Saturday, September 27, 2014

HOLDING ON

We hold on
To our antediluvian edicts,
Follow rules and conventions
Everywhere: behind closed doors,
At the library, sometimes
Even in thought.
We must prove to ourselves  
We will never transgress.
Do we know from what?

When the lights are off
As we drift to sleep
We resolve for a different
Tomorrow.
Why live as we did 
Before we were swept 
By such a powerful flood?
We think of doves,
Outstretched arms,
Olive branches bearing fruit,
And we dream.

In the morning, after coffee,
We prepare for the day
But first we make sure-
Even the rebels, even the poets-
All of us make sure
We are holding on
To our antediluvian edicts.

 September 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

AT THE FOUNTAIN

oleander profusely
around the town square
along the marble paths
red oleander flower petals
on the pavement
breeze of the afternoon
rambles along
marigold’s pungent musk the
spray lifting from the fountain
stray with the breeze of the afternoon

from nature,
emanating from its source
a sacrament ascends

at the fountain
the water endless pours 
cool and clear and cleansing
into the basin,
too shallow for a swim
but nice there to drown
oppressive thoughts- effortless
to rekindle tranquil ones-
overflows the marble lips, nearly,
always finds the exit path
a mouth sliced in the stone
liquid treasure flowing
greening cobblestones,
slippery the moss

quenching
women bound homeward with
loaves black bread sesame bread
farmers led by thirsty burros,
burros
who toil and suffer and cry aloud
till death worked to death
quenching
children who drink too often
to be thirsty
quenching
poets who drink often
and are thirsty still
for pellucid diaphanous water

poets in patchwork skirts and lace
poets in faded denim bristled face
muscles firm with resolve
lips marble nearly
till quenched till loved 
poets eager at the fountain
treasure flowing from source
torrid the harmony of the earth
but grateful roots
nothing parched

blooming oleander
sunburst marigold
water endless
life-giving


August 2014

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

THE POET OF SEDUCTION

Is it preferable to be decorous
And bow gracefully
To the man who holds all the cards?
The one I love,
And pine for?
He recognized instantly I was
Still am, always will be

Was what?
Deep in love?
Deep in the arts?
Deep in the throat?

Or is it preferable to get angry?
Disappear again?
Which does he deserve?

He said to guard against
Sounding obtrusive
A man of few words, but he managed
To say “obtrusive” to me
And I was hurt but I apologized 
To the man who holds all the cards

He keeps himself in check
He won’t let a single card slip by
Although he shows them all to me
Just so I know what I am missing
“Look, this is the king of hearts,”  he says
“What a specimen!”
“Look, here’s the queen of hearts, a sad lady,
How come such sadness?”  he asks
He knows how come, he’s a pretender

Each card signifies a loss
Each one reminds me of my job:
Entertain him, caress his vanity
Well, why stop at a caress?
How about a good old b and j
His vanity deserves it
After all he practices his hobby
With superlative artistry  
He is the poet of seduction

Forgive me, I sound obtrusive, I know.
Hard to avoid obtrusiveness, hard to be graceful

Plus, he knows how to think
Which makes him even more desirable.
I crave the gamut. 
I address him:
Will you draw me into the raw,
Uncloaked intimacy of your orbit?

I am such a lousy card player!



August 14, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A CONFESSION

Sometimes I think about cauliflower
When I am alone
Daylight or dusk
My friends say I should give it up
One friend in particular, she is vehement
Cauliflower again, she’ll ask
I don’t know if she is wrong or right
That’s something I truly cannot grasp
Even though I’ve tried
To understand her point of view
Over my desk at work I have
A poster of a beautiful head
Of cauliflower
Cauliflower can be made into soup
Or a purée with milk and olive oil
Salt and white pepper
Use black pepper if you don’t have white
Freshly ground, a must these days
I don’t need the poster at home
Where my thoughts are free
And unrestrained
There is no evanescence
To these thoughts, nor
Can they be transferred
To another vegetable
The only negative thing
I have to say about cauliflower
Is that it’s a lot like love
When it stinks
One tends to gasp
And want to clear the air.


July 19, 2014

WINTER MORNING

Footsteps
Heavy from rain,
Light from the parting fog
To a beach of winter
I am an imaginary visitor today
Seashells and pebbles crunch underfoot
Waves wash the shoreline
They make a rolling sound, almost in whisper
Seagulls are early risers
They never tend to whisper
I wear your old black coat
Zips in the front, a light patina from use
Perfumed with time, travel and wind  
The scent of coffee also.
Farther down the walk is difficult
Boulders and beachrock
The waves break with force
I keep going.


July 13, 2014