Friday, March 31, 1995

POEM IN TWO VOICES: IMAGO

IMAGO
Declaration: poem in two voices


I believe in the image 
of the wind when the moon 
opens to the vast ink of the sky.
I am the voices of the wind
circumscribing the trees.
I am the mind of false shadows.
Once I believed in the ceremonies 
around the trees at dusk.
I am the watch devouring time
on the mantelpiece of desire.
I wanted to trace the shadows 
of the moon when it sang of death 
in the trees at dawn.
Were you the howling night
wolfing down the last crumbs
of the moon, leaving me here? 
I believe in the random order 
of constellations 
calling our destinies forth. 
What small mice sleep 
in my fingertips?
Once I was the voice of the night
calling you to sleep in my arms,
calling it love, but the fields
swallowed your name.

Alexander Valley School 
March 31, 1995

Thursday, March 30, 1995

EKPHRASTIC POEMS 3 poems from Magritte

—From The False Mirror:
Not to be Reproduced, 1928, 
by René Magritte 



I remember the way the eyes of the sky 
stared at me as if I was always in trouble, 
staring at the back of my own head
as if in a two-way mirror going nowhere,  
always watching myself departing 
like a train without tracks.
I come from a world of windows 
opening endlessly onto each other, 
like a Chinese puzzle.
My mind was shaving its chin 
in a cold water walk up flat,
and doves flew from my eyes.


March 30, 1995 
Higham Family School, Santa Rosa



RIFFS FORM SEVERAL MAGRITTE PAINTINTGS

My eyes became the silhouette of clouds. 
I have my reasons for wanting to chase 
the origin of light from my dreams. 
How infinite is the sound of clocks 
reverberating in empty rooms.
Once I dreamed the buildings of the city 
became huge mantle clocks,
and the mountain grew new peaks 
in the form of nesting eagles.
As if the reckless sleeper had lost its night horse. 
Where does it start? The life of a dream, 
the end in the source. Dusk and day light. 
Silence reigns with the perfection of an empire, 
its face forever to the sun.



March 30, 1995 
Higham Family School, Santa Rosa




How many windows in your name?
Within me, apples tumble from green rooms,
roses wrestle with the unspoken thoughts.
The doings of bird and sky.
I have made my rocky bed 
amid the stones of the past.
This world of bone and skull 
and the perfection of green rain 
penetrating the endless night.
The train finds its way home alone 
even though the birds sleep. 
If the worn-out words find us mouthless,
will they become the thoughts of birds 
opening towards the unknown father?


March 30, 1995 
Higham Family School, Santa Rosa

slightly revised 11/16/2015

Saturday, March 25, 1995

THINGS TO DO WHILE DRIVING TO WORK, LATE


Things to do while driving to work, late.
Leave for work five minutes late
because you just couldn't quite get it together
and you dithered your morning ablutions.
Try to balance 2 cups of tea in one hand 
while downshifting around curves 
more dangerous than Marilyn Monroe's.
Pretend to obey the speed limit 
but as soon as the coast is clear, 
figure out if your toes really will reach 
all the way down to the engine block.

Take a quick peek in your rearview mirror, 
there are still sleep wrinkles on your cheeks.
Notice how you forgot to put on makeup 
and this time you really do need it.
Stare at the crows feet developing under your eyes 
and wonder if a whole flock of birds
descended during the night, looking for corn.
Talk about a murder of crows. 
It looks like they murdered more than sleep.
And they mistook your eyes for chocolate chips. 
Put on makeup while driving like a demon from hell 
and hope that you don't wind up there yourself
for driving while putting on makeup. 
The eyeliner's the hardest maneuver of all.

Try to rearrange the floor of your truck, 
put the audio tapes in alphabetical order, 
and sing along to Leonard Cohen's gravelly voice, 
daydreaming about your neighbors cat.
Notice that you have cat hair all over you,
and you're already five minutes behind.
You move the late clock up by three whole minutes 
gaining time by speeding down narrow backroads,
shaving inside & outside curves with reckless abandon.
But then, an unscheduled tractor robbed you blind,
it took back all the time you gained. And then some. 
You floored it on a straight stretch of road,
overtaking him as if he were standing still.
Then you slid into the parking lot, spraying gravel, 
breathless, you made a run for it.
But the door' was locked, no one there to let you in. 
The school, empty. Then you came to find out, 
it's Saturday. The empty lot should've given it away.
Go home. Go back to bed. Don't tell a soul.


March 25, 1995
rev. slightly 16/11/2015

Thursday, March 23, 1995

FORGIVE ME


Forgive me,
the mythical animal inside
is wanting out. 
And over my door 
the coinage of words 
struggling to attain flight
My talisman is the absence of light.
I return again and again 
to the last place on earth 
where the violins 
are masked with questions.
I return again and again 
to that place of fields, secret hills,
as if the rest of my life was spent 
among bird song.
I dream of eagles slipping off 
the shoulders of quarters, 
slipping off their species, 
taking no quarter. 
When he came knocking at my door, 
lit was like sleek fish seeking entry 
to the moist center of the storm. 
I wished for a smattering of stars 
across the bed sheets at night
his touch guiding my heart. 

March 23, 1995

4 BLUES RIFFS


Have I been sentenced
to death by the blues?
Is this Vienna? 
I cannot find the end of the rope. 
The dead chill of fingers. 
Alone we come into the world. 
My room is filled with the past. 
The past is a graveyard. 
Thoughts are the burden of my existence.
The end of the room,
the beginning of the world.
The end of darkness 
is the beginning of life.
My heart, asleep in the fibers of music. 
A world movement, 
a concerto, oblivion changed.  
Nothing persists like the secrets of stones 
singing their way towards the ocean
The stranger has his suitcase, 
vinegar has its sting, 
the twilight has its iguana 
hunting down the night.

March 23, 1995



I am crawling on all fours 
inexorably toward old age 
Who left pomegranate seeds on the shelf?
Escaped rainbows dance in the cage of my room 
Crystal prisms spinning like a comment
My heart is still asleep in the wind.
The sun will dry the rain's tears.

March 23, 1995


I am seeking the pathway to the stars
The dark hearts of stone 
sing of other dreams where 
the velvet tongue of grass 
under the stars of summer
whispers other secrets to the wind.
The rose forgets how to sleep.
Thirst finds us wanting for words. 
Beneath the soil they are singing;
seeking another way out.
The subterranean fires 
stir the embers of the heart. 
The rain repeats itself endlessly. 
The death of birds is equal 
to the death of shadows.
What's the use of knowing 
the answer when there are
no questions?

March 23, 1995


For I sit crosslegged for hours on end 
reading the scribbled words of children, 
seeking small flames to nurture, 
afraid that in my own life that I risk
becoming what I hated in others. 

March 23, 1995

Thursday, March 16, 1995

2 MOTHER DEATH POEMS


On the other side of the poem I wrote:
Was it easy to die? The birds know.
Seeking the double life 
I practice letting go.
Can the dead communicate with the living?
I remember saying to my aunt, 
She is already dead inside. 
The long vowels slide off the tongue.
A voice stitched inside the throat of memory
The mother – daughter distance, 
The past is always a graveyard, 
thoughts, the burden of existence.
Stones sing their way toward the ocean.
Nothing persists like silence, 
the end of the room,
the beginning of the world. 

28 March 1995



It's the 6 month anniversary 
of my mother's death. 
She is still with me.
Death brushes my shoulders. 
My truck spins out of control, 
slick roads, & the gnawing hunger 
of precipitous cliffs.
But she is driving me.
So for now, we are safe.

28 March 1995
rev. slightly 16/11/2015

Wednesday, March 8, 1995

LUNCH WITH EINSTEIN


LUNCH WITH EINSTEIN

My poem isn’t a story about my life,
it’s petty silent dictator
making its own reality sandwich
in the middle of the night
holding sliced words hostage
at the edge of a razor blade.
Ergot on rye. Hold the mayo.
Until you, dear reader,
dog it down to the bone.

My poem isn’t the edge of night
seeking daybreak in another solar system.
It’s asleep at the wheel, or corrupting time,
teaching it to bend, taking no prisoners
until it becomes an acrobat
leaving the world tied in knots
for an eternity to come.

My poem isn’t the cool depths of the sea,
it’s the raging heart of the volcano
shedding scalding tears into the ocean
to whip up some primordial soup.
It’s out to lunch with Einstein,
noshing infinite storylines,
breathless and late for work
breaking the speed of light,
without a licence
because there’s no tomorrow
holding it in check.

3/8/95



first draft
PETTY DICTATOR


My poem isn't my life, 
it's small dictator 
making its own reality sandwich 
in the middle of the night.
holding sliced words hostage on rye,
until you, dear reader, 
devour it down to the bone.
My poem isn't the edge of the night 
seeking the beginning of day 
in another solar system, 
it's the speed of light corrupting time itself, 
telling it to bend the past 
until it becomes an acrobat 
in the shape of a human pretzel
and the world's tied up in knots
or an eternity to come.
My poem isn't that cool depths of the sea, 
it's the roaring heart of a volcano 
pouring scalding tears into the sea 
to create the primordial dance of life.
It's recess, it's out to lunch, 
it's always breathless and late for work, 
wanting to spend the day nibbling on storylines 
as if there were no tomorrow. 

March 8, 1995

ODE TO MY TRUCK (2 versions)

ODE TO MY TRUCK

For you take me everywhere
your flanks shot through with blue
your red wheels burning
down the freeways and onramps
of my mind
For you’ve tried to attain flight
when the cops weren’t looking
For you crawled with the patience of snails
divining rush hour traffic
like Moses parting the red sea
For you’ve stopped true as an arrow
piercing the heart of the matter
when I wasn’t paying attention.

1995


(I took a few words from 2nd draft (above), but I think I like the original journal entry better.)


For you take me everywhere,
your flanks shot through with blue,
your red wheels burning
down the freeways
and on-ramps of my mind.
For you've tried to retain flight
when the cops weren't looking.
For you've crawled with the patience
of snails during rush hour traffic.
like Moses parting the red sea.
For you've stopped true
as an arrow piercing the heart
when I wasn't paying attention,
saving me from uncertain death.
Your abrupt song of tires
calligraphing the streets.

Once you became a bird
when the black ice deceived you,
tricked you into the false security
of quick stops, and firmament.
Once I betrayed you
letting someone else slip
between the wheel and pedal,
his foot, not sensitive to your needs,
and like a bird, you made a valiant attempt
to fly off the cliff but the fence was too thick,
the bank to steep, the reflexes too slow,
and that day we were wounded you,
who snorted steam and blue smoke
into the void, and learned to let go.

3/8/1995
 added 10/15

PETTY DICTATOR (see Einstein poem)


My poem isn't my life,
it's small dictator
making its own reality sandwich 
in the middle of the night.
holding sliced words hostage on rye,
until you, dear reader, 
devour it down to the bone.
My poem isn't the edge of the night 
seeking the beginning of day 
in another solar system, 
it's the speed of light corrupting time itself, 
telling it to bend the past 
until it becomes an acrobat 
in the shape of a human pretzel
and the world's tied up in knots
or an eternity to come.
My poem isn't that cool depths of the sea, 
it's the roaring heart of a volcano 
pouring scalding tears into the sea 
to create the primordial dance of life.
It's recess, it's out to lunch, 
it's always breathless and late for work, 
wanting to spend the day nibbling on storylines 
as if there were no tomorrow. 

March 8, 1995



this poem was recycled into

LUNCH WITH EINSTEIN