Night Poem IV

Voices sleep in the night,
bodies quiet and alone,
all cries drawn inward,
and love kept in its hold.
Anger subdued in its kennel,
and regret floating above their eyes.

Trusting the night,
bodies laid out,
display unearthly banquets
for the devouring moon.
They are infinitely fragile,
the most brutal hands,
the most vehement lips.

I sit at my window,
and the air is thick
with the voices of sleeping animals,
the ancestral echoes of dreams,
the long dead in their earth,
and the death preparers,
cradling their sweethearts
in the white sheets of the living.

I sit awake with the
self-forgetting all around me,
like a witness
to the night that goes
erasing their brief bodies,
and I am sad,
and I am in love.

Savage Night (Owl Song)

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Listen, that one voice
translating the night.
Suddenly, I too speak
from the owl’s dark mouth,
the way the night
speaks through holes
the trees bore into the stars,
those sky wounds.
A single voice, a lament of wings,
the lament that soars with dreams.
I had thought my life
like an impenetrable hour,
a warm stone held
in the palm of my silent heart,
until the owl came
to cry beyond my window,
that messenger,
crying the savage night.

Solitary Sun

I’m not against my being alone.
I find quite enough company
in the strange hours of the self.

The sea fills me,
the dark trees fill me,
the lamp light on the street’s cape
fills me,
the mad, joyous cries
of a city that doesn’t know me
fill me.

And a Spanish guitar can be enough,
and the painful beauty of
unreachable girls,
in a corner of me
is an appeased dusk,
unaccompanied, satisfied.

Alone the silence is an aroma
like exotic tea,
and I feel myself porous,
drifting out to meet it.

But it’s when I have to walk
from my used up day
into the empty night
that my soul breaks into
chunks of unbearable heavy bone.

The infinite sorrow of unshared fruit.
Where is the one who will receive
the gathered sparks
of my solitary sun?

Quiet Morning, Lake Pukaki

Quiet morning, Lake Pukaki,
the grey dawn sky
coldly faces the blue night
still pacing in the glacial depths.
A single thumb of land
holds the edge
where the immensities
would leak into each other
and cease feeling.
These three belong
from transition to transition,
and there is no language
where the still wet ink
of the sky and the lake
and the uncertain cliffs
finally breach the feeble lines,
run into eddies of confused silence,
before the day comes dividing,
restoring.

Personal Hygiene

What deft work fingers make

in such small circles,

twisting at the

cloud puffs of my mind,

pulling at globs of brain clot,

stuck deep where the

noises of the day

still scratch and tick

like a crackling music box.

My head, a vessel,

a rickety barnacled tug that

chugged through the upper-reaches

of over-grown shopping malls,

where women carried neon frowns;

children tugged at the

shackles of coin operated leviathans.

Becalmed in pungent business districts,

down punch-card streets

where men with typewriter mouths

spewed data-orgasms.

I hoved home through swampy suburbs,

filled with the howls of beige beasts

in alligator-stained polo shirts.

Along the way, caught

on so many snags,

mired in sludge and

disused junk-mail hedges,

my mind cluttered and

dragged almost to the bottom.

Now such surgeon fingers ply off the

world’s clinging clank of

buckled soda can epiphanies

until so much silence,

like a goblet of wine,

full and sweet, flows down,

cleanses the throat of my mind.

Baudelaire’s Albatross

Full to bursting, this café

feels like the echoing vault of a

cacophonous head. 

Ever noticed how sometimes,

the swirl of human chatter

rises to its own peculiar fever-pitch

of banal talk, tinged with urgency,

poignant, empty confessions?

I’m assailed by sudden collapse of plates

dispersing laughter,

pistons of noise firing

brittle eardrums,

words flung like cups and saucers

into incessant crowds.

I sit mute,

a disintegrating sphinx,

my mind a shattered menagerie

and flamingoes tumbling with

precious thought-chandeliers.

No match for this excited din,

and its brilliant vomited aphorisms,

I’m left hopelessly thumbing through

last year’s rule book.

I guess I’m destined for the

mountain hermitages of Han Shan

or Wu Pen,

poets, dreamers,

who stumble like Baudelaire’s

albatross in the midst of

clever people.

I’ll venture on mountain paths

trailing clouds through the

crystalline stillness

sharp as a peak,

that advances, erasing humming monks.

Far above the tempest of

tobacco spumes,

the orgasms of

guttural cities

perish on silent pulverizing

jet-streams.

And I, perched amidst the purity of

air too thin for even a whimper,

might learn, at last, how to listen,

how to speak.