There was a final time: the stall set out,
With jewelry and fabrics in a line —
The next day, and thereafter then, no more;
No more, and soon, no one with memory
To paint in images or words the scene
That once was daily, year on year on year.
The mundane, the quotidian: our lives,
Not big events, but habits of our days,
They soon lie empty on a sandy waste —
The firebird heads into the unknown,
High o’er the mountains, just past where we see,
To leave behind our stalls for someone else
So I was with my friends, and just sixteen.
We hung out at the the beach and watched the girls;
It struck me, none of us were really “tens” –
Nor arguably, the best more than a five
So who were we to sit and judge the world?
This thought, once I’d conceived it, never left;
It separated me from other guys
And in their club, I never fit again —
At least, not insofar as dating went.
I came to see things from the other side;
And though I’ve had my share of selfishness
I lost my double-standard on that day
Which I can still recall, through many years;
A sense of justice overcame my pride.
At sixteen, I was hopeless with ideals,
But why this one stayed with me
The way I work is pointlessly obsessed,
Extracting detail from the commonplace –
To see the outline of what isn’t there:
Projecting, pushing, prodding, putting on —
Do you, friend, find reality too much?
I must have my imaginings at times;
I do believe that signs and stains are one,
And we break habits, or find they break us.
It’s like a type of fit, to be this way –
To sing when no one’s there to hear the tune,
To fly a flag that none can recognize
To long to touch eruptions of the sun…
I found a rental car, and took a drive
Back to the place where you and I, as teens
Explored the water’s edge along the lake
And touched our lips together for the taste
Of what life had that we had not yet known.
There was a perfect stillness in your eyes
As you looked past where I was to the man
You’d love one day, hoping that I was him.
And now? I’m old and vain, and portly gray;
I sit here by a lake from long ago
And ask a passing duck if he would like
To hear this poem – he does not reply.
The way I work is pointlessly obtuse:
Extracting nothing, leaving good for good,
To see the outline of the man I am
Projecting onto all
The last two out the door, and off to school,
A silence comes, as deadly as a flower,
That though he welcomes it, perfumes his mind
With poison, bringing sleep or even worse.
He calls so many things by other names
Than those most apropos. It is a curse:
To feel inside the marrow of his bones
The emptiness he won’t admit pervades
The water circulation, or the heat,
Or air that flows within the kitchen walls.
He will not say; and though he reads and writes
Of all the things that minds these days attend,
He dares not say the word. For life begins
In crevasses and cracks where shoots can grow;
And also ends, when light cannot get in,
And seals form over openings too soon
the night came fast, and so they drank the shadows;
then woke to light that stung and scratched their eyes.
a gallery now stripped of all its paintings,
uncluttered with the evidence that they
had ever changed or terraformed surroundings.
the day had poured into each crack and crevasse,
the floor seemed new again, as though to say
“you had your fill of dark, the spring is coming:
come feel the possibilities and go.”
but they no longer heeded to the light,
but lingered just to taste the last few dregs
I grew up here, near here, and walked these sands
as thoughtless as the waves; I chased love young,
and drank regret, and burned through seasons of
revolt and gathered mastery with fists —
as fate rolled on, and washed new times ashore.
I brought each dawn an offering in gray:
a meretricious emptiness set high
upon an altar made of lightning whelk
and carefully arranged to suit my mood
which was, too often, on display in full.
The pandemonium of onset hope,
the fantasies, less carnal then oblique,
were here arrayed, lived out, then set aside,
as I took every path except the straight
and bruised myself impatiently enough.
Tell everyone who comes: the dream is real:
it’s just that dreamers work with faulty tools
and scan horizons for what isn’t there,
near where you are, near here, and everyplace —
near here, near where you are, and everyplace.
the queens of meritocracy, who sing
of shortness in the lifespan, and the fall
of capillaries once encumbered flush,
the way that halls for Kostelanetz filled,
when everyone who knew was frozen red.
hereby the wind, afraid it might be late,
takes bits of snow with it, to reassign
a crinoline escape to stalk and stem,
a baritonal escapade in frost,
and caravan of jesters in the snow.