46

{ morning }

the early hour strikes like a beating heart,

soft and radiant,

and time rolls in and out again;

rises and falls without beginning or end,

and all the while an entire orchestra playing pianissimo alongside the crickets in the ambient atmosphere.

the descending glow of the Guiding Star rises in me,

dances across my heart,

then all too swiftly

departs, before i can record

that tune.

photo: @stolenpainting

45

{ Napoleon was a poet }

soft light falls like hair around my eyes,

paints my cold skin the color of amethysts,

reminds me that a diamond is not so important,

and cannot keep me warm at night.

there is madness in the sky at this solitary hour;

the moon’s dull glow frantically searches for some hope

to replace what was loved at noon

and displaced at midnight;

but it would be a mistake

to pity this ol’ mare—

even the oldest and wisest blindly follow the dance,

mistaking art for something serious.

curious flowers with their ruby lips and inquiring eyes

glance askance in my direction, but pay me no mind.

crowded around a tall oak

conferring amongst themselves,

they say that Napoleon was a poet,

and proceed to speak to me without indifference,

as if we know each other.

bats, all in rhythm, go chasing each other,

their shadows twist between my fingers,

swarm around my head,

like insects, like smoke;

they leave me to rest beneath the spectacle where

i am alone among foreign scents, feeling at home

between their movements,

bored and waiting

for the mist to encroach and the dew to form.

.

.

.

Photo: @mr.babies

44

{ Ananke }

day exhales,

deep from her belly as she sighs,

her gentle breath

sweeps across the grass,

ushering in the night,

tickles the gossamer wings of young maids on a nearby swing,

they giggle and writhe with glee.

summer leaves rustle impatiently —

wink in my direction.

bluebirds and robins whistle down stream,

whispering to each other between melodies,

a secret from another place,

songs of innocence

and of experience

tease my hair and kiss my cheeks

with the affection of tender moments that were never mine,

calling out to be remembered,

in exchange for more time.

fireflies don their evening garments,

the sun, sinking behind clouds,

oozes oil painted rose petals,

sweet sounds of honey

drip, drip, drip

into the wind and rush along its rivers.

a rogue wave subsumes the glow of evening.

how full of stars was the world that night—

open arms of eternal summer

stretched out to catch me just in time;

how kind was destiny that night.

[ photo: Harri Peccinotti, 1969 ]

43

{ Shameless }

kneeling on a dead man’s house,

clouds massed together over the tall trees,

replete with warm tears.

he left one day and never said why…

reflecting.

a smile that

expected nothing from the world,

eyes that sought not happiness,

yet somehow

managed to exude both.

subtle in tone and articulation—

i’ve always admired that quality.

mumbling under my breath.

i’m not sure you were content,

but if you weren’t,

i blame myself.

flooded by guilt

gushing forth,

pouring over the dam—

as if dying
were a shameful act.

rising abruptly from my position,

feeling sick and pensive.

you’re getting to be
an old lady, kiddo,

what are you gonna’ do?

somehow, i always manage to think of myself.

avarice and love:

the same instinct that has two names.

Photo: @marcosguinoza

42

{ Prometheus }

what does it become

when it wonders,

where does it go

when it wanders…

aimlessly

through the abyss between

dawn and the sepulcher,

as in the blink of an eye,

glimpsing everything,

but seeing nothing…

turns and turns,

and keeps on turning,

trying to remember

what was told,

but too soon forgotten…

stolen insight into mysteries of

mind, body, soul,

locked away in bones of old…

destiny transmogrified

here and there by different names:

the mathematician and the artist,

the philosopher and the priest,

scrambling

to piece together

what was never broken —

curiosity as a kind of biological gluttony…

a false sense of power and control…

the blind leading the blind…

spinning illusions that veil

the unknowable nothing

that is so precious,

and forever out of reach.

.

.

.

photo: ‘Daily Broadcast’ @serg_neharv

41

{ moments alone at night }

tranquil,

moved by the darkness

and the spectacle of the constellations.

surrounded on all sides,

infinities

deeply hidden in every direction;

revealing identical forces within me…  

a sense of something departing,

something descending—

mysterious exchanges…

contemplating

the fragility of the future,

the eternity of the past—

dichotomy in unity—

strange agreement…

in my soul,

whatever that is,

a deep respect for the

mystery which envelops me…

but who can accept these

mysteries without examining them,

if it were so,

they would not be human.

.

.

photo: @city_scum

40

{ a lunatic’s advice }

follow the path of the sun,

gamble with the moon,

slip through the seam of infinity

on the night boat,

journey through the underworld

and back

towards the east…

there is darkness and

light and muck,

and there is chaos and destruction

all twisted up in the magic

of creation, of art, of life—

never meant

to be any other way.

one of the lunatics…

what am i saying?

reputation, possession, appearance,

above all

hope,

always wrong and arbitrary,

thrown over things like a rag.

hope for the wrong thing,

in the words of Eliot.

forget them all,

hope for nothing,

regret is a trap—

throw the dice

and let the

wave function

collapse where it may,

then look to the horizon

and begin again.

if none of that made sense,

then know this:

the fact is,

cowboys die alone

and without shame.

photo: @artfucker

39

{ sapiens }

bumper to bumper

in the murky trenches

of a saturated

shopping mall corridor,

where plain faces run together into one

solemn,

disfigured blurr.

think too fast,

talk too much,

especially about meaningless things.

i walk past them slowly

on my way to the guillotine.

so many eyes,

black holes whispering to me,

all the miserable

secrets of

boredom.

stuck in the goop of intersubjectivity,

the slime of myths and epics,

making payments on expensive real estate

in the best area of limbo,

the paradise of fools.

i judge them all

harshly.

that’s when i see it.

an ignominious tail

trailing close behind,

a scrap of toilet paper

on the bottom of my shoe.

that’s always the heel

(so to speak)

with me,

the weakness no mask can veil.

following me,

exposing me.

just as i start to believe i’m

better than the other scum,

there it is

mocking me.

human, all too human.

caught with my pants down

in the garden,

just like everyone else.

maybe,

empathy

is the only thing ever worth having.

Photo: ‘Golconda’, René Magritte

38

{ ariel, lion of god }

subtlest beast of all the field,

flesh of my flesh,

bone of my bone,

child of the Sphinx,

you bring to light all that is hidden in me.

deep inside the womb of nature,

or perhaps her tomb,

rooted in the blood of generations passed,

a tenebrous mixture of all that is ugly and

especially beautiful.

those qualities of myself

which i know either poorly

or not at all,

which have managed to

disguise themselves,

knowing how to hide,

behind nothing at all.

photo: @aykutmaykut

37

{ death of a stoic }

she sits

like a good little girl,

well behaved, which she’s been told is best,

with good posture and a pretty little smile,

like a good little girl.

one day she will be blind

like the rest of us,

trying so hard,

struggling against the tide

in vain—in vain!—

but i do not pity her,

i’m not so vacuitious.

we sit together,

in this whimsical waiting room

with the many other patients

also waiting.

how peculiar

we must look.

so absorbed in it,

so full of it.

how pitiful we must look.

so stuck in it,

sinking,

inch by inch, into the void—

everything beautiful

tangled up in decay,

swallowed up by it.

the finality is overwhelming, and yet,

somehow i’m indifferent,

even bored with it.

a stoic,

sitting quietly by,

as everything mysteriously withers and

i am allowed to keep nothing.

no longer bothered

by the madness.

impervious to it,

grinning while

choking on it,

enjoying myself while

i wait—in vain!—

for what, i’m not sure.

[ photo: “Falling Slowly” by photographer, Brooke Shaden ]

36

{ chiaroscuro }

i recognize them all,

the undesirables,

the windows to my soul.

round and round they go,

somewhere down

in that place—

locked inside a dream

within a dream—

untouched and untouchable.

cloaked in darkness and

by the light of the moon,

shadows,

settle around my heart—

dreadfully gray, diaphanous waves

drifting and swirling

like leisurely cigarette smoke

around my heart,

whispering something

indecipherable.

a thick,

sticky voice,

a redolent voice,

echos forever

in that place, where

space and time are distorted,

where nothing,

not even light, can escape,

where my devil has been long caged.

beautiful, annihilating

darkness there and nothing more—

that’s my madness.

i know there are no honest people,

only better liars,

but a dream never lies,

madness never lies.

[ photo: ‘The Remembrances of the Soul’ by photographer Michael Vincent Manalo ]

34

you’re gone, and

you took your love with you

on your way

out the door.

you were my last cigarette,

now,

i don’t smoke anymore.

what a shame

it is to be human,

what a burden

is the heart,

love is only

beautiful,

when it’s

portrayed in art.

robbed of my vice,

with nothing

to show,

except a hole in

my chest

where your love used to be,

not long ago.

how easily tender memories

are swept up and away

like smoke, or a cloud

on a windy

winter’s day.

how quickly love is

betrayed by fearful

gluttony—

you left with my last cigarette,

not even the ashes are here

to comfort me.

[ photo: photo by Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison ]