poetry

Jazz for insomniacs

for James H.

IF WE WERE POSSIBLE—
Christ, what a thought! —
it would have to be 
in some other continuum
strung out in time 
between Lost In Space
and Planet of the Apes

the original, not the remake—

where my love like giant
Noma bulbs leaks
Red Green Blue
pure Christmas colors
onto snow;
it would have to be 

suspended in aspic 
somewhere in affect
between Keir Dullea (lusciously preserved in the vacuum jar of his Paco Rabanne space suit
in Kubrick’s ground-breaking 2001)

and Kate Hepburn (magnificent!) shocking the children
with jewelry hung from her nipples
teeth clenched, then through a narrow slit
launching the swift arrows of her repartee
in the ’68 screenplay of
Lion in Winter.

And while we’re on the subject of me, 
Have I ever told you
I hate being a venomous frog?
It is so frightfully inconvenient at times!
Like now, when you say

(standing marooned in my bog, drowning in your MacIntosh, squashed hat bobbing with corks)

“I mustn’t leave my guest too long—”

(Meaning
I must dance the hootchy-cootchy
elsewhere, baby)

And I outlash with a crack of my bull-whip tongue 

(That very same bullwhip tongue seen in slow unfurling motion,
eternal trope, in the seven o’clock reruns of Animal Kingdom
whose subject is the tranquility of nature) 

“No we wouldn’t want that, would we?”

not want —would no — would that—oui oui — ?

Oh mon enfant.
Blathering’s a lonely task
The daily struggle to be astoundingly original so — cliché. 

I don’t get your surprise, 
any more than I get your stiff malodorous socks. 
Just for me? Such tendresse!

Waiter, gimme the soup doo jour!
And that Entray of the day! 
And a little disgust, on the side
just enough to whet the appetite!

Your sunken totem face no longer worrisome since they
took AIDS off the list of
acceptable romantic endings

Your muzzy teeth a craft project
tombstones glamorous in fake fur
rammed haphazardly into the rim of your jaw, 
as though to commemorate—
what?

Recess? Mass burial?

Gimme a break!
This coffee's cold!

Your lips are white and pasty, darling.
Grams of guilt-ridden chems,
Seasons of serendipity!
Avail yourself, please do, of some Colgate
and my handy multi-tool travel brush!

And your pubes! Mon dieu! The rusty 
steel wool pads I use to attack, to scrub and scrape the
cast iron pan would more sweetly accommodate
my shameless kiss, the nuzzly nestling of my cheek!

Your reek of ether, sour sweat, defeat
Your much-vaunted Apollonian line astray,
your plump-loaded historical brushes uncontained.

Your staining of me bleeds.

You are my wizened future, Apparition,
Ancient Mariner asthmatic, baying at the festooned threshold,

Alone alone, all all alone! 

I’m the bride, the groom,
I’m Eleanor of Aquitane!—is nothing beyond me?—
I’m the unseen wedding room all a-quiver, stinking with white lilacs,

Alone on the wide wide sea!

Gimme that old college try! Gimme that opium dream,
And a prolonged attack of the vapours!
That's the spirit, honey! Now that's what I call poetry!

Hungry out of habit,
I’ll rise to your bait, I’ll take a bite,
But you are no more
lust-slaking than a blackened pan of chocolate cake
mixed at three A.M. with my old man hands, and baked,

then picked over with impatient fingers,
black cake scalding, steaming,
crumbling out of the black pan
wolfed down in close-up,
kitchen lights catching all my best angles
as I suck in blasts of soothing frigid air
to guard the vault of my mouth

against another assault
oftoo-much !

֍

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A Satori

 

If seedlings are waking up in clay pots on my balcony, 
if there are tiny, fragile seedlings 
that despite their tininess and fragility
still manage to express their true nature,
just as distant stars express theirs;

If this expression of stars and seedlings
is inevitable, yet innocent;

And if a seedling, a wisp of green, a mere tendril, 
can heave aside a boulder, its opponent,
which is a crumb of earth, 
And the crumb can’t resist —

If the will to life and its expression are that powerful;

if the force of life animates everything and 
everything will continue in its path 
without regard to me or my existence—

Then I know I am, and will be, safe; 

I know that I need only do the next right thing
and that the next right thing will present itself
and I will recognize it.

And I need only do this next right thing 
as completely 
and with as much sense of inevitability 
and with the same innocence
as do the seedlings in the ground or the distant stars.

This is what I understand we are talking about 

when we talk about god.

Joy will rise

Joy will rise.

Trample on it, beat it down, it will live.

Joy is sunlight, it’s rain,

it’s life blazing up to the sky in vines and white flowers, it’s mud that shields the root, it’s wind breathing.

Do your worst—

joy will rise,

not to torment you, but because it must. It doesn’t know what else to do.

Birds open their throats and song pours out.

Joy will defy your gravity, always.