Thursday, February 1, 2018

Tied to the Bodhi Tree

Legend has it that the Bodhi Tree is where the Buddha sat until he attained enlightenment.



Tied To The Bodhi Tree

She led me to an open field
and tied me to a tree.
Not to torment or seduce
But to grow.
She whispered “stay here” 
and disappeared. 
For hours I fought
the ropes
the roots
the discomforting silence.

I thought of my hunger
my loneliness
where I wish I were
where I couldn’t be.
I cursed her for 
her trickery
and myself 
my naïveté. 

But as the night came
I surrendered,
succumbing 
to sky
to sunset
to stars.

I drank it in
seeing it all
for the first time.

I hope
no one
ever 
finds me
here.

What better place to die
than the only place

I ever truly lived? 

Gaslight Ghosts

More of a song than a poem, I guess, and certainly my attempt to pay homage to my favorite 21st century band, The Gaslight Anthem, with their nostalgic, romantic lyrics.  Still working out the faux-limerick verses with the standard rock-rhyme choruses.  I am proud that each chorus offers a different final four lines.    So, here's an homage to The Gaslight Cafe of Greenwich Village, where beats, jazz artists, and folkies shared uncomfortable space as they figured out how it all somehow fit together in the crooked framework of the 60's. 


Gaslight Ghosts

MacDougal’s still a one-way
nestled between 8th and Prince
Where Dylan roared thru
a Hard Rain in ’62
and I haven’t left here since.

The Dimestore Poets & Old Haunt Romeos
Don’t care that it’s cold and it’s dark
The light burns within
and the heat’s from the sin
of ripping the truths from your heart.

And I’d stand outside in the pouring rain
for the taste of those words on my tongue
and I’d wait in line for days at a time
just to know how it feels to be young.
All these Gaslight Ghosts strike a hero’s pose
taking their crib note dreams to the stage
Phantom poets still prowl, I can hear Ginsberg Howl
through the blood that he left on the page.

There’s not a drop of Old Crow
and you can’t order Tanqueray Ten.
a tiny espresso parlor, 
a front for Bohemian Squalor
Intoxication dripping from their pens.

J. Edgar said to burn it down
Poets and singers were a threat
Anti-Establishment
Suspicious of Government
How revolutionary can you get? 

And I’d stand outside in the pouring rain
for the taste of those words on my tongue
and I’d wait in line for days at a time
just to know how it feels to be young.
All these Gaslight Ghosts, serve up a lethal dose
lifting the latch on this American cage. 
Three chords & six strings, that’s how my freedom rings
Raise an anthem for this foolish age. 



Now it’s all cobwebs and dust
And Desolation Angel sighs
Blowin’ in the Wind
A long-passed old friend
You can only see with closed eyes.


But I’d stand outside in the pouring rain
for the taste of those words on my tongue
and I’d wait in line for days at a time
just to know how it feels to be young.
Mingus stood here, eyes piercingly clear
driven by grace and by rage
Joni Mitchell sat there, feet blackened and bare
sharpening the stones of a sage.

All these Gaslight Ghosts strike a hero’s pose
taking their crib note dreams to the stage
Phantom poets still prowl, I hear Ginsberg Howl

through the blood that he left on the page.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dearly Departed in D Minor

I'm putting this here, though I think it's a ways from baked.  This was one of those 'first thought, best thought' approaches to writing.  Not necessarily as polished or precise as I would like - and not sure what I was trying to say until I said it.  Curious as to where it will end up after some time spent sharpening it. 


Dearly Departed (in D Minor)

Yo Yo Ma said no
when I asked him to play my funeral.
How could he commit?
No date, no idea if 
I’d get run down tomorrow
or live 36 more years, 
dying in Birmingham or Bali.
That’s a mighty imposition to a world-class artist, 
not being able to give him a call time.

After all,
he’s got concerts and recitals
recording sessions and public appearances.
Probably a family of his own
and groceries to buy.

I could ask another cellist.
Someone anonymous.
Someone here in town.
But really, what’s the point
if I can’t have the best.

It’s my funeral, after all.
It’s my day, my 45 minutes.
The abysmal hymns
the eulogy from a stranger
who has been told I was a good man, 
because what else would you say?
The uncommitted tears of cousins and acquaintances,
a stray neighbor or two
because I fed their fish when they went to Daytona.
Geographic obligations disguised as tribal ritual.

The man in the foyer,
greeting downcast eyes with the perfect cocktail
of grief and comfort,
a pocket lined with Altoids and Kleenex.
The guest book, the little beige bulletin
that tells everyone what to expect
like a church service
or a Broadway show.

Jesus, what a treat it would be - 
instead of some senescent wig-pated organist 
pumping “How Great Thou Art” 
through rusted pipes and fragile ankles,
to hear a true master coax 
Bach or Brahms to visit
Baiting them with the gentle dignity 
of spruce top and maple back
horsehair and sheep gut. 
A bow borne of bone.

Something in D minor,
that saddest of keys, 
to lament my fruitless efforts 
to get it right in this life.
A dirge to remind everyone
that even if 
the world’s greatest cellist 
plays your funeral.
You won’t hear
one
single
goddamn

note of it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Neruda Island

Neruda Island 

Poets, priests, and politicians.
Was it Sting who lumped them all together?
Some song about the nonsense they speak,
how words seduce and betray.

What did the poets do 
to get such a rancid reputation?
Name-dropped next to those
desperate to claim souls
and those posturing 
to appear they have one.

If we abandoned
Pablo Neruda 
Pat Robertson
and Paul Ryan 
on a cold and lonely island,
only one could fill his belly,
sleep at night,
and trust the tides.

The Fountainhead and 
The Book of Deuteronomy 
sink beneath their weight
doomed by dread and density.
But El libro de las preguntas 
floats soft as cedar
the belly of a gull
gentle, resting 
undistracted by fear. 
Only a poet can find
equanimity between
welcoming death’s caress 
or drifting safely homeward, 
because only the poet knows
they are the same thing.

Monday, January 8, 2018

not every moon is about you

I'm pretty happy with this one...so far.


Not every moon is about you


Maybe Jesus died just for you
chanting your name in rhythm
with the cracking of His holy bones.
And your great great patriarch signed the Constitution
your personal freedom knelling 
with the tintinnabulation of his quill. 
Perhaps Edison thought only of your form 
when inspired to capture light and shadow
Your contours, silhouetted in his eye.
And Einstein longed for your adoration
making equations into Quixotic euphonies. 

But not every moon is about you
The sunset is unimpressed with your awe
Stars skim the sky 
detached from desire
your wishes dying 
on the deafened raven rooftops.

Oceanic acedia
The disenchanted tidal sway 
desirous of nothing from you
but to be left alone

Unlike you,
this world is most content 

with the notion of alone.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Jook

JOOK 

Heaven doesn’t have a jukebox.
You just put quarters
in Charlie Parker’s chinos

And tell the angels 
to shut the hell up
with their abysmal hymns.

Fold up your wings
Sit down
Have some gin
and drop the cherubic facade
for one goddamn minute
while Bird exhales.

Just listen.
Listen.

Hear that?
That’s how you win souls.

There’s your irrefutable evidence.
There’s your divine & wordless salvation.