Saturday, December 10, 2011

"This is the way" he says
Stepping out of the shadows.
"If you want it, name your price."
You look at the proffered ticket
He holds before you.
"Everybody wants to get in. Just tell me what
You're willing to pay."
As you ponder, wanting the ticket,
A man steps in front
And hands over a wad of cash.
Grasping the solitary ticket,
He runs to the gate
As you feel the heaviness of regret.
"This is counterfeit," you hear a voice shout,
"Access denied!"
You turn to find the seller
But see only a dark space
Where he had stood.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What is the shrill high-pitched alarm
That affronts the plugged ears
But the insistent sound of reality?
What is the hammer blow
That crushes the armor of bones
But the relentless force of reality?
What is the shock that sits
You upright in the middle of the night
But the jolt of reality breaking through your slumber
And making Reality known?
Evade and distract as you will—it is there.

Monday, December 5, 2011

There is a creature of festering hate
Locked undeground in an iron cage
That if an escape it could create
Would shatter the world with shaking hate
Engorged with a surfeit of empty smiles
And shameless coy deception
It waits with mounting bitter bile
To end its cruel frustration

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Accosted in the house of prayer--
A beggar puts forth his hand
“I need money,” he says in your language
Speaking with a contorted mouth
His face otherwise blank, including his eyes
His hand makes grasping motions in the air
Like a claw
“I will pray for you,” he says
His face getting closer
“I will pray for you”
When you give him some coins
He looks at them and continues
“I need money,” he says
With a bent mouth
“I will pray for you”
In the haze of the autumn afternoon
You wander the streets
Until you pass the zoological garden
The sun makes you sweat under your coat
As you watch the crowds gaping
At monkeys and tigers
You enter a dark hall
Leading to the aquarium
And walk past schools of fish
And darting sharks
Until you stop before a window
Where, in a vast pool of water,
A walrus descends upside down
And presses himself to the glass,
Staring at you

Sunday, November 27, 2011

You look to the trees
And offer prayers
That God will love you
You meditate in the sunlight
And feel its warmth
But when the sun sinks
And darkness comes
You feel the cold and fear

Saturday, October 8, 2011

With terrorists at the city gates
You spend the night at the hotel
While armored cars roam the streets
A night you always knew would come
You lie on the bed watching searchlights
Cross the sky
And the blinking lights of the corporate towers
Beckoning to the unknown

Friday, October 7, 2011

The smokestack
In the abandoned factory
What is the sign of desolation?
The prophecy
Not two bricks left
One upon the other--
Moving through the days
Your breath heavy--
When the pillars fall
The temple comes down
With the heaviness of a sleepless night--
You reach for the pill that cures
Through destruction
While gazing at the face of an angelic androgyne
On an enormous billboard

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The spirit of confusion
Is bred by impure intention
Perception is clouded
And the world conforms to the distortions
Bred by impure intent
The murky dense dream you tried so hard to remember
The puzzle you had to solve
Was that your life?
When you see the smoke arising from the rubble
And you look bleary eyed though
The pervading fog
Waiting for an answer
You cannot understand what you have created
Through impure intent

Monday, August 1, 2011

Your find your life is an open book
Written in an unknown language
When you are preparing to leave
You notice for the first time
The fly rotating on the mirror
The painting of a fox hunt
The light from the window
Making a white rectangle
On the opposing wall
The odor of stale carpeting
The sound of cars passing outside
The water dripping from the faucet
The direct experience of the room
Just when you are preparing to leave

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Before the sweep hand of time
There were moments, shapes, scents
The warmth of skin
Eternal, though passing,
A disconnected grammar
Then, later, while still a child
You learned of time
But still did not feel its sweep hand
At night, you lay in bed
Looking at buildings across the way
The old buildings of brick or stone
With square rooftops and fire escapes
The night sky clear and blue
With a golden moon for light
You sat up gazing at the windows
Wondering who was behind the drawn curtains
As the silence gave you timeless bliss

Once the sweep hand made its presence felt
Sweeping you forward
Breathless, dizzy, stumbling
What recourse but to break the grammar?
To feel each discrete moment
As in childhood
And recall translucent nights
With the moon and old buildings.
What tools but
Art, memory, and love?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The persistent hunger
Of the rebellious spirit
Feeding on flesh
Without surcease
The hunger of the eyes, the hands,
And the organs of desire
A vast stomach that growls for more
Every day a famine or feast
Devouring all that can be devoured
Stealing every gift
Dominating bodies
Gorging in a pit of bones
The hunger persists
Refusing the light
Desperate for the last morsel
And then wandering the world
Like a hungry ghost.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Silence (after Kierkegaard)

In an empty space
There is room to fill
Silence is an empty space
That offers entry
Of a presence more profound
Than speech
Trees and rocks are holy
In their silence
The power that shapes them
Manifest in their acceptance
The air and all its sounds
Is enfolded in silence
As is the stream, river, or ocean
Silently witnessing, silently permitting
Its source to speak in tones of silence
Language expresses the self
But silence expresses God
Responding to the power of mute prayer
And the reverential silence of graves.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

This survey of the body
Will not disclose the mystery of
The face, calm, mask-like
With terrifying beauty
The subject of a thousand photos
Downloaded on a million screens
Or enlarged to billboards
Across the city
The eyes, serenely opaque
The mouth about to smile
The hair shielding the cheeks
And delicate shoulders
Like an angel sent to break down a door
With a soundless trumpet
This survey with a camera
Of the body, of the gesture,
Of the implacable expression,
Cannot tell you of the other
You endlessly seek
The other who is you

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The waiting darkness
When the power goes out
And the house is enveloped
In feral night
With only the moon to show
The white sky and black trees
No phone, no computer--
A blank screen and silence
But for the sound of your breath
As you grip the arms of your chair
The world suddenly empty

Sunday, April 10, 2011


It took a long time to become human
Days of Biblical proportion
A coalescing of cells up from the water’s edge
A long time for bone to reform
Though the fangs and claws can still show
A long time for consciousness to turn on itself
Before some learned transcendence.
It takes a long time to become human
Lifetimes of error,
Of missing the mark,
Burdened with endless hunger,
Endless desire,
Offering loving kindness
While the fangs and claws still show
Trapped in mirrors
In an isolated cell
Keeping company only with fear
Then, poised at death’s gate,
Cycling back to the primordial self
Grasping, seizing--
Lifetimes as an insect, a rodent, a jackal,
Rising again slowly through cycles
From a paw that rips
To a hand that writes sonnets
Rising to a love beyond greed and dominion
Where baseless hatred is condemned.
Such a long, long time to become human
Through thousands of falls
And millions of rebirths.
To become fully human
It is peace that awaits--
Don’t fall back!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


The universe is dreaming
Days woven into the dream
Punctuated by the waning moon
Sleep upon sleep
Time dissolving into the spiraling sky
Softened by the heavy clouds,
And the damp foliage of the humid forest
Days flowing into the dark river
Underneath the cave of memory
A sleep of rocks
A tracing
A tortoise carved on a boulder
An aboriginal dream of the vast plains
Your hand touching the other
Faces, a kiss, a cry
A child giving birth to his father
Age descending into youth
Dreaming until we die awake
To dream again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fear to behold
What lies within
The cunning eyes
The hardened grin
The mouthed excuses
The impossible lies
The emptiness
When all love dies
Fear to hold
What clutches fast
A touch so cold
It makes you gasp
The feigned affection
The calculated grasp
The tale you’re told
That all will last
So close the fear
It hovers on the breath
So familiar the pain
It eases into death.

Friday, February 11, 2011


You are your thoughts; they define what is you:
Happy, depressed, angry, fearful, or calm.
They determine everything that you do
Whether your steps lead to safety or harm.
Important then to have the proper thoughts
For guidance on the path that you must take
They set the goal and tell you how you ought
Obtain what is desired for your sake.
But though these thoughts are coursing through your head,
May not some force provide these thoughts unbidden
With ideas sewn to flower from a dark seed bed?
Thus, the source of all your thoughts is hidden.
Behind all your actions, thoughts are the cause.
That your thoughts are given must give you pause.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


In the cloud
Out of the cloud
Where in the filaments,
The wisps, is the object
An object slides into shadow
The ground of being obscured
A dense forest of shading trees
The tapering of alleys and streets
How known? Consciousness
Itself an object, the object
Sliding, tapering,
Its light in penumbral darkness.

The mission: Keeping the King’s Secret
Bisected, the outward show
Of cleavage and rouged bosom
Assignation in the boudoir
Eyes above a fan
The lips in a painted pout
Beyond the window
The geometric garden recedes in perspective.
In cold Russia, holding the secret close
Это очень красивая девушка
A very lovely girl…
Alliances forged in deception
But deceiving whom?

Holding the secret, the secret that kept you safe
Among the fops of London
Who gambled on your sex
The ground of being obscured
The secret that led you back to France
La Folle Journée
Forced to dressed in the epicene court
Of curled wigs and ruffled silks
As the woman who was a man
Who was a woman
Bartering the secret the King held dear
A prisoner or liberated
Among the epigrams of Voltaire and Rousseau?

And then the Revolution
The Bastille taken
The streets riot in the name of liberty
Figaro as worthy as an aristocrat
The ancient regime fallen
The Enlightenment shining
But ringed with the dark reign of terror.

Your struggle continued
In skirts with a sword
Fencing, fighting
An Amazon or a dragoon
Either, both
Not reducible to a surgeon’s report.

In the end, wandering through cold London
You hold the secret close
The ground of being obscured
A lesson, a challenge, an enigma
What you say you are, you are,
Or are you?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Missing Sister

Postcards, she sends
From a distant city
Wishing you were there
But you can’t follow
Can’t trace her steps
Your job, your friends,
The daily obligations
You’ve pushed her away
Yet see her face in every mirror
Your delightful, banished twin
You save each card
Until you burn them
Trying to forget

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cold shock
Birds fall out of the sky
The pain when a boundary
Can never be crossed.
Hidden anger
Fish float up dead in the water
The desperation in loss of time that
Can never be redeemed.
Suffering is suffused
Through the sensate world
While prayers rise like smoke
In the twilight.