Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hymie's Basement: Bolts and Hands

Lights flash in like camera angles on the planned-for symmetry of city streets and sidewalks,
Country-road vistas and two-lane highways narrowing into morning’s tree-lined mist,
Where the sunrise speaks East in barely audible whispers,
Softer than a white-coated kitten’s whiskers
And the light of a coffee-table candle’s flicker,
Written faintly on the walls like a suicide note for mom
When she finally gets home from work:
“I love you all,
But the world can go on and kill itself
For all
I care.”
And then she can share in a good cry, weeping with dad over the why
Of a mother’s spilled milk—
Across the kitchen floor before the last bomb hits
With the strike of a match
And the first chord of some distant angel’s harmonic
On a harp’s radiant string,
Striking us all still and dumb,
Though not unknowing of this eschaton,
Prophesied by the saddest children of sadder men.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Orange Sunshine in '66

One of these days I'd like to turn on, tune in and drop out.
Read some psychedelic pages from a book of the dead and come alive on a Harvard professor's trip.
Sing it loud for Leary and grin for Griggs
With a big toothy smile hiding wryly under wiry folds of golden locks,
And really mean it when I say,
"I love everyone."
Like the the gray, scraggly-haired Laguna greeter
Whose plaster statue stands like a monument for a lost and misunderstood generation
That beatniked like Ginsberg and his procession of sunshine-dropping proto-hippies
Across America's marijuana belt, howling at the moon
When it waxes full across a sky of Lucy-eyed diamonds.
I'll sing real sweet and low for sure and hold up the cross for Christ
As Hodgson did in the perfumed gig of a beached-out bungalow or
A secret hamlet in Dodge City.
Hell, maybe even shake Manson's hand like Wilson did before bailing
From the mansion to echo pet-soundish bells for the masses to toll
Across the shanty church air around Modjeska Canyon,
Bidding the leagues to transform time into space for the spirit's renewal and
Flaming like the fire of an orange sunset that rings eternal
Into the closed circuitry of a cosmic lemniscate,
Orbiting the earth while announcing love's new arrival
Like a satellite sending messages of brotherhood
To wash the brain of the world
In the great undulates of the Pacific Northwest
And rainbows too bright to be discerned.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Bird Man

I am the bird man and Alcatraz is everywhere
Inside my parents’ spare room,
Inside a complex of condos,
Inside a kushy Orange County,
Beneath too many power lines and towers full of coded info,
Spouting raw voltage like a fountain of electric cancer,
Sounding under the lapidary rhythm of loud Pacific waves,
Secret numbers told in the muffled fuzz of white noise:
Saying in snide catch phrases
Variations of one theme:
“Consume or be consumed.”

I choose neither and build my library instead,
Making of Alcatraz a sanctuary and bed—
A place to pray and a place to stay.

February 5, 2010

There is an ancient tribe becoming extinct right now
as its last member dies—
This was the first of the headlines above
a list of others in a news-ticking frame on
igoogle this morning.

Just another Friday in February,
dark and raining in Orange County
while the North East goes up in a drift of
nuclear snow.

Babette's Feast: For Madeleine

The table turns a cocktail into a banquet
Just like God changes the devil into a servant—one who gets it all done.
Give him his due
And he’ll give you yours
In some sweet laughter, a frivolity, and a dance more raucous
Than the wedding feast at Cana.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Utah Layover

Sitting at a dirty lunch table with a sticky top, I ate some part of a Quizno’s sub,
increasingly unappetizing with every reticent bite,
gross with the texture of wet vegetables, and
mushy with a mustard more like mucus.

Half-finished, it met its sad fate
with a "fleump" to the bottom
of an over-stuffed trash can.

So much for the starving kids in Haiti,
Or the other ones in China,
Who may just feel the trembles of my bad-turned karma
in the trails of a frozen yogurt,
flowing like icy lava through my veins.

And I absorbed all of it,
even after the first failure--
a mere drop in the bucket.

A View Found from the Bridge

I mourn myself—I admit it—with a certain alarm.
No, I’m not purely good.
But at least I am myself purely:
As much the despot of systemic corruption
As the betrayed victim in strange, psychological country.
I allow myself to be wholly known
And then end up alone, like Eddie:
A gullet swallowing the tonnage of the world,
A chorus for my own tragedy,
A stolen catharsis rife
With borrowed claptrap to heal the masses.

The Noospshere

My world exists between lifeguard stands 10 and 12
where I pretend to read about the Omega Point
while scheming God-chase scenarios of holy intrigue and seduction,
matched in volume only by the Song of Songs.

I pace this beach back and forth
in hot pursuit of whom I imagine
is a wayward sage with an earthen belly
and age lines on his smiling face.

Hiding deep in his expression
there is some ancient innocence to engage—
mine and his—
by joining our sex to make substance of our atoms
like foam after two waves thunder in that suck and boom
and delve into the sand’s uncreated infinitude.
There, crystals of brilliance spark like stars
born in Nature’s laboratory as gold in the refiner’s fire.

New centers will form in the complexity of our shape
and what we are shaping in our magmatic spirals
of quiet protest against all storms
that stay the progress of sharing our parts
from within the secret stratum of a world,
like an ocean, without walls.
One where we surf the gravity that pulls us close,
securing our wealth in the heat we hold.

Corpus Christi


There was a day like this in my infancy
When asleep in your pulsing womb I was shocked awake.

All of a sudden full grown and sorely groomed for an escape,
That cold departure from your warmth
Which alchemized for nine long months my small frame
Into muscle and skin and light, subtle
Like the last glowing vestiges of a fading California sun.


I never knew I could speak
—with the wholly naked command of a sincere prayer—
Something so inborn as that deep jolt, electric with the joy of surprise
At separating into a new and different birth
Emerging with tears for dear life at those shooting pains
That’ve shaped us as an artist would with chisel to stone
Into this quiet moment, cut
In smooth, manteling curves of maternal love
Sculpted soft like a living Pieta.


You’ll miss me when I’m gone, wandering on,
My back casting a long, cruciform shadow across your windows.
Wandering off if only to return with a lifetime spent scribbling
A million frenzied thoughts composed in bloody prose.

And when Calvary’s reached its longed-for peak
I’ll leave the moon to its ocean-bidding in big, swooshing gusts of high tide,
Alone. Without haste, I’ll make my slow way back home
To rope my two arms around your little warm body, worn,
Though willed strong enough to hold me up while I pull you in
To shoulder my head and rest my heart
As it beats its blood through arteries full of ache
That has this son still calling Mom—
Always in the dark.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kathy in the Sky with Diamonds

A South Philly son has a story to tell
about his ma-belle's bout with cancerous spells,
committing her like age to a hospice cell

and a bed by her daughter's sleeping all
giving blanket to a mother's broken-bodied fall

down the still hour before birth where,
not long during the end of all care,

She awoke again. Again, like Lucy to light,
through cracks in the streets of a lily-flowering night

blooming over the weedy streets of all our Italies-
no home for the likes of the earth's Eleanor Rigbies.

A bird call and signal to spring,
Kath sings the anthem for the blizzard's end,
tapping water ice-fresh in revolutions of thaw.
The seed she searches out she becomes and sprouts,
thin like stalks into fruit's fragrant mist,
playing the sky as a teenage girl
who spends her heaven with Sgt. Pepper
and his merry troop of hill-fools,
tripping on magic down Blue Jay Way
while coffee percolates like vinyl's pop-and-crisp
in the early summer of strawberry-sweet fields,