Thursday, April 26, 1984

POEM IN Eb FOR TCHAIKOVSKY

POEM IN Eb FOR TCHAIKOVSKY
Stillness in the air/not a rustling sound
—from "Moscow Nights"


1. On sleepless night
I resurrect well-dressed paper
and write poetry on blank checks,
old second notices & the backs of old poems
while thinking of the tropics: Tahiti.
The morning light filters through the curtain
of Bar Mitzva silk stolen
from the chest of a dead grandmother
and I am not an artist when I don't write—
all those children go unborn.

Words are strewn across the floor
burning holes in the carpet,
into my eyes.

I sometimes think I will sink
beneath the churning weight of ploughs
or feel beneath my feet
a braille concerto on paper—

2. We continue to breathe air
and smile at the sun
on the Baltic, on the Adriatic, the Pacific
a floral carpet of fish in Tahiti
a field of blue flowers in California

And today they ploughed the lupines under.
Light walks before the harnesses of ploughs
and is resurrected in the oceans and the sky.

Who can afford all this light
except the fish in coral lagoons?
The tropics call me home at night.
I am swimming in the indigo air of sleep
collecting flowers before the fall.

God knows, it's spring,
the mad wind blows hair into my eyes
as I ressurect lupines before the plough
to plant in the garden.

3. As I write this poem,
the creole shrimp becomes carbon.
Brilliant colored lobsters crawl from my clothes.
Wait! I am coming, I am coming...
as the wet sigh of banana leaves doles out sleep.

Sometimes I think of burning holes beneath my feet,
live coals. Words too hot, bursting their genetic code
on the roof of my mouth, in my eyes--
this troubled land of sleep.
When I awaken I am always dead
because I forget what the pattern looks like.

4. As I write this poem I think
I never meant to write long poems.
They're like leaves falling.

5. It's not the cat who sits on my negatives
and knocks piles of paper from each shelf
that keeps me awake.
It's not me throwing sleep across the room
to smash her accusing eyes
and then watch it drip lifeless down the wall.
It's not the reason why I wait for the wind
or go mad before the mistral
during the cruel months before April
or look for etherized sunsets.
Tchaikovsky is not a violin concerto
to stir the carpet of sleep.
The mad wind blows in Eb making us all a little restless.
Tchaikovsky is a noun, a name for Russian spring.
The cat on the bureau orchestrates the papers
in D Major for the months to come.


4/26/84
Forestville

I played Tchaikovsky's concerto over and over—I was mad for it. I couldn't get enough of its wildness. Something very disturbing about it. His madness. I read his letters. I had no idea that I would be going to the USSR five years later.

The revision is not that much different, I think I was afraid of the poem. I was pretty traumatized when the landlord's minion ploughed the lupines under. They never, ever came back.





Sunday, April 15, 1984

SLEEP



SLEEP
 —for Geoff Davis

Sleeping beneath the window,
the tongues of darkness
melted into morning mist;
as he tended a fire of smoke & fog.

I arose like a dancer,
the dog softly groaned,
the cat pushed the blackness
back from his bones.

Plucked by the feet of birds,
the barbed wire hummed like a harp.
In the canyon I overheard
the endless conversation of the Eel River,
but not the distant song
eroding the shore at our feet.



Longridge, CA
4/15/84
rev. 87, 2012


                 —For Geoff Davis

Sleeping beneath the window,
the tongues of darkness
melted into morning mist;
your smile, soft as dawn,
as you tended the fire
of smoke and fog.
I arose like a dancer,
the dog softly groaned,
the cat pushed the blackness
back from his bones.
Plucked by the feet of birds,
the barbed wire hummed.
In the canyon I overheard
the endless conversations
of the Eel River, but not
the distant song eroding
the shore at our feet.


Longridge, CA
spring 84

Saturday, April 14, 1984

Broadside: Homage to Ken Poff, by David Fisher



April is the cruelest month. A broadside found in Donna Champion’s copy of Boschka Layton’s book, Prodigal Son, published in 1982. So, I suspect we were having a memorial reading for Boschka at the  Russian River Writers’ Guild or perhaps a memorial at Paul Mariah’s place in Sonoma—some time in  April of 1984, and David Fisher must’ve showed up to read as well. Hence the broadside in her book, marking the title poem of the book. Manroot Press’s Love Poems: Homage to Houseman by Samuel M Steward. So, though I found this in 2018, on somewhat of a pilgrimage of remembrance, I’m posting it on the date of Ken’s death. I remember Ken as a slight, grey sort of man. Dear friend and lover of Paul Mariah. And Paul’s guilt, of course. And the knowledge that he too would follow Ken, so every day he survived the dread disease was fillled with grace and guilt. Those who survived the longest shouldered that burden of grief unto the next decade. Or century.

Posted 10/24/18