Snowflakes are coagulating,
melting into ice, a fricative, a hiss,
the swish of skis through slush
on a warm February day
as the trees, with their bared branches
stare drown wearily at passers by
content to wait for spring,
settled in their winter slumbers.
It’s hard to see what sort of man you’ll be,
or whether in the back of an eye some evil thought glints,
how the waves crashing, the long nights of love’s disappointments,
the cries out to God with no apparent answer,
can whittle down the marble edifice of newly formed Christians
and make of them Judases and Diocletians and Caligulas;
but in memories we are all the innocents, the lost boys never aging.
I can imagine that wooded night when he found his wife’s lover,
angry at the betrayal, lost in some demonic rage.
I can hear the shots fired like the pounding drums he once played
in the carpeted basement of his parent’s house,
with sweet Hallelujahs and sawdust walks and such.
Some bars are like joyless vespers
with bells and songs and sacrilegious prayers
yelped out in karaoke, soaked in liquor
strangers fight like brothers in dingy ill-lit rooms.
Sometimes the sushi is fresh, and worth eating
doused in soy sauce til all you taste is salt
and the hints of avocado fool your palette
like some Gauguin rainy vista or a harlequin.
The thumping beat can fool you, your heart racing,
the animal insomnia as Eros dances, playing
with the soiled rags of your untended spirit
as you memorize the catechism of despair.
The day was drowned in beer,
soft sunlight leavened by heavy leaf cover,
smoking pit sizzling with the last whimpers
of up til moments before creeping crawling
crabs and lobsters, resting in a bed,
sitting down for a nice hot steam bath.
Down the grey road, houses filled with the dissolute,
despite the sunny flower gardens, and the heady scents
of oregano and marjoram, the beefy heads of horseradish
and the bobbing, swaying rose hips in a heavy nautical wind
the wide tides rolled out, revealing mud flats, tempting
tourists, to trap their kayaks, hinting at clams to be had.
Some days slide by unnoticed,
some visits to little smokehouses,
gutted alewives hanging on tempered steel
etch themselves more surely into memory
than a thousand other limp hours.
Punch button coup, strung out on beach towels,
a trace of seaweed like some monstrous serpent,
hints of low tide in the stinking air,
a pair of squabbling crabs, half-broken claws
tickling the sands, little alien warriors,
defending shoals and tide pools, where life began
or at least we can all agree it ends sometimes.
The rocky jut, a spine of constructed land,
home to slime and slugs and starfish,
little snails and other icky things
collected by young boys
who promised to wear their life jackets,
but they got heavy.
There on the empty sandy beaches
among the fish-heads and blue corn
the dunes swept white, an incoming storm
peaked hats buckled after long sea voyages.
Someday soon the planks are laid
and quaint little coffee shops will sprout
doused in pastels and chalk board signs
and instead of seals and rotting fish
tourists and Adirondack chairs will populate the shore,
but the sea gulls still won’t care.
Will the -uits and -inuacs and -panoags return
when the rockets blast and other rocks are plundered
will the trees creep forward cautiously
breaking up the lifeless suburban lawnscape?
Will the seagulls ever care?
Flip flop clackers over hideous carpets
Patterns stitched together in the same factories
Where theater rugs are made pre stained
Bits of half chewed gum adhered to color schemes
Picasso wouldn’t dare, even in his worst wine sorted
Here trickling families squawk like migrating birds
Lumbering dullards of various sizes and excitements
Questing for parking spaces
And empty fascinations
The red Chi, the black letters gold trimmed
snakes in a night market cage, slithering
smell of smoke and crowded stalls, old and new
astrologers and monks, slips of paper
sapphron spiderwebs entrapping bubble tea
aficionados, hurtling toward faith crises
the easy afternoon monsoons, fifty days of rain
the succulence of long spent afternoons plotting
clownish antics, bending palms banging typhoon drums
as stone lions with rigid expressions laugh
at the ever changing world, ridged roofs guarding
ancient bones, incense sticks and spinning wheels
the worst nightmares of a Jungian climax
the paradox of human imaginations,
of infinities and platitudes, of beyonds and underneaths
of Alice and her rabbit and monkey brains
serpents and jaguars and nibbling cognizance
self-recognition of kittens slowly licking paws.
Through the links, the postcard image
Humvees and new recruits guarding carnage,
the purple petaled liquor of spilling blood
our Molech’s sacrifice, our god of the dead
the trembling mountain of a law giver
glinting knife of a patriarch raised,
facing his test, not expecting redemption.
Girded for battle, Joshua and his horns
the lapping water of Gideon’s lamp bearers
Judith lofting Holofernes’ head, triumphant
as the camp’s deserters fled north and south
no Napoleon rising to mete out punishment
consequence for impenitent lovers, quarrels
with the lengths of the hours and days of creation.
All the old questions get asked again.
And again. And again.
the private ruminations, studies
filled out in the charcoal
of private experimentations,
the curve of a rib
the dimple beneath
the small of a woman’s back,
from here to Liguria,
the plan for a battle avoided,
calls for trace denounced
Christmas crackers popped in celebration.
There was the dire contract,
to a tribe only found
in Herodotus or Narnia
selling the redemption of soda cans
the fizzy gesticulations
of Calvinistic football fans
certain their determinisms
will not leave them elect.
like a Gothic sanctuary
of crusted barnacles,
from the gaping maw
of a hidden cave;
there, rabies frothing bats hang,
these underworld ambassadors,
walls embedded with flecks of mica
reflecting artificial light.
Deep water stagnant,
wide-eyed creatures blinking
surface to confront unexpected immigrants,
empty echoes pinging,
a wall of grasping fingers guard the shore.
Old steel guitars, rusted and unstrung
tucked into the back of abandoned factories
dusty and forgotten, the carcasses of machinery
bone dry and pitiable-a matron spinning tales
of past romantic conquests before she donned the white.
In the fearful corners, the chiffon cobwebs
dangling egg sacks and nursery flies, a grim
Mother Goose anthology, by the heavy sagging rafters,
the avenues of barn swallows and rooks,
their nested angles herded by feathered castellans.
Red brick towers climbing, manager’s desks
overturned like 1917, yellowed pages chaotically
carpeting the wide beamed floor in imagined patterns,
in the eyes of trespassers a synchronicity, a message
left behind by the fleeing Boyars.
In a simple geometric, red on white
brick, free standing station, a way point
hither, beyond the scraping shadows
white swaying trees like carcasses,
dangling skeletons strung up, pasted
together in Papier Mâché, painfully
pinioned by some jokester, reproaching youth.
Between the rails, wind and salt stained
grass daubed by an itinerant artist
hired by a circus passing through, tiller
by trade with high aspiration,
perspiration drenching every bicycled
tread, fletching serious Farmen,
rubber footed, tip-toeing, craning.
Down a grey pebbled path
stepping over the chiffon of a thousand seedlings
sunlight brighter than Vermeer ever bottled
crisp green grass swaying in a negligent breeze
crusted puddles broken with bootprints
splayed over wide, ghostly evidence
of some hurried pedestrian.
Stubbled cigarettes, stamped
plastic candy wrapper pinched between
two dandelions and a shoe pressed viola
where the raceway garners occasional traffic
building abandoned, posted on offering
contact a nearby agent for inquiries
sign nearly as bent as the inside frames of
old car lifts, rusting from disuse.
The double sided main street, no town in sight
like every King’s Highway that never saw a golden head
or Naval Base cartooned in a desert basin
bled businesses with tax liens and despair.
Accidental rock clod, a slap of clay
flung from muddy puddles, swerved
catching an ill fated puck blown wind
thump! into the face of an unready combatant;
purple spread like Caesar in Gaul seeking glory
hedging in a blackening eye, a hollow brigade
whispered prayers and words best forgotten
ample apologies and obfuscations, boot plods
criminally squelched over lumpy ground –
in the bunker, a conspiracy of ravens emerged
springs were sprung as phones were rung
and an ancient hearse choked to life,
ready for the funeral service.
The desert drew a mirage, dripping paint
Pollock on a field, feet blistering
from caked in boots, toes peaking out
shouting some hallelujahs in chorus
with those angels he refused to hear;
I saw it, on that horizon, Eiffel tower rising
dust spinning in sudden winds, in the valley beyond
the sudden explosions, like apostolic Damascenes
shafts of light dispersing shadows under cottonwoods.
There were drifting sunflowers, drooping
heavy headed from the brilliant cascade, impressed
no doubt, by the foot sore traveler passing them by
shaggy haired, knee bitten hustler, two bit
player, pulling out of a planet dive, too late
skimming dirt like a mosquito in plastic bogs,
carelessly scooped up like a frog snack.
Intercostal kiss, a crimson filigree
seeping through a pretender’s velvet doublet,
some speculative cousin, bastard relation
sheltered in foreign counsels, paper crown
sealed with diplomatic wax and speculation
the long drawn cursive of ancient rivals.