My Oldest Enemy

I was low last night.
I don’t know why.
The words would not come
To form a night I wanted to sleep in.

So I stared at a blank wall
And watched it become
Only wall,
It loved nothing.

I rushed out into the night
And found only a street,
Not death,
Not the echo of compassion,

Not even a dismal hedgehog
Nuzzling the mane of the wounded earth.
I put on my coat,
Pockets filled with used up solitude,
And walked and walked.

I don’t know what I wanted,
A voice, a breast, a crime,
The outbreak of a new war.
I was looking for the source of my ache,

In the silent doors
And the shuttered windows,
In the gardens with their flowers
Closed like the fists of women.

I was low,
And there was no origin,
No starting point of my sadness,
There was no woman to blame,
No wrong, no mistake.

There was only this vast night,
Night of dogs,
Night of flowers,
Filled with the destruction of voices,

Night that I could not sleep in,
Like the bed of my oldest enemy.

On Street Corners

Have you ever noticed how sometimes at night
the street slowly skulks home up the hill, alone and
head down, whistling to itself,
because the moon went its own way, three blocks back.
I look up, at the corner,
and the boys are passing by in their loud cars,
loud lives going to parties
where girls are probably waiting,
in T-shirts and jeans,
with music and shoes and dreams
made in sizes just for them,
waiting for the bottles of beer
the boys will bring,
offerings of love for their doomed youth.
There in a moment,
continents of lives whirring past my quiet eyes.
Have you ever noticed how sometimes in the night,
the trees shrug their shoulders on street corners,
and bury their chins in bushy collars,
and whistle alone,
because the moon and the world and the dogs
have already quit,
are not listening anymore,
have slipped off to other parties.

Night Poem XXV

The night calls out,
death is death is death.
A crow beats its wings,
and night parts from night.
Absence, dawn,
she slips in like a lover,
remembered and forgotten.
I remember life,
and death is death is death.
I accept the beating of rugs in the morning,
the cries of women to each other,
the importance of trans-continental trade,
of men who whistle when they’re sad.
Life is death is life.
I am life,
I am a war of life
that the night could not eradicate just yet,
a music of ruined and resurrected love.
I declare myself an open city,
and the dawn slips in like a lover,
a liberator.
I pour her a cup of coffee.

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?

Night Poem XXIII

Night of my ingrate tongue,
I want it all,
I want the sky to stop my lungs.

Do you remember how
I demanded everything impossible from you, night?
I sat upon your voluptuous cushions
like an indolent vizier.

I swallowed the whimpers of a thousand adulterers,
I demanded the towers of my oldest enemies,
and sent for the harpist, the lyre.
And before long I had sucked the marrow
from all the stars.

And you just looked at me, and grinned,
you, night of my ingrate tongue.
And instead of kingdoms, continents,
dawns, eternities,
I had discovered the loneliness that is love’s core.

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 XX

I afflict you with a mutinous night,
I brand you with it’s terrible star.

You, so well put together and kept like a tower,
see how what you were recoils in terror
from your face of besieged pleasures.

I give you my primitive loam.
You shed your name, your eyes.

I reveal my swift skin
that loves the continents of your young body.
You sense a loss of homeland.

I want you to realize
what this mutinous night is for,
exhaust this blue wick of sadness.

I want you to cherish
the extent of our desolation,

while you and I are nothing more than
forehead, breast and nape,
entwined in a void of love.

Night Poem XIX

Night of desolation,
you reduce me to this,
husk of a crippled light.
I was a man,
and man is a beast of the day,
filled out like a coat without substance.

I was a man,
and man is a word, no more than a whimper,
in your dark amphitheater.
Why do you strip me of everything,
save these two ancient aches, death and love?

Alone by your silent lake,
pure amplifier of my id,
I fear only death, its totemic heartbeat,
its beckoning festivals.

Alone in your infinite vault,
I remember only lost loves,
the luxuriant spider of a vengeful heart,
the torrid, teasing skin of sudden memory.

Night, you destroyer of my sunlit facades,
I am remade with every dark hour,
the perfected image of your
adamantine agonies.

Night Poem XVIII

Beautiful mama,
you’re burning up.
What terrible fever have
I put in you?

All night,
the fever burns you
in and out of love.
Damn it baby, I want your fever too.

Your skin hot on my tongue,
your breasts like flame,
your violent whimpers
scratch like thorns.

The louder you get,
the closer I come to a star of agony.
Beautiful mama, I’m burning up.
What terrible fever have you put in me?

I want your disdain,
I want your coy hips,
I want your blood’s exhaustion,
I want the anarchy of your dark sheets.

Night Poem XVII

Who can resist the night,
disobey her giant’s arms?
See how she dims their fierce lives,
for her dark palms are cribs,
and in them lie, in equal count,
lizards and women.

They accept this,
the soft erasure of their finite span,
and call it sleep.
Given a name, sleep becomes part
of the logical momentum of our
feverish accumulations.

But sometimes one, quite inexplicably,
yet filled with strange expectation,
refuses to close his eyes,
and waits up into the night’s deep realm.

And he discovers in her deserted streets,
her rustling orchards,
an amplified existence,
weird noises that echo
the weirdness of his own soul.

What the boys and girls bestowed and
named with songs and rumours,
the night assiduously removes.
What he used to call bird cries,
could now be wind, could be colours.

What once was wakefulness
is now pure tension,
the promised vibration of his fear and longing.
And the day bestows, and the night effaces.

And he walks on through her deserted streets,
out of language, out of landscape,
until his name has no meaning,
and is only a chord struck on the night’s enormous bell.