Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sirens

A video-like game with laminated rifles What’s the difference what the consequences are? It’s the process of playing. My township parking permit is laminated. Good for six moths. I hang it from my rear-view mirror so the cops can see 

it and won’t ticket me. It’s a rented space. I’m acceptable here, not permanent, Near the day-care center for the elderly in which I live. Sirens wake me each morning, unlike Odysseus, who had himself tied to a mast, his ears plugged with beeswax, was undrawn to the Siren’s deadly music (were his shipmates?), but that’s mythology. 

The death I hear are ambulance sirens shrieking on the street outside the windows of my apartment located one street from a hospital, where I once was committed with a coronary, where my heart ceased beating for fifteen seconds. It resumed. It was decided it was a freak occurrence—I needed no pacemaker. Yet I remain vigilant for another pause, for that siren I’ll hear or not hear that will haul me away permanently. 

Each evening I strap myself to my bed, avoid music. Darkness and silence, shut the windows, wait. I’ve passed through challenges, realizing they weren’t challenges but happenings and opened my eyes after my uncomfortable 

trip through the night. Decades have been chewed up, but so far I'm breathing, the wrinkled skin on my hands reminding me of what everyone knows. No Penelope at my end, no slaughtering suitors, just decay. I recall the ant colonies I burned up with lighter fluid when I was an ignorant child. 



Monday, May 21, 2018

Central Park

A free zone once. You could stroll in any direction and talk to yourself,, hear your own voice, in your own language. It wasn’t part of the universe but your own park. Few fences,  no admissions, you were in the zoo and then you were out, a rock formation you could hoist yourself over for no 

reason, it was there, an American freedom. John and Yoko strolled hand-and-hand, and if you passed them, they were always good for an autograph and a kind word. Now to my left, my right, behind me, in front of me—few languages I can understand. Lennon lived in the Village when I lived

there. There was a church 6th Avenue, and on Sundays when I passed it, there were people exiting. It hadn’t occurred to me that people still went to religious services. I was always startled. All the horrible events that were happening and people still prayed. More people now than then. I say a 


mantra aloud before I sleep. Central Park exists, but not my Central Park. Developers see it as a vast span of condos. The Bronx Zoo, my next destination.  No admission then, I used to stroll through it past its closing. No fences. The giant condors. I loved them. Clipped wings, caged, like me.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Carnalities

                                    1
               
                           Baudelaire

               A man can only possess himself if he 
               creates himself; but if he creates himself 
               he escapes from himself.
                                              —Jean-Paul Sartre
                                                 Baudelaire


The dark, ignorant dungeon the poet inhabited
was nowhere here but a mirror image of
a rabbit splayed out on an evening table
for guests he hadn't invited and intended not
to. It is his dinner, and when he's ready to sit,
he tucks in his etiquette like a script
perfected through years of rehearsals, a live play
to be spoken when the moment ripens and swells.

Now is forever, and he hears under his shoes
the wind vibrating and whispering a deep song
as if to accompany him, as he suddenly stands
and stretches his jacket forward to embrace the seats.
Convinced he is elegant in his green hair and cravat,
he limps into dialogue with the closed door.

    
                                     2

           A Gruesome Jewish Whore

        Une nuit que j'étais près d'une affreuse Juive
                                                        —Charles Baudelaire


I was once less poetic than Jesus, a Jew
crouched in a socket when the walls echoed, stung,
by the few shekels that centered me in a room.
But now outward, a creation of a mock substance,
I address all with a hand wave and a smile,
and when they come for me, or pretend to, I trot
briskly to a ledge stocked for living and have
none of their travail, their wretched intent.

I'm live like a new cricket about to be eaten,
but then all is different as I yield ground
but not earth, as I succor no wounds because
none come. I have a way of desiring,
and if intruded upon, I step outward,
spread contagion among the equivalent grasses.
                                                                        

                                     3

            Montmartre on My Mind


The visual equivalent of a friend's corpse, a flame,
the black sun dissolving over Sacré Coeur,
you look down over the sea of Paris,
but behind the boards the festering and germ-ridden
incendiary of living spreading out like a venereal
disease, and the tourists down low on the steps
peeping over the barriers, inflamed by the steadiness
of their Sunday, ever human and partial like small birds.

And what period of a magenta hue, the blood
red that flows out of the wood, where Christ,
less dominant than the whores, offers a vision
nobody uses here where the artists are blue
beggars with erections who laugh giddily when the girls
haunch over their pillows like huge birds.





Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Encrusted

Violence is brewing. Ordinary life subordinary,
as in other land masses where exploding barrel 
bombs cluster the air with steel snowflakes.‘Tis 
the season in the community room where the lit tree 
a cocoon of aliens transporting the elderly to a far-off 
nebulae of death dying and rampant health. The truth 
is never in-between but falls on everyone whatever 
one’s fantasy or faith. Believe what you see. Live
in it. I’d like to go back, protest for something, not 
only my life. The land is curdling whatever is said. It 
needn’t convince anyone. Who’s going to stop it? 
A neighbor says I’m blessed, What does that mean?
She offers me free sneakers. I decline them. They’re
Not what I wear. A child is born, is born repeatedly,

Thursday, December 28, 2017

LIfemarch

Pay attention.
A situation is creeping towards
a conclusion. 
You might miss it. It might terminate
seconds before you’re aware it has. If so, focus on
a parallel situation, although conclusions
never actually occur. One merely says “enough!”

A war ends here, begins there.
A love story ends with a marriage, a marriage
ends with a divorce, kids, remarriage, new families,
new friends, new un-friends, And in
this constant shifting, we live, eat, and work.

The road goes to the left, to the right,
in the future up, at an angle,
GPSs become three-dimensional
There is no end to derivations.
Dislocation will thrive—those dwelling in a box
will be driven over, crushed, Protesting
a must—tyrants look like they’re winning, 
they’re not. They never do, but they 
leave bodies everywhere, including 
their own.

Quibbling over tactics is not unity. But one
person can’t do it alone. The human race
sparkles, yes, but is also laden with fools:
people who reject their own bodies. 
Centuries of misery will not stop. Living 
is a constant blossoming, erosion. Wars
are life, too. Many need to be fought, 
even if you have no weapons.
Just so many people can be shot down. 
The time is now. It’s always now.      



Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Other Side of Elaine

A black-and-white photo of you, energizing 
me like warp drive on Voyager. I need you 
now more than ever as I stumble toward
oblivion. Where are you? I speak to you, 
include you in out-loud toasts when I drink 
a beer, but you never respond. Have I been 
misinformed? I revolt against the acceptable, 
then the acceptable revolts against me. Many 
fester in stability when there is no stability. The 
earth will persist, I’m sure of it. I hear sirens 
from its four quarters—no, nothing metaphysical 
in that there’s a hospital nearby—and I wear the 
flannel shirt you gave me. It’s a size too small, 
but its tightness swaddles me in your memory.

Brown Study

The sycamore (older than civilization, a sapling
when declarations were signed in wooden lodges 
behind enemy lines by periwigged and powdered
aristocrats, tended to by black slaves and new
nations were initiated in blistering confusion)
now deadly, extended, quadrupled in size
but unpredictable in that it might have 
outgrown its roots, and as steady as it appears
is actually teetering in every breeze, and, like 
a neighbor, not to be taken for granted. 
   
The teen diva impressive, a white face in a sea of 
darkness, not taught about brutality yet must 
sense the incongruous when celebrated as a benefactor
by equally uniformed children of the oppressed. 
               
 And so it goes that history is 
sanitized, made palatable, twisted, so symbols 
replace truth, and I, frustrated by a fear of reaction, 
hover over a computer, reduced to signing petitions 
that go nowhere.

A poem with cryptic and self-indulgent riddles 
that scholars can make their living with or couplets 
banged out on a empty paint can that have the aesthetic 
of a laundry list. The authentic a consistent fatality 
come to life thoroughly in the old-age complex I live in, 
with those who have not given up breathing but seem 
to have perished ages ago, and if not, have kept themselves 
shrouded for so many years, they no longer have the 
capacity to be otherwise.                         
                            And I like them—although not yet 
dormant. Self-censoring, yes, but short of effacement,
but knowing when not to speak. Not a state of denial,
but of dying.