[YOU THINK YOU THINK]
You think you think
but you don’t –
you recite from memory
the thousand lies
they fed you as a child.
Tell me, where is the good shepherd
for all these misguided sheep?
The man without – you know
the materialist, the atheist –
why would he be less kind?
He sees the hungry man
empathizes with his pain
takes him in out of the rain
and shares his soup.
pure and for its own sake
today – this week –
for the hungry here
the storm-soaked now
not as calculation
for a post-mortem vacation –
his afterlife insurance.
so to speak.
A longer table,
not a higher wall –
what more is needed?
Nothing at all.
Timea Deinhardt’s work has appeared here in EA News, in The Bombay Review (anthology), online magazines such as Literary Heist, Fip, TheParkBenchReview and Poets Online. She can be found almost daily here and here.
SONG FOR FIFTY-FIVE DOLPHINS SLAUGHTERED BECAUSE THEY DID NOT FIT
I sit on the couch
like a begging buddhist,
bowl cupped in my hands
empty – or nearly:
bits of oatmeal and flaxseed
tag the inside
outside, in this wintry world,
whatever steps out of line,
destroy the wealth
that is life’s diversity –
the muck of an abandoned barn
is splendor by comparison
on the table
in the half light
the tips of god’s fingers –
five white crocus
emerging from their green gloves.
I did not decide this meditation.
It came upon me – insisting –
lighthearted as dolphins breaching.
Ever since man went to sea,
they have nudged the hapless
to shore – saved lives
for free. For nothing.
I think so-called oriental wisdom
blew up with Fukushima –
To slaughter dolphins
is pure madness.
They do not even encroach
on lands man thinks of
as his own.
I can see my way
the poor farmer
who takes the life
of the fox
that takes the lives
of his chickens –
Sadness is so like
tiny bubbles expanding
until my eyes fill
I do not weep for the tragedies
engulfing the earth
like a black polar vortex
I do not weep for the tawdriness
the meanness, the insanity
I weep for the beauty
of all that might have been
Timea Deinhardt’s work has appeared here in EA News, in The Bombay Review (anthology), online magazines such as Literary Heist, Fip, TheParkBenchReview and Poets Online. She can be found almost daily here and here.
ON THE EVOLUTION OF FEARS
I know, perhaps, a million fears –
that mind will wither before limbs
that time will find me so diminished
I cannot bear to remain
yet have no strength
to depart. My heart has
ever harboured unnamed fears – and yet
they are not always the same
but evolve with every passing year.
Once I was afraid of mice, was not averse
to setting traps, and even some so loathesome
they pierced as well as snapped.
Shall I forgive myself and say
but I was young?
Time taught me to read the fear
in a creature’s eyes – to know –
or better yet to understand
Fear is the axis on which the world itself turns.
My fear today, is that the tiny rodent
I have lured out of harms way
with raisins in a bottle that his weight alone
saves until I can release him in the wild…
yes, my only fear now
is that he will escape somehow
before I’ve had a chance
to say goodbye,
to wish him luck and send him
on his whiskered way…
And though these times
are rife with all conceivable strife,
I have no fear that Love will die
knowing it cannot
as it is the glue
that binds the universe
Timea Deinhardt’s work has appeared here in EA News, in The Bombay Review (anthology), online magazines such as Literary Heist, Fip, TheParkBenchReview and Poets Online. She can be found almost daily here and here.
A CAROLING CHRISTMAS ABC FOR POTATO LOVERS EVERYWHERE
A is for apple & apricot
B is for bananas, berries …
& BAKED POTATOES
C is for canteloupes
D is for dates
E is for eggplants
(not laid by chickenplants)
F is for figs…
& FRIED POTATOES
G is for grapefruit
H is for…I know:
I is for…best in show:
J is for jump rope
(now how did that sneak in)
K is for kale & kaki fruit
L is for lettuce & lemons & lichis
M is for mangos…
& MASHED POTATOES
N is for nuts
O is for oranges & oatmeal
P is for peppers…
& POTATOES, more POTATOES
Q is for quince
R is for raspberry
S is for sunflower seeds
T is for tangerines & tomatoes
U is for underwear
(now how did THAT get in there)
V is for vanilla
W is for watermelon
X is for X-mas cookies (mmm)
Y is for yams…which are sometimes
Z is for zucculent zucchini
(no animals were hurt in this ABC)
(a triptych – groping after meaning)
Were every creed a grain of sand…
then god might be a beach!
but men – though black or white…or tanned
let out a mighty screech
if someone takes a different stand
and questions what they teach
(Imagine! What nerve!)
Another’s brand is quickly banned
they’re ready to impeach
for few, it seems, can understand
it helps to practice what you preach.
There is a feeling –
even atheists know…
it prompts a search
that feeds both hope
What many label Almighty
and some might call Divinity
to me is simply
I do believe
in This Infinity…
although I might
say my religion
would be more aptly
as music melts my fear.
Men are so blessed to hear!
in every note of Bach
in every tree and rock
in every fluttering leaf –
an endless strong motif
for every man to find
beyond the books assigned
as in the cone of light
enabling me to write
[PEACE, SHE SAID, IS THE KERNEL OF A NUT…]
Peace, she said, is the kernel of a nut
and he was wrong
the fellow who said
the centre will not hold.
At least I think it will.
if it’s that place where poems
slip out for a coffee
where god and the absurd
crack jokes about each other…
That place where..
so we can catch a glimpse
of the comic head
of a garlic press…
that prompts us to ventriloquy
learning how to teach it
TO TALK BACK
laughing ’til our sides ache…
canot be sundered.
Oh, if you mean society
well, that centre was ground to dust
if indeed it ever truly was…
but the real centre
that place we visit
from time to time
because we’re seekers?
swimmers in a sea of sounds –
asterisks of light and murmurs –
that holy improbable
we would take others to gladly –
and gladly play the tour guide –
with humanity in its entirety?
I tell you, friend
that place will survive
even rampant fascism…
and 30,000 nazis
kindness alone can win
in the end
before it all goes round
and where on earth
did I put the nutcracker?
when time seems to swirl
to a pinpoint of presence –
when you are aware
of your own awareness –
I have a boundless fondness
for such evanescent eternities
and today I was blessed
with three of these.
First, in the morning –
when plummy fog spared
one pane of the window –
I could clearly see
the splatter of orange
on the hilltop tree
spired like a church
and, up close, the flinty
splendid flecks of gold
on my weeping birch,
played against the majestic mein
of the lofty evergreen –
what a scene!
Then, seated on a bench
after lunch, eyes closed
I could hear – nearby
yet seeming faraway –
workmen working on a roof –
clatter, as the sonorous
terra cotta shingles
were arranged in a pile –
a stuttering ladder
being drawn along a stony aisle –
a lyric blur of popular radio
barely more than a hum – but
punctuated now and then by the
decided blows of a hammer
precise as a symphony kettledrum.
And again, towards nightfall
back in my place, I’d pulled
the drapes in such a way
that daylight fell to where
it encountered another great ray
from the kitchen
and the two were tied in a knot
by the counter lamp.
All unintentional, I swear,
yet, before my eyes,
a ledge of nondescript crockery
there found its most ideal
seventeeth century Dutch lighting
and, in a moment without peer,
I shared my home with Johannes Vermeer.
The Mindful Art of Overcoming
I don’t know if every hill
has a zen
but this one does –
with its myriad bubbles
along whole stretches
where the asphalt
wasn’t applied properly,
where a beachlike grit spills
out from the driveway
of the lower court chambers…
or where drainage pipes
weren’t adequately sunk –
all the places
my thinning-soles find
in my search
for peace of mind –
the rivets of here and now
that somehow must displace
the endlessly repeated disgrace…
or at least partially subdue
the pounding tragedy
in videos of new
and improved Israeli bullets
exploding in a 15-year-old
Were it not for these
Thich Nhat Hanh recipes
I think I’d wish I were dead.
AN ORDINARY DAY IS A VERY SPECIAL EVENT
Between the dawn and an early rain
Henry and I caught a full-fledged sun
up on the hill and it was like a prize
we’d won – and it’s golden glow
buttered in promise our town below…
and I held it tight -!- like a cup of cocoa
after first day at school –
to keep my hands warm? To get it to cool?
I’ll never know.
Henry O is a funny looking thing
like a young child’s drawing
of The Lion King –
skinny back legs
but a big shaggy mane
he takes me for walks
and he keeps me sane.
Makes sure I see things
I’d have otherwise not seen.
He’s my mini-Lion King and I guess
I’m his queen.
The Enemy is Everywhere
I sit and look, I guess
like a shepherd’s crook
but it’s not a book
[not even a kindle] that I hunch over.
It’s a screen…
know what I mean?
I sit and tap tap tap
like a rained-on bird
at an autumn window
has borrowed my identity
[usurped is probably
closer than borrowed] and now
[beyond harrowed] I’m trying
to figure out a way
to reach the support team
which is really
an algorhythmnblues deal
not really real
and my friends
and my followers
do they wonder what got into me
to suddenly be sounding
like some radical Zionist
[Is there any other kind?] swearing to bash the head
of every baby in Gaza?
In my bilingual lunacy now
I want to tweet
N’oubliez pas l’horreur
des chambres à Gaza
but some would suspect
frivolity where – in truth –
there is only
the shattered glass
of the victorious crow
parading on the sill
you can’t say anything anymore
that doesn’t offend
we’ve all turned semi-mute
self-censoring to boot
they may as well have me in custody
Never Again a Rough Night
FOR THE BIRDS I
Rhyme with me robin –
breast as red as a fez in Demnate
trill as fine as a Dresden plate –
I do so long to learn your song
sung as if nothing could be wrong
plus descant to show
that both of us know
we belong together in this garden.
and bare-headed bibis
despite what you might think
are quite the same species.
They wall in their colonies
and are terrible bullies.
If they were, in fact, human
you’d be right to call them Nazis.
Now in the hollow of the night when all’s abed
and even gulls no longer fight for scraps of bread
I see beyond the ceiling and the wall
that place where fellow feeling heeds a call
that place that’s neither in nor out, but through and through
where love is what it’s all about: great cosmic glue
that binds us, each to other, though we know not how
dancing all together in a never-ending Now
IN PRAISE OF USEFUL DETOURS
What is this One Path every man would find?
This sole, unique, exclusive, utter Right?
[To think there is but one, boggles the mind
when even day is really day plus night.] What is this urge to rigid certainty?
Why feel compelled to sign on dotted line?
Can so few see the sheer fluidity
where crystal rivers join a sea of brine?
Blind wars of will and might cannot bring peace
[the zealot’s pride does not cease to amaze! ] In pity and love’s name, I pray coercion cease
where yours can be but one of myriad ways.
Let stubborn, hurried men pinch tight their soul
while, roundabout, you treasure Peace as goal.
A WEE DRAM OF HIGH-MINDED DOGGEREL
[for Jeremy Corbyn]
They will lie
AND THEY WILL LIE !
They’ll even say
you were a spy!
No decent limits, borders, ends
to such slander that defends
the hidden fortunes
of the reigning gluttons
…and the poverty they create
has grown alarmingly of late!
What shall we do?
WHAT SHALL WE DO?
Side with the many – NOT the few!
Rain is never a riddle –
I mean doesn’t everyone love the rain?
The sound of it pounding
the smell of the air after
No, what I’d like you to explain
is why I love the puddle
in the neighbour’s lane –
scraggles of grass
and assorted pebbles
and then this ameboid body
of water after every downpour.
I just love it and I cannot see it
without wondering – is it perhaps
the insistence of nature
in an essentially urban surround
that never fails to make me smile…?
One day I just know
a frog will pop out
from behind a lawn chair
and I will go bananas –
pop my clogs in utter delight.
And there’s something else I love –
the pint-sized Everest
that sometimes stands in the puddle –
small enough to manoeuvre with a foot
but big enough to hold the gate –
a rock of perfect weight
When midnight rains have christmassed naked limbs
and baubled lowly shrubs with pearls of light
I float – as on the aftermath of hymns –
to see the panes all glistening and bright.
I know such nights that nothing is awry
and do not even mind dawn’s dirty sky.
Truth Tends to Kindness
“…and though the gene for empathy be missing, even the limpest intelligence
might be stretched as far as (Jeremy) Bentham’s utilitarianism.”
– Ilona Grieland
more vice than virtue
if it remain
it swiftly becomes
infernal cleverness –
diabolical deliberation –
stealth on a slippery slope
of shrewd sinlaced savvy.
What are we to think, to know?
“Is there any way to stall …”
we ask, watching our world go
top speed towards a brick wall?
Perhaps remind that the word heart
also means “the core” –
not some lesser part
but the mother lode, the ore!
Yes, Love is the glue
Love is the cure
Love is Pure Light
Love is The Way
Love alone keeps
all demons at bay.
Reflections On Duopoly
Merely thinking of it makes me numb –
just exactly how dumb can you get?
Isn’t it obvious yet that pitting
republican against democrat
is missing the point entirely?
These clowns all take orders
from the same cash register.
The difference between them
is a question of packaging
[which Mad Ave Ink
outlined the imaging]
What you vote for, folks,
is no more than a box
of biscuits, oats or soap.
There is no hope of an end
to war until you see
what your sons and lovers
are fighting and dying for –
which is namely
fatter profit margins
for the corps that make
the big guns.
There is no left left in America –
the farthest left
is still right of center.
a vote for the status quo –
no more than a starry-eyed
Editors note: Thank you to Timea for once again bringing the theme of duopoly to EA News.
The Coming Legion
The twenty-first century hero
is like the unknown soldier
It is in his anonimity
that he is the modern
Simple acts of human kindness –
feeding the birds, saving the bees
His reward – and what makes him
truly heroic – is that he can always imagine –
sometimes even foresee –
how beautiful life would be
if his simple modus vivendi
were magnified a millionfold
Like the cinemascope champions of old
he is a truly glorious creation
sublime in his willing and undistained
Lassus Sum Come Boxing Day
Limp as damp tissue paper
leaden of limb and tongue
Sorry, no metaphors this week, chum
empty as a dust bin
once the truck has come
and gone. Try elsewhere, friend
today I’m worthless as a penny
could not quench the thirst of any –
least of all my own parched self –
the rigors of Holiday society
have sandpapered me
to near transparency.
What I wouldn’t give
for a splash of summery lemon oil –
I would even welcome some sweet-smelling
wax to become a pretty – if empty – box
come Boxing Day
CYCLICAL SOLSTICE REFRAIN
Why do the tires on a rain-slicked road
always make me think of when I went to school?
Could there be some great – though hidden – code?
(I’ll need new glasses if it’s miniscule.)
Could the winter solstice be softening my brain
until it’s prey to shards – random chips from the past?
December at home is a time of constant rain
and dawn is a candle flame that never seems to last.
I’m almost sure there is no way that anyone can grow
until he sees the limits of himself and all his teachers
until he feels quite comfortable when saying I don’t know
laughing at the certainties of clergymen and preachers.
Would that we all could forever go to school –
learn a bit what drives the stars, make’s universe expand
or at least, – one would hope – be slightly less a fool
before our thoughts slip through like tiny grains of sand.
How many things I thought I knew so well
are shaken – loose as baby teeth – and worse!
Great certitude? Now hollow as a bell !
…and empty are the chapters – void of verse.
There is a thing about which I’m fairly certain though:
There may be more than one thing
we are not meant to know.
When the madness of men
casts dank shadows
on one’s innermost part
and one aches
to wind back time…
I hear a voice that says
Give it back to the wind. . .
Yes, will it to the wilderness
a grey river of gnus
a cumulus of flamingo
a wallaby, a dingo
Will it a fresh start
until some saner monkey
and prove he has a heart
Now That November is Gone
All summer long
we could hear the birds.
Now that the leaves
have foresaken the trees
I can see them.
I almost imagine
I can fathom
Where might we hide?
Should we stay or fly?
the questioning Ys
of the birches
But come December
they begin to wonder –
stark white on almost teal –
will spring again conceal
our doubts about
the rightness of it all?
Will we again – or anyone –
be left to freely
marvel at the wind
Thanksgiving – Alan’s Tree
Ninety miles of jagged
choppy lines – the senior
[and nearly naked] tree
that squats the window
at the top of the stairs –
a view that could have been
drawn by an anxious toddler –
oak seen as a mishmash
of skinny black twigs
bare branches laid out in squares –
but the budding artist child
must have found that funny ocre
crayon and splashed –
like laughter –
of undaunted leaves
but off-centre] so that her doodle
is become. . .a masterpiece.
If I must give thanks
to the empty sky above
it will be for time and wonder
and November remembrances
of summer’s earthly love.
[LIKE A CANDLE FLAME OR MANTRA]
Like a candle flame or mantra –
once a white sheet, now a blank screen –
seems to overcome whatever scene
depresses or excessively elates… or
like the recitation of some rosary prayer
serves to clear the airwaves in the brain –
what isn’t there on that tangible or virtual page –
the emptiness itself – magnetic, receptive terrain –
further carves out, quarry-like, an imagined space
where an as-yet unborn story might take place
a microcosm to be shaped
by strands of silent syllables
to ring out louder than grief or rage
and ultimately sing as joyously
as Sunday bells
From the Notebooks of Diogenes
is an unsightly toad –
not what you’d call a box office beauty
in fact, like as not, misshapen –
splotchy with warts that protrude] and so it goes down badly
[i.e., hard to swallow]
while on the meeksqueak cotton candyside
lie lies ubiquitously lied…
which goes far towards explaining
[I suppose] why most folks
troup and wallow
in untruth’s flossified
conventional goop –
reassuring each other
that this week’s Emperor
is other than
Confessions of a Six-Day Vegan
OK. So I eat the occasional anchovy…
does that make me a heretic?
Am I to be sacrificed on a barbeque
because I didn’t do
the High Priests of Meatless
tell me to?
Listen, I do my part (I think)
promoting trees as a carbon sink. Seems to me
is deconstruction & dismantling
the livestock industry…
to save the planet, see?
‘Cause, let’s face it,
no point saving the critters
if neither they nor we
have a home left…
I am more, I maintain,
than a pescetarian –
I don’t wear wools or leathers
I protect all creatures with feathers –
and if I outreach anymore
towards the short-sighted omnivore
my arms gonna snap
at the elbow
am I such a bad fellow?
Some holier than a cow vegan
pain in the fundament)
suggests I’ve no right
to the title of Vegan… can’t call myselt thus – What a misplaced fuss!
So call me lapsed
call me whatever…
and by the way
I don’t eat even one anchovy
Dandelions, Lamb’s Quarters,…
They grow all along the street
where the walls and the sidewalks meet.
It’s as if they were trying to tell us
YOU KNOW, WE’RE HERE FOR YOU FELLAS
WE’RE TASTY AND GOOD FOR YOU TOO!
DON’T EAT SO MUCH (yech) PROCESSED GOO…
TIME TO RETURN…WE KNOW THAT YOU YEARN…
NB: Actually, it would be best NOT to eat
wild plants subjected to road pollution
but there are ZILLIONS of DELICIOUS greens
growing wild…if only you will take a thin
sliver of time to learn about them.
The Escargot & I
I insist it’s no less than wonderful
to discover a snail on your windowsill,
to advance your index to his feeler –
a scene worth the Sistene Chapel.
So I’ve made this guy a sweet home
[‘though I let him out daily to roam] and I feed him on blue leaves of cabbage
[which his cousins, no doubt, will soon ravage] Then it’s off to the woods in a week or so
but up until then he’s my Oscar Gô
Today I almost felt it in my toes –
a welling-up and bubbling in the earth
How this outstrips bleak Autumn’s bent, who knows –
but Planet is preparing to give birth!
Are huricanes Sweet Heavens’ deep rejoicing?
We’d better move it swiftly then, I guess –
Wake others with compassion, softly voicing
the need to end this senseless, bloody mess.
One secret to the happiness you seek
is caring for what lies beyond your fun –
to care about the voiceless and the meek
all creatures great and small under the sun.
Up cruising speed then, Era of Aquarius –
Arriving soon is HOMO VEGETARIUS.
[The meat industry emits more greenhouse gases than TOTAL WORLD TRANSPORTATION
Think about while making up your grocery list.
and this too: The water it takes to prioduce one pound of beef
could produce 200 pounds of potatoes.]
A tiny tanned seed –
a grain of mustard
two onion skins
that have been
cut in a circle –
marks time in mid air
under my lamp.
A grain with a portable halo. . ?
or is it a really small
flying saucer ?
The head of the lamp
looks a bit like a spaceship too.
Maybe it’s a baby lamp bug
warming up to spread light
all over the world
to herald a new. . .
Every night, at around nine,
I find him there, hovering.
I have no idea. . .
but the night he’s not there anymore
I will really miss him.
Who Can Resist The Rain?
Hear the rain ?
Yes, but more at first
as it pounds on the roof –
didactic, benevolent –
a gay and joyous mantra
that invites me to enter
which I do, although
no door is closed
I enter into rain most easily
inside – when I’m indoors;
it’s simpler then
as there is less tendency
to be distracted
by its wetness; we develop
this delicious silken relationship
the rain and I – a blameless love affair
no pane of glass or roof could ever obstruct.
And when the rain has ended
and I leave the house – step outside –
I can even taste it in the air –
like a liquor on the palette
after one has swallowed.
AUGUST IS UPON US
Let us go then, you and I
when the evening is...
claw a heavy-sooted sky –
in a trusted rent-a-car
let us fly
past giant wiremen
who carry wires
the verdant hills
to and from
heavily populated hells…
and let us find us
that old stone inn
[the one with
a view of three lakes] white-shuttered inn
how my heart truly aches
for the inn that serves
a decent buffet breakfast
then lets us sleep
Ô picturesque inn
with a hostess
who can sketch a smile
without a grin
whose true vocation
give a hoot
for urban formality
and who lets us
bring the dog
an arm and a leg –
I beg you: let us go
NOW – before
my soul rolls up
and I turn into an egg.
This ineffable we call truth
is ever-so-rarely in words –
they are more frequently
its cover – like a spy’s
This essence we exhaust
ourselves to seek and sing out
hovers – when present at all,
I suspect – in letters themselves –
scales the peak of A
sleeps – doubly dormant –
plainly foetal – in B
twines like ivy round C.
Do not trouble yourself
to look for it – it will simply
slither away – you’ll see –
leaving hollow uninspiring
conventions, mostly blather.
Lie back rather
like a bather in the sun
and let it plumb your skin
as you tan. Let it seep in.
To a holy man, the world
is porous – he steps through
the glittering chorus of birdsong
to a place beyond time, hears
in the wise palette of a sunset
his call to a moment of worship,
feels the hope of generations
caressing the shape of a chalice.
The grass of the earth is his prayer rug
the solemn pine, the pillar of his temple
for ALL that surrounds him is truly divine
in and of itself – unscribed, untranslated
insusceptible to all but poetic exegesis.
There are portals then, of course,
in so-called holy writ – the Upanishads,
the Book of Job, the Gospel of John, the Koran –
any tradition of any land, any continent
any peoples – one can step through
a passage, a chapter – provided the limbs
are not in chains – and experience the warmth
of a Light that courses through the veins
of EVERYTHING THAT IS. The danger is ever
to forget that written tomes are stones
man has piled on stones, and at their very
best, books provide no more than the frame
for a few scattered doors to Living Truth.
Faith has no roof, and who needs a fund
to fix what isn’t there? Love has no border
no limit, and its tenets are below the threshold
of manmade language. Within faith – which means
confidence – there is no place for religion,
which means to bind, as the power of forgiveness
is boundless…one need only to follow
the footprints of the holy men
and step through to where
no collection is taken
and all is freely
There’s a prickle for hedgehogs, a kettle for hawks
Some collective for whatever swims, flies or walks
whether it bellows or gobbles or squawks
but what of the wonderful elephant ?
A gaggle of geese, a brace of wild bucks,
a covey of grouse, a flush of brown ducks,
a parcel of hogs! an army of frogs!
but just a parade for my elephants?
Want a word (besides herd) some more glorious term
for my true all-time favorite, beloved pachyderm
I mean, after all guys, he isn’t some worm.
Need a fitting collective for elephants.
When I see them so close, with their trunks to the ground,
straight and stalwart together, the best I have found
not a swarm – that’s for eels, and a harem’s for seals. . .
Yes ! It’s rather A FOREST of elephants !
…a stalk of mauve cups splattered
with raspberry drool, and from the
dappled petals pours a paradox –
cure… or lethal poison.
and so with words – the secateurs
that cut through barbed wire
or the bricks that build
real and imagined blockhouses…
and then there’s poetry –
perhaps the divine dosage –
the healing power of language
where words in the wind at your back
usher you to that moment
where you can no longer hate anything
where you have reached the recognition
that it – or he or she – is part of you.
FREEING THE NIGHT MOTH
I had captured him –
after our intermittent
desk lamp and laptop –
captured him on the wall
in what I imagine
is the the usual fashion –
a bottle over, a postcard
slipped beneath his feet gently
gently until he understood
he must stand on it.
He slept, peacefully – or at least
quietly – overnight on a table –
a jewel in a jam jar.
This morning, slipperless
[feeling all of eight or nine] I went to open the terrace door
before approaching my guest
[who was indeed deeply asleep] and I found myself wondering –
for no apparent reason –
how many similar scenarios
there had been over the decades…
He clung to the postcard at first
and then to the jar – as if
he prefered not to go
[perhaps the air temperature
change had shocked him] but he did finally flit to the
honeysuckle by the door
…and there I watched him
a long moment, joyous
at this infinitesimal gain
tearful that I could not simply
slip a postcard under all the
tender brown feet bottled up
and held captive and set them free.
IF NOT, NOW WHEN?
A century ago in France, though it seems like two,
Sunday men in shirtsleeves were havin’ a brew.
Their wives were all on the other side of the square –
in the pews, believing some god was there
One fella [usually quiet] down the end of the bar
said he didn’t see why their wives had to look so far
when they all could have their heaven on earth today
if each looked after his neighbour in a meaningful way
Instead of plans for it later in some other life
when somehow – by magic – there’s an end to all human strife
since why would that heaven be in any less disarray
if the people who plan to go there can’t hack it today !
And the others agreed the guy made alotta sense
and they vowed to help each other from that day hence
and they did ! until each mortgage was secretly sold
to some loonies who only used gold to get more gold !
Now it don’t matter a jot if all this is true
what matters is what we do now – cause we’re all in this stew
you know it, I know it – everyone knows what’s wrong
so how long is it gonna take, folks, tell me, how long ?
The Goat Diptych
I AM THE GOAT
Tonight in firelight,
in skins and ropes of bells,
I am the mountain goat:
sworn to suck and swallow
the moon’s damp halo
and all her secrets.
Coat my bones and parchment flesh
with oil of nettles – I am the ram
who, tomorrow, from the craggy bluff,
will scan and decipher dawn before any man.
THE GOAT’S NINE NETTLES
Oil of nettles
oil of nettles –
not for any
First, must find
the bank of a stream
where marigolds dance
and white rabbits dream,
And then, to gather
the proper batch,
never two stems
from the same small patch,
But follow the stream
wherever it leads,
’round the lush spinney,
down through the tall weeds,
For at least nine species
must be brought to a boil
to distill the real thing:
The Goat’s Nettle Oil.
It will take a whole day –
quite possibly more –
still, you’ll never find
“Goat’s” on a shelf in a store.
June By The Sea
Weather one waits for, wishes for
[the weather of weekends as we dream them]
the sun in loving gentle mode
warming what’s exposed
the breeze feather-light
almost cool – but not quite.
There is an aeolian tango
people along the shore know well –
a twisting of breezes
warm and cool together
not in succession, no
chasing inside each other.
I have never known this
to happen inland, never
experienced such intricate plays
of temperature – this morning
the weather in its perfection
seemed a giant aquafer
to irrigate the spirit
even after the gentle sun
had forged its August
or been exiled to
LET FRACTALS FALL WHERE THEY MAY
“O world I cannot hold thee…”
and simply to behold thee
drives my senses to a fever –
sends me reeling
and yes, I do feel blessed –
thus would I describe feeling
so exceptionally fortunate receiving
such unalloyed delights –
I do remain
No language of letters and markings
could even hope to explain –
which is perhaps why
the truly devout try to refrain
from any parsing of the sky.
So scotch the fervent syllables, please
I need no further miracles
soft petals of a butterfly
bright wings of scarlet anthurium
ah…the dancing humming bees
I fill my lungs to affirm
each is in all and all in each –
perfume in a lover’s kiss, blood in an overripe peach
and the tang of May’s sea breeze
sufficient to this day’s delirium.
To Put One’s Mind At Ease
. . .the expert knows
that wisdom grows on trees
but one cannot convey
such expertise – however much
he might so be disposed
[to share, to care,] and hence
on no side of the fence
he waffles in the breeze
his lecture is a sneeze
[at least he won’t charges fees.]
The finest lover too is hardly ever…
I mean he never sounds
like someone you’ve heard;
those who truly love, sense
they’ve hardly tapped the vein
[the mother lode of Love] will
never so much as skirt the limit
of what the heart is capable of;
true lovers would never pretend
as they know love’s lessons
will never reach The End.
Homage to John Muir
These sombre fingers of the earth’s dark hands –
indices – sometimes a pinkie, too –
rise, majestic, from once-blessèd lands
and point the way to celestial blue.
These Ash or Aspen, Maple, Pine and Beech;
these Oak, Sequoia, Redwood Lime or Birch:
I do believe in them – and prize their speech –
and see their trunks as pillars of one church.
So delicate their leaves in golds and green
applauding hymns to skylarks, softly gloved.
Palms cup my skull as I admire the scene
and dream this helpless planet is still loved –
although I fear the worst for all my trees
as none save modern men will hear my pleas.
MORE THAN MERE METAPHOR IS APRIL
More than mere metaphor is April –
springing into life like Athena
with spear and helmet – more
than allegory of earthly renascence
confirming resurrection – Spring –
[I hear it in the breeze,
see it today through blue haze] I’ve made the connection – perhaps
because I must now admit that these
are my wilted salad days. . .
Spring is about youth, NOT
the trauma of birth but the joy
of, say, a picture book – the right size
to balance on one’s knees that last year
before school vacuumed you out
of your home and into the truly
made-up world of regimented
Birth is too big a word for April –
too charged, too heavy, so inevitably
linked as it is with Death. . .
No, April is a big picture book –
with crisp pages and paintbox colours –
and you’re happy when a ladybug
pays no attention to your concentration
on its printed reds and black
and you hope she makes it home alright –
you hope she makes it back
A FUNDAMENTAL SPRING THING
Were he to leap the fence
butterfly net in hand
I would rise to kiss the cheek
of the fellow who invented
the garden chaise lounge.
Other than that though
I’m staying put –
for this thing
does everything I want
and I thought nothing in this life
would ever do that.
I can sit like an Egyptian queen
regal as a cat – the high back
so suggestive of a throne
or put my feet out
like a tot whose knees
aren’t yet in the right place
for the seat’s edge.
I can tilt back too
to count the pigeons
mucking up the roofledge
stamping leaves down the flue.
I can tilt back even further
should I so choose
for a lounge chair
is a great device
to trip up time
as it tries
to run out
Water – A Triptych
Is it because I know within –
that deep, deep down in my cells I know
that every bone in my body knows –
we were all of us
born of water?
The saline ocean
still runs in the blood…
and I have always loved the water
all of it
I am ashamed to say I have wasted so much
letting it run from taps and fawcets
to gush in the sink
because the songs that it sang
like ancient lullabyes
Was it a secret memory locked in my genes ?
I gave up living in Rome to be near the sea…
Here there is no river at all,
just an underground stream…
I found its source one day quite by chance,
I saw a swan there and asked her
did you come to this place
by accident too?
All rivers in my mind
are Smetana’s symphonic Moldau
traced from icy gurglings in the mountains
to a thunderous arrival at the sea.
Rivers and rain…
dancing in the April showers
in the rain that dances
on city streets all over the world…
in fountains, out of fire hydrants…
Yes, I love the majesty of the sun
I love the gravity of the earth…
But oh the water…
of my three great loves
water is the only one
that really knows how to laugh
Man’s ego – vain illusion – dies in death
And it is mostly fear that prompts our grief.
A mask is shed, but Life is ever breath –
Goes on and on….and in this truth: relief.
The purpose of each life is not to save –
Much better time be spent in pleasures shared.
The gift of Life’s exhausted by the brave
And truly lived have those who truly dared
To give and give again without account,
No ledger listing nonsense “owed” or “due”
For Great is not a matter of amount –
Each spring returns such joy in scents and hue!
The meaning of my very own “amen” –
That April never ends but comes again
TWO VIGNETTES (MARCH)
In early spring, between five and six
my house hinders a setting sun
as it licks my favourite tree
I love to watch grey shadow
climb the white birch bark
like mercury in a thermometer.
although – as with a fever –
its rise heralds the dark
I take as a good omen
like a fat hapless fly
in an abandoned web
one chubby little cloud
in the spindly branches
of a wintering tree
I look away a second
and when I look back
I gasp with delight –
[Now it would be a lie]
Now it would be a lie
to say that I will greet
The Reaper some day soon
like my lost bosom friend,
that there’s a chance I might
be downright cheerful
at the end…BUT BUT BUT
I don’t think I will rage –
rage or cry or even wimper,
for long ago I came to see
that what is Light
is also me – quite really me !
and so I know the Light
can never die. Both sound
and light are pure vibration
and that underpinning hum
is the sum of creation –
the rest is sheer illusion:
what was distinct, returns
to fusion …& I may smile to think
that perhaps you’ll see me
in the sunlight by and by.
WISH WE WERE ALL GOIN’ TO THE DOGS
Was watching strangers wave to strangers
the other day – from pier to channel ferry
and from the boat to those on land –
exchanging a kind of non-commital merriness,
simple fellow feeling – nothing grand
or grandiose, just, well, the opposite
Dogs do the same with more panache –
not to mention courage – and not
just on weekends – every day
when they wag their tails – as if to say
Hi, you look OK to me. I wouldn’t mind
saying hello…if it’s alright with you.
If only we humans could override
what we mostly keep bottled up inside.
That’s why I keep watching the dogs –
just to see how it’s done – sose I can
put it in a book and call it Friendliness 101.
Over time I’ve learned many things
from my many dogs…cats too,
but puss always swore me to secrecy –
which is the kind of thing that cats do.
TREE OF LIFE
I find no wild obscurities
in rain or grass or budding trees
I find quite other : proclamation –
manifest sweet declaration
LIFE : epitomizing the abundant
ever-evolving and renewing
or else, alas, belligerent
LIFE that is the self within
under the dimpled shell
the peanut’s maroon skin
and then the golden bean
of nourishment. I am witness –
I have seen – and mystery –
if such there be –
is whole and of a piece –
the trunk, the branch
the leaves, the bark
two unarmed young women
in a mule-drawn cart
used mostly for hauling hay.
They bombed the kid’s house too –
soon as he got home yesterday –
the women’s lookout, scout.
Blew the house and five people away.
Bombed them all to keep the family
from escaping in an armoured truck
some soldier had left behind nearby.
Abscond. Collateral. Strategic.
The vultures will have easy pickings.
private passions –
some aspect of providence –
or just naked economics –
where lies the axis
of history ?
do we make a difference
or are we only made different
by fates and forces beyond
the control of
ordinary men ?
I think [in the end]
one will have to see
that there is no one answer –
that all three are at play
in a very complex way
both the individual man
and, collectively, men –
for better or worse –
and now and then
a man shapes history
Note: Alexander The Great to Alexander Hamilton,
via Henry VIII…utterly random sample; and the jury
is still out. It wouldn’t surprise me if real history
came to the conclusion that Woodrow Wilson was,
perversely, the man most responsible for the last century!
A Golden Silence
A circle of their chairs is what they make
Around a table, with perhaps some books.
Nothing artifical there – or fake.
How peaceful and inviting this spot looks –
It could be anywhere, in any room
A basement even, if no other’s free.
A standing lamp’s enough to ward off gloom.
What matter’s most is staunch simplicity.
The people sit whatever way they choose –
A few so straight they make me think of zen.
Eyes closed or open, they all seem to muse
On all that still remains beyond our ken
But I suspect a love of god runs riot
Deep within that perfect Quaker quiet.
[Right now. Like breaking news.]
Right now. Like breaking news.
It’s breathing down
my neck of the woods.
Tree trunks tastefully sepia
against almost white sky
It’s all so artistic
I can hardly stand it –
like handling some
rare daguerreotype –
I’m seeing yellows
before they arrive
Colours are just fiction
anyway. I mean,
there is no magenta
in that band flexing out
the other side of
The mind makes it up
the way mine
sees every cluster
of twigs, a sparrow
The way you see what the dots connect
long before you connect the dots
I see those splatters
of granny apple green
S P R I N G
A LOPSIDED VALENTINE
I love you like a greeting card,
Emoticons, a big back yard,
An apple tree drawn by a child,
Sweetbriar pungent, prickly, wild,
The memory of your mother’s cooking
Widower’s tears – when no one’s looking.
I love you even horrible, and damaged, like some cur;
I love you fragrant as blue clover, soft as beaver fur;
I love you like a summer night when all the town’s grown still,
I love you like the lonely tree that beckons on the hill.
I love you like an empty church that’s long known humble trust,
A faith that this is not the end when we have turned to dust.
I don’t believe that, never will, and yet I feel somehow
There is a heaven, sure as love; I want my heaven now.
Love Letter to the San Peoples
what am I
but a melanin-deficient San ?
a Bushman, a Boesman…
or no, I dare not
with Khoikhoi or Hottentot
my latter-day peoples
of the concrete walk
the electric talk
the political squawk
could not survive today
as have the San
for ten thousand years
and caring for the land
and if you but scan their faces
you cannot fail to find the traces
of what were once called races –
our paler pigmentations are simply slight mutations…
for we all must know we all were born in Africa
Pity For The Loveless
I do pity them, dont you?
They irritate me no end
that too is true
but still… is there
no way to get through,
to help them see
that reciting door to door
from sun up ’til three or four
is a form of self-hypnosis?
And [as if they discovered
the texts themselves] their witless apotheoisis –
that god has written that god hears –
is message to themselves?
. . . for if the shadow
of their ego [that they refer to as GOD] ever wrote or spoke answers as such
all would have witnessed as much!
No, they publicize to themselves
proselytize to the tune
of their own emptiness, stirring
into the thin soup of their lives –
fear of everlasting death
claiming the lion’s share
of their breath
But do not say I am an atheist
as that gives theo free publicity.
What I know [by way of quasi-theology] is that something akin to Love
binds the atoms of this universe
into its myriad molecules –
its foremost speech, the echo of wind
its deepest vision, what lovers see
gazing into each other’s longing
Homage to Denise Levertov
I have read the words of men who say they love women
novels, poems especially
men who read
letting a tap run and the plates lie wet
and say, sure, I’ve done that –
convinced that’s all there is to it –
joking over a beer –
yeah, that first year at university
moms not around
wives in hospital
or men who live alone
men who see women writers as strange folk
but men who write as, well, writers
men who read a line that speaks of those
that open only to another’s knock
and see only individual histories –
some timid guy they used to know –
the life of a fair quarter of humanity
elderly women, widows who live
in perpetual fear
vulnerable girls come to live in cities
that will strip and shred them
like ears of corn
in barely a year
when I will read a man’s heart beat –
the irrational fear that possessed him –
in a narrow lane somewhere
under a woman’s stare
then I will believe
the wind has changed
no, even some of the finest
the most sensitive of men
not even after Virginia Woolf
or Sylvia Plath or you, Denise
they still haven’t a clue
Notes: The so-called feminist movement simply shifted the problem, and created new ones
…if this piece seems to stop at 1970 it is because it isn’t a treatise
but a vignette based on a text by by Denise Levertov written in 1946.
Afterthought: it is ironic in a way to think that when Levertov was at The Nation
leftist and feminist were almost synonyms.
(hommage à Roque Dalton)
Eternal undocumented –
How long before he understands –
If there is need of proof
That school is in their hands
It is that you never understand
And should you understand
By accident or innocence
And should you perhaps see
(because you were not born blind)
They will say you do not see
Far enough – that there are
Other schools, higher deeper
Meanings until they have
Raised you just enough…
Just enough so that now
You have something to lose
By understanding exactly
What you understood
As a child.
You, eternal undocumented
You let them tell you that
Labor is capital
Work hard and you will be rich
And you believe if you work
You will pay for mother’s doctor
Son’s education, family’s food
But work never produced wealth
Pharoah feeds the slave
Sees to it he lives long enough
To produce a few more slaves.
If labor created wealth
How is it only the Pharoahs
Ever have any?
Thievery, smuggling, swindling
May produce wealth
Genius might produce wealth
If it wasn’t so often victim
Of thieves and swindlers
No, eternal undocumented
Only money produces money
School is there to hide this fact
To teach you history and economics
But economics is the illusion of
A science – it predicts what
Its owners want it to predict
Explains what they want explained
And History, as Bonaparte said
Is nothing more than
The agreed upon Lies
Open your eyes
NB: “thieves, smugglers and swindlers” and “eternal undocumented”
are found in Dalton’s Love Poem
Pagentry of the Dark Ages
thomas templar ties tight his shackles
hung on seven fuming stallions, burdock and hemlock
follow and sharp the clang of studded goblets
so carefree the buzzards fly above the fray
and frayed the legion’s fanons and the tattered
tents and vestments of the foot soldier, boot soldier,
pike soldier, rock throwers, boys with slingshots
bleeding for naught… and wondrous the cloud kings
wondrously wrought of lies and blood and promises
to tantalize, fat bursaries for orphans, and mites
for every widow, stone solemn with her sabbath light
in the tiny window. Ö mercy mercy and thrice plague
upon a race of harlots and unshaven whoremongers,
the former smeared in oxblood goosegrease the latter
drunk by noon – and never one to tell a single truth
except, perchance, by pure accident, the buffoon
Green Prayer[homage to Carl Sagan]
We seem to have a need to bow our head
and baptize things that aren’t understood
convince ourselves that no one’s ever dead
and that we’ll get to heaven if we’re good.
It doesn’t seem to matter that we know
the universe is way beyond our ken
we drill ourselves to buy into the show
and make believe that we are all grown men.
So pious in the temples we erect
[in essence, hiding ignorance and lies] we take so little time to just reflect
on how each star is born – or how it dies.
This earth is ours to cherish and defend
together – or we face untimely end.
REMINISCENCE AT SUNSET
A blazing sun sets in a piercing blue sky,
kisses the clouds – making windowpanes blush
in the beachfront hotels where once she and I
stole one week each year from bustle and rush.
Posters on lampposts herald a horse fair –
That would be our first stop when the school term had ended.
We’d stay in the cheap rooms and eat only hot dogs,
have milkshakes for breakfast. [I thought this was splendid.]
Strange how this sunset. . .how memory beckons. . .
She’d pretend we were rich “Just here for the waters”
I’d screech at her accent, pleading for seconds . . .
. . . Are these the same gulls, or their sons and daughters ?
An Agnostic Christmas Carol
No priest, nor proxy; no orthodoxy
Just a baby boy gurgling timeless joy
Ring out – Ring out – Sweet brotherhood
Teach us to strive towards all that’s good
So Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew
Find no offense in what we do –
No fearful, global strategem
Born in a barn in Bethlehem,
But tales of love for starry nights…
I forgive Church wrongs
Keeping half her rites!
THE ERRAND SPIRIT VISITS
The errand spirit (minus the wings)
arrived in a stretch to the chirrup
of zoom and other lens clicks
expressing a desire to inspect
the rest of the town but they
wined and dined in five-star
luxury and all but pinned him
down physically saying the
new building was waiting, your
excellency – which damn near
made him lose his cool – but
he just sighed and said the
windows looked good and
admired the polished wood and
said he would deliver that which
he had come for the next day –
and so it was, and the greeters
committee and all the known
names rivalled for proximity
and – you know how it is, I
don’t need to explain – and
last in, was a guy with a jacket
way too big for his frail frame
and under it no shirt (because he
didn’t have one to his name)
and the people up front were
all embarrassed and aghast
but the errand spirit (minus the
wings) just smiled and said –
you, come on up here to the head
of the class and the rest, well
once you get up off bended
knee, try getting up off your ass.
Towards a More Delicate Diplomacy
I’m a fine one to talk
Ms Hammer & Tongs
who’s measured out her life
in fight-match gongs – ha!
But really we all must find
more oblique ways to save
our fellow fallen angels
You cannot go at it
straightaway or head on
for they just balk. We must
learn better ways to talk –
or maybe even not…
Films, perhaps, colorful animation
something akin to temptation –
lure them on, lure them in –
for they have been
so masterfully reformatted
they know it not, and think
the manifold multiplex lie
is truly what’s what.
Once Upon A Time Tomorrow
They saw the date and time –
it was in every sorry excuse
for a newspaper –
but curiously it prompted them
only to buy out all discount store
green glass beakers, tumblers –
porch lanterns even –
and distribute them
among those they liked to think
might someday be real friends
and in every city
from coast to coast
at the appointed hour
they put on sweaters, jackets, shawls
turned the effing set off
lit their tiny candles
and headed not for malls – no –
to the municipal park they went
and spent the hour and a half or so
half-silently dreaming together
of the America they had lost
at the corner of 42nd Street
and The Painted Desert
War shivers in the wings –
knows the demon springs
on the unsuspecting
involved in their trivial
Want to promote peace?
Want to save the world?
So few really want to save the world.
Most want only
to be THE ONE to save the world!
Do you really want to promote peace?
If so you must ask your neighbour
what he or she plans to do about it.
No, silly, not that neighbour –
the other one –
the one you’re not speaking to.
River arms reach out – soft sinister grace.
What arms has she, world-hardened Ophelia
when beckons a somber river
and what better place
when even hope of truce
has died, what other embrace?
Petals plucked fall like snow into the rapids,
skip down to Delta – land
where Titans engage their sundry battles.
Delta sees the mighty forces mix elemental primes.
Delta’s drawn her here from nowhere –
some say tortured north –
following great river’s bend,
for when such glorious hope-dreams end,
she’d rather spin her heart into the tides
and disappear, for Ophelia knows
never another zenith can there be
for love-blind strong-willed dancers such as she.
Like shoulders and hips and thighs of my sweet love,
The curves of shorelines shape the bodies of lakes.
The cormorants, gulls and loons now flying above
Dot a mirror that clouds, but happily never breaks.
And seas have walls of land that lie around them,
Are contained, circumscribable, definite, entire, whole.
While rivers – damn, just when you think you’ve found them
They’ve galloped on ahead – like a mare with her foal.
And a waterfall ? Well there really is no such thing
Just lots and lots of water ever-flowin’ on down.
Its birth, invisible, ‘cept for some mountain spring
That grows until it billows – a frothy white crown.
You’d swear you see the shape of a great waterfall
Yet really no thing rests there – save pattern, that’s all.
THE EGG FARM
His year-round concern was foremost the egg farm
but in summer (and strictly for friends and for us)
my granddad grew French beans, tomatoes (Italian)
plus carrots and lettuce and just plain ol’ peas
(asparagus sometimes, but that’s never easy)
Still everyone knew that his true love was peaches –
which did very well in South-eastern Ontario
although total yield was never tremendous –
numbered in dozens – at best, a few hundred.
Yet each fruit he picked and then put on our table
could have won a blue ribbon or taken Grand Prize,
so we all took our time just to savour those peaches
and treated each one as if it were the last
(and we’d laugh at whoever was first to go mmm…)
The most recent owners struck me as friendly
and neighbours admire their lawns thin as car rugs –
which they mow like recruits at least once every week –
but they have no idea of all they’ve destroyed.
In place of our strawberry patch stands a dumb shed
which had to be built to shelter the lawnmower
(judging by size, designed for a golf course)
and they haven’t a clue how to prune any fruit trees
or what it might take to grow a real peach.
Sure, grandfather’s favourite bears fruit by the hundreds –
perhaps even thousands! – but is that what counts
when there isn’t one peach ever reaches maturity
or has flavour to speak of – or any at all.
Breaks my heart sometimes when those who now live there
talk of “further improvements” (another garage?)
and I try not to wince when the pair of them crow
and tell me how great the old orchard is doing
(and I feel even worse thinking how could they know?)
…uh, is it an election year already?
Once again millions of Americans
will buy into the legend of Hood Robin –
believe it perfectly legitimate
to enrich the already wealthy
by robbing those who can least afford it.
Not only am I in favour of
separation of church and state
I’m in favour of separation
of state and corporation…
or is that redundant?
Sister systems of enslavement
that get off tax-free.
Millions of dollars were spent
since the end of WWII
so that you would react to the word socialism
as if it referred to something
more dangerous than dynamite…
so forget that word and just remember
how utterly anti-social capitalism is –
how deaf to human suffering
how blind to ecological destruction.