Friday, January 4, 2019

Other Women

He encounters her daily,
on the streets, the television, at the pool,
in bars, airports, laundromats and supermarkets.
Sometimes she is brunette, other times blonde;
recurrently Asian, Latina or African heritage.
Once, she was a blind, deaf mute,
yet always lively and aloof
with an irreverent smile and an ass
that swings to the devil's groove.

He imagines their life together:
days sparked with high adventure,
rapturous nights of fellowship and fucking,
vacations on the Coast of Mexico.
It would not be work.
She would prepare breakfast for him
and tend to her garden on weekends.
She would have her own money,
an inheritance from a birth father possessed
of the grace to pass away
before their engagement.

There would be few arguments between them,
and she would respect the artist,
careful not to distract him with trivial matters
such as house cleaning or automotive repair.
He would call her, Mi Dama Amante,
and dedicate his works to her.
She would be an ideal companion.

But for her fixation with ceramic lawn gnomes
she would be immaculate.
The meddling midget devils,
he really cannot stand them
posted like sentinels about the lawn,
scrutinizing every movement.

Even her sister agrees,
the gnomes are a peculiar fetish.
She lives in West Hollywood,
teaches yoga and dances professionally.
She laughs at his jokes.

You should see the body
on that girl!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Childish Things

Church bells clank and clamor
to welcome the shuffle of the devout
ascending stone, chapel steps.

As a youth, I was among them,
dutiful and wide-eyed,
walking in the light of the redeemed
at my father's side.

The bells sang of a warring celestial realm,
unseen to the sinner's eye,
where armies of white-winged cherubs
collide with silver-tongued devil armies
in a storybook crusade
for man's eternal soul.

The price of entry, our untried imagination
laid bare upon an alter gilded
with the blood sacrifice
frightened ancestors bargained
to appease a jealous
and vengeful Divine.

A promise of holy reward
animated our step,
held fast our gaze upward
to the heavenly chorus sounding
from the bell tower.

We received it with unquestioning assent,
heard it spoke in parable and psalm,
understood it as tender children
enamored of the treasures awaiting
god-fearing boys and girls.

Believing came easy as
skinning a knee.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Mother's Ilk

Your appearance in the courtyard
is a pale reflection of season's past
when you illuminated the morning glories
with your rapturous charm
and old men at the chess board arose
in chorus to sing your praises.

Now, the years have marched upon your beauty,
ceding a landscape of dry, patchwork skin,
unpainted features feckless and fallow.
The hand-woven sweater which seasons ago
adorned a vibrant figure now struggles
to obscure a shy, defeated form.

Your daughter flutters beside you, nimble as a firefly.
The promise of the day is alight in her eyes.
You smile when her eyes meet yours,
but not often besides.

Your husband pays you slight attention.
He pulls the water hose to his pickup truck,
eyeing the lovely sweater across the way.

You were once a splendid bride,
full of laughter and naked esteem.
What became that transcendent girl?
What tragic tale penned her a casualty?

Was it youth's siren saga, fleeting as Spring's bloom,
that cast your leading role, then withered
to a bit part at Winter's first bite?

I want to say to you, "Be heartened!
Everything fails in the end."
Call it death or destiny, there is only this moment
before the curtain drops
and one is heard no more.

Your daughter waves hello,
exalted in her Sunday dress.
You conceal your fractured spirit from her,
yet when she is old enough for shopping malls,
push-up bras, and boy's lusty stares,
when she learns of father's affairs,
will you commend her to hold sacred
her precious pearls,
to value what is divine in her
and what should never be surrendered?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Iyla Grace 6.0

  Iyla Grace 6.0 was released today.  My favorite feature is her growing empathy for the world outside herself.  Iyla will chastise my jaded regard for some humans with a simple, sweet charge:  "Papa, care for the world." ... I will try, Little Buddy.  Happy Birthday!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Amsterdam 2018

Amsterdam, more than my beloved hometown, Austin, Texas, more than Chicago, San Francisco, Miami or New York, more than any American city, Amsterdam draws me into her orbit.  Only New Orleans approaches her easy charm.  A city older than the promise of the New World, Amsterdam has exorcised the demons of austerity  suffered and bled for it  and emerged a wise and mischievous soul ... A city that embraces the full human story and celebrates life as it is.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Greeks Knew This

Young men without women live in a cracked
and faded rooming house at the corner of Lehigh Street
and University Drive.  A bare, rod-iron porch
straddles the face of the house, furnished only
with a derelict sofa.

The men press their backs into the sofa springs,
purse their lips on beer bottles and cigarettes.
The beer is sucked dry and bottles smashed
against the crumbling pavement.

Packaged meat is tossed over a flaming grill,
then devoured with furious appetite while unassuming girls
stop along the sidewalk so their dogs may shit
on the unkempt lawn.  The men eyeball the girls
and joke about what they'd like to do to them,
and their dogs.

By evening, they are often drunk.  Their blood boils
from the heat of the day, evoking raucous outbursts,
uproarious chants, barbaric yawps and the like.

They consume action films and sporting events,
frequently argue over favored athletes.
They call each other fag or faggot when the other
is decidedly in the wrong.  Often, they tussle
over such matters, sweaty bodies entwine like rattlesnakes
seized in a bizarre honor ritual.

They extol lavish tales of sexual conquests,
embellish the count of women they've had, then retire
each to his solitary space.

And it's a stark, lonely place that old house
beneath the restless cover of midnight
when desperate hands slick with desire are drawn
under soiled sheets, and hot, August winds stir
the rotting timber long stood between erotic affection
and forbidden thoughts these men
dare not entertain.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Exalted Ones

They meet in the back rooms of coffee houses,
wine bars and bookstores.  Some send their stuff
to the magazines.

They write poems about rejection, isolation,
the tragic human condition, failed love.

They drag their friends along to ensure applause
and run up the flag declaring POETRY NIGHT.

Organizers claim poetic awareness their intent,
but no one gets onstage holding a god-damn
unity candle for their beloved audience,
even the ones who preach LOVE and PEACE,
who cry for change.  They, most of all,
do it for the spotlight, for a chance to be heard
and understood, so they may not feel alone.

Shouting lyrics over cigarette smoke
and cappuccino machines, much of it is soft,
overly-garnished treatment of standard themes,
else unintelligible, angst-riddled banter.

Professor observes from the corner table,
applauding, half-sincere.  He also writes poetry,
a good deal more carefully.  His collection
of haiku was published as a chapbook.

Afterwards, they congratulate and embrace
one another as new hopes are raised
and new poems find their way
to the desks of magazine editors.

I pickup the magazines.  Nothing happens.

Has exalted poetry gone the way of the Aztecs?
Where is our Whitman?  Our Rimbaud?
Our howling Ginsberg?

How I long to taste the exquisite madness
of heroic, ravenous souls, for a righteous voice
to rise up and torch this complacent landscape,
deliver us from sedate, coffee-house prose,
weakling academics absent grit or vision,
and tired, angry verse such as this.