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.





Monday, April 16, 1984

UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS


AFTER NERUDA’S UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS 

If the sky bent over to paint robins’ eggs and breathed 
cerulean madness into the breasts of bluebirds, 
did it shun the fatted bluejays asleep in the laurels? 
When the wind blew through the Wife of Bath‘s teeth, 
and Malvolio cross gartered his stockings for his lady love, 
what dark secret love was offered to the moon? 
When the rhinoceri returned where did they all run to? 
Where did he hang his wrinkled skin 
when the sand in the hourglass ran out of time, 
and the door wouldn’t lock? 
Who took the measurements indicated in figure #1, 
when trilateral symmetry, like fish in a mirror, 
breathes fog on the slopes of Haleakala? 
Giraffes harbor entire continents on their backs. 
Trees once stretched in a continuous line from coast to coast. 
Now squirrels have nowhere left to leap, 
they are flattened casualties of the road, 
and PG&E continues to construct Diablo Canyon, 
Livermore, San Onofre, while the wildflowers sway 
like laborious guilt on the salt breeze. 
Where am I going, getting there by the wind 
filling my head with the secrets of trees? 
The door of my heart isn’t marked with a neon exit sign 
darkened by shadows of bounced checks and kites. 
If the moon were full of holes and made of green cheese, 
and money became obsolete, 
how will the chicken Cordon Bleu? 
Freud already tried to analyze the dark side 
of the moon and failed. Miserably. 
Look where that got him.

spring 1984

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