Friday, November 14, 2014

Revolutionary Times

These are revolutionary times. When a sparrow
builds a nest and hatches its eggs under
my air conditioner. At dawn, I’m awoken by wings
fluttering, twig movement, chirping, small
noises, not motorcycles, shuffling, as if digging
the air for space, and then after annoying weeks,
during which I consider daily lifting 
the air conditioner and shooing the sparrow or
sparrows away, flinging the eggs into space,
I’m that bothered by their constant dithering, adjustments,
and then one morning I hear peeping, hatching,
not hatching, I imagine the eggs cracking 
and baby sparrows chomping their beaks for food,
and a sparrow, or sparrows, coming and going, I’ve given
birth, it appears, forgone my sleep for another
sparrow or two or three, and who needs them?
Do I? 

These are revolutionary times, when new
species come into existence, old 
species die out, sparrows, agitated
buttons of feathers, drone-wired with nickeled-
sized Gattlings, pigeons with radioactive 
droppings, my new fledglings (I’m part and parcel—
they’ve kept me awake) are just birds, just
little birds that chirp annoyingly at dawn,
I want to crush them, but I wouldn’t, nor do I love
them, I don’t, but they seem so essential—
if I ceased to hear them, see them I would know
all is lost, as perhaps it will be, although 
the “all” has no definition, and would I notice
it was gone? Would anyone notice I was gone?

These are revolutionary times in that oppression
is begetting oppression, and few accept that the lord
gods have deserted eons ago, and nothing
is left of them but vases and rags—splendid
edifices marking tombs they were never interred in 
but are the centers of wars, and my fledglings testing their wings,
beating under my air conditioner, what
could be more unnatural? They should have hatched in a tree,
in a forest, are their forests? Have they been bombed,
decimated, chained-sawed out of existence?
We grow where we can. There is nothing unnatural about
a city, no less for sparrows than humans.
Nothing metaphysical, just living, plain
living, that you and I conduct each day.

These are revolutionary times, as are all times,
that all times have been, that tomorrow will be.
I face what I have left, my fledglings and me, I bore
them under my air conditioner, and they will fly 
soon and I’ll be conscious of the silence. I  hear
them right now, as I’m typing this message. And I know
you, too, have heard something akin, progressive,
oppressor, and I have little confidence 
they will survive, yet I convince myself they will,
for how would I live? The sun will burn out, and I see
no arbitrary value in value. Just man-made 
ignorance, as if some men, so fearful 
of death, were so in love with death they’ll eagerly 
squander their own life and the lives of others.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Belly flop down the white tundra of Brooklyn,
the caked snow that scared me more than the ocean.
Leave me be for a moment, let me remember.
I seem to picture a rock-solid hill
on which, with frozen fingers, I sledded down
helter-skelter till my numbness made 
me retreat before others. And so now: 
still not knowing the stout way of withdrawing, 
not wishing to be chided by friends, 
deemed a weakling, 'tis mom wants me for dinner,
and lift up my sled and leave. Today, with no
mom to excuse me, I think hard on my body—
peacefully toward death rather than face

the same frightening hill over and over. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014



Cool cut when I was a kid, flat top
and long hair around the sides, duck tailing
in the rear, unusually usual so that I looked different
like everyone else, unique as a quarter, but I suspected
even then I was chiseled from a rock quarry
others blew up, not gathered their stone.
Have grown over the years not impertinent but distant,
a leg away form my neighbors, four directional
so never at a time I can say wholesomely I fit,
or even demented, rebellious, can organize around
my center with a design as conclusive as a chalk mark
and elicit converts to my aid. Impossible me,
arguing continuously with the mirror image I face
each evening, with neither side ever relenting.

Self-censorship, like self-enlightenment, like self-
taught. The self is a marvelous thing, so selfless
it sequesters itself in a tureen filled with molasses,
a gunk, sweetened and thick that holds it together,
never revealing itself to others. Just once
I'd like to flash the universe, not with indignities
but with intimate liquids, admit I leak from predictable
orifices, give my statistics—not just
psychical entities, height, weight, age,
but maladies, so open I can saunter in revelation,
a heliotrope turned to the sun, with nothing sécreted
yet fully invulnerable to darkness, lies, misgivings,
a fishbowl existence so no curve in my anatomy
is an imponderable and I needn't apologize for anything.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The War to End All Wars

Indulgent and part here, I sound feebly
the ocean for deep chords I fathom in the strings,
the solo of the one sonar of the sound bar,
the sand bar, from where my eyes squint,
but all things are of a meaning and have webs,
tentacles of no piercing nature but floating loosely
on the waters where the Dauntless torched decks
and the Avenger avenged the avengers in the Central Pacific.

So, too, are the starlings that startle the trees
in the peace force of a deciduous morning when the banker,
oblivious to curtailment, counts booty, not wars,
and all dying is a product of reduction, when the course
of a nation is courseless and drained from the insatiable nod
of a once wing mate in a turbulent nothing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Never the Right Tool

That woman has turned harsh and crude,
small indications of pain honed in the factory
of her departure, so that she wants to remove

everything that doesn't slide in neatly.
Filing metal is a bother—one likes parts that
offer no resistance, but do such parts exist? 

Better to discard a rough one and buy it
new, she says. She's committed herself
to be so efficient it seems to me more

a disease than a cure. She throws out
the worn parts, but they were hers, too.
Can she be other than she is? I can't.

We each have our methods. I like gradual
decline because I'm slow-thinking—what is
obvious to others brews in me furiously,

then I fuel up or rust. But she is so
organized, on her calendar is the
exact action to be taken long before

she's responded to others. An act of precaution,
no doubt, as if the slightest liquid had power
to bring her back. To what? Not me.

I tell her you work with the tools you have.
Unless you're an expert, you don't even
know what's available. You never

have the right gadgets to fix the door,
but you fix it anyway, squashing this a bit,
hammering that—you can't waste time

searching for the perfect implement.
The door needs to be open now.

Saturday, September 13, 2014



For the time being, the succulent compassion,
streaming from so many directions and gorged
with money, is being totaled and distributed among
the ten thousand children whose parent or parents
evaporated in the jet stream like sizzling ants.
Poor mortals, languishing in a Survivor-less hell,
can again wallow over a case of beer.
God bless the commerce, the way I see
it, so prez., partner, and princes can press forward
with scripture, a license to kill, and all mania
is loosed like a jillion roaches on wee little
folk, we elves, who hapless, get crushed between
two land masses of madness and colored cloths.


Do onto others as others consume, the cleft
dollar that burgeoned higher than a sequoia.
I can't express the intolerance, the sheer rupture
that long ago began with the first exclusion.
One buck for the white man, nought for the red.
No, it was centuries before that—this culmination
neither death nor birth but the interminable middle,
the center centered so all eyes are diverted.
Every answer is answerable, all marrow
a continuous dying, so surfeited with grief
I mouth only the obvious—it roars savager
than a jungle, more tangled, the poisonous berries
gleaming red contiguous with the luscious melons
no one eats for fear of not knowing the difference.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Vapors: In Memory of a Suicide

It’s the little things
that count, no, not count, but accumulate
into the bigger things that count. Who 
counts anyway? You’re too busy, 
consumed, so to speak, by the ongoing minutia,
the fifty phone calls necessary to confirm one
fact. It’s the absurdity of it all. To render a memorable
idiom takes four decades, at least,
and by then, someone in another city has vocalized
it in the most trivial of performances, sans sparkle, sans 
pertinence, and who is to believe it was you first,
and does it matter? 
Cherish your quirkiness. You’re isolated or famous, 
and neither means anything.
Be polite and affable, but stay singular on the inside, 
so that at any moment you can separate one
persona from another. You are never you. I know 
I am never me. I encapsulate myself in the bathroom 
when cramps relegate me to the can. That’s as close 
as I can get. When pure function. Not even a facsimile
of a role—no one dramatizes such moments. 
Other times I’m a composite of who knows 
what. I locate myself in the most peculiar instances, such
as on the subway marveling at the extraordinary bodies
my fellow humans reside in and try to accept.    
Balconies make me dizzy. An ultimate loneness.
I grab on to a railing, if there is one, 
the brick if not, laying my palms across
them as I look down. Fear of heights, suspended
in midair with no guarantees, a slab 
of concrete jutting out from the side of a building— 
the actual defying the impossible, the extraordinary
so taken for granted, I sense the featheriness of my body
twittering in the breeze as if the slightest gust 
could suddenly loosen my footing and toss me off.
Toying with my mortality, I dare myself to the edge,
while others, nonchalant about such matters, 
engage me in drink and talk without noticing my tentative
steps, my smallness, my glances at the inviting space.
One senses a voice—not a voice but a compulsion, 
not to end anything but to test an end, not 
a case of dying but an urge toward experience, 
like viewing a horror movie, clutching the seat’s
edges, knowing full well resolution 
is generally positive, and again does it matter? 
One exits into the open air safe as a sparrow 
and flutters back to the familiar.
But there is that moment of doubt, when all
regularities are not so much challenged but obliterated, 
and for a few seconds you’re stranded among lifeless 
objects—you reach out with your eyes and touch them, 
but they have no extension just flatness.
The grand end in a gulf, or more mundane,
in the Hudson, when one on a ferry suddenly, like a gull,
disappears, others speculating, “Yes, he was here,” 
and “Where has he gone?”—a denouement lacking 
in worthiness, which should embrace, if not ceremony, at least
acknowledgment, so that others can decipher the equation,
for all actions have equations and can be filed in a catalog,
or, better, on a computer, because times have advanced 
if suicide has not. A victory, I suppose, if you upstage 
the inevitable, but who is to care? A statistic, an obit, 
a leap over the railing, never in a drunken stupor 
because booze gives one the giddiness, if not 
the fortitude, to live on, and one must be giddy 
to live on, but the water is so riveting, so sensual.