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

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