54

The grayness of this winter’s day

Can attest to powers there at play

Or Odin’s melancholy shade

Never cast itself on the midweek

When I was born, a child full of woe.

Four and fifty years ago

Three planets so aligned in Capricorn

To bring about a most unlikely quark

Though better it may be to say

I willed my own existence from a spark.

It’s not so much the hand that I was dealt

As how I choose to play this game of cards

Or rather play the music in my brain

Born with me from the distant spheres

A tragicomic song for mental ears.

Moonless

Upon a moonless night

In the streets of the old Paris

Pursued by Javert and three thugs

I must save little Cosette

Escape to the left cut off

We come to the convent wall

From a streetlight yet unlit

I take a length of rope

She asks what the trouble is

I tell her in a whisper,

“It’s the Thenardiess”

Because this she will understand

With a convict’s skill

I scale the face of the wall

And gaining the top

Haul the little girl up by the rope

Javert and his thugs baffled

We alight on the other side

In a forbidden garden

Where we are awed

By mysterious music. 

Gut Reaction to Cummings

Quarter after one. I read thirty pages of the Cummings poetry. Some of it is great, and I see how it influenced me when I was around thirty years old. He often muses on the something of life and love versus the nothingness of death, and how could life spring from nothing? This problem is like that of Sartre, but I don’t know who had the idea first. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Cummings. His thinking joins together Freud and Sartre but without being systematic. Still, it’s very complex, even convoluted, and always difficult to disentangle. I sometimes get the sense that love and death are identical from his poems, or at least one is inseparable from the other. He is full of paradoxes and double negatives that pull you in and force a feeling of disorientation, or maybe what Sartre calls “nausea.” Some readers may not find this very affirmative. And the equivocation does feel rather disturbing, even like Shakespeare’s Macbeth. We want the reassurance that things are what they are and not something else, not a fusion of opposites. Not a prevailing oxymoron. We want a yes, a positive and not a zero. But Cummings still makes fascinating reading. 

Halloween





The night of Walpurgis is coming soon,

All Hallows’ Eve upon a witch’s broom;

No action of the Grinch could stop it now

Nor Goodman Brown annul his wedding vow.

Deep in New England woods the sabbath calls

The autographs in cryptic bloody scrawls

Within the black book of dark forest man,

Excluding not one member of the clan.

And whether or not the legend is a hoax,

The Headless Horseman gallops through old oaks

To terrorize poor Ichabod and you

So everyone had better believe it, too.

Believe it to be safe, the rumor goes,

Or end up in a limbo no one knows. 

A Pearl Sublime





I couldn’t sleep; a troubling vision works

A spell o’ my nerves: in the antique wood lurks

An elfin girl, the Pearl o’ The Scarlet Letter

Decked with wildflowers, standing in the sun,

And doubled by a pool, ambiguous one,

Not knowing for the bad or for the better.

Is she the emblem of original sin

Or rather purity? Equivocal grin

As she kissed the letter on her mother’s chest.

Artless and wild, the mannequin of Nature,

Distrustful of the church’s legislature,

A Pearl sublime by nothing is oppressed.

I tossed and turned and finally arose

To find the Hawthorne volume no one knows.

As soon as I had opened to the pages

Pertaining to the child, the spell was broken:

A mystery to occupy the sages.

Was it for nothing that I was awoken? 

A to B…

One twenty five. I opened up The Magic Mountain and found approximately where I had left off. It may be more intellectual than I care to bother with. Yet I might learn something from it too. By a coincidence, the chapter I flipped to was set in October, or maybe subconsciously I remembered the fact and saw a relevance to life today… Roger has his garage door open while he tinkers with a little project. He’s been retired from the police force for many years and seems to struggle for activities. What do you do when you’ve been put out to pasture? The airplane he put together from a kit he flew a number of times and then sold. We don’t talk very much… I wasn’t very well over the summertime; rather crazy from the heat and non compos mentis. The fall season is a relief and a rejuvenation. Thankfully I have some money to work with. There’s a bit of a wind in the trees. In my head I keep hearing The Firebird ballet. I feel almost like going out someplace, but I have no destination. It’s Sunday and there’s nothing to do.

Two forty. The wind has picked up, invisible unmoved mover. You see and hear the shifting leaves, yet the primum mobile is imperceptible. It has no shape, color, or size and occupies no space. It is the engine of history, intangible spirit. Ezra Pound personifies history with the goddess Aphrodite, to suggest that desire makes events go. Love (not money) causes the world to go round. I chafe against the chains of an antipsychotic drug to produce beauty. An uphill battle with a molecule that cuts away the necessary angel— imagination. Which is worse, the illness or the treatment? Scylla and Charybdis, sea monster and the rocky maelstrom. Take my chances with the plesiosaur. Behind all outward show, the fourth dimension of Forms, a-causal catalysts: cookie cutters. The landscape is but a metaphorical face. To slash the screen and behold the other side of the known: and bring a moon rock back to humankind. Treasure behind the skirts of the witch, and traveling home rich to father. Unguessed wealth buried deep in the soul…

Quarter of four. And back again. 

What the Rain Said

The promised rain arrived tonight at last:
Rejoice and sing the rhythm of the rainfall,
Assuring us that everything’s all right,
Our trespasses forgiven as Nature sweet
Bathes all of us alike in equal grace.


If Nature of the godhead is the mask,
Then praise the Power invisible and true,
Sublime Supreme ineffable in prose,
Grand subject for the poet in the abstract.


The rain intensifies; the voice of God
Outside in blackest night is manifest
In simple feeling, nothing intricate
As logic splitting hairs, a blind man’s bluff.


And when the daylight dawns, I’ll go outside
And dust off my umbrella on the porch
Forgotten through the drought of longest summer
Now pierced, and pick my path into the day.


And as I walk, umbrella in my hand,
The drops of rain will beat a little cadence
Resolving in a mantra that will say
To always cultivate your intuition:
Imagination is the only way. 

Aqua Vitae





Mad scientist upon the witching hour

Toys with a demonstration of his power;

Outside, a bolt of lightning cracks the sky

In sympathy for enterprise too high

For a mere mortal man with which to meddle

Or maybe Nature has a score to settle.

From Florida, his spies have brought to him

A water sample from the Fount of Youth,

Elixir of everlasting life in truth

Once hidden in the Everglades so dim;

So now the madman reaches for the jar,

Unscrews the lid to relic from afar,

And from a package ordered through a book

Shakes in Sea Monkeys with a leering look. 

It Is a Time…





It is a time of contrariety

And even if you hold still like a tree,

Opposing tempests whip and scar your skin,

A hell and heaven smite you on the chin,

At war with one another and with you

If you display a color red or blue.

I often ponder on pedestrian tours

If I could quell the striving with a Coors

And thereby make the nation go away;

Yet anesthesia lasts for but a day

And then continued numbing would depend

On how far I could make my money spend.

In just another month the vote is done,

So maybe then again we’ll have some fun. 

De Anima

In early childhood once I asked my mom
The means by which a toy on wheels could go,
Particularly how could anything
Move of its own accord without a push.


My mother didn’t understand the question,
Stared at me quizzically as if I were
A dunce, and shrugged it off from that point on.


Long since I learned the answer on my own:
The sunlight energizes everything
From chlorophyll on up the food chain to
The works of humankind; but is there more?


My mom was in a rush: I had a date
To see the doctor, daring not be late.
My questions went unanswered for the day
But no distractions made them go away.