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1

BANZAI

Now I have made the decisions and have moved out of a lifetime. I now live where I was born. But I
have no identity. My birth certificate is questioned. I have trouble getting a passport. Much of what I
built over my adult life-time I have to reconstruct. I am a temporary alien like I was when I opened my
eyes and saw strangers looking down at my birth.

These poems were written over months of transition brought about by choices, choices in practice, acts
of wrecklessness perhaps. The poems are presented in reverse chronological order to emphasize the
destination while documenting the journey.

2
To my daughter, Tracey

3
My Cup Runneth
My electrons
scud happily
about my brain
I love the fluid
leaps like air
sliding over mountain.

When I open my eyes


color like tin pan
music from the sun
and fluid flows,
the slipping and
oozing of syrups and
waters.

In my closed eyes
mandalas of sunlight
are the precursors of dreams.

4
Human Condition
When I love you,
watching from the the part of me

who never really joined the world,


I look at you cold.

Cruel thoughts feel at home


in the shadows of my tenderness.

5
Small Potatoes
Once again
the squeaky voice
I can't keep down
leaks.

While the giants


around me strut
and win their prizes
I keep

calling out in
empty rooms.
The merchants
come

and offer to
give me a small
inoccuous presence for
a fee

but I know
the infantile dreams
I tried to make real
are part of sleep.

6
Big Question
If I have
a vision of a big mistake
made years ago
I say, "Dear God"
and the vision goes away,
absorbed in petulent forgiveness.

Dear God,
are You the great Eraser of Visions,
Bosom Taker, Confirmer
of good Intentions?

7
An Unbiased Country
Homesick for a place
no longer there, denied,
cast away.

I owned the rights


to several pairs of eyes,
I owned but now

keep my balance
trick walking
on neutral streets;

gave away
all those lovely biases
in favor of democracy,

in a pool with all the others


aspiring toward
a few kind private words.

8
The Nap
I kept nibbling at sleep
as if offered a large
tray of time
at a party in a
rich man's house,
rudely,
I couldn't resist
taking more.

9
Wounded Libido when Traveling Light
Love slimes every surface,
thickens over time.

It's a Disney world


where everything talks.

What will be auctioned squeals in dismay


as it is carried into Kaye's truck.

My son will be back when I am gone in the dusty morning


to comb the floor and rescue charmed scraps.

But when I close my eyes at night


camped in the dissarray,

I remember all the goodbyes


I will be saying,

all the tiny hearts


that will break inside my own.

(nods to Sigmund Freud)

10
The Zig Zag Dance
Living on the skin
of a three dimensional ball
sketched on four dimensional paper,

fear is the
anti-particle of love.
Intensity, the

inverse-square of distance between us.


You let me in
but quietly back away.

I step lightly
into your nest.
We oscillate.

11
Animated Eye
From the way
the leaf flutters

it can be clinging
frantically to Summer;

or struggling to break
free from a stubborn branch.

My eye will not


include the wind.

12
Mental Geography
We didn't get
large cobwebs in Manitoba
and the bugs
die in the Fall.
We didn't get
the influx of desparate spiders.

I was on
the North side
of my Manitoba bed,
and my head
pointed East.
We sleep differently,
feet to South.

It took a while to figure it out


when I was far away.

13
The Place is Sold

I'm going back


to my wedding house
to watch it
scatter. I fused
so many particles
now breaking away.

An anti-sentimental
declaration
I will make, amid
the sentiments of those
who see all things rebirthing.
Never again will the pieces
find each other.

Fourteen days
in rubble,
one door closed,
pretending to be
in the past.

14
From Sleeping in My Heart
It's been years
of sleeping in my heart
and now I've returned to my brain.

And the neighbors say


welcome back
great and hooray.

15
The Forest and the Truth
You can take
a photo from your eye
and you can push
the photo toward the truth,
but if you really want
the truth
you need your hand.

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Mundays on Main Street
The community restaurant
shows pictures of us
as we dine on tuna salad or pancakes.

I can't keep my eyes from the faces joined together


by eye bends and mouth twists,
gene pools, refracted by the tides and winds.

Living through
their aging and their youth,
back floating over change.

I can feel the squeezes


only familiar bodies give.
I blush with them.

The place of joy


wouldn't impede us--lip corners up
brow edges down.

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The Egret
She moved like a woman
slowly lifting the legs
as if she knew she was a symbol,
putting feet on the wet
pebbles with such gravity.
While the water
burst about.
So many sounds and patterns
I couldn't hold my grasp,
unbelieving her.

18
Egocentrism
You say get over yourself
and you still can,
but soon i will be
as an eager school boy
and every little thing I do
will get your applause.

19
September Slide Show
Summer dies
reluctantly here,
so close to the sailboats
that cruise past Huntington light.

The morning chill


makes me put on my
spiffy grey and blue jacket
and push my hands into the pockets.

I don't feel old.


I wear plastic shoes
as part of the joke
of living in a place of summer fun

which slowly saddens


as the days shorten.
Serious neighbors renovate
and life focuses on cleaning up.

20
Long Life
I call them optimists,
expelling the word from my pen
like it was an ailment.

It is amazing
how even the darkest
and hardest of them

harbors the fantasy of


escape,
new starts.

21
Financial Advisor's Nightmare
When you get serious
about dis-investment
things get cheap.

You can throw everything


into a plastic bag and
carry it away.

You can start a temporary


life with scraps, building
a sweet nest.

Amid the rush of days


using what you need, you wait
for the future to end.

22
Truth Building Dream
I dream of trying to build the truth,
Use tubular steel in the frame,

something anchored, that


people would come back to.

But the steel is bent


someone throws it in the sand.

I dream that truth would be so frail


in the desert.

23
Syrian Wedding Portrait (from an archival photo)

By the hand and


by the shoulder
I have you.
You are mine.

I made
arrangements with your family
when I proved
I am a serious man.

You see I am
endowed, and
you will thrive
while my arms are strong.

This is love to me,


young but stern.
Our home will be calm,
and the years will stretch forever.

24
Baran
So Rahmat, whom I think I love
I could never speak
but give you everything.

I will stay here


in the dry valley
eating unleavened bread.

You will need my gifts


to flee
out of the mountains,

even emptier there


under the wind shadow.
I want sleep, hideout for the empty heart.

25
Families
Do I know you?
I ask as I glum
onto strangers.

I can see
the softness in your eyes
as big as mine

You are a lover


aren't you?
You do no harm.

My arms wrap around you.


I'm not afraid
I was born among strangers.

26
Old Tree at Coindre Hall

I drew
a schematic of a tree
not the right color
I didn't need to be correct.
The approximation
with hyperboles of the grass
moved,
spun my head.
I thought it
almost right.

27
Audience
safe here in the world
of the faceless.
granted just enough:
sleep, and wake,
nourish.

watch those
with something to say,
who walk in glitter
and don't even
measure me.

frightened of
bandages around my senses,
the dark,
and handshakes turned
the other way.

28
On the Spit of Land at Sand City Beach
If you
live in a world of the tide
you keep tables
for the in an out of the ocean.

I watch as the cold


water pours toward the land
flooding the path
endangering escape.

And the landlocked city


from which I came
cries once in a while.
I hear it, feel a tug.

I won't go home
won't listen to it
as it weakens, soon to vanish,
break its haunting.

29
Science
Do you want
your poetry to be
like songs?

We can sit
and listen to the
sentiments of our romances

and all feel easy, well dressed and going to parties,


forever young, coming into
new love or leaving it,

applauding politely.
But that would not make familiar
cold ether and the outside.

30
We Invented Angels
It's a grand night for singing
(it's show biz
people who get paid to know how)

if we can get together


and not be afraid of the
lurkers and the spiders in the grass;

if we can
forget how
individual we are,

make the air stir


with our breathing
and sizzle it with open lips.

We invented angels.

31
The Slow Part of Fun
We are on vacation
absent from the job.
Words go unread
wrapped and slid on top of the porch.

I'm getting hungry now


in the Summer,
making due with heat.
I keep quiet.

Nothing to write.
Nothing to say,
patience and hunger
on a Summer day.

32
Radio Chanteuse
This singer's voice
is soft and reaching.
Critics say she sings
magic, about utopian places.
Funny how dreamy voices
always seem to sigh.

Personally I am
afraid of utopia.
I look for storms,
knowing that paradise
is impatient and
waits for slip-ups.

33
Two Poetry Party Games
The poet hides
behind the curtains
and the audience is supposed
to find him. He waits
but nobody looks.

The audience
hides from the poet
who counts to 1000
then opens his eyes
to find the door open.

34
Good Boy
When I nearly miss
part of eighth grade math class
because I spend lunch
exploring with blonde Diane,
I get the bad feeling

I am going to cease
being the best
good boy,
sink into a dark
indifference.

Mrs Driscoll is getting to her feet


eyes combing the faces in the first row
seeking my scrubbed cheeks.
I should have been untarnished
and she will notice I am gone.

Mrs Driscoll, like the god


I pass and face at the gate
without my good boy honor,
will not
remember my name.

35
The Destination
In a place of vibration,
where color and form
don't meet an eye,
I have built a nest.
My body
equipping me with
translation.

Uncertainty is
deeply real.
Where I reside is
construct, theory
if not fictitious
sleepwalk.

36
My Last Poem
Knowing how many
mistakes I have left

on my last of
a last-chance thin line.

Poetry is leaving
along with everything.

It's a relief to know some say


that's grand.

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Diaphony
lace of silk
zephyr
the clear brown eye
gently lined with black
unquestioning smile
set in motion with a dream

a love poem
tender skin,
oiled in spice
living forever
delicate wordless conversations

found by magic
together always
freely bound
without contradiction
vows.

38
From the Bronx
I write away to get
from the bowels
of a building in a city I left behind,
a certificate to prove I was born

in an alien time
when little boys wore
lace and short pants.

Now I wait for the mail,


each day in the fright
of someone drifting.

Suppose, I obsess,
they don't find me
among the millions
who cover my trace.

How will I go home?


Well if I waste
my remaining years

hiding in the basement


among the spiders
the official people
can't expel me.

39
Bringing the Garbage Out
I try to greet
our cats in their dark.
They own space

like ancient street children


signalling silently as I brush past.
I wait for a muggery.

40
Thomas Mann
Always interested in
the natural course of life
driven downward and
sliding into accident.

Hopes pull against nature


and the course of
death makes fine reading
especially when life seems to take good turns.

Enter at the base of the mountain


expecting soon to resume the luxury of living.
Days stretch into months without recovery
until the surprise of the trap.

41
The Week after Surgery
Near you
as you glide
I chatter, yipping
and wag my small eagerness.

Won't you
find what speeds you,
runs your eyes
large and bright.

42
Theme from "Master and Commander"
For the war they choose
not martial music
but warbling ghosts,
things never before seen.

On the other side of the world


she stalks
deep in fog
carries death and passion:

Science
and dance
surrounded by blood,
but never marching.

43
Warm Months

The wren
wrenches her body
in the tree
so eager
never to weaken

That's what Spring


is all about,
small thingswith wide bright eyes
participating in the Earth.

I don't folk dance,


move my legs
in easy clumsy sashays,
slowly formulating a farewell,
I sleep during the days

44
Bonzai
With neck eager headfirst
and face unguarded in smiles
plunging,
giving myself to time

fearing absurdly
only because people fear
as if there were
safety somewhere

flowing moments
bathe in decision
wind blasts encounter over me.
I'll not return.

45
Event List
The conversation lurches
when something goes wrong with the brakes.
She can't stop herself
oozes habit fumes
plummets down the hill.

in her short life,


forgets her
wish for peace.

We turn away
when we see her
red open heart.
.

46
Smile and Wave
Hey
hyperbole man,
inventor of extreme things
saturating the
poorly greened summer.

Where would the VIPs


be without you
and your flash photos.
You turn the multitudes
into one handsome guy.

You are the mask


over disappointment,
construct needs,
expectation
and vanish when it rains or freezes.

What would we do
without you?

47
Phenomenology
1.Quote from the back of your birth certificate

"The economy time


transport device
given out free
as a sample with admission
does not have a
reverse gear.
When you want to accelerate
you have to fall asleep.
In the future we plan
to make the full model
available at cost."

2. Goodness and Mercy

guideth me to sleep
maketh me a bed

that taketh my breath


not nourished,

I practice the path


speeding to a blur

Time
nulls.

48
The Icy Breeze
The biggest ghost
the royalty of ghosts
when you speak of the
hierarchy of dead things,

the ghost who offers no


promise, no redeeming,
the ghost who exceeds memory.

Anyone who loves the present,


holds building blocks in hand,
hopes,
lives with its haunting.

The goodbye ghost


brushes my shoulder
chills me.

49
Sleep The Mask
Some day it will be
a strange new place
I know it's there

It grows fat
in it's nest down in the dark
while I am trying to sleep.

I have to clear it away


but don't want to look
and only have these bad dreams

There is no reprieve
from this labor
I should have killed it long ago

Creep down where the walls turn to gray silk


away from the assumption of everyday
toward the unpleasantness and what comes
before I find it

50
Remaining
1.

I went there today


and found her sleeping.
"I am back," said I.
"Your long awaited."

I couldn't rouse her.


and the nurse didn't think
they gave her more medication.
They often sleep hard
in the afternoon.

But last night


at 4am, I finally
overcame my vanity.
She has closed me out
and said goodbye.

2.

If I should
want her to miss me
then I am unjoined.
Time is backward.
Future is past
and we hope insanely.

51
What I Learned from American Movies about Knights
Those who come close
to the king
get to sleep with servant girls
on feather beds and have
a few rich meals.

It's better than sleeping


in the hay all the time;
but those who spend
a few summer nights
in the warmth of flesh and quilts
will fight and die in the autumn mud.

One day a courtier,


a soldier next.

52
Transcona
In the previously populated house,
ghosted by persons
still living,

"alone"
bounces
against the damaged doors.

"Alone"
crouches under
couches.

Accidents speak.

53
Flotsam in May
While Spring struts its green
and all the popular people say
that's what I love,

all the dead things


with colors
unsheathed by death

lay littered in beautiful detail


just beneath the dust,
shining when the rain clarifies it.

Lovely skeletons
hold secrets of
red oxygen and blue zinc.

54
The Privilege of a Photograph

To live there
is like being
without home
because the black
hovers and thunder
says "run run."

What cold
normlessness sits
among those untimely
chunks of night.

I watch
without fear
the third-hand danger
is like awe.

55
Citizenship of Evil
On arrival
after a long
involuntary journey
I was met
by the wicked
Witch of the West.

I complained about her to my neighbors


among whom was Glenda the Good.
What Glenda told me made me silent.

"The witch," she said


already lives here,
a citizen of the realm.
She worships
an established god who defends her."

Then Glenda took


her sympathetic, far-away pose and whispered,
"You, my poor dear
are just a landless stranger."

56
Post Card Earth
Through the eyes of others
I have seen most
of what there is to see.

I only wait
for something fresh and new
through the eyes of others.

I wait with eyes connected to galleries and screens.


From all the distances of the world
everything is earthbound and familiar.

57
Go Ahead Smile
We ought to
come to terms with
happiness. It may be

a little embarrassing, yes.


But it's
not as bad as many
would make it seem.

58
In My Pajamas among the Clouds
Daytime is
being calm and
decent until I die.

The goal of life


is gentility
and realizing how small I am.

My productions fade
and I spend more time
in smiles.

Maybe some day I will have


nothing more about myself
to say.

59
Who Started the Fights
Well that's the ultimate
question of justice
tried here in a court
with only a jury
and no judge.

There are no witnesses


and I am subpoenaed
to appear against myself.
There are obligatory confessions
to be made and small winces

of self defense to be offered


to unsympathetic neighbors and friends.
This trial will nudge
livability back toward aging,
mattering little what gets said.

60
Critic's Reaction to the Portrait

Too much chin


and not enough forehead
Nelson is not like that.

He talks
but is not
a thick-mouthed sayer

of bad-phaa or yes.
He lets his brows know
how the wind

rushes past this face


as he drops through life
from his heights,crying,

"I can't help it.


Listen!
I can't help it."

61
A Spring Evening
Just at the golden time
when I am breathing floral
memories, from her bed
she would ask
when is daddy coming home.

Just when I am
littered with scent,
the air warms
and I am swimming
in tiny bits of the past.

Damn I have lived


a long time. amid
so many tiny scenes.
"I miss you" is a spell
a magician casts.

62
What If I Didn't Have a Lover
When my cyber lover left me,
I pretended that God was a woman
and told myself then
I would always have a lover inside.

That was a close


as I ever came to madness.

63
Zero Footprint
I clean it up
as if I were not there.
Everything spent on me
I pay back,
drink little
and take only one plate
cleaned after each meal

with water that


would have flowed anyway.
A healthy being
demanding nothing of the future,
when I say goodbye
I will not leave a residue.
My vision repeats in the same place

nothing added or taken.


All my body products
return to the earth.
The products of my brain
are stored in atoms
easily reprogrammed or
paper which melts in the rain.

64
Gum

The tree
is an obese wooden lady,
sugar syrup flesh
like cooling magma

flows down her side,


absorbs sad fused lives.
Too many organelles
blended into her,

tendrils and roots


folded through what was
first slow-flowing soft
now hair hard.

65
The Angry Phenomenologist
Oh ruler
who sustains the truth,
I am one of your
least faithful servants.

And now
a harmful confession
has grown in me,
if there's no room in your heart

for the value of lies.


In this world that I don't own
I admit preferring dreams
to my real vain, empty anonymity.

Maybe I should go away


to a place where solitary
unquestionned dreams are
blown into life.

66
Birdbath

When the light


is masked in the Spring
I think of Europe,
the home of fairy tales.

Somewhere in Europe,
the door to the border
of the unbelievable is open.
I would be able to see shadows inside.

I am nearly content with crocus,


emerging from the mat of dead red leaves.
The model in my brain
is bigger than I've ever seen.

67
Vine Attacking a Tree

The giants can fight


over the heads of the children
throughout the summer,
their vegetable hearts

driving heavy blood.


Even in sleep
during the cold months,
the weight of the vine

stifles the oak.


We would never see a victor,
the final splintering of dry wood,
splitting of root.

Generations of fast picnics


instantaneous naps in the shade
fragile pastel summer,
puffed fiber conserving heat.

68
Psychosis
The thought
candidates for poetry
vanish as quickly as my dreams.
Poetry stands
wriggles seductive hips
smiles seeing me helpless,
stuck in a real bed in a real room.

My availability
is limited, Mister.
You have to climb
away from your comforts
to catch me. If you want me
you have to find
a private lonely place.

What would I do without you,


poetry. Resting here
letting days pass.
The hopes you give me are
vain hopes, slowing time.
It's vainly more than fun.
deep delusion:
ears and eyes of the world.

69
Anthropology
In American movies
they knock each other
out with one punch,
standing.

In European movies
they wrestle each other
down with leg scissors,
sprawling.

So what.

70
Poem Written Years Before
I dreamed
as I lay dying
that I was married more than once.

It was so far away


as the last days
erased my nights.

The images
kept me alive
and I was vibrant.

71