Night Poem XXIV

Night of my harsh confessions,
you won’t let me turn away.
Tonight, regret is a new nerve,
and I probe the opening
where my years writhe exposed.

My failings dance before me.
I throw them wild flowers,
I throw them cabbages,
and they dance and sing and burn.

I failed to love anything
fierce enough to die, they sing.
I failed to be driven mad with longing
for a slice of this world.

Everything I touched,
I let drop from lukewarm hands,
my music, my literature,
my one aching adventure,
the girl who loved me with a dangerous sky.

They all got away,
and now another, bolder man
has the girl and the dream,
while I sit waiting for the night,

for the dawn, for the naked revelation.
I am the lion that never roared,
the bronco that never bucked,
the rolling stone that got stuck in the moss.

Night of my harsh confession,
I cannot turn away.
My regret is an old nerve,

and it tells me I will live out my life
in a parlor like a piece of furniture,
with my drunken relics,
my moth-eaten youth.

Can I salvage a brazen mouth,
a roar,
a life of pristine adversity,
a dangerous core?

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Night Poem XXI

Night of the open heart,
I strive against my tightening song,
against the sad and familiar
crust of my human days.

New, new again beside
your blue dangers,
I fear death,
and life shivers in my blood.

To be new is to be merciless.
On your plain swept of regret and love,
I place an orange, round and alone.
As I peel it, it forms a hurt the shape of a moon.

And because I am empty
and pained by the passing
of everything I’ve been,
its juice afflicts me with a new love.

Night of the open heart,
to ache is to ripen,
to know the bitterness of new growth,
and the possibility of catastrophes.

But to the clenched darkness
and to the hollowed peel of my old heart,
I reply with the wounded orange’s flesh,
raw and sweet and undefeated.

Night Poem XV

I turn my back and laugh
at the corpse of the day
with a knife in his back,
a smile on his face.
Around him,

the eunuchs of my memory
slumped and lifeless;
they tried to pin the deed on me.
I have no time for these stragglers,

their parrot-like recriminations
that keep me here
in the sun’s dead temples.
There are thunderstorms,

horizon devouring winds,
that will forgive me this violence;
they ready me for a pure and
uncompromising shore.

It was necessary to become
the self’s inexorable assassin,
to put these enemies of my purpose to rest.
On the other side,

I will be essential dust
in no man’s night.

Night Poem VII

The night is clarity.
The clinical night arrives with a bag of instruments,
a jar of dissected silences,
and examines me on a table cold with remorse.

Out comes fear, out comes sorrow,
the wounded tongue,
the toe black with regret.
The surgeon night holds up my entrails

to the mirror of a razor fine moon,
and I see all the defeats of my mouth,
the dark failings of my sun.

But I don’t look away.
There is healing in this,
the quartering of the agonies I keep,
these open fissures where love struggles,

where the hours hew new scars
that will form my life.