 142nd Street, hearing
cars and human shouting up the street behind me,
Setcho poems***in my pocket, this my earnest
response to him from icy fingers, my shaking pen
What's will when
the window slams shut?
Just old cake thrown on the street
Why try be happy/sad?
don't affect it
disinfect your mind
Who's somebody's darlin'?
Setcho, zen master & poet, writes:
After so very many years, it's pointless to
look back on it.
Give this looking back a rest!
A clear breeze the world over
- what limit could it have?
Loose Train Haiku Or Similar - New York To Philly - A Train Journal
Nearing Princeton Station
What a wonderful world
this New Jersey is!
Blue train engines!
Just turning Autumn leaves
The opposing train
Old graves by a lake
Old woman passing in aisle
Fleeting sign outside explains -
Loose Train Hokku-no-renga
For the blind woman
on the train every
journey is inner
She touches my shoulder,
moves just one seat ahead
feels the winter collar
metal ring pinned
to its shoulder
smiles when she touches it
dark rings of her eyes
light up momentarily
What universes are in the heads all around me
While reading zen master Ummon,
famous for his one word responses
to pupils questions about the nature
of mind, I happen to look up, see young,
clean-cut preppie reading Wall Street
Journal large bold print:
YES-BUT-TERS DON'T JUST KILL IDEAS.
Congruence of Ummon and General Motors
ad strikes me. I see in mind's eye, so real:
Ummon enters train car, walks up to preppie,
taps shoulder, thunders in ear,
I chuckle, smugly 'stinking of enlightenment, '
pleased, translating, 'kill ideas to get to
the 'thing itself 'or the 'no thing.'
Suddenly Ummon turns, smacks me hard
with his KATZ stick, BAM! And he is correct,
of course, to slam me. Arrogance along the
way, no matter how 'apparently' fitting my
zenny smartness, deserves a hard
I humbly return to my book
just write what is seen from the
Hokku-no-renga Close To Philly:
off the square
in the darkest cells
those forms bursting forth
In Prison Window
a jelly jar, water pours
man hands arranging
a little green vine
View upon entering Philly
the hairline of God
City garden by tracks
A scarecrow even there
Plastic milk jug for a head!
Passing glimpse over bridge -
railing beside a stream
a thin student reading Nietzsche -
“He who can grasp me,
let him grasp me.
However, I am not your crutch.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche from Thus Spake Zarathustra
On the other hand I have only tried
to survive, swollen small, myself,
find ways to be in it at all, appalled
hero shrunk to size, compensation
for grandness, a player 'pon an acre
of God on yon Calvin's hill - ol' John
yawning counts his sins a school
boy his sums, insistent dirt
(because it's there) persistent
cleaning his nails;
but tilled I Bible,
preferred work that,
off at last from
roller holy hill,
a love affair oracular, called,
the Word out-wrung, wrenched,
I always the winch and never the Bride.
Again poetic little feet tracing circles, little breaths that may make a one
I, Minimus, tongue in cheek, creak oar, row out too
into the Homeric sea, not old Greek singer, long of breath,
but as Winslow, local seer, his paints, straw hat consigned
to mistook heroics, pure accident, not to check radio
maritime, ask captain if row boat worthy of even an
American sea, projected too, can go a-row row rowing,
claw oar into wave tips' whitecaps safe perimeters,
smell of earth nasal-yet to keep oriented to dirt.
Have, instead, reaped I redundant whirlwind
play America the Fool again, naively trusting my
and country's, destiny are one, always good in spite
of Melville's long eloquent 'discantus supra librum' -
above the book - more truing than any, to spoil it,
the projected 'pluribus unum' thing, for Mayflower
folks tripping lightly between the hawthorns,
their imported gardens and God, irritant tomahawks
'can only turn out swell, ' thought they like waves
gathering in sea swell full of themselves individually,
Destined, they then and do think, to break just for,
O America, thee.
VISUAL BIO. Spare:
Little blur of a photo,1979, apt image-
The 'striving-after' poet, much younger days,
Some months recovering from food poisoning,
Once again exiled to roses, reading Lorca
& Rilke in a park, Medellin, Colombia, South America.
Arriving late to love
the broken tower
mourns its ringing ruin.
Long drought of air
once stilled the clapper.
But one breath, Trembler,
Muteness falls away.
Frightened doves scatter.
Annunciation of rafters:
how to sway.
Who pulls the rope
fly up from
renew into wishful hand
pocket prayer returning.
Poor in heart, scatter.
Bread, swell upon
for the dead,
Long in exile,
dizzy with The Path,
human beauty broken there beside,
in every field shy flowers want all
our windows and stoops to proudly
present themselves upon.
This only now but happy do I discover.
And I am old, my scent upon the wind
down human lanes where even dogs
take pleasure from the air, where
children play and narrow water flows
and petal by petal night and day the
joyous moon swoons in the liquor of
splash upon stones happy to be worn.
There, almost within reach, the blossoming
tree brightens between darker bricks to truly
dwell. It is for me a shy son of mists to see
in spite of big chunks missing, lost, wasted,
torn out, that the Celestial World is not as
it appears to most, It yearns for much needed
hardness for spirits without shoes still long
to be bread that they may dwell in our finitude.
To them then I am a daffodil dandy at a rusty
gate where heaven and hell conjoin. There
where the thinned road ends vague statues
sway out of focus lamenting their redaction
to stone, no river to move them petal by petal,
unable to move at all, for movement is not nothing.
Even pretty Buddhas pretending eternity
cannot move by themselves alone in need
of human feet and arms. In this way then
they become like me for I too will be
borne by men or wind to the grave no
longer able to move on my own.
Nothing to lose, this rag of selves.
With what glory remains of hungry pockets,
I skip forward singing, La La La, a willful
don, a lord of nothing-much, poems a'pocket,
knowing it's all a shell game but I'm clever
having learned something from all the dice
rolled knowing that here and there (Heaven)
weight matters and that there is more to here
than there. Wised up now I always pack a
change of draws, a piece of broken mirror in
my pocket to gaze within practicing my smiles
to fool the gullible gods who think they are
smiling at themselves.
If stopped and questioned at the Gate to
Yellow Spring, I'll blame you, old Ghost
of too many former selves, a meandering
rumor still muttering the old hymns, who
grants me permission the entrance to boldly storm.
Midnight In Dostoevsky
“Alyosha, I shall set off from here...loving
with one’s inside, with one’s stomach...”
turns in on
the bone bruise
the gut punch
each hand a
bottle of gin
a back pocket
brine of men
“If, after your kiss, he goes away
untouched, mocking at you, do not
let that be a stumbling-block to you.
It shows his time has not yet come”
of pitch 1st
of scalp on
Monk Midnight Leaps
While City Sleeps
A Frightful Mess
Bliss For Want
Of Affection This
Of Spinning Night
“The centripetal force on our planet is still
fearfully strong...I know I shall fall on the
ground and kiss those stones”
**Quotation marked passages are from
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
'Art resembles life, purpose is cousin to need, so bleeds all things together' says the butcher. I remove from my knotted hair a finely carved pin formed from the bone of a large bird, down falls radiant hair, black, full, my pride and my joy, covering over all around me, covering a small looking glass on the butcher's wall. I will mourn a little while longer, longing for the dear Sharpener, his amazing patience, his brilliant smile flashing teeth of metal made, mirrors, little mirrors, smooth, polished, clear. I will see myself in that smile no longer. No longer. Will he return?
'Do not spurn any chance to mourn. Mourning is a kind of Return, ' says the butcher reaching for his silver cleaver, its handle made of bone.
Poetry As Constellation
and of the curveship
lend a myth to God.'
- Hart Crane
when I explain
a poem is a
work that I
as a lover
is to traces
as am I
I see in
Response To Bernadette Mayer's 'First Turn To Me...'
“you appear without notice and with flowers
I fall for it and we become missionaries
we lie together one night, exhausted couplets
and don't make love. does this mean we've had enough? ”
- Bernadette Mayer
Failing the Grand Coniunctio
this is the only one we know
the one where we eat dirt
and swallow, are filled and
swell belly up a meal to be
eaten when the Messiah comes
Leviathan is our heavenly bridegroom
presses the banquet table with elbows
manners forsaken in the end
yanks at sallow meat forsaking
the wine which has turned
no First Wedding miracle can
be repeated - no do-overs here
Candles burn on as always, false promises
All the doors are marked EXIT
Still we must try
at the Feast
make small talk
all the while thinking
This is it?
Angels without knees
aprons spotless starched
as beards of saints
complain of humans
the stains they leave
between the fork
and spoon obscenely
one angel to another:
They call it love
what we are supposed
sublimely to sing of
but frankly all that
pushing and shoving
faces in agony the
cries and curses all
that pulling at flesh
bruised as the moon
this can't be love
We stand without legs
the better for it but
for these we must attend
bent over their plates
greedy to have at each
other again to marriage
beds one last time
And then the singing
songs about dirt
about longing to return
how all hurts there
You must leave now,
black mouse of sorrow,
now formally named,
take up in another
residence. Do not
borrow my things,
do not move them
with your tail or tongue
or teeth on the table
top or underneath,
nor in the corner
play hide and seek
where I have once
again dropped the
blue accident of love,
he who has left how
he arrived, brown,
beautiful, smelling of
Indian spice, of rose
oil with herbs,
his long black hair,
his silken pockets
full of childhood
wrapped for safe-
the day of his glad-
Upon the altar then
do not, I plead, sleep
cradled in the god's arms
nor push my thinning
patience where the votive
candle burns for him whom
you seek to replace with
your delicate whiskers
and all your black fur
with webs upon of the one
spider who dwells behind
the jewel box, his gift
for me, his leaving, here
cling/brush against all
things in this dark place
now but do not let me
see it here where it is
I-not-he who is erased.
Is it your wish, then,
to bless me, black mouse?
to keep me company?
from “And The Daylight Separated The Mad Boy From His Shadow - Cancion for Garcia Lorca”
The mad boy
writes feeble colors
the halt the lame the
mute which within
around which intends
distorts (in your glass
traps light to
the mad world
thus take our
place with clowns who
know tomatoes thrown
and juggler's (bare necked)
You are the maestro here
whom I trail behind at respectful
murdered by the too ordinary
So long to image
to suffer on dear
bruised M the
void of course
o bring me
beauty no matter
created by His
You, dear, will read
of my heterosexual shadow
a great lover who serenades
Her in the terrible contradiction
of the moon caught
in bare tree limns strophes
just outside Her window
the fool below in rouge
head hung, singing
heart's tin can
tied to belt loop behind
of his ragged pants
to be filled with
in the dirty lane
he leans his
I live at the bottom of a hill near a
broken fence beside tracks of steel.
On the other side a stream moves upon itself
not confusing itself as ice for rocks alone.
A memory in the sound of water, a dazzle of
sky takes a silly surface tone from what runs
beneath outrunning rocks because it can;
desire that force which drives the sand.
The movement of water too is undeniable,
solid in its course though sand, as does water,
knows nothing of remorse.
At the fence I wait. No train yet
which will be a movement, too, beside
the wet, and these thoughts here.
That you are tissue essential and fabric
to my own particularity.
I send you a sound wonder, a welcome again
to that place you dwell here within,
Time the only disparity.
Snow on Telford gravestones, tall
houses on cupped hills in squared
parcels back lit with sunset's down-light,
juxtapose a Wyeth isolation and beauty
which is the dutiful image of you, heart
breaking through remembering our first meeting.
Which is the dutiful image of you?
Heart broken remembering the first meeting,
then the departing?
The distant gazebo of that small
town wears white lights garlanded
round, and snow. A boy without
gloves reads alone.
He is no fool who takes his time and
place to know.
I rediscover you a gift here still as
I have in good counsel curtsied and coughed
often enough, my own hand to my own groin,
to discover a fissure again, again to repeat,
that you are tissue essential still and
fabric to my own particularity upon a hill,
a house, one fence above a stream and rails,
a blinking boy turning wet pages knows that
you or someone similar, only a few years
ahead, already familiar, dwells inside,
compels his reading just before sunset
squinting at words beyond and past the
fence and the stream, the train late,
footprints dark blue in the patient drift.
Does not it all bear
the familiar arc say
of just-dawn color
mauve-play at the liminal
curve where sky beseeches
bounded space to give
its shapeless-nest a
Cause, a nape conformed
convex from Orbis what
has been scored by breath
pressed upon it?
Who then falsely may decree
any matted clot, spark-charged,
blood engorged, who may not
body-charge ahead and into
'other' merge so must be flung
expunged behind neglected Moon
or plunged through the bruised
ring of abjected Space?
Hear me now
Give form to
now dust me (I am)
Here me how
“Are you hungry? ” - Poems for Departure
“Who has twisted us like this, so that -
no matter what we do - we have the bearing
of a man going away...so we live,
forever saying farewell.” - Rainer Maria Rilke
Out of hearing
the last sense
to go sing to me
now before ears
take leave and I
shall have no more
need for words,
sounds, even these
my sighs heard as
I hear you drop
the soap in the bath
I imagine you bending
vague in the steam to
find the bar by scent
as you wash away
your own which has
so compelled me
again and again
into much life
So gladly the
cleave to this
I say aloud
though you may
not hear my plea
from where I sit
multiplied with grief
for leaving all this
now upon crumbling
I wait with this
sense of what
is unfolding just
out of reach,
with herbal scent
bath, my heart
to speak of it
to one side
tilted to hear
all news of
you that is
left in there
from the bath
reaching for the
towel, soft, obeying
daily habit, wipes you
dry, each cleft, the pit
of my longing rubbed
I am caught up in this
vision without glasses
squinting for what is
real or not though you
are faced to mine as I
obediently move my
shaking hand to your
belly, the scar there,
edges still hot
to the touch
Much there is I will
make of this moment,
drying your back as I
have daily done -
began the rite
the towel easily un-
little mouths many
natural in me
with the wiping.
I am become
free now of
to this my task
to last this minute
or two, to linger,
become a touch
I am right now to speak
of this, retrieving the soap
which clings one strand
your hair tangled there,
a cypher I read
with joy grown
long into cleaner
a leaf upon the
blown in through
the night window
I bring it to
you calling to
me from the
as you pack
“Are you hungry? ”
With this anniversary I accept my
avian better half, though the human
half be allergic to feathers, wedded
to an inhaler, plumage still embraced
in spite of divided self.
The hard beak gently preens eyelashes
one by one each hair.
The odd eye-stare, the bobbing, the
jerky head especially when walking
less so when hopping, do you even notice?
the head tips to one side then
It is all
sound that is out of
I sing to windows from forests,
to rooftops from street puddles.
I bathe in mirrors of sky.
Trite to say it, grand to do it.
Rumor has it that I once was a reptile.
And so too are you, disguised, two legs
thickly-meated of the ubiquitous hairs
everywhere inflated eyes up front,
not much perspective or balance,
like a weak pine you fall more than I
and when I do it's on purpose (unless
it's for love) without complaint of the
air which never fails - air, that is.
Just to be clear.
Just to be clear, I am at home wherever I
land scanning available horizons which are
also always home.
High, low. Vertical is the thing. And spin.
Speed goes without saying.
Greatly fond of drift, I am easy in the
I will not speak of dawn's greatness,
how you quickly forget.
You say that I repeat myself often,
am limited in expression to only a few notes,
clipped patterns in the song, the cryptic
call always an ellipsis. Boring, you say.
Interpretations, really, it's all in the
inflection after all the years now - Now.
There's always the dancing too
in powder blue without shoes or
need of them
claws nicely do the
deed is done the changeling comes
note that I am singing to you how
the way it's done.
I tell you the weather but do you listen?
For love, shall I say it again?
I shall say it again.
For love I leave calligraphy in guano
but you do not read it much less see that
are its messages all around.
And still I am with you trying
to wake you. I peck. I scratch.
I even dance again, a frenzy brightly
ruffled, boasting to impress:
I can lay an egg! You?
Words only? Brittle sticks
but none to land on, or perch,
standing on one leg,
head beneath a wing.
I am so tired.
I can't close my eyes, what wings also are for.
In a field I am the absence of field' - Mark Strand
'I love the way a crow walks...
to wit-to woo-to wound-and last' - Robin Blaser
someone to send to, these
the impertinent tocks
the unmannered ticks that
tickle spur the near
grackle's cough, it
with traffic down
the hill and out
dip in time
all is parsed
- if reason is the thing -
but the old
as they go
of fire and smoke
a match begins
it is all
all over again
on the chipped stoop
the flaking paint not
He can still
one eye can take
in the smatter
the missing other
(there always is
the image stations
yet hear the
in bay's waves
on the winking caps
in the sinking troughs
the states of dryness
which may or
seeking a nest
even an eave
one may (shall we)
in the water's
the bell tones
does a grackle
the near air
even the further
It begins always
with a bird
not to be dismissed
not to be forgot
let him not
yet known by sight
and in the seeing
all the while
the waves consider
all the while
The one eyed
flicks and claps
as he will and is
his lips moving
does a spider make
a darker corner
no sight needed
only sense and silk
beneath a trusted
wheelbarrow (it is
turvy) in the long
grass its wheel bent
can no longer
complete a turn
can no longer
signify a circle
nor even a whistle
its hold's hollow
lends a reprise of
weight or perhaps
only a mind's
again 'no matter'
the one hand over
the one good eye
and the missing
the shapening words
in exaggeration do
that lasts -
Seeing the light
(thinks he does)
that it is good
and in the seeing
divides the light
from the darkness
(which is not the
And he calls the
light Day, and the
darkness he calls
Night (the gulls
just go on, calling) .
And the evening
and the morning
are the first day.
We lay together, two wrecks, Love,
wooden ships conjoined by forces
too great, too objective to blame.
We stretch beside a shoreline,
eels play in the one rib of our
opened selves, our rarer fingers
gesture horizon to stars, even
Sun/Moon, entwine before and behind
centering a presumably expanding
circumference curving inwardly
toward itself which is an affection,
a longing, a bottom upon which
even God can lay hidden from secret
admirers such are mirrors whose
surfaces are rarely breached.
But there is reach.
Many ways to say the word “love”
which, redundant to say,
and we are returned to some notion
Platonic beyond higher math
I wish you, Love,
beyond/within all Voids
- is the Void one or plurality? -
a painter on a near shore to
paint what we have become.
One (he must be) beautiful,
a man, radiant, who raises
a thumb to rearrange
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~the moving line~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
of the sea where we without
breadth heave each our separate
selves and each other into,
squint, a promontory, shear,
one eye to gauge, the other
allow a thumb's scan, by any
other intent, acknowledgement
of worth perceived:
“Though they are all white with black and grey scoring,
the range is far from a whisper, and this new development
makes the painting itself the form.”
“A bird seems to have
passed through the impasto with cream-colored screams and
bitter claw marks.” - O'Hara about Cy Twomby's paintings
Waves/wayward clocks (become)
adrift migrant birds, scores,
always cry at the unending feast.
We are not the least of these
but know ourselves too beyond
bondage to time which is to say
hunger” in spite of rhythm
Love, let us live without
the sun go up the
sun go down,
turn and return
Let the painter lonely be
pinned to shore with
his paints, his brushes,
his thumb-gauged vision
in relation to ourselves,
and Void, without intended
rhyme trued, true to ourselves.
Nature, too, is true.
May he use the color blue.
Tubes of it.
We once were that, too -
Vaulted. Now become
in the making
is made at all)
but is aporetic
a sky of
we are then a
churned by storm
Here come the wild birds again
But what I want to
report to you-not-here,
for the record, to be
read out into the snow
that has begun to fall
silently in the gutter,
is that I opened the
morning curtain and there
on the metal escape sat,
and still sits, a dove,
brown, beautiful, which
does not move at all,
when the curtains made
to move, and the day
rushes in without consent.
It, not the daylight
but the dove, just to
be very clear, cocks
only its head toward
movement and calmly
(I have successfully
resisted writing 'moves
like one pure tear.
Or pear. Both of which
share an 'ear'.
Suddenly, joy in me
flashes and I know the
dove for me has come.
And the mouse.
'...descend and of the curveship lend a myth to God.' - Hart Crane
The boys, seven falling: Jamey Rodemayer, Tyler Clementi,
Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg
Even the pigeons on my stoop are silent now.
One mourning dove coos tenderly for these who
have taken their own lives publicly on our behalf,
for those many gone before them, broken hearts
enraged, no more to engage the unpersuaded
world which, one of them, one of the public ones,
in spite of murmuring wharves, in spite of amorous
dark alleys bitter in the pitch of the last hateful
American Century, Hart Crane, wrote before his leap
from the ship beside the phallic curve where Cuba
meets the lisping sea, took his tongue away which
sang of chill dawns breaking upon bridges whose
spans still freely splinter light returning hungover
from the night wharves, grottoes, and denim World
Wars, industrial embraces crushing every man and
now another one abandons his fingers and fiddling
to scattering light, takes flight from ledges to
edge close to an embrace no longer forbidden -
'And so it was I entered the broken world
to trace the visionary company of love...'
I am the itinerant priest who sits at meager feasts.
Suffering congregants, forlorn over their starfish and soup,
ask about dreams, confess to anguish, ask what should be done.
Here at my confessional I can only plead mercy upon the boys
who have jumped from bridges, hung themselves, cut, sliced their
compulsive hands, exploded hearts, leaping dears eyes ablaze in
thrall of antlers, trembling flanks strong to fly decrying the
violent hunt which always ends in a death bequeathing these
chopped bits to me and to others like me who remain at table,
plates before, to stare at what is to be later scattered, sown,
these pieces in and for Love-without-name still a stain upon
confused local deities and their wild-eyed supplicants.
But there is no stain upon the promiscuous sea.
Dear Low' - Upon His Leaving Mountains For Manhattan, circa 1981
You did it. You left the trout behind.
Sunday the corn was cut down. Apple trees
in the nearby orchard were felled which explains
the screams I heard a week ago, and the droning'
of wasps. That hill was exposed this evening at
sunset, reflected pink in the sky. Reminds me of
the women I always saw through your eyes,
their large lips and eyes, the dark thighs particularly,
fields without their corn now shedding a purple
light like Stevens' Hartford, and you there tonight
forsaking the school yard we'd walk beside
stopping to comment on that view of hills
at our favorite wall where 'Juke Joint's Pandemonium'
stalled on hot nights to break beer bottles for your
poems broken glass, curtains you'd pass in the
dark where your wheels would splay the stars stuck
to tar bubbles on the street when Hart Crane beat
his words against your rhythm running down
to Montford Park.
Be quick about it then, your departure:
I walked through your house.
You left behind that crooked frying pan.
Your steaks will never taste the same again,
and that espresso pot there, too, black stains
stuck inside like little Lamont's words,
'Are we lost yet? ' Just thrown out like that
plaster of paris bone from the kitchen.
No dog would chew on that, some kind of
sentinel to Arborvale Street signaling something
fragile has passed on like Mr. McKnight's
roses given over to winter, Indian summer
an old squaw, packed up her warm skins
and vanished like a wife or lovers.
It's like that, you know. No magic but our
own so often like that old white bone's intention
to be art, our poems strung on the page like
slip over chicken wire, words expiring from
our clutching at them -
'You will be beautiful, make meaningful our days.'
What are our names anymore, Low?
The corn is all cut down.
An old scare crow remains.
Apropos. Poetry's worn out image
stretched out on the hill forlorn in the ice,
forgiving no one, especially ourselves,
alien corn of a foundering century.
He's gone crow one old poet said of another
Here's Breath For You - Upon Purchase & Buyer's Remorse - circa 2012
Not to worry.
I am the man most pursued in last night's dream.
That emaciated thing at my back keeps tracking me.
I remain just out of reach. Classic. Even there,
as here, I am escaping something, a life time of
practice in this 'Kingdom of the Canker'.
It was no banker who followed me last night
but a starved lacklove rejected by 'Canker' and, well,
by me. Who'd want that part, all start and no finish?
Replenishment has often enough meant hiding out
and a demand that it keep at least 5 arm lengths away.
I will try, I tell it, to look at it but I find its presence
most disturbing, its handful of leaves continually
proffered leaves me in a quandary. What do they
mean, this offering, though my father was a lumberjack?
Perhaps this is a track of sorts to follow for an end
to the mystery. I am stumped.
Again, not to worry.
After a life time (now almost 60 years) of identity crises,
which is a low grade fever in the personality, such is poetry.
I am very weary of it as I now move into yet another identity,
OLD MAN. And who gives a damn in that new
'Kingdom of the Cracked & Crank'? Invisibility awaits, or worse,
Do I become that thing which follows me in my sleep,
leprously white, pale wanderer of the empty pockets,
eyes dark and full of something deeply known?
I am not yet ready to know such things though the
dream indicates that I am for it is very near.
How can I expect the culture to pretend to be interested,
it having pushed the thing even farther away than I ever
could? And since this has turned too goddamned
confessional I do confess that I am beginning to lose
heart for it, all this pushing, this running away, which is
perhaps good news to the very few who know me truly.
I sit on the cultural dunce stool in my corner of the room
reading, reading, tracing, tracing the chase of 'logos'
through time. No rhyme or reason can I make with my
earnest forefinger. Still malingering shadows of what is
in those dark eyes just over there dim my creased page.
I pull at curtains to close out tighter whatever daylight those
eyes may bring to my knowing.
I am such a monk.
I live hard unto myself.
I daily sacrifice goats on an alabster altar to
the blood thirsty deity both in me and who dwells
just outside my door.
Grace, yet, daily unfolds, usually in the coffee cup, first sip,
and morning prayer without too much buyer's remorse which,
I am convinced, is what that first squall of the just born infant
is about...'So much for corporeality...desiring only the womb.
I could not read the fine print of the contract writ small in
capillaries, that upon me there will be a vice, a clutch of
alien air, a fall into too much light and clouds of Mercurochrome.
I regret me I regret me I regret me...'
One adjusts. Continually. The persona is adaptation
appearing to be solid but sleep reveals the neutrality
of the animal. Dreams tell us otherwise when we remember
them as it takes an ego to witness, to remember.
They reveal that we are caught up into something
so much greater than flush and stir. It's a wonder we make
do as much as we do and still call ourselves by name,
our family a species of animal, 'homo sapiens'.
I regret self pity. I'd reject it if I could
but it adheres, last resort of old coots born
honestly into it no matter the copious Mercurochrome baths,
the smelling salts obviating the needed nipple.
What is all this singing bathed in tears born of tremendous desire
and fear? Whose arms would hold fast and safe, embracement
against the brace of all us we fallen stars who do burn out brightly
or, more like me, privately in quarters counting days as if each is
the last until that dread thing finally comes in, after a life time of
daily threats and close escapes, with hopeful relief? Hopefully
there will be no buyer's remorse for purchase of Death.
''Here, '' I'll try to say 'ponst that day',
(one must become Shakespearean in such company,
last payment on the installment plan) ,
''Here's breath for you. I tried to use it well.''
Today the Market reports a run on Mercurochrome.
Birth goes on. I am for rebirth, a dirth of days
makes me suddenly Hindu, foregoing gurus and
bindu point. I've made my own here.
Still, methinks I'll have your ear for a little while longer,
a handful of leaves only for my thanks, one foot well
into 'Cracked and Crank', the drunk tank a memory
worn out. Doubt is my companion.
Love, too. No remorse there.
Buys me time, aftershave and
loads of underwear for the trickles ahead.
Thank the gods for all that.
Oh. And one last good cigar.
Dear Milnieves or Thousand Snows,
Scratch as scratch can, you are quite welcome regarding my taking old Straw to task in his criticisms of Paul Dunbar. I am rare to pen such things to writers/poets but Mr. Straw pissed me off...I do have a VERY mean streak, suffer arrogance, hubris, and assorted puffed-up top gallo tendencies but have battled enough in coop, front stoop and arena (the word used in the both English and the Spanish meaning, sand, 'place of combat, ' from L. harena 'place of combat, 'originally 'sand, sandy place, ' The central stages of Roman amphitheaters were strewn with sand to soak up the blood) bloody enough to know that there are times when one must play the gallena to the cock...but Mr. Straw pricks, and straw's a prominent feature of hen houses, prick Straw laid an smelly egg and, well, my ire came out of retirement for a stuffy Brit to go after one of our own, honorable Dunbar...'e brung out the warrior spurs hid in my claws which would rather write poems or caress a bony bonny love.
Such a stupid 'review' he gave, Straw, so uninformed, as if Dunbar was still alive and penning mere froth which, having read at Straw's 'fodder poems' they are indeed pompously foam and form words poorly so. I mightily spit at his muffin self. And mimic his own style henceforth and here froth polyglotally.
So much for my humility as I counseled to Mr. Straw, about an old saint calling his life work of writing, 'Straw. All Straw.' That goodly Saint Aquinas sits on my stooped shoulder whispering away night and day. Fortunately my good ear is on the other side. I've no pretensions to sainthood. Just plain 'hood' 'scribes me. Every sinner knows the good is in the steerage and not what is pushed out front ahead. But I've found the best listeners are the bad guys. I can't shake the good from my head as much as I try. Good sticks. Bad pricks. Or is it the other way round? Still, either or both, each to each depends.
Having said all this and that, I try to keep silent but for my pen, try to be humble enough, not be too 'god a'mighty' who, in spite of press otherwise, does indeed suffers fools, and a goodly or badly amount at that, of which I am one, perhaps chief though to say so is a conceit bared deserving of an eye roll. But being chief one is most certainly chaffed which is a form of chastening, yes? Raw in the crotch one's gait is wide though 'narrow is the Way unto the Pearly Gate' where hopefully talcum waits for soothing. Hallelujahs then shall be all the louder for the relief, belief rewarded at last not discounting the scratching.
I have read some of your work and find much therein to like. And I am a happy sucker for a limerick, one of the greatest art forms ever. As a bored waiter in my wayward 'yoot' (as they still say here in New York City, in some parts of it...I am of South Carolina born but none too proud of that) always waiting for deliverance (usually meaning, a good lay) , I and my fellow waiters would compose dirty limericks the shift entire much to the anger of managers who did have to laugh when I raised a filthy ditty loudly over their 'be good' din, 'Are we not all horny men? ' I'd scream, 'And god's very own? ' A pink slip to me was given. But pink was the horny point, I thought. The limericks pinkly did not stop.
I am particularly fond of your poem tribute to beloved parents intent on warming a child, body and soul. Seems you've made good from what I read in your biography, and in your poetry. In the boxcar car poem I found a little haiku (there are more) and please forgive if I o're step my poetic bounds. (Sic) the hounds on me if need be:
Just inside on the rafter studs
Hundreds of them coming in
From the cold.
And Old Uncle Walt (Whitman) would give thee embrace for rhyming is no disgrace and spring does winter thaw, season after season follows in time, thus does rhyme imitate. Old Graybeard would sit at your campfire, or crawl through your window and take inspiration. But I'd tell him to wash his beard, his playing too much the Bard with his obscene 'yawp'. Things can stink hard so I'd send him to a sink with soap in hand, tell him to scrub fiercely as if his very poem depended on it. What might fall out of that beard the more? True the air would be all the better for the foaming soap.
As I told Straw, old stagger-puss of the halt rhyme, said rhyme is a difficult thing to pull off artfully, and free verse can oft amount to what Truman Capote accused poet Charles Bukowski of, 'He just types.' Art, or ars poetica, to get fancy, is that Drive (one must produce drivel on the way to better, not purer, forms) and the comely shaping of that impelling thrust which hopefully does not call too too much attention to itself but, rather, to its saying/song. Any fool can push and pull but there's more to poetry, writing, than that. But much bull is gained as byproduct. Good poets like good farmers know what to do and make use of such and become, one hopes, the better, more skillful 'shaper' from the barnyard and pastoral nutrient.
Dr. Seuss, one of my favorite rhymers, actually teaches, perhaps unknowingly, happy surrealism to children which is often enough where they live, and why not? green eggs and ham a feast do make. Along with some of your abuela's solidly pressed empanadas, sweet pumpkin made the more savory by her constancy...
Here's to your continued feasting. And fie on Straw.
Case in point, poorly made, I'm sure, I include below something of mine on on rhyme and such, such as it is.
Brainard P. Pshaw
Because They Rhyme They Live, Not I
'O Poesy! for thee I grasp my pen
That am not yet a glorious denizen
Of thy wide heaven; yet, to my ardent prayer,
Yield from thy sanctuary some clear air,
Smoothed for intoxication by the breath
Of flowering bays, that I may die a death...'
- John Keats, 'Sleep and Poetry
I suppose it is the late, or soon to be, poet's lot to jot one
for daffodils. At least one. This is mine, a last will to verse.
But first, I take a pill before dying, I mean,
its meager meal, yellow sun on a jaundiced plate.
'Consumption' is the word I want. I've got that,
and few breaths left and a flat voice to tell it in.
'The daffodils were yellow as the sun.'
So lay down thy pen. Ungrasp! I say.
An olden voice pulls at bruised skin.
I grow thin. And gasp. I grow thin as winter air.
I'll not see them rise again from bulbs perennially.
Not me, annulled in this season of the lung
though each breath mimics leaven, assumes
Eternity's aspirations, but...(where was I?) ...
not me, not long for my tongue to sing.
Meanwhile, bright petaled mouths flaunt, gape,
gulp in early spring, whereas, I flop here, leaden,
landed, banked, a carp brought to heel from bluer
lake pulling gills swallowing nothing that can sustain,
or not much. I sympathize, yes, then down another
pill for more air to clutch, breath an almost perennial
memory of last spring when it first edged me in,
clipped my singing short, when seasonal flowers so
easily rhymed but in a minor wheeze for a minor voice.
Fine then. Some one, some other poet write a
line for when I've gone under forfeiting all final drafts.
Those yard yellows spoon dirt to a useless
feeding sun, useless because I'm soon done in.
I'd do the same for you, Mr. Keats, in a soft, bleating tone of voice.
I would rewrite the whole thing
withdraw every word without ado
with undue pressure release even
these mountains upon which within
which I turn sleepless in the dark
beneath laurel the rhododendron
pungent in cold spring air wondering
just where this all goes how it
all ends this life where thunder
rolls between this valley where
I lay with heat lightening teasing
presences I will not name though
the old masters have forever
tried and try yet again on each
thinning page in this worn book
the collected songs which have
finally crossed an ocean have made
it over the Eastern hills to some
of us here far far on others
No longer do I madly sing
though an earned madness clings
a shroud a fog a suggestion of
the sublime that I shall not
can no longer call Ineffable,
Beauty, Power or Surcease
my young brow long gone old
and creased matches the map
my finger traces on yellowed
pages brown edges these smeared
mountains ages ago drawn by a
forced or palsied hand indentured
that remains uncredited diluted
ink smudged dried into elegant
interlaced stains that sing to
the eye no choice but to try
dear painter I should live in
such hills where perhaps the
bones of your trembled hand
point beyond kingdoms beyond
fences your painted image has
I see that my face at least retains
some semblance of former glory if a
face is a map of mountains once sung
now written only now suggesting rhythm
now melody only now a shine lonely on
tips each peak this my brow now theirs
too sings of silver a dew a scent up from
worn paths beside valleys rivers streams
their banked ferns wet do cloy and
now it pleases me to read of these
and so sing by the reading
Will call in the horseman
and his short-legged horse,
roll up this scroll, tie
it tight with good cord,
wrap it secure in chamois,
pay the restless postman
his due, his room, his board,
and 'mail' this to you over
the ranges, that ocean, to
that high place 3 days by
foot, Chirisan, mighty dragon,
allowing your weight.
We are all a scandal.
Kow towing toward the West
(though you are in the Far East)
where you are just watching the
sun come up, keep an eye out for
the horseman moving your way.
Born: Year of the Dragon.
Horoscope: 'Today's the lucky day.'
Luck, you say? O.K. Once. In a small town
on a snowy road, the scenery spinning round.
When it stopped you were pointing toward a good
place - Home. The message: Go back.
You can decide again to begin again
or stay warm there: Wombtown, population: 1.
No Lions Club or local Jaycees.
No chocolate bars and brooms for the blind.
Free room and board. It's kick and dream,
kick and dream and cleanliness more efficient
than a space suit. Talk about luck?
You're here aren't you? Don't say good or bad.
It's no accident the year's the Dragon's.
Chinese or no, the year has a tail long as a river.
Peel the scales behind the ears
you'll still roar for pain o roaring boy
spinning in the world, the recurring dream
of vortices whirling pink and red, a large
mouth with teeth spitting you into
an even muddier river. You'd fish it
if you could. More likely you'd dam it
at the source. The occasional catch is
more likely snag in undertow.
It's undertow that matters.
The real power's there.
Ask the undertow, you'll get answers.
Don't say need. The bottom's filled
with old cars, tin cans, bad seed.
All you'll ever want. Get lucky.
This is the day. The glass on the window's
steamed. Outside's a blur. What's that gone by
spinning with rustling wings, roaring like wind,
glint of mirrors hurling down? You'd swear
there was a splash. Something's pointing,
Making Things Right In Exile - After the Chinese Poet, Po Chui
He rests awhile in the wide orchard
where bright plum flowers rain. He
unrolls his pallet to sleep inside
the humming glade.
“Raiment, ” he writes in his sleepy
head, “of leaves and bees. An old man
puts the best plum in his sleeve to
bring home to his bitter wife.”
“Why strive when nature is bounteous
and all ills can be made right with
wet sweetness? ”
- Warren Falcon
All these my poems, my efforts, are
lovingly dedicated to my mother and father,
Geneva & Warren:
From childhood our song:
Hurry awake sleepy bee
Softly sings the breeze
To sweetness we are called
when the sun high shall be
freshened with tears our departing
behind the barred door wait
a lock of wound hair
silk pouch of my gated heart
it will be a hard arrow to pierce it
To read more prose and poses you may go here:
Warren Falcon's Works:
Small Favors of Mourning. Chapbook. Bartram's Ear Press. 1977
You're Toothless, I'm Beerless. Let's Fall In Love! And Other Unlikely Love Poems But Sings The Heart True. Chapbook. Published under the nom de plume, Norman Nightingale. Friendless Phrase Press. 1979.
Bucolic Bouncers At The Belly Dancers Ball (published under the nom de plume, Norman Nightingale) . Chapbook. Cortical Canticle Press,2006) The Cathected Poems of Norman Nightingale. Unexpurgated Edition, Norman Nightingale. Chapbook. Cortical Canticle Press,2008.
A Boy Thief Stealing Circus Hours, New and Selected Poems. Warren Falcon. Chapbook. Cortical Cantical Press,2010.
Warren Falcon Poems
Ars Poetica Redux
Dying trees fall easily. Poems, too, as they should. Dead wood rots from which One good poem may grow,
Brittle Goes The Bone
for Ocean The animal we are reserves just rights
Upon Reading Naseer Ahmed Nasir's 'Don'...
'Deserts unnumbered have expanded in me.' - Naseer Ahmed Nasir' A slight sigh moves sand
The Case For Love As Storm
for Crimson Love This can only go well.
That Salt Adheres
for Karthik that salt adheres to the palm
For All The Words Dished Up - Two For Em...
1 For all the words dished up, A plate without meat. Maybe, bone.
[from early poems,1970's, youthful attempts at voice] Fogs of summer Through the green
Abandoned Train Station Near Grandmother...
for Lida Harris Then died there the rose beside the house of tin.
Poetry As Constellation
for Karthik, '...descend, and of the curveship lend a myth to God.'
Because They Rhyme They Live, Not I
'O Poesy! for thee I grasp my pen That am not yet a glorious denizen Of thy wide heaven; yet, to my ardent prayer, Yield from thy sanctuary some clear air,
How It Was I Came To Be What I Am
[from early poems,1970's, youthful attempts at voice] For 'Spider' Bottas
Minimalist Death Cyphers, A Meditation I...
. for Mooky, not even two hearts could contain your
After Folly - An Aging Poet Addresses On...
'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