Monday, September 8, 2014

AT BASSAI

Being a god must be difficult work.
Catering to human beings
Who are always asking, always needing–
Grant me this, grant me that,
Never satisfied–
Well, just thinking about the prospect
All that’s required, all those details,
That in itself is exhausting.
No wonder the Olympians
Gave up the deity business,
Abandoned it to the new kid on the block.
Even the big guy, Zeus,
Who had eleven to help him,
Plus his auxiliary armies–
Cerberus, Thanatos, Persephone,
The Maenads, always nursing a hangover, 
The Sirens, the Nereids, the Dryads,
Medusa, who had a bad hair day every day
Of her life–
So many others, it must have been a
Venue of titanic dimensions the annual
Barbecue of the immortals. 
Really, how much chicken salad and ambrosia
Does one order for three thousand Oceanides?
Even with a myriad of minor deities at
His beck and call
Zeus had his hands full.
Wish fulfillments and blessings
Is exacting work, almost as hard as
Chasing after irresistible virgins.
Of those, Zeus was predestined to rape
Quite a few.  He would disguise
Himself as a bull or swan, then perform
The deed.  How uncomfortable those disguises,
And cigarettes not yet invented,
Zeus couldn’t even have a smoke afterwards.   
Such an effort rape is, that once upon a time  
He appealed: Ladies, virgins, he said,
Give up your free will.
Submit instead, submit.  Zeus is tired. 
But it was to no avail.

Ah, but what female, virgin or not
Could have resisted the charms
And the arms of golden Apollo,
Sunny, sexy and epikourios,
The latter meaning helpful,
Apollo, musical and poetic
Hyperion’s diligent understudy
And deserving successor– Apollo!
The hyperborean charioteer,
Luminosity’s overseer.
To this day still, if drops of blood
Spill from the death of love
Apollo will turn them into
Fragrant, alluring hyacinths;   
He’s even changed tears into
Cypress trees. 
Gentle his power when he quiets grief,
Heals the beloved’s pain
With the planting of a cypress tree.

Sometimes at night, parting the mist
He will emerge, lyre in hand,
Here at his temple, in Bassai,
Sit wistful among the ruined limestone
And sing of the luster his life once had
And of his forgotten name.
                     
                    
           Winter endures.
Pillaged by wind, a bare landscape
Surrounds the temple.
Rock sprouts amid scarce shrubbery,
Rock grey by birth,
And cold and desolate stone strewn
On the side of the mountain.
In mute vigilance
How many assaults,  how much plunder
Has this winter endured?

Long ago, to this Arcadian peak
Iktinos was dispatched from Athens.
He gazed at the rugged earth,   
Blue mountains aligned
In the distance, heights curved,
Falling, searching the horizon:  
This was his summer.
He left as testament
The grey colonnades,
Fables carved in marble,
A Doric strength harmonious    
With the lonely landscape.

But silenced and broken
Was the summer promise, 
Its soul crushed and sold.
No one looked up to say
Don’t,
Don’t auction off the soul,
No one stepped up to protect
The temple from assault, or
Dared to confront
The power of a Zeus.

I come to Bassai
Sometimes in fact, often in spirit
Restored, I gaze
At the dilapidated elegance,
Feel the freedom imparted
By the solitude.

My imagination thrives on
Irreverence, is unrestrained
By the feasible.  We are
Restless spirits, all of us who come here.
Night, and the winds, the owls,
The grey wolves arrive.   
We wait for the mist to part,
Then he approaches.
We sing, each of us our own lament,
Our echoes   
In harmony with the cacophony of the earth.
Our noise is deafening, crows join in
But that’s alright, we rock
And roll the mountain
And Pythia is jealous.
Apollo doesn’t mind,
He’s hip to us
And to the ravages of this world.
When he sings
The lyrics are his old aphorisms,
Laconic in their wisdom, pertinent still.
Once in while he winks
Because he borrows stuff–
He borrows a lot–
Et in Arcadia Ego, is a favorite.
His refrain always the same–
He repeats a lot–
Γνῶθι σαὐτόν, γνῶθι σαὐτόν, γνῶθι σεαυτόν,
And winks again because he knows
Μηδὲν ἄγαν does not apply
Τo nighttime song.
At dawn he vanishes.

Morning again, sunlight,
I bend to glide beneath
The immense Italian shroud:
Magnificence, it cloaks
A plundered, aged magnificence.
What do you think? I ask excitedly.
I search out those eyes of yours,
The answer expressed in luminous clarity
In those eyes of yours.



September 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

IN FRONT OF THE ART MUSEUM

Last night I dreamt
You were peddling books
In front of the art museum
Used books- although
In my estimation a book
Can never be referred to
As being used
There are always unexpected nuances
To discover between its covers
So how can a book be used?
After all, a book is not a woman,
Displayed, peddled, used, used up.
Very courteous, you were standing
Behind a makeshift stall
Explaining to curious passersby
Of art books, poetry books, psychology
No longer in vogue
Things of the past,
No current value to you, their  owner
You had acquired new spectacles
Gold rimmed and stylish
To fit your new outlook,
Your new views
And you said to me
Look, I am flying, you said
You flew over
The terra cotta roofs
Leaping from rooftop to rooftop
Agile like a panther
I was taking you in, every inch of you
My feet were rooted on the pavement
There you were, on top of the world
Too adroit to ever fall, 
Or so you thought.
 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

UNANSWERED PRAYERS

I go to a funeral every day
I am the widow dressed in black
My tears are always set in place
I light a candle to squandered love,
Follow the coffin at a slow pace,
Garnering time to embrace  
All of the ache and the waste.

I watch the coffin, it descends
A little deeper come each day.

I got a rooster as a pet
To wake me often in the night
He crows so that I won’t dream:
When I sleep, Morpheus is blind.
The rooster wakes me up at dawn
And yes, my sealed sarcophagus is there
“Let’s go widow,” she says,
“We have a funeral today.”
I douse her with my perfume
Give her a polish and a shine
After all for me she keeps
Unanswered love and valentine

Deeper and deeper the descend
My grief for love deeper each day
And every bud of hope that’s born
Is always crushed by heavy clay.



5 July, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

THE BEST YEAR



Being not an optimist
I am resigned to the fact
I shall not acquire the wealth I desire
I thirst for a peculiar, infinite type of wealth

I’ll never keep it in a bank
Or watch it surge on the big board
Philanthropy won’t be its role                                          
I mean to share it all with you.

I want it plentiful as rain
Which overflows the riverbank
Abundant light in cloudless sky
The nonmaterial ethereal I want.

I speak of love.
An infinite, measureless love
Harmonious with spirit and with flesh
A love of quiet reason, warm-hearted laughter
Whose flaws are light
As dust upon a cloudless crystal
-Weightless dust carried away by the kissing breeze-

It’s rare such a love, but I will bargain
Call to the stars they gaze upon infinity
As it travels by
Send him to me I’ll ask,
The stars have seen his sails and know his name.

I’ll bargain in the cruelest way I know:
A glimpse.  Bittering forces stars to listen
Let it last a month, a season, such a love
I’ll take it for a full year if I can
A full year sounds very nice
And if then it must end, I’ll let go
I promise to be brave.

I will be brave
In defeat brave in the severing
I’ve known braveness in anger:
In their fortune
How others squandered years of time
With you
Why?
Live without discovery, not giving.
You.  Oh!
  
Perhaps one day…
Sharing even briefly a handful of infinity
And if not I will dream:

I am awake in this dream
And I have fantasized of everything
Even the necessity for tangible wealth,
Always an annoying detail
To pester romantic hearts.
I wager for the tangible
Small, finite digits will suffice:

I have
Enough to buy us freshly baked loaves
Imported cheese and olives,
Enough to build a hearth from weathered fieldstone
And dress our bed with perfumed sheets, soft and smooth.
We’ll need sandalwood scented soap,
Pencil, pen, and paper,
A computer if we must
We’ll get seeds for our garden
And splurge on a few hybrid perennials.
Candles also.  To light away the dusk.
That should do it for necessities.
The luxuries we will invoke together
As we embrace in the dark.
You’ll blow out the candles, smiling, one by one,
Together we will conjure a different fire
Its flames of inextinguishable desire
Fueled by a wealth
Of love.


                                                                                                                               
 May 2014


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ROMAINE LETTUCE AND FENNEL SALAD: A GREEK SPRING GREENS SALAD


A very nice salad, light, refreshing, simple and quick to make but with lots of flavor. It's a popular late spring-early summer salad at the Greek table. That's the time of year when the ingredients in it can be found at their best and freshest in the garden.  Of course, if your vegetable garden is at the supermarket, as is mine, you can enjoy this salad anytime. Try it in the summer though.  It really is refreshing hot weather fare.  Here's how it's made:

Ingredients: 

3 romaine lettuce hearts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 of a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
5 scallions chopped, use white and light green parts only
about 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of one small lemon
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions: 

Mix the fennel, dill, mint, and scallions.  



Add the lettuce and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with the oil and lemon juice, then sprinkle the grated cheese on top.  Easy!



Sunday, March 16, 2014

BRUISING

Come,
Sip
Ruby from the glass
I wait to hear you,
Come sing
Croon a tune
A jazzy boozy bluesy one
They’re the best
Give me a tempo
In sanguine, flaming mode
Listen
To the lub dub
Lub dub
To the lub dub sounds
Of my heart
Keep time with them
Your voice has an
Addictive
Hypnotic tone
I need that fix
Just as I need the
Torture
Afterward
The torture of absence
And silence
So jump to it man
My man
Bring the brandy wine,
Sweet
Vintage port
I have decanted
And bring me your song
Jump to it lest I begin
To sing
I sound like Blossom Dearie
On crack
But still,
I can’t resist belting out a tune
Out of tune
Something of hers
For example
I can’t resist
I believe the lies of handsome men


Truth be told
The most excellent songs
Have a beat
Undressed
Of music
So for now
Forgo the music
And speak
In ardent tone
Of mysteries
Carved
In unrhymed
Metered rhythms
Of riddles in verse
Decide on the pages
Your choice love
My love
And read to me
With emollient tongue
Or forgo the book
And read
From the heart
Subjects you know
By heart
I wait, I smile
I listen
Read to me
A recondite portamento
You have scribed about love
A kiss,
Not softly,
Again
And read
Sweet to me
Again, again
My love



I favor and fear
The intimate
Eloquent offspring
Of your contemplation
Lovely like falling in love
Is your issue
But enigmatic too
And bruising in spots
No irenic introspection
From such a genial man
Epithelial
Your geniality is not
But sometimes will nap
On Hypnos’ lap
Forgetting to chain
The turbulence
Protected beneath.
Speaking figuratively
I’ve felt your bite
And remember my fall
As you pulled on the rug.
But you did it
With bruising grace
My man
And so I’ve given you
My bruised grace
Genial man
Mine,
My genial man


My genial man
I look up
Into
The riotous beauty of
A mackerel sky at evenfall
I lower my gaze
I see
The atmosphere reflected
On the rippling water beneath
I imagine
During such moments
I imagine
I am with you
Because that is your beauty
My love
The riotous beauty of
A mackerel sky at evenfall
Sanguine, flaming
Enigmatic and provoking
A mackerel sky portends
Of change and storm
I’ve seen the storm within you
The cloud darkening your gaze
But your shoulders are broad
And your will is fierce
And your heart
Your heart
Although burdened
And bruised
Is strong
And poisons the tempest
And remains unshaken
That too is beauty
Your beauty, love


I close my eyes
I wait, I smile, I listen
My love, my love
Read to me your song.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

(February 24, 2014)